Monday, 18 April 2016

Teaching for a Child

Spiritual truth is really quite simple or, at any rate, its essentials are. This is something my teachers always insisted on. In their words, spiritual truth is simple but it is easy to get lost in philosophical speculations which lead nowhere. Now this means that basically a child should be able to understand the truth about existence, where it comes from, what its duties are and what its destiny should be. Obviously not in detail but sufficiently to be able to lead a life in harmony with the universe instead of one completely at odds with it as is mostly the case nowadays. 

So what are the essentials which every child should be taught? Different cultures might emphasise different aspects of the story and present them in slightly differing forms, but I would say that any child entering this world who is not given the information below is deprived of its birthright and sent out into life already partially crippled in spirit. There is no need to develop these ideas to begin with. That can come later as and when required. The simple understanding of basic truths is enough to start off with. A child may reject these truths. He or she has that right and nothing should be forced. But not to give the child access to them from an early age is a form of cruelty to a growing and developing mind. This is not indoctrination (if it were then not doing it would be equally so), and it should not be something that is insisted on but a gentle presentation of fundamental truths for the child's consideration and pondering.

Here is what I believe each child should be taught when it begins to ask questions about the world in which it finds itself.

  • There is a Creator. God exists and God is a person. He loves you.
  • You have an immortal soul for which you are responsible. It is cherished as a unique individual.
  • All life is one as it all comes from God and is held within his keeping. However all forms of life are different and they are not all equal as they appear in the world, though they should all be respected and valued.
  • There is a divine order of being and we should try to observe that and conform ourselves to it not only because it is the truth but because we will be happier that way.
  • This Earth is a spiritual school and we are here to learn lessons some of which may be difficult and even painful. We have to understand that, and not think that because of occasional hardship that God has abandoned us or does not exist. These are the chisellings that turn a block of wood into a beautiful statue
  • There are forces of darkness but this is nothing to be frightened about. They have no power that God could not extinguish in a second and they cannot hurt us or influence us in any way unless we let them by listening to their false counsel which always goes against what we know in our hearts, though it may appeal to the selfish or proud or lazy part of us. They are allowed to exist because they give us an opportunity to be tested.
  • We live in a time when spiritual truths are being lost but our task is not to be misled by that. We have to have faith which is based on the highest truths we have been taught plus what we sense in our hearts when we are loyal to the best we know.

One could certainly add to this list but I didn't want to make it too long or too complicated or too specific. One could mention that God has messengers who sometimes come to teach us the truth about him. And one could say that the current views about human beings being descended from animals are by no means proven and, even if correct, would still only relate to our bodies not our souls which are from heaven. From my personal perspective I would want to add something about Jesus Christ as, at the very least, the perfect teacher, ideal man and divine exemplar, but I've tried to make this as universally applicable as possible. I'm not saying Christ isn't universally applicable, I absolutely believe he is, but he is not perceived as such by everybody, and this is intended to be just a general outline attesting to the reality of the spiritual world. It's a framework to be built on later.


Bruce Charlton said...

@William - I agree with everything here. Although even such a concise and focused list may be bewildering to a child.

I would probably try to distinguish those things we know in our hearts, and those things which we must discover by revelation - such as the personal and loving nature of God, and the works of Christ in somehow 'taking away the sins of the world' and offering us the gift of 'life everlasting'.

(My understanding is that Christ Has Done this - and the important thing is that we accept this Gift; and this acceptance may be done after bodily death - which does not require every individual to be 'a Christian' in the usual sense. This is the view of Mormonism - where the only people who go to 'hell' are those who *choose* not to go to one of the Heavens, for whatever reason - including refusal to repent what are known to be sins - all Heavens of which are Paradise compared with earthly life.)

Plus - While I recognize that most Christians have not believed and do not believe it - I have found that a belief in pre-mortal spirit life is a great clarifier and simplifier in this modern era.

