Sunday, 19 April 2020

A Text For Our Time

There are many ideas put forward as solutions to the crisis of the modern world (not Covid 19, that's just an element, albeit an important one, of something much larger), political, ideological, even spiritual of sundry sorts. But they all lack overall coherence. However, there is something that stands above them all which reconciles any good there might be in them at a higher level without including the dross, illusion and bad qualities they all contain without this thing. It can be summed up in a sentence.

That sentence is Matthew 12:30. "He that is not with me is against me". This pithy injunction means if you are not actively for the truth of Christ, you are against it. Not passively against it, actively so. According to this saying, there is no middle ground. If you are not for Christ, you oppose him. Neutrality is not an option.

This might seem unreasonable. Why, if you don't accept Christ, does that mean you are the enemy of Christ? Why can you not be a good, upstanding, morally decent person without acknowledging Christ?

You can't because Christ is the embodiment of truth and if you don't recognise that then you don't recognise truth in which case you will be on the outside of truth, working against it whether that be in a greater or lesser sense. Christ is like magnetic north. If the lodestone of your being does not point to him then it is broken. You are broken. Your soul is sick.

These may sound harsh words but what they amount to is this. You want to be good. You may think you are good according to the standards of the world. But those standards are false standards because they do not recognise the reality of what this world is; that it is not justified in and for itself and human beings do not exist for the fulfilment of what they appear to be in the light of this world. You want to be good but you don't acknowledge what good is for it is summed up in Christ and his teachings.

And here's the strange thing, something that goes right to the metaphysical roots of life. You might think you can be good without Christ, and perhaps you could be if the fundamental reality of life were abstract principle, something like pure being. But it is not. God is love. Life is ultimately personal. Truth is a person not a thing and that person is revealed for us in Christ.

So these are not harsh words. They are simply true words because they point to the reality of what life is. If you do not recognise Christ, you are rejecting real truth and goodness and replacing the genuine source of these things with some kind of idol. A person who thinks he can be a good person on his own without Christ is an idol worshipper and whether that idol be his own self or some kind of philosophical ideal makes little difference in the end.  He is still substituting a false reality for the truth and he is doing that because of a spiritual falseness within himself. Christ is the truth and if you don't know that you don't accept truth, and if you don't accept truth, well then, you reject it.

The only exception to this rule I can think of applies to people who have not been made properly aware of Christ but who follow his closest approximation in another religion. I believe that after the Incarnation the spirit of Christ was spread across the globe and did influence other religions through forms in them that could accommodate that spirit such as the Bodhisattva ideal in Mahayana Buddhism. That is a secondary thing to knowing Christ in himself but in this case if the spirit of any religion has absorbed something of the Christ influence, the Universal Christ you might call it, then people of true heart can follow the pattern of Christ as it is manifested in their own religion. This does not apply to modern secular substitutes, however, which are based on the rejection of the transcendent reality of Christ. Christ can manifest through a religion other than Christianity if the spirit of that religion is open to him but not through something that denies not only his form but his very spirit.

The converse to this is those professed Christians who nevertheless do not follow the spiritual reality of Christ, who perhaps are external Christians only, people for whom the trappings of religion, the lamp, is more important than its inner reality, the light. These are the people spoken of by Christ when he said in another text from Matthew, this time 7:21, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father in heaven". For Christ has an outer aspect and an inner aspect and only those who dedicate themselves to the truth of the inner aspect are really with him. To be for Christ means to put the reality of Christ, the spiritual reality, above everything else, at all times and in all circumstances. If you are not for him, you are against him.

The Good is spiritual. If your conception of the good is material only, supporting people as they are in this world with no understanding of the needs and destined purpose of the soul, then you are effectively standing against the true good which means you are doing spiritual harm whether that is your intention or not. Christ taught that his kingdom was not of this world but that does not mean that the world should not fall into line with the truth of Christ. It means that the truth of Christ can never fall into line with this world. If there is anything in this world that for you comes before Christ then you are not with him.


Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Well said.

