Without a vibrant God into the equation, we conservatives have no hope of winning the "culture war," or reestablishing freedom, integrity as watchwords of our republic
Reincarnation, God, and Government
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This article started out to be a rather modest apologetic on reincarnation, but then, for better or worse, it blossomed and snowballed into the article you are reading.
In my last article I touched on the topic of reincarnation, and judging by the emails sent to me by some readers it is a topic worthy of further pursuit. It is also a topic about which a lot of misunderstanding abounds, so a discussion of it might help clear the air a bit.
Do I believe in reincarnation? Yes I do. Do I care whether you do? Frankly I could not care less. I consider delving into past-life regression and such things to generally be a distraction from focusing on the one life that truly matters—this one. Rather than reinvent the wheel, permit me to quote from a couple of emails that I sent to readers. Here is the first one:
As regards reincarnation, it is worth a few words of explanation. I almost decided not to mention it, but elected in the end to do so. I knew that by doing so I risked turning what is basically a non-issue to me into a distraction, but I always do my best to follow the Holy Spirit when I write (as best as my intuition allows me), and the Spirit moved me to include the topic.
I say that it is a non-issue for me because frankly I could not care less about any past lives that I may or may not have lived. This is the life that concerns me. I believe that attempting to investigate past lives is a red herring that more often than not sidetracks one from any real spiritual work.
So although I believe in reincarnation like many others (such as Benjamin Franklin: “I believe I shall, in some shape or other, always exist; and… I shall not object to a new edition of mine, hoping, however, that the errata of the last may be corrected.”), I do not encourage investigating past lives.
I have studied many spiritually evolved teachers over the decades, and most of them gave the nod to reincarnation, either directly or by implication. But without exception they all discouraged research into it. They considered such research to be a distraction and profitless. “Do you not have enough on your plate dealing with this life?” they would say in essence.
I only believe in reincarnation because it is a way to explain the otherwise unexplainable. God does indeed move in mysterious ways, but I do not believe that He is capricious or cruel—belief in reincarnation allows me the means to harmonize my belief in a loving God with such things as infant deaths and many of the other unfair and unjust “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” I use it as a crutch to prop my reason upon from time to time—no more, no less.
I have written the above not in order to defend belief in reincarnation, but merely to give a brief explanation of why I choose to believe in it. Truly I have “no dog in this hunt.” Because I believe that our main focus should always be on this life, I can only applaud and approve of those who do focus on this life.
The following is from the second email that I wish to quote from (because it is block indented in its entirety I have placed quote marks around the comments of Dr. Fox so as to make them easily discernible from my comments).
I have just taken a book down from my shelves in order to look up what one of those “spiritual teachers” I mentioned had to say concerning reincarnation. Here is some of what Emmet Fox says on the subject.
“Here it may be well to issue a word of warning. There are people who make fools of themselves about reincarnation. This is only to be expected because every great universal truth is sure to be misunderstood or misapplied by some people. A fool will wrest any piece of knowledge to his own confusion, no matter what it is. All the great truths of religion and philosophy have been caricatured by immature minds from time to time, and so we find obviously undeveloped souls claiming to be reincarnations of some of the most distinguished figures in history. ...Of course, all this means nothing except that foolish people are finding one more opportunity to be foolish. ...Reincarnation is true and none the less so because it is sometimes misunderstood.”
Emmet originally penned those words in 1932, and although I have read every book he published until his death in 1951 I do not recall him ever again mentioning the word “reincarnation”—for a certainty he never discussed the topic again. Like I said, I do not know of any true spiritual teacher who encourages delving into the subject. It is interesting to note that in the same chapter that the above quote came from Dr. Fox wrote this:
“The reason why the Bible nowhere definitely teaches reincarnation and, in fact, avoids the subject, is because the Bible teaches us to concentrate on the task of achieving our reunion with God instead of postponing this indefinitely as many…people do. The doctrine of reincarnation when not thoroughly understood sometimes tends to make people apathetic and fatalistic. The Bible encourages men to actively seek to liberate themselves from all limitations.”
Emmet Fox loved the Bible—can you see why he might have avoided the topic of reincarnation in all further writings?
So, does this mean that I shun the topic of reincarnation? Not at all, past life regression can in fact prove to be a boon to some folks, and although it tends to stay on my back-burner, I check in on it from time to time. Dr. David R. Hawkins noted that “The therapeutic use of past life regression can indeed produce spectacular healings and results.” But I tread around the subject of reincarnation cautiously, for I am extremely wary of the dangers that the reincarnation belief system can present to the unwary. By the way, while we are on the topic of reincarnation versus single life scenarios, you may find the following quote by Dr. Hawkins to be of interest.
