Sunday 30 October 2022

The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man

 In the spirit of shameless self-promotion I thought I would bring attention to a book published a couple of years ago that drew together the posts I saw as most representative of the thinking behind this blog. It's not one of the three on the right of this page, all of which are proper books i.e. written as such. It is just posts from the blog. These are arranged in various sections such as God, Truth, Christ, The Spiritual Path and Spiritual Practice, Love, Masculine and Feminine, Modern Times plus a few more, and the overall theme is given in the title.

It can be found in paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon UK here and here and for the American market here and here. I mention it now for any newcomers to the blog who might like to explore its past in an easier form, or what I regard as an easier form, than that permitted by the blog itself or else might appreciate a ready reference, something I would value from some of my favourite blogs. It is, in effect, a compilation or 'best of' of the blog up to the beginning of 2020, just before everything took a turn for the worse.

Here's an extract from the introduction.

"After the publication of my first book Meeting the Masters I started a blog of the same name to develop themes from that book, and they have developed, sometimes in ways I hadn't anticipated. My second book Remember the Creator was the product of that. But the blog has continued and it has been suggested that I gather together some of the posts in book form. It is true that old posts on a blog tend to be consigned to history like old newspapers and no one ever looks at them again. But if they are not topical, and most of mine aren't, they can still be relevant. For the few that were vaguely topical I have put the date of their composition.

So here I have assembled essays under various subjects though there is some overlap. Most of them were written after the end of 2017 when the last book was prepared for publication so they represent a kind of continuation of that, in some cases possibly even a progression.

In case anyone reading this is unfamiliar with what started me on a spiritual course let me briefly set out here what is more fully described in Meeting the Masters. Between 1979 and 1999 I was spoken to by spiritual beings who told me, when I asked them who they were, to think of them as messengers from God. Going by their manner and what they said that is exactly what they were. They spoke to me through a medium who acted as a kind of oracle for them. But they told me that they also communicated to me through mental impression and would continue to do so when the other method stopped which it did when the medium died in 1999. I feel this is the case and that they do inspire me with their knowledge. However, this inspiration has to come through my own mind and is subject to my own limitations and prejudices so it is not going to be anywhere near as pure as the source. Nevertheless, I have always tried to respond to thoughts that come to me 'cleanly' and without subjecting them to personal opinion. I am certainly not claiming any kind of divine inspiration for anything written here. It is my work not the Masters and I am the one responsible for it. At the same time, I would be lying if I said I thought they had nothing to do with it. They probably do the best they can with me, as I am sure they do with many others who may not be aware of them, but they have to cut their coat according to the cloth there is at hand.

I have called this book The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man because that is what we are currently going through. It is made worse by the fact that it is largely unrecognised. People talk of environmental problems, social problems, political problems, problems to do with climate change, with capitalism, the relation between the sexes and so on. It is all fundamentally a spiritual problem. Resolve that and the rest will fall into place. A more accurate title might have been The Spiritual Crisis of Post-Modern Humanity but that is a bit of a mouthful and sounds like the title of an academic treatise whereas this is meant as a call to spiritual arms."

Thursday 27 October 2022


 Can you have too much empathy? Most people would agree you can have too little but can you also have too much? My answer would be yes, you can indeed. If empathy is not balanced by intelligence and wisdom or, at the very least, common sense, it becomes destructive.

This is true even insofar as real empathy is concerned. How much more true it is for the fake empathy we have these days. Jesus said in Matthew 9:5-8, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men … but when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father who is unseen.” The hypocrites here are like the modern empathisers who display their empathy as a way to feel good about themselves and show off their virtue. This is hardly news. It is human nature, or a symptom of the fallen part of it, and just takes new forms. The underlying character weakness remains the same.

