Monday 25 February 2019

Sleepwalking to Emptiness

When I look around me it seems that most people in the Western world are completely oblivious to any kind of deeper reality. They don't appear to think very seriously about who or what they are but carry on with their lives as though appearance were reality, absorbed in their usually unimportant work and petty distractions as though these actually meant something.

What an arrogant attitude! How dare I be so dismissive of hard-working people, struggling to make ends meet and fit in a few moments of relaxation and leisure whenever they can.

Perhaps, and I certainly am not dismissing anyone since everything in our contemporary society conspires to obscure truth. Nevertheless, how anyone can live in this world without making huge mental efforts to try to work out what it is and what it means and what they should be doing to live life in a way that corresponds to reality is an enigma. The problem of existence is not solved by evading it, and if it is lack of interest that prompts the refusal to look at what this world and our life mean, that is even worse. So many people really seem to think that it is an intellectual luxury to try to penetrate the mystery of life or else they all too readily assume that there is no mystery and that life is what it appears to be, a meaningless accident which must just be made the most of. They seem to have little or no intellectual or spiritual curiosity, especially not in a way that would actually be applicable to their lives and open up something more than the fulfilment of ephemeral desires whether to do with mind or body. And, as far as I can see, this is as true of the intelligentsia as it is of ordinary people.

Most people in the modern West are relatively comfortable, certainly by historical standards. But this might just be blinding us to reality. It's a shield that protects us from the chilly blasts of existence and prevents us from seeking greater meaning. We are lulled into sleep by what technology has come up with to make the physical aspect of life easier and more pleasant.  We hardly ever step out of the everyday world, or the image that has been created of the everyday world, and ask ourselves, just what is this and what should I be doing to make real sense of it?

Whether through laziness or lack of imagination or shallowness or some other form of willful negligence, so many people today are allowing themselves to be shepherded along to a state of great spiritual damage. This world only meets its proper purpose when seen as a place in which human beings make the conscious decision to invite God into their hearts. If they ignore that purpose, it will be to their long-term loss. What could possibly cause a creature made in God's image either to deny what it is or, in some respects even worse, just pay no attention to what it is? It can only be because it is sunk into self-absorption to the extent that it mistakes the outermost components of its being for its true self, not bothering to look more deeply into itself.

I'm sure that no one reading this falls into the category I have just described. If they did, why would they be wasting their time here? But how many people have genuine spiritual concerns, in that these are the most important thing in their lives? And if you are a believer but spiritual concerns are not the most important thing in your life, what kind of believer are you? Your belief must be lukewarm at best.

The time is coming when our heart will be judged. Have we used our life in this mortal world to try to gain a greater understanding of God and put ourselves right with him? Or have we wasted our life by neglecting spiritual things? It might seem strange to say that a life without spirituality is a wasted life, but so it is. You may be the most successful person with wealth, fame and all the rest of it. You may be an acclaimed artist or scientist of renown but if you have not attended to spiritual matters, you have wasted your life and are sleepwalking to emptiness.

Note: This is one of my more polemical pieces which probably sounds a little intemperate in tone but that's because it's becoming increasingly apparent that the hour is getting late, or so it seems to me.

Sunday 24 February 2019

The Long Man of Wilmington

England has several figures cut into the chalk landscape, some of which are old and some quite recent. I mentioned the Cherhill White Horse in Wiltshire in a previous post (see here
and now I've written something about the Long Man of Wilmington in Sussex.

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Morality and the Left

One of the principal aims of the left has always been to destroy the true source of morality which is religion. It has done this because the powers behind the left want to remake humanity in a form severed from the supernatural. In this way, the possibility of spiritual redemption is removed and we become easy victims of these powers. We hand our souls over to them, convinced that this is the path of righteousness even though, on some level, there is an awareness that we are submitting to evil. But, if it suits the desires of our self-centred egos and validates our resentments, we can justify any action and paint vice as virtue.

Clearly, from a normal perspective this theory sounds absurd but let us assume that God is actually real. In that case, does it not explain the developments of the last 300 years rather well? For in that time we have descended more and more deeply into materialism and every time a frontier is crossed, the next one is set up a little further down the road. The spiritual descent is disguised by the fact of a sometimes real, sometimes just perceived improvement in other areas, material, social or whatever, but spiritual descent there is and continues to be. What does it benefit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul in the process? Yet this is the path we are set upon and have been for some time now.

