Sunday 30 May 2021

The Esotericist and God

I know many esotericists maintain that theism is at a lower level, spiritually speaking, than non-dualism or monism and that love of God is dualistic and therefore outside the absolute. Setting aside the fact that they often reduce love of God to bhakti which is more like devotionalism, I see this as the typical metaphysical error of the intellectually inclined and have written a lot on the subject - see the non-duality topic on the right of this page. I will not go fully into the whys and wherefores of this here but, briefly, my position is that in a truly non-dualistic world there would be no need for creation or manifestation if you prefer to call it that. If being is the end of it all then why become? That  makes no sense. But it does make sense if the fundamental reality of the universe is a Who not a What and if spirit, the absolute, is enriched by matter or the relative. Mixing in multiplicity with unity brings about a universe that is not just unchanging life but creative, dynamic, active, ever self-renewing and transcending, and also one in which there are many beings which allows for love as opposed to impersonal compassion which is the best you can hope for under non-duality. In such a universe you still have all the truth of spirit but you also have quality (impossible in pure oneness) which gives rise to the good and the beautiful as well as the true. Spirit and matter, being and becoming, life and its expression, are more than just spirit alone. When the two are joined in what we can justifiably call holy matrimony, you have something far greater than simple universal oneness. In this scenario the individual is not seen as the stain on spiritual life as is the case in non-dualism but the whole point of spiritual life. United with God, it (he or she really) becomes the fulfillment of being.

Does eternity simply annihilate time or does time add something to eternity? For non-dualistic philosophies time is an illusion that is dispelled when eternity is known, if, that is, they are faithful to their fundamental premise. The same is true in the case of the individual. God plus Man can be no more than God alone. Such, in my view, are the perils of abstract thinking. In fact, time does add something to eternity and Man does add something to God. Why else would God have created or why is there something rather than nothing if you wish to look at it in philosophical terms? Even if you say God created because of love that is still adding something. Moreover, do you love what is not real? If God loves Man then Man is real and not something swallowed up in oneness as though he had never been and brought nothing to the table. And if you say that God the Creator came out of Universal Being and is a step down from that exalted state, I would ask how such a thing might have come about? Something cannot come from nothing and all effects must exist in their causes. The name of God is I AM. Abstract being is an invention of the philosophers and though mystical states of oneness certainly exist and can be experienced these correspond to divine immanence, God in us, and do not detract from his transcendent selfhood, the real ultimate reality.

Thursday 27 May 2021

Esoteric Teachings

I have been interested in both Western and Eastern forms of esotericism for many years but never written much about them and for a variety of reasons. To begin with, if I did it would really just be passing on what I have read elsewhere as is the case with practically everything written on the subject. People learn about it from other people who have learned about it from others and so on. It is largely an intellectual thing. When esoteric knowledge is not just intellectual but is supplemented by experience of some kind that experience has usually arisen because an individual has followed certain techniques or methods designed to induce it. I don't believe real spirituality comes about in this way. Spirituality is of the heart and esotericism, fascinating as it can be, belongs to the occult world not the spiritual one; the difference being that one takes the human being as its centre even if it is the human being in its higher aspects while the other is centred around a relationship with God.

Christians have long considered the esoteric as a diversion from proper religion. This can be a form of spiritual cowardice, intellectual laziness or reluctance to explore the inner worlds which may be seen as belonging entirely to the devil which is a mistake. But it can also be the recognition that the esoteric is not what the spiritual is really about. That is a simple love of God. Only this love takes you beyond yourself without doing harm to the self for it raises you up in a way that transforms the ego from a self-centred thing to a God -centred one. The ego-transcending techniques of certain esoteric practises, even assuming they work, do not sanctify or make holy. They just bring about an expansion of consciousness and this is effectively putting the cart before the horse. Such an expansion is a by-product not the purpose of the religious life.

