high mountain

High Mountain to Spiritual Enlightenment

“As it is difficult for one to climb high mountain peaks, so it is difficult to climb the highest reaches of spiritual life. Life is climbing a high mountain peak. Someone tells me, ‘I moan. I am tormented.’ Naturally, you go to the heights, and for this reason, you find it difficult.

“One suffers because one has strayed from God and does not know how to return. Moving away from God leads to deprivation, suffering, misfortune, hardship, disease, and death. The greater the suffering, the greater the turning away. Therefore, in order for this deviation to be set right, you need to return to the primordial life.

“The reason for human suffering and hardship lies in the unfulfillment of God’s Will. The trials of life come in order to distinguish that which is pure gold from that which is only gilded. What is gold is put to work, whereas whatever is gold-plated is put aside.

“One should not bring suffering and conflict upon oneself. Sometimes the Spirit comes and tells someone to do something, but that person refuses with the excuses that there are no favorable conditions or proper disposition. Then comes the great difficulties in one’s life. …The suffering and misfortunes in your life are due to a lack of understanding of the great Principles and Laws that Nature is using.” ~Biensa Douno

A Difficult Climb

Climbing a high mountain is always difficult, but it is not the same for everyone. If you are physically weak or handicapped, it is a lot more difficult. If you are very strong and an experienced mountain climber, it will be easier than for others. If you are starting your climb from seas level, or below, it will be more difficult than for the person who is starting out already halfway up the mountain. And if you sit at the bottom of the mountain waiting for someone else to lift you off your butt and carry you up the mountain, you are going nowhere. So as Douno said, it is difficult to climb the peaks of spiritual life, but it is worth the effort—and necessary.

Suffering and Deprivation

To some degree, we all suffer. It may be health problems, financial problems, relationship problems, and so on. One reason even the most spiritual people have such problems is so we can relate to others who have to deal with those problems and see no way out. Another reason is because so few of us have advanced so far on the spiritual path that we can escape the trials and tribulations of material Man.

Don’t get the idea, however, as many do, that the only way to awaken and grow spiritually is to go through great depression and difficulties, the so-called “Dark Night of the Soul”. While there is no doubt that some people have had a spiritual awakening from that path, there are many more who have had a spiritual awakening without it. So it is necessary only for some, certainly not for all.

If you have fallen far from those spiritual mountain peaks, or were never very spiritual or religious before, than your climb will naturally be longer and harder than for someone who has always had some religious and spiritual beliefs that are at least close to the truth. Of course, the people who are in the worse state in this regard, are not the atheists who have no belief in God or religion, but those who follow phony churches of materialism, namely the Evangelical Christians. These people have turned Christianity upside down, so they don’t just have to climb the mountain of spiritual truth from sea level, but from a hole a mile below sea level.

Strayed from God

It is true, as Douno says, that much of our suffering and difficulties happen because we have strayed from God. We insist on doing things our own way, and that leads to undesired results. We need to remember that we are trapped here in the horrid world of matter; the world of death, disease, greed, and so on, because the fallen angels did their own thing instead of following God’s Plan. If we can acknowledge and accept that, we are on our way to healing. We can turn back to the Way of God and start working to help fulfill the Will of God rather than that of fallen Man. This does mean keeping our egos under control, but it doesn’t mean destroying them. People without egos at all become sheep who can’t accomplish anything. The difficult climb will become an impossible climb for them. That is what many governments want, which is why they promote and aid gurus and spiritual teachers who preach ego destruction. You should always be suspicious when a government starts promoting any spiritual practice.

Pure Gold and Fool’s Gold

Douno talks of pure gold and things that are merely gold-plated. I think it would be better to say real gold and fools gold. If you are not familiar with it,

Fool’s Gold (iron pyrite)

fools gold is a mineral with a similar color to yellow gold, but is essentially worthless.

