David Earle has done a narration of my post What's the School For on his New World Island Youtube channel. He has illustrated it beautifully and very appropriately so my thanks to him.
Here it is.
It is available in paperback and on Kindle through Amazon UK here.
In the US here
and from the publisher's website here
I expect it can even be ordered through bookshops.
If you read it and like it a review would be very much appreciated.
This is a good time for me to thank all readers of this blog. Earth is a school but it's currently also a battleground and we, believers in God and Christ and Creation, all need to work together to proclaim and support the truth. That is actually not so hard once you decide to ignore the lies with which you are surrounded and trust your inner voice. Know that you are a soul, a divine son or daughter of God, sent here to learn and to grow but also to fight against sin and evil both in your own heart and out there in the world so as to be a living example and guide to others still ensnared by the darkness. The fact that spiritual truth has almost completely been chased from the world today gives us a great opportunity for it means that we must look for God within and therefore, if we will, become much more attuned to him as the living, breathing (God does breathe) core of our own being. Then we start to become more like him which is his dearest wish.
John Hunt Publishing has arranged a few interviews for me with various spiritual channels to promote my new book Earth is a School. The most recent one was with Derek Grosskurth of TruthSeekah and he has just put it up on YouTube. My thanks to him for the opportunity to talk about the book and quite a bit more besides.
There are in the world today many ideologies and philosophies which seem plausible enough to the modern mind, uninstructed as it is in any serious religious knowledge, but which really just come from the spiritually undisciplined speculations of the human brain. There are elaborate scenarios constructed by earnest academics to justify these intellectual imaginings but they all face the same problem. Every one of them is built on a false foundation which is the denial of God and the fact that this world is a creation not an arbitrary concoction built up by the interaction of impersonal forces. If you don't get first principles right then everything that follows will be wrong, and the reality of God and creation is the bedrock on which depends everything else. Anything that does not have this root fact as the fundamental position on which it stands is going to be wrong and most probably destructively so.
What is destroyed is our actual humanity because if we deny God we are denying the reality of ourselves. Imagine a philosophy which rejected the reality of emotion and did its best to enforce a human environment, educational, political, artistic, social, in which feelings were non-existent and if they arose then were stamped down on. Then imagine another situation in which freedom of thought was banned and you were only allowed to think in the centrally agreed upon way. Actually, you may not have to imagine that one for much longer. The point is it is easy to see how barbaric and inhuman those societies would be so why can we not see the inhumanity of our current denial of spirit?
The fact that God exists, and is existence itself, means that anything that denies God denies the meaning of existence. The fact that God is life means that anything that denies God upholds death and will eventually die. And then there is the fact that God's name is I AM. This means that the root of life is personal. The I even comes before the AM which tells us that in a certain sense person precedes being. For there to be being there must be a being who is.
Our world lives in a state of complete delusion. Ever since we severed our connection to the spiritual world simply because we could not prove it by material means, an obvious absurdity when you think about it, we have dug ourselves deeper and deeper into a hole of black ignorance, only able to stave off existential despair by the ever-increasing stimulation, both mental and sensory, offered by modern technology. But this is like a drug addict constantly needing a bigger fix to get his high or even to feel in any way normal. The day is coming when the shallow emptiness of a life without God must be faced because God is real and anything that does not accept reality is condemning itself to death.
Here is the remedy to all our contemporary ills. This simple instruction, if observed, would change the world and reorient it to its true purpose, a purpose that has now been tragically lost.
I mean it spiritually, of course, but first of all let us consider it in the original sense. The family is the basis of civilisation. It is the creative hub of life, where love and goodness can flourish and human beings grow to maturity, cared for and protected in a way that is not possible in any other environment. But the family has been systematically dismantled over the last 50 years with the result that many of us have become broken and rootless. If they are to be honoured father and mother must be together, a unit with each half fulfilling its natural, ordained and complementary role, but how often does that happen now? Modern ideologies have torn the family apart and because many fathers and mothers have listened to the siren voices of these ideologies they are no longer worthy to be honoured. Yes, you should certainly honour your father and your mother but the other side of that is that your father and your mother should be worthy of honour. If they put themselves before their children they are not worthy.
