Sunday, 8 January 2017

Question on the Spiritual and the Liberal

This question came in response to the earlier post on The Left. Since my reply is quite long I've made of it a new post instead of tacking it on there.

Q. Following on from your post on the Left I have a question. I used to be involved with various New Age groups but found that every single one of them assumed the truth of liberalism, and if you expressed any other opinion they looked almost shocked. Your opinion was branded as 'Piscean' meaning old-fashioned, prejudiced and ignorant rather than 'Aquarian' or liberal and enlightened in social and cultural matters, and the strong implication was you couldn't possibly be spiritual. What do you think is going on here?

A. I've mentioned this before, specifically here, and it's true. Practically all non-traditional forms of spirituality are politically and culturally liberal. It's just an assumption that that's what a good person is. I actually believe this is one of the tests of the present time. Are you able to think for yourself as to what goodness and truth really are or do you just follow the fashionable crowd of perceived goodness and truth?

Probably that has come about for several reasons. First of all, most of the intelligentsia is like this. Liberalism is seen as the default intelligent person's position now, but it has largely come from non-spiritual if not anti-spiritual sources so should be treated with suspicion on that account alone. It is not a response to any traditional spiritual teaching but a manifestation of the democratic spirit and therefore a political thing. But because most people today are educated in liberalism before they encounter serious spirituality they bring their preconceived notions with them, and their spirituality has to fit in to their already existing liberal world view.

Then there's love. Everyone knows you should love and liberalism is perceived as being more in line with that doctrine because it tends to treat everybody the same. It is more 'loving'.  But love is not indiscriminate nor does it deny truth for, if we are told to be as innocent as doves, we are also told to be as wise as serpents. Love should not be used as an excuse to deny spiritual reality, which is hierarchical when it is in its expressed form, nor should it be limited to man as he is in this world. What appears to be love to the outer man might not be at all when considered in the light of the whole man. Obviously love is good but real love can only be understood in the context of the whole picture and liberalism denies most of the picture as it is totally a 'this world' focused doctrine.

Then there's sex. Traditional spirituality understood that this incredibly powerful force must be contained or it will cause havoc. Unless it is contained (in marriage), and if it is seen as an end in itself, it will lead an individual or a society away from any true spiritual development or self-transcendence to a concern with self-fulfilment; that is, a fulfilment of the lower earthly self rather than the soul or spiritual self. An over-concern with physical sex keeps you in the earthbound mind and body like nothing else precisely because it is a form of spiritual unity translated to the physical plane. So if you give free rein to this energy in a physical sense you are unable to express it spiritually. But for liberals everyone should have the freedom to do as they want if they don't harm another, and sexual freedom has become one of their most important freedoms. What they don't see is that, in the context of spiritual truth, you are harming someone, namely yourself, when you pursue certain apparent freedoms. Controlling sex is often seen as a vice or a weakness rather than a virtue by the liberal mind but that is because many people don't want to control it and look for an excuse not to do so.

Then there is freedom itself. For the liberal, freedom, like love, is seen as a universal good but in actual fact, like love, it must be seen in the context of, and be subordinate to, the reality of God. Taken out of its proper context, as it is in liberalism, it becomes a means to extend the domination of the ego or unrepentant and unreconstructed autonomous self. The restraint of sex and freedom, so important in traditional monastic disciplines that were founded on chastity and obedience, has been rejected by liberal spirituality but why have these been rejected? If you look beneath the excuses you see it is because the ego wants to have its cake and eat it too.

Following on from all these things we can see that modern, non-traditional spirituality is human centred. That means that implicitly, if not explicitly, personal growth or 'healing' rather than salvation or sanctification is the order of the day. For most New Age type spirituality humanity is not regarded as fallen and in need of repentance but full of spiritual potential which just needs to come out if you use the right techniques. No doubt we do have great potential, Jesus told us we did, but this will only come out after there is true repentance which is an admission that you of yourself are nothing and all you are comes from God.