The Buddha recalled numerous past lifetimes, but this awareness is not part of traditional Judeo-Christian tradition, although it is a major understanding of other world religions that stretch back into antiquity. Spiritual research reveals that the Buddha had many past reincarnations. Jesus Christ did not, and He did indeed descend from Heaven without having any prior human lives.
That last sentence may not mean much to you, but it carries a great deal of weight with me. I have spent the bulk of my 62 years involved in spiritual studies of one sort or another, and my spiritual BS detector is pretty refined by this point. I have read all of Dr. Hawkins’s books, and while reading them at no point did alarm bells go off or red flags go up—and believe me, he makes some pretty startling statements from time to time. For what it is worth, I will vouch for the veracity of Dr. Hawkins’s teachings without hesitation—in fact I consider it an honor to do so.
While we are at it, I may as well briefly discuss the idea of a plurality of heavens and hells, which I also mentioned in my last article. This is a notion that seems to upset some folks. They do not appear to have a conniption fit whenever Dante’s levels of hell are brought up, and there seems little difference to me between the concepts of levels and realms, but there it is.
It makes no sense to me that a loving and just God would send people to a “one size fits all” heaven or hell. There are people who have lived bad lives, which I would say have earned them a stay in hell, but there are others who have led truly evil lives, who have earned them time in a more severe sort of hell IMO. I believe the same as regards heaven—there are those who by having lived good and decent lives have earned a place in heaven, but there are those who have lived exemplary lives, saintly lives, who have earned a higher sort of heaven IMO.
When Jesus told us that “In my Father’s house are many mansions (or rooms)” I believe that He meant exactly what He said (not literally, of course, but in the sense that there are many realms of existence). I have no axe to grind with anyone who believes in the notion of a single hell and a single heaven—disagreements about such things amounts to nothing more than a tempest in a teapot as far as I am concerned. The important thing is that we agree that there is a universal system of punishment and reward in place, and that what we do, and how we think and act while in this earthly realm will have consequences down the line.
Contrary to what many may think, the Bible does indeed teach the concept of karma (it is important to remember that there is good karma as well as bad). The Bible does not call it karma of course, but the concept is most definitely there—what goes around comes around. Probably the best known example of karmic teaching in the Bible is Paul’s statement that we will reap what we sow—God is not mocked. (Again, it is a good idea to keep in mind that karma (reaping what we sow) can be a very good thing depending on the sort of life we live).
If you disagree with the idea of reincarnation, or a plurality of heavens and hells, or karma being a biblical teaching, or reaching a state of salvation while still on this earthly plane, then by all means disregard such things—whatever floats your boat. I am writing about them because they are concepts that have helped me on my spiritual path, and I share them in case they may be of use to others. Whether you pick them up or kick them to the side is all the same to me—they are trifles compared to that which is important.
What is important is, as I said earlier, that we share a belief in an afterlife and a system of reward and punishment. The reality of divine reward and punishment used to be commonplace knowledge in this country—not anymore—and we see the results of such atheistic hubris all around us in the breakdown of morality and promulgation of depravity.
By this point you may be asking yourself “what in the world is an article like this doing in a venue devoted to conservative politics?” The answer is that while it is all fine and good to debate the various pros and cons of liberal and conservative ideologies, we are just spinning our wheels unless we address the real issues that lay at the heart of such matters—and it is no hyperbole to say that the fundamental and most important difference between the liberal and conservative viewpoints centers around how they each treat the topic of God and spirituality.
If you are under the impression that religion and spirituality play no part in political strategies, let me hasten to point out that there are many atheists and leftist radicals who would strongly disagree with you. They have been busy perverting, diluting, and destroying the Christian faith for quite some time—and doing so with great success I might add.
If you doubt me then I would suggest for starters that you research the connection between John D. Rockefeller, Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), and the “Social Gospel” movement, or look into the collusion between the Catholic Church (especially the CCHD) and Saul Alinsky, or the Marxist tenor and tone of the World Council of Churches and Liberation Theology. Religion has no place in a political venue? The Powers That Be love to see such naivet√©, and will encourage it at every turn.
It is not just that liberal economic policies are asinine, or their social programs destructive, or their love for big government stifling and dangerous. It is their opposition to God, life, and logic that should concern us with its stupidity, arrogance, and blithe disregard for that which is ennobling, righteous, and true.
Without reintroducing a vibrant God into the equation, we conservatives have no hope of winning the “culture war,” or reestablishing freedom and integrity as watchwords of our republic. Without God, America will cease to exist as a bulwark against the tide of greed and corruption that circles the globe. Without God we are doomed—simple as that.
It is not a question of having God on our side—we do not need God on our side. What we need is for “we the people” to be firmly planted on God’s side. As American patriots that is our tradition—liberal lies, snide innuendos and disparaging remarks notwithstanding.
