Monday, 22 January 2018

Therapy

Does one need therapy if one has real religious faith or does faith do everything and more that therapy can do? Can it heal the psyche by taking one's attention away from preoccupation with it and onto the great reality that is beyond it, otherwise known as God? And isn't Christian psychotherapy rather a contradiction in terms as one is to do with healing a damaged ego while the other is concerned with going beyond the ego?

These questions are prompted by a comment on an earlier post (see here). The commenter was talking about a discussion with a therapist about its aims. He (or she, I don't know) said as follows:

"I argued that therapy was based in the material and that most of its practitioners were atheists, and had bought into the materialist concept of the universe. My friend argued that this was not the case, that, in fact, humanistic/integrative therapists were open to the spiritual, and helped their clients to explore the spiritual. She said that she was impressed by John Rowan. Apparently, he is famous amongst therapists, and they look to him as someone to be respected for his insights into the spiritual." 

 The commentator then asked if I thought this man "really tapped into the spiritual in any way, or was he really talking about some touchy-feely emotions that he thinks are of the spirit, but which are firmly based in the material?"

I don't know the person referred to so I can't speak specifically but a quick look at his Wikipedia entry (not conclusive, I know) reminds me of people I have come across. In a way, they all go back to Jung and his attempt to marry the psychological with the spiritual but with the latter seen in the light of the former because that is the level the person is operating from and comfortable with. So he sees the spiritual from below rather than trying to lift himself up to its level and that means God is seen in terms of man as opposed to the other way around as should be the case.

Anyway this was my reply.

"I’ve not heard of him but I would tend to go along with your assessment that therapy, of any description, is a materialistic thing, not useless but not that useful either compared to a proper religious understanding which would basically comprise anything good that therapy has to offer and a lot more.

Many people nowadays call themselves spiritual and say that their work is grounded in spiritual principles, but I would see a litmus test of authentic spirituality, especially for Westerners, in the attitude to God. Does the individual believe in him and, if so, is he primary? Therapy is more about man’s relationship with himself than man’s relationship with God. Get the second right and you really don’t need the first at all. And the first can never lead to the second.

The word humanistic puts me off unless it is coupled with Christian and that comes first."

So what I am saying here is that therapy only operates on the level of the earthly self, which is to say, the human being as he is and as he appears to be in this world. On that level, it may be beneficial and help to heal splits in the psyche, but it has no proper spiritual value at all. Real spirituality is about putting oneself right with God. Therapy may help to heal an out of balance mind but it cannot go beyond the mind to the soul which is the only place true spirituality is to be found. 

The world will often try to co-opt spirituality and adorn itself with its colours. But I'm a purist in these matters as both Jesus and the Buddha, in their rather different ways, were, so there is good precedent for this attitude. You cannot compromise with the world. If you try to associate the spiritual with anything that is not the spiritual then that thing will assume priority  In effect, it means that your grasp of the spiritual is weak, and that you are using it to support the other thing.

That said, I expect some therapy can help to prepare the ground for a proper spirituality later on. But you mustn't confuse it, in any form, with a genuine spiritual approach. If you really want healing, you must turn to God, and fully not half-heartedly or in association with anything else. There is no true healing except in God.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

God and Goodness

Do people subscribe to the madness and topsy-turvy values of today because they are bad people, inwardly corrupted, or because they follow the crowd or simply because, given the view of the world with which they are presented, they have no other option? That is, they are basically good people but in the light of the false image of the world which is shown to them from birth, this seems the right way, or the best way, to be. 

No doubt it's all of these but, if we are being charitable, we have to assume that most fall into the third category. 

And yet, if that is the case, we have to ask what is the nature of their goodness? You see, I think that real goodness cannot be separated from truth so any apparent goodness that is divorced from truth, as this would have to be since it works against it, would not really be goodness at all but, at best, an idea about it. 

This raises the question, can we be good without God? Jesus famously said when praised that none was good save God alone, and clearly if you think you are good, you're not. The greatest saints have the greatest sense of their own unworthiness. Unrepentant sinners often think they are good people. 

So what I am saying is that you cannot support evil and be good. This world is clearly evil in its current mode of being. I do not say that if you go along with it you are evil, but I do say that you cannot really be good either, not in the true sense.

In fact you can only start being good when you see that you are very far from that, and, even then, any goodness is totally dependent on the degree to which you align yourself with the source of goodness which is God. 

