Monday, 15 May 2017

A New Mind

I recently wrote that there is nothing new in spirituality but that is not entirely true. No doubt in an absolute sense there is nothing new. The rules of the spiritual road don't change and changing times don't mean old truths are outmoded or can be rejected in favour of new updated ones, more in line with contemporary preoccupations. Archetypal truths remain or they would not be truths in the first place.

Nor does the way to God alter. The demands are the same as they have always been. Purification of the lower self, devotion to higher ideals, mental and emotional discipline and detachment, cultivation of imagination and the mind in the heart, service, sacrifice and love of God as both inner reality and supreme being. There can be no newly discovered 'quick fix' or technique or method or form of knowledge that can bring salvation, using that word to mean the liberating of the spiritual inner self from its entanglement in the worldly ego.

But while there is nothing new in terms of what the spiritual path is or what is required on it or the goal to which it leads nevertheless, for us evolving human beings, there are always new vistas opening up, and I venture to suggest this probably continues into eternity.

The full piece is on Albion Awakening.


Aaron said...

William, when you talk about the Beyond as being static or dynamic, aren't you reducing it the thought-categories of this world?

This same consideration applies to the idea that we will become co-creators with God in a future state - doesn't that reduce the Beyond to thought-categories that pertain to this world?

The spiritual impulse, as I believe it has been understood through most of history, is the recognition that nothing in this world can satisfy our deepest longings. We must go Beyond. We can gain an intuition (although intuition is a scarcely a satisfactory word here), of this Beyond through practice and character reformation, and developing the "third eye" of wisdom that is beyond this worldly cognition.

It seems to me, William, that the whole point of spirituality is to connect us to something whose great appeal is precisely that it cannot be conceptualized in our normal thought-categories, which apply to this relative world.

When I think of this great Mystery, I experience a thrill, and it answers to something nameless in me. When I conceptualize it in terms of passive or active, or as something definite in terms of this world, I seem to lose contact with something fundamental. Do you not feel that as well?

The only conception of the Beyond that seems worthwhile is one that is incomparably more glorious than even becoming co-creators with God in an unending task of beautifying the world. Such a conception seems altogether too mundane, and a profanation of the Sacred Mystery.

Beauty points to a Beyond, and is not an ultimate value. To see beauty as ultimate, is that not to make an Idol of something that is a provisional bridge towards the ultimate? To make becoming a co-creator of God our ultimate task, is this not to make activity, which gives pleasure in this world, into an Idol when it has value only in the relative world as a bridge to the Beyond?

I would humbly suggest, William, that these conceptions are a failure of Imagination. They do not plumb the depths of the reality. They betray, perhaps, a desire to reduce the immeasurable Cosmos to the triviality of our own mental thought-categories. They do not get at the heart of the matter.

Secondly, "active" as the opposition to "passive" - is not "activity" fundamentally about changing the world, manipulating the world, and thus is this not fundamentally an appeal to our lower self? The same consideration applies to becoming co-creators with God. I search within myself for what emotions these conceptions call up, and they seem to me connected with the lower self.

Finally, all "action" is directed towards an end - it has a goal in sight. What sense, then, does it make to speak of unending action? It suggests that perfection can never be reached. Perfection, of course, is an end-state. Action only has relevance as a movement towards that end state. Unending action means we have lost the vision of perfection. Unending action means the absence of an Ideal.

Is it any wonder, then, that modernity which rejects the notion of an Ideal, birthed into being the notion of unending action (progress) as its replacement? What else could it do?

Religion, however, is concerned with an Ideal state, with perfection. I would submit, William, that within the context of an Ideal state, unending action is nonsensical, incoherent. It can only make sense in a system that rejects the Ideal.

William, do you not feel within you something that yearns for perfection and the Ideal? To be satisfied with a life of unending action is to be satisfied with never reaching Perfection, yet isn't religion the recognition that there is something within us that will never be satisfied with anything less than Perfection?

Unending action is, ultimately, an acceptance of failure - a profoundly pessimistic acceptance of a Perfection that is forever out of reach, that recedes out of view the more we pursue it. It is not hard to see why it is one of the defining conceptions of nihilistic modernity.

William Wildblood said...

I do see what you mean Aaron and on the whole I agree with you. The categories of this world simply can't begin to describe the next. But here I was trying to express the idea that the spiritual world is one in which there can be no boundaries and that it is not the entry into static perfection sometimes depicted. That doesn't mean it is dynamic as we understand it but it is wholly and fully alive.
And by Co creator I just meant that we can participate in creation rather than be the simple objects of it. This is part of what it means to be gods ourselves.

I'm not a devotee of action myself. In fact I should probably be more active! But once again we are faced with the limitations of words. What I was trying here to suggest that our understanding of the spiritual might be a constantly unfolding thing which doesn't change but is always new.

I'm very conscious of the fact that both my imagination and my ability to express what I do imagine leave a lot to be desired but in the present dire spiritual crisis I think that God and his assistants upstairs want all hands on deck.

William Wildblood said...

With regard to my last paragraph I should add that's why I write this blog but I definitely appreciate comments such as yours which help me refine my understanding.

Aaron said...

Thanks for your response, William.

I guess I meant the human imagination is deficient when it tries to imagine the Beyond. Not your imagination specifically :) That is why the Buddhist make so much of "nothing" (not mere absence, but beyond thought. Its a positive conception).

When you say the spiritual world is beyond boundaries and not the static perfection we often imagine - yes! I agree that describing it as static is just as inadequate as describing it as dynamic. Neither are correct. That is the whole point. "Beyond boundaries" - sounds like the "unconditioned" (every condition is a boundary) :) We can affirm nothing of it, yet it is not nothing, mere absence.

To affirm it as static is to place a boundary on it and reduce it to the realm of the conditioned.

In the end, I am as guilty as I accused you of being in reducing the Cosmic to the conditioned :)

Language struggles to express these concepts!

Although, I would say that "wholly alive" opposed to "static" (dead?) is also a false opposition that we cannot apply to the Unconditioned :)

Anyways, thanks for your help in helping me clarify my own concepts in the light of traditional spirituality.

Aaron said...

One final thing -

We already participate in creating the world (the world of phenomena and appearance), as what we refer to as the world is as much a product of our thought-categories as it is of anything ultimately real.

Owen Barfield said that to not recognize this fact, to regard the world as real in an ultimate sense, to fail to see it as in some sense an illusion, is to make an Idol of it, to see the relative as the absolute. He was very close to Buddhism on this point.

Ron Krumpos said...

Contemporary mystics sometimes speak of being born again. After absorption in oneness, they view existence from a broader perspective. The universal essence, which had engulfed them, is later felt as background to everything they experience. Living has greater purpose, even if they cannot explain it in words. Realizing eternal life is present currently, they do not fear death.