One interesting aspect is that if one is For Christ, then one can benefit from the works (eg literature, art, music, philosophy) of those who are not - because that non-Christian work is put into its proper and partial context. When one is against Christ, then everything not For Christ will tend to take one further from Christ.

And example might be paganism. I think Christians can appreciate and benefit from the works of paganism - but for non-Christians (esepcially anti-Christians - which are most of the intelligent non-Christians) these same works will lead astray.

This general line of thinking fits with a dream I had on the eve of my conversion - I can't remember whether I shared it with you before. It was a vision of the earth as a globe being incrementally overwhelmed by a black stain of evil; accompanied by a voice saying something like : you are either helping the spread of that evil or you are opposing it. What is your choice to be?

I also knew that this referred to the many small everyday choices (esepcially at work) of whether to go along with the changes that one believes to be evil in motivation or outcome; or to 'push back' against them.

At any rate, I became a Christian and at teh same time resolved that my ideal was never to lie or be dishonest - even at work! If I could not tell the truth as I understood it, then I would say nothing. If I could not actively oppose evil, I would do so passively - by simply not doing it.

There were limits to this resolution, and I would not have taken it to the extent of being sacked over a minor matter - but I decided that they would have to get very close to sacking me (not just vague threats) before I would capitulate - at the least evil would have to expend time and energy on forcing my complaince. And if I did lie or do evil because of cowardice or expediency, then I would admit the fact and repent - and not not try to deny what I had done.

That was the way I operated for the last 8 years of employment; but I would certainly have to have accepted being sacked to maintain that resolution any further (or else be continually and explicitly repenting my own dishonesty), by the end of that eight years -- because of the continual increase in evil and the increased aggression with which it was imposed.

By 2018; nothing else than repeated and enthusiastic public declarations of lies and evil was to be allowed from all university staff.

This was, in microcosm, the trajectory of The West as a whole; and encapsulates why it is now (tragically) necessary for our civilisation to end.

William Wildblood said...

No, you haven't mentioned that dream to me before, Bruce. It seems to me that it points to something very important, especially for our day. That is, if you are really serious about accepting the reality of Christ you have to do so on every level not just some which can be fitted into ordinary life without too much trouble for yourself. I believe we are returning to a time when to have thrown in one's lot with Christ will mean the world will turn against you and probably condemn you as mad or bad. If it doesn't do that you haven't really done that.

Our civilisation is ending. In fact, it may already have ended and we are just experiencing the aftermath.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William "Our civilisation is ending. In fact, it may already have ended and we are just experiencing the aftermath."

That's it. I need to keep reminding myself not to worry about it, but to displace fear with Faith and Hope, based on Love.

And it really works! (Although only temporarily.)

William Wildblood said...

There's always going to be fear and there's always going to be doubt. These are realities of this world that can't be avoided and actually shouldn't be because overcoming them through, as you rightly point out, faith, hope and love, is what helps us to develop those qualities. They're like the dead weights a body builder uses to develop his muscles. And we have to keep doing that again and again though there is a core of certainty within us, buried deep, which helps to dispel the fear and the doubt even though it might be covered up by the almost overwhelming presence of this world.

Anonymous said...

What about when children are exposed to evil and indeed have this evil inculcated into them as if it were a good, and at the same time are kept from knowing Christ ? Awareness of Christ in the past was often enough to protect people from spiritual evils, so long as it was accompanied by accepting this knowledge.
Any knowledge they have of Him these days is at best a caricature and often a lie.

A generation seem to have been denied a grace that those who went before them were granted, through no fault of their own, unless past lives or similar where this Grace was 'unearned' are posited.

What protection do they have ? They rarely have teachers, the culture surrounding them is an active evil that actively keeps Truth from them.
Angels or other servants of Christ ?

I think that unless the scales are taken from their and all our eyes, and some open choice to receive some pentecostal gift of seeing, what hope can there be ?

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't believe in past lives.
The children today start out as innocent and drawn to kindness and goodness as they were in the past. By the time they reach their teens, and lacking adult strength and the protections mentioned, they encounter malign forces which they cannot withstand.
Except in cases where their families are still rooted in a 'good soil'.

