Monday 30 September 2013

The Atheist Illusion

It is understandable that many people think of themselves as atheists in the contemporary world, given the artificial environment in which we live, the largely out of date form of the spirituality to which we are exposed while growing up (if we are exposed to any at all) and the dominance of a scientific worldview that stubbornly refuses to recognise its limitations. However the truth of the matter is that atheists do not just deny God. In a very real sense they also deny themselves. If consciousness arises from material processes then it is mechanical. In a meaningless universe, you have no meaning. Why? Because individuality only has any substance in the context of freedom and there is no freedom if matter determines mind rather than the other way around.

In fact, the more you assert your right to deny God, the more you maintain his existence.

If you are an atheist it means that you regard life as arising from lifelessness, a bizarre, not to say irrational, notion.  It means that fundamentally you see love as only self-interested and so without any real validity or true existence. It means that you deny the sublimity of beauty for beauty, as opposed to what is just pleasing to the eye, has meaning only to the extent that it points beyond itself to a higher non-physical reality. That is what moves us to wonder and joy when we perceive it. And it means that, on the moral plane, you see everything as a matter of opinion because there is no objective truth. You may reject these points, or some of them, but they are the natural corollary of your beliefs. You may say that you don’t have beliefs but, of course, you do. For a start, you believe that all that can be perceived by the mind and senses is all there is to perceive, another irrational supposition. You may say that there is no evidence for a spiritual reality behind the natural world and point to the many flaws of religion which science has exposed. But science has not exposed any flaws of the substance of religion. It has only shown some of its manmade aspects to be manmade. And as for there being no evidence of a spiritual reality, all one can say is that there are none so blind as those who will not see. Do we discount the evidence of saints and mystics throughout the centuries? Do we reject humanity’s highest teachings from its greatest representatives? This may be regarded as circumstantial evidence but, for all the posturing of science, there is no plausible alternative explanation for life or consciousness or the fact, and I call it a fact because it is one, that deep inside us we know that this world is not our home, that we are spiritual beings whose source is elsewhere. We can blot this out if we choose, that is our right, but if we do we are making a big mistake because we are denying the substance of our being. And we are betraying our very humanity because the essence of our humanity is that we are more than human, by which I mean that we are more than just the outer aspects of a human being.

I am not writing this to convince atheists of their error but to support those whose intuitive sensibilities are crushed by the apparent logic of the arguments ranged against spiritual belief. This belief can’t be proved by reason (it’s not meant to be) but it is not irrational. Spirituality does not deny reason but it does go beyond it for it goes beyond the mind, or the mind as we currently conceive it. There was a time when science was the friend of truth. Indeed the word just means knowledge so why should it not be? Unfortunately that is not the case at the moment. Science is now the friend of science. Like the priests of old it has too much power and will not relinquish it without a struggle. I am a lover of science as a servant of God but I utterly reject it when it seeks to supplant God and install itself on his throne with the excuse that if God does not appear to it on its own terms then he cannot exist.

People say, who is this God in whom you believe? Human beings have believed in all sorts of gods so why is one any more plausible than another? But human beings have tried to express the inexpressible. That is why the forms and perceptions differ. These are necessarily limited by the imagination and understanding of the people who have come up with them. I freely admit that my conception of the spiritual power that transcends the manifested universe whilst also being present within every atom is partially (though only partially) determined by my cultural background and personal experiences. But that does not alter the fact that there is a Creator, a spiritual being who is the origin of all life in this universe and who is quite obviously far beyond anything that I or anybody else might conceive. A person might have a spiritual intuition of a greater or lesser degree of intensity and that gives them an insight into the nature of reality. But that person will have to express the intuition according to the mould of their mind which may be more or less able to encompass the intuition but will still be limited because the mind is restricted to form which always has boundaries.

