Category Archives: religion

Art is much more important than the average person realizes it to be

Art is much more important than the average person realizes it to be — despite the saying that ‘art is what man makes, and nature is what God makes.’ I would prefer to say that nature is what God makes as God, and art is what God makes as man. The artist who has arrived at some perfection in his art, whatever his art may be, will come to realize that it is not he who ever achieved anything; it is

someone else who came forward every time. And when the artist produces a perfect thing, he finds it difficult to imagine that it has been produced by him. He can do nothing but bow his head in humility before that unseen power and wisdom which takes his body, his heart, his brain, and his eyes as its instrument. Whenever beauty is produced in art, be it music, or poetry, or painting, or writing, or anything else, one must never think that man produced it. It is through man that God completes His creation.–Inayat Khan

In the spiritual life

“In the spiritual life it is not necessary to have a complete map of the path in order to begin traveling. On the contrary, insistence upon having such complete knowledge may actually hinder rather than help the onward march. The deeper secrets of spiritual life are unraveled to those who take risks and who make bold experiments with it. They are not meant for the idler who seeks guarantees for every step. Those who speculate from the shore about the ocean shall know only its surface, but those who would know the depths of the ocean must be willing to plunge into it.”–Meher Baba

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

Sometimes a death can occur, likened to the dark night of the soul, which is not the death of the body, but the end of the old way of being in the world and an awakening to a new and greater life. This way of being has always been there, were we but able to see beyond our “separate self”.

Robert Prizeman, musical director of the choirband, Libera, set to music the poem ”Do not stand at my grave and weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

“Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft star-shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.”

– Mary Elizabeth Frye

The Dark Night of the Soul

“Someone asked, “Why is there suffering?” Baba gave this succinct reply: Suffering is essential for the elimination of the ego, just as it was necessary for you to scrub and scrub in order to wash the stain from my coat.”

–Meher Baba

“What hinders men from seeing and hearing God, is their own hearing, seeing and willing; by their own wills they separate themselves from the will of God. They see and hear within their own desires, which obstructs them from seeing and hearing God. Terrestrial and material things overshadow them, and they cannot see beyond their own human nature. If they would be still, desist from thinking and feeling with their own self-hood, subdue the self-will, enter into a state of resignation, into a divine union with Christ, who sees God, and hears God, and speaks with him, who knows the word and will of God; then would the eternal hearing seeing and speaking become revealed to them.” – Jacob Boehme

Truth is the “Sweet Spot” we hit on a moving target!

Lierre Kieth, (author of The Vegetarian Myth), had a peek moment when she began critically examining mounting evidence against vegetarianism.  Having been a vegan for 20 years, this was a radical change.

I was accumulating information that fit into my belief system about how life is. Every time I got information that didn’t fit in, I set that aside; so I ended up with gaps in my consciousness. … One of the things about being a vegan is it is not about what you eat, it’s about who you are, and that makes it really hard to examine new information… it is a threat to who you are…

Listening to her inspired me to critically look at how we decide what is true and how we regulate our lives by what we believe to be true. When we adopt a certain set of “truisms” we could call it a belief system, especially if a group of people hold the same opinions. One of the things about a belief system is that is puts a context in our mind about who we think we are. This can give a sense of identity, security, comfort and community in knowing we are correct in our thoughts and hopefully our actions.

The problem with this kind of comfortable arrangement is that it tends to deter some of us from examining  other belief systems and new  information. When these paradigms are different from what we believe to be true we may decide to discard it as not true and to ignore new information.

On the other hand, with more and more information and new thought we may wonder if what we believe is actually “the truth”.  This may lead us to ask; can there be different truths depending on circumstances? This type of questioning can create in us a kind of spiritual crisis; in some cases it threatens who we believe we are. It may require that we make radical changes in our thinking and in turn how we are on our world in order to find that inner balance with our true self.

Should you consider these questions, you may start to recapitulate and examine how you think about things.  You may ask yourself “How did I come to this assumption of what I believe to be true?”

As humans we naturally like to categorize things and store knowledge in a certain way, to form what we conceive to be true.  We use already known facts to bring together and form new and innovative thought.  Most of us can say that we have a memory and the ability to retrieve information; we can come to a synthesis of that information and build new concepts based on what we have learned.

What if the stored information was relevant at the time but it isn’t as relevant now. Could we say that the paradigm of our reality has shifted? Or to put it more clearly, “What was the context of our awareness when we decided that was true? How has it changed?”