The big problem is 'teaching this' to children in a world where 'everything' in the public realm consitutes an interlocking rejection of it. This is no small matter - because it entails getting children to challenge/ reject the authority of some family and friends, politicians and rulers, teachers, law, common opinion of what is good and evil etc - leaving them perhaps feeling alone and isolated among their peers.

Therefore, it has to be done in a loving and care-full way, and without descending into harshness dogma, threats etc. Probably it has to be done partially and gradually, as presenting questions and perspective, rather than as an all-out assault.

Still, it does have to be done - as best we may.

David Balfour said...

William Wildblood said...

Yes, the distinction between what we know in our hearts and what has been revealed is a good one to make. As for pre-mortal life in the spirit world, I think this is something that should be much more widely acknowledged. It's the key to so much.

But your most important point, and really the one that set me thinking about this post in the first place, is how to support children growing up in a world in which spiritual truth is denied, and those that believe in it frequently mocked. I know children who have some undeveloped spiritual instincts but don't dare express them amongst their peers for fear of being laughed at. Pretty soon these will wither on the vine if one can't give the child something to hold on to though definitely this should be undogmatically and gently. A delicate balancing act!

William Wildblood said...

I looked at the clip, David. I can understand the message about looking beyond and seeing what nobody else sees, but I don't understand why he saw 8 fingers when there were only 4!

Bruce Charlton said...

Re Patch Adams- I get it.

If you focus on the man's face instead of the fingers that are nearer to you, then you get 'double vision' and see eight fingers.

The Old Man was teaching Williams's character to look beyond 'the problem'/ the disease, and focus on the patient.

David Balfour said...

The reason I posted this was that my feeling is that we need to invite children to think about their metaphysical assumptions and not just passively acquire the secular assumptions of modernity. These explorations of what is reality and how we know what is reality including a primarily spiritual perspective which includes deity should be explored creatively, tapping into play, intuition and natural curiosity,but most essentially of all with a loving, warm heart :-)

David Balfour said...

If you focus on God you see him. If you focus on secular politics (the problems and not the solutions) instead of divinity, then you continue to labour (no pun intended) under the misconception that this world's problems can be solved by voting labour instead of conservative and somehow another attempt at the failed socialist experiment of history will just magically work this time! But for people who don't believe in magic anyway. Do you see? :-)

William Wildblood said...

I see now. I get the principle, but my pedantic side still feels that the 8 fingers was an illusion so not ideal for a spiritual analogy! But certainly, looking beyond the obvious and through the outer is an important skill to teach children in this modern God forsaking (not forsaken, of course) world.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Agreed - this example of eight fingers is unintentionally self-refuting since there *really* are only four fingers. But that is the problem with a lot of Hollywood (and Robin Williams!) type moralizing - the second and deeper look tends to reveal the opposite of what the first superficial glance seems to suggest...

William Wildblood said...

Absolutely Bruce. When Hollywood takes to morals it's usually just admiring itself in the mirror or, worse, subverting a greater good by a lesser one.

David Balfour said...

I agree with your analysis of the Holywood moralising per se. I just found that it was an amusing trick that could be used with a child to remind them that things can be seen from different and novel perspectives. A bit like the 'magic eye' books. I personally find that while these things may be gimmicky at one level of analysis for me they force a kind of 'outside the box' reappraisal of a situation, perhaps like a Zen Koan, that prompts one to challenge the way they see the world. It just spontaneously resonated with me at some level with the idea of seeing past the secular world's narrative and it's metaphysical assumptions to another transcendent perspective (a kind of metaphor in action if you will). But yes of course obviously there are only 4 fingers that wasn't my point. I feel a little bit silly now but I also feel that being spontaneous and childlike are (to a certain extent and in certain situations) qualities that bring joy to life instead of being dreadfully serious all the time :-)

William Wildblood said...

No,don't feel silly at all David. I do appreciate your point. You're right. As I said I was just being a pedant!

David Balfour said...


