The cornerstone of spirituality is that God, in a plan of sheer goodness, created humans to share in God’s own blessed life. Love is therefore the principal energy in the universe, and the direction of evolution is towards greater wholeness and consciousness, toward greater love.
Contemplation of God is not ecstasy, trance, enthusiasm, or mystic frenzy. These things are not the work of the “deep self.” They are the flooding into consciousness of the dionysian emotions of the “id” from the subconscious. Spiritual practice is also not about accomplishing, winning, or losing. It is about stopping struggling and relaxing with reality, accepting reality as it is, not making it the enemy.
Henri Nouwen is the Kierkegaard of our generation because like Kierkegaard he has taught us Christian existentialism: how to pray while not knowing how to pray, to rest while being restless, to be at peace while being tempted, to feel safe while still being anxious, to be surrounded by light while still in darkness, to love while still doubting.
The journey of enlightenment in any religion involves shedding not collecting; it is a constant process of letting go of more and more defences until you are spiritually naked.
The cure for anyone’s sense of emptiness, loneliness, and shame is to feel God’s unconditional love and acceptance.
Overall, evolution’s direction is from pre-personal to personal to transpersonal; from pre-rational to rational to trans-rational; from id to ego to spirit. For example: from subconscious (dog) to conscious (human) to superconscious (divinized human).