God is the highest manifestation of Absolute Reality or in other words the highest vision of the Absolute possible by the human mind and while it is true that we cannot have any idea of God which is not anthropomorphic is that not equally true of everything we know?
Human consciousness is an element in the make-up of all the objects in our perception and conception, internal as well as external, so we may see that beginning with our own bodies and going all the way up to God every object of our perception is this consciousness which may become augmented by something else which we may comprehend as the spirit. This mixed perception is what we ordinarily think of as reality and it is and always has been and always will be all of reality that it is possible for the unaided human mind to know. To suggest that God is unreal because he is anthropomorphic is utter nonsense. The very meaning of God covers everything denoted and connoted by the word real and God is as real as anything else in the universe.
To those for whom the eternal interests of the soul are of much higher meaning and value than the fleeting interests of the mundane material existence, to whom the gratification of their senses is but the thoughtless play of the materialist, to them God and the love of God forms the highest utility of human existence. Whatever we are now is the result of our past thoughts and actions and whatever we shall become in the future depends upon what we think and do now, but this does not preclude our receiving help and in the vast majority help is absolutely necessary. When it comes then the higher powers and possibilities of the soul become quickened, spiritual life is awakened, growth is animated and eventually the individual becomes spiritualized and holy. To quicken the spirit the impulse comes from another source – either by the touch of the spirit in the life of the sincere individual or from another person.
The soul to whom such an impulse is transmitted must be fit to receive and earnestly will to possess the spiritual force and thereby attract it. When the drawing power which attracts the spirit light to the receptive soul is sufficient then the power which responds to that attraction does so as a matter of course. So whenever we are tempted to complain that our search after truth and enlightenment is proving futile, instead of complaining we must search our own soul to find whether our cravings are selfish or real and that we are truly fit and capable of reception of the truth.
There are many so-called teachers who are immersed in ignorance who delude themselves that they possess enlightenment and who offer to lead others such as the blind leading the blind. How, then, are we to know a real teacher? The conditions necessary for those who would be taught are purity, a real thirst after knowledge, and perseverance. Purity in thought, speech and actions is absolutely necessary for anyone to become spiritually enlightened. As to the thirst and hunger for anything, it is an old law that we all obtain only what we truly seek – none of us can achieve other than what we set our hearts and minds upon.
To strive for spiritual achievement is truly a very difficult thing – it is not as easy as generally imagined. There must be a continuous effort – a constant striving, an unremitting struggle with our lower nature until the highest ideal is actually experienced. Success rarely comes quickly and some may have to wait patiently even for what may seem to be a very long time but the sincere seeker who possesses perseverance will eventually succeed. What is necessary for acquiring spiritual truth for oneself or for imparting it to others is purity of heart, mind and soul because a vision of God does not happen until the heart is pure. The only medium through which spiritual force can be transmitted is love. Any selfish motive will immediately neutralize the conveying medium.
To those who love and seek the truth with such a spirit of love and veneration the spirit reveals truth, goodness and beauty. God understands human failings and it becomes those who are enlightened to do good for humanity and to reveal to others that spiritual realization is possible only when the human mind is in a steady, peaceful condition of harmonious equilibrium.
Such freedom which is the goal of all human nature is only attained by unselfishness and every selfish action retards progress and every unselfish action promotes progress towards freedom and harmony – that which is selfish is immoral and that which is unselfish is moral. The easiest way to make ourselves healthy and happy is to see to the happiness and health and welfare of others.
Non-injury, truthfulness, non-covetousness, chastity and not seeking anything belonging to others purifies the mind, while to never cause pain in any living being by thought, word or deed is a great virtue. There is no happiness higher than what anyone attains by this attitude of non-offensiveness to all creatures. By truthfulness and through truth everything is attained because in truth everything is established. The purification of the body is external purification and the purification of the mind by truth and by other virtues is internal purification. Both states are necessary – it is not enough that anyone should be internally pure and externally unclean.
