Wednesday 31 October 2018

Why Do People Not Recognise Jesus?

That is, why do people not recognise Jesus for who he is? If he really is who he claims to be then surely that should be apparent? He should strike an echo in every human heart. But even during his lifetime there were plenty of people who saw and heard him but did not recognise him and so consequently rejected him. And now, though you might think he is plainly revealed in scripture, religion, tradition and art, there are many who do not recognise him.

Continued on Albion Awakening.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Astrology and Spirituality

I have just finished reading a rather dull book which purported to illustrate the link between the cosmos and the human psyche by means of a comparison of the movements of the outer planets (Jupiter to Pluto) and their conjunctions and oppositions with human thought and activity which took place at the same time. The author did not claim that the planets influenced human behaviour but that their positions in the heavens, as viewed from Earth, were a kind of snapshot of a moment in time, and that the two, outer movement and inner behaviour, could be correlated. The idea is that particular periods have particular qualities which are expressed in both human psychology and planetary positions with these latter almost like the hands of a clock. This is not a new idea and actually makes more sense than traditional ideas of cause and effect, though educated astrologers always had a more nuanced sense of how astrology works than that.
The book is dull because with an almost relentless thoroughness the author produces page after page of lists of what was happening at various points in history during certain planetary configurations. For example, he equates the Uranus/Pluto conjunction with revolution (Uranus) that reaches right down to the depths of consciousness and society (Pluto) and sees this as operative in the 1960s which, of course, was a decade of turbulent change. He goes back through history to the French Revolution when the same factors occurred, and then sees how this particular aspect worked out in the lives of prominent individuals. This is all well and good, and I don't dispute that there is a correlation of some kind, but he belabours the point so much it becomes tedious. He also ignores movements that were occurring at the time of these planetary patterns that do not fit his thesis so the whole thing becomes a little selective.
Another problem from my point of view is that for all the matching up of world events and planetary aspects he does, it all only makes sense with the benefit of hindsight. The archetypes represented by the planets (which I would not dispute) have so many levels of interpretation that, while you can't say anything goes, an awful lot does. They can work out in so many different ways, as is to be expected given the varying factors of human consciousness, free will and levels of awareness, that you really cannot say what will occur at a given time except in the very broadest of terms. Apparently just before 9/11 some astrologers were anticipating the possibility of a terrorist attack but not when, where or how so what's the use? Also, terrorist attacks take place all the time in various parts of the world. Are these all signposted too?
But, more than any of this, I would take issue with the idea that there is something going on here that could be called spiritual. The point of the book was that astrology could act as a corrective to the 'disenchantment' of the universe that came about following the abandonment of the geocentric model of the world and the rise of materialistic science. I absolutely agree that there is an urgent need to come back to the idea of the universe as a creation and one in which the Creator is still ceaselessly active and present but astrology by itself really doesn't do this. It can put a spoke in the wheels of materialism but, unless completely subordinated to a genuinely spiritual view in which God is front and centre, it remains a psychological tool only. There was no mention of God in this book though the usual vague spirituality without religion was there. But this form of spirituality has been around since at least the 1960s and it has completely failed to change anything or anybody unless it has been used as a stepping stone to something more serious and less concerned with human potential or self-fulfilment. It is also powerless in the face of the increasing leftist secularisation of the world, being all too easily absorbed into that.

The author of this book gives example after example of historical events that seem to correspond to contemporary astrological conditions but ends up admitting that all these must be interpreted in terms of archetypes which can be expressed in countless different ways. I think he is right but this doesn't really get us anywhere other than to say that something may be going on but we have no idea what it is. And this is the problem with astrology. It can be fascinating to study, and if you do seriously study it you will see that the basic principles behind it must be correct, but it's actually fairly useless. Yes, you can get a certain amount of insight about yourself and others but no more than you could get by getting to know yourself or others properly anyway with the added risk that you might then try to fit everything about a person into the astrological bottle and thereby actually limit your understanding. If a person must correspond to their horoscope, you are reducing that person to a formula. I know astrologers will say that all horoscopes must be interpreted in context but the point remains. The context aspect mitigates it slightly but it does not remove it.