But let's forget about that and assume all empathisers feel real empathy. Unless this emotion, for that is what it is, is counterbalanced by proper discernment it simply opens the door to being taken advantage of and used. A culture that over-emphasises empathy will soon be destroyed because it lacks a functioning immune system. It will allow anything to enter its body without discriminating between the good and the bad, the healthy and the unhealthy, the nutritious and the poisonous. To the pathologically empathetic this will sound wicked and cruel but they forget we need the wisdom of the serpent as well as the innocence of the dove, and sometimes a dove's innocence is an excuse for evading moral responsibility.

It's pleasant to feel empathy but to a certain psychological type it is also an indulgence, a wallowing in sentiment. In life we need steel as well as silk and too much of either leads to imbalance and disharmony. A virtue exaggerated or exercised without its complement is a vice and one the devil well knows how to exploit for his own ends.

Sunday 23 October 2022

Dreams of the Future

You have probably heard of experiments in which people are hypnotised and taken back to previous lifetimes they have lived on Earth. They often describe those lives in very compelling terms and sometimes even report on various aspects of life in the past that are only confirmed by subsequent historical research. You can believe or not believe these accounts or you can, like me, hedge your bets and think there might be something in them but they are not necessarily literally true. Either way, they do pose important questions unless you have decided in advance that they cannot possibly be true because human beings only have one life.

Now imagine you could do an experiment in which you hypnotise a large group of people and get them to progress to a future lifetime to report on what might be the state of the world then. A ridiculous fantasy? Perhaps but this has actually been done and the results published in a book called Mass Dreams of the Future written by a psychologist called Chet Snow who was carrying on the work of another psychologist, Dr Helen Wambach. I haven't read the book, which I believe was based on work carried out in the 1980s, but I have read an account of the experiment and it raises some interesting points.

First of all, we have to ask if the future is fixed. Common sense rebels against this as do one's innermost feelings. The universe is not a machine and anyone with an ounce of spiritual sensibility must acknowledge free will. No free will means no humanity, it's as simple as that. Therefore, the most logical thing is to see the future as something like a cloud of potential which will coalesce into a particular hard reality according to individual human decisions plus the acts, thoughts and behavioural patterns of other forms of life. The future cannot be predicted with precision, though the nearer one gets to it, the more it can be, but various possibilities can be predicated. They are there on a mental level in an inchoate form and the one that solidifies in the physical world is determined by what goes on in the present. I suspect that very advanced forms of life can foresee the future up to a point but I think it unlikely that the actual future has happened on any level before it really does happen. Yes, it will be there in the mental world but it is not fully realised until it takes physical reality and until it does do that it is subject to change and alteration. It's rather like an idea taking shape in your mind before you write it down. That idea arises in the thought world but the form it takes in the physical world can be adjusted right up to the moment it takes form.

It seems that 2,500 people took part in the future lifetime experiment and when their reports of the future were studied it was found that they contained several points of divergence but also some of agreement. Most significant of the latter was that virtually every one of them said that the earth's population had decreased dramatically. It had become considerably smaller than it was at the time (this was in the 1980s, remember). No future date seems to have been given, at least not in the account that I read, but it is safe to assume that the future envisaged has not yet arrived. I think it represents a new age or cycle and we are still living at the tail end of the old one.

The disagreements were over what sort of future we can expect. They split into four categories which were as follows. One was a sterile, technological world of space stations and synthetic food. Another was the exact opposite, a return to nature kind of existence in which people lived in harmony with the natural world and pursued spiritual development. A third was a science-fictiony mechanical world of underground cities and artificial environments enclosed in domes. And the fourth was a post-apocalyptic world of small groups of survivors eking out a living as best they could in the shattered remains of a destroyed civilisation. Futures 1 and 3 were described as 'bleak' and 'joyless'. Future 4 doesn't seem much better. Future 2 seems the best option.

