1993/08/25

The evolution of insight in world history

"In the beginning was the light, and that light continues to enter human consciousness, and the darkness cannot enclose or assimilate it."
We tend not to notice daylight, because its existence defines our awareness and ability to see. Moreover its colour temperature is the one by which we judge the quality of all other light.
So it is with that inner quality of enlightenment. Each of us has an instinctive sense of mental daylight. Other than in cases of mental disturbance, humans know the difference between light and darkness, good and evil. Indeed, symptomatic of this is the need of dictators to mask their corruption with a fa├žade of legitimacy.
When cultural debris is swept away awareness of the inner light is astonishingly similar the world over.
However, the transmission of light necessarily involves its coloration, for every carrier medium has certain characteristics. And that is as it should be. The idea of ‘purity’ is a desirable illusion which engineers and philosophers pursue as a highest common factor, but the reality is that each carrier medium contributes a special quality to the information that passes thru it. And so it is in religious traditions. If we can see that the quality of light – the crisp clear refractions of a diamond, the rainbows of a crystal, the heavy sensuality of a ruby – if we can see that the character of each light-form is an important element in experiencing light itself then we need no longer be disturbed at other people’s choice of light source.
Not all light-sources are tremendously exalted. We select whatever we can handle. Some people block their windows against the light; but even they will use a dim, grime encrusted bulb to see by. It is the same power that enlightens all – in different degrees.
If you think of the progress of your life, you look back and you wonder how you could have been so blind as not to see earlier patterns which are now blisteringly clear to you. We can only see what we our karmatic development allows us to see.

How should we understand
karma? It simply means the law of cause and effect. Hindus and Buddhists believe that this cause and effect stretches across more than one lifetime – and that its purpose is to balance that undying part of ourselves which returns as often as it needs to the mills of physical existence to complete a process of transformation. I sometimes see it myself as being like those fiddly hand-held games that preceded electronics, where you had to get a set of ball-bearings into fiendishly incompatible holes. You might get one or two in, but it required infinite patience and determination to get them all in.
Before we are able to pass totally from the earth-plane we have to surrender all anger, for anger is related to fear, and fear prevents the stability needed for us to surrender our personalities to the greater design. In different lifetimes those who have committed themselves to the path of inner development balance their life experiences to the point of achieving balance. As that point approaches the bigger perspective opens and we then see something of the cosmic structure which sustains life on earth. (‘As above so below’)
I believe this was why the greatest spiritual figure of all time, Jesus the anointed, had to experience the breaking of his body – it was to become the atomising of his very essence into the structural consciousness of humanity.
> I have been helped to understand this metaphysical structure because I am conscious of receiving the energies of an Indian holy man named Sai Baba. He first appeared to me in a dream in 1990, and in the dream I was specifically made aware of his name. At that time I had never heard of him to my conscious knowledge, and it took me a year and a half to discover whether he really existed.
The experience that I have of his energies empowering me, especially during the hours of sleep, is stronger than similar experiences with other spiritual figures whose energies have attracted me. I do revere him as an avatar (living manifestation) of God but this does not exclude or impinge on my respect for other great teachers and sons of God.

Is there a convergence of religious thought now communications have so shrunk the world? On one level this has undoubtedly happened. So called New Age thought synthesises the tenets of reincarnation, of respecting the earth as our mother and awareness of psychic powers with a non-doctrinal sensitivity to the spirit of Christianity. Some of this may appear ill-digested to outsiders, and to be sure it often is – but the fact that many, many people are independently coming to a collective sense that there is more to life than materialism and wishing to develop an extra-structural way of expressing it is a cause for celebration rather than derision.
There is of course also a body of opinion which is polarised by the revelation of similarities between different religious traditions. Fundamentalists are people who have experienced a religious opening in one particular tradition and are unwilling to conceive that their experience could be replicated in or by any other cultural context. In a sense the power of fundamentalism is drawn from a two-tier religion, the division between experts (priests) and the uninformed. I can think of no situation which this division is not harmful, and the insights of George Fox in breaking with humanity’s instinctive need to create objects of worship is, I believe, in the purest tradition of Christianity. For I am clear that the spirit of Christ exists in the rediscovery of that power is everywhere, in every object, every thought that surrounds. We do not need to look in obscure places to discover the light that already surrounds us.

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