I am currently up to chapter 11 in your book. It seems to have had an unusual effect on me. The first response after a few chapters was to write a poem (see below, which came unexpectedly in response to your discussion of poetry in the book. I have not written poetry for a long time but suddenly felt compelled) and feel a spontaneous sense of the bewildering extent of the possibilities of spiritual realities that surely must exist behind the material world we see. This sense of wonder did eventually tip into a feeling that I am very alone spiritually and do not have many friends or companions with whom I can share or discuss these things, a feeling of sadness that most people belittle or reject them when I try to share them and a sense of unease at the notion that perhaps my conceptions of heaven and hopes for the next life are in some important sense incorrect or naive. In particular I am struggling to understand how a spiritual progression would be joyous if it were to strip away my very person and even my soul (as it seems, at least as far as I understood it, what you were saying is what eventually needs to happen). So much for my boyish dreams of flying a light aircraft over the volcanos of Iceland and landing somewhere to go hiking or have a campfire and watch the stars or of walking my deceased dog again in golden leaves and sunlight. I like to think he is waiting for me with now departed loved ones. Are these the childish dreams of ego or spiritual ignorance? :-)

David Balfour said...

I have some words I feel I must share,
So take them up please if you care.

Life's comforts come and comforts go,
But fortune through it always shows.

Never doubt there is a higher power,
That sees us always in our lonesome hours.

Nor lose thy faith or deny thine free will,
Always seek inner calm and still.

At times of trial things may seem vile,
But seek the path that leaves denial.

The world is filled with bitter glowers,
Hardened hearts and darkened powers.

But all such things are naught at all,
When triumphed boldly with great soul!

So smile and laugh and seek out wisdom,
Make new friends with whom to love and live then.

Cry just tears and them redeem them,
For some day we're sure to leave them.

Seek in earnest and you will find,
The truth, the truth, the truth!

William Wildblood said...

Feeling alone spiritually is not such a bad thing, David. It shows you're pulling out of the ways of the world which is an important part of the path. it's good to have companions on the quest but not always possible and being alone does drive you towards God in a way that having congenial outer companionship might not. Seek solace and support in prayer.

As for your hopes of the next world being naive, please know that the best you can possibly imagine will be as nothing to the glories that await you there. Your aspirations and hopes are based on an inner longing which is the result of an intuition of the truth. We are made for the truth and only happy when we get there. Never give up your childish dreams! If love is there it is always pure and holy.

When I talk in the book about stripping away the soul what that means is that we can only know God when we renounce self-identification which means attachment to the ego. Your true self will always remain but the false self with its attachments and fears has to be given up. But this is the end of the path symbolised by the crucifixion of Jesus and his agony in the garden of Gethsemane. Not all of us are called to that point just yet. For most of us the watchwords are sacrifice and surrender. Or so I was told and so I believe. But God is always with us every step of the way.

Your poem is from the heart. I can appreciate that very much.

David Balfour said...

"Your aspirations and hopes are based on an inner longing which is the result of an intuition of the truth. We are made for the truth and only happy when we get there."

This fills me with hope because I can see truth in it. A current favourite audio book of mine is 'The Weeping God' by Fiona and Teryl Givens. I have listened to it twice now and savour thinking on the wisdom that it holds. This comment of yours reminds me of a section discussing exactly this insight! Every yearning of the human heart has tonic that is part of the created order. When we are thirsty or hungry there is food or water. When we feel loneliness there is fellowship: spiritual and physical. When we long for reasons why things are or how they work in the physical world then science can satisfy this yearning. So what you say makes sense.

Thanks for your feedback.

Wrt to the poem. It did come from the heart and that is something that I am finding qualifies everything in life - whether the action is from the heart. If it is then things are generally better in all aspects of life. I won't quit my day job for a poet just yet though you will be relieved to hear haha

David Balfour said...

I hope you don't mind a few questions and observations from time to time as I read your book to help me understand your perspective.

The spiritual reality you describe in the book seems very much a mixture of Eastern and Western traditions e.g a belief in reincarnation, karma and Christ centred despite this! Thank goodness you weren't having these ideas at just about any other time in history or you would have likely been burned at the stake by the official guardians of the faith in those eras. A scary thought and frankly an association which had tainted my ability to see the 'real' message of Christ for some time.