And here we come to the heart of the matter. God is not an important figure in modern spirituality. He is either surplus to requirements or an embarrassment or something to be gone beyond or so transformed by having to adapt to human interests that he is not God at all any longer. But God the Father, God the Creator of Heaven and Earth is not important. If he were then everything else would have to fit into that, as it should, but when he is dismissed or downgraded or changed into something else then spirituality is not about man making himself right with God but about man, in effect, becoming God himself. And here I think we come to the real reason that New Age spirituality is liberal. It is because the true motive of the New Age is to supplant God with Man.

Some liberal and spiritual people would say they do believe in God but actually what they often seem to believe in is a sort of idealised mother figure who loves all her children as they are now and doesn't require them to change or grow in any serious way. Someone who comes down to them where they are now rather than someone who requires them to go up to where he is. This is not the real God as taught by all serious religions, especially Christianity, who is love and truth together not just unconditional, undiscriminating love. Nor, may I say, was it how the Masters who spoke to me were. They had greater love than any human being I have ever come across but they expressed this in the context of the knowledge that we on this Earth are out of kilter with truth and need to put ourselves right. We need to straighten up and straighten out. Of course, God loves us but he loves the real us created by him in his image not the false self we have created for ourselves in our own image down here. 

Looking at this another way, you could say that those who think of themselves as spiritual and liberal focus largely on God immanent to the exclusion of God transcendent but the former must always be seen in the light of the latter.

As for the Piscean and Aquarian jibe, don't worry about that. Outer things may change but inner realities don't nor does the path to God. Yes, it may grow and develop and take in more of truth but, just as Jesus did not come to abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfil them, so any higher understanding of truth must build on the old not replace it with something quite new and different. This is how things work in the spiritual world and it is how they work in Nature too.

Basically what I am saying here is that those who are liberal and spiritual don't understand the spiritual because they see it in the context of this world rather than the other way round which is the correct way.

Conclusion: if you are spiritual and liberal (culturally speaking and in the modern sense) it is because you have things back to front.


Bruce Charlton said...

Well structured and true.

Although I find myself more focused on the more recent, 'identity politics' kind of Leftism which is almost entirely critical and negative and has all but abandoned any utopian or idealistic goals...

eg there is now no serious/ motivating belief in the perfectibility/ divinity of either society or the self, but instead a creeping nihilism (relativism) and despair - alternating with guilt, resentment, anger and an almost (but not quite) suicidal impulse (with the expectation of oblivion beyond death).

Most Left energies have, since the late 60s, been focused on 'protest' - eg anti- (some) wars (unless the wars are being led by Leftist heroes or victim groups); anti-racism (unless the racism is from victim groups) - and so forth.

Also, I sense the sexual revolution has been mostly absorbed into this - not so much pleasure-seeking as making symbolic gestures of protest.

(And behind it all; the deeply malign long-term agenda of purposive evil - intending to subvert, disorientate (eg about sex), demoralise, invert, and ultimately induce self-damnation.)

William Wildblood said...

It does seem as though the true nihilistic agenda of modern leftism is becoming more and more obvious. The question is, have people become so detached from any kind of true spiritual understanding that they can no longer conceive of anything that may replace that and show it up for what it really is?

ajb said...

Thank you for this post - it's given me much to chew over. I wonder, though, for how many 'New Age' is a step towards Christianity, as opposed to a step away from it or simply a distraction from finding something with more spiritual heft.

William Wildblood said...

I think you may be right about the 'New Age' being a step towards Christianity for some, and maybe a deeper form than if they hadn't been through a New Age influence. For there are aspects of spirituality in New Age teachings which have been lost or not properly developed in modern Christianity, mysticism and the sense of immanence for example. That is, the idea that religion is something more than just believing in God but can actually be a path towards become like God yourself though this obviously has to be on his terms not yours. For that step to happen however there has to be a fundamental seriousness and sincerity, something not always present in those drawn to New Age teachings.