A number of people who have left spiritual groups have said to me, "There was so much Spirit and Light. How could that be, when the teachings were so off-base? I don't understand!"
The Truth Is We Can Be Anywhere and Experience God
One answer is that whenever those who seek God, are sincerely open to God, the presence of God manifests - some call this presence the Holy Spirit - and it doesn't much matter where you are in terms of environment, you can be in a school, a church, a class, a park, and so on. Such an event is intuitive and can really happen anywhere; all it takes is quieting the intellectual faculty and opening the intuitive faculty.
When we shift our attention and open the intuitive faculty, we are actually entering the first stage of what today, we call, meditation. What we call meditation and the many kinds that exist, are actually outgrowths of a natural reflective process; this natural process is how we connect with spiritual dimensions and whether most of us recognize it or not, we were built to do meditation. The simplest example of a meditative state is to remember the last time you were out in nature and became quiet and then inspired by the wonder of all around you. How did you feel? Were you thinking or were you having an intuitive inspirational moment? The beginning stage of meditation is actually that simple.
Meditation and Good and False Teachers
Today, there are many people who teach various kinds of meditation and some have truly mastered their art, but there are also numerous teachers around who have not been fully trained; these people have only a limited understanding of the whole process of meditation, neither have they, as a result, progressed beyond dogmatic thinking. A full meditation practice is a several step process designed in its completeness to help us get clarity about spiritual concerns and to help us have a relationship with God, but if the practice is incomplete or used incorrectly one can end up living in dogma and in a delusion.
There are numerous good teachers of meditation. If we have a good teacher we will have good results. We may know the person is a good teacher because we will become happier, more loving, self-sufficient people. But there are also poor teachers. The Bible calls them false teachers. You can tell who the false teachers are because they claim they have a special access to God and that you "need" them to get to God.
A good teacher will never make such a claim, rather a good teacher will assist you in finding the God within you. Such a teacher will never demand anything from you. And a good teacher will never tell you what to do, rather, a good teacher will assist you in finding an answer for yourself. A good teacher takes an impersonal role in your life, he or she is a spiritual coach, a mentor, a guide and is concerned for your well-being and he or she demands nothing in return.
A false teacher demands much. You are usually required to give over a payment of one sort or another that significantly effects your income beyond the norm and obedience to such a one is usually required. If one has adopted a false teacher, one's life may even be turned upside down and one may lose family, jobs, home and friends.
A false teacher who makes grandiose claims such as "you need me to get to God" is usually, a renegade, who, because he or she claimed special knowledge, was excluded by their contemporaries from the tradition in which they began their training. Convinced he or she is superior and that they know "more" than their teachers, they simply leave their former tradition and start their own; actually, however, they are fledglings, stuck in their own egos. Unfortunately, they are often charismatic people and have the ability to sell their tradition and they are often very crafty.
Such people go off to teach their own version of what they think is the true religion, but what they are actually doing is working out their own problems through acting out their dilemma; they are actually living in a delusion. The false "teacher" attracts novices who do not know any better; the false teacher perceives the followers as confirmation, that he or she has something worthwhile to teach; still later, when the novices have come along a bit, the teacher begins to firmly operate out of the erroneous idea, "I have students, my students are having spiritual experiences, I must be teaching correctly."
The Delusional Problem
In reality, what we actually have is a good example of the blind leading the blind. It is an old trap; it is one of the traps every teacher must get through if they are really to be of any use to anyone and a trap some novices need to get through in order to truly understand that they actually do not need anyone to get to God, because like Dorothy, in the Wizard of OZ, all they have to do is click their heels and go home.
The delusional problem, however, can become even more complicated when a teacher misrepresents his or her self as a valid teacher when he or she is not. Unfortunately, the public is less the wiser especially when it comes to novitiates of the spiritual path because simply, they do not know any better.
