Saturday, 1 July 2017

The Persecution of the Innocents

The innocents referred to here are those seeking to extract themselves from this world and return to God. So perhaps not innocent in the normal sense of the word but since to do this one must become as a little child then innocence might not be such a bad description after all.

It was suggested on the comment thread of a previous post that I wrote something about a phenomenon that anyone seriously treading the spiritual path will have encountered. That is abuse and rejection from those still ensnared in the coils of this world. In the modern God-denying West this is so commonplace as to be almost universal but it is something that has always existed. If you go back to the book of Revelation there is a passage which talks about how the accusers of the brethren were cast out of heaven by Michael and his angels and thrown down to earth where they went about trying to corrupt the souls of men. This clearly refers to the devil and his hordes but the term 'accusers of the brethren' can be taken to apply to anyone who condemns another for attempting to walk the spiritual path.

Whenever a person tries to rise above this world they are attacked by representatives of the world and subjected to criticism. This can range from mild disbelief at your naivety through accusations of selfishness and mental instability all the way up to descriptions of you as insane and even evil. Sometimes this might appear to be well-meaning but at others it is plain vicious. If I say that people who do the attacking are under the dominion of the devil that does not mean they are necessarily bad people. As I say, some can be well-meaning, especially family and friends who worry that you might have gone off the rails. The stories about people running off to join cults you used to hear so much about (though I presume that sort of thing still goes on) shows they are not entirely wrong.

 But I am not talking about that. I am talking about the experiences of anyone who wakes up and then tries to devote him or her self to leading a life and behaving in a way that will bring them closer to God. When you do that you can appear to be confronting people with their own darkness and the less pleasant will attack you for that. So the evil powers can exploit weaknesses in these people in their attempt to undermine you. Either by getting you to abandon your spiritual goals and practices or else by causing you to react in self-defence or with fear or anger. When that happens you have entered a state of negative emotion and/or pride and the devil is quite happy for you to continue in your spiritual beliefs if he has succeeded in dragging you down to his level. He doesn't care what you believe. He's only concerned with the state of your soul.

I said your accusers are not necessarily bad people but the truth is that they sometimes are. I mean bad in the sense of identified with sins of various natures and not doing anything to try to overcome them, either because they are unaware of them or else because they don't regard the sin as a sin - which is in itself a kind of sin - or even because the source of their sin is their delight and how they see themselves. It could be said that we are all like that to a degree, but the degree is important as is the amount to which these sins are a dominant part of our character.

Some people resent anyone who turns to spirituality because they think it means you are saying you are better than them. Admittedly one may give that impression. I rather think I did in the heady excitement of first discovering the spiritual path. I didn't mean to but I did think I was now beginning to wake up and most other people were still asleep and that made me more 'advanced'. But again that's a different thing. What I am talking about happens with certain people regardless of any impression you may give. You show up their deficiencies and they don't like it so they try to bring you down. The only sensible response is not to respond. Don't react. Don't enter into arguments. You don't win arguments. They just create more friction and drag you down. The Masters told me that the mind can argue for any position under the sun but truth can only be known, and that's obvious when you think about it. So just state your position and then leave it at that unless asked to elaborate. Sincerely asked, I mean, not asked as a lure to further argument which your opponent is only interested in winning. 

The Masters also told me several times that the greater progress I made the more I would be assailed by evil in all its forms. Why does the devil attack those who set out on the spiritual path so much? It's clear that he has an interest in stopping souls escape from this world. Whether that is because he gains energy from souls locked in the lower planes, the only planes he can relate to in his fallen state, or because of his desire to prove God wrong in giving humanity free will, I am not able to say. He obviously has an interest in destroying aspiration towards the good and in promoting attitudes and behaviour that separate us from God, and perhaps the more you try to escape his clutches the harder he will work to stop you. The sorry fact is the there are powers in the world, supernatural powers, that seek spiritual destruction and it does no good to pretend otherwise. Indeed, to recognise this is important if one wants to understand the state of the world today and also to know how to protect oneself from them.