All of these virtues – chastity, non-injury, truth and forgiveness and faith in God – are different vows taken by the person who is thus becoming spiritualized. Most persons are like undisciplined children who allow their mind to do whatever it wants, therefore it is necessary to constantly maintain our vows to gain control of our mind and bring it into subjection by the soul which is itself of God.
A large number of thoughtful people both in the East and in the West have begun to question life and its deeper problems and they want something more definite and vital for their spiritual needs than a mere promise of heavenly joys of an eternal life when they pass away out of their brief and feverish life on this world. Those who have lost faith in the ideals of orthodox religions and yet feel that their life is not a meaningless and passing phenomenon of nature are searching for the solutions of the problems connected with their inner life.
There is no other subject which is so much wrapped in mystery and obscurity which is due to the very nature of the subject itself. The philosophy of religion deals with some of the greatest mysteries of life and the universe and so it must inevitably be associated with profound questions due to the lack of correlation between teachings and the facts with which the ordinary person becomes familiar.
What is needed, therefore, for the dedicated seeker of truth is a clear, intelligible presentation of spiritual philosophy which gives a correct and balanced idea of all of its aspects in terms of modern thought. For while it is true that many aspects of philosophy are beyond the comprehension of those confined within the realms of their intellects, still the general tenets and the broader aspects of it can be understood by the serious student who is familiar with the main trends of philosophical and religious thought, and is prepared to bring to their efforts an open and an eager mind.
Such a one can at least understand spiritual philosophy sufficiently to be able to decide whether it is worth their while to undertake a deeper study of the subject and later to enter the path of practical teachings which will enable them to bring about fundamental changes in their nature and the hope that they can gain real insight into the problems and their solutions.
Those who begin to study it will soon see for themselves that the science of certain such philosophy is too comprehensive and too profound in its nature to be fitted into the framework of any particular philosophy, ancient or modern. It stands in its own right based upon the eternal laws of the higher life and does not require the support of any other science or philosophical system to uphold its claims. Its truths are based upon the experiences of those who have realized and borne witness to them throughout the ages. The facts of higher truths cannot be proved nor demonstrated – their appeal is to the intuition of the soul and not to the intellect, for the voice of intuition cannot be silenced by intellectual dogma.
There are definite and clearly defined stages of progress through which the individual passes in the unfolding of their consciousness and mind control, transformation and enlightenment. It becomes demonstrated to them that all experiences in the realm of mind consist of mental modifications and it is the control and suppression of those modifications which are inimical to the spiritual nature which eventually extinguishes the lower nature and leads inevitably to the dawning of the higher consciousness sought by the aspirant.
This requires an attitude of sincere devotion and perseverance – whole-hearted application. The objective is the highest prize of human achievement and its pursuit must necessarily be very exacting in its demands upon the time and energies of the seeker of spiritual enlightenment. Circumstances and habits may not allow them to become totally absorbed all at once but they must work steadily and deliberately towards this end, gradually eliminating all activities and interests which either interfere with their main objective or uselessly consume their time and energies.
The capacity to devote oneself wholly and persistently to the task which they have assumed is a necessary qualification and demonstrates the readiness of the soul to embark on the spiritual adventure of discovering the Ultimate Reality which is the basis and the cause of the whole universe – the tremendous nature of the Spiritual Reality which the soul is approaching. To appreciate the necessity of devotion of the energies we have to remember that much of the effort involves bringing about very deep-seated and fundamental changes in the various levels at which consciousness functions in our life. If a person desires success even in a worldly pursuit such as science or art they must devote themselves completely to it and the more difficult the undertaking the greater the devotion it demands.
In the earlier stages of evolutionary progress desire is the sole driving force and the development of the mind takes place almost solely as the result of the constant driving toward which it is subjected by desire. Later other factors enter as desire gradually changes into will which increasingly becomes the driving force behind evolutionary developments. This being the case all spiritual aspirants must therefore try to understand clearly the role which desires play in life and the manner in which it keeps their mind in a constant state of agitation.
