Sunday, 18 February 2018

Perspective #2: I Was A Hidden Treasure

In Perspective #1, both the Bible and Albert Einstein present a picture of Unity, that all Creation is One. And, as a collorary to that, there is the Islamic tradition that God (as Allah) said:
I was a hidden treasure and wanted to be known.
This statement is referred to by Sufis and the Bahai faith, but there are Islamic commentators who question the authenticity of this statement. There are, however, others who say it is substantiated by a verse in the Qur'an (51:56) - a generally accepted revelation from Allah:
I created the Jinn and humankind only that they may worship Me!
Accordingly, since all human beings were created in His image (as self-aware consciousnesses evolved in a physical body), all human beings are also hidden treasures to each other. And all have this deep desire to be known. And to know One-ness.

If we were to accept that we are all (in reality) "self-aware consciousnesses [created by God]", does this not indicate that we are all linked in a mysterious, spiritual, way as brothers and sisters; that we are all, in reality, one whole? That when Jesus spoke of "loving thy neighbour" he was referring to that mysterious and spiritual link connecting us all - that we are all the same - inwardly, in essence. That it is our outward upbringing and acts that differentiate us, not our inward (and essential) reality. They say that "what goes around comes around", which infers that some action done has a potential rebound. That can include harm done to another.

The key question is, "should not we be making greater effort to realise our innate state and seek to find One-ness in order to try to put right the various serious ailments in the world today?"

And if we - regardless of the religion we are born into - are all One and relate to One God, why do certain religions (sects of Christianity and Islam in particular) seek to convert others to their form of religion? Why do members of these religions seem to think that other paths are inferior? Why, indeed, do members of these religions seem to think that their path is superior?

A number of people say that Jesus came and to save us. It is the ultimate truth for those who wish to believe that. Yes, in one sense, Jesus did have a saving message, but has that message been accurately interpreted? The usual interpretation may be because of there being a lack of a message 
in the Christian Canon (compared to other spiritual paths) about self-work, although those who were willing to be isolated in cloisters took that route in former eras. But, of course, the Canon was an eclectic compilation put together some 300 years after the passing of Jesus. The discovery of the so-called 'Nag Hammadi Library' and other discoveries throw rather a different light on what the Church has been saying since the time of Constantine. However, St. Augustine wrote:
That which is called the Christian religion existed among the ancients, and never did not exist, from the beginnings of the human race until Christ came in the flesh, at which time the true religion, which already existed, began to be called Christianity.
In my humble view, Jesus came as a living proof of the ability of all people to rise to a station of gnosis, Jesus even showed us in vivid detail that to arrive at that exalted state trials and pain have to be overcome. St. Augustine's statement seems to prove that the foundations for gnosis were being put in place before he (Jesus) came to us, but that Jesus's life created the conditions for everyone to attain gnosis, and not just a few, as there had been before. Hence the need for Jesus to openly illustrate the Way needed: not just to a fortunate select few, although his disciples must have been told more. 

But one of the greatest mysteries is that concerning Islam. For if Jesus was the 'proof' of The Way, what was the function of Prophet Muhammed, who came 600 years later? And it is noteworthy that all the prophets of the Abrahamic tradition - including Jesus - are accepted by the Qur'an. In fact, Jesus is as exulted in the mystical elements of Islam as much if not more than so-called Christianity! Even in the exoteric Islamic forms of the Sunnis, Jesus is hugely respected. It's the form that Christianity frequently takes and its wish to absorb all others that causes a massive obstacle towards understanding between the two ways. In fairness, that view applies also to the Sunni notion that as Prophet Muhammed is stated as being the last prophet, then the Islamic teachings (as the Sunnis understand it) should be taken as superior to all Christian teachings.

But what's perhaps even more interesting is that a number of the greatest men of Western literature - including George Bernard Shaw - were very attracted by the ways of the Islamic faith, and particularly by the character of the Prophet Muhammed. They saw him as the epitome of a wise and great leader of people and man of peace. For me, Islam (as Prophet Muhammed taught it, and as taught by the Sufis and other esoteric groups, please note) represents the kind of practical framework that most people would need to work within to attain the mystery that Jesus gave to the world. A similar framework exists in the Hindu teachings and which was established thousands of years before Judaism and Islam.

I see the same essential message in the core of all religions, whether it be Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Zoroastrian or Bahai. That is, the inference that we are not really the body; that there is an essence within that requires our primary attention.  But some religions speak in more detail on this topic. Here is just one relevant statement in the Chandogya Upanishad of the Hindu scriptures:
When in the body (by thinking this body is I and I am this body) the Self is held by pleasure and pain. So long as he is in the body, he cannot get free from pleasure and pain. But when he is free of the body (when he knows himself different from the body), then neither pleasure nor pain touches him'.
This quotation, by implication, rejects the notion that we can be saved from our spiritual plight by simply belief. It also implies that religious ritual does not, in itself, have great relevance. There is the suggestion that to be born into a religious practice should be considered beneficial (that it lays a foundation) but that it is undesirable to leave it at that. To achieve anything worthwhile, work is required: spiritual work. That work (if approached with a pure heart) is a kind of work that leads to permanent joy for the reason that all teachings (in their original form at least) taught that the soul lives on; it does not die. What the soul moves onto depends on what we have done during the Earth-bound opportunity.

The kind of work that is called for by what I call the Essential Teachings are directed to the individual, for it is only when the individual attains a certain level that he can be of real benefit to society - his "neighbours" - by progressively working on ego and giving service out of Love, obtaining joy therefrom. 

Interestingly, Oscar Wilde, in The Soul Of Man (1891), stated:
For it is through joy that the Individualism of the future will develop itself.  Christ made no attempt to reconstruct society, and consequently the Individualism that he preached to man could be realised only through pain or in solitude. ... The evolution of man is slow.  The injustice of men is great.  It was necessary that pain should be put forward as a mode of self-realisation.  
But what is the way forward from that "pain" or suffering that is talked of here? How do we obtain "joy"? We come back to the subject of Love. In  the thirteenth chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul states:
If I speak the languages of men and angels, but have no love, I am like a resounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have no love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have no love, it earns me nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love has no envy; love is not puffed up; love has no pride. It does not behave itself unseemly, it takes no thought for itself; It is not made angry, It thinks no evil. It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, has unshakable faith, hopes fully, endures all things. Love never fails.
It would, therefore, appear to be the case that self-work was always top of the agenda as the real path, The Way to success in religion is the "know thyself" process to find "the hidden treasure". In Islamic and Hindu teachings about "self-work" there is little pressure on the need to live out of society to undertake that task, though some traditionalists still cling to that approach. However, to achieve anything of spiritual substance, the individual must loosen his worldly ties; his attachments.

It should follow, therefore, that by focusing on The Way, Love will prevail. Wars and other severely detrimental aspects that exist in the world now - and which include increasing mental issues that have evolved in modern society - would ultimately fade away once mankind was to see their real selves and the futility of choosing ego over Unity. 

You may say this is idealistic talk or that it is just an opinion. But what else makes real sense?

Perspective #3 will talk more about the Soul.

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