Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Fire Within

The Fire Within

A sound spirituality can go a long way toward bolstering self-esteem, promoting positive mental health and even furnish the wherewithal wherewith we can make this world a better place. To begin with, it antidotes the endless stream of negativity to which you are constantly subjected by affirming that ‘you’ are significant, ‘you’ do matter, ‘you’ are more precious than you can even imagine. It fortifies us by pointing out that there is a Great Purpose being worked out through the Cosmos and that we each are a vital element in this Grand Cosmic Destiny. It makes plain that our existence is framed in a law abiding and moral Universe; the Creator and Upholder of which is the God of Love, upon whose goodness and faithfulness we can always depend.

Such grand spiritual and cosmic truths allow us to transcend our incidental and petty material differences, offers consolation when the winds of change descend upon us with sudden devastation, ennobles life by inspiring us with glorious purpose and even supplies the energy, courage, insight and faith needed to help us get up out of our bed and set our wills to the task of making this world a better place. Well, it does these things for those that allow such truths to sink deep down into their souls where they can effect their transforming and regenerative magic. Deep within the human soul the invincible force and indomitable power of God’s own spirit blazes with the power of ten million suns. It lives to illuminate, liberate and celebrate! It is the doorway to eternity, the sure path from the temporal to the eternal, from finitude of being on up into the very presence of the Limitless One.

To this wellspring of everlasting energy and inspiration humanity owes ALL its greatest achievements. It is the fissure from whence bursts the unquenchable fires of hope. One soul at a time, in co-ordination with the far-seeing vision and ideals of the Infinite One, humanity is being led from darkness to light, from ignorance to wisdom, from savagery to civility, in proportion to our hunger for and ability to express LOVE. This great light can, like an x-ray, pierce through the ore of common experience to reveal the splendid spiritual ideals upon which all life has been founded. It can take trial, tragedy and triumph and from them forge the precious and priceless gems of wisdom. From it our souls receive the summons to Beauty and to establish Beauty; to Goodness and to establish Goodness; to Truth and to establish truth. It brings glorious spiritual treasures to adorn the inner sanctum of the soul, illuminating and ennobling the life of the individual and, through the individual, the nation, establishing them in righteousness.

The indwelling spirit is the Invincible Foe of injustice, cruelty and selfishness. Where there is hatred it daringly sows love, where there is war it unflinchingly fights for peace, where there is fear it nurtures faith. It cannot yield. It cannot compromise. It cannot lose. Its victory is assured. Though its glory may remain long hidden behind the curtains of Time, yet even they shall eventually yield before the might of the Eternal to reveal the splendour of its ultimate victory! Through it justice, kindness and selflessness will be established forever; and joy and peace will be spread over all the earth.

The fundamental essence of Deity is UNITY therefore must Equality be a fundamental feature of the life divine. Systems that uphold inequality will eventually and inevitably be overthrown and dissolved by the instruments of this very God of Unity. Such unbalanced systems – the socio-economic and religio-political cultural shadows of selfishness – stand on the wrong side of history. They may, at one point, have represented a step forward, however, we must keep moving forward, keep evolving or they, and all those that support them, will be swallowed by the sands of Time.

Equality, harmony, symmetry and unity, are the hallmarks of high civilisation and they are to be our destiny. Only the disingenuous, corrupt, selfish, and spiritually blind – those that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo – would dare to deny this. Today many stand in silent inaction while the wicked prosecute their nefarious schemes but the day is coming when it is the wicked who will stand powerless as the righteous go forth to establish justice, equality, peace and prosperity for all – not just for the ‘Chosen Ones’.

APATHY towards the issues of peace and justice is an act of brutality. Apathy is a poisonous weed that blooms from the soil of Selfishness under the Black Sun of Ignorance. The longer it is indulged, just so will humanity languish in the flames of injustice and inequality; because of our silence the wicked are free to effect their wicked designs; because of our APATHY toward corruption in High Place whole nations are brought low, even whole worlds.

