Monday, 24 February 2014

Just a Little Faith

Do I doubt the existence of God? Well the short answer is, "No!" 

Before getting hung up about what Holy Scripture and the Church claim God to be, where might we find this much argued about entity? Now already I have jumped ahead of myself. What about all those people who are outside the Church? What about all the atheists who do not believe? I suspect that many non-believers, a term that seems to be less raw and vaguely non-specific than 'atheist', find themselves in that state because they already have certain ideas about what God is, or is supposed to be, ideas that do not match up to their wishes and expectations. As I have said before, a study of the Old Testament God might, with some justification, lead one to suppose that God is the ego writ large across the cosmos. Faced with that definition of God, I would willingly join the side of the unbelievers and other atheists.

All my experience tells me that God, or whatever this inner Presence is that I choose to call God, is to be found way down inside myself, at a much deeper level than my ego. It seems to me that at the very least, God may be seen as that which exhibits a healthy impulse towards a restorative balance, countering the essentially divisive nature of the ego. Thus God is neither the property of any particular religion, sect or group, nor something that fits comfortably in any individual's handbag or wallet. The difficulty that arises here is that we are capable of experiencing great and sometimes frightening power in our inner lives, power that refuses to be tamed and made into a docile pet, yet at the same time being impossible to define.  And with true human genius, we all too often deny what we do not understand. Give it another name and the problem goes away. Simple really, except that the problem, if problem it is, does not go away. Acceptance, even as a working hypothesis is, apparently, far too difficult a task to consider.

As time passes it becomes ever more difficult for me to remember the mindset in which my ego-consciousness was my only reality. From my present standpoint, within the womb of eternity, I see that that earlier mindset was only ever one part of what I am, a part that seemed to be set inflexibly in stone. And for all its arrogant displays of power, it was always the very minor part. Ultimately, I came to see that my perceived reality was unreal, and that indefinable third dimension of my being which made me whole, and which I had blatantly ignored for so long, was in fact my inner, and only true, reality. Yet there is still a link, an almost invisible umbilicus, that connects my reality to my unreality. One day that link will end, but not yet, not quite yet. The final breaking of that link, or the dispensing with the need for a link within a greater oneness, is an adventure which still awaits.

Why am I here? What is my real purpose in life? That is a question which I answered, at least in part, in an earlier post, "The Chalice". But is that the whole story, or does that requirement 'to love one another' feed into a hierarchy of purposes? It is said, and can be demonstrated well enough through the laws of thermodynamics, that the universe is in a state of increasing entropy. Put simply, the universe is running down and will end its days in a cold-death. But there are two sides to every equation. Where has all the indestructible energy gone in this cold end-universe? I would like to say 'quite simply', except that the processes are 'quite complex', in the conversion to enthalpy, an ever-increasing complexity.

There must be limits to the degree of complexity that can be attained in the physical universe. The laws of physics indicate that there are limits on what can be considered as viable living creatures.  But here we are dealing with the physical; what of the psycho-spiritual universe? It would seem that there are no discernible limitations on the complexity of Mind, on that ultimate process of becoming. It is there that perhaps I come closest to a concept of God, a self-active blueprint of what might be, or of what could be. Whatever may lie ahead, I for one have only just begun that journey. 

Perhaps a little faith in the possibility of something greater, something worth working towards, is one place to begin, for is not faith a part of the spectrum of love? And is not love the needful goal of all sentient existence? Is it perhaps that love is the means, the finger that points towards an as yet unknowable Reality?    

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Chalice - Part 2 of 2


Let me begin by picking up on the essential features of the first part of this essay. It was near the beginning of a meditation on the possible purpose of my life, not a subject that filled me with great enthusiasm, that the image of a Temple appeared in my mind. Old familiars appeared in a new setting; a link was drawn between Sophia and the Lady of the Lake; I learned of a mistaken conclusion I had drawn about Truth and Wisdom; I was invited to enter far more deeply into my inner world, and drank deeply from that Chalice. Finally I saw in the far distance a group of Divine Sparks being shepherded by Sirius the Dog Star.

On Teaching and Further Symbolism:

Put as briefly as possible, Gnostic teaching says that within in each one of us (and I would not exclude any other member of Nature's kingdoms) is a tiny piece of the Divine, our souls perhaps. These pieces, or Divine Sparks, after existing in the Pleroma, the Light, the Fullness, or the Hebrew Ain-Soph-Aur, incarnate from that unmanifest state into our physical bodies. At the end of the life of the physical body, the Sparks return to the great unmanifest.