Many spiritual aspirants, not realizing the disturbing influence of desire, try to make spiritual progress without giving sufficient attention to the problems of controlling desires with the result that they do not succeed to any considerable extent in freeing the mind from disturbances. If the driving force of desire could be eliminated completely then the mind would come to rest naturally but the elimination of the driving force of desire though theoretically possible is not altogether feasible. It is like trying to stop the forward motion of a car by removing the acceleration without applying the brakes.
The orthodox religious ideal requires a particular kind of life and conduct following which if the believer desires they expect to live after the dissolution of the physical body in a super-physical heaven with all kinds of enjoyments and means of happiness. True spiritual philosophy renounces desire which is selfish and teaches the consciousness to function on higher and spiritual levels – transcendent states of human existence which remove the thirst for heavenly enjoyments by mastery of the mind.
As the body and the mind become purified – freed from the baser desires – the spiritual light shines with increasing brightness exposing the illusions which underlie attachment to such desires. This is accomplished by reasoning, reflection and a sense of pure being and by the discipline of practice of the will which keeps the mind in the state of heightened awareness of the spirit. This is an intensely active and not a passive condition. It is a dynamic condition because consciousness is being slowly or quickly transferred from one level to another. As a matter of fact there is only the centre of Reality surrounded by a number of concentric states of consciousness levels and whichever one is illuminated derives its vision from that centre. But the concentration of consciousness in a particular level makes it appear as if the consciousness is moving up and down along a line which connects all of the concentric levels.
The individual whose consciousness has become permanently based on the centre of Reality may focus their attention temporarily upon any level they choose. The centre of consciousness may then appear to have moved from one level to another but in reality it has not moved at all – consciousness which is always centred in spiritual reality has merely been focused in one level or another. It is in this particular sense that the transference of consciousness from one level to another must be understood if we are not to become involved in the philosophical absurdity of imagining consciousness which transcends time and space – moving from one place to another.
Though the individual who is evolving slowly towards illumination may still be burdened with the material aspects remaining in their mind they can sense as it were the Reality increasingly as they progress towards their goal, and the burden becomes less. From this perspective every successive level of illumination is a precursor of the highest level of spiritual illumination – spiritual attainment of the human mind which alone gives an unobstructed vision of Universe Reality.
For the sincere seeker of spiritual growth this state of mind attainment is necessarily preceded by faith, energy, memory, and the higher intelligence and purity required for such an undertaking. Faith is the firm conviction regarding the presence of the Truth we seek within ourselves and the efficacy of the mental discipline and regimen which enables us to reach conscious awareness of the divine spirit within us. It is not ordinary belief which can be shaken by contrary arguments or repeated failures but that state of inner certainty which is present when a purified mind is irradiated by the light of spiritual intuition. Without this kind of faith it is not possible for anyone to persevere through the discipline needed to accomplish the object of the spiritual goal.
Only energy, determination, courage and an indomitable will ultimately overcome all obstacles. Without these traits of character it is not possible to make the almost superhuman effort which is required to overcome the selfish human nature and reach the highest levels of consciousness potential in the mind of the human being. According to the highest conceptions of philosophy the human soul is a partial expression of the Divine Reality which is the source of the manifested universe. The soul is in essence indivisible from Spiritual Reality but has become subjectively separated, and is destined after experiencing an evolutionary cycle in the manifested universe to become reunited in consciousness with the Spirit of God.
The mind is the instrument or medium through which the soul materializes its individual world and lives and evolves until it has become perfected and united in consciousness with spiritual reality – God’s spirit. Although the mind is immaterial it is affected by matter and becomes a product of consciousness and matter, the presence of both being necessary for its functioning. The evolution through which the soul becomes enabled to unite consciously with the spirit produces the inhibition of the modifications of the mind caused by the habits and circumstances and choices of worldly desires by the individual. The personality must work steadily and deliberately towards eliminating all activities and interests which interfere with the freeing of the soul from separation from the spirit –deliberate destruction of attractions and the consequent attachments and desires.
Isolation from the world to avoid temptations does not really help to inhibit the modifications of the mind – those effects causing separation of the soul and the spirit in the mind. For gaining the self-mastery necessary one should have come into contact with temptations of every kind and should have experienced ordeals of every description and emerged not only successful but without feeling the slightest residual attraction, for if the attraction is still felt, even though we may not succumb to the temptations we have not completely mastered the desire for them.