APATHY, the lack of love or caring regard for our fellows, lies at the root of much of the world’s troubles. It is because we love our fellows so little that we do not care if they are victims of injustice. We have been deluded by the Fool’s Philosophy of ‘I’m alright Jack’ – as though the attitude these magic words inspired somehow negated the consequence of our stupidity and selfishness. We are a family and, regardless of whether we like this truth or not, how we live affects others, with some having a greater temporal impact than other. Consider, as an example, the blindness of Western Peoples: they are blind to the fact that their voraciously gluttonous way of life is unsustainable; blind to the moral bankruptcy of most of their values; blind to the disastrous consequences of their addiction to Oil and Plastic and practically heartless with regard to the tremendous toll this way of living will have upon their children and their children’s children. These people are fast running out of road but have fallen prey to the delusion that this party is never going to end. Cue cosmic facepalm! Real love, however, will not be cowed by this but rather will burn all the brighter, nor will it cease until all the world is ablaze!

Love is spiritual light: it reveals and is a revelation, it is the soul’s response to truth but if Love is Light then our world is dark indeed and many stumble in this spiritual darkness. Only a genuine and passionate love and deep reverence for truth, beauty, goodness, peace and justice can establish them as social realities. Only love possesses the tremendous stores of energy required to transform the wicked, lazy, and corrupt child of clay into the virtuous, inspired, and pure child of God and having thus conquered himself the child of God can go forth and fearlessly conquer the world.

The Kingdom of Light is the Kingdom of Love. The Great Day of the establishment of the Everlasting Kingdom of Love and Light will dawn the day we accept that Love alone can rule all relations between individuals and nations. Until then the fire rages on.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Can the Good Samaritan Save Christianity?

Can the Good Samaritan Save Christianity?

Ecumenism seeks to restore wholeness to the family Jesus’ followers, a family that appears to be divided over issues of doctrine. For me the Kin-dom is founded upon the personal spiritual experience of recognising the Fatherhood of God and its correlated truth the Brotherhood of Man or, simpler, your personal experience of the love of God and your love for God. The foundation of the identity of the followers of Jesus is the personal experience of the love for and faith in the Father as reveal in the life and teachings of the Son and not upon the assertion of provisional assent to some system of dogmas or doctrines. Such an experience may inspire dogma, doctrine, art, prayer, worship, service, etc. but these are consequences not causes, they are the shadows not the substance. Any attempt to use shadows as a foundation is doomed to failure.

So, how can the Good Samaritan help? Can he carry us out of the darkness of the shadows of mere belief (provisional assent) and into the healing hostel of the personal experience of spiritual truth and divine realities? Tall order, I know, but let’s see.

It’s hard for us to appreciate the audacity of Jesus in making a Samaritan the hero in a story being told to Palestinian Jews two thousand years ago. When we hear this story today it appears sweet but when first it was heard it was a shocking and unsettling challenge to the prejudice and hypocrisy of his people! Jesus chose this type of individual as a worthy vehicle to exemplify the spirit of the Kin-dom. Were he in Ireland today he might well make a Traveller the main character or a Transgender person. If he was in China maybe he’d be a Human Rights Lawyer. If he was in America there’s a chanced he’d be an African-American Muslim.

There are many significant features to this story. At that time Samaritans were held in lower esteem than even the Romans. They were despised by the Jews. Not only were the Samaritans regarded as racially inferior, they also practiced a different religion to the Jews – a fact even Jesus acknowledged when speaking to the woman by the well. Thus, Jesus selected a man from a despised minority, one that was not even a Hebrew, and made him the primary instrument in one of his most famous parables.

The nature of Parable is also significant to our enterprise. The purpose of a parable is not to communicate some literal fact but to convey a spiritual (inspirational) truth. Jesus was not interested in the beliefs to which this man subscribed, it was the spirit of his life that he commended, the values inspired him, and the ideals he held that shaped his life. Jesus asked his hearer’s to look passed all that was objectionable: his minority status, the historical grievances between the Jews and the Samaritans, the fact of his different and supposedly inferior religion and perceive the spirit wherewith this child of God lived his life.

