Friday, November 02, 2007

The darkness and the Light

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Life and death are but a passing from dream to dream. They are only thoughts: you are dreaming you are alive, and you are dreaming you are dead. When you get into the great Christ Consciousness, you see that life and death are dreams of God.
— Swami Paramahansa Yogananda

It's hard, these days, not to feel that the darkness is closing in. Not personally — I don't think I've ever been more content — but for the future of my country and the civilization, going all the way back to classical Greece, from which it arose.

We are caught in what military strategists call a "pincer movement." Pushed on one side by a revived, militant, uncompromising Islam, on the other by a Third World invasion. We could stand up to either or both, except that our natural defenses have been weakened by what is now widely called cultural Marxism, as well as the economic globalization of the power elite. We have lost the will to stand up for ourselves, as if we don't deserve to survive as a free and prosperous society.

In the trauma following September 11, 2001, the American people seemed for a time to look up from their preoccupation with the stock market, celebrities, shark attacks, electronic gadgets, space shuttles, and all the rest of the culture of technological determinism and materialism. They seemed ready to put away childish things and become serious.

Six years on, we have reverted to type. We want everything to be normal again, "normal" meaning '60s radicalism for some, the '90s bull market for others.

All that is a statement of feeling, not of fact. One of the few things history clearly teaches us is that it does not move in a straight line. It reverses, shoots off in unexpected directions, curls back on itself. The future will not be like the present only more so. And however anxious or pessimistic we might be, we still have the freedom to act, and action has power.

Just the same, for some of us, it's important to remember every now and then that there is a realm that exists outside of time, beyond the concerns of this world.

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In that realm, there are no victories or defeats, except in the growth of the individual soul toward being ready for a home in Spirit. Does that mean we should forget about the struggles for what we perceive to be right in the everyday world? No, far from it. How we act here is part of our soul building.

The relationship between the world of Spirit and ordinary life (even in extraordinary circumstances) has preoccupied some of the best minds of mankind at least as far back as Plato, and no doubt earlier philosophers and mystics whose names have vanished from the human record. It is very hard to grasp, and I've struggled with it for years. As best I can understand it from my present state of development, it comes down to the saying found in many spiritual traditions, to be "in the world but not of it."

To put it another way, the human world that seems to be darkening before our eyes is not the ultimate truth.

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At the end of my blogroll, since I first started Reflecting Light, has been a quotation from Bernard Bosanquet: "Everything is real, so long as you do not take it for more than it is." I have not read Bosanquet; I picked up the quotation from the epigraph to a book by G.N.M. Tyrell, the famous psychical researcher.

What I take this to mean is that we must act as if this world is meaningful, which it is, but still understand it as a kind of dream, real but unreal. The world of matter and the world of Spirit are linked in mysterious ways, but we cannot affect one without affecting our essence in the other.

So we struggle against darkness in time and history, but if darkness is to come, it must come. It is not the end. We must not take it for more than it is. In Spirit, there is no defeat, no death, no exile from our eternal home.

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8 comments:

zazie said...

maybe this will seem off topic, but the quotation at the beginning of this post has beeen a great comfort today ; I have just learnt the death of a lifelong friend ; How I wish life and death were but dreams!

Rick Darby said...

Zazie,

I am sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. If you were very close to this person, I believe the two of you will meet again on "the other side," but that is not much comfort now.

Paramahansa Yogananda was speaking from the standpoint of an enlightened, or almost fully enlightened, spiritual teacher. I'm sure he understood that for us on the earth plane, both life and death are very real. When we have advanced enough spiritually, we will understand that they have only a relative, not absolute, reality.

Meanwhile, it will be necessary for you to grieve for a while. You have my deep sympathy.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy your writing on both the current state of the West and the esoteric.

Here a question - which is probably an old saw. India seems quite keen on exporting its surplus populations. The UK over the past decade or so has seen massive immigration from the subcontinent. And the immigrants are quite unapologetic Indian nationalists. Though i have never been to India what i see on the news and documentaries quite frankly horrifies me. An overpopulated society with a dog eat dog attitude. Not much space for the individual. Reinforced by a caste system - the elites looks different from the masses in a way you don't see in Europe or American. And the immigrants seem more materialist then Europeans - its all about money and status in terms of cars, houses, careers and education.

Yet the spiritual tradition you admire - and which i agree has its charm - is rooted there.

Rick Darby said...

Anon,

I went through a period naively believing that India would help reform the West's materialism, thanks to its spiritual traditions and other-worldliness. But, although I think that the importation of Yoga and meditation techniques has been a good influence, the main evolution appears to have been Western values taking hold in India. That has its benefits as well, but I can't help wondering if India has lost some of its soul in the process.

I have no direct experience of Indian society, but it sure doesn't sound like a place I'd like to live. A billion people in an area a third the size of the United States? It'll take us another 20 years of the Mexican Invasion to catch up.

David Stefanini said...

Hi, I love how you are running this blog. I just started a blog of my own and I was wondering if you would like to do a link exchange with my site. My site can be found at:

Absolutesportsreport.blogspot.com

If you want to do this, just leave a comment on my site, on any post, and I’ll link you later that night.

Thanks,
Dave

don't drink the taqiyya said...

Rick, you nailed the "compass corners" threat looming around us. This is exactly how I conceive it myself, as you yourself say:

...a revived, militant, uncompromising Islam, (and) on the other a Third World invasion. We could stand up to either or both, except that our natural defenses have been weakened by what is now widely called cultural Marxism [the multi-Cult political correctness Baal Diversity God - DD], as well as the economic globalization of the power elite.

This captures our increasingly dire situation exactly. This evening I shall continue to read the entire text of your entry.

Rick Darby said...

Dave,

I thank you for your comment. It is not my policy to trade links, but I will look in on your blog. Good luck with it.

Don't Drink ...

We are not alone in our perceptions, friend. I am only expressing what many see. These days I am trying to encourage people to move on -- yes, we too can "move on" -- from deploring the situation to specific actions for change.

See also here.

Pastorius said...

Rick,

As per usual, you make me think.

You said: "What I take this to mean is that we must act as if this world is meaningful, which it is, but still understand it as a kind of dream, real but unreal. The world of matter and the world of Spirit are linked in mysterious ways, but we cannot affect one without affecting our essence in the other."


I say: Is it a dream? Or do we, a Paul said, "See through a glass darkly"?

I think the dreamlike quality of life comes down to two things:

1) We don't have all the information, so though the universe, and life itself, seem to correspond to reason, they also, at the same time, eludes us.

2) Our perceptions seem to be altered and slightly askew. Therefore, what we "see" isn't quite what we think it is.

This is not the same thing as living in a dream world. Although, I must say, I do have a fondness for that Hindu idea.


You said: "In Spirit, there is no defeat, no death, no exile from our eternal home."


I say: Amen to that.

"... neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God...