The true source of morality has been destroyed but because human beings are moral beings (in that, however much they may deny it to themselves, they are spiritual beings), the left must invent a morality of its own. This morality is born of an ideology which then assumes the trappings of a religion, even though it can save no one and explain nothing, and that is why leftists can become so passionate about their beliefs. These have become their equivalent of religion, a false religion to be sure because it is not grounded in transcendent reality (indeed, it specifically rejects that), but a deformed kind of religion all the same.

If our morality becomes one of the principal ways by which we define ourselves, then the left has identified itself with a lie. Now, this requires an active choice, and it is a choice based on an inner orientation of character. This is an important point which should not be forgotten. Our beliefs reflect who we are. Broadly speaking, in life human beings are presented with two ways which are the way of spirit and the way of matter. They are not mutually exclusive but it is a question of which predominates. The transcendent-rejecting left has chosen the way of matter which is the false way, and it has chosen the false way because something in it is false. I might be accused of painting the picture in very black and white terms here and reminded that things are never that simple. But if you go down to basics and examine the human heart when it is faced with fundamental choices and decisions, I would suggest things are simple.  The choice you make is who you are. It is determined by whether you respond more to truth, even if that requires sacrifice, or a lie which may in some sense strengthen and comfort your ego using that word to mean the separate self seeking its own validation.

I am not saying leftists are evil in themselves. But, to a greater or lesser extent, they have allowed themselves to follow a lie. Some may have done so out of naivety or because leftism is currently presented as the good and intelligent person's natural political home. But, whatever the reason, it means that the truth is not in them. In some there is actual darkness and in others just an absence of light, but in none is there light. Nevertheless, the potential for light exists in us all. We have only to turn towards it in humility and it will be there.

Note: Shortly after I wrote this piece I noticed Bruce Charlton has done a post on a similar subject though Bruce goes into the mechanisms behind the Leftist attitude more deeply than I have done.  A happy coincidence! See here

Monday 18 February 2019

Thursday 14 February 2019

Nothing Beyond

I want to consider another difference between non-dualistic forms of spirituality and those that see this world as not sufficient in itself and ourselves as incomplete. (Note that in a logically consistent non-dual system this world is perfect when perceived correctly and we are perfect now if only we knew it. That is why enlightenment is potentially open to anyone at any time in such systems). Previous posts have gone into this difference but approached the question from the perspective of individuality which is effectively discarded in non-duality, a fundamental misconception in my view even if based on something real which is the shifting of the centre of identity. However, here I wish to look at the matter from another angle.

There is nothing beyond. There is nothing beyond this world and there is nothing beyond ourselves. Earth is heaven when seen with the eye of vision. We see as God sees when we know ourselves to be pure consciousness. Now, I do not doubt that Earth can appear heavenly in vision or ecstasy or any kind of peak experience but this is not the same as saying it is heaven. The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell and a hell of heaven, as the poet has it. But still this world is not heaven. There is something much more real behind it, something of which this world is only a dim reflection even if that reflection can partake of the divine in certain modes of awareness. But if non-duality means what it says it does, and if the implications of its claims are understood, then there is no possibility of attaining to a higher state of consciousness than is attainable here and now. The very idea of qualitative difference is meaningless. There may be worlds beyond this one but for a true non-dualist these cannot offer anything more.

Is that not a dispiriting thought? There are not greater and greater vistas of glory. There cannot be if everything is here and now. There is not something more and better than this world or, even if there is, that does not mean our participation, our joy, in it can be any greater. Non-duality means nothing is better, nothing is higher, nothing is more. It is ultimately a sad and sorry philosophy which negates the beauty of life.

Of course, most people who subscribe to this philosophy don't think like this but that's because they have not fully thought through the implication of their belief system. It's all very well, as far as it goes, if you take it simply to mean that the world is not fundamentally separate from us. But when you really think it through, you find that, so keen is it to avoid any kind of separation, it destroys any kind of difference. It may deny this and say that created things are real on their own level but as it effectively regards that level as one of ignorance, this is not much use.

Far better to return to the traditional Western idea of God and creation, both of which are fully real. Non-duality takes the trinity of spirit, soul and body and reduces it to spirit alone but a more comprehensive and inclusive understanding sees them as all having a role to play in the totality of what we (and the universe) are, even if there is a hierarchical ordering to this group. But the fact of hierarchy does not negate the lower levels of the order, all of which combine to make something greater than just the highest on its own. The interaction of spirit and matter produces something more than spirit alone, both for God who can share his life with other free beings, and for us who can enter more and more deeply into the endless mysteries of existence.