In these cases, novices when they begin having spiritual experiences, can become not only dazzled, but also very confused. Three of the difficulties are: one, thinking the teacher is truly responsible for their spiritual experiences; two, thinking that they truly cannot get to God on their own; and three, they are often caught in the position of having to defend an indefensible tradition while trying to figure it all out for themselves. The teacher looks great, I am doing what the teacher says to do, I am having spiritual experiences vs. my life is a mess and why am I not getting any better?
The vicious cycle continues as the followers buy into the belief their teacher is right because the followers are having spiritual experiences. Over time, the follower makes a huge investment, an investment difficult to lose; after all, no one wants to admit that they have been foolish.
Usually, however, after a time such teachers pass by the wayside as followers eventually realize they don't need the teacher or the organization to have a relationship with God; but then again, too often, followers reach a level of comfortable contentment and or adopt the belief that they need to be in the presence of the teacher or a part of the organization to progress any further; sadly, in the meanwhile, they fail to look at or they even ignore the wreckage left behind.
Whether a novice or a teacher, such people can become spiritually stuck if not for a time, then for the rest of their lives. They feel successful in meditation because they have spiritual experiences, but usually what they have unknowingly attained is really only access to a comfortable and "safe" plateau; this is one of the pitfalls of the spiritual path: the thinking that "this is it", "I know" and "there is no more".
In the case of those who are living in a group environment, they may begin to believe that if they leave they will not have contact with God, anymore. Rationally this makes no sense, but emotionally such fears can rule better judgment, for what greater loss could there be than losing God? So, how is it that people get caught up in such circumstances?
The Art of Meditation
In order to discuss more clearly how people get caught in such a situation, we must first discuss the process of meditation or as some call it the Art of Meditation, further. During meditation, as stated above, the intuitive faculty opens. The corollary is that when the intuitive faculty opens intellectual faculties and physical activities must lessen; these activities lessen in direct correspondence to the degree or depth of the prayerful and or meditative state entered into.
In the deeper stages of a meditation practice, when the practitioner lets go completely of the intellect and the physical, there lies a danger, if he or she does not reasonably examine later, the spiritual experiences he or she has while in meditation in the light of their own personal knowledge and reason.
In the deeper stages of meditation, the practitioner ceases to think and enters into a state of simply being. When the person is truly in a state of being, the person has engaged the intuitive faculty fully and has left the world we live in behind and she or he has entered into another state of spiritual awareness or consciousness. In this state, "God" can be experienced through visions, signs and symbols and the person may even have experiences of spiritual ecstasy, every bit as wonderful as any saint or mystic. Evelyn Underhill, in her book Mysticism: The Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness (see online: http://gnostic.org/underhill/index.html) discusses the occurrence of these spiritual events amongst saints and mystics in depth.
Know that spiritual experiences happen within our own realm of consciousness; they are not "other" dependent; it doesn't much matter to what teaching or religion we subscribe ; also know that spiritual experiences happen in accordance with the exact degree to which we open to them; in such a state we are accessing another part of the mind that no other person may share; one may be participating in any religion or belief system when such spiritual experiences happen and one may be able to relate them to another to some degree, but no one can really share the actual experience with another. It is at this time that one may be in need of a spiritual guide and it is at this time that the practitioner needs a good guide; good, meaning that the guide has no personal investment or agenda that is in need of fulfillment.
In meditation, when the intellect has been quieted, the intuitive takes over and rational thinking ceases. A difficulty arises however, when one cannot distinguish between the spiritual event and any dogma one has been taught and digested because our tendency is to interpret our spiritual experiences according to the contextual framework we have adopted.
If we are under the tutelage of a teacher of meditation, it is important to have a qualified and experienced guide without an agenda or an expected outcome, who is willing to "live in the question" and who is willing to help the practitioner examine and come to their own conclusions? If we do not have such a guide any trust accorded by a student to an unqualified teacher can be misused if the teacher is immature or unscrupulous
In any event, basically, when we meditate the quieter our bodies and minds become, the more the intuitive faculty opens and the more we become receptive to spiritual experience. It must be remembered that when we enter the meditative state, we are no longer thinking about "what makes sense", we are simply experiencing; it is when we return to conscious awareness that "we must make sense" of what we have experienced.
