Saturday 6 May 2023

Scrubbing the Floor

The greatest barrier to spiritual progress is pride. I am aware of this failing in myself but I believe we all have pride in some form or another because it is part of being human and having a human ego. In a way, it is both necessary and inevitable because it goes along with the development of a strong self, and we need a strong self in order to be fully individual which is the purpose of us as created beings. That being said, though perhaps inevitable up to a point and maybe even useful at a certain stage in our evolutionary unfoldment, pride must be overcome or, from being an initial source of strength for a developing ego, it becomes a chain that binds us to the earth and from there it locks us up in a prison of separation from life. Pride in self limits us to the self and the more it does so, the more the self contracts becoming harder and heavier. Density and weight equate to darkness. Pride leads to hell and hell is dead weight and darkness.

Scrubbing the floor engenders humility. My teachers told me the reason I had come back to Earth was to learn humility.  That's come back not come. I know that many readers of this blog are Christian and most Christians don't believe in reincarnation but I do though whether it applies to every soul on the planet or only some I couldn't say. One cannot assume we all are going through precisely the same type of training, and there are many dimensions of being that the evolving soul can experience. Nonetheless, I do believe that reincarnation is a major mechanism for the development of the human soul. But it is voluntary. Souls on higher planes may reach a point at which they can go no further unless they have experience in the material realm and so they return, guided by their teachers. I am not saying that Heaven and Hell do not exist and that our choices and actions here do not determine our post-mortem state but it may be that most people only reach a definitive and determining state at the end of a cycle of earthly incarnations. There are many planes of being in the universe which extends much further on the vertical axis than it does on the horizontal one.

We live in an age in which the desire for fame and power and admiration has reached an alarmingly high level, pushed to even more excessive heights by the technology we have at our disposal. This means we live in an age in which pride and lack of humility are potentially more present in a wider section of the population than ever before. This is just one more reason why it is such a spiritually perilous time in which to be alive though the positive side to this is that where there is great risk there can also be great opportunity. Fame and power are very much two edged swords and what Jesus said about rich people going to heaven applies in just the same way to those with fame and power. So be careful what you wish for.

With respect to fame and power, you might think that the most spiritually advanced people are the spiritual leaders, the popes, Dalai Lamas, gurus, swamis etc, but this is by no means necessarily the case. In fact, a public spiritual position often has a strong worldly element to it, and can be a corrupting influence. Often the greatest souls have no position. One should not have an inverted spiritual snobbery about this or use it as an excuse for failure but sometimes for humility to be more than skin deep the soul must be reduced to scrubbing the floor, figuratively at least. In his short novel The Great Divorce which concerns the split between Heaven and Hell, C.S. Lewis has a character in Heaven whom the narrator initially mistakes for the Virgin Mary herself because of her beauty and the glory that surrounds her. She is in fact Sarah Smith from Golders Green, a worldly nobody who led a hard and obscure life but who has been transfigured by love. It may indeed have been the hardness and obscurity of her life that were the conditions that polished her soul though they are certainly not enough on their own. She would have had to have responded to them in a spiritually mature and creative way, accepting what God sent her with gratitude and humility, a lesson for us all.


Bruce Charlton said...

@William - Good thoughts.

I agree that the current official spiritual leaders are - to put it mildly - Not the most spiritually advanced.

But in fact I can't find anyone in the West who (on close examination) seems to be spiritually advanced compared with the past. At most there are people who I am confident are *real* Christians - which is enough (!), but not especially inspiring to a convert, and not people to serve as 'examples' or 'models'.

Perhaps Seraphim Rose is the most recently born Western Christian who I would regard as significantly spiritually advanced - and he was born in 1934 and died in 1982; and he (rightly) regarded himself as a 'pygmy' compared with the stature of the Russian spiritual masters who had developed before the 1917 revolution cut-through the tradition.

Perhaps the concept of spiritual advancement was inseparable from strong and genuine Christian church traditions; and now that these are corrupted there is no accepted 'line' of spiritual development. One problem (which Seraphim Rose wrote about) is ultra-correctness; whereby people adhere very strictly to the letter of 'official' rules and practices, but without warmth and love in the heart.

And also, it may be that the challenge now is much more at the level of simple discernment - rather than development - or that development in one direction comes at the cost of decline in other aspects, so that people change but don't seem to improve spiritually *overall*?

What is feels like to me; is that there is one after another deceptive challenge thrown at Christians, which we need to 'see through', and stand against or repent. Then there is another challenge to be met. And - at *best* - it is like whack-a-mole, or fighting a fire which is suppressed in one place only to pop up in another.

So our spiritual efforts keep needing to be redirected to new challenges, and can never develop very far in any specific direction.

There are plenty of opportunities for multiple instances of spiritual learning, but not much chance for overall improvement.

William Wildblood said...

"I can't find anyone in the West who (on close examination) seems to be spiritually advanced compared with the past. " Agreed. There is a tradition in Hinduism that in the Kali Yuga, roughly similar to Christian End Times, just pronouncing the name of God with true belief is sufficient. When times are as spiritually benighted as ours a little can go a long way, provided that it is genuine.I suppose there is a parallel with the workers in the vineyard in Matthew 20 where the latecomers at the 11th hour get the same wage as those who have been working all day. Not an exact parallel but there is a similarity.