72 Spiritual Growth in 2023

In the realm of Islamic belief, there is a notion that martyrs who die fighting for Islam will be rewarded with seventy-two virgins in paradise. However, scholars have long debated whether this promise was actually mentioned in sacred texts and whether there is a correct interpretation of the concept. One scholar named Christoph Luxenberg suggests that the more accurate translation of the concept would be something like ‘white raisins of crystal clarity’ instead of delightful virgins.

It is important to recognize that the entire idea of seventy-two virgins is meant to be a metaphor for the pleasure that awaits the faithful in the afterlife. It symbolizes the ultimate reward for those who have fought for their beliefs. However, when we deconstruct the patriarchal sexism underlying this notion, it raises interesting musings. Would the promise of middle-aged, male virgins be quite as alluring?

In this context, the reward would be a posse of clumsy, embarrassed, and apologetic blokes nervously awaiting your advances. Similar to geeks the world over, they might suggest that all your problems could be fixed if you would just switch off the machine, wait a few seconds, and then switch it on again. This is akin to the concept of death and reincarnation.

However, these musings serve as a preamble to a deeper spiritual rant against certainty and religious indoctrination. It is crucial for religious leaders, and indeed all leaders, to have higher ethical standards and refrain from manipulating insecure individuals with false promises such as the allure of seventy-two virgins.

Tools for Spiritual Growth

In the journey of spiritual development, there are essential tools that everyone should have in their metaphorical tool bag. One of these tools is the ability to be wisely skeptical of snake-oil salesmen, false prophets, and spiritual teachers who offer certainty. Instead, individuals on the path of spiritual growth should embrace the idea of unknowing. It is through embracing the unknown that we open ourselves up to the mysteries and wonders of the path of love, compassion, and expanded consciousness.

The Unfolding Mystery of Spiritual Growth

Recently, I engaged in an enjoyable dialogue with a group of Jungian therapists. This combination of exploring archetypes, unseen connections, and caring for people created a rich conversation. During this dialogue, one participant raised an interesting perspective. He pondered whether the path of spiritual growth was ultimately a waste of time. According to him, it led to an eternal, ecstatic, white light state, and that was it. A brick wall. Nothing more. Boring. A waste of time.

However, I found this provocation to be fascinating. I responded by sharing my own experience and echoing the sentiments of many other mystics throughout history. In my spiritual journey, I have indeed entered an ecstatic state. Yet, it does not end there. Through consistent spiritual practices, such as meditation, we can repeat and develop the ability to access this ecstatic state. Eventually, this heightened state of consciousness becomes our norm, a plateau rather than a peak experience.

From this plateau, we continue to grow and expand our consciousness. Our awareness of all that is expands, and we ascend to new peaks, new plateaus of experience. However, this process of consciousness expansion and spiritual growth always resides at the edge of mystery. It is a mystery because our current level of consciousness cannot comprehend what lies beyond. We can only guess, intuit, or imagine what the next state of consciousness will be like. It is an unfolding mystery.

Therefore, far from being a boring waste of time or a brick wall, the state of ‘enlightenment,’ ‘samadhi,’ or ‘nirvana’ opens the doors to further exploration of the divine and metaphysical realms. It is an invitation to dive deeper into the mysteries that lie beyond our current understanding. This unfolding mystery calls for courage, purpose, wisdom, increased love, compassion, and benevolence. It is a journey of melting and rebirth in the ocean of cosmic fire, an experience that is both extraordinary and incomprehensible.

The Real Reward of Spiritual Growth

Now, returning to the question of the seventy-two virgins, it becomes apparent that the middle-aged geeks are not the real reward. Instead, the reward that awaits us on the path of spiritual growth is far more extraordinary, incomprehensible, and enjoyable. It is an invitation to explore the unknown and expand our consciousness beyond its current limitations.

In the end, spirituality is not about reaching a static state of bliss or enlightenment. It is about embracing the mystery and venturing into the realms of consciousness that lie beyond our comprehension. It is about continuously evolving and expanding our understanding of the divine and our place within it.

So, let us discard the false promises and certainties offered by manipulative leaders. Instead, let us embark on a journey of spiritual growth that embraces the unknown and leads us to new heights of consciousness and understanding. In the unfolding mystery of spiritual growth, we find excitement, wonder, and a deeper connection to the divine.