I think there are two sorts of disbelievers in a spiritual reality. There are those, probably the majority, whose inner experience has simply not been sufficient to dislodge the weight of contemporary intellectual opinion. They are victims and in no way to be condemned except, perhaps, for not thinking a little more deeply about something that is of supreme importance, though some of them may have done just that but simply not been able to come to any conclusion. So they get on with their lives as one must. It is not necessarily a virtue to believe in God and it can’t be called a vice not to so long as one seeks to behave in a way that accords with goodness. It’s how you believe or disbelieve that matters, and what you do as a result of that. Even so, having made that clear, I should add that, while a non-believer can still make spiritual progress of a sort, it is most unlikely to go as far or be as fast as that of a person who does accept the higher truths and acts accordingly.

So there are those who simply don’t believe because they see no reason to believe.  But then there are those who actively deny God. Whether through anger or fear or resentment or dislike of the thought that there is a higher power to which they will have to submit, they reject God because they don’t like the idea of God. I think the first category of people simply doesn’t know enough but the second category doesn’t want to know and they reject spiritual knowledge because they don’t want it to be true. Naturally they would never admit that to be the case, preferring to take apparently logical refuge in science and condemn religion for its outdated and superstitious aspects while completely ignoring its more metaphysical and mystical core. But they are driven by their emotions, and the attachment they have to their prejudices has blinded them to the truth.

We live in a world that appears to have abandoned God but, to all those who yearn for a higher reality than the contemporary world allows, I would say this. Hold fast to your vision. Have faith in an absolute power of goodness and love, and follow the spiritual path in confidence that this world can never extinguish the truth even if it can sometimes veil it. Every human being seeks God whether they know it or not but if you do know it you are lucky. Pursue that knowledge and do not allow anything to deflect you from the path.

Monday 23 September 2013

A Holiday in India

There is a chapter in Meeting the Masters which recounts a trip to India that Michael Lord and I made shortly before going to live there on a more permanent basis. This was in 1979 while we were still in Bath and I was just beginning to find my spiritual feet. It was the Masters' wish that we went to India though they did not tell us that until after we had decided to go. That, incidentally, is a basic spiritual rule. You are not told what to do. You may be impressed by the higher powers but you must respond to impression and make your decisions for yourself.

Anyway, in the book I mentioned that Michael had taken a few photographs during that trip, and I would have liked to have included some of them in the book. Production costs made that impossible but the great advantage of a blog is that there are no production costs! So this post is a bit of an indulgence as it will really only consist of a few photos with the odd comment. It's more a direct extension of the book, for those who, having read it, might be interested in such a thing, than a development of its spiritual themes as most of the other posts are.

Michael's camera in 1979 was a pretty basic one, even for the period, so the pictures are not of a high quality. Also, though he took around 20-30 photographs, not many survive and some of those that do are too underexposed to put up here.

We started our trip in Delhi where we visited the Red Fort, the Jama Masjid and other tourist sites but the first photograph I still have was taken at the Victoria Memorial in Calcutta, one of those  grand buildings the British put up in the Indo-Saracenic style which mixes Mughal and Gothic revival architectural features. It's now a museum.

As you can see I was not a particularly willing subject!

While in Calcutta we stayed at the Ramakrishna guesthouse and visited the Swami who had initiated Michael into that order a few years previously. He was a venerable, old gentleman but still fully fit, mentally speaking, and demonstrating the inner calm that the Masters were frequently telling me to acquire but which I singularly lacked. Of course, inner calm may be easier to maintain in an ashram than in the hurly-burly of the world but, as an attitude of mind, it should be unaffected by outer circumstances whatever they may be. That is because it is not a question of controlling emotion but of being centred in the true, and seeing the external world as precisely that, external to what is really real.

After Calcutta we went to Darjeeling and then Varanasi but unfortunately no photos remain from those visits. They were probably just standard tourist photos of the Himalayas and the Ganges so no great loss though I do regret the absence of a group photo of the Buddhist monks who were staying in the same lodgings as us in Varanasi. There was no problem in getting them to smile for the camera, something I evidently found difficult!

