Tuesday 27 December 2022

Protection from Lies

 I was asking myself recently that if I knew I was going to die in a few days' time what would I tell my children in an attempt to protect them from what is to come in the future. I mean by that the spiritual ravages that have been ongoing in their present form for several decades but, from being on the periphery, have now moved centre stage and are becoming ever more embedded in the culture like a cancer that spreads and eventually take over its host's body. What can protect against this? When almost the whole world is infected with lies where can we find truth? Human beings are often reluctant to go against prevailing good opinion but that is what we absolutely must do to have any hope of salvaging our souls from the darkness of the present times.

All parents know that, try as they might, however they bring up their children these are going to be subject to many other influences. This can be a good thing but in this day and age it rarely is. The culture is decadent. We assume we are more advanced than our ancestors, and in some ways we are, but the fact is that all the signs of the times point to dissolution. Liberalism is taken as a mark of an enlightened society but historically it always occurs in a dying and degenerate culture that has lost touch with reality, a civilisation that has become spoilt and inwardly rotten and is consequently unable to discriminate between right and wrong. The blurring of the boundaries between the sexes, now regarded as progressive but actually a clear indication of separation from nature (and don't forget that when we reject nature we reject God who is the author of nature) is another phenomenon that occurs regularly when a civilisation falls in on itself, having cut itself off from higher reality because of its advancements have deluded it into thinking it is spiritually self-sufficient.

It can be tiresome when people like me go on about how bad the world is getting. I'm 67 and older people are always accused of moaning about how things aren't how they used to be. But I don't look back to the time of my youth as a golden age. It certainly was not. On the other hand, the separation from God and Nature, though well underway, had not progressed as far as it has now. Most people don't know this because material wealth and technological advancements insulate us from the spiritual poverty in which we live. In the first world we are better off than ever before with access to all kinds of things our forefathers could not have imagined but this is very much a two edged sword because it cuts us off all the more from reality.

We live in a collapsing world and yet few people realise it. This is all part of the test humanity is undergoing. The collapse is like a refiner's fire. How do we react when the culture tells us obvious lies? Firstly, we must hold fast to the truth but we must also avoid the corruption of the world affecting our own hearts by responding to it with anger and hatred. At least, some anger and hatred is not only permissible but actually right because if you love truth you must hate lies. But these emotions should not be allowed too much sway or they will overwhelm you and drag you down into the very negativity you are condemning. Therefore, let your love of truth or love of God be the defining tenor of your mind and everything else spring from that. What I mean is hatred of evil should never become stronger than love of good and should only be used in the service of that love.

What could I tell my children to help protect them in the future? The answer is obvious. Read the Gospels.  Get to know Jesus. Familiarise yourself with the truth and wisdom to be found in the New Testament and you will have all the protection you need. There is more, of course. You have to bring Christ into your own heart and mind, and the true Christ not some man-made image of him, but this is the foundation of a proper spiritual life.

Friday 23 December 2022

The Materialisation of Spirit and the Spiritualisation of Matter

 So much that is called religion does the opposite of what religion is supposed to do. What religion should do is elevate the material to the spiritual. What it often does do is reframe the spiritual in the context of the material. It pulls spirit down to the level of matter. The bizarre absurdity of the prosperity gospel in which faith in God translates to wealth and power in this world is just the most extreme example but anything that regards the earthly human as the focal point of spiritual endeavour also falls into this category. Spirituality is not about feeding the hungry or healing the sick. Does that shock you? I am not saying these things should not be done but they are not what spirituality is about. Yes, Jesus did feed the poor and he healed the sick. He even raised the dead. But this was to show God's power. It was not the point of his mission or else why did he not do it a lot more?

Nor is religion about saving the worldly man. That is to say, it is not about change but transformation. If the earthly man is saved he is still earthly, still a material being on the inside. No one is saved who does not transform his mind which you do through faith and a complete turning around of focus. I would suggest even the physical atoms of the brain are affected by this. In fact, the whole body is, becoming more sensitive. This might be regarded as the first stage of the eventual transformation of the physical body into a body of light which for most people, if it happens at all, happens only after death but is something that can be seen in the lives of certain saints while still in this world. What else does a halo represent?

