I have a print called, “The Shield.” It depicts the path humans must travel to gain spiritual victory. It symbolically portrays a male human ascending an ascent filled with physical and subtle challenges of the most horrific kind. This warrior is fitted with the protections and weapon he needs to win the victory: a helmet, to protect his mind, but with an opening in the visor to clearly focus his vision on the path of victory, a double-edged sword, tempered with the strength of his desire, so he may vanquish his inner and outer dragons, a shield to protect him from his foes, the physical and shadow forms, and a coat of mail, protecting his body, so it will not know fatigue.
The shield not only protects the seeker, but also tempers itself with each assault from the physical and shadow forms. It thus becomes the metaphor for the faith and determination upon which the seeker stands.
Behind all right spiritual progress is the right spiritual knowledge, and the bases for right spiritual knowledge is that all humans beings are at their essence, a god-spark, the face of god, the Higher Self, the progeny of the divine. Katherine Tingly, a Theosophist, says the above idea clearly, in her book, “The Path of the Mystic” …”For man cannot find his true place in the great scheme of human life until he has ennobled and enriched his nature with the consciousness of his divinity.”
This ennobling and enriching of man’s nature with consciousness of his divinity is no small endeavor. It takes the realization of our dualistic natures, and an awareness that there is a continuous struggle between our spiritual side and our material side for the domination of our souls; a drama as old as our self-consciousness. Not one of you can remain neutral; you cannot serve two masters. A choice and corresponding path must be taken. The spiritual path though steep and rough, it ends in integration. The material path though broad and smooth, but from its crown the traveller is tumbled down, and ends in disintegration. The spiritual path proceeds in concert with Universal Nature. The material path proceeds in direct opposition to Universal Nature.
Katherine Tingly councils those who choose the spiritual path, in her book “The Path of the Mystic, …”Fear nothing, for every renewed effort raises all former failures into lessons; all sins into experiences.” …”So fear nothing for yourself, you are behind the shield of your reborn endeavor, though you have failed a hundred times. Try slowly to make it your motive for fidelity that others may be fulfilled. Fear only to fail in your duty to others; and not even then let your fear be for them, and not yourself”…