While flying to Delhi en route to Kashmir something unpleasant got into Michael. I had been warned of the possibility of this by the Masters, and told that my conduct was the key as to whether it happened or not. In this case I had aggressively argued with him over what I perceived as his unspiritual (as in worldly) behaviour. He had reacted, and the resultant 'bad vibrations' had given the entrée to some kind of demon which had possessed him. I didn't realise what was going on at the time but was profoundly shocked by the transformation. He hissed at me and then shouted, oblivious to anyone who happened to be nearby. His eyes became a dull reddish colour and even his skin turned sallow. He was totally uncompromising and hard, quite unlike his normal self. This lasted for the entire flight to Delhi and the thing was only ousted when Michael fell asleep while we were waiting for our ongoing flight to Srinagar. He remembered nothing when he awoke. The Masters told me afterwards what had happened and said that they permitted this as a means of showing me externally what my own lack of control looked like. Extreme, you might say, but effective. I realise demonic possession is not much accepted nowadays, except by fundamentalists who probably see it in many places where it is not, but it was recognised by Jesus who regularly drove out demons, and even today it remains a possibility for those of a mediumistic tendency. Full possession is rare but partial overshadowing may be more common than we realise.

Michael was well protected by those he served and this sort of thing happened on very few occasions and when it did it was always initiated by a spiritual lapse on my part. That, as I say, is why the Masters permitted it, which remark prompts me to say that the main job of a spiritual teacher is to expose the disciple's lower self. Normally we keep this side of ourselves well hidden and acknowledge only its more peripheral aspects. But everyone has this self which is the result of our fallen nature and which is chiefly embodied in what we call the ego. The confrontation with the ego is pretty much the whole of spirituality.

(As a brief aside, I have been asked what I mean by the fallen nature. Essentially it is this. When our soul descended through the planes on its way to incarnation in this world (where it was sent to gain the experience needed to expand its self awareness) it began to lose contact with its spiritual source. The energies of matter became dense enough for the illusion of separation to be possible (separation from God, from Nature, from each other), and this led to identification with our outer selves, the ‘bodies’ that were our vehicles for the material planes, and resultant loss of connection to our inner or true self. Thus was formed the separate self or ego. The fallen nature is a consequence of the identification with the ego.)

Kashmir was a perfect place for healing and rest. We stayed on a houseboat on the lake called Nagin Bagh and for a week did little more than read, walk, swim and laze in the sun. Here's a picture of the boat.

and here's a not terribly good picture of Michael in a shikara, the narrow rowing boat that ferries people around on the Kashmiri lakes.

The Masters came frequently while we were in Kashmir, and it was there that they explained what had occurred at Varanasi airport. They told me that there was no need for fear but every need for vigilance which perfectly encapsulates how the spiritual aspirant should regard evil. Don't be offended by my use of this word. One of the great failings of those interested in spirituality outside of a religious context (which can sometimes amount to no more than a sentimental aspiration to universal happiness) is the refusal to accept the reality of fallen powers. That is just naive wishful thinking. Either that or a failure to understand (or want to understand) that spirituality is about making choices and, if there are right ones, which there are, then there are wrong ones too. Everyone has the right to make their own choice but not every choice is equal.

From Kashmir we went back to Delhi and then on to Agra. North India is a confluence of Hindu and Muslim civilisations, and the latter reached its apogee in the Mughal Empire which by any criteria must be one of the most splendid ever to have existed. But by the criterion of architectural excellence it is surely peerless, and Agra is the centre of that. Naturally Michael took a picture of the Taj Mahal but there is no point in me showing that. Instead here is the photograph he took of me at Akbar's Tomb that I mention in the book as the only one I which I smiled.

