Monday, 29 August 2022

The Gospels and Everything Else

  Since becoming interested in spiritual matters I have, as one easily can nowadays, investigated all sorts of  mystical and occult highways and byways. On a literary level, I mean. I have never belonged to any group or followed any outer teaching but I have read numerous books, both in an Eastern and Western vein, on the subjects of mysticism and occultism. Some, a few, have been inspiring, some have been insightful, some have been informative and some just recycle other books. But I have to say that nothing compares to the New Testament. Of course, to a large extent that is because of the figure of Jesus but it is also because the spiritual teachings in the Gospels are presented simply and within the context of a story. They are not philosophical or metaphysical or esoteric in form, though they are all these things to an extremely high degree in essence. They are presented as the expression of the personality of a man and this makes them living truths rather than intellectual statements. They go straight to the heart and soul instead of just feeding the mind.

I must admit I find a lot of the classics of occultism unreadable. I have tried The Secret Doctrine and the Alice Bailey books on several occasions but always given up faced with their turgid, repetitive style and habit of saying things fifteen times that need only be said once. In a word, they are dull. In two words, they are dull and verbose. Even Dion Fortune, who otherwise writes very readably, produced in The Cosmic Doctrine something only an ardent disciple convinced he is penetrating the secrets of the universe could plough through with enthusiasm. Maybe they are the secrets of the universe but like many occult tomes these and other books lack the inspirational and intuitively satisfactory qualities of true spiritual writing. These works remind me that all occultists fail unless they eventually renounce their occultism. That is because "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

The Gospels are stories, true stories, but still stories. The life of Jesus is commonly referred to as the greatest story ever told which it clearly is. Stories have the power to take us beyond the mental world we habitually live in to a higher reality. This is why the works of Tolkien have had such an impact and have been such a force for good. The Gospels are stories that speak to children of all ages, as are those of Tolkien. To be a child in the spiritual sense does not mean to be intellectually undeveloped but not to be limited by the intellect. Jesus did not say become children but become as children. There is a critical difference and I will end this brief post by leaving the reader to think about that.


Lady Mermaid said...

The gospel is so simple that a child can understand it. Complicating things is what has led to the tragic schisms throughout Christendom. Yes, there will naturally be disagreements. However, the message of Jesus Christ is not some obscure doctrine that takes brilliant theologians to comprehend. The poor, illiterate, and the children can be saved just as easily as a cleric. This brings to mind when St. Thomas Aquinas put down his pen and claimed all his work to "straw" when confronted w/ the Divine Presence.

JMSmith said...

I had the same sense of being in the presence of mumbo jumbo. It's resemblance to much modern academic literature is probably not coincidental, since both are works by little men trying to look big.