In mythology the Dog Star, Sirius, is said to be one of the watchmen of the heavens, keeping guard over the abyss into incarnation. This star exemplifies the initiate who has succeeded in bridging the lower and higher consciousness. Astrologically, Sirius is part of the region of the sky which has been known as the gateway to the ocean of higher consciousness. To say that Sirius, appearing in the Tarot as "The Star", is important in mystery religions would be a massive understatement.

As I have already said, it does not seem to matter whether or not I believe in these teachings and mythological accounts. What matters is that my unconscious mind has chosen these avenues to reveal what it will, even perhaps as a series of 'as ifs'. It so happens that I am prepared to take these teachings as working hypotheses until they have proved their value, or lack of same. There is further point that must be emphasised, namely that every part of this pathworking is a part of me. The image of the Divine Sparks, and of Sirius, are as much me as are the Wolf, Cheetah, Eagle-Hawk, Sword and Chalice. They come as close as I can get to defining what and who I am. 

Approaching the Dog Star:

As I watched the Star from afar I became aware of myself, still seated on my throne with the Sword of Wisdom across my knees, as a ghostly projection on the surrounding cosmos. When I gently dismissed that projection, I found that I was travelling effortlessly and at high speed towards Sirius. A certain point was reached when I was captured by the Star's magnetic field. In a deep sense I had returned to my Self. Nearby, was the collection of Divine Sparks, in a state of extreme weariness. My difficulty was in trying to determine where these Sparks were on their seemingly aeonian journey. Were they about to experience the emanative period of physical life, or had that period of their existence been accomplished? (Their obvious fatigue was no guide. In a pathworking of my physical birth, carried out many years ago, I felt the same fatigue, and also had what was probably a near death experience.) The distant light towards which the Sparks were being escorted, was it a vaginal opening into the physical world, or an entrance into some higher form of existence? 

It was this point that I had reached when, at the beginning of 'Part 1' of this script, I said that no final resolution to these questions could be offered. There were too many options available; but each one relied to a greater or lesser extent on the belief, wholly or partially, in handed down wisdom and teaching. What I wanted was to confirm or reject those teachings from my own inner experience. That option did not seem to be available. .

I do not believe that at a fundamental level the universe, if left to itself, is interested in complication. Rather it deals in complexity. It is the ego that likes to complicate matters. Sir Roger Penrose once said something along the lines that the universe can only be described in terms of complex numbers*. One of the features of complex numbers is that by means of mathematical transformations, seemingly complicated systems can be changed to simple systems which are relatively easy to manipulate and solve. It occurs to me that this may be what is required in this pathworking. The difficulty is discovering the appropriate 'transform'.

What is the Purpose of My Life?

If the confirmation of handed down wisdom and teaching is not a current option, another option has emerged which is consistent with spiritual teaching the world over. And that option takes me all the way back to the meditation on which this pathworking was originally based. In an odd sort of way, the problems we are currently undergoing with our dear Mol, has acted like a mathematical transform. Her presence, and the tough decisions which we may yet have to make on her behalf, has reduced a complicated equation to its simplest terms.

The role of the Dog Star is to guide, shepherd and care for its 'pack' of Divine Sparks. There have been many 'others' in my life for whom I have cared greatly. Not all of them have been entrusted wholly to my keeping. In those cases I have been happy to play a supporting role. When I let go of my reasoning and absorb the sensings around this pathworking, one thing stands out very clearly, and it is in the form of a total conviction. My life has a purpose, and that purpose is to love. On the surface that may sound obvious and simple, but at its root it is a complex state of being. It is not my purpose here to write a treatise on love, but what is clear to me in a way I have not seen before, is that the love to which I refer is not about thought, feeling, romance or ego-sentimentality. It is not even about the caring about, and the caring of, that appeals to the higher instincts. It is about the practice of love that does not carry any opt-out clause. It is about how I love my neighbour, even if I loathe him/her. Again I say it is about how I practise, not how I feel. 