Sometimes you feel a connection with a place. I felt a strong connection with India from the moment I got there and, in fact, the Masters told me that such a connection existed as I’m sure it does for many of us, given the size and antiquity of the country. India includes every aspect of humanity within itself from the most sublime to the most debased, and it is unique in that Hinduism, the religion of the country, does not arise from a particular revelation or prophet, like all other major religions, but from the country itself. To be sure, there are numerous saints and sages in Hinduism but none of them, not even the avatars such as Rama or Krishna nor the gods such as Siva or Vishnu, are the real origin of Hinduism for that is nothing less than the externalisation of the spirit of India. Far from perfect, inevitably, since nothing is on this plane, but carrying enough of the inner quality of the country to represent it truthfully. And that is why, to be a Hindu, you really have to be born in India.

I was not born in India but a part of me felt it belonged there which is possibly why, just six months after this holiday, Michael and I returned there for a more extended stay. I have a few photographs from that time which I will put up here at a later date.

Monday 16 September 2013

The World's a Stage

This question is on a similar theme to the earlier one on karma and destiny. It also ties in with a section in the book which discusses the Master's comment that everyone has their part to play. And, of course, the title is taken from Shakespeare’s line that ‘All the world’s a stage’, a conceit he may have used but did not invent.

Q. Do you think we're just actors in a play? It sometimes feels that way but if it were true it would mean everything was planned in advance and that doesn’t make sense to me.

A. I do think that this world is a stage and we are something like actors in a play. I think we have our roles and that our true selves and the true life are elsewhere. However, although we do have our parts, the script is largely improvised and it is our responsibility. So, although you can quite correctly say that this is not the real world and our lives here are not our real lives, the part we play here and, more especially, the way we play that part has a powerful bearing on who we are and what we become. We are making ourselves through playing our roles. They are not us but through them we either progress or not depending on whether we play them well or badly. It is as if we are assigned a character and a costume and then given some instructions by the director on how the part should be played before we go on stage but nothing is written for certain though the general direction the play should take may be determined in advance.

From the spiritual perspective this world is not real but when you are inside it it seems so and that is as it should be. At least, that is as it should be until you begin to transfer your consciousness from the lower to the higher self. If you regarded the world as unreal but were not identified with the soul, that is, with the higher world, you could not properly learn the lessons the world has to offer. You would just stagnate. The actor plays his part best when he is fully inside it, when he really believes in it, and we must believe things are true to experience them properly. However there comes a time when you must start to see yourself as the individual behind the part you are playing and shift your focus from the character, the personality, the mask, to the true self that is the character’s animating principle. So, to begin with, you must believe in your part to play it properly but eventually you must dis-identify from it if you wish to transcend it. And transcend it you must or you will remain stuck in it.

Earth is a school say the Masters. It is a school that is designed in a certain way. We are given the tools we need to experience certain things here and experiment in certain ways. We play with things, we build things, we make things but what we are really making is ourselves. When all we have done has crumbled we will be left with ourselves. When the play is over and we walk offstage it is not the acclaim of the audience that matters but what we have made of the part we were given. And what it has made of us.

It is immaterial whether you have a large or small part in this play. For all we know the medieval concept of the Wheel of Fortune might well be based on truth. You could have been a queen in a previous life, a person of power, riches and authority. In this life you are an ordinary mother with a not very interesting job, struggling to pay the bills. These are both just parts and, from the spiritual point of view, neither one is necessarily any better or more important than the other. What you have to do in both cases is detach yourself from identification with the current expression of your self and realise the essential quality of your self. What you are now may certainly may an aspect of your being (though it may not) but it is not who or what you really are. Play your part well but do not identify with it.

The Masters told me that one should not confuse what (a person) really was with the role he played. “Do not judge the soul by the mask it wears in the world” they said. What this means is that the soul comes into this world wearing a mask that disguises its true nature, even from itself most of the time. This mask is its outer form for this life which may be determined by its previous lives, and may even in some cases be representative of what it is, but it is still not what it really is. One simply cannot judge by appearances. Some of the greatest amongst us may be in humble positions and many of those with worldly fame and power may be quite ordinary in spiritual terms. The Boy is a perfect example of what I mean. He was an uneducated, working class man, and from a worldly perspective he achieved nothing. And yet he was the vessel for one of the greatest spiritual manifestations of the last century. If he had not been a great soul himself he would not have been able to serve in that capacity for the Masters would not have been able to use him. I am not saying that worldly acclaim necessarily indicates spiritual poverty. Only that you really cannot judge the soul by the mask it wears in the world. Having said that, it is perfectly true that the more attuned you are to spiritual realities, the less the things of this world, its rewards, its praise, worldly power and success, have any appeal so, unless a soul has a particular mission, it is unlikely to put great efforts into achieving these things.

