The Learning Theory of spiritual progression.
The rejects any and all of the following notions:
all events are all-determined or all-directed.
there is a determined destiny.
All events are fully determined by Universal Intelligence, Mercy, or God.
God micro-manages the world.
Every event has a divine purpose
Every event is part of the Divine Plan
All events are divinely guided
It’s all good, or it’s all perfect.
The Learning theory states that people can learn from any event or circumstance, and this learning can be helpful for our spiritual evolution (or maturation); YET in many cases, there could be more learning, more evolution, and an easier and quicker path to spiritual evolution, IF events or circumstances were different.
The fact that people can learn or gain something from any circumstances, does NOT necessarily mean that all circumstances are “good”, nor ‘perfect’.
Nor would this necessarily imply that all events and circumstances are planned out or divinely directed by God or a Merciful Wisdom.
Learning, and learning opportunities, are open-ended and undetermined. They are not pre-planned, nor set-up. Learning opportunities naturally spring from life and the world; they don’t need to be set-up or pre-planned. [a popular idea that ‘one’s soul’ pre-determines personal life-learning opportunities and events is at odds with simple reasoning – which is, if the soul were to know what is best to learn in an upcoming personal life, then it wouldn’t need to learn what it already knows.] Learning only makes sense if one does not yet know what one will learn; that is, learning has to have a surprise element to it, so it is senseless to belief that one determines one’s own life-learning. Learning has to imply an open-endedness and indetermination.
The Divine guides life and people, but only indirectly and generally. The Divine does NOT specifically determine everything. Most guidance is general, and the person needs to apply this general guidance into specifics. Some guidance can be specific, just not all guidance. Most guidance, whether inner guidance or outer guidance from prophets or masters, is general to some degree, and thus one has to make the general into specifics.
In a Learning Model, there has to be the possibility to make mistakes, or to take wrong turns, including the possibility of actions being harmful to others and to the world. IF this is so, then some actions in the world, and some events as well (stemming from such actions), would be harmful, would be mistakes or wrong actions; then some events in the world would be caused by mistakes, which contradicts a belief that all events are perfect or caused by higher intelligence. So, if there are possibilities for mistakes, along the course of learning, these mistakes would be showing up in the world. Another way of seeing this is that many events must be caused by people, and since people make mistakes, some events are just as much mistakes as their causes. Many events result from people’s limited and imperfect understanding – reflecting their limited and imperfect stage of learning.
Some people suggest that all events and circumstances are learning experiences and are also ‘necessary’. If all learning experiences are necessary, then all learning experiences would actually be good; for if something is necessary, then it would be good in a profound way. In other words, one might say that a ‘bad event’ was actually ‘necessary’; yet then this necessity would make the event really good, rather then bad. Also, if an experience is ‘necessary’ for learning, then an alternative experience (or a lack of this experience) would be detrimental – as it would not fully be the ‘necessity’. So the qualification that an experience or event is ‘necessary’ (or needed) is quite a strong claim, which implies that the event or experience must also be good.
Yet are all events and learning experiences ‘necessary’? If one makes the same mistake a hundred times, is the next same mistake really necessary? To say that a certain repeated behavior is necessary, even though it continually hurts this person or others, is to also suggest that a change for the better was never really possible. Or, that a change would actually be detrimental (since this would mean that the ‘necessary behavior’ would not be actualized). For to claim that a circumstance is ‘necessary’, is to imply that there could not be a better action at that time. But we can find many examples where this belief would be ludicrous. For example, one would be saying that every time a heroin addict shoots up, this is ‘necessary’. The view that all is by God’s Will and Love would be saying even worse; that each time the addict shoots up, this was God’s Will and guided by God’s love.
One can show that action X is un-necessary, if a possible alternative action would be better. That is, if one could see that Y action is better than X action, then certainly X action is not necessary. If one can see that a soldier could solve a certain problem without killing a lot of innocent people, then it is quite ridiculous to say that killing a lot of innocent people was ‘necessary’. If the addict could have refrained from shooting up, then was shooting up really necessary? If one can do something ‘better’ (or more right) in any instance, rather than simply repeat old patterns, then is there any sense in claiming that repeating the old pattern was ‘necessary’ (or good) ?
Now some people will then claim that we could not really know if the next shooting up was ‘necessary’ or not; and that only God or a great Seer could know this. Yet this is taking a position of not-knowing, rather than claiming that all is necessary. Surely, there is no argument against someone saying that a certain event “might be” necessary, even if it looks bad or changeable. This ‘uncertainty position’ is not debatable; because it is not really making any claim at all. Sure, one could always make a claim that no one could really know whether certain events are necessary (good) or not. But then, we would have to claim this uncertainty for everything that happens. Down deep, this is an intelligent position to hold. Yet if one is really true to this ‘humble uncertainty position’, then one ought to be just as open to the possibility that a certain event is un-necessary (or even evil), as much as being open to the possibility that it could be necessary and good. This is, in fact, an intelligent position to hold; and then, the proposition would be that some events may be necessary and good, while some events may not.
Yet practically speaking, we will have to make discernments and decisions in our lives. This is unavoidable; for even a non-decision is itself a decision. We will have to make decisions about what is better or worse for our own lives. And as a society of people, we will be asked to choose at times between what is better or worse, and we will need to choose. We will have to say, ‘I approve of this, rather than that’. For example, practically speaking, are we going to allow some people to murder others? Are we going to say that all murders are actually ‘necessary’ for the victims or for the world? Are all instances of pollution necessary? Are all instances of harm to animals necessary? Or good? Or God’s Will? Or part of divine Mercy?