I wonder how you would differentiate your perspective from that of the Perenial Philosophy of Huxley? This keeps coming to mind as I read. I never encountered another Christian who takes such an eclectic or novel approach although I wonder whether you would say that truth lies beyond words anyway and so ultimately there is no such thing as a Christian once the approach to divinity is sufficiently advanced?

I would also add at this time that I found chapter 8 very valuable indeed. This is a wedge issue for modern objections to Christianity and I have (perhaps still do) major concerns about certain Christian groups treating people abhorrently and in deeply condemning ways on the grounds of sexual orientation. I have to admit I have struggled to reconcile my feelings of love towards all human beings with certain 'Christian' perspectives. Naturally the modern media cease on this to conflate and distort the issue but beneath this there is a genuine moral dilemma which needs to be reconciled. Your book chapter has helped me to clarify some of my concerns. Ultimately my inner conviction is that I must not stifle my feelings of warmth and affection towards other people regardless of these kinds of issues. Loving a person can be separate to condoning certain behaviours. It is a difficult line to draw. At what point are we morally obligated to rebuke or disapprove of another person's behave on moral grounds? What we find in modern times is that there are no taboos and anything goes in many areas of life. It is hard to know how best to respond: outright condemnation? Avoidance of acknowledging the sin? (See no evil! Hear no Evil! Speak no evil!) Tacit acceptance? Warm and loving kindness that skips over the deliberate blind spot? How can a Christian respond to the daily deluge of multiple severe exposure to a sinful world without compromising ones internal moral appraisals? These are issues I think about a lot. My feeling is that doing ones best to just go with the flow requires a moral compromise even to just be a bystander to daily life. Carl Rodgers 'non-judgemental' approach is the order of the times! Slippery slope and all that...first the inch and then the mile :-)

William Wildblood said...

I don't mind you asking questions at all, David. In fact I'm delighted you find the book interesting enough to want to do so.

You say ' truth lies beyond words anyway and so ultimately there is no such thing as a Christian once the approach to divinity is sufficiently advanced'. I think that must be true but it’s not the only reason that the book includes ideas from Eastern and Western traditions. When I wrote it I wanted to try to integrate the best of Christian and Eastern approaches for a more universal perspective that reconciled them and, so to speak, extracted the unifying essence of them. That was possibly a mistake since, as I have subsequently realised, you cannot fully reconcile Christianity and the non-dualistic teachings of, say, Buddhism. My instincts always leant towards the Christian vision but I was also fascinated by Eastern mysticism which included aspects of truth I found lacking in Christianity. I have also been influenced by Western occultism, Sufism and even some New Age writings. The lot really! I still do not think of myself as a conventional Christian because there is no church I could really identify with and I still have a need to be more universal in my understanding and approach to spirituality.

However now, on deeper reflection, I do find shortcomings in all non-Christian religions and spiritual approaches, and see questions that are only fully answered by Christ. For me anyway Christ has always been the standard by which all things are judged, but growing up in a spiritually eclectic world I looked all over the place for guidance. Curiously the Masters never directed me towards any outer spiritual teaching but let me sort that out for myself. Their concern was with inner change and development. In their personal teaching though, and in their persons too, they exemplified the best of the Christian approach without being restricted to that. Or so I think.

William Wildblood said...

Regarding chapter 8, this was the hardest for me to write. It needed to be a delicate balancing act but I wanted to include it both because of my experience with Michael and because I regard modern attitudes to homosexuality as well meaning and improvements on the past in many respects but still ultimately wrong. I have, in fact, received a couple of questions about that chapter and will be doing a post in response to them shortly.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William and David - I agree that Chapter 8 was very well done, struck an excellent balance while being firm exactly where needed.

I think that sexuality (in our era) shows clearly the two somewhat different requirements for public and private morality. Public morality (as a part of 'politics' - law, regulations, economic incentives etc.) must be, can only be, simple and clear. If it is not presented simply and clearly, then it will be interpreted in a simple and clear way - whether we like it or not.