If a sense of true goodness starts to arise within you it can only be because God is working within you, and you are allowing yourself to respond to that. True goodness points inexorably towards the reality of God.  If you deny this reality you are not good, whatever the appearances. I'm not saying you are bad in a positive sense but you are not good either.

Nor are you necessarily good just because you believe in God - I have already mentioned the saints - but if your belief is truly felt you have at least turned towards the good and are not facing away from it.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Absolute and the Personal

A while ago someone commented on my post The Non-Duality Trap recommending a particular teacher who (in his words) "has a miraculous way of moving far beyond an intellectual understanding of non-duality, with a deep Presence of direct experience with Oneness".  I responded thus:

'I don't know the person you mention but I know of similar people. I see their teaching as more psychological than spiritual.  At their best they are showing a way to bypass the mentally constructed ego and identify with a kind of universal consciousness but consciousness is not God and should not be mistaken for him. God is the author of consciousness and to confuse the depths of one’s own soul with God is a spiritual error made by many seekers today who shy away from fully acknowledging the reality of the Creator because they are still influenced by the illusions of materialism.

If reality was pure impersonal being they would be correct but in fact there is no such thing as pure being in the abstract. Being needs an instantiation to be real and that is the Personal God with whom we, as spiritual seekers, should seek a union in love. This is the duality that goes beyond non-duality.

There are many people teaching half truths today. By all means learn from them but know that the best they can offer is a sort of clearing of the decks before true spirituality can arise.'

This brings up something which I think is perhaps the single most important question in spirituality. Is the absolute beyond the personal or is the personal present at the deepest, highest level of the absolute?  I would give an unequivocal yes to the second option even though this would be to disagree with Advaita Vedanta, supposedly the most advanced form of Indian metaphysics, with Buddhism as conventionally understood, with Platonism, as far as I grasp its implications, and with the Traditionalist school of thought of Rene Guenon and Frithjof Schuon. But it is in complete agreement with Christianity. 

I should make clear that I don't believe this because I am a Christian and therefore must believe it as a matter of my particular religion. I believe it because Christianity seems to me to express the deepest truth. That the personal is the base of everything makes sense intuitively but also rationally. Because how could absolute oneness with no differentiation within it practically be any different to nothing? How could anything ever arise? How could anything ever be other than pure unmanifested being if pure unmanifested being was at the root of everything?

If oneness really is undifferentiated how does anything come about? But if God is love then everything becomes clear. This world makes sense and has a purpose as do our lives in it, lives that enable us to grow spiritually.

An impersonal absolute is not that different to materialism. In the one case there is only matter. In the other only spirit. In both cases there is a blank oneness. But if there is differentiation, even in fundamental oneness, the fact of our existence as individuals is explained and justified.

What the non-dualists forget is that God is not limited even by his absoluteness or oneness. 


That the absolute is impersonal rather than personal appeals to those whose path is knowledge and whose grasp of the importance of humility is a little lacking. I'm now going to say what might seem a shocking or absurd thing. It is a way nowadays encouraged by the dark powers. Don't think that once you turn to spirituality the devil gives up on you. In fact he attacks you all the more relentlessly and tries to lead you astray all the more thoroughly. You are now a threat to him and he wants to nullify that threat and bring you back to his camp. A false spirituality suits him just as much, if not more, as materialism. The reason that an impersonal absolute is false is that fundamentally it denies love. Of course, it will acknowledge it theoretically because it must but actually it relegates love to a secondary position and that means that in practise it negates it. Nothing is more spiritually dangerous than this. The devil doesn't mind how spiritually knowledgeable we are (he is very spiritually knowledgeable himself) but he can do nothing against love.

The Best Image of Christ by an English Painter?



William Holman Hunt painted more than one version of his famous painting The Light of the World. The original, painted in 1853, is at Keble College, Oxford, and there is a second one at Manchester City Art Gallery. But my favourite is the one below in St Paul's Cathedral. 




continued on Albion Awakening.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Christ is the Doorway to Eternal Life


There's a famous painting by Holman Hunt called The Light of the World which is a favourite of mine. It depicts Christ knocking at the door of the human soul, asking to be let in. It's an image that has stayed with me for many years.



