Monday 25 March 2019

The Kind-ness of Creation

           Let me say at the outset that I believe in the power of love. I have no problem with the principle of the 'brotherhood of man' or the 'sisterhood of woman', if one must categorise the human race in that way. I make this statement because I wish it to be quite clear that, regardless of the dysfunctional behaviour that is abroad all over the world, I am not anti-humanity only against their negative behaviour patterns.
          Now the Bible is littered with statements about love. In the Old Testament they seem, more often than not, to be about the individual and God. In the New Testament such statements are more about love between individuals. "Love one another as I have loved you" for example. This does, however, raise certain questions.
          How does one obey an injunction to love? How can one love to order? If it is indeed possible to do so then clearly, love is something other than what is usually meant by that often misused word. And what about, "Love your enemies." What does that mean? For me it can only mean treat others with the respect that you would like to receive from them.
          On a broader scale, the idea that one can love the whole world, interpreted literally, is totally beyond me if for no other reason than sheer impracticality. It makes little sense to me, a flawed human being, and seems to be asking for the impossible. How then has this idea found its way into our culture? I would suggest that it has done so through the agency of religion. Christianity, and I will speak for no other religion, has imposed a belief system on its followers which appears to be impossible by taking the sayings of Jesus the Nazarene [and some of the apostles] completely out of context.
          Did the Nazarene ever say that we should love the world? No. Whenever he and other New Testament writers talked about this matter they were inevitably talking to particular groups of people, and how they should treat each other within that group. Often the group was no larger than Jesus' disciples; sometimes it was simply a church community battling for spiritual survival in an ideologically and physically hostile world. We see the same kind of injunction of loving one another in Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-anon, Narcotics Anonymous and other groups. There, within the narrow confines of a group working for its own spiritual recovery, it works and can work very well.
          Is there a way that we can get out of that seemingly impossible injunction to love everyone? Perhaps the word that stands out most, when I think about love for one another, is "kind". Let us be kind to one another, for we are all of a kind. That kind-ness is shared with the rest of the animal kingdom for we are all part of that kingdom. Indeed, we share much with all the other and various life forms on this planet.
          Perhaps by paying focused attention on our own psycho-spiritual condition and recovery  we will, as a result, allow the rest of the world to heal. How wonderful it could be to believe, as a guiding principle, not in a brotherhood of man or a sisterhood of woman but.......... in the "Kind-ness of Creation." We might then be a little more respectful of the living world around us, and even humbly come to love it.

Monday 18 March 2019

Experience Beyond Understanding

          It was in 1992 that I carried out the following pathworking, that I first went onto a mountain to pray. The purpose of the exercise was to meet with an unspecified "wise one." At that time I saw that other presence as a Druid, rather than a Christ or Christic Self. Looking back to that time, I see that there is much that has some symbolic meaning, but I will comment on the one aspect of this inner journey which I think is the most important. Yet there remains much that can be inferred from this exercise. First, however, comes the description of the inner journey, or conversation.

..........I stood on a narrow track. The black, slick mountain of almost crystalline rock climbed away to my left to the summit. To my right lay a valley in deep shadow, filled with evergreen trees. From this vantage point high above the treetops, the valley appeared to be totally enclosed in the mountains. There was a harsh angularity about these slopes that contrasted with the soft roundness of the full moon. Yet there was also a feeling of cleanliness and purity about the mountains, uncluttered as they were by soil or pebbles. There was nothing to mar the slippery slopes glistening in the moonlight.
          I had difficulty keeping my footing on the slippery track as it wound its way along the mountainside. I continued for some distance until at last the track forked. The right fork continued on much as before, but I chose the left which climbed steeply, in deep shadow, towards a cave. At the entrance to the cave burned a fire. I approached with caution, then waited. I found there was something attractive, magnetic about the fire. I felt the drying heat on my face as it seemed to draw me closer. The desire to step into the fire strengthened steadily, but I resisted. To the right of the fire was a pile of logs which I began to feed to the fire, turning the flames from yellow to white heat. The desire to step into the flames and be purged, to experience catharsis, became overpowering. As I made to take those last steps into the fire, a tall figure dressed in a black, cowled robe appeared at the cave mouth. Though I saw a hint of nose and chin, the newcomer's face was virtually hidden in shadow.
          I opened a conversation by requesting access to my unconscious mind, a request that appeared to be well received. As the Druid touched my right shoulder we exchanged bodies. I became aware that the Druid had waited a long time for me to come, and also that the Druid's powers were not unlimited, though immeasurably greater than mine. We had both wanted this meeting for so long, and now that it had happened there was a sense of having arrived and been accepted. So we re-exchanged bodies.
          I was lost in silence, not knowing what to ask of the Druid. He reached into a large leather bag leaning against the wall at the cave mouth and drew forth a handful of ordinary-looking rock chippings and gave them to me. I carefully placed the apparently worthless gift in my pocket and turned to leave. I walked down the path, westwards, until once again I arrived at the fork. There I stopped to inspect the Druid's gift. The rock chippings had undergone a remarkable transformation. They had joined to form a composite of intensely beautiful, purple-violet crystals surrounded by a circlet of milky white. They seemed to hold such mystery and purity in their depths. They were life in inanimate form, were both weak and strong.
          I began to try to prise the crystal structure apart until my fingers began to bleed with the effort, and my finger bones began to break. So strong was the structure that it defied all my efforts to dismantle it. Then it was that I discovered that I could take the structure apart by lovingly willing the component crystals to slide along their fracture planes. Just as easily I could reassemble the structure. After continuing to dismantle and reassemble the crystals for some while, I saw at last in the depths of the crystal lattice a golden ring containing a single diamond. Around me had developed a mist of glittering particles which had emanated from the crystal, yet the structure had steadily grown larger and more beautiful..........