Douno is using gold allegorically here to represent that which is real and that which is spiritual. The gold-plated items, or fool’s gold, represent that which seems real and important, but isn’t, namely, the material world. He advises us to put aside that which is fake gold, and make use of the real gold. We can’t, unfortunately, put aside all things of the material world. We can’t climb to the top of the high mountain and spend the rest of our lives there. In most parts of the world, you can’t get away with that kind of life. You have to have a regular job and pay bills. You have to buy food and clothing. So we can’t put those things aside, but we can place the real gold of spiritual matters ahead of the material ones. It is possible to be spiritual and still function in a world of materialism. It may take a little longer to climb that high mountain with that limitation, but it can still be done. Real gold is found at the top of the high mountain, not at the bottom.

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Contemplative and Active Spiritual Adept

“There have been all kinds of Saints, from St. Paul, to Father Damian, but the ” active ” Saints seem less interesting than the “contemplative.” Certainly the Fathers of the Desert are very seductive. They lived in caves or on the tops of pillars, supporting their existences on roots and brackish water, while they exhaled their souls in a hymn of timeless ecstasy like Shelley’s sky lark. Solitude was to them as water to the fish, and they preferred the society of beasts to that of men. … Their inner spirit was the most precious thing humanity possesses. For when everything else has failed a man, he arrives, if his courage holds out, at the joys of the spirit. The forces manifested in his experience, which succeeded in the long run in eluding his dominating grasp, answer submissively to the call of his mind in contemplation. … For he has arrived, if without the help of metaphysical analysis, by experience, at the conviction that nothing is real but thought which is the first—and perhaps the last— word of philosophy. Mystics and contemplatives of East and West of all creeds and rites have borne substantial witness to this truth. This is no doubt the reason why alike to the popular imagination as in the treatises of theologians the contemplative life is extolled at the expense of active virtue. For, to all of us, there come moments when we are aware of a psychological need, more profound, more urgent, than the desire for action. Before certain works of art, or occasional aspects of nature, or it may be at the exquisite climax of some mood of intimate personal emotion, a delicious paralysis steals over the will: we feel that we have done enough. In the calm that follows the whirlwind and earthquake of volition now, it seems, definitely stilled, we are conscious only of the beauty of the situation on which we gaze, we have no desire to modify it, we only wish to gaze on for ever.” ~from the Introduction to The Book of Divine Consolation of the Blessed Angela of Foligno

All Kinds of Saints

Many people, especially Christians, don’t know that several religions have saints. Not just Christians and Jews, but there are Hindu saints as well. Saints are not restricted to any one faith, any one nationality. They come from all parts of the world, from all religions, from all races and sexes. Of course, there are also those who are declared saints, but really are not, and those who never get declared saints, yet truly are.

In Caves and on Pillars

I had heard of Saints who lived in caves, at least for a time, but never one who lived on the top of a pillar. Yet some did exist! One was St. Simeon Stylites who spent 37 years living on a small platform on top of a pillar. The word “Stylite” comes from this saint and refers to all saints who lived atop a pillar. This tells us there were others.

St. Simeon on his pillar

St Luke the younger and Daniel the Stylite were two such Stylites.

In most cases, I think this lifestyle was not a preference of these saints, but something done out of necessity. St. John the Theologian was exiled to the island of Patmos where he lived out the rest of his life in a cave and wrote the Book of Revelation. I suspect he lived in a cave because it was the only shelter he could find on this small island. And St. Simeon Stylites took refuge on a pillar to escape the masses of people who bothered him.

It is said that St. John “spoke to God” through three holes or cracks in the cave. This is important to know. I think we can assume that John heard God while watching the sunrise through those cracks. In the same way, God speaks to us if we choose to look upon the Spiritual Sun and listen.

I think we can safely say that these saints who lived in caves and on pillars fall into the contemplative category.