But who is my pack, my family, even my neighbour? I would suggest that it is everyone with whom I am in contact. To practise the art of love is a life-long apprenticeship, and that is what I now realise I have been called to do. From practice, sometimes tentative and inept, has come conviction and affirmation. And there is no worthier activity than open-eyed love, offered in wisdom, in which to engage because it is inclusive and not divisive. All other worthwhile pursuits stem from this one activity. because in the end it is not so much that, as scripture teaches, "God is Love," it is rather that, "Love is God." 
* Complex numbers are of the general form x + iy, and are a combination of two terms. The Real part is the variable x term; the Imaginary term iy (said to exist on the z plane which is not Real) is the product of the variable y and the square root of -1, which has no solution in Real terms. (Best to order your mathematical textbooks now, before stocks run out!) It seems to me that in some ways that reflects, or is an analogy for, the way we can live our lives to the full. There is the 'real' part that we associate with our everyday consciousness, but there is also the unconscious, 'imaginary' aspect of our make-up. And it is the latter part, all too often ignored, that holds the key to the understanding of our Selves.  

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Chalice - Part 1 of 2

I will begin this post where I finished my previous one ("And Here Will I Wait") that is, in the Temple which had spontaneously arisen at the beginning of that earlier stage of this pathworking. A great deal has been experienced during the intervening meditations, but as things stand no final resolution to the questions that have arisen can be offered. Now it is not my intent to record here all the tortuous paths that both reason and intuition have obliged me to follow. Much detail, therefore, has been dispensed with in the hope that the view of the wood will not suffer from the interference of the trees.

When I returned to my throne, situated about halfway down the entrance flight of stairs, I noticed three changes immediately. The arms of the throne sported moldings that nestled comfortably in the palms of my hands. Under my right hand I felt the carved head of a Cheetah, whilst under my left hand I felt the carved head of a Wolf. Atop the back of my throne stood, with wings outstretched as if in flight, the carving of an Eagle-Hawk. In this kind of situation, any creatures featured do so because they reflect the qualities, modes and attitudes of the path worker. As an example of this, the Cheetah and the Wolf are hunters, or in this context, they are Seekers. The Cheetah expends energy in relatively short, high speed bursts thereafter requiring a rest period. It is the one "big cat" that cannot withdraw its claws; once committed to its task, it remains so. The Wolf on the other hand (significantly placed on my left, hidden or dark side) is capable of following its goal for long, extended periods, thus showing great stamina of purpose. The Eagle-Hawk has far-sightedness, and is unafraid to look on the face of the Sun, God, with unflinching gaze. This seeing afar, or seeing the 'grand picture', not wishing to sound too grandiloquent, often runs the risk of ignoring, forgetting or simply not seeing the necessary steps required to get from here to there. Put another way, there is the risk of wanting to jump to a 'hereafter' situation, eloquently described with reference to Shakespeare's Macbeth, by "Slow Reads" in "Ice, hail, & reign hereafter." 

The Sword that had appeared, hanging above the Altar in the previous post, reveals itself sheathed in white mist, an image of mystery. But here it is no longer alone, but held by a female Hand at the end of a right arm, extending up to the shoulder. The upper arm is clothed in white, misty raiment. At the same time that the image appeared, the name "Sophia" also came to mind, which intimated that the Sword she grasped was not that of Truth which I had previously assumed, but of Wisdom. (Again, as an interesting detail, the Sword is held by the right hand, symbolic of intellectual reasoning, rather than the use of intuition.) Barely had this conclusion been reached when another mental association was made, and that was with the "Lady of the Lake" of Arthurian romance. 

Briefly, I first met this Lady during a past pathworking, whilst being rowed from the material world of Glastonbury, through a corridor of white mist, to the inner realm of Avalon. Thus she can be seen as representing the guardian of the unconscious mind, as well as the one who carries a seeker to her realm, similar to, but not the same as, the boatman who ferries souls across the River Styx in Greek mythology. There are further possible links between the "Lady", (Merlin's pupil Viviane, who gained all his wisdom) and the Tarot card "High Priestess". On the Qabalistic Tree of Life, the "High Priestess" is linked to the "Magician" via the sephira Binah or "Understanding". Enough of that? I think so. It seems to me that belief in what I am describing here, other than belief that I am truthfully describing these inner events, is not required. All that is needful to see is that the unconscious mind is choosing to use this particular imagery for its own purposes. 

There was movement. I found myself suspended above the Altar on which had appeared a golden Chalice. I descended, and as I did so, the cup became larger and/or I became smaller until I entered the Chalice. It was as if I travelled through a golden vortex that was to end in deep, dark space beyond. (Compare this experience with that described in, "Into the Abyss", 22.6.2013.) I arrived to see, far off in the distance, a group of Divine or Primal Sparks being shepherded, towards a distant light, by Sirius the Dog Star. 