But you can reverse this image and think of Christ as the doorway to go through rather than the one who seeks entry (both are true), and I've put a post about that on Albion Awakening.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Laughter

I may be going out on a bit of a limb with this post but I have a genuine question. Why do so many people laugh so much these days? I mean they laugh constantly at things that are not funny. And they laugh loudly too. Let me say before I go any further that I am whole-heartedly in favour of laughter when it is genuine but so much today seems forced and artificial and indicates, to me at least, the emptiness of the person laughing, an emptiness that he is trying to cover up. Loud, noisy laughter used to be thought vulgar because it was seen as attention-seeking and self-displaying, but I think it reveals a hollow vessel too.

Unnecessary laughter says "Look at me. I'm a nice person. I'm friendly. You have nothing to fear from me. I'm safe and good." Am I being cynical? I don't think so. I think laughter has become one of the ways we try to inject some kind of meaning into a world which has none. Humour is one of our most direct experiences so naturally we have to corrupt it and bend it to our own egos but this is abusing real laughter and merriment. It is using them to promote ourselves, on the one hand, and to compensate for spiritual emptiness, on the other. It is shallow and selfish.

Goodness, aren't I going too far with this? Isn't this a perfectly innocent and natural human reaction to life? No, because everything in the modern world shows our disconnection from God, and this excessive laughter is a significant indication of that. It is not so innocent after all, not so natural, and that's the problem. Perhaps we now use laughter as we use sex to inject some kind of life into our dead souls. The corruption of the best is the worst.


Down with fake laughter and those who use it to draw attention to themselves!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Creeping Corruption

I left the world, so to speak, on January 1st 1979, which is when I went to live in Bath to pursue a life more or less centred on the spiritual path. Over the next 18 years I lived in various places but mostly out of England. When I returned to England in 1996 it was an unfamiliar place to me but I still lived a fairly isolated life, not watching much television and only occasionally reading newspapers, so I didn't realise how much things had changed until my companion in this way of life died and certain events took place which made me decide to go back into the world. That was in 2000. 

Actually, I had a kind of advance warning of the changes in 1997. That was the year my father died, and it was brought home to me how much I respected him even though I often hadn't seen him more than  a couple of times a year since I left home. He was an embodiment of fundamental decency and, though he only went to church on high days and holidays and was not ostensibly a Christian, I think he was one in terms of his behaviour and morals. He had been raised by a devout Methodist mother (his father had died young) who had made him sign the pledge not to touch alcohol at the tender age of 15. Naturally he reacted against that kind of upbringing but the essentials of Christian moral behaviour stuck with him as they did with many of his generation who nevertheless had drifted away from religion.  Now, with every generation that passes, the connection to Christianity is weakened and our attitude to life suffers accordingly.

But it is not my father's death I am referring to. In 1997 Princess Diana also died and the country appeared to go mad, lamenting as though its own mother had gone.  I happen to think that Diana was a wholly negative influence on the national psyche, validating self-concern, sentimentality, emotional over indulgence and fake caring, but that's not the point I'm making. At her death the English, egged on by the hypocritical media, showed they were no longer the English of yore, and had renounced their traditions for a shallow exhibitionism. It really marked the end of an era.

But it was only when I went back to live in London at the end of 2000 and reentered what you might call normal existence that I realised how the world had changed. I had no idea at how much old values had been overturned and new ones had replaced them. Now these new values have become assumptions and to question them is to show yourself to be a wicked person, at least it is in educated mainstream society.

When you live with a child you don't notice him getting taller, but if you only see him every now and then you do see the difference. I had not been completely ignorant of the changes in the world during my time out of it but I had not realised how thoroughly they had permeated national, indeed human, consciousness.  I sometimes wonder if part of the reason for my removal from the world was to protect me from this indoctrination until I was more able to withstand it.  Because, believe me, it is hard to see through the lies of this world unless you have a solid grounding in something else that shows them up for what they are. Even Christianity has been corrupted.  Not in itself, of course, but in many of the forms it takes in the modern world.


The old story of the frog that is slowly boiled and so doesn’t realise what is happening to it applies here. Humanity is being brainwashed, firstly by the denial of transcendent reality and then by redefining what is good in terms of that denial. The only protection against this is faith in the living God and his human face which is Jesus Christ. I do think it needs a realisation of the personal nature of deity to achieve this because an impersonal spirituality can be made to fit too neatly into modern ideologies, and so be insufficient to enable one to throw off all its lies and illusions