Thursday 28 September 2017

Who Are You?

When monks and nuns adopt the religious life they change their name. I believe this is primarily to detach them from their old worldly persona and reorient them to their new higher life in which they are no longer supposed to be centred on themselves. They are making a complete break with the past. Of course, there is no reason why they should not then become attached to their new name and identity which simply replaces the old outwardly while the same psychological structures remain in place within, but the purpose is to provide them with a platform or focus for a new mode of being.

However there is another reason why everyone should try to dissociate themselves from complete identification with themselves as they appear to be in this particular time and place. From you as who you now are with the particular experiences and genetic inheritance that you currently have.  Quite simply this is not who you really are. That is just who you seem to be in this earthly life. Your real self is a spiritual being that extends way beyond the earthly manifestation of it.

For example the person known as William Wildblood, born in 1955 in London of mixed English, Irish and Scottish ancestry, is just the tip of an iceberg. One part of him identifies strongly with this person but there is also a part that feels he is the present face of something more. Not in the sense of a sub-conscious lurking below the surface but the exact opposite. Something that transcends his current personality and is altogether a bigger thing which is using the outer persona to express itself through for a particular purpose, presumably a learning purpose.  This William Wildblood person is him, of course. It is not a question of a split personality or any kind of psychological problem or difficulty of integration. It is who and what he is in the everyday sense. But it is not the whole of him. It is an aspect, presently operating in the physical world, very much to the forefront most of the time but not the totality of what he is. And it's the same for everyone though possibly there are degrees of this, meaning that if we call these two things the personality and the soul there are degrees to which an individual has developed the latter.

What I call here the personality is the physical, emotional and mental structure (with input from higher levels or else it could not be sustained) which is formed from the earthly parents though it also has its own quality, derived from its spiritual progenitor which is the soul. The soul is the spiritual being we truly are. It is the source of our individuality and contains within it our connection to God. It is rarely known during our incarnation on this earth but may speak to us through the voice of intuition or conscience and possibly in other ways too. Whether it is fully conscious on higher planes during our lifetime or in a  kind of spiritual sleep while its 'projection' down here lives out its earthly life I don't know. But one thing I do know which is that it is more aware of the true nature of things than we are. I know this because a Master told me on one occasion that 'the greater part of you remains with us and I can assure you that you wish this training to take place however difficult it may sometimes seem'.

Do you not feel that you too have a 'greater part of you'? That the being you are in this world has something more behind it? I would imagine all human beings have a soul at different stages of development though there are some teachings that say some people already do have this spiritual component while others have the task of constructing it during this life. God may work in different ways and that might explain the very different attitudes people have towards the idea of a pre-existing soul but this does not alter the fact that our task is the same, to develop  a deeper awareness of God and walk in his light rather than our own. 

This is what awakening entails, spiritually speaking. It is awakening to the reality of the soul which is the point at which we can know God.

Saturday 23 September 2017

God is The Person

Sometimes the truth can hit you with the force of a sledgehammer. Something you thought you understood can become much clearer and seem obvious.

On various occasions I have discussed how the One, the impersonal Godhead beloved of the philosophers, is not the highest reality but an aspect of the personal God who is the real source of all. That is still my belief but something happened the other morning as I was walking along the road that made me appreciate it in a better way.

It was banal really but it triggered something in my mind, opened a door you could say.

It was a grey, cloudy morning when I left home but quite quickly the clouds began to roll away and then the sun came out in a vivid blue sky. That's all, a common occurrence but something was suddenly revealed to me which I had thought of before but not appreciated in a way that made everything seem so clear. This was not like having an idea but seeing a truth, plain as day.

Anyway this is what it was.

God is personal. Of course he is, the personal is more than the impersonal which is a subtraction from reality not a base of it. But he is personal in a different way to us. He is still the supreme 'I', the archetype and template for all lesser 'I's but he is this in a very different way to us. He is 'I' plus (impersonal is 'I' minus), and if our 'I' is a line then his is a cube but not a three dimensional cube but what a cube would be when extended multi-dimensionally.

That's it, I'm afraid. I said it was banal! It had probably already occurred to you. I'm surely not claiming it as a breakthrough in our understanding of what God is, and actually I'm not even saying it is literally true, but as a metaphor it clarified something for me that I have known intuitively but struggled to conceptualise. It made an idea more solid, an abstraction more concrete. Obviously God is not less than us (impersonal). Equally obviously he is far, far more than us. Yes, we are created in his image but we cannot contain all that he is. We do have the potential to become more and more godlike but that is from a relatively low level. We can never reach him because he is always growing too, not in his absolute being but in what he becomes.

The Greater includes the lesser. It builds on the lesser . God is personal not impersonal but his person is something far beyond ours though ours has a relation to it in a similar way that a point has a relation to a globe.