William Wildblood said...

The point you make is one that concerns a lot of people but my feeling is that whereas in the past we were given Christ as a matter of course now we have to find him for ourselves and this is a test of spiritual maturity. and inner orientation to truth. The truth is within us all, the so-called still small voice. If we choose to pay attention to that we will gravitate towards Christ and find him as an inner reality. Not just something 'out there' in the religion but a living truth.

After all, for those who look there is more spiritual instruction in the form of books, scriptures, teachers, living and dead, spiritual art and architecture of all ages available than ever before. Everything is there if we look. So there is no excuse really. We have to work at it but that is the case for anything. God has not abandoned us but he pays us the compliment of thinking we are capable of seekingnhim out and ,indeed, this does sift out the good seed fro the bad which may be part of the purpose of the present times.

William Wildblood said...

Sorry for the typos above.

Children are not blank slates. Children are human beings, with both good and bad within them. They are not just pure and innocent angels. It is true that a bad environment such as we certainly have now will not help anyone but it may still be that God gives every soul what it needs. The battle between nature and nurture rages always ,though any one of sense knows that both have an influence. Ultimately though good will out if it is there. Now is a test of our true mettle. That is why these times are difficult, spiritually speaking. We have to win and make our own what previous generations may have been given, but what we have won and earned, we keep forever.

Don't waste time bemoaning the difficulty of the present historical period. It is what it is and all you have to do is make sure you are not pulled down by it. God is working to carry out a long term purpose.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. The difficulty for me lies in the fact that in the past when there was a choice towards evil or good it usually came when the person was equipped to deal with it; in or close to adulthood.
The influences children are exposed to now, from more or less infancy, are in spiritual terms the equivalent of feeding a child of that age drugs.

William Wildblood said...

I do understand. I worry about my own children but I think we have to see this as a test of what a person is really like inside. God will direct true seekers to things that can help them see clearly but they have to make the effort to see clearly themselves. Knock and the door will be opened. You have to knock first.

Andrew said...

I am very mixed up about the times we live in. I worry about basic material survival for my children and my own weakness towards physical hardship and discomforts.

I worry more about what sort of totalitarianism will be implemented and what the demands towards my family will be.

On the flip side I want to see it come down. It is rotted and evil and it needs to stop - but I think the desire for destruction is tending towards sin.

I also feel strangely excited - that something is happening of great significance in our time. That maybe a great rebirth will happen and the constant creeping evil will finally be evident to all. The public acceptance and legal authority given to child abuse seemed a “line” - I saw my loved liberal friends and family tragically fail the test. They literally idolize mass media even onto pure and blatant evil, Surely God had to do something - even if to just a step out of the way and let it fall down.

William Wildblood said...

Andrew, I recognise and share your feelings. People say the world has always been a mess with good and evil running through it but there really is something extraordinary about the present times. If you don't sense that then you are the spiritual equivalent of blind.

However, the thing about worry is this. It doesn't do any good! It may be natural, and I suppose it can be good if it prompts us to act, but it can also be said to show a lack of faith. Don't you think that ultimately God has things in hand? I'm not getting at you in saying this. As I say, I share your feelings, particularly when it comes to children (mine are 18 and 14) who are going to have to put up with this and deal with it for a lot longer than we are. But they are God's children too. In fact, they are God's children first. So he has them in his care. But they are subject to the same tests and opportunities that everyone is.

I believe that no one has been born at the present time who has not either requested to be or has accepted to be. There is opportunity if we will take it. The road will not be easy but the reward will be great. So perhaps we should remind ourselves of Jesus's words in the Sermon on the Mount, "What man by worrying can add one cubit to his height" (or one moment to his life depending on translation) and also how even the hairs on our head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). God is there always but this is a time of supreme testing and tests are not easy or there would be no point to them. We are developing our spiritual selves by being put through the fire. This fire will burn out the earthly self but that is painful because we cling to it. We want the earthly self as well as the spiritual but the problem is you can only have one.