But, as I say, I am really talking about this commandment on the spiritual plane. Who are your father and your mother? Clearly, they are your divine parents, namely God, the transcendent Creator, "Our Father who art in Heaven", Universal Spirit, the root Person, and the Virgin Mother who is identified in Christianity as Mary, mother of the incarnate God, and by extension, the soul of Nature, she who gave us and who nurtures both body and soul. Today we not only do not honour our divine parents, we have forgotten them and replaced them with idols, whether that be science or reason or any number of the false gods of contemporary materialism.
So, remember your divine father and mother and honour them. You honour them best by seeing them as both who and what they are and then trying to conform your soul to their pattern. They are your parents and the idea is that you should grow to become like them.
This post may well be one of the simplest I have written but it is one that contains the most basic truth, a truth our world has forgotten and which is the case of its confusion and disarray.
When Jesus sent his disciples out into the world to preach the good news he said they would be like sheep amongst wolves, and told them therefore to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. In ancient mystery religions the serpent was often regarded as the personification of wisdom, especially occult wisdom, wisdom to do with secrets and hidden things, and, of course, it was the serpent, the most cunning of the beasts of the field, that tempted Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, specifically tempting her to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. So it might seem strange that Jesus advised his disciples to be like the serpent. Perhaps then we should ask ourselves what is this wisdom of which the serpent is the chief exemplar?
It is not true spiritual wisdom for that arises in the heart and comes from God. Rather, it is the wisdom acquired through evolution. It is intelligence, discrimination, reason, even foresight and, yes, cunning. Now, this is good when brought under the overlordship of spiritual wisdom but potentially evil if not. That is why we also need the innocence of the dove. And what is the dove? For information on that we can go to John the Baptist who was the first to recognise the adult Jesus as the Messiah and who proclaimed when he baptised him that he saw the Holy Spirit descend on him in the form of a dove. The dove is the Holy Spirit, and the innocence of the dove is true spiritual wisdom compared to the earthly, even if it is occult or esoteric, wisdom of the serpent. The serpent represents the wisdom of experience or evolution. In a way, it is the wisdom of matter. But the dove symbolises the wisdom of purity and innocence and truth that comes from God.
This holds good even when we consider the raised serpent which is regarded as the opening up of spiritual consciousness in many systems of esotericism. And it is true that this process of raising the serpent does open up consciousness to the inner planes of being. But unless the dove also descends there is no proper spiritual awakening. The raised serpent is re-orientating the energies of matter to spirit. Instead of these symbolically being on their belly they are lifted up and re-purposed. Hence the raising of the serpent is restoring cosmic order in the soul. But on its own it is not enough. It can even make a black magician. The serpent, after all, was the first to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. There must also be the descent of the dove, the Holy Spirit. That which comes from above must meet that which comes from below to bring true spiritual enlightenment. This is the union of spirit and matter that is the real birth of a soul into the Kingdom of Heaven.
My new book Earth is a School comes out at the end of the month. Faced with a statement like that in the title the obvious thing to ask is what is the school for? And the short answer is that it is a school for making gods.
When you look around at your friends and neighbours that might seem ridiculous. Indeed, when you look at yourself it might seem positively absurd. Nonetheless, it is true. No doubt most of us are not anywhere near the end of the process but the fact remains that this material environment is the ideal scenario for making self-centred beings into higher forms of life, able to engage with the universe with love and creative energy on its many planes of being. That's what a god is though we give the word a small 'g' to make clear that these gods operate within the parameters of divine creation as laid down by God the Creator. To seek to operate outside these parameters is what makes a devil, basically a being that rejects its Maker and the deepest pattern of its own soul.
