Each time a great spiritual Teacher, or what is called an Avatar, came to earth they brought to humanity a new spiritual path. The paths that they brought were means by which a person could come into direct experience of the spiritual world, and of God at the center of their own beings. The paths that lead people to be able to come face to face with that Divine Presence inside of them are called Inner Paths. Each avatar brought a different inner path. They did not come to start new world religions, even though they did invariably do so. The Avatars’ teachings were not meant to be the bases for institutions which would eventually believe they were right and everyone else was wrong, to the point of justifying going to war against each other. Avatars did not teach people to be externally good, and to think of God as unattainable and far away. That is, however, what occurred in the aftermath of each Great One’s time on earth. After each Avatar left the earth their followers formed outer paths, paths that no longer taught the art and science of going inside one’s being and coming into the presence of, and the union with God.
Fortunately the inner teachings of the Avatars were remembered by a few and carried down through their inner circles of disciples and students. Throughout the ages Master Teachers have often secretly, sometimes openly, taught their students how to fill their bodies, minds and hearts with Light and change their inner beings into vessels that could hold that divine Light. Over time, with much devotional and disciplined meditation practice, the students of the inner path were prepared to be initiated by their Teachers into the Illumination, wherein they were filled with so much Light that they could see it in themselves, and those who had spiritual sight, could see it in them, too. After much additional training with the Teacher, including letting go of all negativity held in their hearts and minds, these students could be brought into the presence of the source of the Light inside of them. That source is the great God-Within, the spiritual center of our beings. Only a Master Teacher who has been duly trained and authorized has the skill and right to remove the veil that separates us from the God within us. Once the Teacher has done this, the student can see that God-Self face to face, and can talk with It and get inner Guidance and Wisdom from It. This Initiation is known as Self- Realization.
The Inner Paths are also known as the Mystical Paths. Mystics are people who decide to not only believe a doctrine related to a spiritual path, but also to do whatever it takes to experience those great truths for themselves. Mystics want to know by their own experience, and want to have an actual relationship with the God Within and with the Avatar(s) of their path. One who wishes to be a mystic must, in fact, choose a path. All the inner paths will lead a devoted student of the mysteries to the God-Within, as long as they are taught by a Teacher who themselves has been taught and initiated by a Teacher, and has been authorized to pass the Initiations along. However, each path uses different methods and works with different Avatars in their meditations. If a person does not choose a path, they will remain at the crossroads of all the paths, sampling some of each, but never walking down any of them far enough to actually enter fully into those mysteries. They will then know a bit of many things, but will have mastered none.
Being a sampler of all the paths rather than a practitioner and adept of one of the paths can be the right thing for some people. Those who truly want to go as far as they can go spiritually in this life, however, will need to choose a path. How does such a seeker go about picking which path to follow? I know when I was a young seeker I wanted a path that was unusual, and I was sure I did not want one that was Christian. I lived in yoga ashrams and attended one year of live-in intensive Sufi training. I had gathered from my readings of eastern spiritual texts that I would not be able to get very far without having a Teacher who was teaching me one-on-one. I searched through yogic and Sufi channels, but could not find a Teacher who would take me into intensive inner path training. To my chagrin, I instead found a Mystical Christian Teacher who was willing and able to teach me. I had to put aside much pride and stubbornness about what I thought my spiritual path would look like to be able to open to a Christian inner path. Initially, I was amazed that there even was a mystical path in Christianity. I had never heard of it. I was even more astonished to find that they offered one-on-one training and all of the major initiations to bring me into Self-Realization and direct contact with God. I saw how perfect this plan was to make me be humble and accept the Teacher and the path in whatever form it was given to me, because one needs humility to accept a Teacher’s instruction.
The inner path of Islam is called Sufism. The inner path of Hinduism is Zen. The inner path of Judaism is Kabbalah. In Christianity there is no separate name; the Christian inner path is simply Christian Mysticism. Though the Christian mystical path was underground for many years since it was brought to earth, it is alive and growing through small groups led by Teachers who themselves were taught and initiated and now pass it on to others. The practices include working with spiritual exercises, while also benefiting from the wisdom that has come through psychology to help heal wounds of the past and issues of the present. The Mystical Christian Order I co-direct teaches reincarnation and astrology, along with becoming healed and whole in body, mind and soul through connecting with God. The inner paths are not for those who want occasional training or classes, which will not call on them to transform themselves. They are instead for the serious seekers of truth and Light, who sense that there is nothing more important than connecting with the God-Within and discovering the purpose of their life. For those seekers, there is no greater joy than to find their path and the teachers who will help them grow into the wholeness of being for which their heart tells them they were born. If the mystical path is right for you, when you find your teachers and your path you will feel as if you have arrived home, and now all will be well. Such is the joy of the seeker who finds.
Mother Clare Watts is a Master Teacher and the Co-Director of The Order of Christ/Sophia, a mystical Christian Order that has 12 Centers of Light nationwide. She is a Priest, a midwife, and a psychotherapist with Jungian Psychology training. She is author of Giving Birth to God: A Woman’s Path to Enlightenment.