So we are actors, or like actors, and we play many parts on the earthly stage. When the play is done, though, we cannot just disrobe and carry on as we were before it began. While playing our role we are responsible for every line we utter. The actual part may not be us but everything we do while playing that part reflects on us and will come back to us. So play your part to the best of your ability while all the time realising that it is only a part and not what you really are.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

A Question on Karma and Destiny

Here is a question that touches on a subject which has always been problematic, namely the relationship between freedom and necessity. To what degree do the events in our life happen as part of a pre-ordained pattern and to what extent are they either self-initiated or the result of 'luck', good or bad, (if there is such a thing)? The question relates to an extreme event but there is no reason to think that the general process is different in more ordinary circumstances.

Q. When somebody is murdered is it part of that person's destiny to be murdered and, even more alarmingly, part of the murderer's destiny to be a murderer?

A. You do have a destiny when you are born but it is not a fixed straight line which can never be changed. Rather it is a range of opportunities any one of which could actually occur depending on choices you make.  No doubt there is a level of omniscience where all that ever happens is known in some eternal moment but the fact that something may be known 'in advance' (concepts of time don't apply here but we have to express ourselves that way) does not cause it. Your destiny changes with every choice you make. There is a general intention and direction planned for your life but you need to take the steps (or refrain from taking other steps) to make what exists in potential become real.

The soul that comes into this world to further its spiritual education has a destiny. Together with its teachers in the higher worlds it will have considered the most effective way to pay off its karmic debts, that is to say, to compensate for wrong decisions made in the past, and to experience those circumstances from which it can best learn. It will also be looking for opportunities for service. These are the three factors which must be taken into account when that destiny is planned. But when the soul is born it loses touch with its spiritual self, except, if it is reasonably advanced, through fleeting impression. Its initial circumstances may have been decided, and some thereafter, but how it reacts to those circumstances will determine its future course.

It may be the destiny of some people to suffer violent death. This may be part of their karma or it may be a sacrifice that they have volunteered to make in order to help others. It is not part of anybody's destiny to be a murderer. That could only be the result of wrong decisions, probably many of them, taken in defiance of the person's true path and real nature. Incidentally, it is interesting to consider that, from a spiritual perspective, the actual crime of murder cannot be to take life as life is not taken, spiritually speaking. It is to interfere with free will in the most dramatic way possible, and to deny the victim the chance to progress with his experience in this world. Needless to say that does not lessen the crime or excuse it in any way, particularly since, in most cases, the murderer believes that he is taking life, and, from the spiritual point of view, intent is often more important than action.

Some people talk of fate but I don’t believe in fate as such because it implies an undeviating inflexibility that is not part of the pattern of this world. I do believe in destiny and I also believe in free will which I see as working together. I believe in these things anyway but the Masters confirmed that both exist when they told me that there was a path laid out for me but I had to tread it. Destiny is God’s purpose for us and free will is how we respond to that purpose. What we make of it. So we have a path but we have to walk it and we can do so in a straight line or by wandering off it slightly or even straying completely. If we do the latter, it may be that circumstances seek to pull us back but ultimately we must make ourselves, and how we respond to external events is always up to us.