If we examine again, how these intuitive experiences occur, we can see that they only occur when we become tranquil and free from thinking and outside disturbances. Here, it is important to recognize that although it is necessary to suspend thinking and physical activity for a while in order to meditate and have such experiences, we cannot live in the world in a state of meditation and we cannot base our lives on what we experience in meditation unless it makes some kind of sense rationally.
If, when we return to normal consciousness we are taught "not to think", and or believe that these experiences are dependent upon our teacher or our participation in an organization or according to what we have been taught by our teacher(s), the experiences will be misinterpreted according to the accepted belief system, whatever it is.
When Meditation Becomes an Escape: A Pitfall
In order to incorporate spiritual experiences properly, we must examine both our intent and our conceptual frameworks with rigor. The mental and physical quiet that we experience through meditation is good, if we enter such a state with the right intent; it is not good however, if we use meditation and the spiritual experiences we have to confirm a belief system or to escape from the world; this can be a pitfall.
Unfortunately, some people misuse meditation as an escape from recognizing that their chosen path is not really a good one. Studies have shown that one of the benefits of meditation is that it can be therapeutic. Yes, in the cessation of intellectual and physical activity, we experience relief from bothersome questions, confusions, the problems of the day, and so on; we rest and become filled with the Peace of God and we are rejuvenated.
And we like that space - and it is a good space, for a while - but we cannot live in that space and live in the world simultaneously. It is impossible. We are required by life itself to re-engage with the world physically, intellectually, and spiritually if we are to achieve true balance and true peace.
When we leave that restful space and return to conscious awareness, we also return to the awareness of any unresolved problems or bothersome issues. A problem arises when some people however, do not deal with their problems. Their solution is meditate, meditate - in other words they use meditation to escape, escape. In this space we do not listen much less hear the inner voice : the voice of reason for we have focused our attention upon the transcendental state instead.
Eventually the wheel turns, and we may even hear again the inner voice speak, however if one does not use the rational means to take care of the problem, the escape cycle continues to repeat itself over and over again. Through meditation one can attain a relative peace for a time, but problems will not be resolved; problems will return again until one consciously thinks about them and finds some reasonable resolution; that is the way we are built by the way.
The soul of the true seeker wants to know and wants peace. True knowing results in peace and goodwill, joy and happiness. True spiritual knowing only occurs, however, when integration happens on all levels spiritual, emotional and physical; then we come into balance. Integration occurs through the rational mind. A complete meditation practice requires a reasonable balance; the balance is the activity called contemplation and it happens when we ponder a subject; it happens when we intentionally think.
Contemplation, is an intellectual process that incorporates the use of the mind; the intellectual process is a thinking process; we must think. Contemplation is the balance to meditation, an intuitive process; the intellect is the balance to intuition. Without contemplation our visions and spiritual experiences are left unexamined and as a result we develop dogmas; for example, "I saw God as a man in my vision, so God is a man."
Without contemplation we do not know how to apply what we experience spiritually to our daily lives and the meditation practitioner who has had a wonderful experience of God begins to believe, such and such must be so, even if it is irrational because I had an experience of the presence of God; it must be so, because since I have been following these teachings, I have experiences of God. Such unqualified acceptance of any idea (even if it is true), leads to an imbalance because we need to know for ourselves what is true and not true or we begin run our lives according to false notions.
In order to live a balanced and peace-filled life, we must find a point of equilibrium between the worlds of the intellect and the spiritual. And if we as spiritual seekers are to obtain the pure relationship with God we desire, we must add to this mix, loving conscious action in the physical world. In God we live, move, and have our being. Equilibrium occurs when we add contemplation to our meditation practice.
