Monday 28 October 2013

The Point of Life

Here’s a question which, in one form or another, most of us will ask at some time in our lives though the intensity of the demand will differ from person to person. 

Q. I have a very simple question. What's the point of life? A lot of people would say it has no point. You're born, you live, you die and that's it. But there's got to be something more. I mean, if that really is all there is, why bother? I know it's enough for many people but it doesn't make sense to me and I feel increasingly frustrated with the negativity of that response. The trouble is most of the spiritual answers to the question of what life is all about don't satisfy me either. They seem too much like man made attempts to explain the unexplainable. There's something behind it all, I'm sure, but what?

A. Spiritual answers to that question are man made attempts to explain the unexplainable. What else could they be? But some are founded on various degrees of insight and experience, and some, I believe, are inspired by God and the Masters who are the spiritual guides of humanity and who bring forth various approaches to the divine to suit different times and temperaments. Nowadays we have access to practically everything there's ever been, spiritually speaking, but, paradoxically, more quantity here means less quality as if spiritual energy has become diminished through being more widely dispersed. As in greater breadth equals less depth. This is actually an easily observed phenomenon in all areas of life. The more you have of something the less you can actually get out of it. So that is both the advantage and disadvantage of living at the present time.

It seems to me that you are awakening to the soul. As you become aware of that spiritual presence within you so the conventional 'eat, drink and be merry' philosophies of the day seems increasingly superficial. But so also do contemporary spiritual forms appear to be unsatisfactory representations of the reality you sense, albeit fairly dimly at the moment if you don't mind me saying so. You are growing into the realisation that there is something behind appearance and you are not satisfied with the opinions of others, as many religious people are. You want to know for yourself but at the same time you wonder if there is anything to know. Are your feelings founded on something real or are they just imaginary or compensatory or whatever?

Your feelings are based on reality. You have a soul which is the spiritual component of your being and what you really are. Many people are not aware of that because this world has detached itself more and more from its source but you, obviously, are becoming so. This soul was created by a divine intelligence which imbued it with its own essence and also gave it individuality and free will. Thus the path you take is your own responsibility. There is a right path and a wrong path, though we all inevitably take many wrong turnings before we are firmly established on the right path. There is nothing wrong with that as long as we learn from our mistakes. But we have to reorient our face towards the light and it sounds as if that is what you are beginning to do.

The point of life is to learn what life is. At the moment we are only partially alive. There is so much more and this more we can only know when we go beyond our little limited self and become one with God. Some people might express this slightly differently but the true purpose of life in this world is to learn to love God. We can only start to love God when we become aware of Him both within ourselves and 'out there', in nature and in other people. Regard all people as manifestations of the divine, the Masters told me. Not always easy! But, in the same way as we would not regard our own ego and lower self as divine, so we are not told to regard those of other people as such either. But we should recognise that there is a seed of God in everybody and do the best we can to let that seed grow. In most people the seed is still no more than that, just a little seed hidden away in the heart. But it is there and if we wish for our own seed to grow we must acknowledge that of others. Don't make the mistake of thinking the outer person divine but always recognise the divinity within.

The point of life is spiritual and all else is peripheral to that. Everything else must be seen in the light of that, art, science, philosophy, politics, social relations, everything, and if these things are not seen in a spiritual light they are broken and will eventually break down. And true spirituality depends on the love of God. Various false forms of spirituality, forms which have always existed but which are common today in our acquisitive age, try to taste the spiritual fruit without first planting and tending the tree and letting the fruit come to ripeness of its own accord. Advocates of these paths sense the soul, as you are beginning to, but, instead of doing the difficult work of raising themselves up to God, they seek to bring God down to their level. No long term good can come of that which is why true spiritual teachers throughout the ages have always emphasised the love of God as the only proper motivating force for treading the spiritual path. This love will purify the self, sharpen the intuition and enable you to see the truth. It will automatically pull you upwards towards the divine and help you shed those worldly attributes which keep you attached to this earthly plane and all that pertains to it. Without a love of God your spiritual progression will never get beyond a certain stage.

