Friday, 13 October 2017

More on Truth and Love

I’ve written before about truth and love and the necessity to keep a proper balance between them. Lean too far in either direction and you will fall into error either through rigidly enforcing law without mercy, as a political far right might do, and so becoming hard-hearted and dogmatic, or else by abandoning law for the sake of a sentimentalized love that recognizes no distinctions and no overarching truth, as the left does, thereby consolidating and confirming people in sin and ignorance. We can even look at these as masculine and feminine type reactions, at the same time noting that they are often provoked by an extremist attitude on the other side. Extremes breed extreme responses. To get this right requires a high level of discernment as well as honest motivation, and it is one of the primary tasks of the spiritual aspirant though really it is the duty of any individual to make some steps along this path.

The Pharisees condemned Christ because he favoured mercy over the law. In their eyes anyway. Actually he did not. He just didn’t reduce mercy to insignificance when set against the law. He kept the balance between the two and responded to each situation on an individual basis rather than an inflexible, set in stone one. Unlike the Pharisees he treated human beings in a human way not as impersonal objects to be fitted into an unbending dogma. But he also worked from law and truth as can be evidenced in numerous passages of the Gospels, for example when he said that he did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfil it or when, in John chapter 14 verse 15, he stated clearly and unequivocally "If you love me, keep my commandments".

The point is Jesus looked into the heart and if he saw goodness there he aimed to bring it out. He saw rigidity in the hearts of the Pharisees so contested them. Not because of their adherence to the Law but because of their hard-heartedness in enforcing it. He looked into the heart of sinners and sometimes he saw true spiritual feeling there, albeit overlaid by sin. So he encouraged them to come to him but that required a willingness on their part to repent of their sins, certainly to recognize that they were in a state of sin and do their best to move out of that. He reached out to people and called them to repent and change. If they were not willing to do that and wanted spiritual reward without being willing to renounce their sinful ways he would not have persevered with them. They would have been as bad as the Pharisees, at the other end of the spectrum of sinfulness. Their spiritual sincerity and desire to change were paramount.

It can never be repeated too often. Jesus did not come to make us happy in our earthly selves but to bring us to holiness. He loved and he forgave but above all he was the Truth and he required all those who followed him to walk in the way of truth. If they did not, well then they could not be his disciples. You cannot have Jesus and sin any more than you can have God and Mammon. If you love me, keep my commandments means if you don't keep, or at least try to keep, my commandments then you don't love me. Jesus brought mercy but not a cheap and false mercy that overlooked sin because sin is fundamentally what separates a person from God. To warn people against sin and the spiritual self-injury that results from it is not hard-hearted but truly merciful because it frees the soul from captivity.

We are all sinners but the spiritual person recognizes this, accepts it and tries to put it right. He doesn’t try to excuse or justify his sin. Likewise the spiritual teacher will talk of God's forgiveness but forgiveness is conditional on proper repentance. Again, truth and love must go together. You cannot have one without the other.

This idea has a bearing on the current difficulty in the Catholic church. I am referring to the so called 'filial correction' issued by some senior members of the Catholic hierarchy to the Pope. This is in response to his apparent opening up of Holy Communion to those who have disqualified themselves from receiving it by their way of life, principally, as I understand it, divorced people and others who have broken with traditional sexual standards. The reasoning of those who support the Pope in this is that he is bringing more people to God through the exercise of mercy and forgiveness. The concern of those who are against it is that he is offering forgiveness regardless of any repentance and thereby rebranding sin as not sin and starting the inevitable slide into moral relativism. 

It does seem to me that at the very least the Pope is being naive if he thinks that lowering the bar of what it means to be spiritual will do anything other than reduce God's truth to a worldly parody of it. You may increase quantity. You will certainly reduce quality. You simply cannot compromise truth and the excuse of love is no justification. At the same time you cannot use the excuse of truth to act unlovingly to God's children.  What the Pope should do is affirm traditional teaching while saying that the door is always open for repentant sinners who will be welcomed home as was the prodigal son. But note that the prodigal son had to return to his father. His father did not go to him. Yes, Jesus did come to us as that was his special mission, but he still required (and requires) us to come to him on his terms, the terms of truth, not on any of our own. There is no way round this. I can understand and sympathise with Catholics who regard this revised teaching with alarm, and I can appreciate their dilemma in that they have to go against their supreme authority on Earth. But there is a higher authority and they have to be faithful to that above all. Frankly, they've rather got themselves tied in knots with their doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope which comes very close to idolatry in my view.

