What Does it Mean to Cultivate Spiritual Maturity?

By Rabbi Shefa Gold

In approaching the challenge of developing a curriculum for cultivating spiritual maturity, I began by exploring the concept of Inner Sovereignty. Inner Sovereignty means taking responsibility for your inner state, no matter what!

Victor Frankl, an Austrian Neurologist, psychiatrist, Holocaust survivor and founder of logotherapy, experienced and witnessed the worst possible sufferings during his time in Auschwitz and Dachau. He concluded, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

He also said that, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Inner Sovereignty means taking responsibility for your triggers and reactivity. Frankl teaches, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” When we are triggered, we lose access to our most loving and wisest response. Our reactivity will always keep us from our love and from our wisdom.

And yet, every charged moment of reactivity alerts us to the necessity of T’shuvah. Any moment when we realize that we are triggered can be the moment that we are sent onto a path of healing the trauma and fear that we each carry within us.

Today, we can ask, “How can I sit back on my throne and reclaim my freedom to respond to this crazy world from the place of my most discerning wisdom and profound love?”

The path of Inner Sovereignty requires me to—once and for all—take blame off the table. When I stop blaming others, and when I stop blaming myself, so many other doors of possibility and creativity are opened to me.

The path of Inner Sovereignty requires me to make a commitment to show up in each moment and take on the challenge of becoming trustworthy.

Psalm 97 says,
ֶ֥צֶדק֝וִּמְשָׁ֗פּט ְמ֣כוֹן ִכְּסֵ֭א :ֵ֭אשׁ ְלָפָ֣ני ֵתֵּ֑ל
Tzedek Umishpat m’chon kis’ech: aish l’fanayich telech (Psalm 97: 2-3) Justice and Impeccability are the Foundations of Your throne: Fire will go before You.

When we truly inhabit our rightful throne, it becomes a place of empowerment and collaboration. And then the way forward becomes clear. The Divine fire of clarity can illuminate and clear the way forward.

One of the reasons I love being on this Jewish spiritual path is that, built into the tradition, is an understanding that I will lose my way. I will get distracted. I will forget. AND there is always the possibility of T’shuvah, of return to Wholeness, to Center, to God-consciousness, to the wider perspective. The pathway of Cultivating Spiritual Maturity starts with knowing ourselves well enough to see that we each carry particular patterns of how we get lost, distracted, forgetful or constricted. Knowing our own patterns allows us to establish pathways of T’shuvah… so that we can come back to our shining essential sanity before we do too much damage.

I hope you will join me at my SOULIFT retreat in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, August 12 – 18, 2019 to explore this together.