Monday, 17 May 2021

Play the Ball not the Man

This is what we are always told.  A man's ideas are separate from his personality and moral worth. But what if that's not entirely true? What if what a man thinks derives in large part from what he is? It seems clear that many of the ideas that have formed the modern world come from people with deeply flawed characters who may have formulated these ideas at least to an extent to justify their own flaws. Rousseau and Marx are obvious examples but there are many more, clever people led astray by their own cleverness and using it to avoid facing up to the reality of their sinful nature.

A good person loves the good. Or perhaps I should say someone who loves the good pursues the good and seeks to manifest it in his life. Someone who does not respond to the good in this way but suspects it may exist may seek to deny or belittle or even to corrupt it out of shame. The good is a hard thing to live up to. What is the good? The best definition I have come across is from Romano Guardini in his book The Last Things where he says that "in the last analysis, the good is God's holiness itself." Linking the good with God and holiness is very important for it goes to the origins of what the good actually is and what it should always tend to. All lesser goods crumble into dust when the base good is denied. A good person is someone who recognises this simple truth and seeks to live up to it. Obviously he will fall short but it is the intention, the motivation, that matters. A bad person is someone who denies it and who tries to substitute lesser goods, political, social, whatever, in its place.

What I am saying here is that if your heart is correctly orientated then your thoughts and beliefs should follow. If your heart is not orientated to the true good your thoughts and beliefs will reflect that misdirection. It is not true that what a man thinks bears no relation to what he is. Sometimes it is valid to play the man not the ball if you wish to understand ideas and where they come from. 

Friday, 14 May 2021

Spiritual Claustrophobia and Drugs

Since childhood I have been conscious of a sense of constriction as though I functioned through only a small part of my total being and was living in a world that had a 'top' to it.  It was as though a kind of psychic ceiling cut me off from a fuller, more expansive reality.  I can remember as a small boy looking up at the sky and seeing it almost like a cork in a bottle, keeping out the greater reality. The sun was key to that greater life which poured through it to a certain extent. When the sun shines fully something of divine reality pours into the world. When it is obscured so is that life.

I believe that we humans are beings of multi-dimensional consciousness stuck in a three dimensional mind. This is why we feel that constriction. It's why some of us take drugs, as an attempt to recapture the higher consciousness. But drug taking is a serious mistake because it seeks to bypass limitations placed on us as part of our evolutionary development. These limitations force us to focus on the material world so we can develop those parts of our being, moral, intellectual, the sense of being an individual with free choice, that would not develop, or not develop in the same way, in a purely spiritual state. Drugs will dismantle the barriers in the mind so that we can become aware of higher dimensions but we are not here to do that and so this is illicit, whatever excuses might be put forward for it. It is, if you'll forgive the rather banal analogy, a bit like a small boy dreamily gazing out of the window during school lessons. Only worse because drugs also damage the mind, actually rendering it less sensitive in the long run, and they encourage lazy, self-centred behaviour. If you take drugs you are trying to cheat God.

But the higher consciousness we chase on such occasions is real. More real in fact than any drug can show for these only provide a simulacrum or even a degraded parody of the true higher reality. It is also one tinged with danger because when the mind is opened artificially in such a manner both the good and the bad on the psychic level can flow in. What is revealed is true but the mindset behind the drug taker is that of the voyeur who tries to see the beauty of a naked woman without her permission. He is an interloper who has no right to be there and he is violating something sacred. 

We come to this world to learn. The principal lesson is to acknowledge God in a situation in which he is not obvious. We are tested to see if our heart is true. Will it turn to God of its own volition, out of love, when it does not have to or will it reject him? But we are also given chances to develop intellectually and creatively, to start to become a real individual, free and self-determined. Here is a paradox. God wants full individuals, able to exercise their own God-given talents, but they can only really do this properly when they let him work through them. As always, Jesus is the perfect example. We see from the Gospels that here was the most individual person who ever lived, the person who was most completely himself. But here also was someone who was totally open to God. In him God and self were perfectly integrated.

The spiritual limitations we experience in this world are there for a reason. To seek to overcome them by any means other than growing towards God through the heart and mind in a natural way is just the material self trying to capture the goods of the spiritual self for its own egotistical ends. We must use the sense of spiritual alienation we feel in this world as a force to drive us towards the truth of God so that we conform our being to his in order to know him. Heaven is a gift from God not something we should try to steal.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Mysticism vs Good and Evil

When, many years ago now,  I first became interested in spiritual matters my main focus was mysticism. I was drawn to the mystical teachings of all religions and wanted to know that of which they spoke for myself, what I suppose you could call the state of transcendental awareness in which spirit infuses one's whole being. To that end I sought to dedicate myself to the interior path of contemplation, practised meditation and more or less abandoned the ways of the world. I lived in India for several years on a quiet hilltop and even when I returned to Europe led a quasi-monastic existence.