Which brings us to the heart of this whole matter. Forces of evil do try to attack the spiritual seeker. The stories of early saints being persecuted by devils are not fictitious or even allegorical. They are true. Nowadays this may not take such an overt form as described in the life of St Anthony and most of us are not saints either. Nevertheless attacks will still take place. These might be inner attacks from dark forces which seek to affect our mind through aggravating our weaknesses or appealing to pride and such like, even tempting us to despair about our unworthiness or the horrors of the world. Or they may be attacks on us from external people, people we know, even friends and family. How do we respond to this, especially knowing that the devil loves to attack by accusing us of his own faults and vices so as to prompt our outraged indignation at the unfairness of it all? Then he's got us where he wants us, in a downward spiral of mutual recriminations.

Jesus told us to resist not evil. This doesn't mean you should allow evil to ride roughshod all over you and have its way. That does no one any good. It means don't respond inwardly. Don't allow evil to drag you down to its level. That is what the accusers of the brethren often seek to do, whether consciously as in the inner dark powers, or unconsciously as in ordinary people fallen under their influence. So try not to react. That's hard but it's what we have to do. And then don't allow yourself to feel self-righteous or superior. That way lies pride.  Don't get angry and don't condemn anyone who criticises you as a pawn of the devil. Even if they are on this occasion, and it may well be that they are, they are to be pitied on that account not demonized as evil themselves. Frankly this is hard when you are under verbal assault but you can look upon it as a test that will make you spiritually stronger and bring you closer to God.

So neither anger nor fear nor pride nor self-justification nor the attempt to repay the accuser in his own coin. Patience, forbearance, long suffering, humility. Hard, I know! But none of us will be accused or pilloried as much as Jesus was. He gave us the example to follow.


Aaron said...

Great post, William!

I have a question, though - if the mere appearance of not being egotistical - not pursuing the same ego-based goals they do - is enough to arouse hostility and anger in many people, then how can we evangelize?

Even without actually discussing spiritual things - merely not being as materialistic and egotistic as others, or trying not to be, we arouse hostility, suspicion, even hate - what do we do?

Certainly, actively promoting spiritual things arouses hate and anger and attacks.

Perhaps, we probe gently someone's capacity for spiritual things and then offer more if we find receptivity? But never push, never actively promote, never self-assert. I find even this has pitfalls - people will often politely offer fake sympathy for your views, but as time passes and they realize you are serious and what that really means, they will suddenly turn vicious, catching you off guard.

If it should be our goal to avoid as much as possible arousing hate, anger, hostility, then it seems that actively evangelizing is out of the question - a much more passive approach is needed. However, strange to say, I have found that passivity - meekness, humility - can arouse incredible hostility in some people! They "want" you to fight, be angry, aggressive, stand up for yourself, answer back.

There is probably no escape from arousing some anger and some hostility - probably much, much more than we expect and an amount that will surprise us - and we cannot escape this by adopting a more passive approach, since passivity itself is provoking to many.

Well! I suppose be as mild and peaceful and passive as possible, and then simply take the abuse without defending yourself in any way? And never active - self-assertively, aggressively - promote your views to people?

Living half in the shadows, half out, available, yet elusive - is that the best we can do in these times?

Where does "don't cast your pearls before swine" fit into evangelizing?

As you say, William, I have found that "detachment" - non-reaction - is the only way to retain your sanity and peace of mind in such situations. You cannot "care" you must be "indifferent" - while at the same time having sympathy, pity for their blindness. You understand they are seeking happiness just like you, but have gotten lost in dark alleyways.

Although it flirts with arrogance, I find it crucial also to accept a kind of "spiritual elitism" - the understanding that some people simply are not "meant" - at least in this lifetime - to get spiritual things. Since spirituality is a denial of the self, it is a very different kind of "elitism" - an elitism that defines itself by freedom from elitism!

"Many are called, few are chosen" - the concept of "grace" as well. Some such concept seems essential for dealing with the world. Mahayana Buddhism combines intense spiritual elitism with boundless compassion for everyone without distinction and a desire to save all and leave no one behind, a disdain for the "common foolish people" with a commitment to remain outside of Nirvana till we have personally helped every last one of these "foolish people" to reach enlightenment. A strange kind of elitism!

To counteract the tendency to arrogance here, you remind yourself that you are not essentially different from them, we are all blindly seeking salvation as best we can, and they are just ignorant as to their true happiness". The concept of "ignorance" is another crucial way of reducing any ill will on your part - this is perhaps underemphasized in Christianity. Others are ignorant, not "bad" - they are blind, they do not see. They "think" you are threatening their true happiness. However, "Forgive them for they know not what they do" - that is a very good Christian version of Buddhist ignorance.

