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Spirituality or Consumerism?

Teacher, Reshad Feild likes to recount the circumstances of his first meeting with the man with whom, eventually, he worked very closely in the 1980s. The encounter occurred on Patmos, off-season. On noticing another English man on the beach and recognising telling signs in the older man, Reshad walked up to him in the manner of Stanley approaching Dr. Livingston and asked whether he was involved in ‘the Work’. He recoiled from the response as you would bounce off a plate glass window in the event of being unfortunate enough to walk into one, ‘In my tradition, we do not talk about the Work.’

They don’t make ’em like that any more, not even in England. Time moves us all on and the New Age has blown away the air of secrecy which once shrouded esotericism. Not everyone agrees that this is an unmixed blessing. Some regret the loss of specialness, excitement and significance that secrecy conferred; others regret the loss of dignity and discreetness, others of us regret the consequences of the shift from private experience to social exchange. People have not always been so open about their spiritual experiences. As recently as thirty years ago few westerners talked about them. Even Christians with nothing to hide and a public duty to state the denomination of their church were discreet about their religious experiences. In this town now you are lucky to get round the shops without having the intimate details of someone’s spiritual journey pressed upon you.

The fact is that in Britain and America we have taken consumerism into the area of spirituality: if you have it flaunt it with the aim of impressing. This is not about sharing, don’t be fooled: like all other kinds of conspicuous consumption, it is about self-importance, self-advertisement, covetousness, and one-upmanship. And this is where it all stands to go so badly wrong. True spirituality is about transformation, not reinvention. Hiding fear behind a superficial knowingness designed to impress or appeal, taking refuge in talk which hints at a high level of development, conveniently obscuring personal defects from oneself by denying that the centre gravity is still in the personality, creating a spiritualised image behind which to hide one’s defects - this is play acting; it is not transformation. And the consequences of this posturing are serious. We have, all of us, only so much time and so many opportunities. What a waste of both to spend time in a state of pretence. The purpose of spiritual awareness is to reveal shortcomings to ourselves, not to provide a theme for a social persona. Once again, egotism and vanity are turning a situation on its head. This state of affairs has occurred many, many times in the history of human spiritual development. Now it is the New Age which is turning counterproductive. To rest on our laurels is never advisable because we only have so much time; to rest on illusory laurels is sheer madness.

It is true, one does not strive to attain the things of the soul; the soul is. It was there before any of us came into being and it will be there after we have departed. It requires our recognition not our effort. What we have to strive to do is to control the personality which will prevent, in the first instance, recognition, and then later, alignment. There may be no comparison to be made between the vibrational rate of the sun and a flimsy wooden partition but that flimsy partition may be able to block out the light of the sun. We can either wait for time and the strength of the soul to slowly break down the partition of the personality, or we can work intelligently to dismantle it. By and large, our spiritual traditions have emphasised one or other aspect of the process of alignment, either recognising the soul or controlling the personality. Those of us in incarnation now have the opportunity to do both simultaneously. It is an opportunity brought by the seventh ray which is concerned with the use of form and organisation to attract and ground higher energies. At the human level, this means using the personality to ground the consciousness of the soul and to serve the purpose of spirit.

If we are to avail ourselves of this opportunity, then we will have to have both aspiration and realism. We have to know what we can become, and yet acknowledge the reality of ourselves as we are now. The person we are in private, in the small hours of the night is the reality of ourselves, not the self-conscious, touched up, made over public image. This is the person with whom we have to deal, to bring into line and to organise. As D.K. puts it, ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so he is’. If we do not get real, then the truth will find its own way of impressing itself upon consciousness. To pull away the mask is all Providence can do for us once we get into a state of denial and when this has to happen then it is usually accompanied by a spiritual crisis and not infrequently illness.

This is what is happening to a man who has made contact with us recently, only he puts it down to the fact that his teacher is so close to ascending that he cannot handle her energy and it is making him ill. That is his view. He is in no doubt as to our view, and that is that a foot up the backside is the only thing that we can offer in support the ascensionist pretensions of a teacher who encourages a pupil who is, on his own admission, lost, ill and confused, to think that he is on the Fourth Initiation and has his personality under control. The Initiations are not consumer products to be selected, nor are they rewards for any teacher to grant. They have to be earned. A teacher who flatters his pupil’s vanity does him a great disservice. When you become a teacher you have to give up the luxury of being likeable!

No one who has the time and inclination to be talking to others about their level of development, is of a level higher than the Second Initiation. No one scouring the Internet in search of spiritual guidance or inspiration is of a level higher than the Second Initiation; similarly no one who is ill or in a state of emotional turmoil is of a level higher than the Second Initiation , which involves the raising of the energy of the solar (plexus) centre to open the heart centre. Does this leave anyone reading this unaccounted for? Probably not, because it is towards the Second Initiation, that the world disciple is to be found working at this time.

 
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