Saturday 23 April 2016

Some Questions about Homosexuality

Here are some questions that have been put to me after the chapter on homosexuality in Meeting the Masters. I was initially reluctant to discuss this subject because feelings can run so high, but I decided to do so in the book because it was a fact of my experience with Michael, and because the Masters had spoken, albeit briefly, on the subject. I would like to think that because I lived in close fellowship with a homosexual man for 21 years I could offer a point of view that might be taken seriously by unbiased thinkers on both sides of the argument. But I'm probably being over-optimistic!

Q. You have a chapter in your book on homosexuality and the views you express in it seem out of tune with modern thinking, particularly since the recent vote legitimising gay marriage. Have you reconsidered in the light of that?

A. This is a subject that stirs up the emotions like few others nowadays with each side demonising the other without considering that an opposing view might be based on something more objective than mere prejudice on the one hand or rebellion against reality on the other. It's as if the two absolutes of love and truth have been polarised into conflicting opposites with neither one correctly understood by those who claim to be following them. Of course, many such people aren't following real love or real truth because if they were they would see that each includes the other. They are responding to an idea about love or truth but without deeply feeling the one or perceiving the other except possibly on a sentimental/theoretical level. But love and truth, properly considered, are spiritual facts and can only properly be understood spiritually. That is to say, in and by means of the open heart receptive to the word of God.

I would like to make the following points. Heterosexual marriage is based on the spiritual truth that creativity derives from the union of opposites. It is a reflection of a higher reality in a way that homosexual marriage can never be, and to deny that reality does not alter the fact of it whatever the law might or might not say. The argument based on equality is actually a red herring because a theoretical equality cannot take precedence over truth or divine principles. Therefore heterosexuality and homosexuality are not equal or in any way symmetrical (as men and women actually are) because one is rooted in reality and the other is not.  Homosexuality is a deviation from truth and so cannot be granted the same legitimacy as heterosexuality. Principles come before rights, and rights that oppose truth are wrongs.

That having been said, the modern approach that seeks to be fair and to treat people who may be different with respect is obviously far better than the old intolerance and prejudiced condemnation.  So what do we do? As with many things we have to find a balance, a middle way, and that means taking both aspects of the question into account. This cannot be done by constructing a dogmatic theory to which we have to adhere intellectually. It can only be done by responding with common sense, compassion and spiritual intelligence. Compassion and divine law are not mutually exclusive but they can sometimes appear to clash. The path of wisdom is to find a way which takes both into account. It is perfectly possible but requires humility on all sides. Heterosexuals have to accept that some people, for reasons we don't know, are born homosexual and their homosexuality is natural to them so they should be treated with absolute respect, their dignity as human beings allowed its full and unqualified worth. Their homosexuality may even have a purpose. At the same time, homosexuals have to accept that their condition does go against the grain of reality so ideally should remain physically unexpressed for while, in itself, it is certainly not a sin (though it is, as the Masters said, an imperfection i.e. not reflecting the ideal), the physical expression of it is cannot be seen as correct because it distorts the sacred energy of creation. Is that a hard truth? Maybe, but any attempt to go against the desires and will of the lower self is hard. Nevertheless that is the only way forward for each and every one of us.

Q. But Jesus says there is no marrying in heaven so if homosexuality is not part of the soul’s inner nature then neither is heterosexuality.So, spiritually speaking, it makes no difference what you are.

A. We’re not in heaven. We are on Earth, in a body and living in a dualistic world which is based on complementarity. Pure unmanifest spirit may be above form but when spirit is expressed it is so through two complementary poles, spirit and matter, life and form, and these signify the masculine and feminine poles of being, the interaction between which gives rise to everything that is. Ultimate reality may be beyond this but expressed reality, wherein we find ourselves, is made up of this. Spiritual truth requires that sexual feeling should be grounded in complementarity because that is the origin of all creativity.

Besides which, even if there is no marrying in heaven, or in the higher worlds, I do believe that there is male and female. The spiritual beings I spoke to were all male except one who was definitely female. I'm not entirely sure what Jesus meant by these words but I would guess he was referring to the uncreated pure spirit aspect of our being which is the same in all of us, male or female. However as expressed beings and individuals, created souls, we are male or female so all souls, in the spiritual sense, are heterosexual. Can you conceive of Jesus as anything other than male? And did he not describe God as Father? This implies that male and female in some form or another go right to the roots of our being. 