The question is how much of this comes from ideas about the future already existing in the subjects' minds at the time? Quite a lot, I would say. These scenarios are all well known and were in the '80s too, and individuals may have subconsciously picked the one they were most in sympathy with. On the other hand, you cannot rule out the possibility that all these scenarios do exist as potential futures and the real one is yet to be determined. Nor can you rule out the possibility that the actual future is none of these. We can envisage these types of existence now but no one in the 16th century could have envisaged the world as it is today in the 21st. What I do find convincing is the point of agreement about the reduction in population. I think we all know that the situation cannot continue as it is and already, although world population is increasing, the birth rate is dropping in many parts of the developed world. That not withstanding, my feeling is that a great number of souls are being gathered together today to experience a critical time in earthly development but when that phase has worked itself out there will be a return to a lower level of population.

Perhaps these hypnotised subjects tuned into the psychic plane in which the future is gestating but if they did so they did it from the point of late 20th century humans which is to say they were only able to bring through what they could comprehend within the limited framework of their own minds and so they interpreted what they saw according to their own understanding. They didn't see reality (if they saw anything, of course, and it wasn't just fantasy), they saw symbols and patterns which they then formed into images based on what they already knew. So there was an element of projection there. And even within these limitations what they saw were potential futures not actual ones. The 30 plus years since the experiment will have changed much.

The future is a cloud that is taking shape. At a certain point one can detect several patterns in this cloud but the final one in which, so to speak, the cloud descends to earth and takes a concrete form cannot be known until it does that. That is why both free will and destiny are true. Just like you and me, the world has a destiny. It was set up from outside by God and his helpers to go through a certain pattern of development but that pattern is constantly modified from the inside by us.

I don't believe these people saw the future. Given they all saw different futures that's hardly surprising. But they may have tuned into a level of reality in which possible outcomes are beginning to form as mental images. The one that actualises could be any one of these or even something quite different if new information enters the field. What we think and do now determines the future or certainly has an impact on it. This is why one should never give up but always strive for the best.

Thursday 20 October 2022

Pitfalls on the Path

The devil has snares for everyone whatever their beliefs or approach to life. Readers of this blog will be well aware he has snares for materialists, atheists and all those for whom the world, the flesh and the devil are the focus of attention. But he also has snares for religious or spiritual people of all types. Anything to which one gives intellectual or emotional allegiance can be used as an instrument of corruption if the thing, whatever it is, becomes more important than God, and religion can be a vessel for human sin just as much as anything else. 

It's easy to see how those who deny God can be led into sin. But those who accept him can be too. For instance, people who reject modernity can become attached to traditionalism forgetting that God makes all things new and that while tradition serves to preserve the best of the past it must always be revitalised if it is not to fall into sterile rigidity. Those who see the errors of feminism can fall into the opposite error and believe that a return to the way men and women interacted in the past is required, failing to take into account that consciousness has evolved and all human beings, male and female, have become more cognisant of themselves as individual beings with purpose and agency. This is in line with the growth of the soul and means that the past ways are defunct and cannot, should not, be revived. We need a new approach. Which is not to say the modern ways are right for the new should grow out of the old rather than completely uproot and replace that just as grace perfects nature instead of crudely destroying it. The modern ways are wrong but not because they represent change. They are wrong because they are founded on materialistic humanism whereas we need a spiritual response to the new forms of consciousness. 

Catholics (not to single them out, this can apply to anyone of any persuasion) can believe their religion is greater than truth which must conform to their religion. Naturally, they would respond that their religion is truth but no worldly institution can do more than point the way. Catholicism is a magnificent pointer but it does not contain all truth anymore than a sunbeam contains the sun. 

Esotericists can believe they have cracked the cosmic code and that their elaborate intellectual systems and techniques will bring them to the heart of reality. But if they take their ideas too literally they fall back into the mental world which is part of the material order. Buddhists and followers of advaita can take their philosophies to be not simply descriptions of reality formulated at a particular time and place but reality itself. By focusing on one aspect of the whole of life (the absolute/the one/pure being) they lose connection to the wider picture which includes the full reality of the many and the world of creation.

