Monday, 9 July 2018

False Prophets

There's an idea in some spiritual circles that one should not criticise anyone else's approach to God because there are many paths that go up the mountain from different sides and they all meet at the top. Like many errors this has some truth in it. There are indeed different outer paths but they must have the same inner qualities or they will certainly not go to the same place. Just to make the claim that one is engaged in the spiritual quest is by no means good enough. It is how and why you are so engaged that matters. It is how you conceive of spirituality that counts not spirituality itself which is a word that can be used to cover a multitude of sins. After all, even the devil believes in God.

If you care for truth you sometimes have to point out what masquerades as truth but isn't. It may be wholly false such as materialism or it may be part true and part false such as, in my opinion, Islam. It may be actively deceptive or it may just be incomplete. It may appear to glitter but be base metal or it may have shortcomings which don't incapacitate it but still leave it halt and lame at the final race to the line. 

This is not surprising when you consider that humanity is still a long way from understanding the spiritual world so our approach to it is going to be heavily subject to our personal limitations. Unprepared mystics opening themselves up to higher dimensions of reality are often going to be overwhelmed by forces beyond their comprehension and interpret these according to their current intellectual and cultural conditioning or even prejudices. In these latter days we might have a wider range of spiritual teachings to draw upon than ever before but this could potentially just increase confusion. And then you have to factor in human ego which usually corrupts what it touches and can often seek the spiritual for its own ends. The false guru is so well documented these days that it has almost become an archetype. But the desire to be seen as a spiritual expert is one of the most potent forces there is to the fallen human ego. To be on the platform dispensing wisdom to an adoring faithful can be an intoxicating position in which to find oneself.

The Masters told me that there were many teaching half-truths at present. They went on to say that they were not all evil but some were doing good work at their level. Here they drew the distinction between those who take to the spiritual path to advance themselves and those who may be sincere but who lack wisdom. It is not hard to find examples of both. Half-truths can be very alluring because they do contain elements of truth but you will usually find there are also elements that pander to the lower self and indulge it in some way. Or else they focus on one aspect of reality while ignoring or dismissing others, failing to appreciate that in its fullness reality is multi-faceted and, to be complete, all aspects of it must be taken into account and assigned their correct position in the hierarchy of truth.

If we don't point out the false how can we know the true? No doubt in an ideal world we would not have this problem of false teachers and those who mean well but are mistaken, but in that kind of world we might not have so good an opportunity to develop our own inner spiritual awareness by learning to discern bad coin from good. For it is precisely by sifting the range of spiritual teachings in our minds that we can separate the wheat from the chaff and fine-tune our own spiritual antenna. Sometimes we might need help in doing this but we still have to make the decision of what to believe and how to respond to belief ourselves.

Of course, many may consider that some of the things I write here are wrong by the standards of their beliefs or by those of orthodox religion. And I may well be mistaken in some of my beliefs. But it is the attitude behind these beliefs that is important. For instance, I believe in reincarnation as the means whereby consciousness evolves. Others find this a heretical view and will come up with reasons why it cannot be so. I don't mind. It makes sense to me and I have what I think are distant memories connected to past lives but I realise these memories may not be mine and may not even be memories. But, more to the point, I only regard the doctrine of reincarnation as a detail, not essential by any means. Compared to developing love of the Creator, and wisdom by opening yourself up to his mind, it is irrelevant. It is not a pillar of my faith even if I do think it is important in its own way. But the real foundation of what I believe is God as manifested through Christ. The rest is peripheral to that central truth.

False prophets will always be with us. Some are egotistic deceivers and some are just mistaken. It is possible that they may even have something to teach us, whether that be to learn discernment or to broaden our own outlook to include elements of their teaching that may have eluded us. For not everything a false prophet teaches is wrong. But what defines him as false is the overall impact and tenor of his teaching as well as where it comes from. If we think of the higher worlds as hierarchically structured then we might picture the pure unadulterated truth as existing on the highest spiritual level while error can creep in as we descend through the mental and emotional planes. So, if a teacher takes more of his inspiration from these levels than the spiritual then his teaching will be adversely affected. And this is likely to happen if he has insufficiently purified his lower self of the numerous sins and errors to which flesh (including mind) is heir to.

Truth and purity are one. A false prophet does not observe this fact to which there are no exceptions. Of course, no one is completely pure of heart but there are acceptable degrees, and it is the dominating tendency and inclination of our heart that is the determining factor in this matter. So the most important thing for any spiritual aspirant is purity, purity of all aspects of his being from the physical through the emotional and up to the mental. This includes motive and will. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which spiritual purity is not much valued but that should not deter any serious person from striving to purify his or her lower nature. Sincerity and humility mark out the true from the false.


Bruce Charlton said...

Good thoughts.

Its interesting that there arent many false prophets these days; compared with 50 or even 30 years ago. These times are so materialistic that all prophets are disbelieved. Or regarded as boring, idiotic or mad.

Indeed, some non/ anti spiritual people are treated as if spiritual - for example if they talk about myth, healing or ecology...

William Wildblood said...

It hadn't occurred To me that there are fewer false prophets now than there used to be but you're absolutely right and your reason for it must be right too. We're so far from any spiritual aspiration that there aren't the well meaning but naive seekers there used to be. Perhaps the endless diversions of modern technology also play a part.

edwin said...

The false prophet can only be identified by one who knows the true prophet. What are the criteria for such discernment? It may be true that there are fewer false prophets. Market forces are at work and the demand for spiritual teaching has fallen in recent decades. But for those who still are trying to find their way out of the morass of materialism the standards for truth may not be readily apparent. It seems inevitable that many will be misled. One of the true things that I once heard said (ironically by a false prophet) was in respons to a question from a devotee: "What happens when one follows a false guru?" The reply came: "It doesn't matter if the guru is false, so long as the disciple is true. A true disciple will eventually find a true teacher." Purity, as you say, may be a good guideline for recognizing the truth and a true teacher. Purity has a beauty that transcends systems of thought and plans of salvation that can confuse and misdirect. Perhaps this is what Christ meant when he said that the kingdom of heaven is reserved for the childlike, i.e. for those who have found their way back to the innocence in which God conceived them.

William Wildblood said...

That reminds me of the famous saying that when the pupil is ready, the master appears (or something like that, I forgot the exact words). You often find you get the teacher you need at that particular moment. A false teacher may help you to develop discrimination and the experience with such a one may be painful but necessary.