The secularists celebrate death and depravity while dissing life and honor. They have, by utilizing a plethora of means, turned what was once an unapologetically Christian nation into a place where Christians shy away from talking about their faith beyond church walls, and talk of God has all but vanished from the public forum. By the use of Political Correctness and other means we have been shamed and cowed into a craven silence.
I could go on at length about what is wrong and even evil about the Progressives (God, could I ever), but I need to rein myself in at this point so that I can discuss more elevating matters (the drop in my state of consciousness whenever I start discussing American traitors is quick and precipitous). They oppose God, and I oppose them—it is a knee-jerk reaction. In any event, I wish to now discuss something which this country (and planet) sorely needs more of—I am talking about love. Regardless of what Obama says, or the pundits say, or the media says, I believe that America is still largely a Christian nation, and as such it would behoove us to refresh our memories regarding what Christ taught us. Permit me this interlude before I return to the main theme of this article.
I quoted Dr. Hawkins earlier regarding Buddha and Christ—it is worth noting that Buddha’s teachings mainly focused on enlightenment, while Christ’s teachings mainly focused on salvation. Although they are by no means mutually exclusive, and there is much overlap, they are not the same thing. This can all make for a delightful chat over tea, but we don’t have time for that now so I will suffice it to say that Jesus emphasized love above all things.
When Jesus gave the commandment to love others as He loved us, He was not referring to love as it is commonly understood (or rather, misunderstood), He was talking about unconditional love—no strings attached (if you do not understand the meaning of the word “commandment” I would suggest looking it up). A return to Dr. Hawkins may serve to clarify things a bit.
Focus on Love itself. That is the royal road to God and one that is everywhere present and available to everyone. In the beginning, love is seen as dualistic, i.e., the one who loves and that or who which is loved. Love starts out as conditional and a feeling state, but it progresses. It becomes apparent that love is a way of seeing, experiencing, and interpreting life. Later, it becomes apparent that it is a state of being.
Life itself becomes the expression of love, and that Love is the way to realizing that one’s life is love. In the final realization, the divinity of love transforms perception into spiritual vision, and the presence of God as All That Is becomes self-revealing. All existence radiates forth the divinity of its essence as creation, which is the manifestation of the love of God.
That is the love that Jesus is referring to. Our understanding of what love is progresses as we progress. Also, as we progress we increasingly become purveyors of love, rather than seekers of love. We begin to radiate love outwards—not in the typical quid pro quo manner, but “for free and for fun.” It takes quite an elevated state of consciousness to experience unconditional love, but it is real—more real than anything that we experience in our normal states of consciousness. And it is accessible to us, much more accessible than the rarefied heights needed to reach full enlightenment (which, unlike salvation, involves totally transcending our ego—all sense of self-identity has to go, even identification with the “silent witness” or pure awareness). Walking the paths of salvation or enlightenment requires discipline and commitment—“a yoke and burden” if you like—but as Jesus told us “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Let us be quite sure when we speak of Christianity that we mean Christ’s Christianity. Other versions are either caricatures, or exaggerations, or misunderstandings, or shortsighted and surface readings. For the most part their attainment is hopeless and the results wretched.
Dr. Henry Drummond (1851-1897) from “Pax Vobiscum”
Referencing the Old Testament (the only Testament at the time, of course) and adding His own fillip Jesus taught us: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’”
The second part of the commandment is like unto the first part because God is One, and when we love others we are in essence loving God. When Paul told us that in God we live and move and have our being, he got it mostly right—God is indeed everywhere around us—but he left out the part about God being in us—and what a crucial bit of info that is. Jesus spelled it out for us; He could not have made it any clearer—”the kingdom of God is within you.” And where might one expect to find God? In His kingdom (heaven) one would think—inside you. Gloria in excelsis deo.
Make ready for the Christ, Whose smile, like
Sets free the song of everlasting glory
That now sleeps, in your paper flesh, like dynamite.
Thomas Merton (1915-1968) from “The Victory”
By “inside us” is meant our state of consciousness, which, without misrepresenting things too badly, may be thought of as our mind (which is why Paul tells us to renew, or transform, our minds). In “Paradise Lost” the author, Milton, has Lucifer proclaim that (this is the ego’s theme song) it is ”better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.”
Shortly before making this grandiose proclamation Lucifer states “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.” And so it is—the mind, or more correctly our state of consciousness, holds the keys to both heaven and hell. Thus far we as individuals, and humanity as a whole, have exhibited an unfortunate knack for opening the doors to Hell, but we have proven ourselves to be clumsy and inept when it comes to opening the gates of Heaven. Perhaps we have been looking in the wrong places.
The materialistic, secular, Godless bassackwards agenda of the Progressives is not helping things one bit. In point of fact, their asinine social engineering manipulations all but ensure that humanity will stay stuck in the lower; more ego-oriented and hellish states of unenlightened consciousness—stuck on stupid—for as long as those benighted morons hold the reins of power. (Forgive me while I reposition my state of consciousness—thinking about Progressives tends to make it drop like a lead balloon).
