Saturday, 25 March 2023

The Root of Reality

What is the foundational spiritual quality? I would say it must be freedom. Others might point to love but freedom must exist first for love to be. Esotericists speak of a state beyond being. This is the primordial state of freedom.

If freedom is fundamental to spirit then that which opposes freedom is anti-spiritual. We live at a time when freedom is being increasingly curtailed though this is not always as obvious as it might be. A more evolved consciousness, such as exists in modern human beings in the sense of their greater self-awareness, requires a subtler level of control. Even so, the events of 2020 should have been obvious to anyone but, amazingly, they weren't to the majority, and even now when more and more evidence is emerging that the response to the problem was way over the top most people still won't accept it. I suppose no one likes to think they have been had.

Then there is the matter of the weather. Its changeability is being used as an excuse to bring in ever greater controls. Cost of living increases, with many foodstuffs doubling in price in the UK over the last year, serve the same purpose as does the move to replace cash with digital currency. All these thing point in the same direction. Loss of freedom.

But there is more. Almost everyone nowadays uses computers in some form throughout the greater part of their waking existence. Computers are based on a technology in which measurement, control and quantification are fundamental. Control and regulation. Despite claims to the contrary there is no real freedom in a computer and this is affecting our consciousness and the way we think. I have often written that technology is not neutral. It frames the way we view life. Our minds adapt to the technology we use. The use of computers makes us think and even perceive more like computers. This is leading to a loss of spiritual freedom and that is over and above the fact that our dependence on computers reduces our own inner powers of perception which are being replaced by external substitutes that give us more breadth but less depth. Just like the 2020 events you will either see this or you won't and if you won't might it be that you don't want to?

The greatest achievement of the rapidly dying Western civilisation was the development of human freedom. Undoubtedly, this had its negative side especially when it tipped over into self-indulgence, decadence, chaos and all the rest that we know so well. Even freedom, the greatest good, must be balanced and directed into proper channels which truth is expressed so well in the saying from the Book of Common Prayer that 'in his service is perfect freedom'. The highest freedom is to be found in Christ because that is the flowering of spiritual freedom but even this springs from the seeds of individual freedom. Without that there could be no spiritual freedom.

This, then, is what we should be watching out for. The reduction of freedom in every area of life. But remember that freedom has a purpose and that is to enable us to know God. If freedom is not directed to that end it will turn bad so our task now is, first, to resist the loss of freedom and, second, to use our freedom wisely which means to aim it towards God. For only in God is true and lasting freedom to be found.

Saturday, 18 March 2023

The Guru Figure

Bruce Charlton recently sent me a link to a Youtube video about Seraphim Rose and Alan Watts. 

For those who don't know Seraphim Rose was an American Russian Orthodox priest and definitely someone who was called to holiness. Alan Watts was a populariser of Buddhism, especially Zen Buddhism, in the 1950s at a time when the appeal of Eastern religion was strong among a certain spiritually deracinated intellectual class. I first came across one of his books around 1980 but had an instinctive dislike of the showmanship element I felt I saw in him so only read a few pages before putting the book away. It was well-written and even insightful up to a point but it was also obvious that here was someone who had the words off pat but didn't live the teachings at all, except superficially, and reading that actually does more spiritual harm than good. The video more or less confirms that this was, or became, Seraphim Rose's opinion too. He was attracted to Watts at first but soon saw through him. Bruce Charlton pointed out that Watts seems manipulative and selfish with a cold heart and that you can see this if you watch the video with the sound off. He appears to be trying to intoxicate, entrance, impress and cast a spell on his audience. 

I quote this insight of Bruce's here because this is just what so many guru figures of recent decades have done and no doubt still do, though I am not familiar with what goes in that world nowadays. The potent glamour of being seen as the spiritually enlightened master is very strong, and charismatic figures are drawn to it as a way to feed their egos and dominate lesser mortals who give them energy through their adoration. I once asked my teachers about this because it was something that troubled me in my younger days. They told me that these people were not all evil and some did good at their level. However, that implies that some are evil which does indeed seem to be the case. Such teachers use spirituality to advance themselves and they don't care about their disciples other than as satellites revolving around their sun. The following remarks about Watts from the video can be applied to others of his ilk, and that would be a significant number of prominent gurus and spiritual teachers of the last 100 years.

