Why does Christianity work for some people? How can I as a Theosophist come to accept it on some level?
Last night I was talking to a man, who has a clear vision of himself as a Christian. He has the love of Jesus in his heart, he believes that Jesus can be in every one of us and will help us if we only ask him, listen to him and act in the way that Jesus would want us to act.
Recently this man sold his house, which was very large and beautiful, and moved himself and his wife to a new condominium apartment. It was a daunting task to clear up and organize all of the accumulation of the years of having family in that house. It required discrimination and decision making.
All the family, which is large, came and helped, a garage sale was organized, decisions were made to leave some of the furniture for the young family who were buying the house; decisions were made on how the new apartment would be constructed, and furnished.
All of this occurred in perfect harmony; the decision to sell coincided with the need of the young family to purchase a new home; the need for an apartment coincided with the decision to turn an office building next to the waterfront into condominium apartments.
I remarked on how wonderful it was that all this fell into perfect synchronicity; the timing of everything was perfect. This man told me that “God did all of this” and that “God’s timing is perfect”. He said that he is truly grateful to God for all his gifts.
As the conversation went on, I noted that he had been quite busy that day. One of the businesses that was leasing a property of his, closed the doors, laid off the employees and told him he could no longer honour the leasing arrangement.
I asked him how he felt about that and what was he going to do.
He became silent for a moment, shook his head and said “I didn’t expect it, you know, I felt that he went into this business with good intention, and the business looked sound, we needed a fresh food outlet here in this area. I don’t know what happened. I could hold him to the lease, but what good would that do, lawyers, court – and he can’t pay. I’ll find someone else to lease that space within a couple of months. I feel very sorry for him.”
I did not feel any anger, judgment or will to power thrown at this unfortunate tenant. I felt this man exuding empathy and understanding.
Many times he has told me how we should always try to be helpful to those who need it. “Jesus would be helpful, Jesus is love and if we have Jesus truly in our heart, we would help those who need it”, he said.
Another time he confided in me that another tenant of his was struggling with addiction, and whenever he went to collect the rent, he seldom had it, or could only give him part of it. He spent time talking with his tenant, trying to get him help to overcome his addictions and support his family. He was very reluctant to evict the tenant when I last spoke to him about this.
Many people had the opinion that the tenant was taking advantage of his good intentions and would never repay the money or recover. He told me that he may in fact have to evict him, but he would feel very bad for him and would offer to help him if he could.
This man, who I have known for a long time, always makes me rethink the view some Theosophists hold towards Christianity. I think that if his heart was “weighed against a feather” – his heart would balance out.
This man had grown up in a Moslem society, and was in fact, within a minority group with his Christian belief. He told me that he had chosen Christianity, (having had many opportunities to choose another belief system), because it is a religion of love.
The fact is, – this person feels the need to function within a paradigm of belief, practice and faith. It works for him, giving guidance in often confusing times. Why does it work? We, as theosophists, need to acknowledge that it can work for those who are practicing a “pure form of Christianity”.
As Theosophists, we can see that he is constantly focusing what is referred to in Theosophy as his Lower Quaternary, (the four aspects of the human being which allow us to function here in the physical world – see The Sevenfold Spiritual Nature of the Human Being), on the Divine. He lets go of rationalizations, of justification, condemns negative thought and trusts that it is all happening for a greater reason which is beyond his ability to comprehend. To do this, he has, through constant prayer and directed thought, placed “Jesus in his heart”; he is focused on the love of Christ and is manifesting it in his affairs. He acts from this premise.
Let’s compare this to Theosophy.
As Theosophists we are instructed to work toward purification of the four aspects of ourselves that allow us to function on the physical plane. We do this through meditation, enhancing our awareness and leading a clean life style. We study the different levels of our being and become aware of the effects of negative thinking; opening ourselves unknowingly or knowingly to the malefic influence of others, focusing on self gratification, gluttony, lust and acquisition of material things. We realize our inherent oneness with all beings and our responsibility as “awareness beings” to act as the spiritual beings that we are.
As Theosophists we choose not to function under any specific religious belief system.
“Theosophy insists that no God/ess can be a fit subject for worship and rejects every form of Idolatry. Theosophy nevertheless recognizes that vast numbers of spiritual beings at every conceivable stage and state of development do indeed exist. Human beings are amongst these spiritual beings as a distinct stage of spiritual evolution in their own right.” – Theosophy is Atheism in a Profound Way – NTN – March 1.09 – newtheosophynetwork.com. I have the deepest admiration and respect for those beloved human beings who come to assist us to further our awareness of our inherent spiritual nature.
When we step out of the perimeters of a specific belief system, we are required to take responsibility for our destiny. We can no longer say that something outside of ourselves willed it to be this way or that. If we are to live a life dedicated to realizing our highest potential and for the good of humanity we learn that it is obtained by acquiring the skills to focus our awareness within the highest part of ourselves, that is the three spiritual aspects of our being, (outlined in the diagram on the Sevenfold Spiritual Human Being).
I think this Christian man is often focused and praying to this higher part of himself,( although these theosophical terms are unknown to him), and he visualizes it as Jesus. He visualizes Jesus in his heart and seems to visualize God as outside of and separate from himself, and anthropomorphic god. Although he is temporarily functioning under a misunderstood interpretation of esoteric Christianity, it still works for him. His heart is clear, his intent is clear and he is giving himself over to a higher power in which he has faith that all things are as they should be.
It seems to me then, that there are those few people who really are able to apply a belief system and make it work. By this I mean that they are not falling into “a will to power” idea of judgment and condemnation of others, they are not falling into the idea of exclusiveness and alienation of those who are not following the same belief system, they are not making overt statements of themselves as good and others as evil, they are not putting themselves above or excluding themselves from the concept of human frailty, misjudgment, evil and malicious thoughts as being part of the human dilemma.
Many who say they “believe in God” would have a hard time thinking about or challenging the traditional conception of a god; in fact they may even think it is a sin to doubt or question. They may be afraid to do so because they have been conditioned to believe that god can have the human traits of evil; wrath, judgment, and anger and can inflict this on them at any time. Some feel that things that happen to them in life are “the will of god”, and they struggle to understand what they did that made God take away a loved one or inflict unbearable suffering.
This belief in such a god came to be when people tried to imagine what god is like and endowed it/him with human qualities; “a separate really big being” with all the human traits on an exaggerated scale.
We Theosophists on the other hand are unafraid to question, try, test and verify, to understand in a deeper level just how “right thinking and acting” truly work according to universal law to produce our destiny.
We are unafraid to recognize what “the devil” and “satan” really are. They are our own lower earthly human traits, which we all possess and which we are eternally struggling to overcome, to purify and to refocus. We acknowledge this part of ourselves and are not in denial of its existence, in order to do the deep soul searching work required to purify ourselves and raise our awareness to the highest level possible in order to manifest here as the spiritual beings we really are.
If we want to use the term God, then we assert that it is that part of ourselves which is linked to Logos, to all manifestation and is manifesting through us as love, wisdom and freedom.
We are dual, and the recognition of this duality has been the primary focus every time an avatar or “a messenger of god” as some prefer to call it, comes to help humanity. Jesus did not condemn the sinner, he love them as “one of us”, and he tried to help them and lead them out of their darkness, which was the human frailty within themselves, to the light which is love, and which shines in all alike.