The materialisation of spirit means bringing the truths of spirit down from their proper level and applying them to the material level in the context of the material with that as central. Spiritual truth should be brought down to the material level but without losing its spirituality. The incarnation of Christ is a perfect example of that. He, spirit, became man, matter, and lived in this material world. But he lost nothing of his 'spiritness'. And he did this precisely so as to spiritualise matter. Spirit became matter so that matter could be brought back up to spirit, infused with spirit. But if matter tries to trap spirit to itself, as so many spiritual approaches do, if it pulls spirit down to itself and interprets spirit within a material framework, it kills it. It will not rise.

This spiritualisation of matter is the meaning of Christmas. People now say that Christmas is really a pagan festival that the Christians appropriated. Not so. Some aspects of Christmas may have their origins in paganism but these have been baptised and raised up from matter to spirit though the power of the light shed by the Incarnation. Christmas is indeed the birth of light in darkness but Christ is spiritual light and his presence at this time grounds and gives full reality to a hope, an aspiration, a yearning that was present but not fully realised in pagan myth. Christ is the substance that lies behind these myths and makes them come alive. They are like dreams but he is those dreams come to waking reality and given concrete form.

Christmas comes at the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year but also the time when the light starts to return. In terms of a wider cycle we are living through very dark times, a period in history when mankind is further away from spiritual light than it has ever been though many of us don't recognise that because this very spiritual darkness has, for the time being anyway, this may not last, allowed for a certain efflorescence of material well being as energies are concentrated in that sphere of life. Is it too much to hope for that a tiny glimmer of light may start to reappear in human hearts at this point in time and inspire us to look heavenwards once more for the true meaning and purpose of life? At any rate, this is the Christmas message. However dark it seems, the light will come again.

Monday 19 December 2022

Always Be Suspicious of Anything that Ends in '-ism'

 William James Tychonievich has a good "Look, the Emperor has no clothes" post on his From The Narrow Desert blog pointing out that racism is a fake sin. He makes the obvious but we cannot say it point that "noticing racial differences and the actions of racial interest groups is smart. Acting in accordance with that information -- "discrimination" -- is rational and good. Stereotypes and generalizations are useful, necessary, and unavoidable. Preferring the company of one's own people is natural. Love and loyalty for one's own people is praiseworthy. Agree? Congratulations, you're a racist!". Evils may come from that, hatred, injustice, cruelty, exploitation of the weak by the strong, but then jealousy can come from love. Does that make love a sin? If I prefer to be with my wife rather than another woman does that make me a bad person? According to the current ideology which puts racism at the top of the pile of evil (or the bottom, both make sense) that would seem a logical corollary.

No spiritual tradition condemns racism as a sin. As far as I know, it's hardly ever discussed. You might say that the races didn't mix much in the days when these traditions evolved but they certainly did in 1st century Palestine. The neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor female quote of St Paul's does not mean that Jews and Greeks and men and women do not exist but that all differences are transcended in Christ for he comes to all. I mean, that's obvious, isn't it, especially as elsewhere this same St Paul tells servants to obey their masters?

If racism means hating others it is wicked because hatred is a sin. But if it means recognising there are different types of human groups and they are different in many ways, it is entirely rational. In fact, it is crazy not to see this. It is normal and natural to prefer one's own sort and to want a homeland where one's own sort can live and grow and express themselves and their culture in a way which accords with their preferences and traditions and without outside intervention. This certainly does not mean you reject others or do not find interest and instruction in other cultures but you want to maintain your own. If that is racism then so is protecting your family.

Always be suspicious of anything that ends in '-ism'. It's an ideology not a truth.