All that changed in 2000. I went back into the world and have led a much more conventional life ever since. The spiritual path is still central to my existence but the focus has changed and this, I believe, is more generally true as well. Now, things that interested me in the past, meditation, mysticism, esoteric teachings and the like, are less important. They still interest me up to point but in these times I believe the heart of religious life has become something very simple. It is a question of discernment.

The world has entered into a phase of full-on materialism in which even religion, as conventionally understood, has been absorbed by the prevailing ethos. Today the task of the spiritual person is just to be on the right side which is the side of God and Creation as absolute realities. The world is working to deny both and is sweeping everybody up into that denial. If you are to be perceived as a good person in the eyes of the world, you must deny the realties of God and Creation. Of course, you can pay lip service to them but as words only, concepts which take second place to the world. So, the discernment I speak of can be expressed as the discernment between the truth of God and the lies of the world. Or, to put it in a very simple form, between good and evil.

Good is what is allied with the truth of God and the reality of the principles of creation. Evil is what works against those things even if it is presented as good which it generally is nowadays. Gone is the time when evil was obvious. Now, it often comes in a pretty package and only those who see past appearance will be able to perceive the rotting corpse within.

"He who is not for me is against me". Once again, a very simple and clear-cut message which tells us that neutrality is not an option. This is more true now when things are coming to a point than it ever has been. The decent agnostic is a spiritual failure. He has not made the decision to open his heart up to the truth of Christ and, in so doing, he has essentially rejected and denied the truth of Christ. He may not be a bad in a moral sense but evil is anything that works against, or even not with, God and the principles of creation. 

Today correct spiritual practice has been boiled down to its basics. You don't have to go to church or spend long hours on your knees or in meditation. It is merely a matter of being on the right side. That doesn't mean you can believe and carry on sinning. If you do that you clearly don't believe. You can fall short and we all do but you must try not to and always you must repent your failures and start again with good intent. But what matters more than anything else now is that your heart is in the right place which means wholly oriented to the reality of God. Note, I say the reality of God. It is not enough to go along with the concept of God. After all, many people do that and remain worldly people. But today the world and God are enemies and you are required to see that and to act on what it means. It means reject the wisdom of the world and not in part but in full. Only those who do will be saved from spiritual corruption.

Added note: I did not make the point of this post as clear as I could have done. It is that the mystic who lacks spiritual discernment, and a surprising number do, can easily be drawn into the snares of this world. If you undervalue the reality of creation and think that truth is 'beyond good and evil' you will inevitably be taken in by evil. Truth is the good and to miss this is one of the penalties of pursuing what one might call abstract spirit.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Enlightenment vs. Holiness

What would you say the spiritual path is all about? What is its intended destination? In the West until recently, apart from within a few esoteric and occult groups, there wasn't much doubt. The purpose of religion was holiness. The saints, who were the religious exemplars, were not enlightened beings whose consciousness had expanded to superhuman levels but figures of purity and sanctity who had given themselves entirely to God. Before I'm reminded that sometimes the saints did indeed experience higher states of consciousness I should point out that this was a by-product. It was not their goal or reason to pursue the spiritual path. Their motive was love of God not self-expansion.

However, over the last hundred years or so a different attitude has crept over the Western mind aspiring to spirituality. The goal of the spiritual path has in many cases become enlightenment. Partly this has arisen because of the influence from Buddhist, Hindu and other Eastern mystical teachings, but it is also because of the more pronounced individualistic strain that Western Man has exhibited since the 19th century. This has its good and its bad side. The good side is greater agency with the potential for creative thought. The bad is egotism and self-concern on a much greater level than before. We say we want to know and experience rather than accept things on authority and this is fine up to a point. We are meant to understand and grow in wisdom. But why do we want to know and experience? Is it to expand our own self (even if that is sought for by negating our own self) or is it because of a deeply felt love for our Creator? This might be expressed as a yearning for truth or aspiration to the highest we can conceive of but it must still be directed to something more than ourself.