I have been interested in astrology and written about it a little bit but I don't think it has anything to do with proper spirituality and can actually be a distraction. The reason is that it belongs to the phenomenal world. There are schools that have tried to introduce a spiritual form of astrology and link it to reincarnation but, setting aside the speculative nature of that, there's no real value in it. It's still all to do with the unreconstructed, fallen self. I believe in reincarnation but I don't think knowledge of our previous lives would help us much in this one, interesting as it might be. Spirituality is about coordinating your soul with God and the rest is peripheral. Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven etc.

Despite all I have just written I note that the planet Neptune (the green trident at about 1 o'clock in the chart below) will shortly cross my midheaven (marked MC). The midheaven which is the point at the top of the chart, where the sun would be if you were born at midday, represents your direction in life, your goals and purpose. Neptune is the planet associated with the soul, imagination, mysticism but also, on the negative side, drugs and illusion. It represents ego transcendence on the one hand but also the loss of the sense of self that might occur in psychological breakdown. When a planet touches an important point on the birth horoscope it sets off a reaction (speaking in causative terminology) so I shall be interested to see what happens in the next couple of years. But my point is that knowing that something might happen doesn't matter to me one way or the other, particularly if I don't know what it is or how it might work out. The spiritual attitude is not to be bothered about the future but simply seek to walk in the light of God now. When all is said and done, it seems to me that astrology is mostly of interest to the ego and its concerns.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Love of Humanity

I find it telling that Jesus told us to love our neighbour and to love our enemies but he did not tell us to love humanity. This must be because love cannot be directed to everyone without ceasing to be love. Not for human beings anyway. For God, of course, it can. But for us love must involve a personal relationship of some kind and so Jesus told us to direct it towards those with whom we actually had some kind of real contact. 

Nowadays it often seems that the idea of spiritual love is understood (or, I should say, misunderstood) as an abstract thing, something that should be directed towards all men and women equally. I may be mistaken but I don't think this is what Jesus taught. He was not a theoretician like many people today. He was completely involved in the real, the true and the practical, and so he spoke of love as an active, living thing that opens up the heart in a genuine way. Who can love humanity? Can you love this abstract concept in any real way? No, you can only love real men and real women. Love of humanity is just a theory for those who don't understand love and confuse it for a bland benevolence or, worse, see it as a badge to prove their worthiness. You cannot love humanity. You can only act as if you love humanity but then that is just acting. You can love your neighbour and you can love your enemy (or try to) but you cannot love humanity, and if you attempt that you may well end up a self-conscious fake as many spiritual people seem to do.

The fact that you cannot love humanity does not mean you should have no regard for people on the other side of the world with whom you will never have any kind of relationship. You should, of course, always recognise their common humanity and do to them as you would have them do to you. But that's a different thing. Charity begins at home, both in the modern sense of giving help to those in need and the Christian sense of spiritual love. When you can love those near to you, whether neighbour or enemy, then you can extend that circle but don't think abstract, impersonal love can be used as an excuse not to love the annoying, foolish, selfish people (as they may appear) who God actually puts in your way. He sends us what we need and, if these are the people we encounter, they are probably the ones through whom we can learn some kind of lesson.

Monday 22 October 2018

I Am What I Believe

Could it be that everyone knows, on some level, that God exists? But while some people accept this belief with joy, others reject it because of the implications it has for them. 

And could it be that the halfway house of agnosticism will become increasingly untenable as each one of us has to make a spiritual decision that will have a bearing on our future life in  eternity? 

Further thoughts on this on Albion Awakening.

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Metaphysical Error and Heresy

We live at a time of not only rampant atheism and materialism but also one in which there are many spiritual errors and half-truths masquerading as truth floating around and often flourishing. So the Masters told me forty years ago, and it is even worse today.

Most heresies or metaphysical errors are the result of taking an element of truth and giving it a disproportionate importance while at the same time ignoring or downgrading other elements. We may think some of them are new but actually the same old heresies tend to appear and reappear quite regularly. They appeal to the mind because they are often seen to be more logical than revealed truth, logical to the human mind anyway, and sometimes more in tune with what you might call entry-level mysticism. So they can appear to be supported by human experience or reason but you will always find something missing in them, some lacuna which leaves an aspect of reality unexplained whether that relates to the illusionary existence of the world or the complete unreality of evil or matters to do with fate and free will etc. Only the pure truth describes reality in its wholeness and completeness and depth. 