Thursday 15 December 2022

Heaven, Hell and What's In Between

How do we square the idea of evolving consciousness, to which I subscribe, with the doctrine that if we reject Christ we suffer a spiritual consequence in the afterlife, traditionally known as damnation or hell? Let me first of all say that nobody is sent to hell. You send yourself there and you do so by closing off your mind to Heaven. I would also go along with Dante's vision that there are different hells equating to different sins because I believe that in the afterlife the principle of like attracts like operates with one's outer environment reflecting inner consciousness. The universe is a thought. Life is Mind and in the spiritual world what you think is what you are and where you go. Thus, there may be hells which are not necessarily that unpleasant, at least not to those who go there, but which are nevertheless deprived of God and real goodness and real beauty. So, of course, they are unpleasant to the reasonable person whose consciousness has not been perverted by a misdirected will.

This world is a world of choice. You choose whether or not to believe in God and you also choose what sort of God you believe in. You choose or don't choose to acknowledge Christ and you also choose what sort of Christ to believe in because many people believe in their own version of Christ, a Christ who is a projection of their own thoughts and desires. There is the real Christ to whom you respond in the heart through the spiritual imagination, aided, of course, by scripture and even art (that is art's highest function), and there is a human created image of Christ who may be modelled on aspects of the real Christ but has some extra elements superimposed  as well as important elements missing. It is a mental version of a spiritual reality and, depending on its approximation to the real Christ, does only limited good. It may even do harm if the image departs too much from the reality and reflects more of social or political or personal concerns than spiritual truth.

Hell is separation from God. There are many degrees of separation and different souls will have separated themselves to different degrees. Some will be a long way off while others may retain some kind of connection to some aspect of God, maybe a love for beauty or concern with right behaviour. For them there is a way back if they will take it but it will mean opening closed areas of the heart and mind and that may be more difficult in the post-mortem state as we may then have solidified choice meaning the occasion for choosing is past as the specific conditions which form the test under which you make a choice no longer prevail.

It may be that souls who refuse to accept Christ's offer of Heaven are held back on lower levels of being while others progress onwards and upwards. They don't have hell in the traditional sense but nor do they have Heaven. It may also be that there are many such souls alive now because this is a time of reckoning when final chances are offered to souls who have turned down previous offers. Between Heaven and Hell there are many other spiritual states which are, returning to Dante, forms of limbo which was Virgil's region in the afterlife. Now, Virgil represented the best of humanity without God. He was virtuous and wise but he did not know Christ so he could not enter Heaven. (As an aside, I believe that all those born before Christ are given the opportunity to know Christ either through being reborn in this world or else in some other way so I would expect that a soul of the quality of Virgil is in Heaven now as are all other worthy pagans.)  Thus, non-believers do not necessarily go to Hell but they are barred from Heaven by their own lack of acceptance of it.

Evolving consciousness is one thing but accepting God is another. In reality both are necessary but you can have one without the other. The devil has a highly evolved consciousness. There are also simple souls who believe in God but are not able to express very much of him. Evolution means we can understand more of God and we can become more like him in terms of love, creativity and intelligence. This is the destiny we are called to. We must grow but we can only grow as we should when we grow according to the pattern of God. To grow according to that pattern is heaven. Not to do so, however evolved you are, is hell.

Sunday 11 December 2022

A New Creation

 At the end of my last post I mentioned that what Christ offers to those who follow him is a new Creation - worth capitalising I think. I would like to pursue this thought here. It's hardly a new thought but it has relevance in the context of a general spirituality v. Christianity debate which is pertinent in our time. I have written on several occasions about how the teachings and person (because the two are linked) of Christ go further than any other form of spirituality, including those of the Buddha. This idea of a new Creation gets to the heart of it. The Buddha saw the reality of suffering and showed a way to escape that. The way involved leaving a fallen creation behind. Basically, it entailed rejecting the goods of creation for entry into the non-created or pre-creation state. We tend to overlook the fact that original Buddhism was a monastic religion. This is a valid response to the evils of this world and/or the demands of the spiritual quest but it is not the only one or even the best one. The best is that offered by Christ in which matter and spirit or creation and uncreated divine being are joined together to make something new. Here matter is sanctified rather than rejected. Latter forms of Buddhism approach this idea but they never fully embrace it. Other spiritual traditions incorporate elements of this approach but they all have a fundamental drawback. They lack Christ, and it would be my contention that it is only through Christ that one can fully enter the new Creation. I firmly believe he is present in other religions to the extent that they are open to his spirit but he can never be as fully present as he is in Christianity where he stands revealed as himself.