For a specific random example;
I might ask myself, what point in my life was I at when I decided “Old women are useless and a drain on society”.  Was I twenty and in my prime, raging hormones, intellectually sharp, beautiful and full of ambition? Was it when I was turning sixty-five feeling the effects of aging on the body, working in a world of younger people, not thinking quite so clearly and facing the prospect of retiring?  You might also consider; has the view of society changed about this situation, has there been a general paradigm shift and why?

It seems that what we think to be true is influenced by our environment, social climate, ancestors, belief systems, the specific needs at that time and more.

What then is true? Is anything really true, or is truth constantly shifting and moving within our awareness paradigms. What I’m asking here is – “Is truth absolute and unmoving, a final conclusion so to speak or is it something that changes?

Jean Houston writes:   YOU have to follow your heart now with all the courage and conviction of a hero, no matter how many dragons and enemies to your happiness you have to overcome along the way! Otherwise, somebody or something else might follow your heart for you, and pass you up in your own journey. Not staying true to yourself is akin to abandoning your own personal evolution to natural degradation and psychic entropy.    The Feminine Paradigm

Jean Houston is saying that not being true to yourself is abandoning your own personal evolution it’s degrading your self-worth and creating an atrophy of the ability to be uncontrived and natural in the moment.

We know that as time moves on we have an accumulation of knowledge and a record of what happened.  That record of what happened seems to be told differently in history, by the winners and by the losers, by cultural points of view and by the ability to communicate.

H.P. Blavatsky is quoted as saying;  There is no religion higher than truth. Indeed this is the motto that has been adopted by the modern Theosophical movement.

What is truth? Can we talk about truth as facts and knowledge or is it something else?

Could it be that truth is actually the “sweet spot” that we hit on a moving target? Is it about coming to the moment with exactly the awareness and concentration required to “hit the right spot on the tennis swing”, or bring to the moment the exact response required at that point in time?

Black Carbon Footprint on the Astral Plane

Have you ever wondered if what we are doing now will affect what we will experience in the after death states and beyond?

The order of the universe repeats itself in all the states that we experience. The after death states, the meditative states, the dream states and the waking state are all part of a whole.  The great division that we assume exists between waking and dreaming or life and death, is an illusion brought on by our limited awareness which reduces our ability to perceive the real state of things on all levels of being.  If we understood that it is an awareness issue, it would greatly change the way in which we act during daily existence. Everything we do, say, and think is reflected in our states or planes of being to be “recorded” there as a form of energy.

With the lapse of organize religions to help people to understand their place in the world as spiritual beings and to guide people towards  their individual spiritual awakening and to foster brotherhood on a global level, the mainstream of the population have fallen away. Some people no longer believe in the worth of a religious point of view and have dropped routine spiritual practice rituals, prayer, meditation and socialization with others to help one another to maintain a good life.  With this absence of regular spiritual practice and connectedness to something higher than themselves comes a lack of awareness of conscience, the recognition of good over bad and helping one another out of love and justice. With this lack of spiritual connectedness to the great whole, people feel free to do what they want without consequence.

This state of disconnection is proven to us over and over. Over indulgence runs rampant, as is shown in the amount of debt we are piling up, the amount of time spent watching TV, internet gaming and the philosophy that “its all about me”, the “self improvement” regimes which are designed to enhance personal power. And what is even more remarkable, we are even allowed to claim bankruptcy and start all over again as if nothing happened when things go amiss.

I would really hate to claim bankruptcy in the after death state; my over indulgent life being worth nothing and being thrown away, nothing accomplished except a black carbon footprint on the astral plane.  Would I have to abandon this lifetime, as if it never was and let the consequence fall into the astral atmosphere to add to the horrible pollution that exists there?

And where would I be in all of this, where is the real individual? Am I residing as a spiritual being with no memory of this chance at a lifetime, with no merit added from this last lifetime lived, no carryover of a good life lived to pattern the next one?

I know that H.P. Blavatsky (Secret Doctrine) says that a life lived and lost in this way is erased from, what she likens to the “necklace of pearls”; each pearl represents a past lifetime lived and is the accumulated wisdom and merit gained by the essential self.  She goes on the say that the essential, higher self does a complete disconnect with the earthly entity if there is not a spark of spiritual awareness left in the self-absorbed “shell “of a human being; it is left to run its course as a soulless entity.