I think that most people left to themselves (i.e. without interference by the professionals) tend to accept both free will and destiny and not necessarily see a contradiction between them unless they try to over-analyse and think that one has to exclude the other. We experience ourselves as free to choose, and while theories that our choices are dictated by heredity and circumstances may be true up to a point, they are not the whole truth. There is always something in us that remains individually autonomous and free. At the same time, certain events in our life do seem pre-destined. We can’t prove that but we do feel it and, though it may be the fashion to dismiss such feelings as irrational, a wiser course might be to see them as intuitive recognitions of truth while never, of course, ruling out the possibility of self-deception or superstition which will always exist until the human mind transcends its limitations.

So to the question as to whether we are fated or free there is only one possible answer. We are both fated and free but the fated aspect of our lives only exists to bring us greater freedom.

To continue with these thoughts, why do bad things happen to good people? First of all, who is good? I know I am not. Are you? What I mean is that none of us is perfect. We all have things to learn. If there is tragedy or suffering in your life I would ask you to consider the following suggestions as to its possible cause. I would also ask you to try to understand that it is unlikely to be a random or meaningless event but that there may be a purpose behind it. I know this is hard but acceptance of purpose can help us to come to terms with suffering and even heal wounds that will remain open if we reject the idea that there is meaning to everything.

It may be the result of karma. For those who acknowledge reincarnation this should not be too difficult to accept but a theory or belief can be severely tested when the practical realities of that belief come about. If we can accept unpleasant circumstances as possibly being the return of karma created in the past by our own shortcomings that should help us to to experience them with a degree of detachment, and without the inner resistance that can only ever prolong suffering.

It may be a chance to learn a lesson that our soul has elected to learn in this life. In our worldly minds we do not know what decisions we took before incarnation and what experiences we and our teachers chose to give us the best possible opportunity for spiritual growth. But if we try to attune ourselves through prayer and meditation we will surely see a way forward. And if we are honest with ourselves, and free of self-pity, we will see what it is we can learn from the situation. Maybe our attitude to life needs to change and this event is the crisis that forces that to happen.

These are the two principal reasons for suffering and hardship (if we understand karma not just to be the effects of causes set in motion in past lives but also the natural outcome of our current psychological state), but because of the highly imperfect condition of this world there are two other factors to take into account.

You might be the victim of another person’s abuse of free will. Even here it is likely that you would have some karma to be resolved with that particular person but their behaviour might aggravate the situation. In these circumstances, perhaps circumstances where you are attacked or unfairly traduced, it is essential that you avoid reacting in kind. In other words, that you turn the other cheek. Take it as a lesson in forgiveness and non-attachment to your own feelings. The incident may not have started as an intended lesson but it can be used as an opportunity for you to dis-identify yourself from the ego and its reactions, and deepen your connection to the source. You are not responsible for what others do to you. You are responsible for your response to that.

Lastly it is possible that you might be the victim of an attack by discarnate forces. As the Master said ‘the greater progress (you make) the more (you will) be assailed by evil in all its forms.’ This will usually manifest inwardly as attempts to influence your feelings and thoughts but occasionally it may take the form of attack (verbal attack, attack on your reputation) by individuals manipulated by the dark forces. Normally the Masters can protect their disciples from outer attack but if it does take place the way to respond to it is, again, with non-reaction and calls to the higher powers for protection.

Not everything that happens to us in this world is pre-determined or the result of karma. Much is and that is the destiny side of things but we have free will and can be the victims of others misusing their free will. However experiencing adverse situations gives us the opportunity for spiritual growth if we react to these situations correctly. And if we are spiritual disciples we should know that God and the Masters are always with us. We should know too that suffering may be a fact of life in this world but, to paraphrase the Masters, we are going down a river and there will be eddies, currents and even waterfalls but one day in the not too distant future it will flow into the sea of tranquillity and we will know peace.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Transcending Duality

