Wednesday, 21 June 2017

What Do We Mean by Meaning?

I was thinking about this the other day.  There can be no true meaning in a materialistic world in which nothing has any real purpose or permanence. Nothing is even real. I'm not real, You're not real. We're just temporary assemblages of atoms, molecules and electric impulses or whatever whose only significance is to pass on our meaninglessness. Is it any wonder that when we peel away the illusions we comfort ourselves with we feel so empty?

More here


Saturday, 17 June 2017

The Via Negativa

Following an interesting exchange of views on another post I've been considering the Via Negativa and why I think it to be an advanced but ultimately insufficient approach to God. For those who aren't familiar with the term (it's also known as the apophatic way), it can be defined as the approach to God through negation. No words can describe God, He cannot be known as he is in his essential nature by means of his attributes. He is 'not this and not that'. Anything you say about him is ultimately false. You cannot think anything about him and no concept can hold him who is above and beyond all concept. So you strip everything from your mind. You leave it in what appears to be total darkness and truth arises, a truth that cannot be framed in language. You get the idea. It's contrasted with the Via Affirmativa (cataphatic mysticism) in which God is approached through his attributes of goodness, wisdom, love etc.

The first slightly mischievous thing I would say is that if you cannot approach God through positive affirmation why should you be able to do so through the opposite way, negatively? Opposites are part of the same set up. One suggests the other. One is the other turned inside out. So the Via Negativa is not a higher way than the Via Affirmativa. It is simply its reflection. The two are not separate. You might think this is a false correlation but what it amounts to is that is still the mind that makes the choice of concept or non-concept. Non-concept is still a concept. If the mind seeks God by rejecting or cutting away it has made a choice.

This is not an argument in favour of the Via Affirmativa. That is incomplete because it approaches God through his qualities rather than his being. Instead it's an argument for an approach that either includes both ways, relative and absolute as you might call them, or even dispenses with both for something, to use a favourite analogy of mine, that sits above them like the point of the apex of a triangle sits above (and reconciles on a higher level) the two base points. This requires a both/and attitude rather than an either/or one. You cannot limit God to 'not this' any more than you can limit him to 'this'. He encompasses and is more than both. So approaching God only as the unmanifest absolute, which is what the Via Negativa does, while it does away with some of the problems associated with restricting him to form of some kind, abstract or real, nevertheless brings its own difficulties.

So I regard the Via Negativa as something like what the Buddhists call skilful means. That is, it is not actually true as it stands but is a way for the mind to approach truth through stripping it of its illusions and attachments. But the point is that while we should not be identified with or attached to anything in creation, creation nonetheless exists and gives meaning and beauty and goodness and, yes, even truth to life. For there is no truth without creation. There just is what is. You can call what is truth but if that truth is to be known you have to introduce an extra element and once you have done that you have already stepped off the Via Negativa.

If the Via Negativa were the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth one would have to ask, why would God create a universe? What's the point of humanity? And why would we come to this world to experience its sorrows? I have gone into that a bit here but essentially the answer is that he did this to go beyond the state that the Via Negativa would lead to. That remains, of course, as a kind of substratum but all the positive aspects of life can now be expressed and known. And these positive aspects are part of reality. They are not illusions. They are of the eternal nature of God for God is just as much his qualities as he is what is conceived of (by us) as his unmanifest essence. He is love, as Christ taught us. He does not have compassion. He is love.

 For me that one fact shows that, for all its virtues of breaking false attachments and man-made ideologies, the Via Negativa is incomplete. Taken literally it would dismiss love for it would dismiss the relative and embrace the absolute alone and in the absolute qua absolute there can be no love. There can only be a generalised, universalised compassion but there cannot be love or, for that matter, beauty or goodness.

Luckily we are saved from the tyranny of that kind of absolute by the reality of the Trinity.

So I would regard the Via Negativa as an important aspect of the path to God and an essential counterbalance to its opposite approach. By stripping away all the manifested aspects of our being we find the uncreated core. And yet we are and will remain created beings, and these created parts of us are real. What God creates is real. We should not be attached to them or wholly identified with them or view them in a false light of their own self-sufficient reality but nor should we deny them their own proper place in the hierarchy of existence . Again it's both/and though all parts of the whole should be viewed in their correct hierarchical relationship. This makes for a so much richer and more joyous existence than retreating to the unmanifest absolute, blissful as that may be. It's the life more abundant.

And God thinks so too. That's why he created.




Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Christ and India

I have put a post on Albion Awakening that speculates on a possible connection between Jesus and India. I should emphasis that it is very speculative!

http://albionawakening.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/christ-and-india.html

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Why Are We Born Into The World?

Just recently I made some comments on Bruce Charlton's blog about the reasons why I thought we are born into this world and what we have to do while here to make proper spiritual progress. Does this mortal life have value and purpose or is it just something that we should seek to go beyond by devoting ourselves entirely to higher spiritual things, and being completely detached from any sort of worldly focus? Actually I believe both of these things to be true in their own different ways, and will try to explain my position here.

First of all, here are my comments. They are taken out of context but if you would like to see them as they are in Bruce's post it is here.

"As I see things we have to develop a real individuality before we can go beyond that and reach a conscious I-Thou union with God and so know love in the full spiritual sense. The pronounced duality experienced in this material world enables us first to develop the self and then, if we follow the spiritual path as we should, to transcend the limited identification with it in the union with God.

I don’t find thinking in Buddhist terms is helpful for me any longer. (Note: This was in response to a point made about the Buddhist concept of the lack of centre to our sense of self).  I think our individuality is a real, God given thing and we have to develop it in a spiritual sense, grow intellect and imagination, ability to act and be creative etc, but, at the same time, go beyond a limited identification with it into a deeper union with God. But there has to be something to achieve this union.

I think Buddhism confuses the personal, separate self or ego which is a mind created thing with the real individuality which is a spiritual thing and which, when it has developed sufficiently, can join in the fully conscious union with God.

I don’t think you need to reduce individuality, God wants strong individuals in his kingdom, that’s why he created us, but you certainly do need to reduce and then cease entirely your unique identification with it. Go beyond it rather than to eradicate it. Eradicate the ego, yes, but not the individual. For me Buddhism tends to cure the sickness by killing the patient while Christianity heals the split in the soul.

The caterpillar has to grow before it can metamorphose into the butterfly.  True, it does have to give up its identity as a caterpillar if that metamorphosis is to take place but the butterfly is the caterpillar metamorphosed. It is still there but now a butterfly rather than a caterpillar.

I base this on the teachings of Christianity, my own intuitions on the matter and my personal experience with discarnate teachers who I regard as demonstrating its successful achievement.”

This more or less sums up what I think but I will try to expand on it a bit here.

I will start by saying that I consider God to be a personal God not just an impersonal absolute. He does have that aspect to him too but it is the aspect of him at rest, asleep you might say. But in expression, and this whole universe is him in expression, he is a personal God. This is him awake and active or creative. He creates us, human beings, because he is a God of love and because he expresses himself in love. You might almost say he grows through love. He creates us with free will because love is only real when the beloved is real, and the universe is a vastly more interesting place for God if he shares it with other free beings who are, of course, always dependent on him for their being but who have still been granted freedom.

This might sound a bit too simple, almost childish, but I have come to think that over-philosophising on this question takes us away from the simple truth. The Masters always told me that truth was simple and that endlessly thinking about it got one nowhere but I must confess that my natural tendency is to theorise when perhaps I should allow myself more to feel with the heart. This is not to recommend the abandonment of thought. We have a mind and should use it. But we need to give priority to intuition and then use thought to unpack that rather than give thought the driver's seat.

So I believe God created us because he is a God of love, a God that gives and a God of ceaseless expression who might even be said to grow through his creation. He creates us as real individuals not mere clones of himself. We are free. But when we are created as pure spiritual beings we are babies. With vast potential but undeveloped. We are conscious but in a kind of sleep state. If we are to be real, free, fully conscious spiritual beings then we must unfold that potential. We must, in a way, build ourselves if we are to be ourselves and not just mechanical automata. 

God gives us the environment in which to do that and it is this material world in which the sense of separation from him is possible. Without that feeling of separation we could not come to know ourselves. We would remain spiritual babies. But there's a risk. We might come to identify ourselves exclusively with ourselves. Separation might go too far. Any awareness of God at all might be lost. That appears to be what has happened. Whether it is a consequence of the Fall as described in the Bible or whether it is part of a natural cycle is a matter for debate and I do not want to enter into the in and outs of that here other than to say that I am firmly of the belief that there was a derailment of a natural process, and that sin and death entered into the equation in a way that might not have been necessary had things gone according to plan. Things went wrong and that is the explanation for much of the state of the world as we see it today. The Incarnation put things back on track but it is a gift that still needs to be accepted. 

So salvation was not originally a necessary part of the plan and only became so as a result of the Fall. Instead of our evolution, as in spiritual unfoldment, proceeding naturally and almost inevitably it became something which we had to turn back to and re-embrace. Without the Fall our spiritual development would have proceeded in a smooth, or much smoother, way. We would have experienced duality but not the full and complete separation from God, and therefore been able to develop mind/self without all the negative consequences we now know so well. We would have entered the material world, reaped the benefits to be found there and returned to spirit in full consciousness, having learnt all the lessons of duality. It would have been a journey from unconscious innocence to self-conscious experience and back to innocence again but now fully conscious and bearing the fruits of experience which are essentially wisdom and love.

The Fall messed that natural trajectory up. Now we became trapped in material, self-centred consciousness. Matter actually became much more material, harder, denser, to the degree that it became impossible for us to get out of it. That is why we needed the incarnation of Christ to, as it were, re-spiritualise matter and enable us to liberate ourselves from self-identification as material beings. He offered the way for us to get back on track but we have to accept that. By the way, I think that the Incarnation affected all spiritual approaches and gave them all a new energy but clearly it affected Christianity to the fullest degree.

So there are two things going on here. There is the natural spiritual unfoldment that requires spiritual babies to experience this material world in order to fully awaken to themselves and then consciously return to God. That was the original plan. But then there was the corruption of the Fall which locked those babies in separation and materialism and stopped the conscious return occurring naturally. The process was stalled half way with the disastrous results we know and which required the Incarnation. But now we have to reject identification as material beings, the usefulness of that bit is long since done. We have reached the nadir and must turn around and start our journey back to God.

Obviously things are much more complicated in the detail than I have written here but this is a basic outline of the reasons, as I see them, for us being on this Earth, for why we are born into the world and what we have to do once we are here. Remember the Creator and live all your life in the realisation that your task is to realign your self with his to which end you must offer up your little self in a loving sacrifice just as Christ did. He demonstrated exactly what each and every one of us has to do. He did not disdain the material world but he saw it exclusively in the light of the spiritual and that is what we should do too.


Thursday, 8 June 2017

Election Latest

There is a general election in the UK today. I shan't vote because it's clear that all parties are equally determined to plunge the country further into spiritual chaos. It does seem to me, however, that a properly ordered society would naturally be conservative but in that case any conservative party would be totally, radically, different to the one we have now.

A true conservative society would be focused on God and on preserving what was valuable in tradition which is the wisdom of the ages, tried and tested in the fires of experience on the one hand and spiritual revelation on the other.  It would not be especially interested in protecting the fortunes of the rich or in the advancement of capitalism though it would not be averse to those things when appropriate either. Specifically, to preserve or enhance the spiritual order of society.

Note that in ancient India, a very conservative society, the Brahmins, the highest caste, were certainly not the richest though they were the most respected and the maintainers of religious orthodoxy.

Spiritually concerned people who are drawn to the left because it seems to promise a fairer, more egalitarian world should ask themselves what this world is actually for. The fact is that this material world does not exist for everyone to be happy and well off in the context of worldliness. It exists for spiritual salvation and the opening up of consciousness to light. But since its inception the left has drawn human beings further and further into the idea of this world as real in and for itself and human beings, as they appear to be in the context of this world, as real in and for themselves.  It has effectively become a humanistic religion which completely fails to understand that this world has no reality and no purpose in and for itself. It is a false religion which has sought to replace Christianity by usurping and over-emphasising certain aspects of it which have no relevance outside a spiritual context.

That is why the left is so spiritually harmful. Anyone tempted towards it on the ground of fairness or justice should know that the more it focuses its battles on this world, the more it cuts us off from higher spiritual realities. Which, of course, does not mean that unfairness and injustice are acceptable but everything here should be seen in the light of God's plan of salvation and spiritual unfoldment with the understanding implicit in the latter that there is a higher and a lower, a deeper and a shallower and that therefore things are by no means equal. The universe is based on oneness and hierarchy and these two cannot be consider separately. That is the key to all politics. Even politics comes down to metaphysics.


Monday, 5 June 2017

The Threat to the West

Last night I watched about 10 minutes of the pop concert in honour of the people killed in the Manchester terrorist attack. I believe part of its intention was to celebrate the West’s values but, as far as I am concerned, it completely trashed them. It left me wondering (not for the first time), what is the greater threat to Western civilization; Muslim terrorism or contemporary popular culture?

If you’re interested I have the answer. It is the latter, if for no other reason than it is welcomed with open arms and celebrated almost everywhere. Consequently it has infected innocent young minds, as well as not so innocent older ones, for decades.  It is one of the main weapons in the fight against spiritual truth and beauty, not to mention the vulgarization of real culture. Any liberating influence it may once have had is long since gone and it is now almost totally a corrupting force. The two opposites of fundamentalist Islam and modern popular culture spring from the same lack of awareness of the Good and the True, and the same narcissistic focus on self. To fight one with the other must leave the demons who are behind both howling with laughter.

Don’t take this as saying that any form of popular culture is wrong. There is room for many things in the world and not everything has to be spiritually uplifting. Indeed not everything should be spiritually uplifting for that would be too much of a stretch for most people and we all need to relax and be entertained sometimes. It's good to sing and to dance and to laugh. But nothing we do should be spiritually degrading either and nor should it be actively against the higher forms of the good, the beautiful and the true, all of which (most) modern popular culture is. When the body is seen as contiguous with the soul then it is fine, even right, to acknowledge its place in the scheme of things. When it is taken out of context and celebrated exclusively for itself, without any sense of the hierarchy of being, then you are asking for trouble.

Don't take this either as suggesting that somehow a pop concert is no better than murdering people going about their daily lives. That would be a wilful misunderstanding of what I am saying here. But our contemporary popular culture is a major contributory factor in the attack on the soul and has been used for some time as part of the demonic assault on true Western values.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Grace

A person is only given as much grace as he merits and is able to take without being overwhelmed by. 

So I was told by my teachers. Reflections on that thought on Albion Awakening.