The Samaritans heart reached out passed all objections and questions about the man’s identity, passed wondering if he was rich or poor, Jew or gentile, deserving or undeserving, saw a man in need and took upon himself the responsibility of ensuring that this man was nursed back to health. This quality is as admirable now as it was then and it is to Masters’ credit that he concocted a story that has lost none of its sweetness, or its power to illuminate, even after two thousand years. It wasn’t this man’s religion that made him a beautiful portrayal of the spirit of the Kin-dom. If anything, traditional loyalties would have prejudiced him. Had he obeyed the dictates of tradition and custom, as the others had done, he would have amounted to little more than a commendable hypocrite. It was the fact that he courageously and quietly broke through all these confines to reach out to someone in need. In this parable Jesus pierced through all objectionable incidentals and revealed the child of God beneath and in so doing he challenges us to challenge our own prejudice or, at the very least, to be aware of them and recognise that these can become spiritual prisons. 

There are tremendous truths enfolded in parables and when telling them Jesus was often heard to cry, ‘Let you that have the eyes to see – see, and you that have the ears to hear – hear!’ His parables and method of teaching played upon a favourite spiritual principle of his, ‘Seek and you will find.’ He understood that if someone is truly dedicated to finding truth then they most certainly would but, equally, if they were equally determined to NOT find truth then they most certainly would not; if they were determined to find that which would justify their own bias and prejudice they would find it. TRUTH is more than figuratively in the eye of the beholder. Dogma and doctrine, then, are useless to one that is dedicated to not finding truth and are unnecessary to one who is. Consequently, we find that those that seek to find a cause for offense do indeed find offense. While, conversely, those that seek cause to join hands – find it. 

Over and over, throughout the Masters life, he laboured to teach us that we are not defiled by what enters through the eyes, ears, and mouth and, that being the case, neither can we be sanctified by what enters through the eyes, ears, and mouth. Sanctification or desecration comes from the heart. It was for this reason he looked with favour upon the prayer, ‘Create in me a clean heart, oh Lord!’ why Paul, and others, spoke about the regenerative work of the indwelling spirit. This emphasis on SPIRIT, in terms of the indwelling spirit, the inner guide that leads the way for every truth seeking child of God, and the Almighty Spirit that is shaping the destiny of the Universe, were fundamental to the teachings of Jesus.

When it came to prayer he taught that the Father was focused on the intention (spirit) not the words. Which is just as well really, given that the carpenter from Nazareth never spoke a word of English in his entire life and I doubt that situation has changed much in the last two thousand years. Thus the Spirit God reacts to the spirit content of your prayer and even your life. This being the case, that the spirit (the substance) is supreme over the letter (the cultural form), can it be that dogma, doctrine, tradition is somehow higher than the spirit that inspired it? Hardly, these are the effects, not the cause; the shadow, not the object. The substance of any prayer, parable, doctrine or dogma, lies with the spirit that inspired it and not in the letter wherewith it was constructed. Jesus always taught that spiritual realities are supreme over material one’s; that matter relates to spirit similar to how effects relate to cause. It was for this reason that he admonished us to be mindful of the desires we nurtured in our hearts, for of such come the issues of life.

The source of division amongst the grand family of the followers of Jesus probably lies more in the damaged, fractured and fragmented human heart than in doctrine and dogma. Like the Apostles, we are brothers, but we constantly bicker over who will be greatest in the Kin-dom. By succumbing to the delusion that we are somehow better than our brothers, more holy, closer to God, more fully in the Kin-dom, more authentic, more sincere, more loyal to the ideals and values of the gospel, means we have lost our spiritual way. Such is Pharisee Talk, ego, vanity and arrogance creating the spiritual stumbling blocks of prejudice, hypocrisy and self-righteousness, keeping us blind to the fact that our real purpose is to serve one another as friends and brothers and not to seek to lord it over one another as the heathen do. But to see your self (your church) as nothing and others as higher and more deserving, to be humble, sincere and service oriented, that would be more in keeping with the Kin-dom values taught by the Master. 

I’d imagine few things make Heaven wince quite like an arrogant Church. Pride goes before a fall and perhaps this is why our Church now appears as one bloodied and bruised, naked and discarded on the roadside, like one whom passers-by step gingerly around in order to avoid. Could the Good Samaritan save it from this sorry plight?

Sunday, 29 June 2014

A call to Church!