This difference has never been more important than it is today in the context of the world as it is now. That is because we are in the middle of a battle between good and evil. A general spirituality which seeks to rise above the world will either be neutral in the face of this battle, beyond good and evil as those aiming at spiritual transcendence might put it, or else it will be sucked into evil. In fact, as genuine neutrality is no longer possible, if it ever was, they will inevitably be drawn onto the side of evil. Now, if you don't stand against evil, you stand with it, and if you would stand against evil you can only really do that by standing with Christ. Why can't you be good without Christ? Because he is goodness. It resides in him as the face and form of God. Other forms might approach or echo that but he is the living template. If you understand what the Good is you must see it is centred in him and the more it is separated from him the less good it is.

The new Creation came into being when Christ defeated the Prince of this World which is what he did with his life and death. This is why there was no path to it before his time. It didn't exist. This means that any form of spirituality which originated before Christ does not offer a path to it unless, as I say above, that form has opened itself to the spirit of Christ. This is a controversial position to take in the modern world because the egalitarian dogma has spread into every area of life including religion. Also, because we in the West reacted to human misinterpretations and distortions of Christianity either by turning to atheism or by seeking spiritual nourishment elsewhere. But go back to Christ himself and the Gospels, particularly that of St John, and you will discover a spiritual truth that goes beyond all others, one that does not just offer a way out of the material world but purifies that world so rendering it capable of being lifted up into spirit and becoming something new, a new Adam, a new Jerusalem, a new world.

When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven it was this new Creation he spoke of. Heaven is not just the oneness of spiritual consciousness. It is that but it goes beyond that because it brings to that oneness the qualities and colours of creation. And it brings relationship to oneness which means it brings love. Love existed before Christ but it did not exist in the same way as it did after him because he made it possible for the self, hitherto a centre of egotism which could only be escaped from, to be holy. No self means no love. Christ made the individual spiritually beautiful and potentially godlike instead of being a disturbance in the placid waters of divine oneness. Heaven is full of individuals because it is the abode of love and this was the new Creation brought by Christ. 

Wednesday 7 December 2022

Consciousness and Christ

 According to standard esoteric teachings, human souls come to this Earth to evolve their consciousness, this being the perfect environment in which to do that given the sense of separation to be found here. It's somewhat like a child being turfed out of the secure family home where everything is done for it in order to make its own way in the world and as a result become a mature, responsible adult able to engage with life creatively and actually contribute to the world in a positive manner. These teachings assume reincarnation and say we come back here many times, seeking experience and means of expression to grow as souls. This is linked to the doctrine of reaping what you sow with the consequence that everything we do, and possibly even think, sets up a flow of psychic energy which we must deal with. It may manifest materially as external circumstances and conditions or internally as character traits but we are responsible for all that we are. This is not to punish but to teach. We evolve in this way until we are able to raise our consciousness to the spiritual level while in an earthly body. It's more complicated than that but this is the in a nutshell version.

Sometimes these teachings picture us as similar to cells in the body of a greater being which would be the spirit that stands behind our sun. This being or Solar Logos is also evolving and would be part of a Galactic being who, in turn, would form part of the being who stands behind the whole universe who would, I suppose, be God. There is a pleasing symmetrical order to this scenario and it makes sense on an intellectual level. I believe it to be broadly speaking correct with the solar and stellar spirits as something like great archangels and so on upwards.

There is a problem with this vision though. It doesn't really fit in with Christian teaching. Esotericists realise this and, as a result, tend to jettison Christianity, reducing Christ to a great spiritual teacher or Head of a Spiritual Hierarchy that oversees humanity or else picture him as the Solar Logos and say this was what was meant by Son of God. You can absorb most other spiritual approaches into this one which is what its partisans generally do, but you cannot really absorb Christ, not without making him something other than what he said he was or altering his teachings to mean something other than what he says they meant. Christ didn't talk about evolving consciousness and he was not inclusive. He said he (underlined) was the Way, the Truth and the Life. That is unequivocal. He is not part of some all-purpose spirituality but goes beyond mere spirituality to something higher, deeper and truer, something approaching proper holiness. Christ taught that we should love God whom we could see revealed in him. This is extreme to say the least but it is what he taught and if we believe in Christ we must believe that.