          "..........and drew forth a handful of ordinary-looking rock chippings and gave them to me.........." 
          At the time, I struggled to see the significance of a handful of apparently worthless collection of rock chippings. As time passed, however, I began to see that what passes as ordinary, run-of-the-mill, primordial even, in the realm of the superconscious mind is, in the world of consciousness, something precious and jewel-like. [I have before me a piece of amethyst to remind me for always of that experience.]
          There is much that could be said about the meaning of the amethyst image, its colour, and the appearance of the gold ring in its depths. But that would take too long. It is enough to say that what is represented relates to truth, knowledge, spiritual temperance and repentance, resignation and acceptance. I recall the characteristic 'let-it-happen-to-me' attitude of Mary, the legendary mother of Jesus. And the diamond? Light, life and incorruptibility.
          Spiritual truth, the kingdom of heaven, is not something that can be assailed with force. It requires that a recipient uses truth lovingly and respectfully. I say again, the spiritual life does not conform to dictat but responds only to persuasion. Only in that way can it grow and spread like a living entity. [It is not unlike the taking of five loaves and two fishes, sharing and spreading them and garnering what they become, far more than that from which they grew.]
          This truth, reality, authenticity, so common at the highest realms of our Christic Self, is experience beyond understanding. It is incapable of being subject to mere intellectual analysis. There is also something oddly alien and other-worldly about this kind of truth that is, paradoxically, both powerful and weak or fragile, that can be lived yet not understood. It is lived because it is Life.
          As the Christ said, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life."

Monday 11 March 2019

Why Climb A Mountain To Pray?

Luke 3:21-22     .....and while He was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him.....

Matthew 14:23  .....After He had sent the crowds away, He went up into the hills by Himself to pray.....

Mark 6:46           .....After bidding them farewell, He left for the mountain to pray.....

Mark 1:35           .....In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.....

Matthew 5:1      .....Seeing the crowds, he went onto the mountain. And when He was seated his disciples came to Him.....

Luke 5:15-16      .....But the news of Him kept spreading, and large crowds would gather to hear Him and have their illnesses cured, but He would go off to some deserted place and pray.....

          These are just six of a relatively large number of instances where the New Testament talks of Jesus the Nazarene going to pray, or preparing to preach. It would appear that no two sources can ever agree about the exact wording of these quotes but, nonetheless, these passages are often taken to be literal truth.

Quote:          "The reference to going up a mountain prior to preaching [see fifth quote, above] is considered by many to be a reference to Moses on Mount Sinai. Lapide feels that the clumsy phrasing implies that this verse is a transliteration from the Hebrew, and that it was an exact replica of a passage describing Moses. Boring notes that the reference to Jesus sitting may be an allusion to Deuteronomy 9:9, where in some translations Moses is described as sitting on Mount Sinai." [Source - Wikipedia, Matthew 5:1]

