Sunday 25 June 2023

The Omnipotence of God

Is God all powerful or not? If he is why does he not intervene in human affairs more or even at all? If he is not can he really be considered a proper God (capital G type God)? I understand the arguments on both sides but would like to offer my take which potentially reconciles them. Here we go.

Let's start with the basic argument in favour of a supreme Creator, the One without a second from whom all things derive. This is an intellectual argument which is fine though it is not the point from which I would personally start. That would be intuitive or from the point of direct knowing. This, however, cannot be shared and could be seen as open to error through wishful thinking or some other kind of mental/emotional distortion. When all is said and done, we take the subjective route in matters of belief but in sharing our beliefs an objective stance, as in one deriving from reason and logic, is usually more persuasive. So, here is the classic argument in favour of God. 

Everything that exists has a cause but there must ultimately be something that is the cause of everything else, a causeless cause, or the process could not get started. Something has to kick everything else off and be the ground from which everything else grows. No uncaused first cause means no nothing. Literally. There cannot be anything but there cannot be nothing either as nothing implies an absence but there can't be absence unless there is presence to begin with. What would there be if there wasn't anything? Don't go there!

This something cannot be reliant on anything else or it would be an effect and therefore not the first cause. It must be absolutely self-sufficient. It cannot be limited because there is nothing that could limit it, everything else deriving from it itself and subordinate to it. Not being limitable means it is all-powerful. It is (is not has) Being-Consciousness or timeless Awareness, existing in total self-sufficiency on a formless level, form being something that comes about along with time and space as the structure for creation. It must be Being-Consciousness because otherwise there could be neither being nor consciousness deriving from it.

Properly trained theologians could develop this train of thought more thoroughly and they have done so. The point I wish to make here though is that this line of thought affirms the omnipotence of God given that he is the cause, ground, root, source and fountainhead of everything else. He is the Creator and this universe is his creation. He can change any part of it at any moment by a thought. Or, at least, he could do that if he had not renounced some of his power. And this is precisely what he has done.

In creating individual creatures with free will God has given up power. He must do this or we could not have free will. If he could intervene as and when he felt like it our free will would be a mockery, something that could go so far but no further. Conditional free will is not properly free. It is true that the rules of the universe which God has set up do not allow for unlimited expression of free will. If it is exercised against creation there will be consequences, call it karma, reaping what you sow or whatever. But that is a different thing. There may be consequences of free will exercised in the wrong way but our freedom in itself is still sacrosanct, never overridden.

God gives part of his creation, maybe all of his creation eventually, free will for two reasons. The first is love. For love really to be it must be free. Constrained love, necessary love, automatic love? It makes no sense. Only creatures with free will can love and only they can be loved in the highest, most rewarding sense. 

The second reason is that this makes creation more interesting for God. If his creatures start creating themselves that will make creation come alive for God. That may sound naive, absurd even, but think of a universe endlessly expanding from within, one that is dynamic, free, without regular or predictable pattern, with a bit of grit in it that makes pearls. That is so much more creatively exciting than a clockwork universe. Human free will is like the little lack of balance that can take creation in intriguing and unpredictable new directions. You might think that nothing is unpredictable to God but even if he sees everything at one time it is still new to him as he sees it. If it doesn't come directly from him then even if he sees it before it happens from our limited perspective, it is still new to him.

Human freedom can be bad as well as good. Giving us free will is a huge risk. If we exercise this will in accordance with the laws of God and creation then the sky's the limit but if we go against those laws then we become creatively destructive. It's not hard to see what the tendency is at the moment and it may be that there is a fail safe device installed in creation that will not let the process go too far. Myth and religious tradition tell us that is exactly what has happened in the past. But for God the potential gain is worth the risk because a universe without freedom would be a semi-dead universe. 

Here then is my conclusion. God, or the creative Mind behind everything, is omnipotent but he renounces some of his power to give it to us in the form of free will.

Now, this leads on to an important point. In the past human beings have accepted the omnipotence of God and this has often led to varying degrees of fatalism. We just have to accept God's will. But what if God wants partners rather than servants? Partners who can work with him in making creation more magnificent instead of workers whose only function is to maintain it. This means that we have to accept our power and use it wisely. As potential co-creators we are called to work with God but not for him. Certainly, we work according to the laws of creation and under the overall headship of God, with life rather than against it, so our work is loving cooperation as opposed to individualism. (A core spiritual teaching is be individual but not individualistic). But God gave us power so that we could exercise it and work alongside him. This is where we are now and where the changes in consciousness that have come about over the last few centuries should be taking us. At the moment our heightened sense of individuality has brought more evil than good as it is working out on the material plane. But as we evolve it may be that it will begin to transfer itself, in some of us anyway, to the spiritual plane and then God's transference of power to mankind will start to bear good fruit.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

What is the Soul?

