The Spiritual Path

Spiritual Life - Aug 5,2018

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet

"I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." John 16:12

This page contains what I think will be helpful to other spiritual seekers - people who are pursuing, or who want to begin, a life of discipleship.  All the material I present will concern understanding and living the life of the disciple.  My material is drawn from various sources, including the Christian Bible, theosophical literature, and the works of others that seem appropriate.

I think it is extremely important to recognize the essential unity of the teachings of all real spiritual teachers. I hope to help people select those teachings that satisfy their need for Universal Unity and Coherence.

As a life member of The Theosophical Society in America, I am naturally biased toward the way the Ancient Wisdom is presented in the Society. However, I find many other traditions valuable as well. I recommend that you browse the following web site for an introduction to subjects of universal interest:

http://www.theosophical.org

Before I go too far in this page, and before people get the idea that I'm anti-Christian, I want to say that I find the teachings of Jesus to be sublime (King James English translation only - the others are more obscure). I claim to be a Christian, on the grounds that I try my best to follow the teachings of Jesus. There is strong Biblical support for this position. In addition to Matt. 7:21-27, see numbered paragraph #1 below. However, I hasten to add that the theology of modern Christianity is basically unacceptable to me. Probably some people would say, "Then you're not a Christian." In this regard, see Bill Moyers' remark about the priesthhood of individual believers, in the Home Page link which I labeled "Violence - the Sport of God."

Listening to "Christian" radio, I often hear talk about the conflict of creation vs evolution, and how the doctrine of evolution is responsible for lots of the ills of society. If you listen to the "Creation Moments" broadcasts on radio, you realize that these people see evolution as mindless, purposeless, unguided, random chance - a materialistic view. But there is no requirement for it to be this way, and I wouldn't believe it either.

I once heard a radio broadcast from Bob Jones University, during their chapel hour. The minister was deprecating those "new age" people who claim to see reincarnation and karma in the Bible. About karma he said, "You certainly won't find that in the Bible!" But I ask the reader, What is arguably the most famous statement of karma in the whole world, and where is it found? Gal 6:7 reads, "Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap." Presumably the corollary to that is true also; nothing happens without a cause.

For people who see themselves as "children of God," the concept of evolution is not at odds with that of creation. Rather, they see evolution as the method by which Divinity creates -- a cyclic process tending toward some appointed goal: "a measure of the fulness of the stature of Christ." Of course, there are some people, even in academia, who think that life arose from matter -- not a very tenable position, because: Who created matter? Also, there are some who think that life cannot exist without a physical body -- also not a tenable position once you've had an out-of-body experience. Evolution is a method of creation, and it makes sense. It does not deny the existence of God or a Plan of Creation; only the most materialistic think that way. In the theosophical philosophy (as I understand it), evolution of life requires evolution of form, and the human physical body is already a fit temple for great souls.

For God has a plan, and that plan is evolution.
When once a man has seen that and really knows it,
he cannot help working for it and making himself one with it,
because it is so glorious, so beautiful.
(J. Krishnamurti, in At The Feet of The Master)

 

Here is a poem that may help us all to have a proper perspective of our place in the universe.

Evolution

This poem is given at the beginning of the novel Om, The Secret of Ahbor Valley, by Talbot Mundy. The book was out of print for many years, but now may be available from Quest Books, at The Theosophical Society (see link above). The book itself is what I would call a spiritual novel, exceedingly interesting, with a neat little verse introducing each chapter.

How can we reconcile the rigid and mostly unbelievable dogmas of modern Christianity and the moral chaos that has such a grip on our society today? The answer, I think, lies in our world view. Just who are we, what or who is God, and what is the relation, if any, between God and mankind? One joker described the God of Christianity as consisting of Big Daddy, Junior, and The Spook. If we try to take the Bible literally (physically literal), we have to admit that God created man in his own image, said it was good, then later realized that he had bungled the job, and got angry about it. Another quipped: God created man in his own image, and since then man, especially the male of our species, has been trying to return the favor. The basic trouble with this seems to be in taking the Bible literally. It's only partially in jest that I enunciate Standish's First Law: "Anything you take from the Bible literally is either wrong or trivial." Why? Because the Bible is a bundle of metaphysical documents. To the extent that it is useful, it describes the laws of the life of the soul.