Forgive me for this long and rambling post, I just wrote what came into my head!

William Wildblood said...

How do we evangelize? Excellent question Aaron, and by the way thanks for prompting this post. I would say, it depends. It depends on the person and whether that person is genuinely interested in what we might have to say. If the door isn’t open there’s no point in trying to go in. Your suggestion of gentle probing and offering more if we find that welcome strikes me as a good one. If it is rejected, well never mind. We just have to get used to that. The thing is that if we want to do God’s work especially in this day and age we have to put up with rejection and abuse or at least be prepared for that. It’s good for the ego anyway or good for its crushing!

I don’t like meekness. Gentle Jesus meek and mild – nonsense! Humility is one thing but meek is weak! I think we just have to state what we see as facts without being confrontational or superior but not backing down if challenged either even though we have to gauge what is a fair challenge and what is just an attempt to have a fight.

My teachers once told me that a spiritual person teaches best by silence and the rays they give out which is probably a fancy way of saying by example. But think of the image of the Buddha and how many people that must have inspired just by its quality of peace and wisdom.

I take your point about ‘spiritual elitism’. It is not pride to recognize that spirituality is a higher calling and one that many people simply may not be up to though I think we all are on our own level. I mean that’s no excuse for the atheist. Just for someone who doesn’t feel able to give up the world just yet but who at least recognizes that this is the higher way and one we all must take eventually.

I like the story about St Teresa which I mentioned in my book but can’t forbear doing again. She fell off her donkey into a puddle and heard a voice saying “Thus do I treat my friends” meaning those who follow God must expect suffering in their lives. But she was clearly a sparky soul and replied “Then no wonder you have so few, Lord!”

Please don't apologise for your comment. They always add to the post.

Aaron said...

Thanks for your response, I agree with most of it.

Well, "meek" just means gentle and non assertive to me - definitely not apologetic or cringing or anything like that! Just without aggression or self-assertion.

I've also concluded that the best thing I can do is just "be" a certain way to the best of my ability and those who can be influenced by it will be - and accept that simply "being" this way will create hostility in some. And yes, these trials are good for the soul.

Another consideration is a bit more supernatural but not less significant for that reason - even in solitude we can increase the amount of "good" as a force in the world by living in accordance with God's will. This will have holistic effects throughout the "system" of the world well beyond our immediate physical situation and those we come into contact with.

After all, hermits have always been seen as fulfilling a useful religious role -and monks, one step up, as well. Apparently, self-practice even in solitude has been seen as effective from a larger perspective.

Anyways thanks for your comments William.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William - This was a post that I enjoyed and which made me think.

One aspect that cropped-up was the consideration that some or many people *cannot help* having-triggered negative feelings such as anger, resentment, hate - or sins such as pride, despair.

I think the answer is (as so often) repentance and forgiveness. We may not be able to help ourselves from reacting negatively to The World; but we can always recognise and repent doing so; and Jesus told us that this would ensure our forgiveness.

So, modern life is a tough school of temptation and corruption - but one that can always be learned-from to our spiritual benefit, even by those of an impulsive character and 'weak will' who often, repeatedly succumb.

The key is, I think, to acknowledge when we did wrong, and not to excuse it to ourselves - and especially not to try and convince ourselves that wrong is right simply because we did it, or want to do it.

In other words, we need to acknowledge that good and evil are objective realities, not relativistic subjective opinions expediently-manipulable to enhance human pleasure; and are a part of God's creation.

William Wildblood said...

To Aaron: I probably over-reacted to 'meek'. It's just it has certain connotations of weakness and allowing oneself to be intimidated that I wouldn't go along with. But I know Jesus said "Blessed are the meek" (though what the original word was I don't have any idea) and I agree with it in the sense you are using it.

I also think you are right about the spiritual power that can be released by monks and hermits leading a contemplative life. Maybe this keeps the whole world in balance and without it the world would be in an even worse state than it is. That way of life is not for everyone but it's important that there are some people who do live like that. It's a vocation and a necessary one.

To Bruce; yes, repentance and forgiveness are necessary on an ongoing basis. They're not one off things. We do keep slipping back unfortunately. I know I do.

And the realisation that good and evil are objective realities is precisely what is missing in the modern world. Either missing completely or else they are reinterpreted to fit in with materialistic/atheistic prejudices. But the source of both is spiritual and they only make sense in a spiritual context.

