Friday, 26 May 2017

Tattoos and the Like

It's been an unusually warm week for the end of May in the south of England where I live. That, of course, means that all the tattoos are out. I asked myself why I find these so objectionable which, like any right thinking person, I do. The answer came. It's because they desecrate the body and the body is the image of the soul.  It is not to be despised or altered or rejected or deformed in any way, all of which a tattoo, regardless of subject, in some measure does. Nor is it to be given excessive attention because it is the soul that is principally important and hierarchically superior to the body which exists to manifest and glorify the soul. But the body is the vessel and outer image of the soul, and to mark it in a permanent fashion is to deface and defile it.

In fact many of the things people do to their bodies show disrespect for their Maker and that even includes such things as excessive use of make-up and the dyeing and altering of one's natural hair. Could it be that the roots of such practices come from a kind of self-hatred? The body is the temple of the soul and a temple should be treated with respect and presented or adorned in a way appropriate to its functions and calling.

I said that tattoos were spiritually damaging regardless of subject but it is certainly true that some images are worse than others in this respect in that they have a negative effect on the mind. Images are important and can elevate or debase. In today's world the power of the image is more than it ever has been which means we should be extra attentive as to what we admit into our consciousness. Just as one should be careful what one takes into one's body, so one should with regard to what is taken into the mind. To stamp the body with some kind of 'dark' or twisted image, as so many tattoos do, can only be detrimental to any kind of true spiritual development. And, at worst, it could even draw its possessor into the orbit of demonic influence.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Christianity and Mystery

Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life but much modern Christianity offers no real way and has little truth and still less life. Indeed, in many cases what calls itself Christianity today is something else entirely. This is because it has lost touch with what should be its central concern which is, of course, theosis; the deification of man. That is what Christianity really exists for. To spiritualise men and women and turn them into gods. But sadly it has been reduced to something far less, a mere code of beliefs and practices that aims to make men better instead of radically transforming them. It has over-simplified itself and, having been infected by secular humanism, it now prioritises loving your neighbour over loving God. Consequently it has become a thing of this world. You might think I exaggerate to make a point, but the exaggeration is not that much and the point is valid.

Continued on Albion Awakening.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Good People, Bad People

I've realised something interesting recently and that is that bad people generally have no idea that they are bad people. This may seem obvious to many readers but had only really occurred to me over the last few years in the light of certain personal experiences. I knew the old joke about the Nazis being astonished to realise that they were supposed to be the bad guys, but had never extrapolated a more universal truth from it. Now, though, it's clear to me that this is indeed the case. As a rule bad people have no sense of their moral and/our spiritual condition.

But, you might ask, isn't it very old fashioned to think in terms of good and bad people? We're all a mixture of the two surely? Good, or good enough, when things are going well and potentially bad when pressure is applied to our weak points. That is no doubt true but still there are people who are in a more fallen condition than others, people who are more deeply sunk in pride, selfishness, egotism than the norm and it is them I am talking about. Most people are neither very good nor very bad but there are some at both ends of the spectrum and it is these latter I am talking about. However they are not the obviously evil monsters beloved of the tabloids, but apparently normal, ordinary people who have blinded themselves to the reality of their own nature and live in a state of delusion.

But, again you might ask, aren't we all like that to a degree, especially when you apply spiritual standards? And yes, of course, we are. We are probably all slightly mentally ill too. Nevertheless there is delusion and complete delusion, normal and extreme forms and though we do all undoubtedly live in a state of delusion from a higher standpoint, some people do even from a normal one.

All this raises the potentially uncomfortable question. Am I a bad person myself?  Here again it depend on perspective. Yes, we are all bad from a true spiritual perspective. We are all sinners, and ultimately 'there is none good save one which is God'. However the realisation that one is a bad person is the beginning of becoming a good one. If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and it is, taking fear to mean a humbling sense of his supreme reality and your absolute dependence on him, then the recognition that one is a sinner is the first step on the path to becoming a saint.

All of which leads to the idea of repentance but that is a subject that merits a post to itself.

Monday, 15 May 2017

A New Mind

I recently wrote that there is nothing new in spirituality but that is not entirely true. No doubt in an absolute sense there is nothing new. The rules of the spiritual road don't change and changing times don't mean old truths are outmoded or can be rejected in favour of new updated ones, more in line with contemporary preoccupations. Archetypal truths remain or they would not be truths in the first place.

Nor does the way to God alter. The demands are the same as they have always been. Purification of the lower self, devotion to higher ideals, mental and emotional discipline and detachment, cultivation of imagination and the mind in the heart, service, sacrifice and love of God as both inner reality and supreme being. There can be no newly discovered 'quick fix' or technique or method or form of knowledge that can bring salvation, using that word to mean the liberating of the spiritual inner self from its entanglement in the worldly ego.