This is the most important question of the day but for most people it doesn't even arise. Either they think there is no such thing as a soul, a spiritual element to their being, or else they believe their soul is who and what they feel themselves to be here and now. Something no different to their everyday personality. I would say even most religious people don't know what the soul is, especially those who don't believe it exists before birth in this world, so let me attempt a definition. The question is important because if we know what we really are then we would know what we should be doing and where we should be going. If we don't know what we are how can we determine the correct way to think or act or where to direct our aspiration?

The soul is the core of our being. It is that aspect of the self that is joined to the eternal and which takes us beyond the mundane and the material and imparts the sense of the sacred. It is the source of our individuality and our freedom. Without the soul these essential elements of what it is to be human would not exist. They do not derive from matter which is why a materialistic approach to life has no explanation for them and must, if it is to be logically consistent which often it is not, deny they exist.

The soul is a spiritual being which is to say its natural focus is the spiritual realm which is the plane of consciousness as it is in itself. In a sense, it is pure subjectivity but it needs the experience of objectivity, otherwise known as duality, to bring it out of itself and enable it to grow which means to become first aware of and then able to engage with the wider reality of God's creation, and indeed God himself. The soul is naturally one with God but passively so. To become aware of God and to know God in a deeper way, to consciously share in his greater being, it must externalise itself which it does in the world where there is I and That, subject and object. The challenges it faces in such an environment give it the opportunity to grow.

However, this is a process with risk attached. When the soul leaves its spiritually secure state it is neither good nor evil. The tendency to one or the other condition is brought out by its reaction to the dualistic world. It can consciously align itself with the greater reality of God or it can reject this reality and become fixated on itself. This goes deeper than simple belief. I call it the orientation of the heart. It is a matter of feeling. Not emotion which is based on personal reaction to stimuli but innate response to spiritual reality, a kind of answering resonance of the self to God. This should make clear that true religion is not following a set of rules or teachings but the positive opening of the heart to the higher spiritual power, higher because there are many forces in the universe but we are talking about the Creator not anything in creation.

The Masters told me that the greater part of you remains with us. This implies that only an aspect of the soul takes earthly incarnation. The soul is more than the earthly personality which is its representative in three dimensional existence but the two are intimately linked forming a whole. What one does impacts the other even if only a fraction of the totality of what the soul is manifests in our ordinary existence.

It is the soul that evolves which means unfolds its spiritual potential, but it does so by means of the earthly personality and what it experiences and expresses in this world. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two and although ultimately only the soul remains, it is coloured by the personality which, as it were, eventually dissolves into it as sugar might do into tea. The wise do not identify themselves with their personality but do not reject it either. It is part of the totality of their being but not the central core. That remains the soul.

Of course, there are spiritual states even beyond the soul though to differentiate between the two I would call these higher states divine. We are called to conjoin our soul with these higher states in divine union but even when that takes place our individuality remains what it is. Expanded, deepened, divinised, but still the soul.

Thursday 15 June 2023

Leftism is at the very least the Pawn of Satanism

 It is said that evil often proclaims itself as such in some way. This may be because the law of free will dictates that if people are to be corrupted they must have some clue that this is the case. Within that criterion though there is ample scope for evil to disguise itself as good to the eye of one who does not wish to see beneath the surface and, on some level, actively wants to be taken in because this will justify some sin or fallen desire.

In occultism the left hand path is the path of transgression, black magic and sexual licence. Often rebranded as a short cut to enlightenment, crazy wisdom, breaking the rules for greater freedom, rising above good and evil and other pseudo-glamorous deceptive descriptions, it is, in fact, the path that leads away from God and towards not God which is all that rejects God and the natural boundaries and standards of his creation. This ends up, if pursued and unrepented, in a spiritual state analogous to hell because hell is nothing more nor less than separation from God. That is a state in which light must be stolen as the soul can no longer get it directly from God. A soul has to fall a long way before that will happen but if it persists on the left hand path and does not turn back to its Maker that is what will happen.