Contemplation is a thoughtful, conscious process that requires one to examine, to question, and to think again. And while I speak of contemplation as a mental activity, I must also say contemplation incorporates the considerations of the heart and thus again, the intuitive. It is a given I think, for those of us on the spiritual path, that we cannot be truly spiritual without also acting lovingly; in fact, the Master Jesus said as much in his primary teaching.
First and foremost, Jesus said we are to love God first. We love God first through prayer, devotion and meditation. Second we are to love others as ourselves and to love requires an action; we love others through our activities and through adjusting our feelings and views to incorporate the truth that each person including ourselves is unconditionally loved by God.
Matthew 22:36-40 records that one of the disciples asked Jesus, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" "Jesus said unto him, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment." Loving God is a devotional activity, an intuitive event; it is a feeling and inspirational event. When we love God we enter into a peaceful and loving state and we can become inspired.
Then Jesus said, "And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." This is an active event where we combine the love which we have received and come to know spiritually and bring it into the world. Jesus thought that this teaching was so important that he said, "On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
"Through the Heart we may come to know the Love of God; through the Heart we may become the Love of God."
Meditation, and following, contemplation of what we receive spiritually, if performed properly leads us to loving action. When a spiritual practice is performed properly it leads us to loving action in the world, we become more loving human beings, and our family and friends and those at our place of work benefit.
To Think or Not to Think
Contemplation leads us to how we may be more loving in the world. Problems arise on the spiritual path, when meditation is taught, but not contemplation or when contemplation is not allowed. Some teachers of meditation teach "do not think" because they actually believe that not thinking in every day life is a way to achieve inner peace. While such a teacher may have achieved a level of balance through meditation without contemplation, it must be stated that such a teacher has only achieved really, a relative state of balance.
While it is necessary to suspend thought when one enters into meditation, total suspension of thought when trying to live in the everyday world does not work. As a result many new practitioners of meditation, who are not taught about the need and value of contemplation, begin to use meditation as means to escape from the world, and family and friends suffer.
Another trap is that we can use meditation to avoid feeling. Studies have shown that the state of meditation produces a natural high. If we are not aware of the pitfall of becoming too attached to that high, we can become addicted to the spiritual high, just as we can become addicted to a drug or alcohol, etc.
In such a case, we begin to act out our imbalance and hurt ourselves and others, and we, and people associated with us, experience negative consequences in direct relationship to the degree of our imbalance. If we are taught "not to think", we are really only suppressing our thought, our minds become overloaded with problems and contradictions and we begin to act irrationally and hurt ourselves and other people; we become inconsiderate and disregard others and the effects we have upon the lives of others or we begin to think again and change our ways.
The teaching to not think was never meant to include the suspension of thought permanently; in fact, a complete spiritual practice of meditation requires the integration that occurs during conscious contemplation. Teachers who teach "do not think" as if it is the Way, have learned to shut down their own minds and that works for them for a while. Shutting down works however, only for a time; eventually the person finds out that what they have really done is shut down the questioning process and the resultant thought and hence the contemplation process, but in the meantime loved ones suffer as they begin to wonder where their loving friend or family member disappeared to.
Buying into Dogma
When the practitioner begins to shut out the outside world, it is at this time, that dogmas can begin to enter the picture, because the novice practitioner begins to believe dogmatically the teachings of the tradition they are practicing and following, letter of the law life plan develops. Dogmatic belief ensues, because the practitioner makes a false association: the meditation practitioner begins to believe the teachings of the tradition must be true (even if they are not!) because since they have been subscribing to whatever it is, they are having wonderful spiritual experiences; what they do not realize is that the teachings have little to do with their spiritual experiences; teachings and meditation are two different things and one is not influenced by the other unless one learns them as dependent one upon the other.
Following, unexamined teachings lead to a narrow interpretation and next the practitioner begins to believe and preach the tradition whatever it is, is the way, when actually the person has developed a metaphysical dogmatic fundamentalist view that prevents them from loving anyone or having a relationship with anyone who does not believe as they do.