Increasingly in the modern world the esoteric can potentially be a spiritual diversion or distraction. Everything now that is not centred on Christ is tending towards the triumph of Satan in this world. My younger self would no doubt have been amused or even shocked by such a statement. I didn't and still don't consider myself a fundamentalist in any way. But as the latter days gather pace and history approaches a point of denouement we are either for or against Christ and if we are not for him, for him in spirit and in truth not just nominally, then we are against him. The middle ground is vanishing and there is only high ground or low. The choice must be made. It's a simple question and the esoteric will not really help you answer it. It may even hinder especially if it takes you away from the heart too far into the mind or the desire for personal experience. The devil is the most learned of esotericists. Which is not to condemn the esoteric as such but just to say that it is not the true spiritual.

We are meant to acquire knowledge about God and know our true purpose and destiny but this knowledge must be grounded in Christ, and the true Christ of the Gospels not a re-invented form tailored to fit into a particular esoteric perspective. Christ came to reveal the Mysteries and to make the hidden visible which is why there are no secrets in Christianity. My teachers told me that truth is simple but people love to get caught up in theory and speculation. This doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to know and to understand but that should always be secondary to a love for God.

Sunday 23 May 2021

The Fork in the Road

There might be some people who, looking at the previous post, would say something along these lines. "You may not like the modern world, and there may well be many things wrong with it, but what's your solution? Do you just want to return to the past, a past in which there were all sorts of evils and injustices, some of which modernity has tried to correct?"

And my answer would be no, I do not want to return to the past. There was much that was better about the past, most notably a belief in God, a concern with truth and an appreciation of beauty, but it was far from perfect. To criticise the world today does not mean looking at the past through rose-tinted spectacles or imply we would be better off living like that now. Human beings are meant to progress but they are meant to progress spiritually, in terms of consciousness and understanding of life. About 200 years ago we reached a point at which we were supposed to start living more from within our own minds and individual selves, becoming captains of our own ships and growing through imagination and thought. This should have been done from within the context of the recognition of divine being and the spiritual reality of Christ. But the process was hijacked and diverted away from spiritual ends into material ones. There was a fork in the road and we progressed but we took the wrong path. We had reached a point at which the goods of the spiritual path should have started to be internalised rather than taken from outside. But instead of doing that, we just rejected them altogether. We responded to the new influence of greater self-awareness by focusing on the self in its earthly form instead of the self as as a spiritual being and a vessel of divine consciousness. And then, having taken the wrong path, we proceeded more and more down that road into illusion and spiritual forgetfulness. The new attention to the mind and the self was correct. Those who seek to reject these positive developments and return to some kind of atavistic spirituality in which we remain children are wrong. But mind and self do not exist for their own sake. They are there for the greater fulfilment of the soul which we have either abandoned or shrunk to fit its earthly counterpart.

The solution is not to return to the past even if that were possible which it is not. The genie has escaped from the bottle. The problem is we are bad magicians and this genie is controlling us. That's a risk all those who conjure up forces from the psychic worlds understand. The powers they release can consume and even destroy them unless these powers are mastered. And we must master the genie of the self, the ego as it is in phenomenal terms, and submit that to the overlordship of the spiritual soul. This simply means that intellect and ego should be put to the service of God and divine being. We have been too spiritually weak to control the forces unleashed and they are, quite simply, destroying us.

We must not return to the past but we must return to basics. That means the fundamental realities of life. These are spiritual and nothing can be understood from a non-spiritual perspective. The further we are from that, the more we will fall into darkness and chaos. This is happening now. We have no roots in anything and so drift wherever the dominant forces in the world wish to take us. We must find the strength to resist this within ourselves and the only reliable and lasting place is in God, the Creator whose spiritual purpose is for us to become like him. Do you know what that means? One day, if you follow the path destined for you, you will be a god. Spiritual fulfilment is not just wandering around heaven singing hymns in a beautiful world. It is for you to become a creator yourself, perhaps to create your own world with beings who you then guide in the fullness of time to become gods themselves. This, of course, is in a future a long way ahead and it may not be the path for everyone. But it could be for those who wish to take it, and a writer such as Tolkien gives us a hint of what I mean. He created a world in literary form which came from his mind (inspired, I would say, by God or higher beings acting in loco parentis), and in this way he was the creator of Middle Earth, a literary world that has inspired millions. But imagine if he had done this in reality. Imagine being the god of a world or universe, creating it from your mind and peopling it with beings whose life comes, of course, ultimately from God (or Iluvatar in Tolkien's legendarium) but whose spiritual progress is in your care. This, I believe, is a path potentially open to those who wish to take it.