We started a long time ago as little different from the animals, fully embedded in nature with no intellectual capacity to speak of and no real sense of an individual self. The forces of evolution worked on us over vast periods of time. The challenges and experiences of the earthly situation moulded us and drove us in a certain direction. Different groups of human beings experienced different challenges but the general direction was similar; to bring out intelligence, creativity and the sense of self. Early man had none of this. He reacted instinctively with unselfconscious awareness, and he was largely one with his environment. But the story of civilisation is the story of becoming more conscious. That is to say, of consciousness contracting and becoming centred on itself so in one way shrinking but in another becoming clearer and sharper. Losing the early spiritual contact with life, using the word spiritual in the loosest of senses, and becoming more focussed on the physical world. Of course, an animal is completely focussed in its physical being and early humans were the same but they retained a connection to the world soul which is a unified field of consciousness encircling the planet and can be regarded as the inner side of Nature. It is, as it were, the outer garment of Spirit, where the forces of Spirit begin to touch matter. It is not Spirit itself.
When the mind is more directed towards the physical world it starts to separate itself from other minds. This leads to the development of individual intelligence. You become a real self and you need a real mind in order to function as a self. We are well into that stage but that is esoterically regarded as the nadir of an arc that stretches from above (the heavens) to below (the earth) and from the esoteric point of view, esoteric here meaning unacknowledged by everyday thought, the process has stalled. Instead of moving on from this stage, back up towards spirit, we are digging ourselves deeper into it. We are solidifying ourselves in matter.
This material entrenchment has been encouraged by anti-spiritual forces, the recognition of which is probably the most important thing we could do right now to get back on track. For if we fail to see these forces, that they exist and what they seek to do which is trap our consciousness eternally in matter, we face spiritual disaster. This is something that has to be done on an individual level as everything must be at this stage in the evolutionary journey. The school applies to each and every soul and though not all have the same lessons at the same time, all need to recognise the reality of spirit to avoid flunking the course.
Five years ago, I wrote a post which has a bearing on this subject and I would like to quote from it here.
I practised meditation for over 20 years but then felt it was getting stale so stopped, today meditating in a formal sense only about once a month. I have been a churchgoer during four periods of my life but now just attend at Christmas and Easter. I do say my prayers every morning and before going to bed but my main spiritual practice these days has become walking.
That's not a spiritual practice, I hear you say. It's just taking exercise! True, it is taking physical exercise but I find I derive spiritual benefit from it too, rather like a monk perambulating round the cloisters of his monastery. In fact, I have always been drawn to cloisters since having had the good fortune to know a couple of them quite well. First, there was the one at Westminster Abbey which I walked through most days when at school nearby.
And later on the one at le Mont St Michel in Normandy which I often visited when living in the vicinity.
Walking round these cloisters was always an aid to reflection and thought. The silence, the uplifting medieval architecture and the small central garden all working together to wipe away worldly dust and dirt and clarify the mind. The combination of the dark enclosed stone cloisters and the light-filled space of the green garden opening up to the heavens brings together feelings of immanence and transcendence at the same time. There is an innate peace and purity to be found in a medieval cloister.
My currents excursions have nothing like that, alas. Nevertheless, as I have mentioned in previous posts (for example here and here), there are some pleasant country walks round where I live, and I go out on one every day. It doesn't take long to get away from the town and into woods or onto downs. Once there, the surroundings and actual rhythm of walking itself help one to fall into a contemplative frame of mind quite easily. I often get ideas for what I write here on these walks, seed thoughts that can be developed later on. It's as though the physical act of walking in a natural setting attunes the mind in a certain way.
I am not saying that walking replaces prayer and meditation. Only that it can help to create a prayerful or meditative state. I would also recommend circular walks so that you don't return by exactly the same way that you set out. This suggests the idea of a real journey even if you aren't actually going anywhere. After all, life is a journey. The spiritual path is a path along which you proceed. And the best way to travel is by walking for that takes you at the speed you are naturally fitted to go and the one at which you can best absorb the experiences that come to you as you travel.
In the Middle Ages Christians externalised the spiritual war and fought against the Islamic incursions into the Holy Land as well as their own homelands. We can talk about the rights and wrongs of this but the fact remains that several previously Christian areas, such as North Africa, were brought into the Muslim fold at the point of a sword, and Europe itself had to fight to retain its Christian identity. We look at the Crusades in a different way now but in the minds of the participants of the time they were in a spiritual war and the enemy was clearly identified.