Everyone is tempted through what they have given their heart and mind to and if it is not God but an approach to God they will be led off the path into distraction and error. There are sins of the mind as well as those of the body and the desire nature but these are often disguised, at least to the individual who falls victim to them which is all of us to a certain extent. As a matter of fact, mental error is more prevalent and has a greater impact on the soul in the modern age than before simply because we are more mentally polarised.

Really, the only way to guard against these pitfalls is through a mixture of discernment and humility. But sometimes we have to fall victim to them because the experience of doing so will uncover and expose faults in our character. Through suffering the consequences of succumbing to the faults we may learn to overcome them.

Sunday 16 October 2022

The Spirituality of Buddhism

 It must be the Libran influence in me. Every time I write a post emphasising a certain aspect of a particular subject I feel obliged to look at the opposing side of the question. This only applies to matters that contain a large element of truth to begin with. In much of today's world the corruption, of institutions, of philosophies, of art, of politics etc, has totally overcome any initial kernel of of truth and to seek balance in these cases is to justify and rationalise falsehood.

So, with that in mind, let me say that in one sense Buddhism is the purest of religions for it strips away everything except naked spirit. All the extraneous elements of the spiritual search were seen by the Buddha as obscuring the central reality of existence, the underlying causeless cause of the countless worlds of phenomenal manifestation. He realised that the world was in a condition of constant decay and sought the pristine state of incorruptible being that could never be violated by change or loss or evil. By sheer force of spiritual will coupled with absolute purity of motive and integrity of mind he broke through the many veils overlaying consciousness and entered into the innermost sanctuary of life where darkness and light have not yet been divided. He attained the perfect knowledge that comes from merging individual being with the universal  I AM. His supreme achievement opened a door between the created and uncreated worlds allowing others who were spiritually developed enough to follow in his footsteps. But he was the first to scale this spiritual Everest.

Those who have been to a South Indian temple will know that the outer sections contain halls and courts with carved pillars and statues in which all the important elements of life are represented, both material and spiritual. The decoration is elaborate and profuse showing the almost profligate abundance of life, every aspect of which is celebrated to the consternation of some early European visitors. But in the innermost part of the temple there is a sparsely decorated or even bare cell-like chamber without window or light. This is called the womb chamber and is where the image of the presiding deity stands. There the Murti or earthly embodiment of the god or goddess (Christians would call it an idol forgetting that there are representations of Jesus, Mary and the saints in Christianity too) is tended by the priests and worshipped by the faithful. However,  what many of the ordinary worshippers might not be aware of is that this dark and empty space, void of decoration and without form of any kind, that houses the deity and from which the deity might be said to take its rise represents Purusa which in the Hindu tradition is pure spirit, the essential reality of all things. The Buddha focussed his attention entirely on this, going beyond all the paraphenalia of the temple, all the ritual, even beyond the deity itself, to the very ground that gives birth to creation.

The Buddha was the apostle of enlightenment which is the perfection of wisdom. He introduced this wisdom into the oversoul of humanity, its collective superconsciousness, enabling those who followed him and who were responsive enough to build it into their own minds. When Christ came he introduced humanity to the spiritual quality of love allowing those who attuned themselves to his divine nature to partake of this love themselves. Christ went further than the Buddha because he sanctified matter, including the human self, and original Buddhism did not do this. It left it behind as corrupt. But this is in no way to denigrate Buddhism since the Buddha was the one who struck the first blow against the corruption inherent in the material world since the Fall, opening up a path out of matter into spirit. Christ then came to heal the sickness in matter so it could be reunited with spirit but it is possible that he might not have been able to do this without the Buddha's initial opening of the way to spirit. Might one even see these two great beings working in tandem for the upliftment of humanity? This is not to deny Christ's uniqueness as the Son of God but in order to do his work he needed the spiritual ground to be prepared and this it was not just by the teachings of the Hebrew prophets from the Old Testament but by all the spiritual endeavours of humanity up to that point, the greatest of which was that of the Buddha.