There, that’s better. As I was saying, humanity has become quite accomplished at accessing Hell, but is unfortunately still struggling with the Heaven thing. It need not be that way, and if we are to survive it must not be allowed to stay that way. I see all too many pastors, priests, and other purported leaders of “the flock” willingly aiding and abetting those who would bind us in chains and turn our backs on God. They need to get their heads out of the clouds, or their posteriors, or wherever they may be, and look around and see just how far down the road to perdition we are.
They need to stop kowtowing to the temporal, the crass and ephemeral, and start exalting the divine, the sacred, and eternal. That is their job, and they are mostly not doing it. It is a spiritual axiom that the most beneficial thing that you or I can do for this world is to change ourselves for the better—to evolve spiritually. As Gandhi said, be the change that you wish to see. If our so-called spiritual leaders will not lead the way, then we must take it upon ourselves to change the world by changing ourselves.
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
Religions can and should provide a great service by acting as carriers of spiritual verities—but we should never forget that religions carry the truth—they are not the truth itself. They are not sacred, they are not divine, and they are not to be worshipped—only the spiritual truths that they convey are worthy of such things.
Religions are merely vehicles, and when those vehicles no longer effectively do the job that they were designed for, then they should be discarded. When the leaders of the flock no longer effectively lead, and the vehicles that convey the truth can no longer be counted on to provide the service they were designed for, then it is time to part ways.
I have the roadmap and other guides that Jesus gave us, and so do you—so does everyone. There is no need to wait for permission from anyone in order for us to be about the business of transforming ourselves into what Jesus wanted us to become—commanded us to become. We have the blueprint, and we have the tools—all we need is the motivation. If the rapidly approaching planetary goat-rodeo does not motivate you to get off your butt, then I do not know what to tell you—enjoy your chains? Have a nice Armageddon? I like your bunker?
At any rate, I would like to quote Dr. Hawkins again before moving on. Jesus has given us two main tools to reach salvation (the level of unconditional love as you’ll recall). I am afraid that merely wearing a WWJD bracelet and a crucifix necklace will not cut it as a means to be saved (but nice try)—a bit more effort than that is required on our part.
(Sidebar: Are we “saved” by Jesus’s intercession alone? I would say yes and no. Yes we are saved through the grace of Jesus, but we have our part to play as well—why else do you think Jesus gave us commandments, and talked of yokes and burdens? Just for grins?)
The two main “tools” that Jesus handed to us are love and devotion. What is devotion? Jesus told us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”—that is devotion. (If we are not devoted to God in the manner that Jesus spoke of—and who do you know who is?—that does not excuse us from striving to acquire such devotion). Dr. Hawkins calls these two tools “essential factors,” and has this to say about them:
[Love and devotion] are the sources of the requisite energy to make and sustain the effort and commitment to persevere. By analogy, one can have a car and a map, but without gasoline, the source of energy and power, the vehicle does not move. The destination is sought because one is impelled towards it and attracted by it. The way is lighted by God’s grace as the Holy Spirit, which is the Guide and Sustainer.
In the end, the God of Transcendence and the God of Divine Love merge in the Supreme. The Unification of that which is loved is the fulfillment of divine destiny and the core of salvation. Love is therefore the means and the end.
As you can see from Dr. Hawkins’s description salvation is nothing to be sneezed at, spiritually speaking. It is a very elevated state indeed. Only a relative handful of people on the planet exist in the state of unconditional love. The thing is, it is very much a doable thing for us—a reachable state. According to Dr. Hawkins that is why Jesus picked it as a spiritual destination. (I should probably mention that although Jesus’s main focus was salvation, the Christian path can and does ultimately lead to full enlightenment—but that is a subject for another day).
Although Jesus Himself had (has) a state of consciousness that reaches to infinity, He took into account our inherent limitations as humans, and pointed us in the direction of a level of consciousness that is both sublime and reachable through the use of our human volition (the highest states of consciousness are accessed only through grace—human will plays no part).
Using the tools of love and devotion I work on reaching salvation every day—if you are not already doing so then you might consider giving it a go yourself. You will not only be helping yourself, but you will also be doing the most useful thing that you possibly can for humanity and the planet. (While an “all or nothing” attitude towards salvation—a “Pike’s Peak or bust!” attitude ‚Äìis to be encouraged, it is useful to remind ourselves from time to time that any movement that we make toward the higher states of consciousness is all to the good).
If you have trouble with the word “love” (and many in our culture do, especially men), then by all means use a different label—“goodwill,” or “charity” for example. It is not the words that are important but the experience. We are after experiential knowledge here, not intellectual constructs. We are in pursuit of the meal, not the menu.