But that lies far ahead. Our immediate task is to start to know God in this life, to get back onto the right road and continue travelling onwards towards eternal life.

Thursday 20 May 2021

The End Times and Spiritual Discernment

I know that religious people who take their religion seriously as a spiritual reality (probably always a minority) have often thought they were living in the End Times. Whether it was during the Roman persecution of Christians or the later times of societal collapse and barbarian invasion or during the Crusades or the Reformation or during any number of wars leading up to the two great Worlds Wars of the 20th century, people have often seen the spiritual corruption and apparent triumph of evil in this world as signs of the latter days as prophesied in many religions but especially Christianity. This tells us that, in a certain sense, all times are end times in that the tendency to entropy always exists though it can be interrupted by creative breakthroughs now and then and by partial restorations. But in a material world there is always decay on all levels. Matter is intrinsically unstable and prone to dissolution unless supported and upheld by the power of spirit.

Nonetheless, there is something different about the present times. For one thing, the spiritual collapse is universal. It is global and though some individuals hold out, no society or even section of society has done. For another, there is not just spiritual collapse but actual inversion of spiritual values and truths which have all been transferred to the material plane where they have no meaning and actually work against their spiritual reality. At no previous time have atheism and materialism taken such a hold. They are not just options. They are the no longer needing even to be discussed bedrock of everything, even religion. For religion now sees itself in the light of the beliefs of this world. Spirituality has become a subset of materialism. It is defined according to the prevailing materialistic ethos. For example, you don't believe in equality? How unspiritual of you.

Whether you see these as the End Times or not is a matter of spiritual discernment. This is not something that can be conclusively proved in the way we normally understand proof but those who are meant to see will see. A strong intuition will work within them, maybe always present but maybe called forth by the extraordinary days we currently live in. God and his helpers in the higher worlds have sent many souls down to Earth now to act as points of light in the darkness so that people, uncertain, baffled, confused, alarmed, frightened, may have some guidance in these dark times. Many people will carry on as before. We have seen that most have done precisely that over the last year, the circumstances of which should surely have started to wake more people up to the reality of the situation. Most continue to sleep. But some will start to wake up and when they do it is important that they wake up completely. It is not enough to see through the lies of those in power, whether they be politicians, scientists, artists, the media, in short, everyone in positions of authority. It is not enough to see that human beings chase money and power and a small percentage will do anything to get those. You must go beyond this self-evident truth to see the spiritual causes behind things. You must wake up to the reality that this world has become a spiritual battlefield. No doubt, it always has been but the battle has intensified and recently taken a sharp turn for the worse. The battle is primarily on the level of the mind and that is where it must be fought. This means the most important thing you can do is see the truth. Then you must live it as much as possible but seeing it is the critical thing.

The last year has seen the Western world lose its freedoms with little or no resistance. The obvious excuse that this is for our own safety appears to satisfy most people even when the restrictions are extended which they regularly are. We are being made servants of the state with those who object to adopting the insignia of servitude increasingly shamed as enemies of humanity, stubborn contrarians who put their own wilful prejudices above the safety of others. This is an old manipulative trick used by those who have closed off their consciences to truth and goodness and compromised themselves to the dark powers.

For this is what it is all about. During the End Times the dark powers spread their evil over the human mind like a sickly miasma. None are immune who have not turned to God who is the only protection against the lies and deceit that spread throughout the world. This is a time that has been prepared for over many years. Small bridgeheads into human consciousness have been made from where new attacks are launched and new ground gained. If you stand back a little, it's all quite obvious. But if you are caught up in the world and how it thinks today or yesterday you will not be able to take a proper view. You must rise above the present time and present attitudes and take a longer view. Then you will be able to see how we have got to where we are now, spiritual beings who have gradually allowed their minds to be closed to their true origin and destiny. Ladies and gentlemen, we are being taken for idiots and, with all due respect, many of us are behaving like that. Perhaps we need a John the Baptist like figure to call us to repentance but that is not going to happen. Human consciousness has progressed and so the call to repentance must now come from within. From within our own hearts. We will be supported for God does not leave us comfortless, but we must wake ourselves up and now is the time.