Real success is not characterized by a violent struggle with desires but comes naturally and in its most effective form by the exercise of our discriminative faculty, which is the influence of the spirit. Discrimination and renunciation mutually strengthen each other and result in the progressive destruction of illusions and attachments which are the root cause of bondage to the lower realms of consciousness and evils.
This eventually results in the realization that everything spiritual is contained within the soul itself and that the soul is the source of the power to free the mind from its shackles. As consciousness functions at different levels in different grades of the mind through different mechanisms, its progressive release from limitations may be considered as its withdrawal from one vehicle into a more subtle vehicle.
Each such vehicle has its own functions and limitations but the functions become more inclusive and the limitations become more tenuous as the matter of which the vehicle mind is composed becomes more refined, spiritualized. In the progression of consciousness from the lower to the higher origin in the soul in stages in succession until the last hurdle has been crossed it is not a steady, uninterrupted progression but consists in an alternate rising and sinking, ebb and flow of consciousness at each barrier separating any two stages. The time required for transition through the different stages depends upon the individual, as the beginner may remain entangled in the lower stages of consciousness for a considerable time while the person who has attained full realization of self-mastery and soul consciousness of the spirit can transfer their consciousness to any desired level in relating to other human beings. The beginner is unable to see through the veils which their lower mind has placed around their consciousness.
It is apparent that we cannot understand the real nature of consciousness by applying the ordinary methods of modern psychology. What is known as consciousness in terms of modern psychology is only consciousness veiled by the many layers of the mind each of which increasingly obscures and modifies its nature as it infiltrates into the outermost physical mechanism – namely the human brain. So we observe consciousness in its ordinary manifestations through the physical brain under the greatest possible limitations and it is not possible to form any idea with regard to its true nature from these extremely partial and distorted manifestations.
Submitting everything to physical examination may succeed with physical things but no physical instruments can ever reveal the nature of consciousness, which is of the nature of spirit. The consciousness which we are seeking to uncover within the folds of our mind is nothing but that supreme reality which is commonly referred to as God’s spirit. God is recognized by religions to be a mighty being whose consciousness transcends the manifested universe.
This supreme reality or consciousness is not merely a matter of speculation or even adoration but can actually be discovered by following definite and unfailing endeavours, as demonstrated by those who have discovered the method of mental perception of the mind, soul and spirit. The mind must become aware of the soul and allowed to become illuminated by the higher consciousness of the soul which is eternally present. In thus becoming spiritualized the mind is capable of knowing everything in the phenomenal world. The real mind does not merely stand for the medium through which the human intellect finds expression but stands for the all-inclusive medium through which phenomena of every kind from the physical to the spiritual are perceived, living in and experiencing the transcendent knowledge of the soul. In effect the drive for transcendent knowledge and consciousness of spirit and soul destroys and eliminates the lower desires of the mind.
The fundamental law of life is that the lower must be relinquished before the higher can be gained and the subliminal mind and all of its vestiges must be eradicated before the attainment of spiritual states of being. The transcendental knowledge of the pure consciousness of the spirit is Absolute whereas the knowledge of the average human being is produced by the imposition of mental limitations upon pure consciousness. So, even the highest kind of human knowledge cannot be compared with the enlightenment which comes when all of the limitations are removed.
The relation of knowledge and enlightenment is analogous to the relation of time and eternity. Eternity is not time of infinite duration but a state which transcends time altogether. The real mysteries of life which we attempt to unravel with the intellect are actually rooted in the eternal as are the expressions in terms of time and space of realities which exist in their true form in the eternal where they are resolved by the pure consciousness of the spirit.
In the last phase of the evolutionary development wherein the spiritualizing consciousness of the human soul attunes to the spiritual consciousness in the culmination of the long process, the result is one of progressively uncovering a tremendous reality which is hidden within the deepest recesses of our own being.
This is the last in the ten-part series “Reaching out for Spiritual Reality – On the Path to Spiritual Attainment”
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