I think that reaction to homosexuality can be considered as a spiritual test of our ability to balance love with truth and vice versa. The conservative who, rightly, sees it as out of line with God’s truth must make sure that his reaction is tempered by compassion and honest recognition of ways in which he himself might fall short of the ideal while the liberal who, rightly, is horrified by the intolerance and persecution of the past must not allow that to blind him to the fact that homosexuality does not reflect spiritual reality and so cannot be given moral equivalence to heterosexuality. As always Jesus showed us the way in his reaction to the woman taken in adultery. It has two sides to it, both equally important. He tells the woman that he does not condemn her but he also tells her to sin no more. Readers of my book will know that the Masters used a homosexual as their medium so they obviously had no prejudice on that score. However they would not have been able to do that if he had been an active homosexual because then he would have been putting his own desires above God's truth. Once you have done that it is increasingly difficult to respond to God's word correctly in anything.

The reason many religious people are so adamant in their refusal to put homosexuality on the same footing as heterosexuality is because sex is a sacred act which is the basis to creation. Hence its incorrect use is fundamentally disordered and might even be considered blasphemous. If the creative act is engaged in without the remotest possibility of creation then those engaged in that act are striking at the heart of the manifested order. To do this on an individual level may be wrong but to legitimise it to the degree that same sex marriage does is actually worse because, while sinning is one thing, we are all sinners in one way or another. We really are and we should recognise that fact. Denying the sinful nature of sin, however, is worse than sinning because it turns weakness into defiance and pretends that wrong is right. I am not for a moment saying that homosexual acts should still be considered a crime (this has to be a matter of individual conscience), but I do say that a society that has lost touch with reality to the degree of celebrating same sex marriage is one that is going in the wrong direction. You cannot separate yourself from reality for long without being called to account. Of course, I am speaking in relative terms here and a long period could be involved. But the trajectory will be downwards towards spiritual, cultural, moral decline. I know this statement will be laughable to many but that just shows how the process is already quite advanced.

You are absolutely right to say that, spiritually speaking, it makes no difference what you are. However the Masters made clear to me that if one is born homosexual, as their disciple Michael Lord was, one should aim for celibacy. To those who say this is not natural to man one would reply that virtue and goodness are not natural to fallen man either, but our task is to follow the highest and best not the easiest or line of least resistance. At the present time it may be that it is permissible to ignore that rule somewhat so that the intolerance of difference shown in previous centuries may be moderated. Eventually however we will have to come back to the truth. But the point is that even if we feel we cannot follow the highest we must certainly acknowledge it and not let our inability to abide by its standards cause us to deny or neglect those standards.

We live at a time when there is an all out assault on the human form. This is a spiritual war and it is being waged as never before. It is why spiritual people nowadays cannot just retreat into meditation and inner soul searching but must stand up and fight against the ways of the world. They must always do so in a spirit of love not anger (otherwise they will do more harm than good), but still they must stand up for truth and not allow themselves to go along with the flow of popular opinion and intellectual fashion wherever they may lead. The disassembling of sexual differences is one of the ways that the spiritual integrity of the human being is attacked. The extreme form of feminism which desires to erode or deny the complementary nature of the sexes and make an equality of sameness is another. The words 'male and female created he them' contain a deep and hitherto obvious truth which is tragically being lost.

Q. Why don't you use the word gay? Doesn't this betray a prejudice on your part? And if your Masters said that to them homosexuality is the same as heterosexuality why do you take a different view? It’s now widely accepted that homosexuality is perfectly natural for a sizeable minority so why not grant it its natural rights?

A. You misunderstand the Masters. They meant that to them whether a person is homosexual or heterosexual by nature is immaterial because they look to the state of a person's soul. They did not say that homosexual or heterosexual acts are the same to them. They actually spoke of the former as love degenerating. Context is everything and they were speaking of the situation between Michael and myself at a time when homosexuality was still widely condemned. Now we live in a different world.