If you are a Christian twiddling your thumbs while waiting on Armageddon, permit me to suggest that you try to follow your savior’s commandments while you are at it. If you are someone resisting the onslaught of barbarism going under the name “Progressivism,” then I would say by all means carry on with what you are doing, but in addition to your efforts on the mundane material plane, you might consider raising your consciousness by following Jesus’s commands.
Speaking of fighting—as there is some confusion surrounding Christ’s admonition to “resist not evil” a brief discussion of it is warranted. Seeing as how Christ’s very existence was a form of resistance, or counterweight, to evil, I think that one can safely assume that He meant His admonition to be taken as situational advice. To “resist not evil” is indeed wise advice most of the time. When practiced with the proper attitude, understanding, and motivation it is a sort of spiritual jiu jitsu which uses your opponent’s energy against him (or her).
But there are times when life places us in situations where capitulation to evil would be itself evil. Imagine a situation where a child is being threatened with death by some thug—do you believe that by leaving the child to die, and aiding and abetting the thug in his evil, you would be doing good? I would file such behavior under the heading of “cowardice,” not “Christ-like.” Such behavior is all too often merely the result of spiritual sloth, intellectual laziness, and/or a cowardly avoidance of doing what is right (probably while hiding behind a self-righteous cloak of non-judgmentalism, relativism, and pacifism).
Practicing attitudes and behaviors suited for the higher states of consciousness is not always a bad idea, and following the “fake it ‚Äòtil you make it” stratagem is sometimes useful. But most people do not possess a higher state of consciousness (far from it), and practicing behavior that may be appropriate at the higher levels of consciousness while at a lower state can actually be quite harmful, and is generally something to be avoided. It is sort of like dressing a Pee-Wee football player in an NFL player’s uniform—it’s a bad fit and a bad idea. All of which is by way of saying that for the vast majority of people the right thing to do in the above scenario would be to resist the evil and protect the child.
It is unlikely that a highly evolved person would find themselves in the above situation in the first place. A couple of spiritual truisms are “like attracts like” and “we attract what we think about.” Since someone in the higher states exists in states of unconditional love, joy, and peace, they do not as a rule attract street thugs. Warning: please do not make the mistake of thinking that by slapping a loving attitude onto a lower state of consciousness you will automatically make yourself immune from harm. It does not work that way.
(Sidebar: I realize that I am leaving a number of loose ends as I progress through this article, but unfortunately it is unavoidable in a piece of this nature. The number of interrelated subjects is endless—I am constantly dealing with thoughts of “Well if I mention this then I have to mention that, and if I mention that then I should really mention this…” and on and on it goes. Arbitrary cut-off points are mandatory, or an article such as this would have no end. The best that I can do is hope that I have provided enough context so that the points that I wish to emphasize make sense.
I recommend that those who have unanswered questions as a result of what I have written, access one of Dr. Hawkins’s source materials (books, CDs, DVDs) as he answers many questions in them.
To give an example, here is a brief list of some of the questions he answers in the book I’ve been quoting from in this article (”The Eye of the I: From Which Nothing is Hidden”): Is spiritual progress sudden or gradual? What about justified resentments? How about getting past the great block of the intellect? Doesn’t letting go of right and wrong judgments lead to immorality? What about karma? What is free will? We hear that ego is the block to realization. Can you explain that? Is the ego “wrong”? What is the difference between ego and mind? What is the best attitude for spiritual work? What prayers are useful? How can we forgive those who do not seem to deserve it? What can the spiritual seeker do to be of help to society? On it goes, chapter after chapter, book after book.
As I mentioned before, I have been around the block a time or two, and I have personally known some great souls—very spiritually evolved people—but I honestly have never known anyone else that I would consider to be in Dr. Hawkins’s league. He was the “real deal,” and I would (and do) recommend his teachings to anyone seeking spiritual help without hesitation. That being said, I understand that he is not everyone’s cup of tea, and it is no sweat off my back if you look for your answers elsewhere.
You may perhaps be interested in whether I have ever personally experienced the state of consciousness known as unconditional love. The answer is yes, I have—once, all too briefly, about six years ago. I visit the state of love fairly often, but I have only been to the highest reaches of love (unconditional) that one time.
What was it like? If you can imagine a light bulb with feelings, and then imagine how that light bulb would feel when it was turned on for the first time—it was something like that. It was not so much that I felt love; I was love. The radiance that I felt was omni-directional, and the thought of trying to channel it in any way was ludicrous—why would I want to chance diminishing such an incredible sensation? The experience was “flipped off” as suddenly as it was turned on, but the memory of it is indelibly stamped on my consciousness.)
TRUTH is within ourselves; it takes no rise
From outward things, whate’er you may believe.