I will reserve for the second part of this essay, what happened thereafter.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

And Here Will I Wait

I am bored and, damn it, I am angry. Frustrated? Maybe, but that is too mild a word. I pick up a book, cast a cursory glance over its contents, and throw it down in disgust. I am dry; it's as if all the moisture has been drained from my spiritual being. I've had enough; no more reading, no more writing; no more blogging. I say again, I have had enough! I want to walk away and leave it all behind me.

It would seem that wherever I turn I am following someone else's agenda; reading what those authors have said; following in their footsteps. Well what about me? No, I'm not indulging in self-pity, I want to know where I stand with that which I choose to call God, and what I am supposed to be doing. If I ever catch up with that divinity, so help me there will be the very Devil Heaven to pay. I am tired and I am angry. Didn't I say that already? Well I'll say it again: I am angry! Now don't let the Church or one of its representatives say that anger is a sin, without issuing a sharp rebuttal. It isn't a sin! Anger is not like a bullet that is designed to kill. It is like a car that is designed to get one somewhere, quickly and efficiently. Anger is what it is, an emotion, a very powerful concentration of energy. It is only the self-indulgent ego that insists anger must be assuaged through violence. 

Oh what is the point of it all? I want to know where my life must go, what I must do. But I do not simply want my wishes indulged in for the sake of my ego. I want to know because it is needful that I take at least some responsibility for myself. So, God, don't indulge me! Show me!

Through all my ranting at God, I know that no matter what I choose to discard, there is one thing I will not let slide. I will return to my room, and I will meditate and give that Power some of my time. Yet all I have on which to meditate is my anger in my private desert.

I light a candle, my symbol of Life; I light a joss stick to symbolise, not a sacrifice but, my spirit freely offered. I pull down the blind, for this is now a private, sacred place. And all the while Gregorian Chant plays softly in the background. Slowly my anger subsides:- 

".........I find myself sitting on a throne situated halfway down a flight of stairs. Try as I will I am unable to get any lower. Gently but insistently, I am returned to my throne. Before long I cease from trying and wait, all the while taking in the layout of this place. Below me at the foot of the stairs is the floor, rather like a private theatre stage. And it is very private, for this is my personal Temple. At the centre of the square floor is a low, square table - or is it an altar? - covered in what I know to be a white, samite cloth. Everything about this Temple is pleasing to my eye; it does in a very real sense appeal to me.
  Behind me. the stairs continue up towards the door that shuts out the light of the outside world. I have no interests out there. What captivates my interest is the presence of three more stairways leading up from the floor below me, through simple, Gothic arches to who knows where? Again I am struck by the pleasing simplicity and intimacy of this Temple. 

"Oh God, do not indulge me, please! Let me hear only what I need to hear." 

Each stairway ascends from one of the remaining sides of the floor so that the floor appears to be a landing stage, a meeting place, or a place from which journeys will begin. And suspended in mid-air, below the highest point of the Gothic ceiling hangs a sword, pointing downwards, the Sword of Truth.
  Now I am beginning to understand. Before I can rise to new, as yet undiscovered, heights, or perhaps return to old places made new, I must first descend to the landing stage, I must first go deeper. I might not have chosen to do that, if indeed I have that measure of control, if all had been well and comfortable beyond the stairs behind me. But all is not comfortable in the desert, and for that reason I am here, where I need to be. And here will I wait until......well until whatever must happen, does happen.........." 
[My morning meditation.]

Thursday, 6 February 2014

One Does Not Mess Around with God!

It was to be a long time before I was able to write in my diary:

..........Die to self? How do I do that? I remember how I did it once before; a very special occasion. There was no trying so very hard to drag myself out of my ego-state; it wasn't like that at all. It was when, after days of exhausting meditation on the proof of my powerlessness in the face of another's ego, not to mention my own, that I realised how insanely foolish my behaviour had become. But that was not enough. My pride had not yet been shown to be the very real danger to my spiritual recovery that I needed to see. Thus more days of ever deeper investigation followed, until I wanted to cry out, "Please, no more!" But more had to come until I became utterly convinced. Then, and only then, was I able to, "Come to believe."..........

There could be no point in reaching that state unless I was prepared to go further. It was then that I first made a commitment to the path on which I had been placed, and that commitment required that I carry out a searching inventory of myself, to continue the process of "knowing myself".