The left has long been associated with the unnatural and the dark side of life. Obviously this is not the case literally but symbolically there is a certain truth to the idea. We take our modern usage from the time of the French Revolution when supporters of the monarchy sat on the right in the National Assembly and supporters of the revolution sat on the left. A pure coincidence you might think but those who are symbolically minded will see more to it than that. We are being told something. None of this means that elements of what became the Revolution, which term I am using to mean the overturning of traditional ideas in the 18th century, were not genuinely progressive. Human consciousness was evolving. The relationship between all sections of society from aristocrats to the ordinary people and between men and women had to be adjusted in the light of greater self-consciousness. Not to mention that a new approach to religion was called for with a greater emphasis on internal enquiry. But the whole process was hijacked and continues to be, and the clue to the hijacking was right there at the beginning.

The hallmark of Satanism is rejection of God and the order of creation. This involves undermining and then inverting all natural hierarchies and if you look at the last couple of centuries, and especially the last 50 years, you simply cannot help but see this as the underlying tendency of the left. It moves from one group to another but always with the aim of subverting the natural order. The excuse is compassion or justice but the real motive is resentment and even hatred of God.

It would clearly be absurd to say that every leftist is a Satanist but every one has allied him or herself to a degree with the Satanic agenda and has done so because of spiritual failings. At the bare minimum every one is a dupe of some kind. And note that when I talk of Satan I am not talking of an individual being though there may well be such. But the prime manifestation of this impulse is the tendency in the created individual motivated by corrupted desire and badly turned will to want to sit on God's throne. This is what is behind the left, particularly as it is in our day.

Saturday 10 June 2023

A Trip in South India

 In early January 1985 I left Yercaud where I was living in South India to travel around 200 miles to Madras, now called Chennai, for a bit of rest and recreation. While there I was going to hear a talk by the philosopher/mystic (I'm not sure if he would accept that description but it suffices) J. Krishnamurti. He was now in his late 80s but still intellectually sharp. I had seen him a few years before as described in my book Meeting the Masters but thought I would like to see him once more before he died which, as it turned out, was not long afterwards. Krishnamurti was one of the very few guru type figures at the time, Indian or otherwise, who impressed me. What he taught was basically a form of Advaita but he spoke from the position of one who had encountered the non-dualistic state at first hand and was not, like many of his imitators, on the outside looking in. I feel he really had merged his mind with the Great Silence and his soul with the spiritual core of life. Not just experienced this as a fleeting state which would then remain an experience and a memory but actually become it or as much as anyone still in a physical body could. I think his position is limited because it misses out on the extra something brought by Christ which you might call the offer of the sanctification of the self rather than its transcendence, but if anyone could be called a second Buddha then I would say Krishnamurti comes closest, certainly in my lifetime. His only rival (unfortunate word - it's not a competition!) in the 20th century would be Ramana Maharishi.

I saw Krishnamurti over two nights. I was with some American friends, Tom and Doris Rostas, who had also ended up in Yercaud on their Indian travels and who had rented a bungalow a couple of miles from the one Michael Lord and I were living in. They had arrived a few months before this trip and we had become friendly in the way people do when those from similar cultural backgrounds meet up in a foreign country. But I liked them apart from that and they were big Krishnamurti enthusiasts. In fact, he was the inspiration behind their spiritual searching. Michael stayed at home. He admired Krishnamurti as a person and spiritual influence but had no interest in his teachings. In those days he was more fully a Christian than me and besides he found K's approach too intellectual. It wasn't intellectual at all really but it can seem like that to a more devotional religious sensibility which Michael had. I was more of a universalist and I still am in a sense though in the overall framework of Christ who stands above and beyond everything else. He is the sun to which all other spiritual approaches are but planets. Planets exist and are good but they are not the sun.

I seem to remember that on the night of the first talk it rained quite heavily which seems unlikely in January in Madras so I may be wrong in that. But anyway the talk had to take place in a large wedding hall rather than in the garden of the bungalow in the Adyar district that K's talks normally were held in when he came to South India, which he did most years in the so-called cold weather. The venue really didn't chime with the talk and at the end of it Krishnamurti, who obviously felt the whole atmosphere was wrong, said that the next night's talk would be cancelled if it couldn't take place outside in the garden. Luckily the weather was good and so the next evening a large crowd assembled in the bungalow's compound. The talks were all free, anyone could come and there was a roughly 50/50 mix of Indians and Westerners there, making several hundred people in all I would say. As Krishnamurti walked slowly out from the house to the slightly raised dais there really did seem to be an atmosphere of peace and serious spiritual enquiry which had been lacking the evening before in the tacky modern wedding venue. He was dressed in traditional Indian clothes with the ochre colouring of the sanyasi, and there was a beauty and dignity about him that reinforced his message of spiritual freedom. Sometimes when he spoke one sensed a slight impatience but when he sat still and said nothing he really did convey the feeling of a man attuned to a sacred inner presence. It was like being taken back to the days of ancient India when the rishis taught in their forest hermitages and the Upanishads were first composed.

