Monday, 24 March 2014

The Spiritualisation of Matter

I've written the last few posts as a corrective to the tendency of some non-dualists to dismiss the relative world and everything in it, up to and including the personal God or Creator, as unreal or illusion because there's no doubt that Western followers of this teaching often misunderstand it. Part of that is actually down to the teaching itself which, by its emphasis on the absolute, can encourage people to think they are nearer the goal than they really are, causing them to believe they can jump stages or that stages don't even exist. In fact, as I have said before, many non-dualists are a bit like materialists in that they deny part of reality. In the case of the materialist what is denied is the absolute. In the case of the non-dualist what is denied is the relative or at least its authentic nature. The wise spiritual aspirant seeks to integrate relative and absolute or spirit and matter, and so does not just deny self but uses it to go through it which he does by various means including meditation and prayer, and not excluding service, sacrifice and surrender. If all goes well this leads eventually to identification with the Universal and sanctification of the individual. The theoretical non-dualist, on the other hand, bound to his ideas of non-duality, just dismisses the individual self as illusion, rejecting it as something non-existent. But, of course, he can't really do this because the self is there and so he ends up in a mind created non-dualistic thought form. He is unlikely to realise this as his mental attitude has left him with no way out because of his denial of all but the non-dual absolute, and so it will require the hard knocks of life, either this or a future one, to bring him to his senses. He may believe himself to be enlightened or to have gone beyond ignorance or however he wants to phrase it, and he may acquire followers who believe that of him too which will inevitably bolster him in his conviction, but what starts in the head stays in the head. That is to say, the very self that is being denied. True spiritual knowledge comes from the heart and will only start to blossom when the heart centre is awakened which it can only be through the means I have given above.

The composer and occultist Cyril Scott wrote a book, quite well known at one time, called The Initiate in the Dark Cycle. This formed part of a trilogy which purported to tell the story of a real Master who lived and worked more or less openly in the Western world in the 1920s and ‘30s. I think Scott was being a bit mischievous and made the whole thing up in order to get a point across, but I don’t think he made it up from nothing. I read these books as works presented as fact but which were actually fiction albeit based on certain facts because I think Scott really did have some contact with Masters even if the one who was the hero of his books was his own invention. Be that as it may, much of this third book in the series deals with reactions to Krishnamurti’s, at the time, dramatic rejection of his Theosophical upbringing, and to discussion of what he was teaching in its place. This is identified as advaita, and the reason I mention the book here is because there are some interesting remarks made by the Masters in this book about advaita. They describe it as one of the most easily misunderstood spiritual paths, not suitable for the Western world in the present cycle, partly because of the need for a fully realised guru, and say that Krishnamurti’s version is likely to lead his followers nowhere except hypocrisy and self-delusion. Krishnamurti’s personal level of attainment is not disputed but his teaching methods are. I don’t entirely go along with this because I think Krishnamurti was a much needed spiritual purifier, but it may be that that is how the Masters eventually used him once they saw the direction he had taken. What I do find instructive is how these remarks can be applied even more to modern non-dualistic teachings which do not come from teachers of Krishnamurti’s level of attainment and so don’t even have the force of his spiritual realisation to back them up. For it is a fact that the same words will vary in their spiritual impact depending on the level of consciousness they are coming from. Words spoken by a genuine enlightened soul will have much greater inner resonance and transformative power than those same words spoken by an ordinary teacher. Incidentally, this is partly why spiritual teachers who have not attained enlightenment but who speak as though they have are guilty of a form of blasphemy. They are defiling holiness with ego.

Let me repeat here that the purpose of this series of articles is not to deny the basic principle of non-duality, but to point to some of the potential flaws in an exclusively non-dualistic approach to the spiritual path. These arise chiefly from excessive focus on one of the two poles of manifested reality to the neglect of the other, which is why I said in the book of which this blog is an extension that there was a secret beyond non-duality and that it was duality. What I meant by this slightly facetious remark is that consciousness alone is not the goal, which is to say you will not reach the goal by focusing on pure consciousness alone. As most non-dualists take their inspiration from advaita let me express this in terms of Indian philosophy. Realisation does not just come from the knowledge of Siva. It comes from the union in the disciple of Siva and Sakti where Siva is pure awareness and Sakti is the divine energy hidden in form and working through it. So it is not being alone that you should aspire to but the union of being and becoming, spirit and matter, life and form, absolute and relative, universal and individual. And this is done by accepting not rejecting, by accepting the totality of your being and raising it up into the light. This is the spiritualisation of matter and is the real task required of the disciple. You do not make base metal into gold by throwing away the base metal but by purifying and refining it to the point at which real transmutation can take place. Likewise you do not awaken spiritually by denying your soul but by perfecting it, purifying it and then, only when all that has been achieved, offering it up in sacrifice.

Duality is a fundamental principle of the universe and exists for a reason. Everything comes from the interplay between the two poles which are two and, at the same time, one. We need to transcend our current identification with form, that is true. We need to see duality as the expression of the One Reality, that is also true. But we do this through fully integrating the two poles of existence not by denying the creative potency of one of them. Non-dualists are not wrong to see consciousness (the Father, Siva) as the root of existence but the Father can only be known by the Son who is born from the union of Father and Mother in the secret place of the heart.

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