I distinguish between the Tradition and the Church, the latter being the family of God loving and Man serving children of God and the former being the record of their evolution in time and space. For a long time we have conceived of Church as ‘Other-than’: it is a place you go, a service you attend, it has customs you follow, it is a place wherein virtues are glorified and vices condemned, it has uniforms, a hierarchy, and a chain of command, there’s magic and holy men with varying degree of access to the ear of the Almighty; it baptises our babies, marries our children and buries our dead. IT is Other. IT is not me. IT is what we think the Church is but to so think would be erroneous. IT is a derivative of the Church. IT is produced by the Church. IT is designed to support and reflect the Church but IT is not the Church. The Church has been called to establish the Kin-dom on earth not to convert people to a set of beliefs but to establish peace and equality, mercy and justice, righteousness and joy. 

The Kin-dom is founded upon love and can only be established through unselfish service. The gateway to the Kin-dom lies in your own heart and consists in your personal experience of the saving truth of the Father’s love. Such an experience surcharges the soul with divine energy and empowers you to bear the fruits of the spirit. Knowing the love the Father has for you, you likewise know the love He has for all His children. Knowing that the Father lives in each one of His children conditions your response to and treatment of them, in that you will endeavour to so live that your actions will reflect the Father’s love for them. As we progress in spiritual grace and wisdom, as we become ever more suffused with the Father’s love, we reflect these Father-like qualities into our exchanges with our fellows. Thus spiritually illuminated our lives bear the fruits of the spirit, we exhibit in our lives the selfless and enlightened love of a parent as they attend to their less enlightened and immature children: gentleness, kindness, patience, humility, tolerance, forbearance, and generosity.

The Church is not a organisation based on certain beliefs it as a family whose foundation is the personal experience of divine love, the experience of knowing that God loves you, the experience of knowing and loving God, the experience of knowing and loving the works of God – His Universe and His children. The Church is, therefore, an Inspired Community, a community inspired by love, energised by love. Love is the first impulse and the last act of the ideal Church. The primary objective of the individual is to allow the nurturing and transforming energy of divine love flow through you in acts of selfless service. The more you remove self from the equation the greater the divine love revealed, while selfishness is an effective barrier to the divine love. So, how can the church effect positive social change?

Firstly, there is the realisation of the sufficiency of the Father’s love and His ability to meet all your real needs. This frees you, to a large extent, from worldly or material concern. Thus liberated you are also consecrated to the fostering the well being of your fellows. Being so consecrated calls forth an attempt at an honest assessment of how one lives one’s life. Does the way you live your life work harm upon others, directly or indirectly? If the answer is YES then common decency requires that you change the way you live. Devoted consecration to the health, well being and prosperity of one’s fellows is inimical to any system of oppression, abuse, injustice or inequality. Thus does the Church work to undo or rectify any social, industrial, political, economic system or inherited religious tradition that have enshrined or institutionalised inequality and injustice.

The Church is full of imperfect people, living in an imperfect world and it is conscious of the fact that we share this world with spiritually blind, wicked, manipulative, corrupt and self-serving individuals and groups. But as spiritually inspired individuals and community we know that we can overcome evil with good, selfishness with selflessness, wickedness with righteousness, greed with charity, hatred with forgiveness, fear with faith, ignorance with wisdom and understand that the dignity of the children of God cannot be besmirched by the acts of the wicked. 

The Master has said, and so we believe, that the Gates of Hell cannot prevail against this consecrated fraternity of God loving and Man serving souls. The acts and plans of the wicked have their roots in their own self and are, therefore, bound to the finite and temporal and will inevitably be effaced by the Sands of Time, but the plans and purposed of the selfless have their roots in the Eternal and Infinite One who is their source and thus shall their plans prosper now and forever more. Thus safe in the knowledge of the Father’s love and overcare we can safely abandon and replace any unjust system or abusive modality.

Jesus taught us, ‘Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends’ but in his own life he went further in that he willingly lay down his life for even his supposed enemies and having invited us to ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ Our love should not be restricted to just friends, family and lovers but even to our enemies, our haters, our users and abusers. Without doubt, a tough act to follow. If Jesus was willing to lay down his life he did so in the full knowledge that he could take it up again. He tells us not to be afraid of losing the old life because such a sacrifice is necessary if we are to reap the new and better life. Today we are seldom called upon to ‘lay down’ our lives, for the time being anyway, but that said, should we not be ready to lay down a spiritually and morally bankrupt way of living? One thing is certain, we will not be able to take up the New Way so long as we cling to the Old Way. To lay down a way of life, especially in concert with one’s whole community, has got to be easier than laying down your mortal life all alone upon a cross. If the Master was willing to do this for even his enemies, could we not do this for one another?