There is an inmost centre in us all,
Where truth abides in fullness; and around,
Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in,
This perfect, clear perception—which is truth.
A baffling and perverting carnal mesh
Binds it, and makes all error: and, to KNOW,
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without.
Robert Browning (1812-1889) from “Paracelsus”
Moving along—besides wanting to clarify my position regarding reincarnation, another purpose of this article is to hopefully dispel any notion that I am a member of what Dr. Hawkins termed “the spiritual circus”—meaning those pursuits prevalent in what is commonly called the “New Age” movement.
Astral travel, ESP, channeling and such are no doubt fascinating subjects from a certain point of view—but are they spiritual pursuits? Contrary to what some may believe and teach, no they are not. They are at best red herrings, detours, and dead-ends on the spiritual path, and at worst traps, snares, and obstacles. Please note that I am not saying that these subjects have no validity to them—I am saying that they are not spiritual pursuits, and are therefore, like reincarnation, topics that should generally be left alone. Why?
In a nutshell, it is because the true path of spirituality is one of surrendering and purifying the ego, and many of the various “New Age” practices tend to feed and inflate the ego. Just because something is obscure, esoteric, and arcane does not make it spiritual. Such practices are generally best left alone and studiously avoided, even though there are some good ideas (such as positive thinking) included in the mix. In any event, the “good stuff,” or good ideas, can be found in literature outside of “the circus.”
(Sidebar: There are a number of important elements to a spiritual life that I will have to forgo discussing in this article, because the subjects would take us too far afield, but there are a few topics that I feel I should at least mention in passing—prayer is one such topic.
James tells us that “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” No doubt he is correct, but what exactly does an effectual, or effective, prayer consist of? Paul gives us a key element when he tells us to pray “with thanksgiving,” or gratitude.
The lack of gratitude in our culture is appalling. How many people even bother to do such a simple thing as say grace before a meal anymore—giving thanks to God for His symbols of largesse and abundance, and for the plant, fish, and/or animal life that died so that our bodies may live?
In any event, having faith (belief) that one will receive what one is praying for, as one is praying for it, is not enough in and of itself to make an effective prayer, but it is a key element, and certainly one worth mentioning (I will discuss the topic of faith in more depth immediately after this sidebar).
Speaking of prayer, we would all do well to pray for guidance (and the grace to receive and respond to it). Being Christian, I turn mostly to the Holy Spirit (Counselor, Comforter, Helper, Advocate, Paraclete) for such things. Being receptive to guidance serves as a great segue into discussing intuition—which we should all be honing—but, as with any number of things, time and space will not allow for it just now).
I mentioned in the above sidebar that I would discuss faith, and so I shall. Faith, or belief, is a crucial element of spirituality—if you lack it you will not get far. It is important to note that the words “disbelief” and “unbelief” are somewhat misleading—they give the impression that a person is lacking in belief, when in truth they generally do have a belief, it is simply at odds with an opposing belief that they are being presented with.
That may sound like excessive nitpicking or hair-splitting, but getting these things clear in our heads is important, because our beliefs are very influential in deciding what direction our lives take, and idea that “disbelief” and “unbelief” have an energy or power of their own is simply untrue. It is belief, and belief alone, that holds power—such words as “disbelief” and “unbelief” are vacuous linguistic constructs, no more.
The Bible recounts the story of a place where Jesus was blocked from performing miracles, or “mighty works.” The Bible tells us that the reason Jesus was blocked was not the result of Satan or some other inimical force, but because of the beliefs of the people there, or as the Bible puts it, “because of their unbelief.”
The town where this happened was Nazareth, where Jesus grew up, and I imagine that in accordance with the old saw “familiarity breeds contempt,” the villagers there believed that this “local lad” was simply not capable of performing “mighty works,” and sure enough, their belief blocked Jesus from performing “many mighty works.” That is how powerful belief is. Again, the Bible clearly lays the blame at the feet of the people’s “unbelief,” which can be translated as meaning their negative belief.
Jesus Himself often attributed his healings, not to Himself, or to God, but to the belief (faith) shown by the person He had healed: “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would;” “Daughter, your faith has healed you;” “Don’t be afraid; just believe...”
Some words of caution are in order here. I do not wish to give the impression that simply believing in something will make it so. People believe in all sorts of nonsense that is not true and/or not helpful to spiritual progress.
In addition, there are many charlatans, con men (and women), and honest but misguided spiritual “teachers” out there who are best avoided, and whose teachings you most emphatically do not want to believe in (the Marxist Jim Jones springs to mind).
Dr. Hawkins estimated that the ratio between honest, trustworthy spiritual guides and bogus ones is about 50/50—so there is ample opportunity for the unwary, gullible, naïve or foolish to become entrapped in false belief systems (many of you no doubt remember “Heaven’s Gate” and the Hale-Bopp comet suicides).
