Saturday, 27 April 2019

Spirituality and the World

When I first became interested in religion and spirituality some forty years ago, religion and spirituality were what I was interested in. That is to say, my focus was on the deeper truths behind the world and the world itself did not really matter much, not in itself. It could carry on as it wanted in a non-spiritual but, on its own terms, reasonable way. It was something that was there and I lived in it but I was not particularly concerned with what went on in it or how it went about its business. But that was then. Now the world has become not just not spiritual but positively anti-spiritual, and this means I have to pay attention.

Then the world was clearly rooted in the normal and everyday even if the seeds that are now almost fully sprouted were present in inchoate form. So, it may not have been spiritual but it was at least natural. However today not only have we lost the spiritual, we are in the process of losing the natural as well. Probably there is an inevitable downward trend once the basic truth of life, that it is a spiritual thing with a divine progenitor behind it, is no longer acknowledged. When we lose that basic truth, all the subsidiary ones that are effectively grounded in it start to go too. Consequently, while I used to think that a person who aspired to spiritual understanding could pursue his path and let the world go its merry way, I now see that there is no real separation between this world and higher ones. When we abandon all connection to the higher worlds this world is cut loose from its moorings and will drift away into ever greater darkness and illusion. It's just a matter of time.

This is why a spiritually orientated person in the modern era can no longer ignore what is taking place around him in the ordinary world. He must stand out against it and proclaim its falseness, and he must do this because otherwise one day all human beings will live in a world from which it is almost impossible to escape. The lie will be triumphant. It is one thing to seek the spiritual in a world which may be largely materialistic but still has the residue of a belief in God and the supernatural underlying it and conducts its affairs according to a reasonably sane agenda rooted in the natural order. There is still the opportunity to seek the true God from within such a world. It is quite another when even the natural order has been destroyed and spiritual values are not just ignored but actually inverted and turned against themselves. This is what is happening now and the speed at which it is happening is astonishing. Each generation is considerably more severed from reality than the last and will therefore find it harder to make its way back. We will always have Christ, and the Christ of the Gospels will always have the power to guide us to truth, but when the religious channels through which Christ is presented to us in the world are corrupted and a distorted image of him presented as the true one, the situation is a lot more complicated.

I have no doubt this is a demonic strategy. As long as human beings, even if materialistic, live according to natural ways they can relatively easily return to the spiritual. The way back has not been closed off because it is, in a way, just an extension and deepening of what you already are. But once nature itself has been rejected then the spiritual is very hard to attain. Oh, a false spiritual can be imagined but this is most likely to lead its advocates right into the jaws of the demons who will be waiting to welcome any hapless victims to their world. You think this is fanciful, even hysterical? Let me tell you that there is a supernatural world, even what you might think of as a spiritual (in that it is immaterial) world, beyond this one which is the home of the demons. That is where those who pursue a spirituality not grounded in the real transcendent risk ending up if they are not guided by humility, wisdom and genuine love. There is a false love, widespread today, which is based on not hurting people's feelings but this is not a spiritual thing and will not lead anyone to the true God.  For just as all that glitters is not gold so not everything that is called love is love. True spiritual love is known in the heart and, while directed towards all things as all things are manifestations of God, is principally directed towards those things in which God is most manifested. Which makes sense given that God is the ground of love so the nearer something is to him, the more love it will call forth. However, the modern version of love is largely theoretical, a head thing which is meant to be directed towards everything equally. Hence it is not love but an idea about it and, because separated from God, it is not even an accurate idea.

It seems that fewer and fewer people recognise the fact that we are losing all connection to reality. But if you don't see this it is because your spiritual compass, your inner sense of right and wrong, is not pointing due north. This not an intellectual thing but a moral one so it cannot be argued about. It's a fact that is there and seen or not seen. Unfortunately it is increasingly not seen as people identify the good and the bad in terms of how they are in relation to this world. Actually, they don't even do that though they might think of it in that way. For, in truth, the way we look at the world and ourselves is not just about augmenting worldly happiness and diminishing suffering. It is also about destroying even worldly excellence and reducing everything to the same level because of such unsavoury human sentiments as resentment, anger and hatred. But these are usually not acknowledged and often justified in highfalutin moral terms.

Sincere spiritual people can either turn their backs on the world completely and concentrate on their own salvation or else, while still seeking this as their primary objective (and it is, there is nothing selfish about it, it's our principal responsibility), try to present the case against progress. Of course, I mean apparent progress, progress according to a false vision of humanity. For that is what all this is about. In the not too distant past, the world may have been materialistic but it still organised itself according to natural principles and the connection between Heaven and Earth, while weak, still existed. No longer. That connection is being cut. I don't suppose it can ever be completely cut because the world would cease to exist but the link can become so attenuated that it might as well not be there. It is difficult to find one's way home when the road is being dug up and the signposts taken down. All those who recognise this have a duty to point it out.

Afternote: This might sound more pessimistic than I meant it to be.  The current situation certainly is bad but the fact of the matter is God is always there and he is reality whatever outer appearances might suggest. Besides, all this was prophesied as was the end of it. So we know that, however bad things may seem, the good cannot be defeated.


edwin said...

There is a wonderful scene in Flannery O'Connor's "Wise Blood" in which Hazel Motes perfectly describes the modern world. He is trying to establish the Church Without Christ, and standing on the hood of his car, he harangues some people coming out of a movie theater, saying that his Church teaches "You have your truth and I have mine, but behind all truths, there's no truth. No truth behind all truths is what I and this church teach." You are right, we have progressed from the natural good without God (an impossibility), to the denial of nature itself. What's left is feeling only, and feeling is personal: it cannot reach universal truth. To make feeling the core of one's life is to sink increasingly into an eccentricity that one nevertheless tries to impose upon others. When truth is jettisoned, raw power is all that remains. Without God, life becomes a war of all against all. How do we participate in a society that has no shared value for truth or belief in its Creator? We can only proclaim what we know to whoever is willing to listen, but increasingly we become voices crying in the wilderness. I think I've met your pessimism and raised it a notch.

William Wildblood said...

I added the remark about pessimism because I didn't want to give the impression that the spiritual darkness could ever defeat the light. It can obscure it from our perspective in this world but it's no more than a cloudy day really. The sun always shines above it all.

Eric said...

The paradoxical nature of (post)modern man is that she is neither spiritual nor fully materialistic - but somewhere in between. A post-materialist ideologically trapped in her own mind, fleeing from both God and nature. The spiritual lifeline is cut and the nature before her is scary, thus she retreats into nothing. There is no open channel of external or inward insight and loyalty to anything real outside the social echo-chamber. Perhaps we need the reality-check of hell to fry us out of this before the heavens can open up (trying to be optimistic^^). Maybe this is the good purpose of hell - burn of the false layers of wordly pollution.