Sometimes heresies have a simplicity which makes them attractive and sometimes they have a complexity which makes them seem profound, especially to those who pride themselves on an intellectual approach to the Mysteries. However, you will find that most of them can be banished or seen through, by a mind that stands in the light of Christ, and seeks to cultivate the pre-eminent spiritual virtues of humility and love. This does not mean that knowledge is not important. It is extremely important, but this knowledge should be based on the intuition which is our personal connection to the mind of God, albeit limited by our own capacity.

You might think that spiritual heresies are not really significant, and that, as long as you have a spiritual outlook, that is all that matters. The rest is detail. Not so. If your metaphysics is wrong then everything will tend to be wrong. This can be seen in an extreme form in the world today when our attitudes to art, science, politics and a whole host of social issues are all misguided because our metaphysical assumptions are, to put it kindly, mistaken. But even if your metaphysics are only partially wrong in that they are spiritually focused but lacking completeness, you might still drift into error. Sometimes this could be relatively harmless but at others it will be crucial. It all depends on the degree of deviation from truth. 

Fundamentals are essential in order to get everything else right. If your foundations are badly laid then the whole building is liable to collapse. 

Sunday 14 October 2018

First Principles

I've put a post on Albion Awakening about how important it is to get first principles, meaning base lines assumptions about what life is, right. How, if you do, you will create a culture that is orientated towards the good, and, if you don't, you will have a society that becomes self-destructive as its members lose touch with reality with all the psychological turmoil and disturbance that implies. Moreover, these first principles cannot be arrived at through argument. They are either known or they are denied.

See here: First principles

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Jesus Christ and the Mysteries

It has often been remarked that key episodes in the life of Jesus can be taken as symbolising stages on the spiritual path for any true disciple. This goes along with the idea that Jesus's life was an externalisation or enactment of the ancient mysteries, those rituals that initiated the qualified candidate into the realities of the spiritual world, originally through the offices of sage-priests in touch with that world but in later, more degenerate times through drugs as the spiritual quality of both priest and candidate dropped and the materialisation of the environment reached the point at which the windows between the physical plane and higher ones became more opaque. I was once lucky enough to be left alone in the King's chamber of the Great Pyramid for a few minutes and it seemed obvious that this was meant as a place of ritual in which the neophyte would experience death and rebirth while lying in the stone sarcophagus that is the only object there. This was the core of the ancient mysteries. It was a dramatic ritual for the Egyptian initiate but performed literally by Christ as he revealed the hidden secret of life and made potentially accessible to everyone what had been open (and only partially open at that) to an elite few before. He did more than that, of course, but that was part of what he did.

The life of Christ can give us a deep understanding of the spiritual path that we too must tread before we are worthy to join him in his heavenly kingdom. I will examine seven major episodes from his life but there will certainly be more that can teach us new things about ourselves for it is a fact that a study of Christ's life can be endlessly revelatory.

Here are the seven episodes that I see as crucial stages to be passed by the aspiring disciple on his way to eternal life. There follows my interpretations of these stages but each one of them will richly reward further meditation which, of course, has long been known by Christians.

  • His Birth.
The obvious beginning. Christ must be born in our heart. This doesn't just mean becoming a Christian for that can be largely an external thing. It means that we acknowledge the reality of Christ as the truth in the light of which all other truths must be seen. We accept his reality as the foundation of everything and resolve at the deepest level of our being to coordinate our soul to that. This is clearly an aspiration. We are a long way off from realising it and will stumble and fall many times but a sincere start has been made. We have reoriented ourself from a focus on this world and its goals to the higher spiritual world. I don't say this has specifically to be directed at the historical figure of Jesus Christ himself but, if it is within the parameters of any other spiritual approach, it should be directed towards something that echoes and holds at least part of the reality of Christ. The highest form of spiritual reality, of truth, beauty and goodness, we can conceive of at the moment.

  • Preaching in the Temple.
This is a moment at which we have made some progress on the spiritual path and are able to share something of what we have learnt. It may not be at a very elevated stage. Jesus was only 12 after all! But it will still be better than the worldly wisdom of the "Doctors" who may represent the professionals of outer teaching.

