I sense a need in myself to step up the intensity of my spiritual work, but this "sensing" normally follows my realization that I am quite lazy and comfortable where I am. Is there a way to wake up to what I need to do next rather than to merely react in disgust at my own lack of direction?
We cannot help but increase our inner efforts as it becomes clear to us that our spiritual sleep is driving us nowhere - that is to say except deeper into dependency with unseen, downward-sliding parts of ourselves. No man or woman will consciously let themselves degenerate. Stay aware of the nature whose tendency it is to always take the easy way through life, and your wish to rise above it will increase incrementally. The wish will do the rest.
What must we do to reach a higher level of ourselves?
Life itself is always offering us the answers we need. For instance, nature abhors a vacuum. This means that wherever a vacuum exists, nature will flood in to fill it. Apply this practical knowledge to your spiritual life. When we won't follow the usual thoughts and feelings, a kind of vacuum occurs. Usually the pressure of this pushes us to fill the space with what is familiar (i.e., with what we know or think we know will work for us). But when we will place higher principles before the longing we have to know ourselves in a familiar way, and not give ourselves the comfort of our own answers, in flows a new and higher understanding. Take this knowledge and work with it.
Working to be more inwardly observant of myself has brought about invaluable changes in all areas of my life. However, just recently, I feel stuck in a comfort zone where I don't want to do the work of seeing more of myself. How do I get going again?
This may help: Once you have become as inwardly quiet as possible, ask sincerely for God to show you exactly what you need to see about yourself. When you make this wish, make it fully. Work as best you can to be conscious of what it is like to remain you. This kind of honest inner seeing not only creates true incentive for self-change, but provides the new ground you need in yourself to continue your growth. The untold great spiritual secret concerning self-transformation is that we grow in proportion to our awareness of what we can no longer be.
Each morning I have asked for something new and true to be shown to me. I have been surprised by what has been given to me. Some of it, for the moment, has been painful. At other times, it has been joyful. It is always surprising. The upshot of it is, "Why, of course. How could I have not seen it before?"
One of the most exciting aspects of real self-work is that as we become new, so do our moments. Our awakened nature never experiences repetition, which means every moment has a new taste to it. Even our so-called bad moments are new, because they bring with them new lessons to learn about ourselves. With persistence on your part, it will be a new world that will wake you up every morning. I promise that these words are not an affirmation, but a fact of the higher life that awaits all who will ask for it.
Find Freedom from False Beliefs and Their False Gods
The work of liberating ourselves begins in an unlikely place not dissimilar to a small spring that bubbles up in the heart of a deep desert. Its pure, emerging waters bring life a chance to flourish there in the midst of all the dry sands around it. And so it is that from somewhere deep within each of us springs the need to be true, whole, and free. But even as these spiritual waters rise to the surface in us, refreshing our wish for unconditional freedom, they encounter either the heated nature of some smoldering desire or its rocklike residue in the hardened form of a conditioned thought. Spirit and matter meet, expanding and constricting primordial opposites collide, and we are their ground. These truths are self-evident if we care to see them, and their discovery sets the stage for the task before us.
First, we must come to understand what happens within us and to us in each moment when these fresh and pure upwelling spiritual impulses encounter this inbred, downward-trending captive nature called the false self. In particular, we must see how the mechanical longings of our lower self don't so much swallow up this living wish to be free as they secretly misdirect it - sending us off in the search for what promises to quench our thirst, but that secretly serves to enflame it. This one spiritually significant insight helps explain why we must place this work of self-seeing ahead of all else. As long as we cling to the false belief that one desire, regardless of its nature, can free us from the unwanted effects of another one, we will remain the unconscious servants of these desires and the false gods they create to temporarily satisfy them.