So truth and love, always together. Neither one without the other. This is how it must be.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Archbishop and Homosexuality

A few days ago in an interview the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, was unable to give a clear cut answer as to whether he thought homosexual acts were inherently sinful or not. See here

I'd like to help him out. If you mean by sinful spiritually unlawful then yes they are. An act against nature is an act against God and that is a sin. And these are acts against nature because, at the simplest level, they are using organs either designed or evolved (it makes little difference which word you choose in this case) for one specific purpose in a way that is quite contrary to that purpose. You may say homosexual acts are natural to a homosexual but that is irrelevant. Suppose I have a bad temper. Losing my temper is quite natural to me. That does not justify it. The bottom line (goodness, it's hard not to make double entendres with this subject) is that homosexual acts are a sin because they are a misuse of the creative energy of polarity for purely personal ends. Of course, much heterosexual activity also falls into that category and there the same rules apply. We would never have come to this position were it not for the inroads the sexual revolution has made into all aspects of human sexuality just as feminism, the female revolt against the male, would not have come about if first there had not been the male revolt against God. One thing inevitably leads to another. It's a slippery slope and it always leads downwards.

Actually I sympathise with the Archbishop. He is caught between two stools, that of the spiritual beliefs of the church he leads and that of what it means to be a good and decent person according to contemporary liberal ideology which basically amounts to treating everybody in exactly the same way regardless. But he should learn a lesson from the person he supposedly follows. I have quoted from the passage in the New Testament where Jesus confronts the crowd baying for the blood of the female adulterer before on this blog because it seems to capture so much truth in such a perfect and concise way. You will recall Jesus told the mob that he who was without sin should cast the first stone at the woman at which its members shamefacedly dispersed. Then he told the woman that he did not condemn her either and that she should go and sin no more. So her act clearly was a sin. That should help the Archbishop make up his mind. But at the same time she was not condemned, though one has to assume that she did repent and not sin any more for her forgiveness to be properly operative. Or, if she did sin, she at least recognised that it was indeed a sin and did not try to justify her act as pure.

There is the idea that in the context of a faithful, loving relationship homosexual acts might be acceptable to God. But this is to ignore the reality that they are a distortion, almost an inversion, of the energies of creation which energies are fundamental to the existence of this universe and so about as sacred as anything in our experience can be. To transgress the sacred is surely sinful, regardless of the excuse of love which word is misused anyway since the true motivation here is really desire. There is no sin in two homosexuals living together or even loving one another but their love must be pure which, in this context, means not expressed sexually. Undoubtedly such an attitude will be widely rejected nowadays and anyone holding it condemned as prejudiced, if not hateful, but that just shows how out of kilter our contemporary civilisation is with spiritual truth which it either rejects altogether or else sees in the light of the priorities of this world.

And that is the Archbishop's problem. He is spiritually weak. He is a liberal before he is a Christian so he sees acts as moral or immoral according to whether or not anyone is hurt by them in their outer worldly self, not according to whether they are in line with or against spiritual reality. He is more concerned with injuries to personal feelings than he is with those to the soul. He is right not to condemn the sinner. He is wrong not to condemn the sin. Indeed, by not condemning the sin he is condemning the sinner to spiritual error and its consequences and thus doing him greater harm in the long term. Surely the greater love is to lead people to the truth that sets them free.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Atheists and Believers

The self is a prison from which we all yearn to escape. But at the same time it is also that which frees us from fate and necessity and opens us up to the reality of love. How can we reconcile these two things? There is only one way and that is through God.