  • Baptism.
At this point we are brought into closer contact with the soul or higher self. This is the part of us that exists on the spiritual level, above that of the everyday mind which we normally assume to be the centre of what we are, and which is the source of intuition. It is the real beginning of being guided by this spiritual sense and going beyond the threefold lower self associated with the physical, emotional and mental worlds. We now really know ourself as the soul, something that until this point we have had intimations of but not been able to fully centre ourself in. We still can't do that but a point has been reached at which the balance of power has definitely shifted and the baby Christ within us has reached some kind of maturity. Clearly many people might think they have reached this stage before they have because their intellectual understanding of the soul has outstripped their ability really to be it. This is one of the pitfalls to be negotiated by the disciple, both in respect of himself and in respect of others, outer teachers, to whom he might wish to give spiritual allegiance. By the way, I don't think this stage on the spiritual path has much to do with the religious ritual of baptism. That is a symbolic echo of it at an earlier point in the cycle.

  • Temptation in the Wilderness.
Once you have reached a certain stage of spiritual development you will be tested to see if you can maintain that in the face of appeals to egotism. Actually, tests and trials are an ongoing feature of the spiritual life but this is now serious stuff. You have attained a certain level of real knowledge. What effect does that have on you? Does it fuel pride? Is there a temptation to use it for your own ends? Or do you humbly accept the responsibility of it, seeing it not as your possession but as a gift from God, a gift that could be withdrawn should you react to it as your own? The significance of this stage should be obvious. It is perhaps the culmination of all the previous tests with the aim of giving you a clean bill of spiritual health. But it has echoes at many earlier stages of the spiritual path. Tests are one of the more important parts of the path and one to which we should be constantly alert. I say this as someone who has often fallen short where tests are concerned. But I suppose that's the point. We keep failing until we succeed. Failures are to be expected but we have to learn from them.

  • Transfiguration.
I interpret this as the moment we become fully aligned with the soul. We are now, as it were, the soul in embodiment. The spiritual self illuminates the whole being of the threefold lower self which become vehicles of expression rather than centres in their own right. Obviously this is a stage in theosis well beyond most of us at present but I think it can be seen in the lives of some of the saints. Our being is irradiated by spiritual light. The process that came into full view at the baptism reaches a culmination. Christ in us has reached full maturity.

  • Crucifixion
It is interesting that this last stage is not the conclusion of the path. We seem to have reached the pinnacle of spiritual achievement. What can there be left to do? But there is something more. We have to give it all up. All the hard-won spiritual success must be renounced for it is only by doing this that our motive can really be seen to be true. We give back to God all he has given to us, thereby showing that it is love of God that has driven us forward not the quest for some kind of personal reward. We are prepared to sacrifice all we have attained to prove our dedication to God. This is what Christ showed us in the Garden of Gethsemane. "Not my will but Thine be done". This is what it really all comes down to. The full renunciation of self. But please note this is not the seeing through of the illusion of self as in some forms of spirituality. Self is real. The crucifixion is agony. It is not some kind of peaceful transition to bliss. There is the sense of real and total sacrifice. There was for Christ and I expect there will be for us though it will probably be in the nature of an existential crisis rather than a physical one. For Jesus it was clearly both but that was because of the nature of his mission.

  • Resurrection

After the supreme sacrifice comes glory. The risen Christ. The soul loses everything, or apparently does. But it must give up everything, and this is not done with one eye on the prize. It really seems to be spiritual abandonment and darkness. But after death there is rebirth. The soul is remade as a completely spiritualised being, an individualisation of God himself. It is the entry into the fifth kingdom of life, that of immortal souls. For immortality up to this point has been conditional. Now it has been completely won and there is no return. The resurrection of Christ marks the fulfillment of life and the return of the soul to its Creator but this time with full knowledge. The circle is complete.

These are the mysteries of Jesus Christ, demonstrated in his life which also, I believe, actually made them possible of achievement for human beings. He was the trailblazer who through his life and death connected the physical world to the spiritual, bringing them both together and opening up a channel between the two. He created a path that now anyone following after may walk if they so wish - and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifice for just because it is possible does not mean it is easy. But it is possible and we can do it with Christ as our guide.

Monday 8 October 2018

The Elizabethan World Picture

What was the worldview that lay behind Shakespeare's plays and Elizabethan literature as a whole? The classical scholar E.M.W Tillyard wrote a book exploring ideas that were frequently referred to in poetry and drama of the time but then rather faded into obscurity as the scientific revolution gathered pace. See link below.

Albion Awakening

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Three in One

The human being, modeled after its maker, is a three in one, a trinity in which there is unity, and this apparently paradoxical fact, which may perplex the rational mind established in a three-dimensional world but makes complete sense from a higher standpoint, helps us to understand and resolve several conflicts in both religion and politics.  

