So why do you go to church ? I was asked. The answer was easy. ‘Because it lifts our spirits.’ It lifts our spirits through music and singing, through prayer or contemplation, by being challenged or inspired by the words we hear. By being in the company of like minded people.
We are spiritual people. The spirit within each of us is actually who we really are. We all look different, we all might behave and act differently, we might have different ideas about clothes and passions and possessions. We don’t say of a person we know them because they wear green. That green is just part of who they are, their aura, part of their spiritual being.
If we weren’t spiritual people what would we be? I suppose not far different from the cows or sheep in the field. We would eat and sleep and have children. But we are more than that. We have an awareness about ourselves. We have an awareness of where we are, of the sky and the stars. We have minds that can travel without limit through time and space. We can visit the memories of yesterday and we can dream of the future.
We can have ideas. We can plan for future times. From our imaginations we can construct machines, bridges and buildings and we can even change the layout of nature. Like the universe there are no barriers to what the mind is capable of. The only limit is ignorance. Unfortunately we can construct anything either for good or ill. There is a reason for that.
George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff who around in the 1940s was a a kind of spiritual guru. He said that although everyone was a spiritual person, many were asleep, or sleep walking. They lived their lives but their spirits were not awake. They thought spiritual uplift was found in material things or seeking earthly pleasures. That was all short term stuff and often it lead to unhappiness and stress, because their spiritual self did not grow by acquiring material things or through short term happiness.
The person who is aware of being a spiritual person is able to grow and increase in wisdom and understanding. They are able to reach for something within themselves which is both higher and deeper than they have known before. It leads to a feeling of balance and a sense of joy in life, as the Buddhists say, joy in the joy of others also, because we develop a better relationship with our fellow beings.
We go to church because it lifts our spirits. Years ago I used to go to church and it never did lift my spirits. So I stopped going. I realise now that I had reached a spiritual plateau and couldn’t go any further. The church had never said that belonging to it was a developing process. You couldn’t listen to a sermon and disagree with it or put forward a different interpretation.
They said, ‘This is the teaching. accept it, believe in it and you are safe for heaven. If you disagree, you won’t go to heaven’
It always seems to have been the same. If we were to look at the history of some religions, it can be seen. Religions that came from long ago, when an enlightened prophet, had a real insight into the workings of the spiritual dimension.
Their word spread, then they would have a following, their teaching developed into a new religion, but then after many years, it stalled. It stalled when the followers said the enlightened founder was their only authority, therefore nothing could be challenged or changed. They then became set with a rigid structure. There were rules about what you should or should not believe, what you could or could not not do – in some you could not dance or sing or be merry, in some you were told what you had to wear. Spirits went into straight jackets
So religions come and they stall. After a while they lose the power to influence or lift the spirit, because people and the world have moved on. Sadly the original message from the prophet is often still valid but it has been altered and is no longer recognisable.
I go to meetings of the Theosophical Society in Bolton. Their founder, Madame Blavatsky said that what she had discovered and written about was only a beginning. She expected the study to continue. Yet there are followers who will say but Madame Blavatsky said….. therefore how can we dispute it?
I have ben preparing a talk on the Rosicrucians. They are part of a tradition that goes back to the beginning of humankind, to that time when people believed about being Spirit more than flesh. There were legends then about how the world and humanity began.
A common one was that there was a creator spirit who brought everything into being and the creator existed within everything created as Spirit, including within humankind.
And the creator created gods that people could visualise, make carvings and pictures of, and create legends that explained the true quality of the creator spirit.
They believed that Humankind began as Spirit beings, below the level of the angels, but in time these spirit beings materialised into human form. As humans they were born into every life with a memory of the creator spirit.
But life distracted them and they fell away from the spiritual ideals of truth, beauty, justice, equality. They created their own gods and stories and legends about them – but these were false gods. False gods represented the desires and prejudices of the people themselves. They created virtues which were not true virtues.
What was really real they could not comprehend. Plato described the true forms of truth, justice, beauty as being understood only as shadows on the wall by those who came to seek.
These early people believed there had been earlier civilisations that had been greater but had been lost. . They believed that these early civilisations were closer to the angels and once had spiritual powers of clairvoyance and empathy that had since been lost.
That succeeding civilisations lost these powers. There were angels who were not angels at all but inventions of people.
One was said to be a spiritual guide but wasn’t. Belief in this angel led people on a spiritual path that was purely selfish. That led individuals to isolate themselves, and others, from empathy and care for the world they lived in. They thought that by separating themselves from the world they had achieved a spiritual height.
And there were false angels who led people to think they found spirituality in material things. The creation of happiness through shopping and owning things, in being better than anyone else.
How was anyone to know that true happiness came through connecting their own spirits closer to the one absolute spirit.
Some of those early prophets did have a sense of the path that would lead to true happiness of spirit.
They said that the person of Jesus was a spirit person who was sent to show a way back to the true spiritual path.
He taught that many had wandered off the true path. Some had wandered away to a material kind of spirituality – like the organised church. Cathedrals and doctrines deceived them into thinking they were spiritually mature but they couldn’t see that they were stalled.
Others took to a spirituality that was based only on the self. Believing oneself to be pure through study or exercise but actually not enlightened at all. It was these paths that were misguided truths and led to so much destruction and negative energy arising in the world. And there were the sleepwalkers.
The true path was through developing the spirit through the study of everything without exception, – nature, science and philosophy. It was through developing an inward strength through contemplation, to realise that everything, including ourselves is part of the Absolute, or call it God. No doors should be closed on knowledge because knowledge leads to understanding.
In the modern world this requires people to be wary of the many truths that are fed to them. To look and ask for themselves if what is said or read or tweeted or put on Facebook is helping the world and ourselves to be purer and nearer to the absolute god. The truth about life and nature and god can be learnt but not taught. It is learnt through questioning and exploring.
Those who do embark on that path to spiritual enlightenment soon begin to find a real joy in life. They develop an understanding of other people. To be empathic and recognise the hurts and sufferings that are hidden within both within themselves and in others, and so understand them.
And those on that spiritual path will seek a community of like minded people, where they can be freely spiritual, not confined in a religious straitjacket.
You can understand when someone says they go to church because it lifts their spirits.