I would like to reproduce here an email to a friend, describing what the carrying out of that moral inventory entailed.

"..........There are some subjects that are easy to write about, whilst there are others that come loaded with difficulties. This is one such subject. To begin with, this is not a subject that can be dealt with as a single, complete package but will need further visits. Like so much psycho-spiritual work, this exploration of one's inner world requires that certain aspects of that world need to be investigated time and time again. It is an ongoing experiment in which the parameter values may need to be changed, and new parameters given their due attention. The approach naturally assumes a spiral nature, going ever deeper with each turn, perhaps with some changes in motive and style depending on what one has discovered on previous visits. Each turn of the spiral adds a little more information, understanding and even, perhaps, wisdom. Truth is the desired goal. 

When it comes to studying the ego in general, and particular parts of one's personality in particular, it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin. It would seem necessary to make at least a start on the analysis of some feature of the ego, to get things moving. The  dissection of the onion, shell by shell, has often been used as an analogy for this process. The observation of the onion as a whole comes later. In other words, it seems to be a fruitless task trying to understand the ego as a whole until some work has been carried out on at least some of the ego's characteristics. The particular characteristics I will make a start with in this email are what have been called personality strengths and weaknesses. Subpersonalities and prejudices must await their turn, to a more appropriate time in the future, although much of what can be said of personality traits can also be applied to these behaviour patterns.

I recall the first time I began to deal with my character traits. Recalling and noting down, that latter process being very important, three examples of the use of my negative traits was a gruelling process. Pride, self-pity, resentment, anger, and so on, once begun the list seemed to be endless, all took their place under my searching gaze. Actually, I did very well. I had no desire to go through this process any more times than was necessary. Carrying out a similar process on my positive traits, citing only two examples for each, was far more difficult. The upshot of this process was that I was to be thrown into a despairing state of temporary depression (but under the watchful eye of an understanding counsellor) when dealing with the negatives in my life, only to be lifted to the heights of unmatched joy when dealing with my positives. The end result was that I knew a great deal more about my personality at the end of the process than I did at the beginning. I began to see how my personality traits affected the way I behaved, and how others reacted towards me as a result.

Even as a child I knew that no matter how hard I tried, there were things that I did that I did not wish to do; there were things I did not do that I would have wished to do. St. Paul seems to have been in despair when he also made this observation. No amount of willpower was going to change that situation. What I desired as an adult was to lay bare my personality traits in the hope that some fundamental changes would take place, beyond the place where my ego could interfere. It would seem that has happened, even if my ego still does insist on trying to keep its sticky fingers in business that doesn't concern it.

Periodical returns to that purgative, investigatory process into my personality traits has reaped other rewards. I do not return there, any more than I continue to probe into my childhood, for masochistic reasons. I am prepared to face legitimate pain, but not unwholesome pain. One thing I have discovered is that I no longer beat up on myself for past personality failures: that is ego behaviour. Furthermore, in learning and accepting that I cannot change my personality profile, I find that I am no longer in bondage to it. There has been the added benefit that the emphases in my character have changed, so that sometimes I wonder who I once was. There are, of course, times when I wish I had behaved differently, when I regret the hurt I might have inadvertently caused. But the guilt trip thing is no longer part of my life. By seeing something of who I am, I am no longer unavoidably ruled by traits of which I was once unaware. This is an ongoing process which I believe will eventually bring me to the point at which I can embrace the totality of what I am, the complete ego, with love. Without a developing healthy love of the Self I would be wasting my time.........."

Nothing I can say here can adequately describe the truly agonising, exhausting - and exhaustive - process that I undertook. Something that seemed to be beyond myself took my commitment to that inner search, and held me on that path. I had made my choice and, by heaven, I was going to be kept to that choice. One doesn't mess around with God! The process of investigating my personality traits, described in five or six lines above, took a little over three weeks, every minute of every day, of intensive work. There was no time off, except to give assistance to others who asked for and needed it. Even then I was advised, "Take a little care of yourself as well." 