Most people who call themselves Christians say the Bible is their authority. Wrong! Their authority is what they think the Bible is telling them. If the Bible were the authority, there would be only one Christian church, but since the authority is actually what people think of the Bible, each person is his/her own authority. As Gibran says in The Prophet, "No man can reveal to you aught but that which lies dawning in your own mind." An outstanding example of this situation is shown in the following link, and I recommend that you read all of it because it might make you think about why you believe whatever it is that you believe, and should show the inferior position of mere belief.

The Gospel According to Charles Stanley

Some years ago I had a humorous exchange with a Seventh-Day Adventist lady who was visiting in our home. Somehow we got onto religion, and I reminded her that "If you're a Seventh-Day Adventist when you die, the soul sleeps in the grave until Jesus comes again, but if you're a Jehovah's Witness, your soul is dead in the grave until Jesus comes. I think I'll join the Baptists and go to heaven!" She didn't think that was very funny.

Check the following to see how foolish this can get. 

Church Marqee

This is artificial, but good entertainment. The Catholics seem to be having fun with the Presbyterians who seem to be taking this seriously.

I think the incidents above demonstrate how few people know anything about it; belief is not knowledge, nor is it faith, though Christians commonly equate belief and faith. Belief is the lowest, most unreliable level of human cognition (hypothesis), but I define faith as the attunement or alignment of all the levels of cognition, much like the inner tuning of a radio receiver that is necessary for it to receive. As I see it, there are five principal levels of human cognition: belief, thought, experience, knowledge (equivalent to intuition), and faith. Comparing these to the fingers of the hand, faith is represented by the thumb. It's the most powerful, and it makes use of all the others. "Faith as a grain of mustard seed" is often taken by preachers to indicate how little is needed, but if understood to mean attunement, then one begins to appreciate the statement of Jesus concerning the power to remove mountains.

I once had a Baptist preacher, who was my neighbor and friend, tell me that I, and others like me, take from the Bible only those portions that support my own thinking. I thought about that for awhile, and then realized: "He's quite right about that! And so does everyone else who reads the Bible!" In that same conversation he told me I have not been properly instructed (grin)! Just consider: most, if not all, Christians think their sins are forgiven, but Jesus emphasizes that no one has forgiveness who has not forgiven everyone else, and how many people have you met who are able to do that? People in general do not know their own minds and are not yet able to forgive. The human race has a long way to go!

What does it mean to be forgiven? From what I have read in the Bible and have seen in everyday life, to be forgiven does not mean that one is no longer responsible for one's actions. It only means that one is retained in the human family. People who commit various sins or do good works will reap their reward in this life or in another (Gal 6:7). And to a large extent, what we are experiencing now was caused in a previous life. There is plenty of evidence that reincarnation is part of life.

THE SCIENCE OF PRAYER
A Rationale for Prayer

SO THIS IS WHERE YOU LIVE!

GET A LITTLE CLOSER

(Both of these images are from NASA)

I think we need to re-examine our notion of God and man. The most satisfying statement about this I've ever seen appeared in a book called The Idyll of The White Lotus. (The spelling is 19th Century British):

THE THREE TRUTHS

You will notice that The Three Truths are not tied to any particular religion. If any expression can be called truth, it must be universal, and not the exclusive property of one group.

I think the essence of the teachings of all great spiritual teachers is the same: All those that I know anything about teach love and service. Let me give you two good examples:

1. Jesus: A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:34-35). ...but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (Matt. 20:26-27).

2. Dalai Lama: Read this beautiful story of - A Meeting with the Dalai Lama
 

THE POWER OF LOVE Although not by any religious leader, this is an important lesson about love. (In fact, I cannot absolutely give the source, but it came from a theosophical journal or book).

There are many ways to be of service. One that I am involved with is The Theosophical Order of Service. http://www.theoservice.org In my opinion, everyone has a duty to do his/her best to serve others, and it is certainly a fundamental commandment of Jesus. I think it was Winston Churchill who said, "You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give." In the theosophical tradition, the expression is "to live to benefit mankind."

INSPIRATIONAL POEMS AND VERSES -- Chicken Soup For The Soul, some claim, inspirational poems and verses may evoke beautiful thoughts and emotions, and help us see what Sathya Sai Baba referred to as "the beauty and grandeur of the Universe." Following is the beginning of a group that I hope you will like:

Out of The Silence Preamble to the book of that name, by James Rhoades

A Psalm of Life by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
O Hidden Life An invocation by Annie Besant
The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Each in His Own Tongue by William Herbert Carruth

If you would like to correspond with me on these matters, contact me.


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