Walking the Spiritual Path: Alternating Between Outer Teachings and Inner Contemplation

The Hierophant--Yoga Tarot
The Hierophant, from Lo Scarabeo’s Yoga Tarot


The Hermit -- Yoga Tarot
The Hermit, from Lo Scarabeo’s Yoga Tarot

After yesterday’s message of faith, today, from the Yoga Tarot, we have two cards that, to me, remind us that all the teaching we need is already available to us. We can find it in ourselves (the Hermit) and we can find it in religious teachings (the Hierophant). Though many of us have rebelled against organized religion and institutions, we need to remember that there is also wisdom to be found there — wisdom, and spiritual technology. 

Personally, though I’m a Buddhist and not a Christian, I find myself increasingly turning to Christian mystics as well as to Buddhist teachings. At the same time, I’m being drawn to pagan teachings as well. And what I’m seeing is the same teaching again and again in different contexts. Christian mysticism is Buddhist enlightenment is pagan magic — and vice versa. If I were familiar with Hindu teachings and with teachings of indigenous cultures, I suspect I would find the same messages there too. 

Jesus said, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” Do we have ears to hear? Because all the teachings are here with us. We have all the teachers we need, although some of them are dead now (but we still have their words). We also have newer teachers who have sprung up to take the places of the old ones.

And we have our own inner divinity, our inner buddhas and bodhisattvas to guide us. Buddhist teachers, in particular, are very clear on this — that the teachings are not to be accepted blindly, but to be tested through one’s own experience. To put this in terms of modern Abraham-Hicksian language, we can measure the teachings through how they make us feel — through how they match up against our own vibrations. When we find a teaching that strikes a deep chord within us, we know that we are on the right track. 

So in today’s cards, the Hierophant and the Hermit, I see two aspects of the spiritual path: the outer side, that we can find in the teachings and in our spiritual guides, and the inner side, the part we connect with through meditation, through making our own way into our own souls, and through matching the teachings up with our own experience and our own vibrations. One good method for progressing on the spiritual path is to continually alternate between these two steps: listening to/reading the teachings, and taking time alone for meditation, prayer, and contemplation. Do you see the similarity between the two cards? It’s not just that they both start with H! These cards are two sides of the same coin. Both are seated in meditative poses. Yin inner work leads to yang outer work, and vice versa. There’s a chicken and egg issue here, but it doesn’t really matter which comes first. 

One last point: the teacher is a student, and the student is a teacher. Always.


  1. Yes. So very insightful, Bonnie. I’ve found this to be true with art too. I used to think that there were artists and writers who focused only on the secular world, and others only the sacred, but in reality, it is all intertwined. What feels “sacred” to one might be different from another, but the common denominator is the feeling these things spark within us that inspires us to reflect parts of our inner world into the outer through our art, written words, etc. and through the ways we interact with ourselves and the people & world around us.


    1. That is a good point…I hadn’t thought about this with art, but I agree. And it seems as though artists are simultaneously both teachers and students of the sacred…maybe not even alternating between the two roles, but taking on both perspectives at the same time.


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