  • His version of mysticism promised him spiritual benefits while allowing him to do whatever he wanted.
  • He streamlined Zen to cater to the modern mentality of self-worship.
  • He destroyed souls including his own.

This is the kind of thing that happens when you take God and the idea of sin out of the equation. Then you use spirituality as a consumer product which means as something to boost the self. I once believed these people were just in error but now I see many of them are badly motivated, predators on the spiritually naive.

In my estimation the change in human consciousness over the last 200 years, with greater individualism and freedom, means that the age of the guru is past. Of course, there is still a place for spiritual teachers of various sorts but not for the guru as the supreme dispenser of wisdom and enlightenment who must be looked up to almost as though he were God or, at least, a god. That was never a Western concept anyway but the guru became a very romantic figure in the West in the 20th century and many unscrupulous spiritual salesmen jumped on board that train. Alan Watts was by no means the worst but he was a definite type.

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

God, Image and Reality

Many people think they believe in God but often it is not the true God in whom they believe but a personalised image of him. That's because they see God in their terms rather than his. When you acknowledge God you must have some idea what he is and what his laws are and you must keep, or at least try to keep, these laws as God and his laws are one. You must fit yourself to him not try to fit him to you but this is just what many religious people at the present time try to do.

How can you have any idea what God is? Obviously, the first port of call would be religion and revelation but nowadays the unfolding nature of human spiritual development means we have to supplement that with our own intuition. Intuition is the knowing faculty in man and it is never wrong. It cannot be wrong because it is a direct link to reality. However, in the case of humans as we are at this stage of our spiritual development the intuition is often mixed in with the thinking and feeling faculties and so errors can be made.

A case in point is same sex marriage. This is promoted on the grounds of love but love cannot ignore the claims of truth, and the truth is that the complementarity of masculine and feminine is a basic law of creation. Laws of creation are not like human laws. They are sacred and inviolable. To break them is blasphemy, unpleasant as it may be for the human ego to hear that.

Those promoting a same sex agenda mistake human happiness for spiritual fulfilment. If they are religious their religion is a worldly religion for it seeks happiness and validation in this world. They fail to understand that seeking self-gratification and self-expression is not the work of love because love, spiritually understood, has to do with the forgetting of self not its satisfaction. This is a difficult truth and no one is worthier of respect than a person born with homosexual tendencies who does not deny this in him or herself but does not excuse or justify it either. In God's eyes there is no difference between a homosexual or a heterosexual person. He loves both. But that does not mean that the physical expression of homosexuality is in line with divine truth. It is a mischanneling of the creative energy for egotistic purposes. I repeat, homosexuality in itself is not a sin any more than any tendency is. It is the succumbing to a tendency that is the sin and, more, the denial of its sinfulness.

An image of God is one based on human thoughts, desires, emotions and fears. It can easily become an idol. Christians can have idols just as much as pagans for what many do is adjust the reality of God and Christ to fit their prejudices. One of the most important tasks of the spiritual aspirant is to learn to discriminate between true intuition and what we might call wishful thinking. Only when you start to do this can you make any progress towards the goal of knowing God, and you cannot become one with God until you start to know him as he is. Otherwise what are you becoming one with?

Thursday, 9 March 2023

If God Were not a Person then Man Would be Greater than God

 Among those who believe in a spiritual reality there are those who maintain that God is personal, the great I AM of existence, and those who hold that this is a restricted view and that behind the personal God there must be an impersonal Universal Principle transcending all form and limitation, and that this is the real truth underlying the appearance of life in a phenomenal world. You might almost call these two views the Christian and the Buddhist though there is some overlap. Intellectually, you can see the attraction of the latter view. It has a kind of natural logic to it in that it might make sense that behind every thing there must be some one thing and then no thing.

And yet if no thing lies at the heart of reality and the personal is just a veil obscuring that then where does it come from? Also, what meaning would love or beauty or goodness have? Ultimately, these things would be no more than pointers to truth, to be discarded when truth was reached. To think like this is a kind of nihilism even if it's a positive kind as the no thing is not an empty void but a ground of unmanifest potential. But then even potential is something and must derive from somewhere. The fact is that if God is not a Person then he is less than a human being because, when all is said and done, it is the personal that gives meaning to existence. It turns out that the personal is in reality much more profound than the impersonal which latter is the real state of limitation. The unconditioned is like space without stars.

