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 refer to believers as members of the Anglican faith or the Hindu faith, for example. Faith in this sense expresses our 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 – though sadly we do not often encounter it at its best – faith constitutes the substance and the evidence of those truths which our material reason cannot fully know, but yet 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) Continue reading
At all times there have been men and women who have been aware of a ‘something within’. Even now in the ultra-materialistic West many of us have the sense that while so much of our normal lives seems disconnected from anything we might consider spiritual, this inner something keeps drawing us to look further and deeper into the spiritual side of things. 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 union with the spirit of God within themselves; or sometimes they 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, belief in reincarnation is ancient and widespread across much of the world. However, mainstream science in the West rejects it out of hand. And perhaps unsurprisingly there are also important disagreements between those who believe in reincarnation. 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.
However 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 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’s almost impossible to exaggerate its importance for seekers. It is the foundation upon which is built all progress for all men and women. 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 can be recognised, but not translated into words. It cannot be defined. It cannot be weighed or measured; nor will it ever be contained by the intellectual theories of man. To lower men beauty in whatever form it takes is something to be suspicious of; to the lower still it is to be feared and hated, though they might deny it – even at times to themselves. And to the lowest of all, beauty does not exist.
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, or to pass cool judgement on its actual nature. While we can gain wonderful glimpses of its lower reflections, for us to gaze upon Beauty itself is impossible. However, it is these very glimpses of reflected, veiled beauty that are so important to the seeker on the Way, and our ability to attune with the truly beautiful will bring to us as seekers of the Light many benefits. Continue reading
You don’t need to look very far into the subject to realise that the current debates about God are often noisy and ill-humoured, and at times spiteful and cruel. In the West, aggressive materialists seem determined to stamp out all expressions of religious faith from public life. From their perspective, belief in God is outdated superstition, delusional, and incompatible with a modern civilised world. To some, belief in God is the root of all evil. If some of the attacks on traditional religions are malicious and offensive, the religious communities themselves can hardly claim the higher moral ground. Child abuse, the treatment of women and sectarian hatred are too common and widespread for that.
However, we are free to reject both perspectives as distortions of the truth. We can leave the corrupted followers of a wrathful God and the nihilistic atheists to their profitless hostilities; and if we prefer, we can choose to explore more positive aspects of our nature. We can connect instead with those who have drawn on fine and elevated ideas about the Divine to arrive at the more inspiring conception of God as the eternal source of all Truth, all Love, and all Life itself. Continue reading
Stepping back to reflect on the prevailing conditions across the modern world will convince most thinking people that materialism has darkened the eyes of many. It’s becoming ever clearer that each generation is more materialistic than that of their parents; and that 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 threatens to overwhelm the world in a catastrophe of our own making. However, the crises in the economies around the world and the destructive environmental impact of modern rates of consumption and wastefulness are leading more people to challenge the way we live our lives. Continue reading
light on the path
Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on!