So public morality will always be simplistic and harsh - as is our current politically correct morality, but in an inverted way than the past - and it is the job of individuals to soften and nuance this when appropriate in individual instances. We cannot expect, and will not get, perfection in attitudes, justice or anything else - there will always be a bias, and we must make a choice of which direction 'the system' is biased towards.

For Christians there is the 'problem' of being strong and not being swept into secularism, while remaining compassionate and empathic. There is no rule for this - but some types of strong Christianity are brittle and if they yield an inch they seem to collapse altogether; while other types seem to be able to be strong without harshness or encouraging hate. At its best (not nowadays) the Church of England was able to do this, also Eastern Orthodoxy - currently the CJCLDS is exemplary in terms of having a strong clear and simple teaching but almost-always avoiding hate, vengefulness etc.

(Of course, individual Mormons fail in this ideal of strong and also loving morality, and individuals sometimes express spontaneous irritability - but in thousands of considered formal church speeches and writings I have found nothing but love and kindness. So the combination IS possible in practice.)

I think the key is regarding morality positively, as what God most wants us to do.

For the CJCLDS it is clear that God most wants us to marry, stay married, have children and live in loving families. This is the clear ideal; but there is compassion and help for those (which may be a majority) who for a multitude of individual reasons of many types, cannot do this - and this may be part of God's plan for some individuals.

But it is forbidden to argue and teach that 'other ways' (of any kind) are either equal or superior to that which God has clearly said is the ideal.

The serious sin is not in doing otherwise, but in assuming or arguing otherwise, or making laws and regulations on that basis, or in failing to repent (acknowledge the sub-optimality of) other behaviours.

David Balfour said...

Thank you again for your reply. I can see you have a lot to teach me William (is that your preferred name? They may be superfluous further down the spiritual path but at the moment I quite like them) and I hope that you would accept me as a student of sorts as we continue these conversations, as I would also regard myself to continue to be a student of Bruce long since my university days when he actually was my teacher/lecturer). I know ultimately that you would regard yourself only as a humble vessel for any wisdom you have developed based on what you say in your book. This inspires trust and is a hallmark of humility. I look forward to your next post about homosexuality because it is an important issue surrounded by lots of strong feelings for people. I am sure that it is no coincidence but I do find it difficult and profoundly sad that people are now automatically associating Christian beliefs and values as *de facto* monstrously evil and hateful of people with different sexual orientations. This is not the case at all of course but it fits a certain agenda to 'divide and conquer' and tear down the great monotheistic traditions. Interestingly the same openly moral outrage has not seemingly been focused as much on many other spiritual traditions (such as Islam or even Buddhism) that share similar interpretations of sexual morality; this seems to have been swept under the carpet as part of the modern scapegoating agenda of placing this at the feet of Christianity.

Wrt to your analysis of how to harmonise Eastern and Western traditions, I agree that this will only work up to a point, a point worth pursing I might add. Beyond that point metaphysical assumptions will dictate that certain aspects of the world's faiths cannot be harmonised in some sort of "airy-fairy" mixture. That would be like an attempt to play music with a disregard for the mathematics of harmony and insisting that discordant notes are still beautiful (the short coming of modern art in its current ugly array and inversion of beauty). This cannot be no matter how much the new age movement want roses without thorns. This is just a form of denial.

William Wildblood said...

I agree with what you say here, Bruce. It's all about being as wise as a serpent and a harmless as a dove really or balancing the two universals of truth and love. It's so easy to fall down excessively on one side or another if one is not careful and then becoming either hard of heart or soft of head. I think this matter can be regarded as a spiritual test to see if we can do precisely that. Do we follow the crowd or do we stay true to what is real?

William Wildblood said...

William is fine, David. As for the student question, I genuinely feel I'm still learning myself but I'm more than happy to share anything I've picked up along the way. That's the point of all this really. And besides, expressing ideas one has gives one a better understanding of them, as well as seeing where they might be improved.