As for my not using the word gay, you ask if that betrays a prejudice on my part. I don't think prejudice is the right word. It's more a dislike of the distortion of language and of being manipulated. As is well known, to change thought you seek to change language. I don't like the attempt to change attitudes by what amounts to underhand methods, and using words with a 'good vibe' to them to make the user think differently. Having said that, I completely understand that it was also a natural reaction to insulting and abusive terminology of the past, and I use the word colloquially like everybody else now because that is the custom and not to do so seems unnecessarily pompous. Why use a polysyllabic word when a monosyllabic one will do! But written language is more serious than spoken and so I don't use it here.

Let's break open the Masters' words on this subject a little more. A person’s sexuality is not a sin any more than it is a virtue so whether we are born heterosexual or homosexual makes no difference to them, and that is obviously the case since their medium Michael Lord was homosexual. However they also said that love must be pure and that means that people with a same sex attraction should ideally live lives of chastity. Certainly that should be their eventual aim. If the creative energy is used in defiance of its very principle the least you can say is that it is being misused. But it is not a sin to feel tempted in a certain direction.  Sin only enters in when temptation is succumbed to but the real point is that even that is not as bad as justifying or even celebrating the sin. You may not like that word but what else can you call something that is acting against the reality of God? Something which effectively debars you from connecting to your spiritual source? Truth is truth. You may not like it but it is there, and perhaps if you do not like it you are denying your true self at a deep level.

You say that a homosexual's nature is natural to him and I don't dispute that for a moment. What I do say though is that what is natural (in a fallen world, which this is) is by no means always what is right. Indeed, many times all of us, without exception, have to struggle against what is natural to do what is right. The natural is not always the spiritual. The old Adam must be superseded by Christ. This is a timeless truth.

This post is not in any sense written against homosexuals who have struggled for far too long with prejudice and ignorant condemnation. What they have suffered in the past, and what they often still suffer today, is dreadful and it comes from lack of love on the part of heterosexuals. The person who has given me the most in this life was homosexual and I am not an ungrateful hypocrite. However, given the current climate of opinion, it is important to point out the metaphysical errors of those who advocate complete same sex equality, and to make clear that divine principles always supersede human rights. For, in truth, there are no such things as human rights which are an invented category, the question of which only arises when divine principles are no longer acknowledged. I would also want to support those who are swept along by current fashions, and who wish to be fair and just, but who have vague misgivings about the whole process. And, lastly, I would like to offer homosexual men and women, especially those attracted to the spiritual path, a point of view which might help them on their way. For in a sense they are the ones who could potentially suffer the most from contemporary mistaken attitudes to homosexuality. It is not without significance that the first person Jesus appeared to after his resurrection was a repentant sinner, Mary Magdalene, traditionally supposed to be the woman referred to above

If this world were all that is then current attitudes would be quite reasonable. But it is not and so they are not. They fall short. My sole purpose here is to put things in a proper perspective. For a culture that denies God can never understand the right way to approach this question. (Or any other for that matter). Only in the light of spiritual reality can we know what to do and  how to be. God is love but God is also truth. And do you know that it is precisely because God is love that he wants us to overcome everything in us that prevents us fully experiencing this love? Anything out of step with his reality does this.

But let me finish by broadening the whole argument for, actually, this is only a side issue. The real issue is not so much whether homosexual acts are legitimate in a spiritual world but what the place of sex is in a spiritual world. And I have to say that the Masters' view on this seems to be very similar to that of traditional Christian teachings. Sex is the energy of creation and belongs in a heterosexual relationship dedicated to the raising of a family, in other words marriage. Only in such circumstances is it pure (love must be pure, they said) and used as it should be. They recognise that we live in a world of many temptations and pressures but this is the ideal we should hold before us, though ideal is not really the right word as it is perfectly attainable in a properly ordered culture that doesn't put physical desires above divine principles.

As for the consequences of ignoring divine principles in favour of personal desires, that is easy. It is increased separation from the source of those principles with a resulting increased sense of alienation and loss of connection to the centre. 

Monday 18 April 2016

Teaching for a Child

Spiritual truth is really quite simple or, at any rate, its essentials are. This is something my teachers always insisted on. In their words, spiritual truth is simple but it is easy to get lost in philosophical speculations which lead nowhere. Now this means that basically a child should be able to understand the truth about existence, where it comes from, what its duties are and what its destiny should be. Obviously not in detail but sufficiently to be able to lead a life in harmony with the universe instead of one completely at odds with it as is mostly the case nowadays. 