When a spiritual student (and in any school this can happen) adheres to a teaching without question, that one is treating the teaching as a dogma. When one is adhering to a teaching as if it is a dogma, one is also attaching one self to a rigid level of understanding of the teaching and one is not looking to God for answers. In such case, the person has essentially stopped questioning and stopped seeking and in this case is no longer having a relationship with God; rather that one is having a relationship with a dogma and runs their life accordingly.
What such a person does not realize is that they have really only reached a spiritual plateau; what has actually happened is that they have become stuck and attached to a spiritual high; they have become addicted to meditation and instead of looking at meditation as a means to become more aware "of" life, they have begun to use it has a means of escape from living in the real world and all of the problems that the real world brings forth for us to resolve. At this stage, real soul growth has essentially reached a point of suspension.
When a teacher or a beginner mistakes this plateau for a state of enlightenment and ceases to examine through contemplation whether or not his or her spiritual experiences are complete or even applicable, the dogmatic cycle occurs over and over again, until some outside dramatic event triggers questioning again. Unfortunately, the dramatic event usually takes the form of a traumatic event.
In the meantime, the person meditates even more, because they think that more meditation is the answer, because more meditation makes them feel good. But when meditation becomes the only answer, the real Way actually disappears and meditation, a good practice when it is used correctly, becomes a means of escape. When this happens the practitioner enters into a delusional state.
In the delusional state the rational mind takes a back seat to having more spiritual experiences, and the spiritual experiences themselves become a stumbling block as the practitioner has begun to believe that the teaching "do not think" must be correct, because he or she is having spiritual experiences that make him or her feel good.
Sometimes in spiritual schools, students are instructed to perform physical work without thinking, as a spiritual practice. Some schools keep their students very busy. However, what does this teaching to not think while working really mean, because like meditation, not thinking can be a trap.
The teaching to work without thinking actually refers to making every act of work a service; it refers to working consciously, to directing one's mind into the activity that one may do it well; in other words, when one is working one is thinking about how to master what one is doing as perfectly as possible; one is not thinking about how much one hates the job and one is not using physical work to avoid contemplation and other thoughts from arising; rather, one is engaged in being consciously aware of the job and all that enters into it.
A job well done is an act of service that not only pleases others, but also pleases oneself. We may also use work as a time of contemplation; work can be a means of focusing upon God.
Some people however, misunderstand the spiritual work ethic, and use physical activity as a means to avoid contemplation or as a means of escape from the world and meditation; work can be used to avoid many things.
As an example of the use of escape through physical means or physical activity, however you wish to state it, we may look to the excesses of a Type A personality, who exhibits a nervousness and sleeplessness, and who, it seems, can never stop physically moving. There is no consciousness in what he or she does because there is no contemplation taking place concerning what the person is doing; there is no focus upon doing a job well; rather, some try to get the job done as fast as possible.
Good work is not about who can do the most work or how fast one can finish the job; it is about how well one does the work and it is about enjoying the work. In the case of an A type personality good work is measured according to speed and not quality. What has really happened in this case, is that constantly moving has become a means of escape from both the intellectual and the spiritual sides of our human nature. The person is moving so fast that there is no time to think, hence there is no contemplation of why the person is doing whatever he or she is doing or how it should be done. This kind of person is one who gave up thinking along time ago; he or she is on automatic; he or she has become a robot.
When a person works in a balanced way with consideration, that person thinks, the person contemplates what he or she is doing and the whole endeavor becomes a spiritualized event, not an escape. In a consciously performed project one may also develop a relationship with the intuition and the God within.
The Intellect
Now, while I stress the intellect as the means through which we may contemplate, we can also overuse or misuse the intellect. Examples can be seen, if we look at persons who use the intellect to justify what has happened in their spiritual lives. They misapply some teaching, justifying it in some unreasonable fashion as being the simplest answer to why such and such happened. This person's mind is rather like a computer, a machine without feeling. One who is totally focused in the intellect, excessively thinks, but is not open to any answers, because they have shut down the intuitive.