And so I pray for the Church to awaken, for it to come to its senses, to strive to attain the divine dignity of the children of God, to vanquish darkness with light, to reject the morally and spiritually bankrupt husk of a life offered by this world, to arise and choose a Better Way, to strive for the attainment of a Better World, a world that is not merely better for you or your preferred social group but for all. To reject the ways of this world is to invite scorn, condemnation, vilification and accusation and it’s hard to go it alone but in the company of mutually consecrated brethren it’d a lot easier and the more the merrier. In the passage of time what was once called madness will be recognised as an act of sanity in an otherwise crazy world.

Simple Spiritual Model

Simple Spiritual Model

  1. The body and the spirit lay before the mind their plans, hopes, and desires for the future.
  2. Mind is the arbiter between the desires of the flesh and lures of the spirit.
  3. Will is the executor. 
  4.  Character is what’s left in the wake of the decisions you make. The life you live bears witness to the values you hold in your heart, to whether you are motivated by the pleasures of the flesh or the high lures of spiritual attainment.
  5. You can choose to grow and evolve, to strive for the attainment of progressively higher levels of health, wholeness and happiness; or to decay and devolve toward despair, disintegration and destruction. 
  6. The Universe is on your side. It managed to pluck you out of the Endless Seas of Possibility and plonked you right at the start of a tremendous adventure of discovery, revelations, and achievements the likes of which you couldn’t even imagine. Once the confusion of being pulled into existence passes and you come to more fully realise who you are, where you are from and where you are going, you will be more than happy. Until then, have faith – it’s all going to work out.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Reflections on Tuam

The Winds of Spiritual Change

It’s hard to believe the litany of travesties that have occurred in this country at the hands of the authorities of the Roman Tradition. I don’t think I need list them all out. The hypocrisy, treachery, and unparalleled deceit of its leaders has left the ground crew reeling and utterly lost as to ways to redeem themselves in the eyes of the flock whom they were sworn to protect but whom they fed to their sadistic and paedophilic wolves. I have, over the years, endeavoured to defend the institution but they have made this impossible.

I have argued that the sexual depravity that was prevalent among the servants of the Roman tradition was tied to the general depravity of the time. When the tradition had its peak membership, back when it was ‘fashionable’ to have a priest or nun in the family, Ireland was a very different country. Almost one hundred years ago the nation was still reeling from the two blows of the Great Famine and the Civil War. In the wake of these tragedies there was virtually no education, no industry, no money wherewith to travel, very little hope. Further, we suffered under the rule of a spiritually blind and despotic theocracy. And if that wasn’t bad enough, only Russia, under Stalin, had more people per capita locked up in Psychiatric Hospitals – if they could even be called that. Abuse of this system and within this system was endemic; to say that this system was not fit for purpose would be something of an understatement.

The ban on contraception insured large families, while widespread economic and intellectual poverty insured high infant mortality rates. These large and unsustainable families were fodder for the Roman institution. The religious orders, under Dev, established and ran the education system. The parents of children that were noted to be bright were often approached with a proposition: give the child to us, we’ll raise him/her, they’ll be found, fed, clothed, and educated, they’ll have a career, and – sure – wouldn’t it be lovely to have a priest/brother/nun in the family? Thus the ranks swelled, and the Orders became populated mainly by ordinary folk whose only reasons for membership was that they were a bit bright and their folks couldn’t afford to feed them, not because the gospel illuminated their lives and they craved to share that light with the world. Bitterness, ignorance, depravity, spiritual blindness, a culture of violence, secrecy, and shame, pretty much did the rest. 

The image of the Roman Catholic Church as a bastion of morality and righteousness was a branding exercise that had almost no basis in fact. I’m not saying that there weren’t good and decent men and women who served God and man, there most certainly were, but they were in the minority. They might have lived and loved the gospel which would have meant challenging the authorities and so would have been shifted to where they ‘could be of more use.’ Nuff said.