There is a spiritual war now. We are in the middle of it. Unfortunately, most people don't realise it and don't see the enemy. Of those who are aware there is some kind of battle in the world going on today, many are diverted away from the true struggle into a fake one whether that be to do with politics, the environment or social concerns. In other words, worldly issues. They waste their energies on matters that really are not that important, and this is a reflection of their own state of consciousness and lack of a true spiritual awareness. Often they are even projecting their own faults out into the world. This is why so many of them seem to be motivated by hatred and resentment.
So there are many battles going on but the real war today is, in St Paul's stirring words, "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." This is the war that every spiritual believer is called upon to fight. It's the one we must fight. We can fight like monks through prayer or like knights dedicated to Christ through action, though in the modern world that action is with pens rather than swords. And not even pens now, of course! But the point is to proclaim the truth as best we can in whatever way we can, through word and through example. And true knights still pray so that aspect of the fight should never be neglected by anyone. God can only really act in this world of men through men calling on him. Ask and you shall receive. You must ask. Prayer is the asking.
Most people have no idea they are in a war. They don't know their enemy and that he can attack them inwardly as well as in the world in general. He can attack them through their own thoughts and even ideas. Therefore, they can be easily led astray and defeated.Those who do know we are in a war have to be very aware that it is conducted in their own minds as well as out there. The dark powers of St Paul's words can and will attack you, probing your weaknesses and playing on these if you let them. This can actually be helpful because when your weaknesses are brought out into the open and exposed you can more effectively deal with them. This is a good example of God turning the devil's weapons against him and using them to his own (God's) advantage. But you have to be attentive and honest with yourself to benefit from the opportunity. If you are not you may succumb.
Unlike before, the new crusades must be fought on two fronts. There is the outer war against the spiritual corruption of the world, whether that be through materialism and atheism and their latest development which is the creeping global totalitarianism with every soul reduced to just a piece of data. The complete quantification of man. And there is the inner war which is the fight against sin in one's own heart and mind. The outer war is clearly hotting up as we are being asked to submit to a kind of branding. It is up to us to resist this even if we don't fully understand why. I'll tell you why. The reason is that we are free beings. God gave us freedom and no one has the right to ask us to give that up which is precisely what the branding is intended to do and doing.
People often question what there is in Christianity that is not in other religions since many of the moral teachings are very similar and some even pre-date the birth of Christ. This is missing the point. What there is in Christianity that is nowhere else is Christ himself. The actual person of Christ who through his crucifixion and resurrection transformed the whole world, even those parts of it that had no conscious knowledge of him. He changed the spiritual goal fundamentally, opening up the Kingdom of Heaven to all who accepted him whereas before there were only states analogous to Limbo, Hades, Sheol, Bardo and the like for most souls with Nirvana as a possibility for those who were able to detach themselves completely from identification with their created selves. But the new reality of Heaven (new as far as human beings were concerned) meant that the fallen self could now be redeemed and transformed into a being of light. For Heaven involves the union of spirit and matter instead of their separation. It's a marriage not a divorce.
Regarding teachings of love that may have existed before the time of Christ, I think we can see these as analogous to the twilight that appears at dawn just before the rising of the sun. Prior to the actual Incarnation the spirit of Christ will have begun to permeate the higher worlds, affecting all those able to respond to it on that level. Thus, the teachings of Christ will have begun to be established in the world. A similar thing happened after Christ's death and means that all spiritual forms in the world that were open to it, whether ostensibly Christian or not, will have begun to be influenced by what we can call the Universal or Cosmic Christ. These forms and those that followed them may not know Christ the earthly man but they will know his spiritual presence which explains how non-Christians can be saved. They don't have to know Jesus the human being if, through their religion, they can respond to Christ the spiritual being. Christianity is the religion in which Christ is most fully present but surely you did not think he could not manifest himself and be present as a spiritual force and influence in other religions? He is primarily a spiritual being and as such can be present everywhere to those who are open to him. Such people may not know him by the name Jesus Christ but they can know his spiritual presence and that is what really counts.