The point of life is to love God and to do it of your own free will and without thought of reward. So how do you love God?  I've written something about that elsewhere. Here I would just add that loving God is your natural condition if you can forget your self. If you address yourself to God, the higher power, and submit yourself to His will, whatever it may be (and remember that the saint thanks God as much for what He withholds as what He gives), then you will start to perceive Him and, perceiving Him, you will love Him. When you love God you love His Truth which you intuitively see because that which you love, you become more like. So the divine alchemy works in you to transform the base matter of your lower self into the pure gold of spirit, and love is the catalyst for that transmutation. But remember this. You cannot love both God and the world, as the old teachings have always made clear though some contemporary teachings overlook, so if you would learn to love God then you must start to detach yourself from the things of this world. Leave behind its transitory pleasures and the quest for personal fulfilment and dedicate yourself to becoming a vessel pure enough to embody the divine light. Uproot anger and fear from your heart, free your mind of prejudice and conditioning and, most important because if you do this then those things will happen naturally, always remember the Creator keeping Him in your thoughts at all times.

Life has a point which has been described by spiritual teachings in all ages. It is to know yourself to be a child of God and to take up your inheritance. The concept of God has been distorted by human misunderstanding, greed, desire for power, literalism, bias and I could go on but this is very well known nowadays. The fact is, though, God exists and does so as the centre of your being. Your desire to know the point of life is His voice calling to you through the medium of your soul which is telling you that its needs (which are the most fundamental of your needs) are not being met. Listen to that voice and you will be given all that is necessary for you to take the next step on your path. It may not be very much but it will be enough if you recognise it and respond to it. It is said that God never leaves the true seeker comfortless and that has been my experience. At the same time, because our spiritual guides want to bring us up to their level they don’t make it particularly easy for us and that has been my experience too! But know that life does have a point and a purpose and a meaning and a goal, and your strong desire to know that puts you well on the way to realising what it is.

Monday 21 October 2013

From Reason To Intuition

Our world view today is almost entirely formed by science and when I say science I mean reason, science’s progenitor. Reason is our God in the sense that it is the highest we are prepared to acknowledge. To live your life on a rational basis is certainly much better than to live it according to prejudice, unthinking cultural conditioning or emotional reaction because it is more or less objective (in theory at least), and generally aims for the greatest happiness for the greatest number. But, despite these advantages, reason is still very limited because it is a mental activity and the mind (as we currently experience it) is restricted in its field of operation to the material level, that is, the level of form. This means that reason, on its own, is a quite inadequate way of appraising reality in its totality. Unsupported, it is unable to see that there is anything beyond the material level, and, as a result, will often deny that there is.

But there is a transcendent dimension to life and knowledge of that puts everything else in an entirely different perspective. We don’t normally experience this higher dimension (the adjective is correct since it is a dimension of greater insight and freedom) because we are so identified in this world with our material selves, but, if we allow ourselves to do so, we can sense it, and we also have it revealed to us through religion. The expression that revelation takes may not appeal to the modern mind, precisely with its focus on the rational, but an unbiased sensibility should be able to see that the truth is there behind the out-moded presentation. The question is how can we move beyond simple faith and access that truth ourselves? Not through reason which largely relies for its data on input from the senses so cannot see behind the appearance of a thing to the thing in itself. We must try some other way.

There are really only two ways. Experience is one. Those who have been fortunate enough to have had a spiritual experience find that it takes them beyond the view of the world as described by reason alone while in no way conflicting with what is sane or rational. The other way is through what some call the intuition but what I will call here, in line with medieval philosophers and because it sounds more precise, the intellect. This is the light of God reflected in the human soul and it is that faculty in us that enables us to know by direct perception.

The person limited to reason will usually deny the existence of direct perception or else claim that what is called that just falls into the hunch, instinct or vague feeling category. Hence that it is purely subjective. However the fact that they may be right about that in some cases does not invalidate the reality of true intellect. It simply means that in our current state of spiritual development (or spiritual ignorance) imitations of it abound, and the lower is regularly mistaken for the higher.