When you thus consider some of the factors of the age you can understand how the Irish people were deluded by their own ignorance and their childish and fanciful notions about the so-called ‘Church’. Sexual abuse of children was rife in the nation, not just amongst the servants of Rome. Rape was permitted in marriage. A woman might have been able to vote but she had almost no other rights. If you weren’t getting it from the local priest, you were being beaten by a nun, and if they didn’t get you you may have been unfortunate enough to end up in psychiatric ‘care’ where you were guaranteed to be abused by a member of staff [non-religious], and such was the nature of those institutions you could be imprisoned for life and without trial, to say nothing of the corruption in our government and its collusion with Rome. Dark days indeed!

When we look back now and see the litany of travesties we are stunned and we are stunned because our tiny little nation has been so profoundly transformed by industry, education, and travel. Our culture and lives are so radically different from even our recent ancestors that we simply cannot imagine how backward and twisted people were back then, we cannot connect psychologically with the cultural factors that made it so. We have held a false notion of the church in our minds and measured its performance by the highest standards, utterly oblivious to the underlying mundane realities. Go back in time fifty years, to a Third World country; pick a couple of random kids from a classroom, send them off to be educated/indoctrinated, then force them to be priests. That’s whose been running the show; ordinary, corrupt, weak, bitter, ignorant, depraved, spiritually blind, culturally backward, slightly bright, average Joe’s, and when you consider things from this context the state of affairs is not too surprising. In fairness, you’d have to say to yourself – what else could you have expected? 

But to fling the bodies of infants and children into a pit, like they were so much human refuse, is indefensible no matter what else was going on. The people who did this were/are monsters. A friend, and native of Tuam, told me just the other day that, as a child, he peered into that pit and he said he couldn’t believe his eyes, “They were just flung there Barry. No attempt to even bury them, and do you know what else?” he said, “Over on the other side, when the diggers were in to build the housing estate, they pulled up loads more bones. When we were kids we used to kick the skulls around like footballs and throw them to one another!” How fucking dark is that?! It makes me think of the Khmer Rouge. This was known about more than thirty years ago and was covered up but on whose authority? This shameful policy of covering-up, paying off, or in some other manner silencing those whose urge was to speak out makes all involved [institutions and individuals] actually complicit in the crimes, complicit in the murder, sexual abuse, enslavement of children and young women.

The institutions of Rome and her servants cannot be defended. The wickedness and self serving corruption exemplified by these authorities baffles me and my horror is amplified by the fact that these monsters claimed to be serving the Master. Well did Jesus say, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Matt. 7:15 How can Rome hope to escape the judgement of the Master’s proclamation that, "If anyone causes one of these little ones--those who believe in me--to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Matt. 18:6 NIV. For surely these wayward men have cause many to stumble over the spectacular inconsistency between their teachings and their behaviour. Average Joe wants nothing to do with these men or whatever they are selling. Their guilt and shame hangs about their necks like a milestone, their corruption will bury them.

The words Jesus spoke to the religious authorities of his day, the Scribes and Pharisee’s, and the people are just as valid today as they were two thousand years ago, “do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” Matt. 23:3 NIV. One fundamental spiritual tenet insures the collapse of this particular system of theology and ministry, at least in Ireland, and that is, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Luke 9:24 For what else have these guys been trying to do but stay out of jail, save their own skins, to save their jobs, to save the ‘church’, but in so doing they have lost everything. Given the profound spiritual ineptitude of its leaders is it any wonder, then, that the Roman institution in Ireland is haemorrhaging souls?

Now, here we are, sheep without a shepherd. Perhaps now we will learn to listen to the voice of God within and, with daring faith, be willing to follow the Master in standing up for righteousness, for truth, and justice, to condemn wickedness and corruption in high places, even if it costs us every worldly thing – even if it cost us our lives, anything less is hardly living the gospel. Personally, I’m not adverse to rounding them all up and deporting everyone that hasn’t already renounced their allegiance to Rome. It’s time for a change. It’s time to ‘do something Irish!’ I have a few ideas, if anyone is interested. ;-)

For further reading here are a few other articles on the subject.