Through it all though the important things are the ones Bruce mentions above, faith, hope and love. Faith means really believing in God, not just accepting as a mental proposition but really believing. This again is not always easy but there is something within us that knows God is real despite all the worldly 'evidence' to the contrary. Hold fast to that. And hope means knowing that the day will come after the night. It is like a heart open to reality that refuses to be overwhelmed by the fact that it is presently a cloudy day. The sun is always behind the clouds and will presently shine through.

I don't have to tell you what love is! Though I would say that nothing has been so corrupted in our day so much as the idea of love which is used to justify all sorts of worldly attachments and desires. Love is principally love of God who is its source and from that, through that really, irradiates out to creation. But it must be to God first as Jesus taught.

Whatever happens in the future all we have to do is remain faithful. We shouldn't get too caught up in the evils of the world but try to ignore them as much a possible. To get too concerned about them is to be brought down to their level. We must recognise them but not allow ourselves to fight them too much outwardly or they will pull us down. We should fight them in the sense of stand against them but we should not put all our energy into resistance for that will drag us down to hatred and fear and anger and then the evil will have got us in some sense. Know the evil for what it is but focus your energies on the good.

Sorry, I've gone on a bit but I just wanted to say, to myself as much as you, that, bad as things may get, it doesn't matter. God is there and al we have to do is remain true to him in our heart. Then all will be well.

Anonymous said...

The hardest command is to love God before you love your family. How many parents would do as Abraham did with Isaac? Jesus confirmed that God must be loved first - but it is hard, very hard, and most people are not up to it. I say this even of Christians. Put to the test, perhaps in some war, how many Christians would say to their child, 'do not deny Christ, even if you must die to keep faith'? I find it hard to believe that Christ would condemn such a parent or child, or if you prefer it, that Christ would accept that parent's or child's self condemnation. Somehow the door is not slammed shut. I have faith that Christ would not be willing to do that. Just because biblical text seems to refute my belief, it does not mean that I have to accept the text. I would bet my immortal soul that his pity and love is greater than that, and somehow there is a way that we don't know about.


William Wildblood said...

I actually think that's the wrong way to look at it, Barry, though it's the natural way. The Abraham story is unique as far as I know and I don't think we should take it very seriously. God doesn't operate like that. But loving God doesn't so much mean putting him first in any kind of dramatic situation as just loving him. It's not either/or especially when you consider that the love you have for your children actually is of God, reflecting the love he has for us.

William Wildblood said...

What I mean is that if your children fell into evil ways you would still love them but you wouldn't support them in that evil. That's essentially what loving God first involves.

Anonymous said...

William - I always thought that the Abraham event was prophetic of the God/Christ sacrifice event - the point being that God relieved Abraham of a hideous choice, but that he did not spare his own son, thus demonstrating that God does not expect his people to come up to the same standard as he sets for himself. I always found that comforting, and illustrative of the fact that God sacrificed his own son, so that no Father would need to sacrifice his children ever again. And, in the imaginary scenario I outlined in my previous post, a Father who loved his child would not be expected to tell that child - die for your faith, because God would know what was in the Father's and the child's hearts in terms of true belief. This sounds like the Islamic teaching I am aware, but might it not be correct? In other words, is martyrdom really expected when Christ did the dying for us?


William Wildblood said...

Making the Abraham story prophetic of the Crucifixion does seem to be forcing an interpretation to me. It's probably more to do with Near Eastern child sacrifice cults to propitiate the gods so I don't pay much attention to it.

Christ may have died for us but if we really want to become like him we must be prepared to suffer as he did. Not in the identical way and not as badly but the point about suffering is that it is the means whereby we are stripped of our self-concern. Suffering is part of life and a soul that hasn't suffered has not been fully opened up to God. I'm not saying the suffering should be extreme but we cannot hide from it as Christ did not hide from it. All the saints have known this and some have willingly embraced suffering as a gift to God. In fact, I would say the acceptance of suffering, offered up to Christ, is what marks Christianity out from all other religions.