But while there is nothing new in terms of what the spiritual path is or what is required on it or the goal to which it leads nevertheless, for us evolving human beings, there are always new vistas opening up, and I venture to suggest this probably continues into eternity.

The full piece is on Albion Awakening.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Modern Science

The modern world is founded on science, not only technically and intellectually but metaphysically too. Science is regarded as objective knowledge or as close to that as we can get. It is something everyone from all cultures can agree on and benefit from. It releases us from the ignorance of our ancestors. It has also, in many respects, been a complete disaster for humanity.

Science should be founded on the love of truth but it is not.  Modern science has very little interest in truth. Its main concern now is to protect its own interests and power, and for this a materialistic world view is essential. If science were to accept that there were truths, foundational truths, beyond its reach and inaccessible to its methods of investigation it would, in its eyes, be admitting a kind of defeat. It would be acknowledging its inferiority to religion, to revelation and to the spiritual. But it proudly believes itself to be above these things and it does so for the very reason that it is, in fact, below them which is its attachment to the rational principle and the denial of any higher faculty in man. This is like a blind man denying the existence of light just because he can't see it.

But this truth is blithely ignored by most modern scientists, secure in their illusions and, I have to say, intellectual arrogance. Nor do they seem aware that their approach is based on several a priori assumptions, specifically the assumption that the world accessible to them through their methods and their instruments is self-supporting. In other words, that matter is primary. This most certainly is an assumption and actually a fairly ignorant one since it leaves all the fundamental questions unanswered.

We have instead the assertion, based on nothing more than speculative hope, that one day science will uncover these truths as it has so many others though note that it has never discovered a single fundamental truth about the world. Everything it has discovered is to do with phenomena alone which has led to the supposition that phenomena are all there is.

Science can never understand the world because when it looks at it what it sees is a reflection of its own way of looking. The information it gleans from the world can't go beyond the limitations of its reason based approach because all that approach can uncover is the part of life that is open to it. Higher levels of existence that are not accessible to reason and sensory observation simply can't be detected. So it is not that science sees what it wants to see but what it sees is all it can see because what is observed is determined by what is observing and how it observes. A fly sees the world according to the limitations of its mind and so does a scientist. The difference, and it is an important one, is that the fly can't help it but the modern scientist imposes these limitations on himself because he denies a faculty higher than reason. Now, reason is certainly not a false faculty. It is God given, but when it is taken as man's highest faculty and its existence is used to reject higher spiritual principles then the servant has become master and reason becomes a tyrant that insists the world is seen according to its own limitations.

If we note how modern science started we can see the near inevitability of its descent into spiritual ignorance. For nature to be regarded solely as an object of study and exploitation it was separated from its roots in the spiritual world, a world not open to investigation by the new methods. As time passed and the new approach proved highly successful in material terms it came to be seen as the only way in which the world could be understood despite the protestations of people like William Blake and writers and artists associated with the Romantic movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. When science through Darwinism came up with its own creation myth its triumph was assured, and we now live with the spiritually disastrous results of that. Even much spirituality nowadays, such as it is, has to accord with science if it is to be accepted as realistic, the very opposite of what should be the case.

Anyone taking the line I have here will inevitably be asked if (for example) he uses computers or avails himself of the advantages of modern medicine. In other words, if he uses some of the many benefits that science has brought. If the answer is yes, he will be charged with hypocrisy. However it's not that simple. We all live in the 21st century and, unless we take to the woods and become hermits, we have to do so. No one disputes that modern science has brought many material benefits. It would never have made the inroads it has if it had not done so, but the point is it has brought them at immense spiritual cost. If we live in the modern world then we more or less have to use the products of science, and we can legitimately do so though I would suggest we should do so to a limited degree if we wish to avoid being contaminated by the mindset behind them. For it is not science that is bad but the mindset behind it, though I admit it can be hard to disentangle the two especially when the products of science reinforce the idea of man as a machine.

And so I say that, while science has brought some good things on the material level (it has brought many bad and unholy things too), these don't begin to compensate for the spiritual destruction it has wrought. But I would also add that it is not science per se that I am attacking here but a science not pursued in the light of the reality of God and the hierarchical supremacy of revelation and spiritual insight to unsupported reason. If science acknowledged that there are truths, deeper foundational truths, beyond its reach then it might begin to acquire a wisdom it currently lacks and which we so desperately need. If it pursued knowledge not for its own sake or even humanity's sake but for a fuller revelation of God then it might start to discover something really worthwhile.