Wednesday 12 October 2022

The Materialism of Buddhism

 William James Tychonievich recently had a very interesting post on his From the Narrow Desert blog about the materialistic influence of Buddhism. It's here. This also drew Bruce Charlton's attention and he reacted here. I commented on the first post as below.

"I do believe that the Buddhist rejection of God can easily become a rejection of spirit with spirit being rarified matter rather than matter being condensed spirit which is closer to the truth. You might think there is no fundamental difference between these two concepts but there surely is if you project the qualities of matter onto spirit instead of vice versa. This is why Western atheists can be drawn to Buddhism. They don't have to change much."

While much admiring Buddhism I have long felt there are serious problems with it especially when imported into the West. This goes back to my early days of spiritual exploration when I went to a Buddhist meditation centre in London to be told that there was no such thing as the self. I know that Buddhists will say that the Buddha neither affirmed nor denied the reality of the individual self and that's true enough as far as it goes. But the effective reality of the Buddhist path is that the self is denied. That's undeniable!

I left this centre convinced that their philosophy was mistaken. I understood the idea that there is a supernal state of consciousness beyond the limitations of the ego but this does not mean that the individual human being has no reality. According to the Christian view which goes much more deeply into the question (it really does), the individual soul is the whole point of creation, and note that if Buddhism were correct there would be no point to creation, no meaning in it. It is through the soul's experience in this world in which subject and object have been split apart that it can reach a state, Heaven, that is beyond the condition of pure spiritual oneness in that it is a state of loving relationship both with God, the supreme I AM of the universe, and with other souls. This would not be possible or even desirable in pure Buddhism but is actually a far richer, more meaningful and more creative state than resting in the changeless perfection of Nirvana.

Without God the tendency is to make gods of ourselves. The two approaches to that are those of Satan and the Buddha though in no way am I comparing the two. Satan fell into evil and the exaltation of self while the Buddha went beyond good and evil into the denial of self. But God created the world and saw that it was good. It is to bring to reality the qualities of goodness, beauty and love that God created the world and human beings. We can go back to the primeval uncreated state, which is Buddhism, and we can go forward through creation into Heaven which brings together in holy matrimony the perfection of the One, Spirit, and the beauty of the Many, matter.

I realise that calling Buddhism materialistic, or potentially materialistic, might seem strange when I also say it denies the material world aka creation and retreats into pure spirit. But could it be that its rejection of God means it misconceives both spirit and matter, seeing them as philosophical abstractions rather than concrete realities and life as made up of energies rather than beings? Buddhism transfers the impersonal nature of matter onto spirit but the Christian view sees the nature of spirit as fully, gloriously, magnificently personal and it brings that down into creation as typified in the figure of Christ himself.

Added note: The title of this post is not saying that Buddhism is materialistic but that there are elements of materialistic thinking in it in the sense that for the Buddhist nothing has an abiding centre, everything is in flux and human identity is ultimately non-existent. This is influenced by materialism even if it is a spiritualised version of it.

Friday 7 October 2022

The Clever and the Wise

 Clever people engage with reality through thought or reason, regarded spiritually as the functioning of the material mind, but the foolish and the wise meet on common ground because they engage with reality as it is, just as they see it. The wise see more deeply and with more understanding but both foolish and wise engage with reality at first hand. Nothing comes between them and their perception of things and beings. Their understanding is not analytically derived but direct.

Thought divides and separates. Clever people exist outside the true reality of life because they work through conceptual thinking, living in a world of abstraction and theory rather than what is. For them nothing is seen as it truly is but as theory presents it. They don't see the thing but the image of the thing, a representation. This is a world of duality in which the individual and the world are completely sundered. The individual then  projects his own interpretation of the world onto all reality and that includes his own reality. He is cut off from life and lives in a fantasy world of his own manufacturing.