Shelley’s Sky Lark

Shelley’s poem, To a Skylark, is indeed an ode to ecstasy. The sheer joy in life, expressed by the song of that bird. I don’t know if Shelley was considered a spiritual person, but this poem sounds to me as if this lark is an allegory for the human soul, especially a fully awakened one. Continue reading “Contemplative and Active Spiritual Adept”

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life thread

Life Thread We Help Weave

“THE ONE RAY MULTIPLIES THE SMALLER RAYS. LIFE PRECEDES FORM, AND LIFE SURVIVES THE LAST ATOM. THROUGH THE COUNTLESS RAYS THE LIFE-RAY, THE ONE, LIKE A THREAD THROUGH MANY BEADS.

“This sloka expresses the conception—a purely Vedantic one, as explained elsewhere—of a life-thread, Sutratma, running through successive generations. How, then, can this be explained? By resorting to a simile, to a familiar illustration, though necessarily imperfect, as all our available allegories must be. Before resorting to it, however, I would ask whether it seems unnatural, least of all “supernatural,” to any one of us, when we consider that process known as the growth and development of a fetus into a healthy baby weighing several pounds evolves from what? From the segmentation of an infinitesimally small ovum and a spermatozoa; and afterwards we see that baby develop into a six-foot man! This refers to the atomic and physical expansion from the microscopically small into something very large, from the—to the naked eye—unseen, into the visible and objective. … What are the forces at work in the formation of the fetus, and the cause of “hereditary transmission” of likeness, physical, moral or mental, have never been properly answered.” ~H. P. Blavatsky

The Life Thread

The Life Thread, or Thread-of-Life as we prefer to say it in Cosolargy, is well known in mystical and spiritual schools. Most think of it as connecting together all beings that exist at the present time, but it also connects with previous generations. To remind us of this thread that connects us to all beings, we wear a thread-of-life that has eight crystals, gems, or colored stones on it. It is not that such a thread has some magic or mystical powers. We wear it simply as a reminder. Of course, the stones on it do have mystical powers, but that is another tale. (click here to read older posts about gems and crystals).

Imperfect Allegories

I like that Blavatsky refers to the use of imperfect allegories. When you describe something by the use of an allegory, you are almost certainly describing it in an imperfect way. But with spiritual things, that is often the best way to describe it. But we should all be aware that stories found in the Bible, in the Upanishads, and many other ancient spiritual books are full of allegory and that allegory is never perfect. That is fine with most real spiritual teachers because the intent is to get the students to experience it for themselves, not rely on descriptions from others.

Life Survives

Blavatsky is correct in saying that life survives the last atom. That makes no sense to the materialist. “How,” they ask, “can there be life without a single atom of matter?” The answer is twofold. First, on the level of the physical universe, life isn’t a creation of matter. Life is a force that exists independent of matter. So even if all matter was gone, life would still be there. And if matter somehow returned, the life force would soon have some of that matter forming living beings. That is one way that life survives. The other is that life also exists on a spiritual level. In fact, some spiritual masters and gurus say that it is the only real life because it is eternal. So even if the realm of matter were to be completely wiped out so even the life force was gone, life survives as eternal spirit. The life thread also survives, even when there are no life forms, or all matter is gone. The life thread is just as much spiritual as it is material.

Hereditary Transmission

Blavatsky says that we don’t understand how our offspring, or that of any other earthly being, is given the likeness, physically and mentally of the parent. Today we understand it a lot better than in her time about 100 years ago. Still, we don’t understand it as well as we think we do. We know about DNA and how it carries information from one generation to another. Yet some recent discoveries show that our knowledge of DNA still doesn’t tell the full story.

It has been found that our minds, consciously or subconsciously, can effect this passing of DNA on to new generations. How we think determines what traits we pass on to others. We are responsible, at least in part, with weaving our own thread of life. And it is likely that animals and plants can do that as well, though to a much lesser degree. We can’t control the life thread that connects us to our parents, but we should make the effort to control the one that connects us to our children.