As we enter into the period known as the End Times the situation will become more and more black and white. Our choices will narrow though it may not be seen in that way by everyone. Only if you are alert to the situation will you realise this. Neutrality will not be an option. Alternatives that may have existed in the past will disappear. They will break down into being in either one camp or the other. Take, for instance, spirituality  and Christianity. I think it has been legitimate for those in the West to explore other forms of religion and mysticism over the last 100 years but I now believe that those who have wandered away from Christ to pursue alternative spiritual options must start to return to him. They may have a wider perspective having departed and now returned than they would have had if they had never left. But they must now return. As things are moving, it is not enough to reject the material and take up the spiritual. The spiritual will be absorbed by the worldly unless it becomes Christian. I am speaking for the West and to those of traditionally Christian cultures. Those in the East will be confronted with their own test but I imagine it will amount to the same examination of the heart.

For well over a century Westerners have turned to the East for spiritual enlightenment. How many have become enlightened in the sense that the Buddha was enlightened? I am going to chance my arm and say none. Many have claimed enlightenment but this usually just amounts to some mystical insight and experience mistaken for more than it was. And the reason that none have become enlightened is that this is not the intended spiritual goal. We are not called to a supreme state of consciousness in this world. We are here to learn self-sacrifice in love, love meaning love of God. We accept suffering as Christ did because we do the Father's will. It is not his will that we suffer but it is his will that we renounce the ego so that the self may be sanctified and become the phoenix that rises from the ashes of the lower self.

Note: I am aware that various forms of gnosticism had something equivalent to enlightenment as their goal but this was generally not regarded as the correct way. The attempt to be spiritual without God is a perennial temptation, one which leans towards the luciferian rather than the Christian using that word to describe the spirit behind it rather than the actual religion.

Monday, 3 May 2021

The Environment vs. The Creation

I have never owned a car. Between 1980 and 2000 I flew on only 3 occasions (admittedly more frequently since). I haven't eaten meat since 1978. I got central heating at home for the first time 20 years after leaving my parents' house. I don't consume much and waste as little as possible.  I have always loved the natural world. Theoretically I could be a poster boy for environmentalists but I have absolutely no interest in the environment.

What is the environment? Surely only someone with no real feeling for God's green Earth could call it that. It is a word for technocrats and materialists. I don't believe in the environment, I believe in the creation and this is the difference. The environment has no Creator. It is a soulless place despite efforts to pretend it is sacred in an atheistic kind of way in which Nature exists above humanity. But God made Nature to serve humanity. We are her gardeners not her subordinates because although we are part of Nature we are also above her. That doesn't mean we should exploit or mistreat her which we certainly have. But the solution is not to make ourselves inferior to nature. It is to treat her properly and with respect. However, she is still there for us not vice versa.

There seem to be two sorts of environmentalists. The materialists who worry about depleting the planet's resources and the spiritualists who have a vaguely pagan attitude to Nature, seeing her as the earth mother. I don't necessarily disagree with either of them but their view of the picture is incomplete and therefore wrong. We should cultivate our garden with care, attention and respect for its needs, and we would do well to honour Nature as the source of our material self. But above the natural man is the spiritual man. Above the earth mother of Nature is her Creator who is God, and God gave us this planet for us to act as his regent here. Nature is ours in the same way as our body is ours. We treat both well seeing them as the earthly temple of God but ultimately they are there to act as the vessels for spirit to manifest and express itself and it is the spirit that truly matters.

Nature is not the environment. It is the Creation.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Is there anything good about the modern era?

What a crazy question most people would say. Of course, there is. We are wealthier, healthier and have more understanding about the world than ever before. But to the spiritual eye we live in a time of unremitting evil in which our governments are attacking freedom, our scientists no longer seek truth, our churches deny God and our artists hate beauty. The list could be extended. Nothing does what it is supposed to do and often actively works against what it is supposed to do. Could there be anything good about any of this?

The answer is yes. God can always bring good out of evil and what he may be doing now is allowing the world to become so insane and corrupted (which it will inevitably do when separated from God who is truth) that more and more people will wake up and turn to him in response to the evil. When it gets so dark that you can't see, you reach out for the light. God is essentially saying "You think you can do without me? Very well, try it and see." Of course, some people are so far gone in their rejection of divine reality that they will never come to their senses. This may be through pride or it may be that they have simply killed their own souls through neglect and denial. But for those who are redeemable, now is their chance. This, I suspect, is only the beginning. The situation will rapidly deteriorate. It is only recently that the results of atheism have really kicked in as the legacy of religion has supported us for a certain time after religion itself was rejected. But we have now lived in a materialistic society for 100 years, give or take, and have used up our spiritual capital. True religion is followed by only a very few.