But don't worry . God always tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.

edwin faust said...

"Making the Abraham story prophetic of the Crucifixion does seem to be forcing an interpretation to me. It's probably more to do with Near Eastern child sacrifice cults to propitiate the gods so I don't pay much attention to it."

I must in all honesty say that I find your dismissal of the Abraham-Isaac story shockingly cavalier. It's a troubling story, to say the least. Just how monstrous a thing God was asking did not impress me fully until I became a father and looked at my own son. I had read Kierkegaard's reflections when I was a young man, but only as a matter of intellectual speculation, not as a reality. Abraham is the "Father of Faith" and it has traditionally been accepted that his willingness to sacrifice Isaac was linked to God's willingness to sacrifice His Son. And there is no getting around the fact that the doctrine of penal substitution has been central to Christianity. It is generally accepted that this is precisely the purpose of the incarnation and death of Christ. One can reject penal substitution, which pits one against 2000 years of tradition. And one can dismiss the Abraham-Isaac story as having to do with Near East cults of child sacrifice. But then one is in the position of selecting those elements from scripture and tradition that suit one's personal preferences: a comfortable, custom-tailored Faith with all the rougher fabric cut out or smoothed over. I am not suggesting that this is your intention, but it may be that such selectivity and dismissals will lead to such a faith. I don't have any ready explanations of this narrative, no satisfying reconciliation of my repulsion and my acknowledgement of its centrality in the Christian story. But I can't simply ignore it or dismiss it. It must be dealt with in some way. Or so it seems.

William Wildblood said...

Just a thought on that last comment about God tempering the wind to the shorn lamb. It certainly doesn't always appear to be the case in this world and can sound rather a glib dismissal of real pain. But with a broader vision it may be so. We can however say that in most cases most people are not given more than they can bear. Suffering remains a mystery but if we hand our suffering over to Jesus I do believe the burden is lightened.

William Wildblood said...

My comment there overlapped with yours, edwin, which I hadn't seen when I wrote it.

I'm not dismissing the story but I don't think it indicates how God would behave now. And I'm afraid I am selective when it comes to the OT. I don't take it as the fully authentic word of God and think one has to bring a level of discernment to it.

William Wildblood said...

Now you're making me think about the Abraham story more than I had! There are various problems with it for me. The main one is the one everyone knows. Why would a good God ask you to do a bad thing just to test your faith? To love God means to love the good. Is obedience to God a different thing to obedience to the good and if they come into conflict as they do in this story is it better to obey what purports to be God or your own conscience? If Abraham really would have sacrificed Isaac does that make him a good man because he obeyed what he thought was God or a bad man because he did an evil thing? Or a stupid man? Well, it was a different world then. Consciousness was different. Obedience to an external force was more important than obedience to the truth within. We had less agency. There is no possibility now that God would require such a thing. That was what I was trying to say.

The second reason for me not seeing it as all that relevant to the Crucifixion is that God a provided substitute for Abraham which makes it quite a different thing. Or if there are similarities it is that in the one the father is tested for obedience, in the other it is the Son (in the garden of Gethsemane). But really I was talking about the story in the context of loving God above all else. I don't think Abraham loved God so much as obeyed him but then we would have to ask him to find out if that's really so.

edwin faust said...

The Abraham story also leads us to the problem in Plato's Eurythro dialogue: is a thing good because God says so, is it good in itself? If the first is the case, then morality is beyond human reason and depends entirely upon Divine revelation and perceived Divine commands. If the second option is true, then what need have we of God, who then can be conflated with the good, or who becomes subordinate to it, as are we. There have been many responses to the Eurythro dilemma, but none of them appear to have settled the issue. If the Old Testament is outmoded or can become such by our increased agency/awareness, might that also apply to the New Testament, which was written 2000 years ago when we were presumably less evolved and more dependent on external authority and direction? Christianity seems inescapably bound to the authenticity and continued relevance of its source texts, but these are open to interpretation based upon individual intuition, which is why there are at present an estimated 30,000 Christian sects. It is difficult to convince the young - and most anyone these days - that religion can be anything more than personal intuition and preference and that spirituality is DIY project which some people undertake and others do not. Pontius Pilate then seems to have been the wisest man in the NT with his "Quid est veritas."