Reason is always dualistic. There is always the thinker and the thought, and the thinker thinks his thought. But the intellect is not like that. It comes into being seemingly independent of the person in whose consciousness it appears. It is not born of experience, either personal or collective, for it is not the product of the past but arises spontaneously out of the living present, the ever-existing moment. It links the individual to the universal and the source of all things. It is objective, whole and, most of all, illuminating. Reason seeks to dispel darkness bit by bit and never succeeds totally but the intellect lights up the mind with complete clarity revealing truth in its pristine purity. Furthermore, what we know through reason is always external to ourselves but with the intellect knowing is part of being for it comes from identification with what you truly are.

Once we accept the reality of the spiritual intuition or intellect we will naturally wish to know how to develop a proper response to that. It’s really very simple. As implied above, the intellect will open up to the degree you coordinate your being to the reality of the higher worlds; that is to say, to the extent you bring yourself into harmony with the intrinsic quality of those worlds. This requires a radical reassessment of your life’s purpose followed by realignment of all the levels of your being. Thus it is not simply a question of believing in spiritual things and hoping for the best but of truly perceiving what is higher and of God and what is lower and of man, and then living according to the former. It is not a matter of passively sitting in meditation and waiting for insights to pop into your head nor does it involve ‘raising your consciousness’ (whatever that means). It is an active thing and it requires, first, purifying yourself of worldly desires and ambitions, and then doing exactly the same thing on the spiritual level. Many aspirants to the divine mysteries merely transfer the focus of their egotistical attention from one plane to another but it is still the ego seeking reward for itself and no spiritual benefit will ever come from that. I don’t wish to sound harsh here but, as I learnt from my experience with the Masters, the first requirement for any spiritual pupil is self-honesty. If you aspire to truth you must start by being completely truthful with yourself. Anything less and you are simply wasting your time.

Just as we identify thought with the head so we can identify the seat of the intellect as the heart. The heart is the centre of our being. It is where we are joined to all creation and, symbolically speaking, where spirit is anchored in the body. The sun can also be regarded as a symbol for the intellect with the moon, shining by reflected light, standing for the ordinary mind. Taking this analogy further, we can compare the darkness of night with our current state of spiritual unawareness, illumined only by a few pale shafts of light here and there, while the dawning of the day foreshadows the awakening of spiritual knowledge.

All seekers need to develop intuitive sensibility but this is not the work of a few months or even a few years and during that time they should bear in mind the advice given by the Masters which was to trust the intuition but be careful to distinguish between that and wishful thinking. I have mentioned this before but it is worth repeating as many people have been tripped up by confusing the two. Those of us who have started the climb out of this world into the next need to be alert to the fact that, while we may be becoming more sensitive to spiritual truth, we are still limited by attachment to the ego. We still have our desires, fears and prejudices, and our intuitive awareness will not be perfect until we have surmounted these. Always remember that the intuition is not personal. It will enable you to see the truth but, for as long as you are identified with your lower self, it comes to you filtered through the mind.

Reason is a God-given faculty which helps us to make sense of this world and shape it to our will. But it tells us nothing about ultimate things. It knows nothing about the world beyond this one and cannot reveal where we have come from or where we should be going.  A person limited to reason is spiritually blind and ontologically ignorant and will remain so until their inner eye starts to open. This is the eye of the Intellect, the organ of spiritual vision, and only when the mind is illumined by the light from that eye can it be said to have truly awakened.

Monday 14 October 2013


I've used the word God regularly in these articles but I know that nowadays many spiritually inclined people feel uncomfortable with that word. Some even reject it outright. Whether that’s because they are scarred by a primitive notion of a God of judgement and punishment or because they lean towards the Buddhist position which refuses to grant a personal dimension to the absolute (unusual, it must be said, and therefore possibly not entirely correct), it’s a pity because God does exist. Or so the Masters who spoke to me affirmed when they described themselves specifically as messengers from God. However they never defined God other than to speak of Him as the Creator so what does this word actually mean? Does it refer to a real being with actual personhood or is it an impersonal force or maybe just a cosmic emptiness that lies behind time and space and, in some mysterious way, gives rises to manifested existence?  Or is it all of these?