Aaron said...

Some reflections, perhaps wild and woolly, that may be germane to this discussion, William -

I have come to believe the "key" spiritual issue is how seriously one takes this world, how "important" one thinks it is, and the key spiritual concepts are "liberation" and "salvation"'s entire spiritual and metaphysical attitude flows from whether one takes the world "seriously". That is the only true divide.

The problem is that most people take this world very seriously indeed and consider it highly important - they cling to it and search for their happiness within it.

To such people my attitude is bound to seem flippant, unserious, deeply provoative, and antagonistic.

I completely disvalue everything they value with the utmost intensity! How can this not be offensive?

One of the finest fruits of the spiritual life is the attitude of cheerful and smiling unconcern with things of this world, with practical concerns, indeed with this world itself and everything in it!

How can this not be deeply provocative to the majority of people? Everything they take so intensely seriously is deeply disvalued, scorned, mocked.

How can they not hate me, revile me, mock me, scorn me, back?

Precisely the attitude that spiritual practice develops - the state of mind, the facial expressions, the moods, the body language - is a thorn in the side of every practical minded person, and necessarily so!

Yet it is our duty, is it not, to "expose" as many people as possible to precisely this attitude of being liberated from concern with the world - hiding it is not possible! We should not throw it in people's faces, but if we hide it, then those whose spirits can strike a spark and take wing will be left in the muck of the world.

Modernity takes this world very seriously indeed - it wishes to perfect the world and our selves within the world, not overcome the world, and the technique it adopts is science and self-development.

Someone like Ruidolf Steiner - and forgive me for saying so, but Bruce Charlton as well - basically shares the modern outlook. Material perfection and self-developement are the goals - not liberation from this world - but instead of science we have "spiritual science", to use Steiners phase.

Steiner and Charlton's are basically upset that the modern world has betrayed its ideals and has devolved into frivolous hedonism.

In other words, they oppose post-modernism and wish to return the world to the ideals of modernism, in some sense, perhaps on a cosmic scale.

But not for them overcoming the world at all! Not for them liberation and salvation from the world - they cling to the world, like all moderns, and seek to perfect, and themselves within it.

For a long time I saw the modern world as the nadir of spirituality, but I can no longer see it that way - post-modernism - frivolous hedonism - is actually closer to spirituality than modernity, as paradoxical as it sounds, and leaves me with hope.

The nadir of spirituality was the period from around 1500 till WW2 - the period that basically focused on this world and its development, through science, industry, wars, etc - we were furthest away from spirituality during this time.

But now all this has collapsed - we no longer care about power and wealth and self-development. We have seen through all that, discovered it for the illusion that it is, seen that it cannot provide lasting satisfaction and happiness.

Of course, we have now devolved into hedonism - but how much closer that is to the insight that the world does not "matter" than is the search for power and self-development!

Aaron said...

Hedonism is a botched and abortive attempt to "overcome" the world and scorn it - if the world doesn't matter, why "not" just have fun? But of course, if the world is to be overcome, then even "fun" is a fetter, and puts us in bondage.

So hedonism does not go far enough - it is immensely preferable to power-politics and imperialism and science and industry, and it display a fine scorn for the world - but it gets stuck in the ante-chamber to spirituality.

Hedonism as the ante-chamber to spirituality - now there's a thought!

Anything but power and self-development, the true antithesis to spirituality.

I am beginning to think that the world "had" to pass through the modern period to get back to spirituality on a much firmer and deeper basis -

We "had" to develop our power over the material world to almost unimaginable levels to finally and once and for all see through all that, see that power and materialism are an illusion...

We could never be sure otherwise, the dream of power and self-development would always beckon to us...

The history of Christianity is the spiritual men fighting a desperate rearguard action against the barbarians of the world and ultimately losing...but they "had" to lose, the barbarians "had" to satisfy their lust for power in order for the great illusion to finally break...and for the entire world to get spiritual on a much firmer basis than ever before...

Of course we may get "stuck" in hedonism, and the fevered power-dreams of modernity linger on in attenuated form in people like Rudolf Steiner, etc....but we are despite appearances in a more hopeful position than we have ever been since the 16th century, when our great flirtation with power and self-development began...

The career of Europe is the surest proof that power does NOT satisfy, and ends in collapse...