During our spiritual journey, especially during the early stages, weighing belief against wariness is a necessary balancing act. As one progresses along the spiritual path it becomes increasingly easier to separate the wheat from the chaff and that which will help you from that which will hurt you, but in the beginning at least, an open minded attitude should be balanced with a somewhat jaundiced caution when choosing what to believe.
A Missouri-style “Show Me” attitude by itself will not get you far along the spiritual path, but a wide-eyed innocence can get you killed (as the suicides of Jonestown or Heaven’s Gate would tell you if they could). A balanced attitude is the best one to cultivate.
That is all I have to say regarding the topic of belief for now. What I have covered is only a tiny fraction of what the subject merits, but I can only cover so much ground in this article. I wanted to at least give the topic some “air time.”
Moving on once again—the greatest “foe” that anyone on the spiritual path faces is themselves, specifically the ego. This is a topic much too broad and far ranging to be profitably pursued here, but I will briefly discuss one of the better known books on the topic—the Bhagavad Gita.
Although the Bhagavad Gita (or simply “Gita”) is not well known in the West, it is certainly not unknown. For example, Albert Einstein once observed that “When I read the Bhagavad Gita and reflect about how God created this universe everything else seems so superfluous,” and Henry David Thoreau wrote that “In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous…philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita, in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seems puny and trivial.” (It is worth noting in passing that Thoreau believed that the freer people were, i.e. the less government interference they had to deal with, the better—”That government is best that governs least”).
I bring up the Gita because it is such an archetypal representation of what the spiritual path is all about. On the surface it is the story of the warrior Arjuna who, against tremendous odds, fights a vast army opposing him. Its hidden or esoteric meaning is that Arjuna represents everyman (or woman), and the vast army that he confronts symbolizes his ego, with the battles fought in the Gita representing the challenges, snares, and obstacles that his ego places in the way of Arjuna’s spiritual progress.
Arjuna knows that it will not be an easy contest—in fact, at the beginning of the Gita Arjuna despairs of ever winning against such fearsome odds. His friend and advisor Krishna helps to bring him around. The following is from a translation of the Gita by Roy Eugene Davis.
Having thus spoken in the midst of the battlefield, throwing down his bow and arrows, Arjuna sank down in the seat of his chariot, his heart overwhelmed by sorrow.
Krishna: “From whence has this weakness come to you at this difficult time? It is not befitting you who are of noble character. ...Yield not to this immature behavior: it is not suitable for you. Abandon this show of weakness and faintheartedness. Stand up, Arjuna!”
Stand up indeed—good advice to all who are on the spiritual path. The tussle between our spirit and ego is reminiscent of Br’er Rabbit’s fight with the Tar Baby, where the harder Br’er Rabbit fought the Tar Baby, the “stucker” he got. The spiritual path is not for the weak and fainthearted; it takes strength, commitment, dedication and courage. It is diametrically opposed to the ways of the world, which are the ways of the ego. (“And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”).
Let me mention that surrendering the ego should not be confused with demeaning ourselves. We are indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made”—we are children of God and “together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” I agree with Marianne Williamson that “Your playing small does not serve the world.”
There is, however, something of a balancing act involved in such things (for those of you new to spirituality, welcome to “The Wonderful World of Paradox”). Any experience of personal divinity and grandeur should always be surrendered to God with humility and gratitude—after all, the creation would not even exist without the Creator.
Although we should recognize God’s glory in ourselves (and others), such experiences and knowledge will result in a puffed-up egotistical prima donna if is latched onto as being “me” and “mine.” Surrender such things to God. For those of us on the spiritual path (truly the only path that matters) the watchwords should be surrender, devotion, love, and gratitude—not pride, hauteur, and hubris (an especially sticky snare—spiritual pride—will rear its head at some point along everyone’s path. Watch out, Arjuna).
As we approach the end of this article let me say that I understand and appreciate the concern that someone who follows more orthodox religious teachings might feel at what I have presented here. As a conservative I sympathize with such an attitude—very much so. As far as I am concerned there has been way too much nonsense admitted into the various Christian sects, and way too little attention paid to what is, or at least should be, timeless and sacrosanct.
But I do not believe that conservatism is, or should be, reactionary. While we should cherish that which has through time shown itself to be valuable and valid, we should stay open to the new, the innovative, and promising. Unlike those who value change for change’s sake, or who cloak a regressive agenda under the banner of “Progress,” conservatives promote real change—change that is solid, strong, and lasting because it is based on the tried and true.
The ideas and concepts presented in this article might appear novel to those unfamiliar with them, but nothing that I have written about in this article is new, or originates with me—it has all been said before, written about before. What is new is the manner in which I have presented these concepts—my own unique spin, if you will—and that “spin” may have disguised the fact that much of what I have written here is actually nothing more than orthodoxy dressed in new clothes.