Monday 17 May 2021

Play the Ball not the Man

This is what we are always told.  A man's ideas are separate from his personality and moral worth. But what if that's not entirely true? What if what a man thinks derives in large part from what he is? It seems clear that many of the ideas that have formed the modern world come from people with deeply flawed characters who may have formulated these ideas at least to an extent to justify their own flaws. Rousseau and Marx are obvious examples but there are many more, clever people led astray by their own cleverness and using it to avoid facing up to the reality of their sinful nature.

A good person loves the good. Or perhaps I should say someone who loves the good pursues the good and seeks to manifest it in his life. Someone who does not respond to the good in this way but suspects it may exist may seek to deny or belittle or even to corrupt it out of shame. The good is a hard thing to live up to. What is the good? The best definition I have come across is from Romano Guardini in his book The Last Things where he says that "in the last analysis, the good is God's holiness itself." Linking the good with God and holiness is very important for it goes to the origins of what the good actually is and what it should always tend to. All lesser goods crumble into dust when the base good is denied. A good person is someone who recognises this simple truth and seeks to live up to it. Obviously he will fall short but it is the intention, the motivation, that matters. A bad person is someone who denies it and who tries to substitute lesser goods, political, social, whatever, in its place.

What I am saying here is that if your heart is correctly orientated then your thoughts and beliefs should follow. If your heart is not orientated to the true good your thoughts and beliefs will reflect that misdirection. It is not true that what a man thinks bears no relation to what he is. Sometimes it is valid to play the man not the ball if you wish to understand ideas and where they come from. 

Friday 14 May 2021

Spiritual Claustrophobia and Drugs

Since childhood I have been conscious of a sense of constriction as though I functioned through only a small part of my total being and was living in a world that had a 'top' to it.  It was as though a kind of psychic ceiling cut me off from a fuller, more expansive reality.  I can remember as a small boy looking up at the sky and seeing it almost like a cork in a bottle, keeping out the greater reality. The sun was key to that greater life which poured through it to a certain extent. When the sun shines fully something of divine reality pours into the world. When it is obscured so is that life.

I believe that we humans are beings of multi-dimensional consciousness stuck in a three dimensional mind. This is why we feel that constriction. It's why some of us take drugs, as an attempt to recapture the higher consciousness. But drug taking is a serious mistake because it seeks to bypass limitations placed on us as part of our evolutionary development. These limitations force us to focus on the material world so we can develop those parts of our being, moral, intellectual, the sense of being an individual with free choice, that would not develop, or not develop in the same way, in a purely spiritual state. Drugs will dismantle the barriers in the mind so that we can become aware of higher dimensions but we are not here to do that and so this is illicit, whatever excuses might be put forward for it. It is, if you'll forgive the rather banal analogy, a bit like a small boy dreamily gazing out of the window during school lessons. Only worse because drugs also damage the mind, actually rendering it less sensitive in the long run, and they encourage lazy, self-centred behaviour. If you take drugs you are trying to cheat God.

But the higher consciousness we chase on such occasions is real. More real in fact than any drug can show for these only provide a simulacrum or even a degraded parody of the true higher reality. It is also one tinged with danger because when the mind is opened artificially in such a manner both the good and the bad on the psychic level can flow in. What is revealed is true but the mindset behind the drug taker is that of the voyeur who tries to see the beauty of a naked woman without her permission. He is an interloper who has no right to be there and he is violating something sacred. 

We come to this world to learn. The principal lesson is to acknowledge God in a situation in which he is not obvious. We are tested to see if our heart is true. Will it turn to God of its own volition, out of love, when it does not have to or will it reject him? But we are also given chances to develop intellectually and creatively, to start to become a real individual, free and self-determined. Here is a paradox. God wants full individuals, able to exercise their own God-given talents, but they can only really do this properly when they let him work through them. As always, Jesus is the perfect example. We see from the Gospels that here was the most individual person who ever lived, the person who was most completely himself. But here also was someone who was totally open to God. In him God and self were perfectly integrated.