And Asia I believe has now to learn the exact same lesson so it too can return to a world-denying spirituality on a much firmer basis..

Its not that Asia has caught the Western "disease", as I once thought, its rather that the whole world - the world spirit, the spiritus mundi - has to undergo the same great spiritual education, and part of that is to see past the dream of power and self...

These reflections, new to me, leave me more hopeful than I have been in some time!

Yet, hopeful for what? Not hopeful in an earthly sense, not hope "for" the world, as some modern would have it, but hope that mankind can "escape" the world!

Aaron said...

I apologize for seeming to "attack" Bruce - I attack the ideas not the man!

I have the deepest respect for Bruce as a man and have learned a lot from him, but have come to see him as a perfect illustration of someone whose path out of the desert of modernity has led him back into the heart of modernity. And this has great pedagogical value as a cautionary tale. (to me, obviously many disagree)

David Balfour said...

Great post William! And stimulating comments + discussion. I may post again on this thread as it feels like it is addressing me personally but for now I am just going to reflect on it. I everyone had a wholesome Sunday.

William Wildblood said...

Just some quick responses to your email, Aaron. I take your point about detachment from this world but you are perilously close to the Gnostic position there which sees this world as entirely evil, and that was decisively rejected by Christianity. This world is good but fallen. Yes, we should be detached from it and know our true home is elsewhere but the world, like us, can be redeemed not consigned to the waste bin.

And I can’t agree that now is not the nadir of spirituality. You say we no longer care about power, wealth and self-development. That’s news to me! Some people may well need to drink the cup of materialism to its bitter dregs but there’s no guarantee that all will be disgusted by that and return to God. After all this has been going on for many decades now and few people seem to want to do that. They are just caught in a negative downward spiral. The escape from sin is only through repentance. We are currently further away from that than ever. Personally I think major disasters are the only chance most of us have.

Aaron said...

William - rejecting the world and denying the self has been mainstream Christianity since the beginning. This basic message has only been weakened since the Protestant revolution, although there have been many fine Protestant thinkers and sects that kept alive this message in its full purity.

I don't see how this twin message can be seen as anything other than mainstream Christianity.

That said, I do not know why you fear Gnosticism so much - there are obviously many points of similarity with mainstream Christianity. They are not radically discontinuous. I believe the specific point of disagreement is over the radical dualism of an evil creator God who is not the ultimate God - but I think both agree with the need for rejecting the world and denying the self.

I cannot accept Gnosticism in its entirety, but it is clearly a very pure form of spirituality, and many of its ideas have played a role in the best of mainstream Christianity.

When the Church became a political power and center of wealth, it saw the need to suppress the Gnostics with the full savagery at its disposal - as worldly men everywhere and always seek to vent their fury against those who seek spirituality. When the Cathars arose, the Church again crushed them with maximum savagery.

This does not make the Church look good from a spiritual perspective as against Gnosticism. Clearly, power was involved - the Church, as a political organization, always had a troubled relationship with the world-denying elements at its heart, and periodically tried to suppress the Mystics and Quietists that inevitably core, without quite being able to deny that these tendencies were indisputably at the heart of Christianity.

I would suggest this tension between the desire for power and the clear message of Christianity is no small part of the impasse we find ourselves in today - the Church, in the end, chose worldliness and power too much.

In any event, I am not a "church" Christian.

Well, I consider the decline of science to be one indication that the West collectively no longer pursues power. Science was about power, not Truth - but nobody does real, serious science anymore. I think this is an extremely hopeful sign.

I believe the reason is because power does not satisfy in the long run, and weariness sets in.

Yes, "petty" motives like status-seeking have replaced the grand quest for power, but at least power on a grand scale is no longer actively pursued. We have seen through that, even though we no longer know what to replace the quest for power with - yet.

The same thing with the decline of industry, the decline of military might, the opening up of Europe to refugees (which I oppose, for spiritual reasons) - all point to a massive "decline" in worldly "greatness". But spirituality is incompatible with "greatness".

OF course, we are lost in all manner of petty and pathetic pursuits and squabbles and self-seeking - but this is better than being under the mighty spell of a false transcendent principle, Power, like we have been for so many centuries.

And so - hope! It is not so crazy an idea.

William Wildblood said...