The absolute joy, and it did feel to be absolute, that accompanied the following step on the way was almost overwhelming. Yet the journey, during which so much had seemed to have been gained, had also seemed barely to have begun. The further I travelled, the further it seemed that I would need to travel, but only by one step at a time. It is odd that later I was to claim that I didn't do faith very well. This whole journey has been built on faith.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

"Know Thyself!" - Part 2 of 2

In the second part of this essay, I will travel back to that time when my spiritual fortunes seemed to be at their lowest ebb. That was the time when I was forced to face up to my abject and humiliating failure to control another person's drinking. There would be little to be gained from trying to describe the sense of psycho-spiritual devastation that I experienced, except for one thing. A very real sense of oncoming spiritual annihilation obliged me engage with some serious soul-searching, if I was to have any chance of survival. For about two-and-a-half weeks, and for almost every minute of the day, I had (under strict supervision) to search out and write down (the latter being a very important part of the process) every example that I could recall of my powerlessness over that person's alcoholism. Up until that point I had always believed that if I tried hard enough and for long enough, I would succeed, that the solution to the problem was in my hands. How wrong could I have been? Not only did I discover just how lacking in power I really was, but also what a devastating effect that wasted output of energy was having on my outer life. At that time I barely acknowledged that I had an inner life.

But so what? What has that to do with me now? Simply this, that the seeking out of that over which I, that is to say my conscious self, am unable effectively to exert power continues to this day. Only the focus of my attention has changed, and the means by which I seek to effect satisfactory outcomes. At the end of the two-and-a-half week investigatory period referred to above, I was exhausted. Yet that was, perhaps, the necessary condition for my discovery of, my coming to believe in, a power and energy that was greater than my egoistic self-will to deal with my battle against my ego (or more correctly, ahamkara). But that battle was not to be consciously joined for a while yet. I had to walk before I could run;  I had to see the way before I could journey. I still needed to discover what lay at the very heart of powerlessness. It was to take some time and a great deal of work on the process of "Knowing Myself" before I discovered what I was seeking. 

I will at this point, for the sake of brevity, skip that work and move on to the discovery of what really lay at the heart of the task to which I had agreed (at least between me and God) to apply myself. That kernel of truth was to be summed up in, "delusion and denial." Delusion hides the truth, whilst denial is a means of continuing the state of delusion. The task of ridding myself of these twin problems has always been at the heart of my commitment to seeking truth. Whatever may be said about the ego and its inappropriate attachments, whatever may be debated about its meaning, can be said to be deflections, generated by the ego itself, from the central and all-important task of dealing with delusion and denial. It has been said that that task lay at the centre of the spiritual Master Jesus' teaching, not to mention the teachings of the Buddha and others. In Qabalistic terms, this is the experience of Tiphareth, the achievement of the Great Work.

I said in the first part of this essay that Jesus (according to the Thomas Text) said that if we do not know and understand ourselves, then we are in poverty, and we are the poverty.  Now it seems to me that if the Text has been correctly translated - and I have to take that as a given - then either Jesus is just plain wrong, or there is another interpretation to be discovered. This is all part of that Great Work to discover the heart of spiritual truth, to rid my spiritual system of delusion. The first obstacle to be overcome is the assumption that Jesus is correct simply because his name is what it is. Now I find myself on steadier ground, that I can acknowledge he may be wrong, but also that he may be correct, that we can in some way be the poverty.

I pointed out in the previous part of this essay that it may be a question of identification. Yet somehow that appears to leave certain questions unanswered. These questions are, at the least, tied up with the matter of character traits, thoughts and emotions, and the judgements we pass on their rightness or wrongness (or holiness or sinfulness, if religious language is preferred). It seems to me that if the Text is correct, by that I mean truthful, then it points to the possibility of more than one reality. In which case, what I see as reality is not absolute, but relative. One reality, the one which is relative to the ego, says that I am my body, my thoughts and my feelings. Yet I have found in my life that there is a higher reality, that of the Higher Self, which says that I am not my body, or my thoughts or my emotions. The level of reality is dependent upon spiritual development.

Father Richard Rohr, (Centre for Action and Contemplation, New Mexico), summarises this trend of perceived reality with spiritual growth in his most recent on-line meditations. Briefly, regrettably very briefly, he lists spiritual development under the following headings:

Part 1: Stage One:  My body and my self image are who I am.
         Stage Two: My external behaviour is who I am.
         Stage Three: My thoughts and feelings are who I am.

He goes on to say, "Without great love (and I mean great love) and great suffering, where there is a major defeat, major humiliation, major shock to the ego self, very few people move to Stage Four.

         Stage Four: My deeper intuitions and felt knowledge in my body are who I am.

It yet remains for me to complete my journey, but something wonderful beckons.