Very often the essence of spirituality is described as transcending duality but what does the transcending of duality actually entail? In the Upanishads, which is where the concept probably originates (in terms of a written down source anyway), it implies the full realisation that God and the soul are one, Atman is Brahman, and that remains the truth behind all lesser truths. However I would like to propose a slightly different interpretation here, one perhaps more immediately accessible to the ordinary spiritual aspirant.
In the normal course of events everything we do is a matter of choice and that is because we have, as it puts it in the Bible, eaten of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Otherwise stated, we live in a world of opposites, and we do so because we function through the mind. We live in thought. When we lose contact with our spiritual self we are no longer conscious of reality as it is. We see it through veils and must perforce interpret it according to our current perceptions. Adrift from the pre-lapsarian oneness with life we build a separate self, and this separate self or ego is now the centre of our universe. We cannot respond directly to life any more as we have divided ourselves out from it and so now we must relate to it dualistically. That is, there is us, the subject, and the world out there which is the object and the two are disconnected; not truly disconnected, of course, but that’s the way it seems to us. Once we are in the dualistic state of consciousness everything is relative. Everything depends on our own perception of things but our perception is fractured because of our identification with a limited part rather than the whole. We cannot see clearly until we shift the centre of our being and the focal point of our awareness upwards and out of the limited self to a higher state in which our relationship to the whole is one of union. Initially this is the soul which is not separate from God. Ultimately it is God Himself.

It is the initial phase I wish to talk about here because that is the phase in front of most of us. Most spiritual seekers are awakening to the reality of the soul. Either they have an intuition as to its existence or else they have had an experience in which that existence is made plain. Their work then is to bring the so called lower self, which is the mind/personality we normally identify with, into line with the soul. And that requires a complete shift in focus. This is the real reason for meditation which is not a method to attain higher states of consciousness but a way to enable the mind to be brought into harmony with the soul so that eventually it becomes what it should be which is a vessel for the soul. The mind has two main functions. One is to enable the soul to experience the material world, and the other is to give concrete expression to the awareness of the soul whilst it is in that world. That second function of mind is not what takes place at the moment. Now, for the great majority of us, it lives by its own light and that light does not come from the central spiritual sun directly (that is, from God via the soul) but is reflected through the ego which is constructed out of the mind’s own experiences and memory, and so is personal therefore limited. The mind lives in a world of opposites and relative truths. This is duality. The soul, on the other hand, lives in the reality of God, from whom it is distinct but not separate, and as a consequence it simply sees what is without that perception being distorted by personal bias or limitation. There is no choice for the God-centred soul because there is no duality. There is only the truth of God.

The Masters constantly stressed to me the importance of developing and listening to intuition, whilst also making clear the need to distinguish that from wishful thinking which is by no means as easy as it may sound - witness the many eccentricities, illusions and fantasies to be found in spiritual groups. What protects us from falling prey to these is what used to be known as the fear of God. That is to say, a proper sense of one’s personal insignificance coupled with a love of truth and a deep reverence for the divine. Intuition is the forerunner to the complete knowledge of the soul. It is how that knowledge comes to us while we are still mind-bound creatures. It is direct perception of what is above the uncertainties of choice and the duality which is the inevitable outcome of the materialistic nature of the mind. Why materialistic? Because the mind functions in the world of form. Constructed from the past, it is consequently the product of time and however much knowledge it may accrue it can never see truth directly as that can only be done from a level above time and the separate self.

So transcending duality means transcending thought and perceiving intuitively for in intuition there are no opposites and no opinion. There is only the revelation of the real. Now this is not achieved all in one go. It is a long and gradual process during which the intuition might initially be experienced only sporadically and within the context of thought, often distorted by thought as it is translated into mental terms and misinterpreted by thought according to its own prejudices and preconceptions. But the more faithful one is to one’s higher nature and the more one avoids appropriating the insights of the intuition to the personal self, the more the mind will be brought under the soul’s sway until the point is reached when mind simply becomes the vehicle through which intuition expresses itself in the phenomenal world.

So we can start right now to transcend duality by developing the intuition which we do through meditation, worldly detachment and even the contemplation of nature. But be warned. This will put you in touch with divine principles and that will put you at odds with many things in the contemporary world which is largely based on denial of those principles. If you would be guided by intuition you must be prepared to stand alone.