Each fully developed virtue is like a beautiful jewel. Many of our brightest may still lie hidden, still to be mined; or perhaps mined, but still to be cut, or polished and set. These are the latent powers of our inner light, of which most of us are as yet only partly conscious, if at all. They are the unique qualities inherent in our true and higher Self. They develop within, and shine out from, the central awareness of the master within.
However, introspection also reveals a lower side to human nature: a self of unruly lower desires, compulsions, restrictions and a whole host of unhealthy and potentially destructive states of mind. This lower self is the counterpart of the higher, and presents us with the hard lessons we have to learn in order for us to progress along our path of return. Continue reading
We commonly define articles of faith as the set of doctrines a person or a group holds to be true. In a religious context we sometimes refer to believers as members of the Anglican faith or the Hindu faith, for example. Faith in this sense expresses our deeply held belief in the teachings of our religion accepted by us as true despite the impossibility of ‘proving’ them to the satisfaction of the unbeliever or the purely material thinker. We take on trust that they are true because our intuition tells us that they are. At its best our faith constitutes the substance and the evidence of those truths which our material reason cannot fully know, but we believe because they have been revealed to a higher part of our nature. St Paul’s definition is as good as any:
“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. (Hebrews)
The subject is an important one. Reflecting sincerely on our own faith helps us to a better understanding of who we really are and where we truly belong. However, important as it is, this aspect of faith is not the main subject of this article. For the ancient mystical traditions recognise a hidden power in faith which no seeker of truth can afford to ignore; for those who do not gain a measure of it will never travel far along the mystic path. Although it has been alluded to in many different ways in the past, we refer to it here as ‘Trust in God’. Continue reading
In the ultra-materialistic West many of us have the sense that our normal everyday lives seem disconnected from anything we might consider spiritual. However even here and now there are those who feel an ‘inner something’ drawing them to look further and deeper into the spiritual side of things. There has never been a time when men and women have not been aware of this ‘something within’. Though the terminology varies, all the leading religions, spiritual philosophies and traditions have something to say about it.
The mystical traditions in particular speak of those who have experienced contact or even union with the spirit of God within themselves. Some traditions identify this inner spirit with the higher self, the real individual ego. We can read of the great mystics who’ve been ‘gathered up to God in a cloud of light’, or of those inspired seers, illuminated by the light within, who henceforth know wisdom and love beyond the measure of normal men. The ‘something within’ is often represented by the mystic traditions as a kind of junction with the divine, a mysterious spark from the fire of God. It is characterised here as the master within. Continue reading
Abrahamic religions apart, beliefs about reincarnation are ancient and widespread across much of the world. However, even among those who believe in it there are also important disagreements. Not least of these concern the conditions the self may find itself in following the death of the physical body. It’s clear that the original teachings on this and related subjects have been variously distorted during their transmission from generation to generation and from culture to culture; and anyway, even if this was not the case, the truth of these things cannot be proved or disproved to the satisfaction of all. No complete agreement, even between believers, is possible.
In spite of this the best of the ancient teachings are clear. And while these brief notes can only provide a starting point for further study and reflection, the sincere seeker of the ancient way will find in them some of the important principles originally established for our benefit by great men many centuries beyond the reach of our historians. Continue reading
Interest in magic is on the increase in the West. There’s plenty of evidence that witchcraft, magic spells, ritualistic and ceremonial magic, white magic, black magic, sorcery – the list is almost endless – are attracting inexperienced seekers of all ages and backgrounds. The growth of the internet seems to have stimulated some of the curiosity, and the number of monthly online searches using keywords linked to magical practices is staggering. It’s more than just an internet phenomenon however. In fact throughout the last century, and particularly since the fifties, there has been a mushrooming of groups, brotherhoods, societies and circles, all purporting to reveal the ancient secrets of the magical arts. Continue reading
Any survey of religious faiths will uncover a mind-boggling hotchpotch of differing conceptions of heaven and hell. Every culture has had something to say about the immortality of the soul and its progress after death to a more or less perfect existence. They are very ancient and persistent ideas. Consequently, our beliefs about the afterlife, and the various experiences we might have therein, have created an immense labyrinth from which it’s not easy to emerge with anything resembling the pure and simple truth. Perhaps the full truth on such matters cannot be communicated in words alone. And even if they could, these brief notes can’t cut through the maze entirely; but they can provide a clue. Continue reading
Struggling with the concepts of good and evil, and particularly the so-called ‘problem of evil’, has led some to question the notion of God as the All-fair, the All-true and the All-good. The material thinking part of our nature seems bound by the logic that either God is not absolute, or is in some way the cause of evil in the world. However, the mystical traditions have ever sought a truer and deeper insight into the nature of good and evil than is available to our intellectual reasoning faculty. Continue reading
There can be no more significant achievement than to gain a measure of inner peace. It is the foundation upon which is built all progress for all men and women. It’s almost impossible to exaggerate its importance for seekers. It is the master-key, the first, middle and final step. At all stages of the path to light, inner peace is both the way and the destination. Continue reading
Beauty in its essence is one of the everlasting Powers of God. We cannot hope to comprehend it. As with Truth and Goodness we cannot somehow rise above it to consider it objectively, in the round, as it were; we cannot pass cool judgement on its actual nature. For man to gaze upon Beauty itself is impossible; and even when that Beauty is reflected in the splendour of the heavenly realms it cannot be defined or translated into words. It cannot in any way be weighed or measured; and nor will it ever be contained by the intellectual theories of man. Continue reading
At best many of the current debates about God are noisy and ill-humoured; and more often than not they are spiteful and cruel. At worst they are despicable inversions of any notion we might have of righteousness or ethical behaviour. In the West, aggressive materialists appear determined to stamp out all expressions of religious faith from public life. From their perspective, belief in God is an outdated superstition, delusional, and incompatible with a modern civilised world. Some of them openly argue that religious faith is the root of all evil. Because of the corruption and decay of religious institutions and practices, these detractors have been able in large parts of the modern world to make steady progress towards achieving their mission. In other parts of the world fundamentalist religious tradition-keepers are making every effort to turn back history by eradicating all manifestations of modernity, particularly the modernising and materialistic influences of the West. If some of the attacks on traditional religions by materialists are hypocritical, malicious and ominous, the religious communities themselves can hardly claim the higher moral ground. Child abuse, the treatment of women, sectarian hatred and the slaughter of innocents are too common and widespread for that. Continue reading
Across the globe materialism has darkened the eyes of many. In all the so-called developed and developing countries it seems that each generation is more materialistic than that of their parents; and it’s having a detrimental effect on their physical and mental health. Our children and grandchildren are being engulfed by a tide of commercialism and consumerism which if left unchecked threatens to overwhelm the world in a catastrophe of our own making.
In the West there has been for some time now an obvious imbalance: our pursuit of material riches, sensual gratification, and physical comfort at all costs, has been to the detriment of our collective search for meaning and the realisation of more spiritual ideals. Many suspect that this is the case, and yet we appear unable or unwilling to apply the brake. Deep down we know that a fundamental shift is needed, and yet as individuals we feel powerless to bring about that change; and so we attempt to justify our patterns of behaviour with all sorts of complicated arguments, even though we don’t really believe we are in the right. Collectively, we are like the addict who despite his nagging conscience descends deeper and deeper, ever more desperate to turn his life around and yet less and less able to bring about the required adjustments to his lifestyle. Continue reading