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The Geology of Realization

   "I remember thinking it would take a man six hundred years to tunnel through the wall...Old Andy did it in less than twenty. Oh, Andy loved geology...Geology is the study of pressure and time. That's all it takes really, pressure, and time..."

   - Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption

   "God is economy and pressure," a wise person once said to me - an apt definition and metaphor for this aspect of the path. More might be said, certainly, but more than a few sages have expressed this sentiment:

   “Only under extreme crushing pressure will enlightenment happen.” - Boshan (1575-1630)

   “You must diligently investigate with a mind willing to endure even the crushing of your bones.” - Kusan Sunim (1901-1983)

   “A diamond is a chunk of coal that was made good under pressure.” - anonymous

   “The Path of Love creates a great psychological upheaval; not everyone can be subjected to this pressure.” - Bhai Sahib

   "We are people of little faith and fail to recognize and appreciate the hand which guides and which sustains. Hazur (Baba Sawan Singh Ji) used to say that once a saint has taken a soul under his wing, he is keen to compress the progress of twenty births into a single one. And if we desire to pack the accomplishments of twenty lives into a single one, we must pay for it." - Sant Darshan Singh

   ”For myriads of ages, measureless, uncounted,
   Your body has been cut, impaled,
   Burned, flayed - for times past numbering!
   Yet none of this has brought you to buddhahood.
   The hardships suffered on the path to buddhahood
   Are different, for their span is limited,
   And likened to the pain of an incision
   Made to cure the harm of hidden ailments.”
- Santideva

   "The doctrine concerning pure love can only be taught by the action of God, and not by any effort of the mind. God teaches the soul not by ideas, but by pains and contradictions." - Jean-Pierre deCaussade

   "That which hurts, but is profitable, is drunk by the wise like medicine.
   For the result, afterwards attained, becomes incomparable."
- Nagarjuna

   “After being deprived of all things, both inward and outward, which are not essential, the work begins upon those which are; and in proportion as the virtuous life becoming a Christian, which we regarded with so much complacency, disappears, we are likewise spoiled of a certain inward delight and substantial support. As this support becomes weaker and more subtle, the more perceptible becomes its loss. It is to be remarked, however, that there is no loss except to our own consciousness, as it still exists in the soul, but imperceptibly and without apparent action. If it were not hidden, the death and loss of self could not be accomplished...”

   “Passing this way from the sensible to the spiritual, and from the spiritual to naked faith, which, causing us to be dead to all spiritual experience, makes us die to ourselves and pass into God, that we may live henceforth from the life of God only. In the economy of grace, then, we begin with sensible things, continue with those which are spiritual, and end by leading the soul gradually into its center, and uniting it with God. The more deeply this imperceptible support retires, the more does it knit the soul together, so that it cannot continue to multiply itself among a thousand things which it can no longer either affect or even perceive; and, entirely stripped, it is gradually obliged to desert even itself...”

   “So you may see a man pursued by a powerful adversary; he fights, and defends himself as well as he is able, always contriving, however, to get nearer and nearer to a stronghold of safety; but the longer he fights the weaker he becomes, while the strength of his opponent is constantly increasing. What shall he do? He will gain the portal of the stronghold as adroitly as he can, for there he will find abundant aid. But, on reaching it, he sees that it is closed, and finds that, far from rendering him any assistance, the keepers have barricaded every loophole of refuge; he must fall into the hands of his powerful enemy, whom he recognizes, when - defenseless and in despair, he has given himself up - as his best and truest friend.”