There are a lot of clever people in the world today which is why the world has fallen so far into ignorance. These are people who live through the lower mind which gives them the power to manipulate the material world but completely cuts them off from the spiritual which they end up either denying or interpreting according to their limited concepts. The only way out of the mess they have created for themselves, often, it must be said, out of intellectual arrogance, is for them to simplify. Simplicity in this sense means looking rather than calculating and becoming responsive to the mind in the heart in which feeling and thinking are united and taken to a higher place, higher as in embracing more of reality.

The path of evolution involves human beings developing their own sense of themselves as full individuals. The clever stage is therefore one that must be gone through but it is a stage not a destination. We must move beyond it and not become becalmed in it but that is exactly what has happened to large sections of humanity especially in the Western world though increasingly in the East too. It's like being stuck in adolescence and refusing to grow up. We need to grow up.

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Personal Discernment and Authority

 It's not either/or. It's both/and. We would be foolish to reject the wisdom of tradition but we have to make that wisdom our own and that means we must bring a personal approach to it. There is also the important point that in the modern world things have changed. We have crossed a threshold and are now required, yes, required, to find truth within ourselves rather than simply take it from an external source, however august that source might be, however authoritative.

If I had been born in Saudi Arabia 100 years ago I would no doubt have been a fervent Muslim. If I had been born to a Brahmin family in 18th century India I would have been a Hindu of some kind, pledging my spiritual allegiance to Vishnu or Siva. If a Roman Catholic today who lives his life according to the rules of the Church and believes what the Church decrees had been born in Tibet he would almost certainly have been a Buddhist. That should give us pause for thought. This is the same soul born in a different time and place and believing something totally different according to the milieu in which he had grown up. Unless you consider this impossible. But if you do it seems to me you are putting material things before spiritual ones for you are determining the soul by the body and its outer circumstances. Certainly the soul is qualified by these things but it is not formed by them or bound to them.

Personal discernment can be faulty but the fact that it is not perfect in this world is no reason not to strive to develop it or be guided by it. It should have its checks and balances and tradition and authority can help in this regard. They can also give it the impetus it needs to start it off and set it in the right direction. But they are not perfect either. Besides, do you think God wants obedient servants or co-creators who can work with him to expand and glorify creation? Asking the question gives the answer. If he wanted the former he would not have put us in this world which is specifically designed to foster the development of free will.

In a way that is what all this comes down to. Free will is not just a matter of making the right choice. That is just the beginning, necessary but not sufficient. It really has to do with making gods out of men. If that is to happen these men cannot just be followers. They must be captains of their own ships, able to navigate anywhere in the creation they want to go though always, of course, according to the laws of God not their own whims and personal preferences or they will capsize and sink.

One of the arguments against personal discernment is that it can be unreliable. At this stage of our development that is quite true. But two points need to be made. The fastest sprinter had to learn to walk at one time. If he hadn't done that, and probably fallen over on a few occasions, he would never have become a sprinter. We are at an early stage of inner discernment. We will make mistakes but we will learn from them. God will guide us back to the true path if our motivation is right. If it's not right, that is a different story and then we need to get it right.

The second point is this. Do you think tradition is perfect and, even more, complete? It is not. It may be enough for salvation (though it may not nowadays for this is a different world to that of the past and has its own demands) but it is not enough for theosis which requires full personal and spiritual responsibility.

The question then arises what if discernment and authority clash? Which bows to which? I would say you have to use discernment to decide this question which perhaps answers it. But what use is discernment if you reject it when it differs from authority? If it merely confirms authority and tradition it is obviously just conditioned by them and not personal at all. If it is perversely different then it is too personal and not rooted in spiritual awareness as it should be. Generally, discernment will add to and develop tradition and cast it in the light of here and now. Without it tradition and authority become ossified.