The sages of old teach that every individual latently can achieve the heights of mental and spiritual capacity but that most people impose limitations upon themselves that prevent them from living their full potential.
Last week I visited the northwestern German town of Münster, famous for the Peace of Westphalia treaty of 1648 ending the 30-year war. It closed a terrible chapter in European history of warfare between not only nations but between Protestants and Catholics, claiming the lives of about eight million people.
The artist Billi Tanner aptly chose the Lamberti Church in the center of the city to install a golden-lit “heavenly ladder” extending from within the church to the spire on the exterior.
She says about her work: “During these times the heavenly ladder (from Jacob‘s dream in Genesis 28,12) stands primarily for the three divine values hope, faith, and love. If all people were to live by that wouldn‘t that be wonderful? “ The biblical story tells us that while fleeing from his brother Esau, Jacob saw in a dream Jacob a ladder, or staircase, reaching into heaven with angels going up and down it.
The heavenly ladder has become a powerful symbol connecting the heavenly realm with our earth-bound purpose. It can be interpreted as the step-by-step ascent to spiritual growth in becoming who you were meant to become from the day you were born but also as a symbol of the descent from heaven of angels who guide us on this path.
A firm base as a precondition to higher experience
The steps on the ladder are passages of initiation as we progress and grow through life. Alignment with both heaven and earth, our mental and physical capabilities is essential. If you learn to understand yourself you can basically accomplish everything.
A ladder not rooted to earth will fall, meaning that you need first and foremost to have a firm foundation as a precondition to higher experience. The Jewish Mystics were very aware of this, teaching their scholars to master a basic trade to earn a living. Work was seen as an important tool of training for higher consciousness. Taking a proper attitude to whatever we are practicing as a craft was seen as decisive in training inner traits such as clarity of thought, reliability, and self-discipline. Earning a livelihood was seen as central to finding a divine purpose.
While the base of the ladder was firmly grounded the pinnacle of the ladder stretched all the way to heaven and paradise. But action is necessary by taking each step up the rung. Symbolically all that you experience in life is a school for the elevation of consciousness and the precondition to taking the next step. You have to go through a new period of apprenticeship each time.
The ascent up the ladder is ultimately an ascent to another dimension as we walk through the path of life. We are called upon to climb the celestial ladder with growing awareness, and not to be pulled downward by the forces of distraction. What we are experiencing on an individual level is also experienced by humanity on a collective level. During these times of renewed talk of war and confrontation between nations, we should never lose our capacity for faith, hope, and love.
Reino Gevers – Author – Mentor – Speaker
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