What is the difference between the self-hatred of the nihilist and the recognition that he is a sinner of the saint? Both are reacting to the reality of their selfhood and its enclosed nature in different ways, but one reacts from the self itself while the other reacts from awareness of a truth beyond the self.

Continued on Albion Awakening.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Gareth Knight and Experience of the Inner Worlds.

Although you wouldn't guess it from the title this post is about the stages on the spiritual path as defined in Sufism.The stages being:

  • Conversion and repentance
  • Fear of the Lord
  • Detachment
  • Poverty
  • Patience
  • Self-Surrender
  • Union with God
Brief commentaries on each stage are to be found on Albion Awakening.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Conservative and Progressive

I recently sat in the same room as an adult explained the difference between conservative and left wing politics to a 15 year old. Conservatives, he said, think the past was good and didn't want to change anything (the clue is in the name, he maintained) while left wing people thought that the future could be better than the past. So they were in favour of change and progress while conservatives just clung to old ways and didn't like anything new.

Needless to say I didn’t agree with this as I think it makes a number of unfounded and incorrect assumptions; number one being that human beings on their own know what is true without reference to a higher authority. The speaker also ignored the fact that both left and right think of the future. It is over what sort of future there should be that they disagree, and fundamentally this means a future with God or one without him. You might say that plenty of right wing people now have no interest in God but I would counter that this is because they are only on the right in certain matters, economic for example. In most other particulars they have absorbed the current liberal ethos. The fact is that all true right wing thought recognizes a higher reality and a higher authority than the secular, materialistic world of the left. So, as far as I see it, what distinguishes the two sides is the acknowledgement of God and the acceptance that we are here in this world for a spiritual purpose. I realise that is not the usual definition but I think you will find that if you strip both back to their roots that is what you will discover.

Why is the left worse than the right, spiritually speaking, when, according to its lights, it seeks a juster and more humane society? It is because the modern left seeks to remake man in his own image and without reference to the Creator who, if he is mentioned at all, is only considered in the light of the centrality of human beings rather than the other way round as ought to be the case. When the right behaves like this, which admittedly it often does nowadays, it is only copying the left which is the main driver of atheistic relativism and the attempt to reconstruct man according to the scientific/materialistic vision (or lack of it). So, regardless of all the left's claims to improve the lot of man in this world, it immeasurably diminishes his true status by separating him from his spiritual source and being. Its focus on the collective also strips him of freedom and real individuality, denying him the chance to grow as he should. But above all its rejection of spiritual reality cuts him off from light and life in their real forms. Consequently the best you can say about the left is that it devotes itself to making the world perfect for acorns, ignoring the fact that acorns are meant to grow into oaks. It is therefore the ideology of stunted growth.

Think of these words of Jesus Christ and then ask yourself whether he was conservative or progressive.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.  For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Clearly the scribes and Pharisees, as spirit denying literalists, could be on the right or left but the point is the preservation of the Law and the Prophets is absolutely essential. You can, you should, build on them but they are the foundation. It is true that what does not grow will die but it must grow from its roots. So perhaps Jesus was progressive in a certain sense but his progressiveness was completely rooted in an innate conservatism whereas modern progressives seek to build a future on the shattered ruins of the past, the destruction of the Law and the Prophets.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Who Are You?

When monks and nuns adopt the religious life they change their name. I believe this is primarily to detach them from their old worldly persona and reorient them to their new higher life in which they are no longer supposed to be centred on themselves. They are making a complete break with the past. Of course, there is no reason why they should not then become attached to their new name and identity which simply replaces the old outwardly while the same psychological structures remain in place within, but the purpose is to provide them with a platform or focus for a new mode of being.

However there is another reason why everyone should try to dissociate themselves from complete identification with themselves as they appear to be in this particular time and place. From you as who you now are with the particular experiences and genetic inheritance that you currently have.  Quite simply this is not who you really are. That is just who you seem to be in this earthly life. Your real self is a spiritual being that extends way beyond the earthly manifestation of it.