This is what supra-personal means and why it is right to think of God as personal which is not a step down from the highest truth but a revelation of it. Our 'I' is the same as his 'I' as a locus of self-consciousness but what that consciousness of self entails is radically different. Nevertheless ours is still a seed that can grow into something like its progenitor's.

There are those who reject self-consciousness and individual identity, thinking of them as barriers to true awareness. I would agree that there is a state of pure being and that the human soul can empty itself into this if that's what it wants to do. But it is not the fullness of what God is. That is contained in his 'I'.

Monday 18 September 2017

God Cannot be Limited to Non-Duality

I had a comment on an old post recently that I think is worth including here  as it points to a common misconception. The misconception might only be slight but when it comes to spiritual truth a miss is often as good (or as bad) as a mile.

I am doing an objective critique on what is posed as argument... "I believe advaitin mistakes identification*..." is itself an inconsistency. One should go through Kant's Critiques, Hegel's Phenomenology to understand Sankara's philosophy. Becoming is subsumed under Being. All identification is about an apparent form that will subsist only till such time it is disproved under a higher truth. The highest truth is the form of unity called as Absolute because there is nothing beyond it, call it God and it is immediately given the form (conceptual) of God.

To which I replied.

Or call it the Absolute and it is immediately given the form of the Absolute.

I don't think you need Kant or Hegel to understand Sankara. If you do then he failed to get his point across. I appreciate what you mean about becoming being subsumed in being and perhaps that is what happens insofar as the locus of identification or centre is concerned. But I believe the mistake of advaita is then to ascribe to the relative world no point or purpose at all. This is indicated by Sankara's inability to explain why the world should have arisen in the first place and what its purpose might be.

Individuality is not the result of ignorance but a real God-given thing without which we could never even know the Absolute or God, call it what you will.

It's easy to get lost in intellectual abstractions (a bit like Kant and Hegel) and advaita quite frankly is often guilty of that. I'm not aware of one person who really demonstrates the truth of advaita in themselves and I include such people as Ramana and Krishnamurti for whom I have great respect as well as a whole host of lesser luminaries. In each of them, very obviously, the individual still remains and, in fact, must do as the vehicle of their realisation. Are we really saying that the consciousness of a Buddha or Ramana is the same as the consciousness of the Creator of the universe? Really? If not then individuality must be a real thing, and a lasting one too even if it is transformed.

That is why I regard the true goal of the spiritual life as the integration of being and becoming, not the perception of the former as fundamentally illusionary in the light of the latter. And this is why we need the experience of being born in this world. It gives us something we need and did not have before which is the knowledge of duality that, when resolved, gives us a deeper entry into reality than simple oneness or non-duality would allow.

This world is a far richer and more meaningful thing than advaita allows. It is the expression of love which, if advaita practiced what it preached, could have no real meaning. It’s no good saying that love exists in the world of maya but not at the level of pure non-duality because that leaves love as a manifestation of ignorance in which case it is hollow.

Advaita fails to see that reality transcends a mere logical interpretation of it, and that there is differentiation right at the heart of unity. That is how a universe can arise. God cannot be limited to oneness or non-duality. Advaita needs to be supplemented by the Christian concept of the Trinity to give a living understanding of life and not a mere philosophy which doesn't stand up to examination when all aspects of reality are taken into consideration.

There is a state of consciousness that can be described as non dualistic in that the perfect oneness of all things is known but all things still have their own individual quality and integrity. To reduce life to one or the other is to limit it. This is because proper perception does not entail the sublation of all diversity to unity but the subordination. This allows for love and true understanding comes only through love.

Spiritual understanding does not reveal there is no individual self but there is something beyond the individual self. No mystic would dispute this but how would one even know it unless there was a self to know it? Are you saying it is God knowing God? In one sense it might be but then we are not God even though God has given us his being as our being and we can be aware of this uncreated part of us as the very essence of our being. It is at a deeper level than our self but it needs our self as a subject to know this. So there are always two even though they are one.

The full quote was "I believe the advaitin mistakes identification with the ground of his own being for union with God but that latter is a higher state and the reason we were brought into being and sent out into this world. Non-dualistic realisation would not have required that. We could have just rested in pure being, pure awareness, but God created human souls in order for them to integrate being and becoming, not renounce becoming, and that is a much greater state than passively resting in pure being alone."

Friday 15 September 2017

Religion and Morality

Atheists say that you can have morality without religion and they are, of course, right. Any society that wishes to function in a way that allows most of its members to lead a reasonable life must evolve a morality of some kind or it will rapidly descend into chaos and self-destruct, and the so-called Golden Rule is the obvious way to go. Basically it means that if I respect you and your rights then you respect me and mine and we can all get along. 