This is a link to one of the talks in the garden he give in January 1985. I don't know if it's the one I attended but it may be.

Public talk no 3 Madras 1985

Here is a link to a Q&A session which I also went to a day or two beforehand.

Q&A session

I have to say I can't watch these all the way through now because I do feel a limited one-sidedness to them. This is by no means the whole story. However, Krishnamurti remains someone who cut through so much of the deception and self-delusion that surrounded 20th century spirituality. He was a genuine force for good and enlightenment using that word in its conventional sense.

When I left the second talk I went straight to the railway station to catch a train further south to Thanjavur. Michael, with whom I ran a small guest-house in Yercaud, had no interest in Indian temples so if I wanted to visit any of them I had to go alone. He did come to the Meenakshi temple in Madurai with me on one occasion but was more engaged by the temple elephant than he was by the temple itself with its elaborate rituals and exuberant architecture representing the whole of life in all its multitudinous expression.

A Gopuram or Temple Tower

A Magnificent Hall in the Meenakshi Temple, Madurai

I reached Thanjavur very early in the morning, probably around 5 AM. I said goodbye and thank you to some Indian fellow travellers who had kindly insisted on sharing their breakfast with me at 4.30, not a time I normally eat, and set off into the town, assuming it would be several hours before the temple I wanted to visit was open. As I walked into town I noticed in the still dark sky there stood the Southern Cross which I had never seen before. I didn't know much about astronomy in those days but this was obviously that constellation. For some reason it gave me quite a thrill. It was almost like being in a different world or breaking open a completely new dimension of this one. In my mind the four compass points have great spiritual significance and represent archetypal states of consciousness. Seeing the Southern Cross like this felt as though I was entering into real "southness".

When I arrived at the temple I found I could go right in. There were a few people about but not many so I could explore it without the great crowds that would turn up later. I was there as the sun rose at about 6 AM and shortly after that I was offered (lucky me) a second breakfast of idlis which are a kind of steamed rice and black lentil cake usually eaten with coconut chutney and accompanied by sweet milky South Indian coffee. I'm not normally one for spicy food in the morning but I am fond of idlis.

The Thanjavur temple is 1,000 years old and was called by its builder Rajarajeshvaram which roughly means the temple of the god of the king of kings. No false modesty here. It is dedicated to Siva and is now known as the Brihadisvara or temple of the great lord. It is a very elaborate and beautiful temple in the South Indian style. There are some splendid carvings and a Nandi bull representing Siva's mount.

Whenever I visited a Hindu temple I felt a strange ambivalence. There is definitely something powerful there, even a sense of the sacred, certainly of the mysterious. However, I do not get the atmosphere of holiness you might get in a cathedral. This is a pre-Christian approach to God and I would say that other elements have been mixed in over the centuries. The South Indian temples are architectural marvels that can stand beside almost anything human beings have created but I am not convinced of their actual spiritual value in this day and age. Perhaps if one is born a Hindu one can respond at a deeper level but to me they are a mixture of darkness and light that combine elements of the sacred and sometimes a bit of the demonic too. That makes them fascinating from the supernatural perspective but something to be cautious of from the spiritual.

Krishnamurti and the temples of the south are two extremes of Indian spirituality. One, austere, pure, wise, world rejecting in some ways, the other bursting with life in every way and on every level from the sublime to the occasionally gross though all enveloped in a sense of cosmic oneness and with an embrace of the whole of creation. Krishnamurti may have been brought up and educated in a Western milieu but in essence he was the product of thousands of years of Indian spiritual consciousness going right back to those Upanishadic sages. He represents the search for the Absolute in itself while the temples stand as testimony to the expression of the absolute in the phenomenal world.

Wednesday 7 June 2023

Love is Love

 If there was ever a cliché then this is it. Yes, love is love but what is love? I saw on a comment thread recently a claim by one of the participants that God or Jesus had told him that there was complete moral equivalence between homosexuality and heterosexuality because we are all evolving into a state in which sex (or gender as people say nowadays) will not exist. I've heard this before, that homosexuals represent a kind of enlightened vanguard blazing a trail into the future. It's an old delusion.

The only place that sex, as in masculine and feminine or their initiating equivalents on the spiritual level, cannot exist is the unmanifest state, the one in which spirit and matter are not yet sundered and nothing is. The very act of creation involves a division which, whether you call it consciousness and form or spirit and matter or God and Nature, is the root of the sex difference. That goes right down to the very ground of reality in that for creation to take place, one must become two. If you don't want sex to exist then you don't want life to exist. 