First of all, I must say that this is not something you can approach intellectually and expect to get very far, and that is why the Masters did not define God to me and I did not ask them to. There were certain questions which I would have liked to have asked them but which I instinctively knew were foolish and would have met with a gentle but firm refusal to answer. The Masters’ presence and authority were such that you simply knew what to ask and what to leave unspoken because it was not relevant to the issue at hand, that being practical spiritual training. To seek to comprehend what God is, except in the broadest possible terms, is vain. You can never understand God though you can know Him or as much of Him as you are capable of knowing.  On the other hand, it is certainly not wrong to have a mental image of God. In fact, this will help you to address Him and form some kind of relationship with Him.  However you must never allow your image of God to limit your conception of Him. Or, for that matter, your lack of image. He is always more.

People today have lost the gift of simplicity. We try too hard to think things through instead of responding with our hearts. But if you allow yourself to accept, if you allow yourself to have faith, you will understand enough of God for your needs. If you try to be clever about it you will probably get lost in philosophical speculations which lead nowhere, as the Masters say.  That is what happens to so many of us because we are reluctant to be as a child and listen to our hearts. We seek truth in abstractions but God is not an abstraction. He is the most concrete thing there is. He is there beside you as you read this.

It’s easy to be a philosopher but it’s hard to be a saint.

We are all familiar with the saying that God is love but let us consider this a little. Does it just mean that to love is the highest thing we can do? Surely not because then we would say that love is God. We don’t put it like that. We say God is love but if God is love then He loves and if that is so then He must have a personal aspect. Love requires a subject and an object. God as Creator is the subject; God in creation is the object. But this is not just God loving Himself because, through His love, He has endowed us with selfhood too. We are little gods in the making. That was the purpose for our creation.

So there is a personal aspect to God. As the active Creator of the universe God has personhood. But this is not all there is to God. It is, as it were, His face as it is turned towards us, and it relates to Him as He is in expression. Beyond this, though, there is another aspect to God. In terms of the manifested universe we can speak of God the Father. In terms of the world of form and appearance we can think of God as Creator. But behind this vast world of creation, what there? Before time and space, what then? One answer is that there is no thing but this is not nothing. It is ‘isness’ which has the potential to act but is inactive. It is the pre-manifested state and the ground of being which is God at perfect rest.

Well, I am disregarding my own advice here and starting to complicate what is essentially a simple matter. Spiritual truth is simple say the Masters, and so it is. Christ and Buddha spoke about the same reality but from different angles. There is a personal aspect to God to which we can pray but there is also the aspect of God at rest which we can seek to approach in meditation. These are not different things but different aspects of the same thing in its active and passive modes. But why even distinguish? The essential truth is God exists. God is. He is greater than the whole universe but He is also fully present in the smallest of things, and He dwells within your own heart as the core of your being. He is Life, He is Love, He is Light. He is the Most High and He is closer to you than your own skin. But more than that He is your Father and friend, and you are dear to Him beyond measure.

If God exists and if He loves us you might reasonably ask why His existence is not apparent. Why can we not perceive Him? There are various answers to this which I have discussed elsewhere so I will only mention them briefly here. To begin with, you could say that God is not hidden from us. It is we who have hidden ourselves from Him by our identification with the ego and the mind. But that is only part of the answer. In order to develop a true sense of self we need to experience a degree of separation. So we enter the physical world where (in our present state of consciousness) the denseness of matter is sufficient to cut us off from higher vibrations. Where, in effect, we can be alone with our self. This leads on to the question of free will. God wants free sons and daughters not coerced slaves so He gives us the opportunity to accept or deny Him. That is why there is just enough evidence in this world to support those who choose to believe in a spiritual basis to reality but not quite enough to convince those who are unwilling to accept this. The choice is up to us. God does not wish to force Himself on us. There can be no irrefutable proof.

Finally, it is worth asking how God’s existence might be apparent to our mind or senses for when we say we can’t see Him we mean we can’t see Him by means of these. But God is not a thing you can perceive as an object. He is not out there. He is beyond the world of form so he is not perceptible to thought. He is spirit and can only be perceived spiritually.