Neither of these types, in the excessive modes, seems to ever engage in the spiritual pursuit of real contemplation; rather, it seems, they operate in extremes that do not require any substantial thought at all; they never ask themselves how what they are doing applies to living a life in concert with God or the world at large. If we look to the present state of the biosphere, for an example of what I mean, we can see that the present conditions have been caused due to a failure to rationally examine the effects of modern invention and advancement.
Some people who get on the spiritual path misapply the teaching "do not think" and practice meditation because they do not want to think; they learn how to meditate and then begin to use meditation as a means of escape from contemplation which is a means of examining, and to escape from random thinking and free thought, because they do not want to think about those little questions that bother them that just won't go away, those things that really need resolution that they have been avoiding. This is an example of "bad" mind control.
Mind control (although needed in order to meditate) when practiced as a means to get through life prevents contemplation, just as excessive intellectual pursuits prevents contemplation, just as excessive work prevents contemplation, just as excessive meditation prevents contemplation. In such a case a person takes no responsibility for what they do and avoids responsibility for what happens in the world around them, whether it pertains to family, friends or work. Their excuse is, "I am on a spiritual path." Fortunately or unfortunately it is to God we must answer and no one else when we pass on. In other words, any extremes of behavior worldly or spiritual can lead to imbalances and living a life in a spiritually delusional state.
All of these types, the "A type personality", the "hard worker", the "intellectual", in their excessive modes, never truly engage in contemplation concerning what they are doing, rather, they operate in extremes and none are balanced.
In the same vein, the excessively spiritually orientated person may use meditation as a means of escape from the intellect and/or the physical - and those little questions that bother them that they just don't want to think about, or those things that really need doing, but are avoided, never get resolved. Excessive work prevents contemplation, just as excessive work prevents contemplation, just as excessive intellectual pursuits prevent contemplation, just as excessive meditation prevents contemplation.
The Dynamics of Spiritual Delusions
Contemplation requires the use of the intellect. When we use cessation of thought, physical activity, intellectual pursuits, and meditation excessively, we are using them as a means to avoid contemplation.
In these cases, we begin to engage in the dynamics of spiritual delusion. In spiritual organizations, where one is taught not to think, one is actually being taught not to contemplate. Ultimately, however, one cannot have a real spiritual life, if one does not contemplate.
In contemplation, we consciously develop our personal relationship with God, incongruities resolve themselves, and we grow. If the intuitive faculty is not balanced by the intellectual process of contemplation, if spiritual experience is not countered by reason, and not integrated in a positive way into our lives, if we do not engage in thoughtful work, we do not find a way to spiritualize our lives and thus, our spiritual experiences do not make us better people.
In such cases, spiritual experiences cease to be a Grace through which we may receive spiritual insights that make us more loving human beings. In such cases, loved ones, friends, careers, and service to others take a back seat to living what we think is a "spiritual life", when in reality we are attached to a spiritual high, produced by meditation that numbs us to real life. If we do not think, we do not integrate, we do not grow, and we essentially fall back to sleep.
In such cases, "Born-again" experiences, and other types of ecstatic experiences, are a stumbling block instead of an aide to enhancing conscious spiritual awareness. When people cease to question and cease to rationally take the steps needed to manage their lives, when people and do not integrate spiritual experiences in a rational way, unhealthy religious beliefs and associated dogmas begin to automatically run the person's entire life and spiritual gurus or charismatic ministers take the place of God in their lives.
The Guru
When "born again experiences" have not been examined, and when the immature think their spiritual experiences were caused by proximity to a guru or teacher, they begin to see the leader, who appears to be very peaceful person, as spiritually advanced - when really all the "leader" has learned to do, is disengage from the world.
Nevertheless, the "teacher" begins to attract followers, followers who want to achieve the "peaceful" state, not realizing that it is really an unbalanced state.
Using the reasoning, the "teacher" seems so peacefull, followers elevate the person to a level of God-hood that he or she really does not deserve, and then they begin to support him or her financially through paying for classes or tithing to the "teacher" or his or her organization.