   “Whoever shall become acquainted with the admirable economy of grace and the wisdom of God in bringing man to a total sacrifice of self, will be filled with delight, and, insensible as he may be, will expire with love.”
- Madame Guyon, from The Way to God

   “He gives those who abide faithful to their abandonment to Him, no relaxation until He has subdued everything in them that remains to be mortified.” - Madame Guyon, from A Method of Prayer (in Spiritual Progress, p. 150)

   “When this storm is past you will not know how, sufficiently, to thank God for having been so good as to put His own hand to the work, and to operate within your soul in a few months, what with the help of ordinary grace would have taken you, perhaps, twenty years to accomplish; namely, to get rid of a hidden self-love, and of a pride all the more dangerous in being more subtle and more imperceptible.” - deCaussade

   “But God does not leave us, and continues to wake us, until we lend an ear to what He has to say...If there be the smallest thing to which we cling, however good it may appear, there He comes with sword in hand, and cuts into the remotest corner of the soul. If we are still fearful in any recess, to that spot He comes, for He always attacks us in our weakest points. He pushes hard, without giving us time to breathe...Our own hand can effect nothing but superficial reforms; we do not know ourselves, and cannot tell where to strike; we should never light upon the spot that the hand of God so readily finds. Self-love arrests our hand and spares itself; it has not the courage to wound itself to the quick. And besides, the choice of the spot and the preparation for the blow, deaden its force. But the hand of God strikes in unexpected places, it finds the very joint of the harness, and leaves nothing unscathed. Self-love then becomes the patient; let it cry out, but see to it that it does not stir under the hand of God, lest it interfere with the success of the operation. It must remain motionless beneath the knife; all that is required is fidelity in not refusing a single stroke.” - Fenelon (in Spiritual Progress, p. 78, 81, 133)

   "He must be forewarned that, at certain stages, he will be examined by his higher self and tested by the beneficent forces or tempted by the adverse ones. From this epoch-making date, the major episodes of an aspirant's life are purposely sent into it. Both good and evil powers pay special attention, within his personal karma, to his affairs. Once he has committed himself to this quest, he will find that events so arrange themselves as to indicate his sincerity, examine his motives, display his weaknesses, and find out his virtues. His loyalty to the goal will be tested."

   "This quest holds situations in its eventual course that will stun him with their paradox and amaze him with their contradictions."

   "He challenges the gods who takes the Quest so seriously and, let him be warned, it will ferret out his weakest spot and expose it for his ultimate benefit...There are serious and tragic tests on this path, the results of which are sometimes different in the end from what they were in the beginning. We all need Grace."

   "He is sometimes taken at his word and made to undergo what Light on the Path refers to as the keenest anguish, which is brought to bear upon the disciple in order to lift him or her finally above the oscillations of experience. The path is no joke. It is as terrible as it is beautiful at other times."

   "Your karma is being speeded up; everything is being accelerated to a certain extent. This is necessary for a period to bring quicker progress through forcing different parts of mind and character into activity."

   "Beware what you pray for. Do not ask for the truth unless you know what it means and all that it implies and nevertheless are still willing to accept it. For if it is granted to you, it will not only purge the evil out of you but later purify the egoism from your mind. Will you be able to endure this loss, which is unlikely to be a painless one?"

   "Whoever invokes the Overself's Grace ought to be informed that he is also invoking a long period of self-improving toil and self-purifying affliction necessary to fit him to receive that Grace...If he offers himself to the divine, the divine will take him at his word, provided the word is sincerely meant. The response to this offer when it comes is what is called Grace...Many who ask for Grace would be shocked to hear that the troubles which may have followed their request were actually the very form in which the higher power granted the Grace to them."

   "There is...an unpredictable element in the pattern of human life, which increases rather than decreases as the quality of that life rises above average. We see it markedly in the case of a maturing aspirant who has to undergo tests and endure ordeals which have no karmic origin but which are put across his path by his own higher self for the purpose of a swifter forward movement. They are intended to promote and not delay his growth, to accelerate and not impede his development. But they will achieve this purpose only if he recognizes their true aim."
- Paul Brunton, Notebooks

   Have no fear, however, for

   "He who has earned the Grace of the Guru will undoubtedly be saved and never forsaken, just as the prey that has fallen into the tiger’s jaws will never be allowed to escape." - Sri Ramana Maharshi