My approach to reality has inevitably been coloured by my experience with the Masters, as set out in my book about them, but the fact is that, even if I had not had this experience, that approach would in most essentials be the same.
Even before I met Michael Lord, the man who properly introduced me to spiritual ideas, I had come to a conclusion. I realised that if the world was as described by materialism, which was and still is the intellectual background of most people, even the nominally religious (by which I mean many religious people still go along with the tenets and assumptions of materialism in their daily lives), then nothing meant anything. Worse, if the teachings of biology, physics, chemistry and psychology were true on their own terms then I didn't exist, not as a real person.
But I knew I did exist as a person. I knew this as a fact of experience. Indeed, I see it as the prime spiritual fact and even a proof of the existence of God. I am a person and I am real, not formed by mechanical, material forces which would make me an artificial thing with no substance. Therefore, there must be something beyond these. There must be spiritual forces and these forces must include, at the very least, a personal element. My reality is not self-sufficient but I am real. Hence there must be something from which I take my reality which has its own self-sufficient reality.
These are intellectual reflections but actually my attitude was largely an intuitive one. I remember being told by a Buddhist monk that the self did not exist. In line with standard Buddhist teaching he maintained it was just a phenomenal thing held together by thought, sensation and the like. Now, if the self really were no more than this he would be right but I don't consider the Buddhists go far enough. They have deconstructed the ego but have not seen beyond that to the real self which is more than the phenomenal version. It is the reality of which the ego self is the illusionary distortion. The Buddhists are right when they say that the ego is a false thing but they don't see that it is a false version of a real thing. I recall standing in the rain on the platform of some dreary station in North London waiting for a train to go home after my meeting with this Buddhist monk, and my whole 22 year old self rebelled against his teaching, supposedly the wisest, most spiritually profound understanding of our true nature there was. It was logically impeccable and came with the highest qualifications, and there clearly was a deep state of peace that could be attained if self was renounced. But that didn't make it right. And I knew it wasn't right even though it took me a long while to work out why it wasn't. That's because, on its own terms, it is true. But, from the broader perspective, it's not the whole truth.
In a way, the Buddhist position is easy. For once you have decided that the self is not real you can detach yourself from your own problems and suffering without really having to confront them and deal with them as real issues. They are all nothing but passing states from which you stand aloof. And yet, while the Buddha is impassive, Jesus wept. In that little phrase lies something that Buddhism, for all its talk, genuine talk, of compassion, misses. If you renounce the self you kill something inside yourself which actually gives life its quality and flavour. As has been said, you cure the disease by killing the patient.
Buddhism is a magnificent teaching for rising above the pain of this world and establishing yourself in formless being, but it can only do this by turning its back on God's reason for creation and retreating to a state in which creation has no meaning. But creation does have meaning and this meaning is tied up with the fact of relationship or love. To forgo this is to repudiate God's purpose for expressing himself through the created universe and human beings who are not supposed to return to the formless source whence they arose but to become more individual though individual in the sense of being unique individualisations of God himself not separate individuals, cut off one from another. As the Masters have said, the aim is to be individual but not individualistic.
So it was the reality of the person that first convinced me of the logical impossibility of materialism. I knew I was real, as does everyone who is not plagued by some form of mental illness, and I saw this knowledge as the basic fact that disproved materialism. I am quite aware that some materialists will say that this was just the mind playing tricks on itself but they are just caught up in intellectualising games. No-one lives as though they aren't real unless they are ill. No one looks at their own children as no more than assemblages of impersonal material forces unless they are sick.
If you are a real person then God exists.