Now, the teacher is supported financially, and he or she can continue to "not" engage with the world, (and can follow his or her own pursuits) and the teacher's and the group's collective sense of a divine mission is reinforced, because now there are followers who have come to believe he or she must know the way.
In the case where contemplation is not practiced or taught correctly, meaning free thought is restricted, and controlling one's thoughts is the norm (translation: any objections are cast by the way side under the label of "negative" or as a question to be put on the shelf), immature spiritual seekers begin to see the "peaceful" teacher, as a spiritually advanced person, as a "guru", when really, all the "guru" has learned to do is how to disengage from the world. Nevertheless, the "guru" begins to attract more followers, followers who want to achieve the same "peaceful state". What such immature seekers do not realize is that the "guru" is really in an unbalanced state, and incapable of sustaining it without their support.
Wanting "enlightenment", these immature spiritual seekers, hang on every word and soon, through the efforts of the followers, the guru is completely supported financially; at the same time, a collective sense of a divine mission manifests in the group and then becomes reinforced -all because - there are followers who are having great spiritual experiences. A spiritual theocracy; in other words, a totalitarian organization grows as all conclude, this must be the way, there is so much spirit, I am so high, and I don't have to think any more, and a cult of personality develops. What follows in such an organization reminds me of the part of the story in the Pied Piper where the innocent children followed him out of town because his music was so sweet.
Once more he stept into the street;
And to his lips again
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;
And ere he blew three notes (such sweet
Soft notes as yet musician's cunning
Never gave the enraptured air)
There was a rustling, that seemed like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping, and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.
To draw a more distinctive analogy, following such a teacher takes on the tones of following Hitler.
The Delusional Cycle
The followers, however, because they must engage with the world in order to tithe, can never reach the same level of "constant spirituality" as the "guru", because they must remain engaged with the world - unlike their spiritual "guru" who they now financially support. The cycle, cycles and eventually, if the "guru" and the followers buy in enough, the collective begins to believe the myth that the guru is divine and or has divine guidance to dispense that must be listened to and obeyed. The myth is reinforced by the followers over and over again and the cult of personality grows even larger.
The myth solidifies into a dogma, but hits a bump in the road, as followers, who must live in the real world on a daily basis, encounter obstacles to maintaining a state of peace. The followers, unfortunately or fortunately, are the ones who have to come up against everyday life and the emotional roller coaster that is sometimes stirred up by daily life events in the course of living in the world and having to make a living. As frustrating emotions come forth, as they do for any individual who really lives in the world, and the followers experience life-crashes, they become those who are in the position of "needing" spiritual counseling.
In spiritual orders, churches, and communities, the life-crashes of the non-insulated followers present an advantageous opportunity for higher-ups to "help" them learn to live "correctly". Then the students are indoctrinated further by various means. These usually take the form of classes and counseling and these means are reinforced by assigned devotional practices, where again the student must disengage from the world and rational intellectual thought. And because the leader is seen as a guru, the teaching and remedy is accepted as correct.
If the body of believers, have been taught not to question or engage the intellect, false notions are not only compounded, but also confirmed. In such a case, if the guru has also bought into the delusional glamour projected by the followers that he or she is divine, such a person begins to feed on the spiritual energy of the collective body of people and the imbalance compounds itself. The followers in this case can never reach the divine state attained by the guru. This cycle perpetuates itself over time (in this case we have a negative Epigenesis). Essentially, these cycles cause a non-spiritual vicious-circle that continues to escalate, until some event breaks the delusional cycle, an awakening in some way to the fact that "The Emperor, Really Has No Clothes".
Until that time, mutual admiration and glamour reinforce the delusion and take the place of real seeking, as both the teacher and the students begin to believe that it is because of the teacher that the Spirit is present, when actually the Spirit is present simply because the collective body has opened up spiritual faculties.