The spiritual limitations we experience in this world are there for a reason. To seek to overcome them by any means other than growing towards God through the heart and mind in a natural way is just the material self trying to capture the goods of the spiritual self for its own egotistical ends. We must use the sense of spiritual alienation we feel in this world as a force to drive us towards the truth of God so that we conform our being to his in order to know him. Heaven is a gift from God not something we should try to steal.

Tuesday 11 May 2021

Mysticism vs Good and Evil

When, many years ago now,  I first became interested in spiritual matters my main focus was mysticism. I was drawn to the mystical teachings of all religions and wanted to know that of which they spoke for myself, what I suppose you could call the state of transcendental awareness in which spirit infuses one's whole being. To that end I sought to dedicate myself to the interior path of contemplation, practised meditation and more or less abandoned the ways of the world. I lived in India for several years on a quiet hilltop and even when I returned to Europe led a quasi-monastic existence.

All that changed in 2000. I went back into the world and have led a much more conventional life ever since. The spiritual path is still central to my existence but the focus has changed and this, I believe, is more generally true as well. Now, things that interested me in the past, meditation, mysticism, esoteric teachings and the like, are less important. They still interest me up to point but in these times I believe the heart of religious life has become something very simple. It is a question of discernment.

The world has entered into a phase of full-on materialism in which even religion, as conventionally understood, has been absorbed by the prevailing ethos. Today the task of the spiritual person is just to be on the right side which is the side of God and Creation as absolute realities. The world is working to deny both and is sweeping everybody up into that denial. If you are to be perceived as a good person in the eyes of the world, you must deny the realties of God and Creation. Of course, you can pay lip service to them but as words only, concepts which take second place to the world. So, the discernment I speak of can be expressed as the discernment between the truth of God and the lies of the world. Or, to put it in a very simple form, between good and evil.

Good is what is allied with the truth of God and the reality of the principles of creation. Evil is what works against those things even if it is presented as good which it generally is nowadays. Gone is the time when evil was obvious. Now, it often comes in a pretty package and only those who see past appearance will be able to perceive the rotting corpse within.

"He who is not for me is against me". Once again, a very simple and clear-cut message which tells us that neutrality is not an option. This is more true now when things are coming to a point than it ever has been. The decent agnostic is a spiritual failure. He has not made the decision to open his heart up to the truth of Christ and, in so doing, he has essentially rejected and denied the truth of Christ. He may not be a bad in a moral sense but evil is anything that works against, or even not with, God and the principles of creation. 

Today correct spiritual practice has been boiled down to its basics. You don't have to go to church or spend long hours on your knees or in meditation. It is merely a matter of being on the right side. That doesn't mean you can believe and carry on sinning. If you do that you clearly don't believe. You can fall short and we all do but you must try not to and always you must repent your failures and start again with good intent. But what matters more than anything else now is that your heart is in the right place which means wholly oriented to the reality of God. Note, I say the reality of God. It is not enough to go along with the concept of God. After all, many people do that and remain worldly people. But today the world and God are enemies and you are required to see that and to act on what it means. It means reject the wisdom of the world and not in part but in full. Only those who do will be saved from spiritual corruption.

Added note: I did not make the point of this post as clear as I could have done. It is that the mystic who lacks spiritual discernment, and a surprising number do, can easily be drawn into the snares of this world. If you undervalue the reality of creation and think that truth is 'beyond good and evil' you will inevitably be taken in by evil. Truth is the good and to miss this is one of the penalties of pursuing what one might call abstract spirit.

Friday 7 May 2021

Enlightenment vs. Holiness

What would you say the spiritual path is all about? What is its intended destination? In the West until recently, apart from within a few esoteric and occult groups, there wasn't much doubt. The purpose of religion was holiness. The saints, who were the religious exemplars, were not enlightened beings whose consciousness had expanded to superhuman levels but figures of purity and sanctity who had given themselves entirely to God. Before I'm reminded that sometimes the saints did indeed experience higher states of consciousness I should point out that this was a by-product. It was not their goal or reason to pursue the spiritual path. Their motive was love of God not self-expansion.