So what are the essentials which every child should be taught? Different cultures might emphasise different aspects of the story and present them in slightly differing forms, but I would say that any child entering this world who is not given the information below is deprived of its birthright and sent out into life already partially crippled in spirit. There is no need to develop these ideas to begin with. That can come later as and when required. The simple understanding of basic truths is enough to start off with. A child may reject these truths. He or she has that right and nothing should be forced. But not to give the child access to them from an early age is a form of cruelty to a growing and developing mind. This is not indoctrination (if it were then not doing it would be equally so), and it should not be something that is insisted on but a gentle presentation of fundamental truths for the child's consideration and pondering.

Here is what I believe each child should be taught when it begins to ask questions about the world in which it finds itself.

  • There is a Creator. God exists and God is a person. He loves you.
  • You have an immortal soul for which you are responsible. It is cherished as a unique individual.
  • All life is one as it all comes from God and is held within his keeping. However all forms of life are different and they are not all equal as they appear in the world, though they should all be respected and valued.
  • There is a divine order of being and we should try to observe that and conform ourselves to it not only because it is the truth but because we will be happier that way.
  • This Earth is a spiritual school and we are here to learn lessons some of which may be difficult and even painful. We have to understand that, and not think that because of occasional hardship that God has abandoned us or does not exist. These are the chisellings that turn a block of wood into a beautiful statue
  • There are forces of darkness but this is nothing to be frightened about. They have no power that God could not extinguish in a second and they cannot hurt us or influence us in any way unless we let them by listening to their false counsel which always goes against what we know in our hearts, though it may appeal to the selfish or proud or lazy part of us. They are allowed to exist because they give us an opportunity to be tested.
  • We live in a time when spiritual truths are being lost but our task is not to be misled by that. We have to have faith which is based on the highest truths we have been taught plus what we sense in our hearts when we are loyal to the best we know.

One could certainly add to this list but I didn't want to make it too long or too complicated or too specific. One could mention that God has messengers who sometimes come to teach us the truth about him. And one could say that the current views about human beings being descended from animals are by no means proven and, even if correct, would still only relate to our bodies not our souls which are from heaven. From my personal perspective I would want to add something about Jesus Christ as, at the very least, the perfect teacher, ideal man and divine exemplar, but I've tried to make this as universally applicable as possible. I'm not saying Christ isn't universally applicable, I absolutely believe he is, but he is not perceived as such by everybody, and this is intended to be just a general outline attesting to the reality of the spiritual world. It's a framework to be built on later.

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Science and Materialism

Science is increasingly idolised these days. There really is no other word for it. It is seen as the only reliable means to knowledge, both of the world and of ourselves. It alone gives truth. It alone has the keys to the kingdom.

But what if it were a false idol and led not to an increased understanding of life but to a narrowing of vision, a loss of true values and eventual death? That is my view (see here and here) but it is definitely a heretical one according to the accepted canons of contemporary belief. It would not only be dismissed as absurd and ignorant by secular authorities but would also be rejected by most religious leaders too who fail to see that if you try to ride two horses going in different directions, one of them will inevitably have to follow the other.

So why is science so highly regarded and why do I reject its authority? To answer the second question first, it's very simple. I reject its authority because it is wrong. If science were not materialistic by default that would not be the case, but it is or certainly has become so. Therefore it denies all truths not open to its own limited means of research. It has identified itself so completely with materialism that it cannot break that connection without diminishing itself and its unique authority. Of course, individual scientists do not necessarily all think in this way but the discipline as a whole does.

So, to be clear, I do not reject science so much as its materialistic bias, but nowadays the two are locked so closely together that they cannot be prised apart. And I reject this bias on practically every ground I can think of, be it those one would expect such as tradition, revelation, religion, experience, intuition, imagination, faith, but also those that are regarded with approval by scientists such as reason and logic. For materialism is irrational in that it can explain nothing fundamental in itself but still won't accept the obvious, namely that the universe is set up and governed by intelligence. It has to deny this intelligence because to accept it would be to undermine its own position of pre-eminence. Thus when science looks behind the veil of existence at such root realities as life, consciousness and intelligence, never mind all those troublesome things not definable in terms of mathematics like beauty, love and goodness, all it sees is basically nothing. Literally nothing real in the latter case (i.e. these things are just subjective), and nothing existing independently of determining material processes in the former.