Bruce Charlton said...

@edwin - That Platonic dilemma is a consequence of metaphysical assumptions. I agree that it has no satisfactory Christian answer in light of those assumptions, which is why I have felt the need to reject the Greek-derived metaphysics (which distorted Christianity among priests and theologians from soon after the church institutions developed), and to develop a different set of metaphysical assumptions - with which this is not a problem.

"then one is in the position of selecting those elements from scripture and tradition that suit one's personal preferences: a comfortable, custom-tailored Faith with all the rougher fabric cut out or smoothed over. "

You are making some unexamined assumptions about how the Bible ought to be understood - in particular yo seem to suggest that every verse of the Bible has equal and absolute importance and authority (if properly understood).

You further assume that all the Bible is instructional (none is essentially historical or descriptive, none is poetic, there are no errors or distortions etc) - and that, for example, this story is intended to be an instruction on how everybody, everywhere should behave always. This contains the further assumption that the meaning of this story can be abstracted into a moral principle, and that proper morality consists of moral principles.

All of these are assumptions I happen to disagree with! - but more importantly, they are assumptions that require to be made explicit (rather than merely reasoned-from), and examined intuitively.

William Wildblood said...

The Bible is not the Koran and I don't think has ever been regarded as such except possibly by Christian fundamentalists who are a very recent sect. So not only can we use a level of discernment in reading it but we should. I go along with Bruce's analysis that different parts of it have meaning on different levels and some barely at all. The Songs of Songs, for instance, really is just a love poem. We can make it a kind of parable of God and the Church or God and Mankind but fundamentally it is a love poem and a very beautiful one too.

Can the NT be outmoded? As the story of Christ, no. Is it possible to have a deeper revelation of God? Undoubtedly. Christ himself said so "I still have much to tell you but you cannot yet bear to hear it".

In my opinion the Plato dialogue is a false problem, one only an intellectual could come up with. It creates an artificial separation between God and the good as if they were two things and they are not. God doesn't say something is good. He is the good and the good is him but it is also the good. There's no dilemma.

edwin faust said...

So many assumptions do you attribute to me! I am not and have never been a biblical fundamentalist and I am aware that different types of literature are presented in the Bible. I did not know that I made myself appear so stupid. My main point to William was that if one adopts the historicist/modernist position that we are more independent of mind and understanding than our forbears and that our development renders some parts of the Bible obsolete, then most everything in scripture and tradition becomes subject to what we deem our present (and personal) state of sophistication. And given the importance of the Bible in Christianity, such an approach tends to undermine the basis of belief. I know that you adhere to a Mormon world view, which I do not. Part of Plato's dialogue in question is not pertinent to Christianity, i.e. that which deals with the differences among what the various gods prefer and how this can lead to differing notions of what is good and pious. But I don't think Greek philosophy hijacked Christianity, which went down the wrong road until Joseph Smith arrived. And I do think that whatever one's metaphysics, they cannot accommodate contradiction and remain credible.

BSRK Aditya said...


The words you have picked, I would not have picked.

It is a fact that there been many a times where I was unable to attain the poise by which I could become sensitive to my mind. Insensitive to the mind, it follows that one cannot clearly discern good & evil (To clearly see good & evil, sensitivity to the mind is essential & hence poise is essential).

Now, I know a person who - despite their faith - have difficulty attaining poise. Due to that very difficulty in attaining poise, they have never been able to clearly see "this is good", "this is evil".

This person is not a Christian. However - do you think that no one at all who accepts Christ runs into the same problem? If there is even one faithful Christian who has difficulty attaining poise, due to which clarity regarding what is good & what is evil has not been obtained - than to that person, it cannot be said that accepting Christ is what brings about clear seeing of good & evil.