I think that (as usual!) we agree but are expressing things differently. Personally i rejected the world almost as soon as I knew what it was but I suppose I distinguish between the world as God's creation and 'the world'. I now live in the world (but I hope am not of it) but for almost 25 years I lived out of it in various places. I had no proper job, no family and dedicated myself to meditation and the spiritual path. However at the age of 45 it was indicated to me, or so I thought, that I had to go back into the world and live more normally and so I did. Now I do live in the world but am like a pilgrim passing through. That's my way for the moment. I may one day renounce it completely again. Depends on how long I'm here I suppose.

Out of interest, what are your reasons for opposing the opening up of Europe to refugees?

Aaron said...

Well, I oppose mass immigration mostly because there is no over-arching principle that might unify diverse communities. And without that, strife and discord inevitably and necessarily reign - envy, resentment, hatred, and the like. Ultimately, in this climate, immigration increases hatred and in the long term, bloodshed, I fear.

Ideally Christianity would supply the unifying principle, but diverse communities can amicably coexist under some kind of imperial principle (altho that is less than ideal) - but even that is lacking, and the worst possible situation is created, where every group is positively encouraged to see itself as in opposition to everyone else!

I cannot imagine a better factory for the creation of hatred, envy, strife!

Secondarily, I oppose it on economic grounds - the purpose of mass immigration is obviously to reduce wages by expanding the supply of labor. But that's minor, to me.

Interesting facts about your life, William - its why I respect your views and return to your site again and again. There is a purity in your life that is rare these days.

When I trace the course of my life, I find indeed that my life was a gradual weaning away from ambition and the desire for power - a gradual "seeing through" it, to its essential hollowness and pointlessness. I did go thru a period of reckless hedonism, which also failed to satisfy. Which is why perhaps I have come to see hedonism as a "stage" closer to spirituality :) But he who can leap straight out of power into spirit is a far more to be admired, in my opinion.

William Wildblood said...

I would concur with your points about mass immigration though I would also say that it severs a nation from its history and that is a sad and sorry thing. With no roots in the past its identity has to be remade and it is now remade according to leftist/humanist modernist principles which are the only ones that can apply to everyone equally. So religious roots and even the culture that may be all that remains of them are abandoned as' separative'. It's clearly a diabolical attempt to undermine truth and replace it with its own secularised version but it could only happen to nation that had already had its sense of self eroded. It's just the final push over the edge to something that was teetering anyway..

We all have our own way to the path. I feel fortunate that I was taken out of the world at a time (roughly 1978-2001) that it was going through a very morally destructive phase.

Yes, hedonism can be a precursor to renunciation but only i think when a person has taken to hedonism initially out of a kind of desperation.

Aaron said...

Back to the original topic, William, I would like to ask if you can help me consider something and share your thoughts with me -

I am tentatively testing the idea that spiritual people must wear a disguise in the modern world - that failing to do so simply causes too much strife. When one is in "enemy territory", one would be foolish not to wear a disguise!

The idea is, outwardly conform, but be inwardly free - and always on the look out for a possible sympathetic audience. Also, search for channels of communication that avoid personal strife - like blogging!

Is it really helpful to me spiritually to generate enormous amounts of strife in my personal life? How can I practice serenity, detachment? Does this really help those who cling to material things to generate rage in them and a desire to attack me, or does this just make them even more attached to physical things, and more immoral?

Spiritual "brotherhoods" always existed that were at least somewhat secretive. The ancient Mystry Cults were very wary about revealing what they were about, and the scant evidence available to us suggests they were about "release from the world" in large part. In the materialistic atmosphere of the Roman empire, this suggests secrecy was necessary to some degree.

The thing is to use disguise as and when necessary - if the temper of the times change, then one can be more open, but in certain periods higher levels of disguise are called for.

Another crucial point would be that one is not 100% secretive but even in the worst of times looks for channels of communication to those who might be receptive - today, perhaps that might be blogging, in the past, perhaps personal discipleship.

There does seem to be a tension between getting the message out and not causing strife or wasting your time with the unrecceptive. For instance, "don't cast your pearls before swine" is surely contradicts the injunction to evangelize! Surely that is a clear and unambiguous recognition that in some situations you do NOT try and get the message out!

Am I just making excuses because I can't handle the enormous amounts of strife I generate in my personal life? Am I just being a coward? Do you think this kind of judicious concealment that takes heed of time, place, and circumstance, is spiritually corrupting?