The Christian approach to the homosexual question must surely be modelled on the words Christ spoke to the woman being pursued by the mob accusing her of adultery. It has to balance his love and lack of condemnation with a proper recognition of right and wrong. Also, a recognition that we are all sinners and an understanding that 'there but for the grace of God, go I'

David Balfour said...

 "As for the student question, I genuinely feel I'm still learning myself but I'm more than happy to share anything I've picked up along the way. That's the point of all this really. And besides, expressing ideas one has gives one a better understanding of them, as well as seeing where they might be improved."

Well done you have passed the test. I feel can definitely respond to that attitude :-)

Wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. It's so easy to just say it isn't it? Like a soundbite or pithy aphorism. Like a lot of what Jesus said it is actually living that way consistently that is the real trial.

David Balfour said...

In a way I would like to think that everybody I meet is a teacher, even the angry or ignorant or wicked have something to teach me about life and how to live it better.

Bruce Charlton said...

William - This is an e-mal rather than a comment, but I don't have a contact for you - Have you ever grappled with the work of Rudolf Steiner and/ or Owen Barfield? The reason I ask is that I am currently engaged in such grappling! - and I seem to see some concepts used by you which also appear in their work. However, these are ideas with a much more general circulation in the occult/ esoteric/ Eastern literatures, so it may simply be a matter of shared common origin (or else the convergence of true revelations).

David Balfour said...

Who or what is having this conversation? *Who* is a reference to ego, which is false and must be transcended. If William Wildblood, Bruce Charlton and David Balfour are just names to label transient physical personalities that are based on the illusion of the ego, if beyond that the soul is an individual expression of the divine but that too must be transcended, then where does that leave *us* with? If I have understood *you* correctly than the world of manifested form is God or supreme *I am* having a conversation with itself!

William Wildblood said...

It's quite simple. We are having this conversation. I don't think you have to complicate things unnecessarily. The trouble is that in the past I have slipped between non-dualistic and Christian terminologies in an attempt to encompass them both and that is probably, or even certainly, confusing. It's my mistake I'm afraid.
But I don't go along with the advaita or neo-advaita descriptions of the self. Everything is real in its own way, the David Balfour self and the soul that is manifesting as David Balfour in this current life.

The ego is the sense of a separate self not the idea of yourself as an individual being. It's identification with the self-centred self that must be transcended not the individuality per se. Maybe ultimately we have to go beyond the soul and know ourself to be one with God in a full and perfect union, but, frankly, that is a long way ahead for practically all of us. Even the greatest saints don't seem to have done that in this world.

I have to say that although, I have used it in the book and in this blog (and I probably still will!), I'm not altogether comfortable with the idea of illusion. I don't really think the ego is an illusion. It's real enough as we all have one but it's something we must work to go beyond through such practices as detachment, surrender, prayer and meditation. I see William Wildblood as a real person in terms of this world but it's not who or what i truly am. That's the soul which exists as a greater being on its own level and WW is an aspect of it in this world. I have to try to go beyond complete identification with WW and align myself with the greater soul which is consciously a part of God but that doesn't mean that WW is illusionary in terms of who I am now in this world. Am I making any sense?

The whole point of creation is that God does not have a conversation with himself. He creates us as free individuals, beings with whom he can have a real relationship. This is where Christianity scores over Eastern religions. The latter can take you beyond the separate self stage, and are very good for that, but it seems to me that only Christianity really understands that the goal of the spiritual life is to enter into a full relationship with God.

David Balfour said...

Thanks that clarifies things somewhat but I suppose inevitably any conceptions of spiritual reality we may perceive are necessarily through a glass dimly given the limitations of being flawed mortal beings. I am tempted to leave all comments and questions until the end of the book because as it happens as soon as I posted my last comment here I discovered the next few pages of your book started to answer my questions anyway. Perhaps intellectual impatience on my part. I am driven by a strong need to understand and sometimes this can mean that I find it difficult to be patient or I can become confused when I discover that my working model for spiritual reality needs to have significant structural renovation or even be demolished entirely to make way for a new structure. I find this very unsettling at times as it feels like even the things I was *certain* of were potentially smoke and mirrors or a house built on shifting sands. Humans need meaning and purpose and feel fearful when they lose their 'grip' on reality. I suppose I am therefore no different except that I have had a lifelong need or drive to find answers to the big questions and to understand the meaning and function of life.

