May he also show us the road and give strength to our souls so that we may dig until we find this hidden treasure, since it is quite true that we have it within ourselves. (Teresa of Avila: Fifth Mansions: Chapter One)
I risk sounding like an elitist in talking about the “next level” of spirituality. But this is not an esoteric approach or a works-oriented philosophy. Some people take life more seriously than others. They develop skills and make progress. Those with limited focus and minimal effort lag behind. This is also true spiritually. I heard the late Dallas Willard once say, “Grace is not opposed to effort, it’s opposed to earning”. A strong spiritual center requires goals, learning, and hard work (i.e. discipleship).
While God drives the activity in mystical prayer, we need preparation. This includes prayer, meditation, and solitude. We must also have “contempt for the world” — that is, we must avoid preoccupations that lead us away from love and humility. And to move to the “next level” we must avoid carelessness and apply virtue to the “little things” of life. This gives “strength to our souls so that we may dig until we find this hidden treasure”.
And where is the treasure? The treasure is within. And the entrance to the Interior Castle (our souls) is prayer and meditation.
For additional information click on the following topic: