Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Thoughts On The Modern World

This post starts off as one of those occasional pieces on my life with Michael Lord during the time we were being instructed by the Masters, but then detours into the preoccupation of the last few posts (as implied by the title) which is why it is included here. After this, though, it will be time to leave the Kali Yuga alone for a while.

The Masters sent Michael and me to India in 1980. Or rather, we came up with the idea to go there independently but they then confirmed that it was their wish for us. There was no question of them telling us what to do. However I imagine this move would have been intended from the beginning, and known on the spiritual level long before it filtered down into our conscious minds. By that I mean that on the level of the soul, the greater part of you that remains with us, as it was described by the Masters, the general pattern of our projected life path is known, though it remains for us to adopt that pattern or not as the case may be.

We had been living together for just over a year, and sorted out areas of disagreement due to our different ages and attitudes. The holiday we had taken in India earlier (described in the book and also here) had introduced me to the country and awoken what seemed to be a strong tie with it. So I felt I was going back to a place with which part of me already had an association. If the reader will forgive a little personal speculation here, I have no recollection of any past lives but I do feel affinity with certain times and places, and India is certainly one of the latter. That proves absolutely nothing but, given a belief in reincarnation, it is not so surprising.  India is such a large country, and of such great antiquity, that many of us must have spent lives within its borders. As for the Masters, they, of course, are universal, but I know they too have a close connection with India. They also told me that it was easier for them to come to us there than in the more psychically polluted atmosphere of the modern West. Mind you, that was over thirty years ago.

Although Michael spoke Urdu, a close cousin to Hindi which is the main language in the north, we decided to go to the south of the country as that region was closer to its traditional roots in those days.  As a result it was somewhat less affected by the ravages of modernity, especially outside the main urban areas. I have been accused by an enthusiast for the scientific/materialistic world-view of hypocrisy because I criticise the modern world while at the same time availing myself of its benefits, but I think my accuser misunderstood my position. This is what I actually believe. We in the modern world have been seduced by the wonders of technology and, as a result, have lost touch with our source and centre. We now live in a self-created artificial environment which we assume to be real, but which actually separates us more and more from what is truly real. It is often claimed that technology is neutral but it's not. It is based on a belief, and that belief is the superiority of the machine over nature. If we accept technology on its own terms then tacitly we accept that belief.

That is my view based on my understanding of the spiritual nature of reality. However we live in the modern world and it would be foolish to pretend otherwise so my attitude has been to use the products of modernity, as and when necessary, but to remember that many of them would not have been created in a society that was metaphysically aware and knew where it had come from and where it should be going. And while I may use them, and in some cases depend on them as we all do now since the contemporary world is built around them, I don't let their conveniences blind me to their downside. I would never deny the many advantages they have brought, but it is important to know that we have paid a price for those in our separation from both nature and God.

Apologists will say there have always been tools and that modern technology is just a more sophisticated tool, but they ignore the fact that this modern technology (beginning let's say, for the sake of argument, around the dawn of the industrial age) seeks to dominate nature with the sole purpose of making our lives materially better. It succeeds but at what cost? A spiritual one, quite obviously. For the more we focus on material improvement as the main point of life, the more we identify ourselves as material beings and the less we know ourselves for what we really are.

In the past mankind respected and worked with nature (not always but usually) because nature was seen as part of the universal spiritual order, but now it is regarded merely as stuff to control and exploit in an increasingly ambitious attempt to refashion the world according to our will. Of course, it's not wrong for man to use his ingenuity to improve his environment and better his material conditions, but that should always be subordinate to a proper spiritual awareness, and there is good reason to think that a line was crossed when nature ceased to be regarded as our Mother, or at least part of God's creation, and became, if not our slave, then certainly our thing to do with as we wished.

The modern world and the technology that created it are the result of a denial of God and nature. How could I not criticise it, given my stance that the basis of life is spiritual? Undoubtedly some degree of compromise is necessary, and I am not saying that everything about the modern world is wrong or that technology has not made life much easier for us. But I am saying that it has assumed too great a significance in our lives, and that the changes it has wrought have brought about many losses, both obvious and subtle. To an extent we are becoming aware of that now but very probably it is too late, and besides we don't seem able to give up what we have.

We are in this world but we have been instructed not to let ourselves become of it. That saying applies just as much to the modern world too, and another saying, that when you sup with the devil you should use a long spoon, is equally relevant in this context. Therefore live in the world, use what you need to live and work, but keep yourself spiritually free and avoid entanglement in its snares. For the apple was not just offered to Eve once only and long ago. It is offered to each one of us every day.

I don't want this article to be taken as a wholesale rejection of science or technology in themselves, but I do intend it as a criticism of the kind of science that denies our reality as spiritual beings, and of the technology that grows out of that attitude. For I am not saying that the modern world was an aberration that should never have happened (as I have mentioned before I believe it to be an inevitable part of an unfolding cycle, which is why its characteristics were able to be predicted so accurately in many ancient scriptures), but as spiritual people we should be alive to its anti-spiritual nature.

Away from the World 1982

It became clear that it was the Masters' wish for us to choose an environment as much as possible removed from the distractions of the modern world, somewhere that would aid our attempts to lead a spiritual life rather than obstruct them. This was not running away from reality, but returning to a state more in tune with reality for a period in order to become spiritually grounded. But it was not an end in itself, and after five years we went back to the 'real' world (real in the sense that it was our world, the world we had come from and to which we, in this life, belonged), partly to show that what we had learned had taken proper root and partly (or so the Masters said) to bring something to the modern world, or that small bit of it we contacted, of what we had learned whilst in India. This is what they said to me in one of the first talks they gave after our return to England. "You must learn to be more outgoing but still make the inner life of meditation your main point of focus, and then balance the two. Remain yourself, do not feel you need to adjust to suit the world, but absorb what others have to give and teach only when it is obviously required or sought. Observe and absorb. Gain strength and awareness from meditation, and practice what you have learned in India. You may find that outwardly people will reject your spiritual attitude, but if you remain yourself you will create an impression."

As always I quote the Masters' words because of their universal application. No spiritual person can feel at home in this world, especially not now, and it is important to know that we do not need to adjust to suit the world. But we cannot turn our back on it either and must always make ourselves available when our help is required or sought. The concluding sentence is also pertinent. The world is hungry for truth, whether it knows it or not, but no one likes being preached to. The way is most effectively shown through example or, as the Masters put it on another occasion, "you teach best through silence and the rays you give out".

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