Without clear seeing of good & evil what is left? (1) Church (and other Christians) (2) Scripture + Exegesis (3) Logic. All three are not without their errors. Even if one of these might be be appropriate for the given situation, they are not appropriate in all situations.

I suggest this list instead:

(1) faith faculty
(2) effort faculty
(3) remembrance faculty
(4) poise faculty
(5) wisdom faculty

When the wisdom faculty is unobstructed, then like the tongue can tell taste, so too can wisdom taste the spirit. Tasting the spirit, it clearly sees good & evil.

BSRK Aditya said...

Apologies for double posting. I did not fully explain what I consider the well expounded spirit.

If someone has the five faculties (as stated above), then they can (re)discover the true spirit.

Pointing out the true spirit to someone with the five strengths (faith strength, effort strength, remembrance strength, poise strength, wisdom strength) is easy.

William Wildblood said...

edwin, you misunderstand me or I've haven' t expressed myself properly. I do tend to write the comments in stream of consciousness mode so sorry for that. I know you're not a fundamentallist at all but Catholic. Or are you replying to Bruce which may be the case as I am not an adherent of the Mormon world view and don't even know much about it?

Anyway, I understand your reservations about a pick and choose approach to the Bible. That can lead to all sorts of problems but so can the opposite approach of not using discernment. I do think we have to read it with intuition while appreciating that our intuitive faculties are still in a relatively undeveloped state.

William Wildblood said...

BSRK, I'm not sure I understand your comment. I believe Christ is who he said he was but I also believe that the correctly orientated human heart can respond to the spirit of Christ as a universal even if they are not Christian. And I also believe that the qualities on your list are essential qualities for anyone, Christian or non- Christian, and can act as a base for deeper development in the spirit.

BSRK Aditya said...


I agree that the narrative surrounding Christ rings of authenticity (though I mostly received it second hand, by reading the exegesis of the bible).

I also agree that the correctly oriented human heart can respond to the spirit of Christ (An adept with the bramha abidings can broadcast across a thousand worlds or more), which can be refined further into clairvoyance & clairaudiance [the direct result of proper mindfulness of external minds] that can lead to a direct face to face meeting (with the being that was the human Christ).

The primary point of my post is that there needs to be a certain sensitivity to the individual in question. And even with a great sensitivity, where you have mastered multiple approaches, there will be individuals whose five strengths are weak. It is not easy to point out the true spirit out to them.

Incidentally, the modern education is not completely worthless in regard to the cultivation of the five faculties (If a person has the five faculties, they can (re)discover the true spirit).

This is how I would instruct them, as a bridging point where we are mutually understandable to each other:

(1) They already have a faith, effort & remembrance of a sort (as it is the case with any educated person of practically any sort). Given this, it is poise & wisdom that is the neglected strength.
(2) And there is a compatible poise strength. I would begin by endorsing them to see atoms as atoms. Do not neglect to include gases & combustables under atoms. All solids are composed of atoms. All liquids are composed of atoms. All combustables are composed of atoms. All gases are composed of atoms.

[The poise strength gained by seeing all solids or all liquids or all combustion or all air as atoms is in some senses identical to the first bramhavihara. It is not likely to lead to clairvoyance or clairaudiance, though. If it does happen, it is sheer coincidence.

In what way is it similar? Whoever sees all solids etc as atoms & delights in it, the Great Brahma can do whatever he wants with them. You should try it out and see this for yourself]

(3) Then I would try to extend & make the perception uniform. There should be no solid part of the body that is not seen as atoms. If they want to perceive externally, there still should be no part of the body not seen as atoms.

(4) I would then focus on wisdom. They might come and ask what about feelings? perception? personality? consciousness? Are they to be seen as atoms too?

I would point out that feelings are one thing and solids, etc are another in this reagard. I would draw a comparison between the different units of the SI system.

Using meter, it is possible to talk about lengths. Using meter^2 it is possible to talk about areas. Using meter^3 it is possible to talk about volumes.

However, without involving second or some other time unit, it is not possible to talk about time periods. It cannot be done with just a length unit.

