Monday 15 May 2017

A New Mind

In my last post here I wrote of there being nothing new in spirituality but that is not entirely true. No doubt in an absolute sense there is nothing new. The rules of the spiritual road don't change and changing times don't mean old truths are outmoded or can be rejected in favour of new updated ones, more in line with contemporary preoccupations. That is one of the great errors of the modern age which we can see in, for example, present day opinions about sexuality and the relationship between man and woman. Archetypal truths remain or they would not be truths in the first place.

Nor does the way to God alter. The demands are the same as they have always been. Purification of the lower self, devotion to higher ideals, mental and emotional discipline and detachment, cultivation of imagination and the mind in the heart, service, sacrifice and love of God as both inner reality and supreme being. There can be no newly discovered 'quick fix' or technique or method or form of knowledge that can bring salvation, using that word to mean the liberating of the spiritual inner self from its entanglement in the worldly ego. The advent of Christ did mean that a hitherto secret path open only to a very few became potentially open to all, and in some respects made easier because of the spiritual power released by Christ, but still the work required by each individual to reach the goal of union with God was the same.

But while there is nothing new in terms of what the spiritual path is or what is required on it or the goal to which it leads nevertheless, for us evolving human beings, there are always new vistas opening up, and I venture to suggest this probably continues into eternity. Heaven is not some static place or state of being but an ever unfolding vision of God and an ever deeper union with him. And God has no end.

Meanwhile back here on earth humanity does grow both individually and collectively. The spiritual path is awakening to the reality of the soul within. It has to do with bringing the errant will into line with divine will which is the only place the former can find real fulfilment. But human beings develop in other ways as well and the main one is how their mind responds to their environment, both outer and inner. Using modern language you might say that early man lived an instinctive right brain existence in which he was naturally one with his world, albeit to a limited degree and without much understanding of it. Also with little sense of love. He was not separate from nature but his union with the whole was mostly passive, and his ability to stand apart from his environment and control it was minimal. The bulk of humanity continued like this for millennia.

However in Greek and Roman times (as far as we can tell from historical records) the left brain consciousness came more into focus. Arts and sciences arose, humanity determined its surroundings and its path to a far greater degree. Change was effected from within instead of being imposed by external forces. At first this was on a low level and perhaps restricted to an advance guard but now so called left brain consciousness (logical, rational, utilitarian, seeing in parts rather than wholes) is totally dominant. Having liberated humanity from an over-dependence on Mother Nature and initially been a force for good, it is now a decidedly limiting and restricting factor in our lives. The artificial, mechanical world it has created is a reflection of itself and responsible for our currently alienated state. The next step is waiting to be taken.

In truth that next step has been waiting for some time now which fact explains the state of uncertainty, or even near futility, that many sensitive people feel today. Humanity has come to the end of a road but doesn't know where to go next. The answer is, continuing with our brain hemisphere metaphor, a union between the two hemispheres, a recognition that our way of looking at the world is no longer good enough and we must move to recapture our earlier consciousness but this time seeing it in a new light with the developed fruits of the past few thousand years of reason, self-determination and so on.

But, and this is important, that is just a start. The real task is not just some humanistically inspired refocusing of consciousness to incorporate both intuitive and rational functions, however desirable that may be. It is to awaken to the reality of God and see ourselves in relation to him. The former without the latter is by no means enough even if it might be better than what we have now. Like the prodigal son we need to return to the Father. But then, with our new mind, we might start to perceive our relationship with the Creator in a less passive way than heretofore. Of course, God remains supreme. He is the Creator. We are his children. But children grow up, and perhaps now we may conceive of a relationship with God in which we can participate more fully and perhaps even one day become co-creators with him of a more splendid, more glorious, more beautiful universe. This will always be on his terms and in the light of his supreme reality. We should not make the mistake that Lucifer is supposed to have made. But is it too far fetched to imagine that, like any proud father, God would be delighted to see his offspring make their individual mark in the world. Is that perhaps part of the reason for him creating us in the first place?

First things first though. None of this can happen in the way it should until we fully and wholly acknowledge our Creator. Only then can we take wing and fly in the way it is hoped, serving God in love and creativity with our new mind.


Bruce Charlton said...

@William - It depends what you mean by 'new' - but I think it has been the case that within the past couple of hundred years it has become increasingly common for some serious Christians to pursue their faith essentially outside of a church - or to regard Church membership as a help rather than indispensable; and in particular for such people to regard their Christianity as essentially independent from the authority, validation and rites of an institution.

Such people would, for instance, deny that excommunication (in and of itself) meant damnation. Or, they would deny that obedience to church authority is sufficient (or necessary) to salvation.

I am pretty much an example of the above, and you even more so - but this kind of view would have been exceedingly rare 200 years ago; so it may count as something new.

It is not that I regard churches as obsolete or useless - that is clearly not the case for many people in many circumstances. We cannot do without churches - yet. But maybe a time will come (and this is suggested by the Book of Revelations wrt Heaven, but potentially on earth as well) when there will not be 'religions' but instead the whole of life would be religion... it seems highly unlikely at present and with current trends; but perhaps this is where things would be going ideally (I mean ideally from the perspective of God's hopes and wishes).

So, I would say that there is/ was a 'plan' for the spiritual development of Men, hence for 'new' aspects of Christian practice to emerge. I would regard the Mormon Church as, in essence - and in some of its teachings, especially about the Father and Mother nature of God, and the centrality of marriage and the family - arising in response to this plan; but the plan has only been very partly followed, and is currently being defied/ reversed.

William Wildblood said...

Like you, Bruce, I'm essentially a Christian (perhaps more of a Christian universalist if there be such a thing)
who is not a member of any church, and that I think is for two reasons, one not connected to something new and one that is more or less connected.

First of all, all churches are much diminished in spiritual power and authority, some more than others, of course, and that makes them more of a worldly than a spiritual home nowadays. But secondly, and this is the new aspect, churches are primarily for those whose spirituality is largely defined from without. When you turn to the inner path, as we all must eventually, then they are not so helpful though I'm not denying they do still have a place. This is the reason relating to a new and higher spirituality than any public one existing today though again one should realise that all new truths are potentially within traditional spirituality, even if in a hidden form.

It's complicated because following the inner, more private, path can clearly result in illusion, deception and spiritual pride. But that is a risk we have to take I believe if we are to move on to a higher spiritual understanding in which, eventually, each man is his own priest and, as you say, above life itself is religion - no difference.