Excerpt About Spiritual Development

The Primary Barrier to Spiritual Development

In reality, the animal soul is the primary barrier to spiritual development. It’s difficult for us to see this because we’re usually not dealing with a healthy animal soul; we’re dealing with a damaged, distorted, or arrested one. So we’re always dealing with the distortions. We don’t know how big a barrier the animal soul itself is because we’re busy trying to turn it into a more “normal” animal soul by freeing the instincts that were repressed in childhood. That in itself is not easy. But even if you can accomplish that, you recognize, “Oh, what did I do? I thought this animal was going to turn out nice and cute.” You didn’t know it was going to become a huge hungry monster that declares: “Good! Now I am strong, I have my energy. Now I can get what I want!” It’s not as if the animal soul never feels peace and happiness. It does—when it has gotten what it wants. The animal soul becomes beautiful and graceful—but only after gratification of its desires. There’s no freedom in this. You’re at the whim of your desires. In this way, the animal soul is like a small child. When things are going fine, the child is happy. He is an angel. When something goes wrong and he is not getting what he wants, or you want him to do something he doesn’t want to do, the child can become angry and even vicious. Give the animal soul what it wants and it becomes relaxed, happy, and generous. But the next day, when it is hungry again or somebody crosses its path, it behaves very differently.

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