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inner principle

Inner Principle of Scripture and Man

“So long as we only see the Logos of God as embodied multiriously in symbols in the letter of Holy Scripture, we have not yet achieved spiritual insight into the incorporeal, simple, single and unique Father as he exists in the incorporeal, simple, single and unique Son, according to the saying, ‘He who has seen me has seen the Father …’. We need much knowledge so that, having first penetrated the veils of the sayings which cover the Logos, we may with a naked intellect see—in so far as men can—the pure Logos, as He exists in Himself, clearly showing us the Father in Himself. Hence a person who seeks God with true devotion should not be dominated by the literal text, lest he unwillingly receives not God but things appertaining to God, that is, lest he feel a dangerous affection for the words of scripture instead of for the Logos. …

“It is by means of the more lofty conceptual images that the inner principle of Holy Scripture can be stripped gradually of the complex garment of words with which it is physically draped. Then to the visionary intellect … it reveals itself as through the sound of a delicate breeze.” ~St. Nikodimos

Only Letters

St. Nikodomos, writing in the Philokalia, is telling us that trying to truly understand scripture by a literal interpretation of the words and symbols found there is not going to awaken our spiritual self. And it doesn’t matter what scripture you are looking at. The Bible, the Upanishads, the Koran, etc. all have hidden meanings, all are full of allegory. To try to understand them with literal interpretations produces an understanding that is not only false and incomplete but is often nearly the opposite of the true meaning.

What is really sad is that so many young people today, particularly the “Spiritual but not religious (SBNR)” crowd, reject all scripture outright because they recognize that a literal interpretation produces nonsense. It seems beyond their abilities to understand that these holy books were never intended to be literal. Of course, it is also true that many of these people have never actually read scripture, or have read only the scripture of one religion. They simply take the word of someone else that they are meaningless and irrelevant to those seeking spiritual enlightenment. In actual fact, there is much useful information in all of the world’s holy books, if you can understand the allegory used.

He Who Sees Me

There is a general misunderstanding of what Jesus meant when he said that if you see Him, you see the Father. Most interpret this as Jesus saying that He is God, therefore seeing Him, in the physical sense, is the same as looking at the Father. That is not what was meant. For one thing, God doesn’t even have a physical body.

What is meant is that those who have had a spiritual awakening and can “see” Jesus (and others) through the spiritual eyes of the soul are also seeing the Father. That is because when you see a person as a spirit—truly see it, not just believe it—you see that all spirits are the same and all spirits come from God. So if you know spirits, you know God. Individual souls are like bricks in the universal wall that is God. Or perhaps it might be better to say that individual spirits and souls are the flowers in the universal garden that is God.

Inner Principle of Holy Scripture

St. Nikodimos says that the “inner principle,” the true meaning of scripture is found by stripping off the complex garment of words. That may be part of it, but it isn’t enough. We not only need to look beyond the literal meaning of the words, but we also need to understand the spiritual meanings and symbols represented by the words.

Here is just one example. In the original Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek of the Bible, there are statements that seem to be constructed oddly or seem to have little meaning. But some of these were meant to be said out loud, perhaps repeatedly, much like a mantra in meditation. It was the combination of sounds produced that helped to awaken something in the listener, not the literal meaning of the words. Then when academics translate the words into other languages such as English and do it based on a literal meaning of the words, the sounds that were the true meaning, the inner principle, is lost.

Then there is the symbolic meaning. Symbols are often used in scripture. This is partly done to hide the true meaning from the unworthy, and partly to make it easier for people to remember the lesson being taught. Talking about evil forces opposing the good ones is vague, it doesn’t produce a mental image easily. But change it to a dragon fighting with a saint and you have produced a mental image that is easy to remember. References to things like flying carpets, pillars of fire, burning bushes, and water turned to wine sound like fantasy tales, but they are not. Others interpret such things as evidence of alien visitors. That is not true either. What those things are is symbols. Symbols of something spiritual. You can start to understand many of these symbols by getting a good dream dictionary. The meaning of dream symbols often coincides with the meaning of the allegorical symbols found in scripture. Learning to understand the inner principle of scripture is an important step in spiritual growth. Learning to understand the inner principle of ourselves is even more so.

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