I consider the topics of reincarnation, a plurality of celestial realms and such to be of peripheral importance. I have shared them because they have been of help to me, and perhaps others who are unfamiliar with them may find them useful as well. I have no interest at all in defending them, promoting them, or protecting them. If you do not like them, approve of them, or believe them—great! I don’t care.
What I do care about, and what is at the heart and core of this article, are the beliefs that I have presented that are as old as Christianity itself. I am speaking of things like the commandments of Jesus, the divinity of Jesus, the importance of salvation, the importance of love, the importance of transforming ourselves, the importance of surrender and devotion…writing this list reminds me that I forgot to mention the importance of joy—musn’t forget that.
Talk of commandments, devotion, yokes and burdens is all well and good, and no doubt all play an important part in the Christian journey, but without joy what’s the point of it all; where’s the allure? I cannot speak for others, but if you try to browbeat me with talk of fire and brimstone, fear and humiliation, then I’m outta there quicker than you can say “no thanks.” Talk of yokes, burdens, crosses to bear, and such becomes oppressive unless leavened with that which is uplifting and radiant—and joy certainly fits the bill.
Paul admonishes us to be joyful. When? All the time! He writes to the congregation in Philippi and tells them to “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Shortly afterwards he ends his missive to them with “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Why do you think he wrote that? I believe that it was because by immersing oneself in that which is joyful, hopeful, inspiring, and uplifting, one aligns oneself with the higher states of consciousness.
Moving on—I wish to say a few more words regarding “New Age” practices. I do not consider the vast majority of the people involved in such things to be bad people—misguided perhaps, but not bad. Those involved in certain occult practices and satanic rituals are a different matter altogether, but they represent a minority of those who are involved with spiritual practices that are outside the realm of orthodoxy. Such negative influences are best countered by increasing the light of the Lord on this earthly plane—starting with ourselves.
I find it helpful to separate those practices that facilitate our reunion with God and assist us in doing God’s will under the heading of “spirituality,” and placing such things as “New Age” practices, which tend to feed our ego and otherwise distract us from the true spiritual path, under the heading of “spiritualism.”
I wish to repeat again before closing that surrender is a vital part of the spiritual path. Through the example of Jesus we know what God can and will do when given a completely surrendered, pure and clear channel to work through.
Some folks believe that Jesus was a human who became God, while others believe that He was God to begin with, and was “The Word made flesh” (that is the Bible’s view, and the one that I adhere to). It is all something of a moot point to me, as I believe that God is Jesus, Jesus God, end of story. Gloria in excelsis deo.
I should probably mention at some point (this seems like a good one) that what I have written here should not be taken to represent the teachings of Dr. Hawkins. Outside of the places where I attributed quotes and such to Dr. Hawkins the opinions offered here should be considered to be mine alone. I would not presume to speak for the good doctor.
Let me start summing up by reiterating that although I believe in reincarnation I do not, and would not, encourage anyone to delve into the subject—the chances of getting sidetracked are great. As I say, I use it as a way to explain the otherwise inexplicable, but I leave it at that, and drop it. I have zero interest in experiencing any past lives—I have my hands full dealing with this one, thank you very much.
If you are one who wishes to delve into the subject, then by all means knock yourself out, but please be aware that it can be a belief system that will distract you from achieving real spiritual growth—believe me, there are enough distracting glamours as is.
This is the life that counts, and here and now is what matters. As we draw to the end of this article permit me to tie together the topic that I started out with (reincarnation) and conservatism by way of another quote by Emmet Fox. I do this not as a “plug” for reincarnation (I hope I have made my position in that regard sufficiently clear by now), but to serve as an antidote to the idea that reincarnation gives carte blanche to fatalism and procrastination. Dr. Fox, like Thoreau (and myself), opposed big, intrusive, nanny- state governments, or to put it into more positive terms, was for a small conservative government—just large enough to protect our freedoms.
In politics, the implications of reincarnation are unmistakable. The best political system is the system that will give the greatest personal freedom to the individual. Each one of us must be free to work out his destiny with as little hindrance as possible from outside. Each must have every possible opportunity to exercise the qualities of initiative, self-reliance, resourcefulness, and courage. And these qualities can only be developed where the individual is free. Each must have the chance to make mistakes—and to learn from them. Each must be able to reap the fruit of their own efforts; and those who for one reason or another will not make an effort, must realize that they have to forgo the fruit. No political system should put a premium upon idleness, or inefficiency, or stupidity. All the incentives should be in the direction of encouraging intelligence and industry.
I leave you with some of my favorite verses from Isaiah.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
...No longer will violence be heard in your land,
nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
but you will call your walls Salvation
and your gates Praise.
The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will be ended.
...I am the Lord;
in its time I will do this swiftly.”
Amen and amen.