Wednesday, May 17, 2006

St Teresa of Avila on the Stages of Spiritual Growth

St Teresa of Avila on the Stages of Spiritual Growth
Taken in part from
Praying with Teresa of Avila
by Rosemary Broughton

St. Teresa of Avila made this comparison to a silkworm and the stages of spiritual growth.
1) a tiny seed was non living until warm weather and leaves come to the mulberry tree
2) silkworms eat the leaf, settle on a twig and begin making thick silk cocoons around themselves
3) The fat ugly silkworm dies within and a small pretty white butterfly emerges.

It could be birth, life and rebirth.
Or it could be the same 3 stage process in any life event. It could be anytime we were unaware of an issue that would bring us spiritual growth such as our own selfishness. That would be followed by our awareness of it and the subsequent change we make from that behavior. One of the traits of humility is to recognize and live in the stage that is true to us and to do the work that is given us to do. The caterpillar cannot fly; it eats. The butterfly no longer creeps; it need not spin silk. Teresa helps us to recognize that there are differing possibilities in each stage.
One aspect of discernment is the ability to recognize who and what we really are and what we can and cannot do, and to live contentedly, knowing that God will call us to grow, to move into new stages, to be transformed – even by passing through a death. Those who believe in Christ live in hope of a final beauty and freedom that God will bring about in us.

As you read this, what is it for you today? Do you want to remain a dead seed or a fat ugly worm? Ask God for insight into your answer.

In what way are you “making silk” for other people? How does that help you to die to self?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:49 PM

    A typical dictionary definition of hypnosis states that it is: a state that resembles sleep but that is induced by suggestion. However, anyone who has tried hypnosis (and any self respecting hypnotist) will tell you that this is a very simplistic view of the subject!
    A much better description comes from the Free Online Dictionary which states that hypnosis is: an artificially induced state of consciousness, characterised by heightened suggestibility and receptivity to direction. So what does this mean and how can it be used to your advantage?
    Well, the subject of hypnosis has been discussed and pondered since the late 1700s. Many explanations and theories have come and gone though science, however, has yet to supply a valid and well-established definition of how it actually happens. It's fairly unlikely that the scientific community will arrive at a definitive explanation for hypnosis in the near future either, as the untapped resources of our 'mostly' uncharted mind still remain something of a mystery.
    However, the general characteristics of hypnosis are well documented. It is a trance state characterized by extreme suggestibility, deep relaxation and heightened imaginative functioning. It's not really like sleep at all, because the subject is alert the whole time. It is most often compared to daydreaming, or the feeling you get when you watch a movie or read a captivating book. You are fully conscious, but you tune out most of the outside world. Your focus is concentrated intensely on the mental processes you are experiencing - if movies didn't provide such disassociation with everyday life and put a person in a very receptive state then they would not be as popular (nor would TV advertising be as effective!). Have you ever stated that a film wasn't great because you just couldn't 'get into it'???
    This works very simply; while daydream or watching a movie, an imaginary world becomes almost real to you because it fully engages your emotional responses. Such mental pursuits will on most occasions cause real emotional responses such as fear, sadness or happiness (have you ever cried at a sad movie, felt excited by a future event not yet taken place or shivered at the thought of your worst fear?).
    It is widely accepted that these states are all forms of self-hypnosis. If you take this view you can easily see that you go into and out of mild hypnotic states on a daily basis - when driving home from work, washing the dishes, or even listening to a boring conversation. Although these situations produce a mental state that is very receptive to suggestion the most powerful time for self-change occurs in the trance state brought on by intentional relaxation and focusing exercises. This deep hypnosis is often compared to the relaxed mental state between wakefulness and sleep.
    In this mental state, people feel uninhibited and relaxed and they release all worries and doubts that normally occupy their mind. A similar experience occurs while you are daydreaming or watching the TV. You become so involved in the onscreen antics that worries and everyday cares fade away, until all you're focused on is the TV. In this state, you are also highly suggestible. That is why when a hypnotist tells you do something under trance; you'll probably embrace the idea completely. However, your sense of safety and morality remain entrenched throughout the experience and should either of these be threatened you immediately wake!
    A hypnotist can not get you to do anything you don't want to do.
    So while in such a state, when we are highly suggestible and open to new beliefs, a skillful hypnotist, whether in person or via a recording, can alter life-long behaviours and even give us new ones!