Friday, 29 October 2021

The Spectrum of Love

          If, as I believe is the case, the practice of celibacy, chastity and obedience [referred to in my previous post] can be seen as a projection of a deeper, non-material world onto the material world, what is the experience that in its turn projects upwards from a yet even deeper world? Whatever that experience is, it appears to entail some sense, at least, of worship and sacrifice.  But what or whom is to be worshipped; what is to be sacrificed and to whom?

          Worship, as experienced by the ego, is usually a somewhat lopsided love affair, one which involves highly charged, emotional interactions between two, unequal participants. I believe that emotion must be circumvented; that we must rid ourselves of experiencing emotions in order to reach that deeper ..... feeling. And I suspect that principle applies here in the case of worship. Unless emotion is dispensed with, all the overtones of subservience and, yes ..... idolatry, enter the equation. It is not worship, as normally understood that is required, whether on a person-to-person basis, or on a person-to-God basis, but respect. It is respect, not worship, that can be said to lie on the ..... spectrum of love. And it is love,  not worship, that lies at the heart of a healthy relationship. This applies as much to a person-to-God relationship as to a person-to-another relationship.

          As with any experience enjoyed by the ego, it is its own self which takes centre stage. Yet life is not about me, not about my ego. I am just the place in which the unfolding drama of life's .....  evolution ..... spiritual evolution, is being played out. It is at this deeper level that forces or energies operate which give rise to the healthy and appropriate experiences of celibacy, chastity and obedience.

          And sacrifice? Or should that not be understood as ..... willing acceptance? What does the subatomic particle sacrifice in order to become part of an atom, a molecule, or even something greater? What does a particle of pigment sacrifice in order to become part of a painting masterpiece? One might say it loses a degree of freedom, a quality that allows it to remain as nothing usefully developed, a grand - if not grandiose even - fish in a miniscule pond; the age-old story of the ego.

          At a deep level within one's Self, one can experience the truly ..... indescribable. It feels that it is about ..... love and respect. It is not about a single event, which in any case exists only in time. It is, rather, about a ..... continuum, an ongoing process of becoming; a necessary process of spiritual evolution, and more. If I, this ..... inner temple of the spirit, am the altar on which this sacrifice is made, the sacrifice of a higher and divine love, then all I can do is ..... accept it. There is nothing else to actually ..... do.

Friday, 22 October 2021

Three Principles

In future posts, script italicised in bold will indicate an extract from my private pathworking/contemplation diaries.  

"..........I waited to see what would emerge. Then I saw that I had entered a church, and before me lay an open, darkened crypt accessed by a ramp leading eastwards. I walked down the ramp and found myself in a large space which appeared to extend limitlessly outwards into the darkness.

Immediately before me stood an altar of unidentifiable material. On the altar stood a transparent bowl, so clear that it seemed to represent form without substance. In the bowl was a similarly clear liquid which I lit from hand fire.  

Behind the altar appeared a column of light, its colour a rich golden-yellow; and it seemed to be alive. The darkness around me deepened, and with a slight sense of disorientation, I rose upwards above the altar and felt my hands reach out in front of me. In response I sensed a corresponding gesture from the glowing column, until our hands were clasped together. I believe I have been welcomed. Then I observed that I was dressed in the black habit of a monk, the symbol of celibacy, chastity and obedience.........."

          It seems to me that, at a level not too far below that of the ego yet separate from it, there exists an apparently infinite expanse ..... a 'field' perhaps ..... (as if in some psychic, radiation field) of unknowingness. No thoughts or emotions exist on that plane and neither, or so it would seem, do 'facts'. What does exist, however, is language ..... language in the form of symbols or images. As C.G.Jung said,

"The spiritual element [of a human being] carries on an active dialogue with the personal element of our selfhood through the use of symbols. The spiritual element is not a silent partner in the business of life, but demands active participation in the growth and transformation of the individual. Unlike the mind-emotion complex, the pneumatic component does not express itself in words or in ordinary feelings [emotions; my parenthesis]. Dreams, visions, altered states of consciousness and what Jung called synchronistic experiences are the most important avenues for these symbolic communications". [Eleanor Bertine's work, "Jung's Contribution to our Time".]