But this is good because it means that if and when we return to religion we do so because we want to and therefore we take it seriously. It's not just what people do. It's what we actively want to do, need to do.  Our religion will not just be a formal observation but a serious choice that determines our life and permeates all our thinking.

The present evils do not come from God. According to my understanding they are demonically driven and their main purpose is the corruption of souls which is a tragedy. But souls must choose God. That is the reason for us being in this world. We are given every opportunity but if we reject the opportunity that is our own choice. So God is not responsible for the evil in any way but he can use it as a means to wake us up as/if we react against it. The responsibility for this, though, is ours. We must learn to see evil as evil and that means recover a spiritual view of life which tells us that evil as not just doing bad things in a worldly sense. It is rejecting God and the idea of oneself as a spiritual being. In the final analysis, the spiritual view is the only one that makes any kind of sense but we have been deceived into thinking it is false because we have allowed ourselves to be manipulated by over a century of propaganda. But what the last year has made abundantly clear is that you cannot trust authority. It's all been bought and paid for. God is telling you that your only hope is in him. Accept this gift and you will be free.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Loss of Trust

The events of the last year have underlined an important fact. It's something we already suspected but is now undeniable. Trust is dead. For a long time we haven't trusted politicians though that is partly because the very nature of democracy makes politicians inherently untrustworthy as they are always more concerned with vote-catching than anything else. Appearance is what counts and reality comes a long way behind. We haven't trusted journalists or the media for a while either as they are all seen to be in hock to the money and pursuing a good name in the eyes of the world. We trust politicians and the media less than ever but now we don't even trust scientists or the medical establishment. The Covid crisis has shown that all of these groups lie or avoid the truth (not entirely the same thing). Clearly, this doesn't apply to every member of these groups but in terms of them as groups, it certainly does.

Once trust has gone a society cannot sustain itself for very long. Its cohesion will unravel. That is what is happening now and the process is hurried along by the absurd error, so absurd it's hard to believe it wasn't deliberate, of multi-culturism in which incoming groups are given the same right to their own identity as the native population. This can only divide and separate. No longer was assimilation and respect to indigenous culture demanded of incomers. The process was actually reversed and respect to the incomers' culture was demanded of the indigenous. A society cannot last if it splits into component parts, each one vying for dominance. It must have something to unite around. The best thing is religion but a sense of national unity will also serve, and this sense of self is something most countries in the West have lost as they have given up their identity and history in order to allow new entrants to assert theirs. Why? It seems to me that if you want to come to a new country it is your obligation to adopt its ways and fit in with its traditions and culture. That was always the basic understanding but it has been abandoned over the last 2 or 3 decades. Welcoming new people is one thing but they for their part need to integrate fully and respect the ways of the country to which they have come.

What was presented to us as kindness has turned out to be weakness, the weakness displayed by a dying civilisation that had lost confidence in itself and disguised that loss as though it were compassion. But the result of that shallow and easy compassion is increasing chaos as structural safeguards to order are dismantled and thrown away. I would say that all of this comes ultimately from the loss of religion. When there is no sense of the transcendent, which is just a fancy way of saying no sense of God, then meaning and truth disappear to be replaced by greed and expedience. This is the world we have made for ourselves and we have done it out of crass stupidity. Warning voices have sounded for at least 100 years but we have ignored them. The result is the loss of trust.

This is not the whole story by any means. It describes the negative effects of wrong-thinking and bad decisions resulting from the giving up of faith but there is also an active attempt to corrupt and destroy that has gone along side it. This has involved the encouragement and stimulation of wrong-thinking, outwardly by certain thinkers, philosophers, politicians, artists and other in the public eye, inwardly by demons engaged in the attempt to return cosmos to chaos. But the 'mind viruses' released by these people have only been able to gain entry into human consciousness because our spiritual immune system has been so weakened. They then weaken it further and the process continues.

The only remedy for this is to regain trust. But this time it must be trust in God. The world situation has gone too far. There is no turning back from where we are now. These are the End Times when the poison has spread throughout the world system, unrecognised by most but no less deadly for all that. Those who want to be saved can be but you have to want it to the degree that you are prepared to give up this world. You are not going to be able to have the world or the good opinion of the world and God. You must choose which you want more and when you have chosen put all your energy and attention into living that choice. Put your trust in God and you will be given strength to sustain you during the inevitable coming difficulties.