To Know, Or Not To Know. That Is The Question!


Dear Reader,

The unceasing toil of each succeeding day has as its aim and justification this consummation: to make one’s last days sweet and pleasant. But each day also has its evening. If the day is spent in good deeds, then the evening blesses us with deep, invigorating and refreshing sleep, the sleep about which it is said that it is akin to samadhi (oneness with the object of meditation). 

One has only a short span of life on earth. But even in this short life one can attain divine bliss by wisely and carefully using the time. Two people, in appearance the same, ostensibly of the same mould, grow under the same conditions, but one turns out to be an angel while the other stays on with their animal nature. What’s the reason for this differential development? Habits, behaviour formed out of these habits, and the character into which that behaviour has solidified. People are creatures of character(From a discourse delivered by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, a divine of India).
I have been saying for some years that change in this world is underway, and has been underway for quite a long time. In particular, we entered a new era in that famous year of 2012, when certain people were saying it was going to herald the end of the Earth, but though certain conditions have come about that we would regard as adverse, I see these more as events that are clearing a path. And, yes, I am sorry if it grates, but that includes the Covid-19 pandemic.

The above lead-in text ends: "People are creatures of character". We develop habits, and, once solidified, they cause us to see events in a certain prescribed way, according to our environment and education. As we grow older, we generally lose the ability to see nature as it was through the eyes of a child; we become 'hooked' onto the interests we develop for ourselves, oblivious to a greater plan. 

We think (in the West) that death is a terrible event. We even pretend to think it can't happen to us and disregard it. We develop short-sightedness: hence we talk of Covid-19 being 'over', and look forward to a return to 'normal'. But is that what is intended according to the Great Plan? Yes, although there is a kind of 'Great Plan', we are designers of our own destiny. We have a great role to play in how the future rolls out. What we do, what thoughts we have, count in the Great Drama. Everyone has a part to play, no matter what level they have risen to in society. It's based on what our attitude is to God, and towards others ('others' meaning other people and all creation, not just human-kind). Jesus told us that Love is the key Commandment and expressed in those two ways: towards God and 'others'.

Such a notion should tell us that there is a language that we should learn in order to take us through the storm of life - to develop equanimity towards everything, no matter what happens. It takes practise - and the breaking down of all those habits and that moss we have let grow onto our lives over many years. Some people have called it 'Gnosticism' - others call it something else - and was there in early Christianity, but is really the 'Ancient One'. It is the 'Perennial Philosophy'.

Author Lynn Picknett and her co-author, in one of their books, wrote
It is not difficult to understand the appeal of Gnosticism, although it was no easy option—the emphasis being on personal responsibility for one’s own actions—but at the same time the threat to the Church of Rome is obvious. As Hermes Trismegistus supposedly wrote: ‘Oh! What a miracle is Man!’, an exclamation that encapsulates the idea that mankind contains the divine spark. Neither Gnostics nor hermeticists grovelled before their God. Unlike Catholics, they did not think of themselves as lowly and evil creatures who were destined for purgatory, if not hell itself. Recognizing their divine spark automatically bestowed what we today would call ‘self-esteem’ or confidence—the magic ingredient in the process of fulfilling one’s potential. This was the key to the Renaissance as a whole, and the fearlessness it induced can be seen in the sudden opening up of the world through circumnavigation and exploration.

Worse still, as far as the Church was concerned, this notion of individual potential for godhood implied that women were as good as men, at least spiritually. Gnostic women had always had a voice, and even officiated at religious ceremonies: this was one of the major threats that Gnosticism posed to the Catholic Church. Moreover, the idea of mankind’s essentially divine status did not accord with the Christian idea of ‘original sin’—the idea that all men and women are born sinful because of the Fall of Adam and Eve (especially the latter). Because all children are the result of the ‘shameful’ sex act, that idea inextricably linked women and children in a kind of everlasting conspiracy against pure men and a vengeful God.

Gnostics and hermeticists, on the whole, had no truck with ‘original sin’.
What a thought! We are not - after all - just meant to be plodders and servants to Mammon. We have a greater role to play because we contain the spark of Love. It just needs igniting - and not just towards our nearest and dearest. The time has come. The time to remove old habits and enmity towards others. To rise above what has been developing over these past few decades, we all need to sing the cause of Compassion.

As a historian, one of my favourite subjects has been the history of Birmingham, the place where I grew up and which I returned to in later life. And one of the special areas of interest I have is in the nature of certain people who rose up out of ordinariness and mundanity of the 18th and 19th centuries and made a difference that not only affected people locally - in Birmingham and surrounds - but also nationally. They had the spark of real Compassion in their hearts and (in the main part) did not seek reward for themselves. Indeed, most died as obscurely as they were born. They came, they saw and they conquered - with Compassion and their vision. Their stories are told in a series of digital magazines I am writing and which are obtainable here. The next edition is due towards the end of September.

Surely, it is only by the kind of leadership of such people described therein that can influence society to rise above the mundane? I think so, and I also feel that is what is needed now. Those that encourage us to 'return to normal' may well prove to be pointing in the wrong direction when we take into account the sufferings that exist worldwide - including the non-small matter of Climate Change, which will not be resolved just by modern science, despite what some say.

Change is the operative word from whichever way we look at it, and 'change' has surely to stem from the heart and not entirely from modern science. But we should not depend just on leadership from others: we all need a Change of Mind.
To give up all the promptings of desire in the mind is the negative process; to implant ever-present joy therein is the positive aspect. The negative process is to remove all the seedlings of wrong and evil from the mind; the positive process is to grow, in the field thus cleansed, the crop of attachment to God! The plucking of the weeds is the negative stage; the cultivation of the crop you need is the positive stage. (From a discourse delivered by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, a divine of India).
The Tenacity of the Tree

Thank you for reading this.

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