As for why science is highly regarded, I would say there are various reasons. Firstly, it is relatively new. According to our current way of looking at the world anything recent is likely to be regarded as more advanced than what came before. As, in some respects, it is. Then there is no doubt that science, through its practical application of technology, has changed the world radically and, in many ways, for the better. It has got results and made our lives much easier. It has also explained some things that were mysteries and corrected some ideas that were incorrectly understood. It has vastly increased our intellectual understanding of the physical and, to some extent, psychological worlds. All this is undeniable. But there is also the equally undeniable fact that science appeals to those who wish to reject God which means those who are motivated by pride in their own independent intellects. From this perspective, at least, science can be viewed as a product of the Fall, and one, if not directly inspired by, then certainly exploited by that being who was the agent of the Fall and the first to reject the authority of the Creator.

Even those who recognise that science has overstepped its boundaries from the 19th century onwards like to say that this is not the fault of science as such. It is simply a misuse of science. But I wonder if the aspect of misuse is not actually implicit in the discipline itself. Science, after all, is something that depends on the analysis of the material world and the use of the rational mind. It is fundamentally anti-spiritual in its conception from the outset so unless it submits itself to a higher authority, whether that be God, the soul, revelation or spiritual intuition, it will always end up in the way it has. And the majority of its adherents will always resist anything that threatens their hegemony and position on top of the intellectual pile.

What science fundamentally does is break things up in order to look inside them. That is the way it understands them. Now this is effective up to a point but something essential is lost that way. What it is is hard to define (particularly in scientific terms precisely because it is not open to the scientific method of exploration), but we can call it the spirit or soul or quality of the thing, and anybody with the slightest bit of imagination will know what that means. But science won't accept imagination as in any way pointing to reality because it operates outside of its domain. I am not dismissing the scientific approach but I am saying that, taken to excess, as it is now, it is highly damaging to the proper development of a human being. It must be accompanied by, even subordinated to, a more visionary mode of perception which approaches things intuitively and is able to look through and behind and beyond externals without chopping them up into their component parts but seeing them as wholes. For science may be able to manipulate matter but it cannot see the reality of which matter is only an expression.

This article is unashamedly polemical in nature. It is so because a proper view of life requires balance. God is truth and love, justice and mercy. At the present time we are dangerously out of balance and there is no law that says an extreme imbalance will naturally right itself. At least, none that says this will happen before dramatic consequences of imbalance come into play.

Wednesday 6 April 2016

The Supra-Personal

It's been suggested to me that the problems referred to in the earlier questions on the void, which create a conflict between Buddhism and Christianity or, in more general terms, between monism and theism, might be avoided if the absolute was described as supra-personal or transpersonal rather than impersonal. Metaphysically speaking, this might be seen as a step in the right direction but, in fact, it doesn't really resolve the difficulty as much as might initially appear.

For what does it actually mean to be supra-personal? It's a word the meaning of which no one can really understand. To begin with, how does it differ from impersonal? It strikes me as potentially a gambit used by non-dualists to deny the reality of the personal or demote it to a lesser and relative state. It can certainly be employed to that effect. Therefore those who advocate the idea of reality as supra-personal must be careful to differentiate between that and the impersonal, and make sure they are not re-introducing the latter through the back door and under another name. If supra-personal is compared to personal as a sphere is to a circle that makes theoretical sense because at least then it can be conceived of as something including but more than a person (rather than less than one as impersonal undoubtedly is). But even so this is still just a theoretical concept, and the idea that God is a Person, not supra-personal or transpersonal (vague terms that carry very little meaning and which can be used to deny real personhood to God) is the only real basis on which it can be said that God is Love. A personal God is still the only way in which we can have a relationship with God which, according to the Christian idea, is the goal of the spiritual life. And it is the only way in which values of goodness, truth and beauty can have any real meaning. That is to say, meaning fundamentally rooted in reality. For only if the person is real can anything be real, other than pure undivided consciousness.  And maybe not even that.

So, all things considered, I don't think that conceiving of God as supra-personal is all that helpful. While it might help to describe an experience of the ground of being it should not be used to support the reductive view of the world that advocates of non-duality incline towards. God, no doubt, cannot be limited to a person as he cannot be limited in any way, but if we truly are made in his image then this must be an important and real part of what he is.