For example the person known as William Wildblood, born in 1955 in London of mixed English, Irish and Scottish ancestry, is just the tip of an iceberg. One part of him identifies strongly with this person but there is also a part that feels he is the present face of something more. Not in the sense of a sub-conscious lurking below the surface but the exact opposite. Something that transcends his current personality and is altogether a bigger thing which is using the outer persona to express itself through for a particular purpose, presumably a learning purpose.  This William Wildblood person is him, of course. It is not a question of a split personality or any kind of psychological problem or difficulty of integration. It is who and what he is in the everyday sense. But it is not the whole of him. It is an aspect, presently operating in the physical world, very much to the forefront most of the time but not the totality of what he is. And it's the same for everyone though possibly there are degrees of this, meaning that if we call these two things the personality and the soul there are degrees to which an individual has developed the latter.

What I call here the personality is the physical, emotional and mental structure (with input from higher levels or else it could not be sustained) which is formed from the earthly parents though it also has its own quality, derived from its spiritual progenitor which is the soul. The soul is the spiritual being we truly are. It is the source of our individuality and contains within it our connection to God. It is rarely known during our incarnation on this earth but may speak to us through the voice of intuition or conscience and possibly in other ways too. Whether it is fully conscious on higher planes during our lifetime or in a  kind of spiritual sleep while its 'projection' down here lives out its earthly life I don't know. But one thing I do know which is that it is more aware of the true nature of things than we are. I know this because a Master told me on one occasion that 'the greater part of you remains with us and I can assure you that you wish this training to take place however difficult it may sometimes seem'.

Do you not feel that you too have a 'greater part of you'? That the being you are in this world has something more behind it? I would imagine all human beings have a soul at different stages of development though there are some teachings that say some people already do have this spiritual component while others have the task of constructing it during this life. God may work in different ways and that might explain the very different attitudes people have towards the idea of a pre-existing soul but this does not alter the fact that our task is the same, to develop  a deeper awareness of God and walk in his light rather than our own. 

This is what awakening entails, spiritually speaking. It is awakening to the reality of the soul which is the point at which we can know God.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

God is The Person

Sometimes the truth can hit you with the force of a sledgehammer. Something you thought you understood can become much clearer and seem obvious.

On various occasions I have discussed how the One, the impersonal Godhead beloved of the philosophers, is not the highest reality but an aspect of the personal God who is the real source of all. That is still my belief but something happened the other morning as I was walking along the road that made me appreciate it in a better way.

It was banal really but it triggered something in my mind, opened a door you could say.

It was a grey, cloudy morning when I left home but quite quickly the clouds began to roll away and then the sun came out in a vivid blue sky. That's all, a common occurrence but something was suddenly revealed to me which I had thought of before but not appreciated in a way that made everything seem so clear. This was not like having an idea but seeing a truth, plain as day.

Anyway this is what it was.

God is personal. Of course he is, the personal is more than the impersonal which is a subtraction from reality not a base of it. But he is personal in a different way to us. He is still the supreme 'I', the archetype and template for all lesser 'I's but he is this in a very different way to us. He is 'I' plus (impersonal is 'I' minus), and if our 'I' is a line then his is a cube but not a three dimensional cube but what a cube would be when extended multi-dimensionally.

That's it, I'm afraid. I said it was banal! It had probably already occurred to you. I'm surely not claiming it as a breakthrough in our understanding of what God is, and actually I'm not even saying it is literally true, but as a metaphor it clarified something for me that I have known intuitively but struggled to conceptualise. It made an idea more solid, an abstraction more concrete. Obviously God is not less than us (impersonal). Equally obviously he is far, far more than us. Yes, we are created in his image but we cannot contain all that he is. We do have the potential to become more and more godlike but that is from a relatively low level. We can never reach him because he is always growing too, not in his absolute being but in what he becomes.

The Greater includes the lesser. It builds on the lesser . God is personal not impersonal but his person is something far beyond ours though ours has a relation to it in a similar way that a point has a relation to a globe.

This is what supra-personal means and why it is right to think of God as personal which is not a step down from the highest truth but a revelation of it. Our 'I' is the same as his 'I' as a locus of self-consciousness but what that consciousness of self entails is radically different. Nevertheless ours is still a seed that can grow into something like its progenitor's.