Many churches get caught in this kind of "glamour"- the delusion that the teacher and its priesthood are somehow made up of special people because the Spirit is present. It must be noted here that this is an irrational conclusion; there are numerous fundamentalist churches that also experience such Spirit in spite of any strange or dogmatic beliefs.
Metaphysical and Mainstream Fundamentalism
The problem with any kind of organization as described, where the intellect is not given the opportunity to develop, is that it eventually becomes fundamentalist. Fundamentalism exists because the rational intellect, the process of questioning and contemplation, has been shut down. The dogmatic, limited framework of such spiritually undeveloped organizations narrows the confines of what one is allowed to think or question and one becomes like an automaton and if one departs from the script and begins to question, one is perceived as a threat to the entire body.
Unfortunately, the pattern is not exclusive to any one "ism". If we look at the world around us we can see this pattern repeated over and over again. How many churches, mosques, and temples are there headed by the misguided who teach their tradition is the only way; how many churches and isms exist where the followers do not examine the teachings, but follow the leaders blindly? Wherever there are isms, fundamentalism exists and the freedom to follow one's conscience does not.
Such organizations are based in fear; they are based in fear because the leaders of these very same organizations have not resolved their own fears; the leaders in these cases are also misguided and in most cases they actually believe what they teach.These fears dissipate however, when one focuses the intellect upon God and asks the denied questions; such as, "If I leave this organization will I go to hell?" or "Is this teaching really true?" or whatever the question may be.
In the case where the intellect is limited to a narrow conceptual framework, however, the answers themselves are also limited, as spiritual experiences have not been integrated in any rational way. Instead the followers seesaw back and forth between highs and lows, essentially clueless as to why they are feeling crazy; in an atmosphere where teachings may not be questioned, one may not obtain or arrive at any rational conclusions.
When intellectual integration occurs, Truth unfolds continually - there are no final answers. As St. Paul said, "I die daily." Jesus admonished us about adopting other's beliefs as our own. Rather, he directed us to God:
"And call no man your Father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ... he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
One understanding of this teaching of Jesus has to do with the acquisition of wisdom; each of us must find that wisdom for ourselves. And as we grow spiritually, we become more humble, because we find that what we knew yesterday falls away as we spiritually grow. A real teacher, as Jesus taught, teaches us how to arrive at answers for ourselves.
Real Teachers and Counseling
A real teacher does not tell us what to do or tell us that his or her guidance is direct from God and hence better than our own. A real teacher knows that the answer he or she may receive is based upon only what that teacher has been told by the individual, hence any observation by the teacher is lacking in what we may call "round" information, or all the information. We can never walk in another's shoes - ever; we cannot know all of the ins and outs of another's life, therefore any direction we might give would be inadequate.
There can be no one between a person and God. A relationship between oneself and God is a very personal matter.
A True Teacher
A true teacher remains in the question, as a loving and supportive person. A teacher's job is not to provide the answers, or to be critical. Rather, a teacher's job is to assist in finding the answers for oneself. True teachers do not set themselves up as God in your life; rather, a true teacher leads you to God.
A true teacher will not claim to know more, demand obedience, instill fear, or control the intellectual environment. A true teacher will remain in the question of what is Truth and will inspire one to study, meditate, and contemplate in order to find the truth for oneself. A true teacher chops wood and carries water; he or she knows the Way, because he or she lives it. Along with everyone else, such a teacher has learned to apply the Love they receive from God in the world. And they know that one must engage the intellect to do so?



"Through the Heart we may come to know the Love of God;
through the Heart we may become the Love of God."

The Following Articles Define the Differences
Between Religious Freedom and Religious Intolerance
Jefferson's 1777 Draft of a Bill for Religious Freedom
United Nations Declaration on Religious Freedom
Religious Tolerance Defined
Religious Tolerance & Cult Definitions
Religious Tolerance & Belief-Coertion
Laws Related to Freedom of Religion


Email Jessika: kl@gnostic.org


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Independent Bishop Jessika (Amma J) Lucas, M.A. IHSM, R.O.