Monday 7 October 2013

The Inner Path

The writings on this blog do not derive from any particular form of spirituality which some might consider a weakness but I believe it has a positive side. It could be thought a disadvantage because forms have a structure which enables us to approach the essentially transcendent (i.e. formless) world of spirit in a way that gives the mind something to grasp. A formulation of truth brings it down to a level that can be mentally comprehended. However when Christ was asked by Pilate “What is truth?” he remained silent because truth, in its essential purity, cannot be expressed. Pilate was none the wiser and many of us would be similarly perplexed if given such a response. We need to have spiritual truth in a container that gives it some kind of shape and colour, and we usually like a container which has the backing of a recognised authority hence the organised religions. These also provide us with a way to approach the sacred, which might otherwise be beyond our reach entirely, in that they offer a method and practice. A ladder by which to start the climb from earth to heaven.

All that is good and I am not, as some do, condemning it. However the trouble with any form is that, while it may start out as liberating as it opens up new vistas to us and gives us a means to approach them we might otherwise never have had, it can finish by being constricting. We may become limited to the form, unable to go beyond it, and sometimes the form becomes more important to us than that which it only exists to express. We must slough off that skin in order to go further which may mean adopting a new and more sophisticated form but ultimately means going beyond forms of any sort. A spiritual form is a bit like scaffolding. We need it to erect the building but eventually it must be demolished in order for us to go into the building and for it to be useable. The scaffolding has a purpose but that purpose is not its own, and for that purpose to be fulfilled it has to go. 

 To an extent this approach reflects my personal inclination but it also comes from the way I have been taught. The Masters who instructed me were not Christians or Buddhists or aligned to any spiritual traditions of this world, and they did not approach spiritual teaching from any particular angle as we might judge it in earthly terms. They lived in and spoke from the plane of direct spiritual awareness and their teaching reflected that. It was, in the highest degree, pure; without admixture or personal input of any kind, and I think that if you read their words as recorded in the book you will see that to be the case.

For some this might make their teaching seem less accessible. It could even be regarded as a little austere. It certainly lacks window dressing. But for those who wish to grasp the essential, and who do not require props which will eventually have to be thrown away, it is invigorating to have a teaching which contains only unvarnished truth, and which dispenses with all outer paths to focus solely on the inner one.

Outer paths have their place and should certainly not be rejected before time. Nevertheless they must eventually be transcended or you will stay on them forever. They have the potential to take you to that point known in esoteric parlance as the 1st initiation which is where the Christ child is born in your heart and you become a properly spiritually attuned person as opposed to one who aspires to such, but thereafter you must walk alone, depending more and more on your own light. Or rather not your own light but the light from within which is the light of God that shines in the darkness of your own mind but can only be perceived when you start to become sensitive to what is beyond your own mind.

I do not say that you cannot follow the inner path whilst also being aligned to an outer path but the further you proceed, the less importance the outer will have and the more the inner until the outer ceases to have very much importance at all. I believe that this is particularly the case nowadays when all outer paths have become much diminished in spiritual power and competent authorities working in them harder to find, but it was always true to an extent. The Masters told me that outward forms of religion were good for souls on a certain level but that there was a higher understanding of life they expected us to follow.  This was the inner path.

The purpose of spirituality is for each individual to build a personal relationship with God. This can only really happen when you approach God directly, without intermediary, and that can only happen when you dispense with ideas, interpretations (other people’s or your own) and expectations. You must be emptied of everything, and, in fact, much of the spiritual life consists of this emptying. It is an uprooting and a stripping away, and it requires letting go more than acquiring. Indeed, in many ways the inner path is the path of abandonment. But it is also the path of at-one-ment. If you follow an outer path, whatever it may be, there is always something between you and what you seek. Thus it is basically a dualistic process and that can never bring you to God who you must find for yourself and by yourself. Of course, this does not mean that you should refuse guidance or instruction. No-one ever found God without help from those more advanced along the way. But it does mean that everyone must make their own path. You cannot follow that of another. To begin with maybe but not forever if you wish to complete the journey.

The inner path leads, naturally enough, within. It leads out of this world and it can be a lonely way to travel. But any perceived loneliness is really only an illusion, albeit a powerful one to the traveller. The reality is that we are surrounded at all times by love. The Masters frequently told me this and I experienced it through their presence. Since they have withdrawn from me outwardly (as they must from all their disciples if those disciples are to progress) I have many times felt alone. However it is only through this spiritual isolation that we can eventually achieve oneness because each soul must forge its own private link with God and it can only do that when it renounces all that is not God and stands utterly by itself. And that is the way of the inner path.