Thursday, 2 March 2023

The Gnostic World View

 Gnosticism has a bad reputation among ordinary Christians but I believe there are elements of it that can complement conventional religious understanding. I would reject the idea of a Demiurge on a lower level of spiritual reality to the transcendent God who is responsible for the creation of the world with its inbuilt flaws. A basic truth is that God saw Creation and said that it was good. Matter is not evil but it is matter and therefore a more constricted state of being than spirit. The absolute duality of good and evil, spirit and matter, that exists in some versions of Gnosticism, most notably the Manichaean, is also based on a misconception. The world has fallen into darkness but darkness or evil has no separate reality independent of God.

Where I think some Gnostic ideas are useful is regarding the nature of the soul. For the conventional Christian souls are made (as far as I understand the matter) at conception but I think this is nonsense. Souls exist on the spiritual level, in realms of light, and come down to earth to experience life in a body and a sphere of being in which they become separated from God. This is so that they may grow, become independent and, ultimately, if all goes well, return as fully functioning members of the Kingdom of Heaven. John 3:13 says "No man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven." Now, I know the verse goes on to say "even the Son of man which is in heaven" and I imagine this is normally understood as a reference to Jesus, but what if it can also refer to men as spiritual beings who incarnate in this world to further their evolution? The seed falls from the tree into the ground from whence it grows up and returns to the sunlight.

The Gnostic idea of man being a divine spark trapped in matter from which it must extricate itself has merit. Where I would differ from Gnosticism is in saying that this is intended. There is purpose behind it. It is not simply that the soul has fallen into darkness and ignorance but that it has come to this state in order to learn and to grow. On its own level it is perfect but passive. Bathed in bliss perhaps, but with no chance to deepen its understanding or develop its creative powers. In order to do this it must come to a world where it is thrown back on itself. This is the world of separation which is the material world.

But things are not quite that simple because this world is not only material, that is to say, outside pure spirit, it has also fallen and so is worse than it might have been. This is where the Gnostic misunderstanding comes in. Yes, the world has been damaged. No, it is not on that account evil. Evil is nothing in itself. It can only inflict harm on good. Good is the reality and evil is just the shadow of reality in a dualistic world of light and darkness. Darkness is not a thing. It is just the absence of light.

So, the soul comes down to earth in order to return to the heavenly realm but as a conscious choice rather than automatically. This act of choosing qualifies the soul to go to a higher level than that from which it emanated but it also means there is an element of risk involved. This is required because the soul needs to form itself by consciously allying itself with God and Creation. God makes the raw material but the soul then has to build itself up from that raw material if it is to be, which is the intention, a real individual hence a potential god itself. 

Gnosticism means knowledge. The soul is required to have spiritual knowledge. That much should be obvious. But which is more important, knowledge or faith? On a spiritual level they are the same thing. It is only in worldly terms that they become separated and sometimes even in conflict. But that just means that they are both very imperfect in this world. The aim is to unite them and realise they are two sides of the same coin.

Sunday, 26 February 2023

10 Years On

 This blog is now 10 years old, the first post here being on February 28th 2013. I don't suppose I thought it would last that long when I started it but it has because in a changing world with more and more spiritual challenges there still seem to be things to write about. It began as an extension of the book I wrote about my encounters with the spiritual beings I called the Masters in order to develop themes from that book and it has done that but it has also gone its own way over time. That means I hardly ever write about the Masters now, and it's true that I have not had any outer contact with them since 1999 so the title might seem redundant. However, I believe they lie behind many things I do write about. They themselves said that they sought to impress ideas on my brain but this would be on a spiritual and non-verbal level which has to be translated by my own mind so it does come from me in the form it comes out but often (not always, of course) the seeds are planted by them. I should add that I am sure they do this with many people, wherever there is a receptive mind. My case is by no means exceptional.

What I am saying is that the title still applies though in an indirect way. I did consider changing it to just my name to mark the ten year anniversary but what would be the point? It is what it is and may as well remain that. Besides, if there is anything that marks this blog out it would be my experience with the Masters. For new readers who aren't aware of that I would refer them to the books on the right or else to this post which is of a talk I gave a couple of years ago, but the essential point I wish to make here is that though it may seem we are on our own in this world, that is not the case. We are guided and supported by our spiritual teachers, Christians might call these guardian angels, and they are constantly trying to influence us for the good. But their object is to bring us up to their level, possibly so that we can perform the same function as they do for future generations, and so they cannot hold our hands as though we were spiritual babies. Now every serious believer is called to be a saint and saints have to learn how to suffer. They also have to learn to be completely single-minded in their pursuit of God, a single-mindedness that should come from love.