This is my belief. I know many Christians won't like it because it says that Christ is present in religions other than Christianity, even though he is most present in Christianity and those who are born in the West should certainly seek their spiritual nourishment at source. And non-Christians won't like it because it puts Christ at the head of the spiritual table. He is the host at the feast to which we are all invited as honoured guests. But consider the matter like this. If Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and he is, then he is the sun towards which all life forms must turn their face if they are to receive spiritual light and warmth.
I saw another programme in the Ancient Aliens series recently, a series I enjoy for its examination of unexplained phenomena and ancient mysteries without going along with its central premise of "It's all aliens!". The programme was about Leonardo da Vinci and how he may have been inspired by encounters with extraterrestrials (don't ask) to include strands of esoteric thought in his work, some of which he encoded in his paintings. There was a best selling novel about this not so long ago though I haven't read it and don't plan to do so. One of the ideas was that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. As far as I can see this was suggested for no better reason than that, as a Jewish man of around 30, he must have been married to someone. But why? He was Jesus. He had a unique mission. There was no reason he should have done what was customary at the time. If he was married why would that have been left out of the story of his life? And how could he have asked his disciples to leave their wives and family if he had a wife himself? No, this idea seems to be a bit of wishful thinking to me.
The image of the admittedly female-looking St John in the painting of The Last Supper was brought up to support this contention along with the fact that this figure and that of Jesus next to it form an M shape but, frankly, so what? Leonardo may well have believed this story but that doesn't make it true. There were dozens of underground sects and heretical offshoots in the Middle Ages, mostly descending from some form of Gnosticism, whose members might have been convinced they were the possessors of hidden knowledge but that doesn't make it so. The temptation of being a possessor of esoteric wisdom hidden from the masses is a great spiritual trap, designed to induce exclusivity and spiritual pride. So, Leonardo may have belonged to a group that fished in the pool of the occult but there's a lot of murky stuff down there. Truths and deceptions are often all mixed up in those waters.
None of that is why I am writing this post though. The programme showed us the 15 or so (I can't recall the exact number but it's not high) surviving paintings by the master. And a master of art he clearly was which makes the question I am about to ask (which was not a point made by the programme) all the more relevant. It is this. Why are so many of the faces in Leonardo's paintings so weird, and not in a good way? I find them disquieting and I assume he meant them to be. He was too great an artist for this to be an accident or the result of incompetence. Look at this picture of Christ, for example, currently the most expensive painting in the world.
Is that a good face? I don't think so. I find there is something almost evil in it, especially the eyes. There is a certain beauty and mystery but there is also something uncanny, even cruel and I don't like it. I am certainly not inspired by it as I am by many pictures of Christ.
Then there's the Virgin of the Rocks from the National Gallery in London.The babies are too plump and ugly, especially Jesus, look at his left hand and legs, but that was the style of the time. But then the expression on the baby Jesus's face suggests just a bit too much self-assurance (you bow down to me) while the faces of the Virgin Mary and the angel seem somewhat complacent, even narcissistic. The style of their faces is spiritualised but the actual execution puts a kink in that to create a kind of unsettling discord. Something is not quite right.
Come on! This is sly, seductive, sexual. The finger is supposed to be pointing to heaven but it doesn't come off like that. This is not John the Baptist by any stretch of the imagination. Leonardo's homosexuality is well-known and it seems to have affected his approach to spirituality. Maybe it drove him to hidden things and rebellion against convention and orthodoxy but it also seems to me that he was trying to create a kind of spiritual corruption in his work. The famous smile of the Mona Lisa, which I shan't bother to include here since I assume you are familiar with it, has always seemed to me more like a self-satisfied smirk of superiority and I find this in most of Leonardo's paintings as though he was deliberately trying to poison beauty by creating beautiful things and then putting a worm in the apple. One can only speculate as to why but I have to say that, despite his inarguable genius, I don't see him as on the side of the angels.
Obviously not everyone will agree!