That is fine as far as it goes, and it satisfies our innate sense of fairness (which comes from where, we might ask ourselves), but, at root, it is really just a pragmatic way of looking at things and says nothing about the source of a true morality which would be based on an understanding of spiritual truth on the one hand and love on the other. Humanist atheists would maintain that their morality arises from a recognition of the oneness of humanity and that is doubtless correct, but theirs is an intellectual or ideological understanding of oneness not a spiritual one. In other words, it is merely thought based not a fact of being. So it is devoid of love. But love only has any meaning in the context of a spiritual reality and the recognition that we are all individual manifestations of the One God in whom we are all united. Otherwise it is just based on what gives me pleasure.

Another point to take into account for those who consider that secular morality can act as a substitute for religion is this. The primary function of religion is not morality as such but salvation. Or, if not that, then as something which can take us beyond the limited state of body/mind restricted individuals to a more transcendent state of being which is our true self. 

From a religious perspective actions which are described as sinful, and therefore immoral, are those which put you in disharmony with God and spiritual reality. This results in a diminishment of the ability to resonate to and embody higher truths and it has karmic consequences as well in that what you sow you will reap. Sin, whether of action or thought, locks you more deeply into the lower earthly self and separates you from the higher spiritual self. It therefore affects the quality of consciousness and the depth of insight of the individual concerned. It is really a kind of self wounding.

Many spiritual people today have a moral system that doesn't differ too much from that of the materialists, the standard left/liberal model which actually originates from a denial of spiritual truth so is of dubious worth on that score alone. It is basically just an elaboration from the belief in equality, but while life may be one in essence it is very far from being all the same in expression. The oneness of life must always be seen in conjunction with an understanding of its hierarchical nature. If you don't see this and believe yourself to be a spiritual person your spiritual understanding is flawed and your morality is limited.

Monday 11 September 2017

The Temptation of Non-Duality

The spiritual philosophy of non-duality is increasingly popular today but, while it claims to give a pure and unvarnished description of reality, I believe it rests on a metaphysical mistake. It derives from India, where it is known as advaita, and it basically reduces everything to undifferentiated oneness, regarding anything other than that as, to all intents and purposes, illusion. Thus it is prepared to offer multiplicity a conditional reality for those in a state of ignorance but ultimately sees it as unreal. A subtler grasp of how things are sees oneness and differentiation existing right down to the wire, being two parts of the one whole with the latter not in any way unreal, though still seen in the overall light of God. God is the source of everything, of course, but what he creates is real. It is important to get this right because our understanding of spiritual reality affects everything we think and do and feel and are.

Non-duality is a very easy philosophy to adopt and consequently think one has 'cracked the cosmic code'. It's also convenient in that it does away with God which suits the modern mentality very well. But if understood to mean that there is the One and nothing else has any reality at all, it rests on an error. Certainly all serious religion acknowledges the unity of God and see all life as his but rather than using this to deny the reality in creation a more alert understanding sees that God gives his life to creatures and that they then have their own life, given by him but still theirs, and that this is perfectly real. The absolute oneness posited by non-dualists only exists in the realm of the complete unmanifest and unexpressed. Move one metaphorical (or metaphysical) inch away from that and this oneness, though underlying all, is immediately qualified by other expressions of truth which must always be considered if one is to understand the whole. In fact, for the created being, which we all are, they are in a certain sense primary.

The contemporary Westerner is so indoctrinated with the scientific world view and so much in reaction against traditional Christianity that when he belatedly turns to any kind of spirituality he frequently, wittingly or unwittingly, requires that to fit in with his pre-existing human-centric atheism. Consequently God has become something of a non-necessity in contemporary spirituality which is why Buddhism is so attractive to many people nowadays. It seems to offer spirituality without the disadvantage of God but this is precisely one of its flaws  and why, whatever its historical necessity and appropriateness in its original time and place, it is not so suitable for Western people today. The cultural context is different and Buddhism tends to fortify existing deficiencies rather than correcting them as it might have done in the theistic context in which it arose. So much does depend on cultural context which is why Zen Buddhism would have been helpful for culturally conservative medieval Japanese while not being so for beat poets in the 1950s who were reacting against conventionalism already. They needed something with more structure that would counteract their particular excesses and we do too. That is why we need God. Of course everyone, Buddhists included, needs God but he may perhaps be set aside for a while if the concept of him has solidified and the image become more important than the reality which was the case at the time of the Buddha.

Non-dualists and Buddhists don't sufficiently appreciate that our nature is not a unity but a trinity, all parts of which make up the whole. That is to say, they focus on the uncreated part of our being, the part that never leaves the divine world, ignoring that this is only a part of what we are. In reality we are not just spirit overlaid by various unreal 'sheathes' but spirit, soul and body, all of which contribute towards the wholeness of our being, and if we deny any part of this then we are not living in truth. To mistake the highest part of our being for the only real part is an error which you might categorize as a kind of intellectual absolutism. In fact, our spiritual goal is not to return to unmanifest existence as though our life in a body was an irrelevance but to learn the lessons of incarnation in a material world, the primary lesson being that of self-sacrifice in love, and this we can only do by giving all parts of reality their full significance.

This is also posted on Albion Awakening.