God is all around us but he also withdraws so that we are obliged to go up to meet him. That is, go up to meet him where he truly is. This effort to meet him on his own spiritual level will develop our spiritual faculties. It is the meeting with God that is the goal of all spiritual endeavour. The Masters are just staging posts on the greater journey, as is any spiritual teacher, but staging posts can be very helpful and sometimes you can't get to journey's end without them. Their goal, as implied above, is to encourage us to develop our own relationship with God and that has a twofold aspect. There is the relationship with God the Father, the transcendent Creator of Heaven and Earth, and there is also the relationship with the God who dwells within our own hearts. If you restrict yourself to just one of these aspects your spiritual development will be limited. Your path must encompass both to be true.

Many times over the past 10 years I have written that this is a time of testing. Of course, that is always the case in earthly existence but today the work of the past 2,000 years is coming to a head. You can tell this because at no other time has there been so little awareness of God. People have always sinned and behaved badly but the culture was always religious. No longer. Now even religion is not religious for the most part. But that is good because it means we are being forced back on ourselves. We must become spiritually self-reliant if we want to become spiritually mature. This doesn't mean every man is his own pope but every man must make his own connection to God. This is not an easy task because the fallen self within us constantly gets in the way but making your own connection to God does not mean rejecting outside help in the form of scripture, religious teachings, whatever. It simply means not depending or relying on that outside help. Use it to illuminate your own soul. That is the proper goal of all spiritual endeavour.

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Soul Music

I have been listening to Wagner's opera Parsifal recently. For those who are interested in such things it's the 1962 Bayreuth performance conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch, excellently recorded in stereo and featuring perhaps the last great generation of Wagner singers. I first heard orchestral extracts from Parsifal, specifically the Prelude and Good Friday music, in my early 20s but didn't listen to the whole opera until much later. I couldn't really get on with the singing and seeming longueurs then but now if I listen to Wagner it's the operas as a whole I listen to, the Ring cycle, especially Das Rheingold and Die Walkure, being my favourite with Parsifal a close second. No one can plumb the depth of Jungian archetypes like Wagner, almost literally so with the prelude to Das Rheingold. There is a spiritual intensity to his music which is quite different to the spiritual quality of, say, Tallis or, different again, Bach because it includes much more than these of the human element though less of the purely spiritual, as is only appropriate for Romantic music. You might say it goes deeper but is less elevated. Those who don't believe that human consciousness has evolved should study Western music of the last 1,000 years. From the pure simplicity of Medieval plainchant to the intricate  harmonies of Renaissance choral polyphony through the more expressive and technically sophisticated Baroque and Romantic music and on to the 20th century when it all broke down there is a clear progression with ever greater emphasis on self-consciousness. Wagner brought this to a pinnacle. After him there didn't seem anywhere left to go except for music to turn in on itself and we are still struggling with that problem. The composer Cyril Scott in his book Music: Its Secret Influence Throughout the Ages wrote that Wagner touched the buddhic plane, meaning a plane of high spiritual quality, on two occasions in his music, once with the Good Friday music in Parsifal and once with the Prize Song from The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. One doesn't have to express this in his Theosophical terms to recognise that these two pieces of music genuinely do have a spiritual quality like few others.

This is real soul music. It has always seemed ridiculous to me that what is called soul music is so called. Maybe it's a kind of inversion typical of these latter days since music of the soul is precisely what this kind of music is not. Soul, as in sensitivity to spirit and the higher dimensions of being, is just what is lacking here. It may be enjoyable music on its own terms but those terms are of physical being with input from the emotional level, not spiritual in any proper sense at all. Real music of and from the soul inclines to contemplation not sensual movement. The feelings it arouses are to do with reverence, majesty, awe, humility and the sublime not frenetic excitement of mind and body. It may be that not all people are capable of feeling these, let's call them what they are, higher feelings but it is a spiritually fatal mistake to pretend that the lower is the higher or that the two are in any way equal. They are not and if you don't recognise this you will desensitise yourself to higher reality. It's no good saying everything has its place unless you see the lower in the light of the higher. Sometimes, often, that will put it in a very different light from how it sees itself.