A Model of Western Spirituality

The intense experience I had when young did not come with a ready made set of answers regarding the meaning of life.  Such as pointing to an exact calling.  Or delineating a set of steps by which to access spiritual realms.  Or symbols that connect to specific religious affiliation.  At the same time, that experience seemed to imply that there could be answers.  Somehow I knew that  it was up to me to figure out my own versions.  And to discover if there were any possible ways to the transcendent independent of religious gate keepers.

All in keeping with the general tone of western civilization.  Which takes the physical world as real, and values the individual.  That is not to deny the eastern views which hold otherwise. But the search for alternative spiritualities is often based on the assumption that the west has nothing left to offer.  However, as the physicist Neils Bohr said, the opposite of a trivial truth is false while the opposite of of a great truth is also true.  We on the western paths have every right to pursue the idea of the individual soul.  To explore what it might mean to have deity that relates to us barely upright mostly furless anthropoids and that supports our spiritual evolution.

Nor do I believe that the western traditions often referred to as organized religion are wrong. Were it not for them, we would not have western culture. Or such legacies as Christian mysticism, Greek philosophy, and Jewish kabbalah.  But unless you’re a rigid fundamentalist asserting that creation is complete because of a revelation to a small planet at the edge of one galaxy, then the cosmos is still open and God is doing more than preparing for harsh judgment.  Therefore new interpretations of traditional practices and sacred texts are possible.  Add to that the evidence that emerges from the accounts of contemporary mystics, gnostics, and social justice activists.  Some of whom are educated in theology, philosophy, or the sciences, but most of whom are ordinary human beings whose experiences impel them to try to find out what is happening and why.  Frankly, such events aren’t even rare.  But what they mean exactly is not all that clear.  I suspect that expanded human abilities are emerging in ways we do not yet understand.  Since they are different, they cannot fully be explained in terms of the categories of the past.

So then the first task is to find a framework by which to organize and examine the data.  A set of symbols that seem to correspond to experience.  In my opinion, what should function best for western style people is something related to western traditions.  So I developed a model of kabbalah based on at least a millennium of Jewish practice and on about 150 years of western esoteric usage.  But adding material better suited to the postmodern turn to experience, skepticism towards authority, and support for equality.

I have done my homework.  More than 25 years of research into historical, theological, metaphysical, philosophical, psychological, scientific, comparative, anthropological, esoteric, and occult literature.  Along with decades of reflections on my own extensive experiences in spiritual realms.  Plus phenomena like ESP and odd encounters outside of consensus reality as I know first hand they do happen.

I am not arguing that what I am presenting is The Truth.  It is only a model; an abstraction of something beyond what can be contained by images, ideas, or metaphors.  However, it gave me a set of symbols by which I did find my way back to the transcendent realms.  As well as out of the spaces that are none too pleasant.  My hope is that what I offer here is a template that helps others develop their own interpretations.

 

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An Encounter with Cosmic Light

In high school, I took Russian; therefore I was aware of Eastern Christians.  On Sunday, April 25, 1965, I was thinking about that day being Orthodox Easter.  Unusual since at the time I considered myself an agnostic political activist, dismissing religion as the cause of everything I thought unfair.  No matter.  Something intensely spiritual intruded.  Being young and naive, I just went with it.
My bedroom filled with a pearlescent, fluid Light.  A swirling, living energy field of an intense joy and love all around me, moving me to tears of gratitude.  I could see it surrounding and emerging from the cellular structures of the skin of my forearm.  Same down to the molecular level of the wooden nightstand.  At this point, saying “I” is not really about an ordinary persona.  Yes, the individual I am in this life was there, but more an ideal version of self.  I was lifted up above the city of Seattle, accompanied by a spiritual entity behind me to the left.  I could see people going about their business, few of whom were aware that they, too, were being held in the same loving energy.  As were the beautiful mountain ranges, forests, and fjords of my native Washington state.
Then I was taken across the Atlantic Ocean, observing a right whale and species of fish not found along the west coast of North America.  Somehow I could see simultaneously the lush, myriad complexities of microscopic plankton as well as the vastness of the ocean and its abundant macroscopic life.  Then ashore at Senegal, the distinctive boats of the fishermen visible.  Across the Serengeti– its wildlife herds, persistent trees, villages.  The sheer diversity wonderful in itself.  Yet I was graced with the experience of feeling the grand expanse of loving energy around the whole scene.
The scope of vision was now at the scale of the Earth itself.  I could see the curvature of the planet, the the atmosphere enveloping the globe with its life sustaining blue beauty.  This was no illusion or garbled childhood memories.  It was before the advent of color satellite photos, the space program having begun only a few years previously.  Next, I remember looking back at the Earth and its moon.  From there, past Mars and Uranus, out of the solar system altogether.
Toward other planets, orbiting star systems probably still within the Milky Way galaxy.  And then within other galaxies.  I was conscious of sentient life on a few of those planets.  Some of which seemed aware of me also.  Other life forms were so alien I could not really grasp what they were.  I didn’t feel hostility; just profoundly unintelligible difference.  Then something like a journey across vastness; galaxy clusters becoming pinpoints of light, spreading out into unimaginable distances.  Up to a barrier of sorts, perhaps the boundary of the universe in some sense.  Where everything went dark.  Not because nothing was there, but rather that blazing light or sublime love or biological exuberance or powerful interstellar events cannot contain the abundant presence of an Infinite Divine.