I think the unsettled feelings began to arise for me when I got comfortable with the LDS church schema of creation and perhaps that of William Arkle (a personal favourite as it seems redolent with a sense of 'the fruits of the path' and has a sense that playfulness, friendship, love and individual identity are part of a great cosmic dance) and then found that probably all churches or spiritual organisations are still just earthly things to be transcended (this is a hard thing to reconcile with a group that, and I day this with respect, that insists their church is the only true church and the others are fallen or draw close with their words but not their hearts! Strong stuff!) and that my intuitive belief in reincarnation may be correct after all (Bruce does a good job of explaining this, but with respect to Bruce as well, that is just his opinion and I need to decide what I believe for myself as well) and so it is very difficult to make sense of the bewildering market place of spiritual ideas. Which are true. Which are false. What is God. How do I harmonise my limited internal intuitions with revelation or prayer? I personally have not been fortunate enough to witness biblical miracles or speak personally with angels but I now chose to believe they exist. I didn't used to and was a happy camper in the materialist scientist school of thought until I decided that I must explore with an open heart and mind and challenge any prejudices or narrow minded tendencies I might find within myself and so I started seeing Mormon missionaries and talking to them in Utah and at Church for an extended period of time. I probably gave then quit severe headaches with my endless questions

David Balfour said...

But I found out a great deal from them and their warmth and sincerity and even open expressions of brotherly or sisterly love towards me was profoundly moving and made a lasting impression on me. It showed me that if you take the time to find out something personally about a group or ideology you can be pleasantly suprised. Sadly, I know many self proclaimed 'open-minded' people who condemn the LDS church without having ever really made an effort to find out the slightest thing about what it actually is! I must admit this close mindedness used to and still sometimes does upset me or anger me, but mostly nowadays makes me feel sad that so many people are willfully blind to even examine their metaphysical assumptions or be more of a seeker and not a defender of the house on the quicksand even as it sinks with them on it.

I think the main difficulty I am having at present is still how to maintain some clarity of what the *architectural blue prints* for spiritual reality are in the face of notions from Buddhism, Hinduism (your narrative seems to contain an appraisal of reality that acknowledges Atman is Brahman, and the deeper eastern philosophical ideas of Hinduism) and other sources. I am sure in time I can incorporate the necessary structural changes to the architectural drawings in time but your book is stirring up what had crystalised into a solid structure. I say this not as a bad things but in the inevitable admission that inner change is difficult and I am perhaps entering a growth spurt. Having said that I am also feeling very humbled at the moment by life and my feeble understanding of it. I am a tiny little man with a big ego and I sometimes feel full of shame and weakness at my short - comings. I am a beginner student for sure and must always remember this instead of (as sometimes happens for me) getting full of myself when I make progress and feel like I am becoming terribly wise and a clever so and so that has a thing or two to educate the world about :-)

William Wildblood said...

Aha! Recognising oneself to be a tiny man with a big ego (which is what we all are) is like Socrates knowing more than anyone else because at least he knew he didn't really know much at all.

As I say, in my book I tried to be fairly universal in my spiritual outlook so there is a bit of a mixture of ideas, East and West. That also reflects my experience (not with the Masters but my external spiritual experience). I used to assume Buddhism and advaita Vedanta must be right because they seemed to go further into the absolute than anything else but I no longer think that. In a way I never really did in my heart but I tried to reconcile that intuitive sense with an intellectual one, that being the more non-dualistic approach. My understanding now (actually it always was but not always expressed for the reason I've just given) is as stated in the God transcends Nirvana post. This is why I constantly emphasise in the book that enlightenment, theosis, call it what you like , does not entail the end of individuality which it would in Nirvana. I heard the Masters and though they were all one and spoke of themselves as such they were definitely all individual too. They also spoke of higher Masters. How could there be such in Nirvana? That must be the ultimate in equality.But there is hierarchy in the heavenly world and that means there must be individuality too.