Blotting out a lifetime which had no merit and in which the earth incarnated man had done a complete disconnect from his/her  “essential being” doesn’t ring true to me. In the law of ecology, nothing is lost, the energy only changes state as I understand it. So then we would have to consider all the astral shells, (the leftovers we might call them) visible and felt in the astral realm (to which we are connected during incarnation, after death states, dreams, trances, etc.) that we may be connected to in some way because we produced them.

It seems to me that Karma still comes into play here; the feeling of being willfully disconnected to the highest essential part of our nature, our link with the whole, has to have some future consequence. It seems logical to me that there is definitely something to be learned here and some consequence for our self-absorbed lifetime which is leaving a black footprint on the astral plane. Who has to do the house cleaning here?

The answer is – we all do on both an individual level and a group level.

Look at the economic state of the world, virtually every country is suffering from debt. Over spending, bankruptcy, greed and will to power have created a situation which is affecting all of us.

Is it any different on the personal level? We are all having to live in an atmosphere littered with virtually “soulless beings”, the direct result of such irresponsible lifetimes lived. We are victims of an environment which we have all contributed to in some way over the course of lifetimes. Have you ever wondered about that “spook” that keeps chasing you in your dreams, those weird guys who are “lurking around the corner” waiting to get you?

I fear a lot of people now are suffering this fate. A lot of people have chosen not to follow a specific religious or spiritual path, are separated from Truth, Love and Wisdom and feel that there is no consequence for their actions.

It seems to me that the masses would be better served to believe in some form of spirit based teachings which will guide the individual to discover his/her true nature – a “spark of the divine over soul”, to lead a good life and is inclusive of all beings.

Not everyone is intellectually capable of the Jnana Path, the path of knowledge, which the Theosophical outlook seems to follow.  A lot of people could grasp the Bhakti path, pure spiritual devotion to the divine and to leading a good life – if they believed in it.

It would seem to make sense to combine the two paths, the path of knowledge and the path of devotion to form a spiritual path which everyone can follow at whatever level is right for their individual spiritual awakening. The important thing is to lay a foundation for leading a good life, truthful, loving and free.

Divine incarnation already exists within ourselves

True occultism is the destruction of the false idea of self, and therefore true spiritual perception and knowledge are nothing else but the complete identification of our finite ‘selves’ with the Great All. It follows, therefore, that no spiritual progress at all is possible except by and through the bulk of Humanity. HPB

So what does this mean? Blavatsky is saying that we have a false idea of who we are. We are capable of true spiritual perception and knowledge. That spiritual perception and knowledge is obtained by breaking free of the illusion projected by the finite part of ourselves that is telling us that it is the real and only self there is;  breaking free of this idea, we see that we are still alive and aware, but part of something far greater than the finite self could comprehend. She describes it as the Great All,  and says that by identifying our finite selves with the Great All, and realizing the identification of all humanity with this as the source, we can make spiritual progress.

If we take what she is saying as true, I would not follow the transcendent path in which one wishes to escape the illusion of the earthly life and leave humanity behind. Where is the spiritual progress going to happen if it is not a process of becoming fully awake and enlightened here on earth, a blend of the finite self and the highest part of oneself which is a ray of the Great All; the awakening of the finite self to its source, truly an incarnation of spirit into matter.

Isn’t that the message of all the great spiritual teachers of humanity; the divine incarnation of spirit in man? It goes back to ancient Egypt and is reignited in the teachings of Christ.

I always loved the teachings of Buddha, but I felt uneasy about the idea of Nirvana being the ultimate transcendence. It states that we lose our individuality with a blending into the one reality. HPB states that we retain our individuality throughout Manvantaras of time. Lately I have come to realize that although some Buddhist believe Nirvana to be eternal, others say that it is only a cul de sac, a temporary state, all be it an amazing state of being and spiritual accomplishment. So even in Buddhism then, it is about the divine incarnation of spirit into matter; or “the complete identification of our finite selves with the Great All”.

In theosophy we have spoken about the different aspects man’s constitution, and said that Kama Manas is the Lower Mind and Emotional psychic self which makes up the personality; Manas in its purity is the Higher Mind and the link to the divine nature in man, our link to the logos; the word, our link to all humanity in our deepest essence.  Seeing this, one can understand that the divine incarnation is not “a happening” at all, it’s a fact that already exists within ourselves.

Theosophy and Christianity – compatible

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.