          As with any conversing pair, conversations can be many and varied. Here I will concentrate on just one such conversation, one which spoke about a need, a .....commitment even ..... to the principles of celibacy, chastity and obedience in the spiritual life. But how may one interpret these principles? I can give only brief observations here because the principles run deep, and have far-reaching consequences. 

          Celibacy, a voluntary vow of abstinence is, I would suggest, about ..... non-attachment ..... (I prefer that term to 'detachment') to the things of what the bible calls ..... the 'flesh'..... the province of the ego. When applied to the external life it seems to me to be a travesty of purity and of non-attachment.

          On chastity, one would say that it is about ..... temperance ..... the habit of avoiding all extremes of behaviour. Clearly, the avoidance of total celibacy would be included here. I find it difficult to exclude any form of fundamentalism, religious or otherwise, from this principle.

          On obedience, and this need not flout the much-idolised principle of so-called ..... free will ..... an expression which I feel is sometimes much misunderstood. One enters into spiritual obedience, and I stress 'spiritual', not political or social obedience ..... freely ..... accepting that one's higher Self, or soul, knows better, and is wiser, than the ego. The ego primarily serves the interests of itself, not of something higher.

          And it must also be that living according to these principles is possible.

Friday, 15 October 2021

A Way of Uncovering

           A meditation which seems to be a rather impromptu affair, one which appears to ..... intrude ..... into one's normal meditating routine is sufficient reason to treat it as having greater importance than some others, if such a gradation can truly be made. I always feel that such a meditation, chosen by some inner 'presence' rather than my 'external I', has about it a gravity ..... an experiential gravity ..... that needs to be taken note of, a lesson that needs to be learned. 

          Perhaps this meditation is a response to "The Crypt" which I published earlier. If one's soul lies in the crypt of one's being, assuming a living soul actually exists, then a journey of descent may be the first action that is required to approach and, possibly, experience that soul. The first steps of this journey are so very important. This journey of descent is what I would call ..... 'A Way of Uncovering' ..... an eradication of psychological denial or encrustations of the ego. And not only does it lead to a psychospiritual development that is hugely beneficial to the Self, but it also indicates that there are practical steps which can be taken to that end. The actual transformation may not be in the hands of the ego, it certainly is not, but the move towards preparedness almost certainly is. At a deeper level, as Prof. Needleman has said, 

          "Nor can we be active in the way we are accustomed to be. It's the same question that arises out of St. Paul: we are helpless and weak; there is nothing we can do. Yet there is something we must do. Just what, exactly, is within our power?"

          I wonder whether St. Augustine and Pelagius didn't both miss the point.

Friday, 8 October 2021

I Was Not - Revisited

           The problem with trying, usually unsuccessfully, to explain matters of the spirit is that all I have is 'words'. I must echo those of C.G.Jung here,

          "My speech is imperfect.  Not because I want to shine with words, but out of the impossibility of finding those words, I speak in images. With nothing else can I express the words from the depths." 

          Nevertheless, with that thought in mind and my reluctant move away from speaking in imagery, I will attempt to develop further the ideas that have arisen from my previous post, "I Was Not" and comments made on that post.

          I cannot relate my experience to Buddhist experience because, frankly, I do not have the experience or knowledge of Buddhist --- and in particular, Zen Buddhist --- thought and teaching. I must add that neither do I feel any urge to study eastern religions. That is too much like ..... following 'others'. Again, I turn to C.G.Jung ["The Red Book"],

..........It is no teaching and no instruction that I give you. On what basis should I presume to teach you? I give you news of the way of this man, but not of your own way. My path is not your path, therefore I cannot teach you. The way is within us, but not in Gods, nor in teachings, nor in laws. Within us is the way, the truth, and the life.......... and,

..........Woe betide those who live by way of examples! Life is not with them. If you live according to an example, you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself? So live yourselves..........

          In attempting to describe the state in which I found myself, I described the state as being one of ..... emptiness. This word tends to describe the outcome of a process of emptying, or voiding. Yet the emptiness that I felt was more a sense of ..... being concentrated within some void, having sloughed off my externals. In other words I was emptied of everything relating to my ..... external ego and its illusions. Perhaps another way of describing this state would be like ..... being the yoke of an egg, bathed or irradiated in a bright light, having been ..... released perhaps, from my surrounding albumen and shell. 