          Of course it is quite possible that the Nazarene did take time out to do a little mountaineering or hill walking, although one doubts whether he was dressed or otherwise prepared for such exercise. There is a much more likely interpretation [in my opinion] of the passages quoted above, and that is that these trips were symbolic, a journey upwards into the higher regions of the mind. There is no doubt that the symbolism of the mountain or hill [and I would add that of an ascending flight of stairs, a ladder, or some other means of ascent] is very powerful and of great value in meditation. Similarly, the imagery associated with deserted or secluded spaces can be used in meditation to effect contact with higher processes of the mind. It is in these states of meditation that heaven opens and that the Holy Spirit can be said to descend. Only in these states can one truly escape the 'illnesses' of the chattering ego.
          One does not need to be a religious, to hold a belief in God, to carry out the kind of meditation or spiritual exercise apparently carried out by Jesus, that of mentally climbing a mountain to meet with a 'wise person' in whatever form that image appears. Not only is such a journey greatly uplifting and reinvigorating, but there may also be an added bonus of a gift, perhaps a simple pebble which changes into a precious stone embodying a truth as one descends to everyday consciousness.
          No, I do not believe that the stories of Jesus literally climbing high places, only and simply to commune with God the Father, are anything but elements of the Christ mythology. Guided imagery, pathworking, meditation with symbols, are so much more convenient and practical. And God, to revert to a more religious approach, is to be found in the inner space, not out in the realist and physical world. Heaven, in the form of enlightenment, is open to anyone who seeks.

Monday 4 March 2019

I Am Only the Bearer

          I would now like to go to a deeper level meditation, before bringing this series to a close. I can see no way at present to probe more deeply. Indeed, there may be a point beyond which one is not be able go, at least for now.

..........I arrived in a wood, illuminated by sunshine. It was a typically English, deciduous wood in springtime. It was so very lovely. Ahead of me in a clearing stood the doorway, the portal into the Temple. I began to walk forward, dressed still in my black habit and supported by my staff. Then I noticed that each of the four paths in and out of the wood, was guarded by a sphinx each facing the doorway; one to the south; one to the north; one to the east, and one to the west.
          On reaching the temple doors, I gently pressed against the dark bronze doors with a word of request. In my present state they seemed to be exceptionally solid, yet they opened inwards with barely a spoken touch. I stepped inside and approached the altar. The immediate impression was one of a sense of definable no-thing-ness, a space, an emptiness yet filled with planes of black perceptiveness. And I sensed a presence like a slight beat of great wings.
          The altar was discernible but filled with nothingness. Placed upon the altar was the transparent bowl filled with the equally transparent liquid. Some distance above the bowl hung a clear Chalice, but one through which I did not seem able to see. The Chalice was being held aloft by a figure made from shapes of nothingness. Apart from the fact that it had huge wings and human form clothed in flowing raiment, this figure had nothing about it that spoke of being human, only vaguely humanoid. It was far beyond the warmth of a human concept, yet implying great power.
          Fiery sparks, said to represent the energies of atoms, were now everywhere as if all the elements of all colours were permeated with the golden sparkle of atomic and subatomic energies in the darkest depths if intra-atomic space. Hints of a deeper level yet, where all is energy, imply a level at which the energy of life itself can be found.
          Slowly I rose upwards to the level of the Chalice, and held it in a shared grasp of that sacred non-object. It was tilted towards me. I believe I drank of its contents, but tasted nothing. Then I descended to the floor, and everything that was no-thing passed away. I knew beyond any shadow of doubt that this life is not about me. I am only the carrier, the bearer, the altar on which that which lives its life through me is laid..........
          Energy, and I must assume that that includes the life energy which animates living structures, is related to mass and acceleration [in other words movement] which in turn implies temperature above absolute zero. If the universal life-force comes into being at a fraction of a degree higher than zero, where no known life-form can exist, then life-forms are not required to generate that life-force. Energy would appear to be self-generative. Could this not be the ultimate meaning of virgin birth, the subject we began with when talking about the virgin birth of Jesus the Nazarene?

Footnote:          The appearance of the sphinges came as a great surprise to me, having never crossed their paths, so to speak, in any earlier meditational pathworkings. Yet clearly their presence was significant because they were not props to guide my way to my inner temple. Of the Sphinx it has been said,

"..........To attain the goal which the Sphinx represents is to undertake the journey of purification.  This journey requires long, deliberate effort, motivated by the desire to reach the goal. What is this goal? It is the eternal marriage of Life and Light that love seeks and that the Sphinx represents. It is the Covenant, the purpose for Creation - its beginning, and the place of its return. When the soul reaches a certain stage in its own development, love calls it and inspires it to seek its own higher nature, moved by the stirrings within itself. Then a partnership takes place between human effort and Divine assistance in pursuit of this end. This partnership, this marriage of intention between God's purposes for humanity and human purpose is the meaning of the Covenant. It is also the motive force and the method for that which leads to it - the process of purification.........."