First published in Mind Body Spirit Autumn 2014
If some stranger from unknown lands, or indeed some alien entity, should arrive in the midst of Western civilisation today; they could be forgiven for believing that the purpose of human existence is to make and spend money. For the most part, human lives are dominated by the need to work, to generate money for ourselves and for those that employ us. It is also dominated by the insatiable need to spend, spend and spend in an endless orgy of consumerist obsession, a disease of the mind that appears to be spreading to every corner of the globe.
From observing modern human behaviour one would hardly consider that we have any spiritual lives at all. And quite often, where spirituality is given sway it is inevitably tied up with money, either in the form of alms to the various churches or as payment for spiritual services that purport to aid our enlightenment. We all need to live, that much is true. The phrase ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’, attributed to Yeshua Ben Miriam (Jesus) is indeed true, but this does not mean that man should live without bread either. However, we now live in an age where love of money and material possessions has become so pervasive and overwhelming that even spiritual wisdom is hawked as if it were no more vital than mere tins of beans.
As a writer who wishes to sell books, it is somewhat ironic that I should take this tone. Much as I would like people to purchase and read my books, what I consider much more important is that people discover the process of gnosis. Gnosticism, although identified with esoteric Christianity is in fact applicable to all religions and spiritual paths – it simply means the acquisition of spiritual knowledge and by implication spiritual understanding.
Nothing I have to say here (or in any of my books) is original, I am merely reiterating what has been said before by many. It’s true that there are some minor spiritual innovations or insights that are revealed or arrived at, but these are, I believe, additional perspectives on the divine truths that are already apparent if we only have eyes to see them.
Whether our sources be The Egyptian Book Of The Dead, the Koran, Tao Te Ching, Jewish scriptures, the (many various) Gospels or New Age spirituality etc. the road to answers to all the eternal questions that irk humanity are there for the taking. The essence of holy scripture is not about dogma, dogma has developed in the aftermath of these sacred revelations through the institutions that grew up around each particular religion. The essence of holy scripture is gnosis – the imparting of spiritual knowledge to humanity and the guidance of each individual’s journey of the soul towards a true understanding of that knowledge.
This brings to mind the Chinese proverb ‘Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself’, which is strangely paraphrased by the character Morpheus in the film The Matrix – ‘I can only show you the door. You have to walk through it.’ What the Wachowskis tried to elucidate in this populist movie most probably went over the heads of most viewers but I think the whole film is an attempt to reiterate what Plato described in his Allegory of The Cave, in The Republic. The answers are already here, the kingdom of heaven is here on Earth if we only know where to look. Unfortunately most of us are still staring at the dancing shadows on the wall of the cave, where we have no possibility of understanding anything as it really is.
Consumerism is perhaps the most insidious of the snares of what Buddhists and Hindus call samsara and goes a good deal of the way to preventing the process of moksha or what westerners might call gnosis – the release from the illusions of our material existence. Which path we happen to be on, be it Christianity, Islam, Polytheism, Sikhism, Hermeticism or whatever is essentially irrelevant if it can lead us to grasp the reality of our existence. I cannot tell you what that is any more than the sacred texts or any spiritual teacher ever could; in the words of the Monty Python character Brian -‘You’ve all got to work it out for yourselves!’
The answers to our own unique spiritual reality do not lie in one more book or one more course, or even in the sacred scriptures themselves. These answers are all there already of course, once our eyes are open to see them. And there lies the great paradox - if we do not know who we are and why we are, how are we to know the right answer when it’s right under our nose? The answers lie in the asking of the right question instead of the many years or lifetimes spent in the desperate pursuit down countless blind alleys. The right question lies in the depths of the human heart and it is from there that the journey towards the immutable, immeasurable light that we call God truly begins.