In the same way while one can use atoms for solids/liquids/combustibles/gases, one measures feelings in another way entirely.

The same is true for perception, personality & consciousness.

After reflecting on this, that person might come to an agreement with this. Now, that person might ask - while it is true that feeling cannot be seen as atoms, it is not the case that feelings are independent of atoms either. How are feelings to be seen?

I would reply: Form (a short hand for solids/liquids/combustables/gases) is to be seen as part of the All. Feelings are to be seen as part of the All. Perception is to be seen as part of the All. Personality is to be seen as part of the All. Consciousness is to be seen as part of the All.

BSRK Aditya said...

(5) Finally, here comes the tough sell. It goes against what they have learnt from their first teachers. Nonetheless, if I judge that their five strengths are mature, I would proceed.

I would point out that, when seen with the wisdom that comes with the poise stabilized, it sees the atoms as changeable, alterable, subject to fading away.

They might try to rationalize. Atoms are changeable, alterable, and subject to fading way, this is not new! Even modern physics says so! I would point out that the minutiae of atomic theory is being contradicted. Modern physics describes constant, unalterable fundamental particles that if met with it's counterpart anti particle, would both vanish (and in the case of virtual particles a fundamental particle & anti particle arise out of nothing).

However, this discernment say that the atoms are subject to change in their properties and are alterable and are subject to fading away without any collision with an anti particle.

They might ask - is this a very comforting but ultimately untrue? I would say, devotion to this poise is an avenue to power. And what power would this lead to? It would lead to manifold powers - “He appears. He vanishes. He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, & mountains as if through space. He dives in & out of the earth as if it were water. He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land."

[Here, I have to confess that it is not clear to me how all the manifold powers can be obtained. I picked the ones that I understand the mechanics of, for which I can make a clear roadmap for getting them myself. All of the above mentioned powers can be obtained with the perceptions cultivated above, as far as I can tell]

They might come back - I perceive this as constant! I would ask, was that seen as atoms? Please make sure that it is seen as atoms in a stable way before making the check of inconstant vs constant.

[You too should see whatever form etc within the range of brahma vihara - is it seen as constant or inconstant? (It must be withing the range of the brahma vihara. Do not try out on the part of the body that is not within the range of the brahma vihara. That part is unreliable.)]

(6) The mind had at last been properly prepared. I would say that the real money is in the subject to fading away part. Form fades away. Feeling fades away. Perception fades away. Personality fades away. Consciousness fades away. What is outside the range of fading away, they should realize and see for themselves. Peruse and stabilize the perception of impermanence. Either you would enter the sphere of nothingness poise or you would attain release.

Anonymous said...

'Making the Abraham story prophetic of the Crucifixion does seem to be forcing an interpretation to me. It's probably more to do with Near Eastern child sacrifice cults to propitiate the gods so I don't pay much attention to it.'

An event, real or imagined ('mythic'), of the sacrifice of a child carried out by the child's father.
The OT God is often little more than the crude, capricious and cruel deities of the pagans, and seems to have been for some easily exchangible with them. We do not believe that God, as we try to know Him through His Son, is like this.
So, in ancient times the experience of God and the knowledege of Him was a process of Revelation ?
So assuming that as emergent beings there was a record or memory of God in the soul and consciousness, and experience of 'gods' (whether something like elohim or demons or imaginings) in some circumstances were propitiated, this had a germ or impulse towards the real God-created relationship.
This was taken up by God - he intervened in the event. So the real experience of God - the Revelation - comes when Abraham's hand is stayed.
If we allow this, it explains not only how the Abraham story might prefigure the Crucifiction, but also the recurrence of similar patterns that seem to prefigure Christianity throughout much pagan myth.

Anonymous said...

(crucifixion - typo)

William Wildblood said...

If you're saying what I think you are, this was the position of CS Lewis, taken from Tolkien, that pagan myths were like good dreams of Christ avant la lettre.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but others have come to the same conclusion.
I suppose Til We Have Faces is in part an exposition of this.