However, over the last hundred years or so a different attitude has crept over the Western mind aspiring to spirituality. The goal of the spiritual path has in many cases become enlightenment. Partly this has arisen because of the influence from Buddhist, Hindu and other Eastern mystical teachings, but it is also because of the more pronounced individualistic strain that Western Man has exhibited since the 19th century. This has its good and its bad side. The good side is greater agency with the potential for creative thought. The bad is egotism and self-concern on a much greater level than before. We say we want to know and experience rather than accept things on authority and this is fine up to a point. We are meant to understand and grow in wisdom. But why do we want to know and experience? Is it to expand our own self (even if that is sought for by negating our own self) or is it because of a deeply felt love for our Creator? This might be expressed as a yearning for truth or aspiration to the highest we can conceive of but it must still be directed to something more than ourself.

As we enter into the period known as the End Times the situation will become more and more black and white. Our choices will narrow though it may not be seen in that way by everyone. Only if you are alert to the situation will you realise this. Neutrality will not be an option. Alternatives that may have existed in the past will disappear. They will break down into being in either one camp or the other. Take, for instance, spirituality  and Christianity. I think it has been legitimate for those in the West to explore other forms of religion and mysticism over the last 100 years but I now believe that those who have wandered away from Christ to pursue alternative spiritual options must start to return to him. They may have a wider perspective having departed and now returned than they would have had if they had never left. But they must now return. As things are moving, it is not enough to reject the material and take up the spiritual. The spiritual will be absorbed by the worldly unless it becomes Christian. I am speaking for the West and to those of traditionally Christian cultures. Those in the East will be confronted with their own test but I imagine it will amount to the same examination of the heart.

For well over a century Westerners have turned to the East for spiritual enlightenment. How many have become enlightened in the sense that the Buddha was enlightened? I am going to chance my arm and say none. Many have claimed enlightenment but this usually just amounts to some mystical insight and experience mistaken for more than it was. And the reason that none have become enlightened is that this is not the intended spiritual goal. We are not called to a supreme state of consciousness in this world. We are here to learn self-sacrifice in love, love meaning love of God. We accept suffering as Christ did because we do the Father's will. It is not his will that we suffer but it is his will that we renounce the ego so that the self may be sanctified and become the phoenix that rises from the ashes of the lower self.

Note: I am aware that various forms of gnosticism had something equivalent to enlightenment as their goal but this was generally not regarded as the correct way. The attempt to be spiritual without God is a perennial temptation, one which leans towards the luciferian rather than the Christian using that word to describe the spirit behind it rather than the actual religion.

Monday 3 May 2021

The Environment vs. The Creation

I have never owned a car. Between 1980 and 2000 I flew on only 3 occasions (admittedly more frequently since). I haven't eaten meat since 1978. I got central heating at home for the first time 20 years after leaving my parents' house. I don't consume much and waste as little as possible.  I have always loved the natural world. Theoretically I could be a poster boy for environmentalists but I have absolutely no interest in the environment.

What is the environment? Surely only someone with no real feeling for God's green Earth could call it that. It is a word for technocrats and materialists. I don't believe in the environment, I believe in the creation and this is the difference. The environment has no Creator. It is a soulless place despite efforts to pretend it is sacred in an atheistic kind of way in which Nature exists above humanity. But God made Nature to serve humanity. We are her gardeners not her subordinates because although we are part of Nature we are also above her. That doesn't mean we should exploit or mistreat her which we certainly have. But the solution is not to make ourselves inferior to nature. It is to treat her properly and with respect. However, she is still there for us not vice versa.

There seem to be two sorts of environmentalists. The materialists who worry about depleting the planet's resources and the spiritualists who have a vaguely pagan attitude to Nature, seeing her as the earth mother. I don't necessarily disagree with either of them but their view of the picture is incomplete and therefore wrong. We should cultivate our garden with care, attention and respect for its needs, and we would do well to honour Nature as the source of our material self. But above the natural man is the spiritual man. Above the earth mother of Nature is her Creator who is God, and God gave us this planet for us to act as his regent here. Nature is ours in the same way as our body is ours. We treat both well seeing them as the earthly temple of God but ultimately they are there to act as the vessels for spirit to manifest and express itself and it is the spirit that truly matters.

Nature is not the environment. It is the Creation.