Monday, 8 May 2017

England's Failure. Another Chance?

I believe that England was intended to be, or, at least, it was hoped that she might be, a pioneer for a revived form of spirituality in the late 20th century but this failed. It failed through a combination of social and political actions that came about in the 1980s but had their roots earlier, sometimes much earlier. We are still living with the consequences of that today.

More on Albion Awakening.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Quest for Moral Purity

This is a question about a rather unusual action but I think it's worth including here because it points to a certain type of behaviour which might be perceived as highly moral yet which could actually be motivated either by spiritual pride or even caused by a personality defect.

Q. I read recently about a person who every month gives virtually all her salary to charity leaving only a small fraction for basic living expenses. Do you think the world would be a better place if we all did this?

A. Maybe. As always, though, with matters of this kind one must look for the true motive. Is this a concern for moral purity which is actually a quest for moral superiority, and the action, forgive me, of a self-righteous prig, or even someone who is slightly mentally ill and wishes to attain to a kind of personal sanctity by appearing (to herself as well as others) much better than anyone else? Sometimes the spiritual seeker (whether a religious believer or not) mistakenly seeks a kind of perfection of the separate self, and this sort of behaviour could indicate that. It's rather like a person who refuses to kill a mosquito under any circumstances or a fruitarian who won't eat anything that harms anything in any way. Over-zealous people of this type forget that these external attitudes do not constitute true spiritual understanding. Rather they imply a self-absorbed over-concern with personal purity and righteousness. The desire to go one step further than anyone else and thereby prove moral superiority.

We have probably all met people a bit like that, people motivated by a puritanical obsession to be morally superior but who have little real love in their hearts, either for God or for their fellow men and women, though they may claim to love humanity in a vague general sense. However as the prophet Isaiah said (albeit in a different context) when all is said and done, 'all our righteousness is as filthy rags'. In other words, the ego remains the ego whatever it does. The fallen self can never be good in itself however hard it tries. Only through humility and grace can we really find God and the true uncorrupted self.

There is a name for this kind of behaviour which is pathological altruism meaning an altruism that springs from a personality defect rather than genuine kindness of heart. This is not meant to judge any one individual but to provide a general principle about spiritual excess and melodramatic gesture. The middle way is usually the best way and, as always with anything to do with spirituality, it is the motive behind thoughts and actions that counts. I don't say external behaviour is irrelevant. Of course it isn't but it is secondary. What we do is always less significant than what we think in our hearts and how much we love. Personal sacrifice is good, no doubt, but the only real sacrifice is of the self. This sounds more like a sacrifice ultimately intended for the advancement of the self because of its excessive nature rather like some of the austerities performed by Indian yogis and fakirs.

It is an unfortunate fact that many people take to various forms of spiritual practice to extend the domain of their own ego. The modern liberal often does the same thing with his disfigured version of morality. Indeed, the tendency to seek a personal moral perfection is a temptation we should all be on the lookout for. Morality is not something we should seek for its own sake or our sake or even for humanity's sake. It is something that can only really grow out of the love for God. Apart from that love it is not much more than nothing. In this respect these words from The Cloud of Unknowing, the 14th century book of mysticism by an anonymous Englishman, are worth thinking about.

"I tell you truly that the devil has his contemplatives as God has his.

So beware of behaving wildly like some animal, and learn to love God with quiet, eager joy, at rest in body as in soul. Remember your manners, and wait humbly upon our Lord’s will.

They are more anxious to seem holy in the sight of men than in the sight of God and his angels. Why, these people will worry and grieve more over unorthodox ritual, or the speaking of an unseemly or unsuitable word, than they will for a thousand vain thoughts or nauseating and sinful impulses, which they have deliberately gathered to themselves, or recklessly indulged in in the sight of God, and the saints and angels in heaven. Ah, Lord God! where there are so many humble bleats without, there must be pride within.

The fiend will deceive some men in this way; in a most remarkable fashion he will set them on fire to maintain the law of God and to destroy sin in all other men. He will never tempt them with anything that is openly evil. He makes them like those busy ecclesiastics who watch over every condition of our Christian life, as an abbot does over his monks. For they do not hesitate to reprove us all for our faults, just as if they had the cure of souls. For the sake of God they think they dare not do otherwise than declare the faults they see. They say they have been moved to do so by fervent charity, and by the love of God that is in their hearts. But they lie. It is the fire of hell which is welling up in their minds and imaginations."

These are strong words which might seem a bit over the top nowadays. But a spiritual director must be ruthless in rooting out all falseness from disciples and, heaven knows, in all of us there is a good deal of falseness and treading the spiritual path will always bring it to the surface.