For example, it explains why there is both oneness (intrinsic if not expressed) and hierarchy, and also how there can be forms of mysticism that deny the reality of self and those that affirm it.

A human being is comprised of spirit, soul and body where spirit is the uncreated aspect of God that is our being, soul the created individual self, our quality, and body the outer form and appearance. Now the point is that these three together comprise the human being just as God is Father, Son and Holy Ghost. You cannot separate them though they are different aspects of the totality. But at the same time there is a hierarchical order from top to bottom, inner to outer, and the totality should be seen in that context. Philosophies that do separate them, such as in their different ways do Buddhism and advaita, are incomplete. They have seen that the root of being is uncreated spirit, God in us, but they don't see that this is only part off the whole of what we are which leads them to deny or undervalue the rest, and particularly individuality. But individuality was the point of creation and why there is something rather than nothing. God is love and he sought to express that in relationship. What he creates is real, totally dependent on him but fully real in itself. Yes, in the context of our being, spirit is the most fundamental and truest part of us but it is not all of what we are, and you should not use its reality as an excuse to reject soul and body which are equally part of the whole. Indeed, without soul we could not individually know spirit, and without body we could not express it.

This is why I regard the Buddhist way as a preparation for the Christian way, or at least the Christian way in its higher sense of union with God. Nowadays many people brought up in our scientific, rationalistic, materialistic age turn to Buddhism or some form of non-theistic religion as the most sensible form of religion. It does away with that rather embarrassing anthropomorphic God. And its doctrine of not self makes a kind of philosophical sense. The ground of everything must be beyond the limitation and boundaries of the individual   which is clearly a veil on the deepest reality. So it is, but it's not that simple. Buddhism is, in fact, only a half truth, as is advaita which derives from it in that it was the Hindu response to the Buddhist challenge.

For reality is not the absolute alone but the absolute and the relative together, and the human being is not spirit only but spirit, soul and body together, a three in one.

Thus our spiritual goal is not to sink into Nirvana, the 'blown out' state, but to reach a full relationship with the living God, and the realisation of uncreated spirit can only be a precursor to this. It sets the scene in which that relationship can take place if one understands that disidentifying with the phenomenal world is not sufficient in itself but a preliminary to finding a union with the Creator. Of course, for that to happen one has to acknowledge him. To rest in Nirvana is, in a way, a refusal of the purpose of creation and birth in this world. I repeat, individuality was the very point of creation and so the rejection of it is a spiritual error even if it might be useful as part of 'skillful means', i.e. as a help to go beyond full identification with self which is also a spiritual error.

Three in one, hierarchy in unity, the one and the many, sameness and difference. This is the truth and isn't it so much more splendid than simply undifferentiated oneness? God is always more.  You cannot restrict him to the impersonal.  That would actually make him less than us. He includes and incorporates all we can conceive and, if a potential mistake of theistic religion is to limit him to existing outside us, as an object to us, the mistake of non-theistic religion is to ignore his personal or concrete aspect by focusing exclusively on the abstract impersonal. 

That mistake arises I think partly because of a confusion between the ego and the self.  The ego is the self as it manifests in three-dimensional consciousness and results from the separation inherent in unresolved duality. It is the self, which is not a phenomenal thing, squeezed into a phenomenal context.  That is why the elaborate Buddhist analysis and ultimate denial of the self is inconclusive. It only proves that the self is not a phenomenal thing. So it successfully dismisses the ego but mistakenly thinks it has also dismissed the self behind it of which the ego is a three-dimensional representation.  It has not done so. However its methods, techniques and philosophical reasoning are highly effective in showing up the emptiness of the ego. It can help us see through the illusions of the ego and detach ourselves from the lower self. The trouble arises when it throws out the baby of soul with the bathwater of ego.

For most Eastern mysticism, the individual is what negates reality, but a more inclusive understanding sees the individual as the whole point of creation. At the same time, the ego, which is that aspect of individuality that restricts itself to itself, is a barrier between us and God. We need to disidentify with that false aspect of our being but not make the mistake of rejecting the real part of us of which it is the shadow. Our spiritual make up is triple and all should be seen as parts of the whole for a full expression of being. This is why there is hierarchy even in heaven as I can attest to from my experience with the Masters.

Spirit, soul and body are the equivalent in the human being of the true, the good and the beautiful, and none of them can be denied. Note that it was the Ascension of the body which marked Christ's final act in this world.