Aaron said...

The way I see it, there are Clay People and Sky People - people with feet of clay cannot see past the Earth, they are petty, small minded, earth-bound, detail oriented, status conscious, cannot see the bigger picture.

They have no wings, they cannot soar. They do not WANT to be "elevated", they do not WANT to be "set free" from earthly fetters. Freedom terrifies them, "elevation" is beyond their grasp.

Such people hate, despise, suspect, and wish to destroy Sky People. Sky People pity and try and help Clay People, but manage only to make themselves hated, reviled, suspected, and attacked.

Yet Sky People are in the extreme minority and will always find themselves besieged by Clay People! What would a survival manual for Sky People look like? They need one since it is they who are in the minority!

It would surely involve disguise and chameleon-like shape shifting as a key element!

Of what benefit is it to be a constant thorn in the side of Clay People? To remind them that they are rolling around in the mud? They will hate you!

And indeed, your very survival will be imperiled.

This is a serious spiritual problem that has never been resolved -if you reject the World, the world will reject you to the point where your very survival is imperiled.

Christianity tried to "solve" this conundrum in the form of a Church which itself became a center of power. We saw what this led to in the long run! Tibetan Buddhism tried a similar kind of detente, with considerable more success.

Traditionally, there was always some kind of detente between the spiritual and the worldly men, some kind of concession - spirituality was allowed its delimited sphere so long as it did not interfere with Power. But this uneasy detente broke down, and today - being spiritual is seen as a threat to Power to a degree never before in history.

But one thing is for sure - you cannot simply reject and deny Clay People and fight against them and argue against them without them utterly crushing you. Some kind of concession, some kind of detente, some kind of disguise, is necessary.

Both in our personal life we must make concessions and not utterly deny Clay People, and politically. For if we do not, it is we who will surely be destroyed, and spirituality go out of the world (altho I don't think that is really possible).

Aaron said...

In the past, if you "gave up the world", you were seen as no longer a threat to Power, and indeed Power was glad if people surrendered the Earth to them. It was a detente.

Today, somehow, if you give up the world, you appear as a threat to those who cling to it. Power needs you to cling to the world like they do, both politically and in personal life.


William Wildblood said...

Those are very interesting (and important) questions Aaron. They need more time than I can spare just now. Do you mind giving me a day or two to consider? Worldly duties call!
Actually I may use them for the subject of a post if that's ok.

Aaron said...

Sure, take your time William.

Moose Thompson said...

William - fascinating stuff. You write:
I now live in the world (but I hope am not of it) but for almost 25 years I lived out of it in various places. I had no proper job, no family and dedicated myself to meditation and the spiritual path.

Just curious if you don't mind my asking... how did you sustain yourself during this period of your life?

It seems there is a tension between the need for self-preservation (and worldly desires I suppose) and spiritual seeking. Lower needs and desires distract from the higher. Curious what your practical experience and methods were to "escape" the world for a time.

William Wildblood said...

Hello Moose

I was fortunate in that I lived with a friend and we could pool our savings together to buy first a house in India then one in France where property prices were cheap. I had a small inheritance from my grandfather, and he had retired and had some (not much!) money. We ran a little guesthouse in both places which gave us enough to live on. Of course in India you can live on very little. In France I gave some English lessons and when later I lived in England I did have a part time job which was sufficient to keep the wolf from the door. But you don't need that much money just to live and I even had some left over for books and CDs too sometimes!

So I wasn't a complete hermit and I did work. I wasn't idle. I just didn't have a full time job and certainly not any kind of career.

But as i say I was fortunate in that I was able to do this because between us my friend and I could afford to buy a place to live, albeit in parts of the world where such things were relatively cheap. It's probably harder now especially in the West.

You're right that spirituality and the basic need to keep body and soul together can be hard to reconcile sometimes but I do believe that you can lead a spiritual life anywhere under any circumstances though some might be more helpful than others, of course.

John Fitzgerald said...

Superb post, William. Thank you. 'Nought for our comfort', but profoundly inspirational nonetheless.

William Wildblood said...

Thanks John. The only comfort i would suggest one could take from the reality of spiritual persecution is that dealing with it can make one spiritually stronger. Your reactions to it might bring your faults to the surface and so give you a chance to address them. A lot of our faults lie hidden until we meet some kind of challenge so this can be treated as a kind of test.