A rejoinder to this might be that we will all become androgynous but that is a category error in that it forces a pre-manifested condition into the world of manifestation which word I use here as an equivalent for creation even if they are somewhat different, metaphysically speaking. But if life is to be expressed there must be this duality of subject and object and that, right there, is the sex difference. It cannot be dispensed with if life is to be known and seen and touched and tasted and all the rest.

It may be that as humanity evolves each sex will become more refined in its form and expression, and people might confuse this as each one of them becoming more like the other, but the unique categories of masculine and feminine will remain. In Luke chapter 13 God is compared to a hen who gathers her brood under her wings but that does not make him any less God the Father. Great men can have great compassion but they are no less men. Great women can have high intelligence but they are no less women. One androgynous being can never complement and complete another androgynous being and it is this completing and complementing that makes the love between man and woman what it is. Apart from being a necessity for creation, the sexual division of beings is a great gift from God because it takes love to a new level.

Love is love but what people often mean when they say this is that love is sex. They smuggle in one thing by claiming it is another. My teachers told me that love was indeed love if it was pure and did not degenerate. Most of what is called love by propagandists is degenerated love that arises from and is intended to satisfy the ego not the soul.

Saturday 3 June 2023

Enlightenment or a New Creation?

 Bruce Charlton had a thought-provoking post recently which struck a chord with me. His point is that the work of Christ was to lead men out of a world of sin and death, an entropic world in which nothing lasts, into a second creation, one without rust or decay or worm or canker in which the good can build on itself forever and is never brought low so that it has to be rebuilt only to fall again. As someone who has much love for Indian forms of religion but is nevertheless firmly a Christian I found this interesting. There is great wisdom and beauty in Hindu and Buddhist teachings and mystical practice but there is something more revealed by Christ which adds an extra dimension to the spiritual life.

The goal of Eastern religion is enlightenment which is aligning one's individual consciousness with universal being. Put simply, it is becoming one with the totality of life. Until the advent of Christ this was the highest spiritual path, and it is still a high path though one which few have taken and even fewer travelled to its conclusion despite numerous claims to the contrary. It entails escaping from the pull of the material and becoming completely spiritual. However, it is exclusive and something important is lost in the process. I know some will argue with me over this but I am talking about practice rather than theory. In effect, if you seek enlightenment you must renounce the material, in fact everything that is not pure spirit and that includes your individual self.

Christ brought a new understanding of the purpose of life. No longer was creation a condition to escape from. To be sure, it was sick and needed healing but it was fundamentally good and offered something which spirit alone did not provide. This was relationship, love, beauty, goodness, all things requiring duality and change. Christ says you do not have to reject creation. You must embrace it but not as it is in its fallen condition. This is what not being of the world means. For Christ it is not the world that is wicked but what it has become. Creation or Nature is good but only when seen in the light of God. Seen in its own light it is at best damaged but more often than not rotten. This, incidentally, is why the polytheistic pagan religions were rejected by early spiritual reformers such as Abraham and Moses. These religions were nature cults that celebrated nature in its fallen aspects which is why sexual licence and child sacrifice lay at their heart. We have seen these two things return over the last 60 years, along with other aspects of paganism, as they always will when the higher religion is dismissed or removed from the centre. Even feminism derives from the loss of proper religion as it comes about when the principle of transcendent spirit is rejected and consciousness brought down to the material level which includes the psychic plane, that being part of the material world. There is much more that could be said on this subject but it would take us away from the main point of the post.

Jesus brought a new Creation. The old creation had been damaged, possibly beyond repair though it may be that eventually it too will be salvaged by a fresh infusion of spirit. After all, anything is possible with God though maybe he cannot break his own laws. However, as things stood, the material world was the realm of Satan, the prince of this world. Jesus offered the redemption of matter and the individual self, both of which would be transformed in and through him and a new realm created which was Heaven. Heaven did not exist before Christ. Heavenly planes of being did but even they, as is said in Buddhist mythology, were not permanent. The denizens of these planes, including gods, could not remain there forever. Entropy operated even there. But in Heaven there is no sin, no darkness, no death. All is pure and holy and in that word is the key to all this. Before Christ there was the sacred which was the spiritual as something beyond the material. But after Christ there was the holy which involves the sanctification of the material, its raising up and incorporating into the spiritual.

Christ turned water into wine. He spiritualised matter. This is the difference between him and earlier spiritual masters. They showed a way to escape matter but he showed the way to transform it.