          What is important here, or so I think, is not the external, visible experience. What is vital is the inner movement, the invisible forces at work. I don't see it as an example or aspect of 'spiritual growth' [shudder!]. Rather, I see the experience as one typical of an ordinary person, in which some 'things' are coming together, a natural process of becoming is being carried out. The experience was somewhat awesome, I admit, but it would be a mistake to focus on the pointing finger whilst ignoring that to which the finger points --- toward a spiritual process of marrying --- perhaps? That goal or target, has a wonderful sense about it of being totally, uncaringly lost.

          I was more than a little surprised at my reaction at the time, "Oh my God! Oh my, dear God!", particularly as I can make no claim to be a Christian, or even to being religious come to that. Yet I take heart from a comment made by the lovely Professor Jacob Needleman who once wrote:-

          "To think about God is to the human soul what breathing is to the human body.  I say to think about God, not necessarily to believe in God - that may or may not come later.  I say: to think about God."

          Finally, I will close with an excerpt from a post from 24th. August, 2013 --- "What Am I?"

          "..........I become aware of my awareness, yet am nevertheless subject to random thoughts and a slight feeling of frustration.  Now and then I feel  physical discomfort.  In some way all those sensings are connected to my state of awareness, a massless, formless awareness.  There comes a moment when it seems as if all I need to do is to stop concentrating or focusing on anything.  In an odd way that leaves me in a kind of limbo where I am 'concentrated' almost by default on a nothingness.  I give up 'trying', at least for a series of momentary-nesses.  The links with the material world are still there in potential, but much weakened.  It isn't until the stillness moves that I realise how deeply I have travelled.........."

Monday, 4 October 2021

I Was Not

 I am in two minds about posting this, but before I chicken out:

          From time to time I ask myself the question, "Do I wish to continue to post my writings?" My answer usually is in the affirmative, because I sense a need to talk, and to hear a response to my written musings. But my affirmative response is always alloyed with doubt. 

          Today, I experienced something new in my spiritual search, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I felt something more intensely than I have felt before. It was initiated when I was studying some words which said, "It is not demanded of us that we always be in a state of the heart which grants us vision and self-mastery. It is only demanded of us that we know the state we are in. But this is difficult......"

          I paused in my reading and asked myself the question, "What state are you in?" It was as if I became stationary on an invisible ladder of time and state. Below me was an infinity of responses to that question; what I knew; what I doubted; of what had I been in denial about; what progress had I made; and so on, and so on. Higher on the ladder I saw a single response, that I do not yet know the answer to the question about my state.

          In that moment the question dissolved. I could not ask, because I did not know what or how. I saw so clearly that I knew nothing; that I was nothing; that I was lost. It was only the ego that enjoys or suffers the illusion of knowing that it is.  I can only say that I was not! My response to that realisation was unequivocal, and one about which I --- as a non-Christian --- felt no doubts; no shame. It was simply, Oh my God! Oh my, dear God!

          In that moment I felt completely and utterly empty. And that emptiness felt so utterly right, as it was always meant to be. I also realised that, with occasional enhancement by spontaneous intrusions of phrases and sentences from I-don't-know-where, my writing is largely about the mechanics of my search. They rely on memory, not direct experience. Those experiences I can barely, if at all, describe to myself. But for reasons that I do not understand, it seems to be necessary that I write it all down. What others make of it all, I don't know.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

The Way of the Heart

           In an earlier previous post, "The Crypt", I used the image of an inner church and its crypt to indicate something of the location of one's spirit and soul, a location far removed from that of the ego. Only later did I realise that the imagery which did not arise was a church built in the Gothic style, a form of architecture which has great appeal for me. Rather it was one built in a rural-parish, Norman style with a crenelated tower for defence. And I wondered why that latter image came to mind.

          The soaring Gothic arches atop walls punctured with panels of fragile glass have an appeal that calls to an instinct for purity in me, of reaching ever upwards ..... but towards what? To what does it strive? In contrast to that the rural church is far more 'earthly', even to the point of being humble. And I believe it is that sense of the ..... humble ..... that appeals to the feelings [and I stress feelings] of the ..... heart, rather than the thoughts and emotions of the ego.

          It is my belief that my inner ..... "conversations" ..... fulfil a number of functions, as does any conversation. In this particular case, it is indicating a way forward, a way of contemplation rather than meditation. Or more exactly, since most of my work deals with imagery and symbolism, a development from kataphatic to apophatic contemplation is being suggested, as I understand those terms.