Is it possible to reconcile these two teachings? Many people don't bother. They believe one or the other but I find myself in the tricky position of believing both. I do believe that human souls are supposed to be evolving their consciousness and this Earth serves as the background for that, a kind of playpen in which we can build things though what we are really building is ourselves. But I also believe that Christ goes beyond that. This means that spirituality and evolving consciousness is one thing but Christ is another. He comes to the worldly and the spiritual alike and offers them both something more. The spiritual may be further along the path to God as things stand but the wonder of Christ is that anyone can come to him from any background and is accepted by him if they give themselves heart and soul to him, and this acceptance will transform their soul to a higher degree than any self-pursued spirituality can ever do. You may be building a humble village church or a grand cathedral but both are hollow structures without the light of Christ illumining them from within.

Could it be that before the advent of Christ scenario 1 operated? Human souls reincarnated after a period in the spiritual realms to further their spiritual evolution and this proceeded in a certain direction, developing all aspects of the whole being, unless brought to a close by the attainment of Buddhist Nirvana meaning a complete disidentification with the phenomenal world and, in a sense, rejection of creation. But Christ came to bring a higher understanding, one in which the soul could be made like him by allowing him into itself. Any soul on any evolutionary level could do this though naturally the more developed the soul, the more of Christ it could absorb and express. Thus, the path of spiritual evolution exists and so does the path of Christ but this latter brings more of divine reality to the picture. For instance, an evolving soul might, in esoteric parlance, have opened all its psychic energy centres including that at the crown of the head, but unless it has fully accepted Christ it is still operating in the spiritual world rather than the true Heaven of Christ which is a new creation containing more of divine being than can ever be attained just through evolution.

I realise a lot more has to be done if one is to develop a proper understanding of how Christ impacts and goes beyond standard issue spirituality but this is my attempt at a start.

Friday 2 December 2022

Your Nationality and What You Are

 When I lived in India I knew an Englishman, Vic Tate by name, who had been born in India in around 1915. I say he was an Englishman because all his ancestors had come from England but he had only visited the country once, in the 1950s. Otherwise he had lived his entire life in India, having stayed on as a coffee planter after Independence in 1947. He was an Indian citizen but thought of himself, as he was, as an Englishman. 

I also knew an Italian born around the same time as Vic. He was called Tito Simonelli which you will agree is a typical Italian name. And he was a typical Italian though, like Vic, he had only visited Italy once. His father had been chauffeur to the Maharajah of Mysore and Tito was an engineer who had an Alfa Romeo, also typically Italian. He was also a lover of the fair sex, even in his late sixties when I knew him. Also, well, you know!

The point is both these men were Indian citizens who had lived in India their whole lives and had been born there. But they thought of themselves, and were regarded by everyone else, as English and Italian respectively. They knew what people nowadays seem to forget that your ancestry matters more than your passport.

An old lady has got in trouble and been hung out to dry by her spineless employers, anxious to cover their backs, because she asked someone with an African name, and who, from a quick search on Google, seems to favour wearing African style clothes, what part of Africa she came from. Maybe she was a little insensitive, given the state of things today, but the reaction to her minor faux pas is out of all proportion to the thing itself. Of course, the media has no moral standards and just loves to whip up hysteria, anything to sell copy, but the people who fan the flames of this non-incident and pander to the anti-racism grievance industry are, to put it bluntly, wicked. If ever you wanted to see how a country destroys itself, look no further.

The impressive Cardinal Robert Sarah, himself an African, had this to say recently. "Europe has lost the sense of it origins. It has lost its roots and a tree without roots will die. I'm afraid that the West will die. There are plenty of signs. You are invaded, still, by other cultures and peoples, who will progressively dominate you by their numbers and change your culture, your convictions, your morality." This latest absurdity illustrates the wisdom and truth of his words.