So I now think that there is a state like Nirvana which is pure being and that is a deeper state than that of a creature identified with its becoming aspect, but the real spiritual goal, as exemplified by Christ, is the one in which being and becoming are integrated into a new and higher condition in which both are allowed full expression. And I think, as I have often said both here and in the book, that God is not just life. He is actually alive. That makes so much more sense than an impersonal absolute and is so much more satisfying to both head and heart.

Buddhism and non-dualistic Hinduism are so overwhelmed by the fact of the Absolute that they lose touch with the created world but it is the created world that gives the absolute its flavour. The truth is not one or the other but both together. That is what I meant when I said in the book that there is a duality beyond non-duality.

David Balfour said...

I generally regard emoji's or smilies as a bit irritating but product of the modern age that I am and of a world of texting and social media. I like the symbol for a smile because I often feel an inner smile is my preferred attitude to life and it reminds me of childlike playfulness. People often say that i am a big kid at heart and these are qualities I hope I will never lose no matter how spiritually advanced I may become some day. So my response to your last post is agreement, pleasure at the joy of sharing these things with another like-minded seeker and:


William Wildblood said...

I've never used them myself but I tend to stick an exclamation mark here and there for much the same purpose!

David Balfour said...

Haha and therein lies a generation gap!

:-) = !

David Balfour said...

Todays thought: Thank you for writing your book! It is exactly the book I needed to read right now. Still only half way through but it is providing me with much that I needed to here where I am on the path right now. I am sure this is no coincidence! I hope I can learn from the wisdom in these pages! Have a good day!

Note my use of exclamation marks today!

William Wildblood said...

I'm glad you're enjoying it, David. It's good to have your feedback too.

David Balfour said...

"You must bring the soul to perfection (symbolized by the Transfiguration) before you are ready for the crucifixion which is the necessary initiation before you can ‘go to the Father’. Thus the knowledge of non-duality can only come through the full experience of duality."

Taken from your post on another blog. On reflection my feeling is that when I stopped being a Buddhist and became a Christian, based on a sense that the two religions were mutually exclusive in most major respects, I was actually making an error. This is not the case at all BUT there are certain mutually exclusive elements to the two traditions that cannot be ignored and something has to give. Perhaps if we were able to travel back through the millenia to trace the anticedent spiritual traditions we could find the roots of ancient Indian thought that are closer to the truth. As you say a flower cut off from the roots may remain beautiful for a while but it will die when it loses a connection with the source. If Buddhism acknowledged a personal deity it would be closer to the truth but also modern Christianity is profoundly impoverished in many fallen traditions because it neglects serious emphasis on theosis and spiritual development. My feeling is that the noble 8 fold path has an enormous practical benefit in terms of spiritual progression in terms of the values, attributes and qualities it advocates that each follower of the path follows to develop spiritually. If this same path were taken with an aspiration to remain mindful and grateful of the gifts from a personal deity or loving creator God as we live life as fully as possible, putting others first, cultivating humility and striving to renounce the ego, then I can see that there is much valuable common ground between Buddhism and Christianity.

David Balfour said...

If you wish to email me at that would be fine as I can imagine this strand of conversation could become very long indeed and completely off topic for the original post. At your discretion of course.

William Wildblood said...

What you say about Buddhism and Christianity seems pretty much exactly true to me, David. I do think though that Christianity , properly considered, is the highest revelation yet given to us especially with the concept of the Trinity which encompasses in itself the reality of both unity and multiplicity.

Email address noted. Mine, should you want it, is

David Balfour said...

Thanks. You're visit to India is where I am up to. I have never been but I agree countries have souls. I have often felt that and curiously that I have lived in certain times and places before. For me, I have felt a strange connection with the Vietnam war and the deep south of America and also of the Roman Empire but maybe I just have a vivid imagination and have watched too many films growing up :-)