There are those who reject self-consciousness and individual identity, thinking of them as barriers to true awareness. I would agree that there is a state of pure being and that the human soul can empty itself into this if that's what it wants to do. But it is not the fullness of what God is. That is contained in his 'I'.

Monday, 18 September 2017

God Cannot be Limited to Non-Duality

I had a comment on an old post recently that I think is worth including here  as it points to a common misconception. The misconception might only be slight but when it comes to spiritual truth a miss is often as good (or as bad) as a mile.

I am doing an objective critique on what is posed as argument... "I believe advaitin mistakes identification*..." is itself an inconsistency. One should go through Kant's Critiques, Hegel's Phenomenology to understand Sankara's philosophy. Becoming is subsumed under Being. All identification is about an apparent form that will subsist only till such time it is disproved under a higher truth. The highest truth is the form of unity called as Absolute because there is nothing beyond it, call it God and it is immediately given the form (conceptual) of God.

To which I replied.

Or call it the Absolute and it is immediately given the form of the Absolute.

I don't think you need Kant or Hegel to understand Sankara. If you do then he failed to get his point across. I appreciate what you mean about becoming being subsumed in being and perhaps that is what happens insofar as the locus of identification or centre is concerned. But I believe the mistake of advaita is then to ascribe to the relative world no point or purpose at all. This is indicated by Sankara's inability to explain why the world should have arisen in the first place and what its purpose might be.

Individuality is not the result of ignorance but a real God-given thing without which we could never even know the Absolute or God, call it what you will.

It's easy to get lost in intellectual abstractions (a bit like Kant and Hegel) and advaita quite frankly is often guilty of that. I'm not aware of one person who really demonstrates the truth of advaita in themselves and I include such people as Ramana and Krishnamurti for whom I have great respect as well as a whole host of lesser luminaries. In each of them, very obviously, the individual still remains and, in fact, must do as the vehicle of their realisation. Are we really saying that the consciousness of a Buddha or Ramana is the same as the consciousness of the Creator of the universe? Really? If not then individuality must be a real thing, and a lasting one too even if it is transformed.

That is why I regard the true goal of the spiritual life as the integration of being and becoming, not the perception of the former as fundamentally illusionary in the light of the latter. And this is why we need the experience of being born in this world. It gives us something we need and did not have before which is the knowledge of duality that, when resolved, gives us a deeper entry into reality than simple oneness or non-duality would allow.

This world is a far richer and more meaningful thing than advaita allows. It is the expression of love which, if advaita practiced what it preached, could have no real meaning. It’s no good saying that love exists in the world of maya but not at the level of pure non-duality because that leaves love as a manifestation of ignorance in which case it is hollow.

Advaita fails to see that reality transcends a mere logical interpretation of it, and that there is differentiation right at the heart of unity. That is how a universe can arise. God cannot be limited to oneness or non-duality. Advaita needs to be supplemented by the Christian concept of the Trinity to give a living understanding of life and not a mere philosophy which doesn't stand up to examination when all aspects of reality are taken into consideration.

There is a state of consciousness that can be described as non dualistic in that the perfect oneness of all things is known but all things still have their own individual quality and integrity. To reduce life to one or the other is to limit it. This is because proper perception does not entail the sublation of all diversity to unity but the subordination. This allows for love and true understanding comes only through love.

Spiritual understanding does not reveal there is no individual self but there is something beyond the individual self. No mystic would dispute this but how would one even know it unless there was a self to know it? Are you saying it is God knowing God? In one sense it might be but then we are not God even though God has given us his being as our being and we can be aware of this uncreated part of us as the very essence of our being. It is at a deeper level than our self but it needs our self as a subject to know this. So there are always two even though they are one.

The full quote was "I believe the advaitin mistakes identification with the ground of his own being for union with God but that latter is a higher state and the reason we were brought into being and sent out into this world. Non-dualistic realisation would not have required that. We could have just rested in pure being, pure awareness, but God created human souls in order for them to integrate being and becoming, not renounce becoming, and that is a much greater state than passively resting in pure being alone."