The real question is, who really wants to know truth and consider what is true. Rather than simply repeat “spiritual” clichés or believe claims that don’t even make any sense when one really looks at them.
Spiritual evolution Progression of the self
In the world of activity, the regular world we live in, individuals work and play. Individuals have unique behaviors and perform distinct actions. Those actions can be ranged, theoretically, according to how intelligently holistic and loving the action is, in relation to needs and purposes of the Whole Life. Each individual has an ‘I’, its ego-I, which is the individual centre of self-identity and source of individual decisions. This is found in the experience of ‘I am’ and “I decide” (or when performing an action it is “I do..” or “I act”).
Now the fact is that this ego-I, this I-experience, is a middle stage in human potential, and necessary stage at that. It is in the middle between two other possibilities of human experience; one of which is either instinctual or automatic, and the other of which is Super-conscious or Divine-conscious. The instinctual and automatic states do not have I-ego experience, because they lack self-awareness, self-intention and decision; they just happen on their own, either by natural instinct or by conditioned habit. One would still have an amount of awareness in these states, but no self-awareness and no awareness of free choice. We call this a primitive human state, though it is very useful for many purposes so we should not simply deride its value. The ego state would be a step up from this primitive state.
Yet above and beyond the ego state is a potential for Super-consciousness or Divine-consciousness. Here the regular self-ego, or self-I, disappears into a unitive Divine-consciousness. Various qualities and descriptions go along with this higher State, such as Light, Unity, Serenity, Love, Wisdom, Presence, and mystical consciousness. This is the state or experience of the true mystics. Here, the self-I has disappeared into a larger consciousness, a larger Being, a larger Self, the larger I Am, God. Though we are describing this as larger, rather than as the Universal Absolute, because these mystical states are like levels of Ascent within an Infinite Ascent. That is, there are Beings within Beings; though mystics simply refer to all of this as God-Being. The topic right now, though, concerns the ego-I, the individual I-experience. First of all, we should not reduce all mystical teachings into an injunction for simply eliminating the I from experience, since this might then be a falling back into a primitive automatic state, rather than a presumed divine-consciousness. This is the possible mistake for anyone following a mystical path, because what can happen is that a person might presume they are reaching higher spiritual states by eliminating self I-ness and self-made intentions; while in fact, they are merely falling back into an automatic conditioning or conditioned habit-directed life, without any self-awareness, self-scrutiny, or self-responsibility. These cautions must be stated and considered, before we move on to the mystical topics.
For many spiritual aspirants, we came upon a particular path or began spiritual studies because we were searching for an enlightenment, or mystical consciousness, or spiritual knowledge, or self-transformation, or maybe a yearning for God. These are all good motives. Yet, the deeper motivation for the spiritual path comes from God yearning for us. God is seeking us and hoping to train us for spiritual work. There is spiritual purpose in life, and this purpose involves each of us. Yet if we are not aware of this purpose, or if we are resistant to it, then we are probably not helping it as much as we could. We are meant to be part of a greater purpose, or really, a greater work. So what is the purposeful work of the true mystic? And this relates to mystical, divine consciousness. Fundamentally, the purpose is two-fold. One purpose is to realize Divine Being. The second purpose is to serve life within Divine Being. One often thinks of the first purpose in relation to mystical consciousness, yet the second purpose is just as significant. If one loses oneself in love and service, whereby the self-I disappears in love and service, then one is working in divine service without any ego-I. This is the possibility of the higher stage of Divine-consciousness without any self I-ness. You see, there is no need for any self I-ness when you are immersed in love and service, because then the Divine is just purposefully at work through you. There will be consciousness in the activity of such service and such a life; yet this will be the Divine being conscious through you. In this state of pure love and service, there is no more need for a self-I or a “I am doing this;” because the Divine is just consciously at work through you.
At this point, one can look back to see a past false I-ness, a false separative self-ness.
There was before this a section about how God’s will is doing good.. into Will file
How we can know these Values, the Truth and the Good.
The first guideline principle is that the ultimate good, in any situation, is good for the whole, rather than merely being good for one person or for a smaller group. This makes sense, since we are trying to understand what is good from the divine perspective – which is the perspective from the greater Whole. Thus, the overall good of humanity and Earth is more important than any personal good or any single group good. Thus we already have an implied utilitarian principle, that what is good for the Greater is the significant question. Yet this may not be a simple utilitarian equation involving numbers of people being satisfied, because quality of the significant values is also pertinent. Moreover, the life-effect of a decision upon just one individual is not merely insignificant. We should not resort to a mere utilitarian crunching of overall statistics, to find what is Best, while ignoring the quality of life of any single individual. No one is insignificant from the divine perspective. Quality of goodness is also important, so we cannot simply count numbers. Nonetheless, we should always be considering the good of the Whole as most important, and thus be willing to make personal sacrifices for this good of the Whole.
Next, we should consider Values of the Good. These are like Goals, Purposes, Intentions. We can think of the Good as a fulfillment of significant Values. There is not just one Divine Value, but a plurality. For example, one value is beauty, another is harmony, another is love, and another is insight. So whatever promotes such values is good, and whatever diminishes these is not good. Freedom can be added, and many more. But one potential problem is that some actions might promote one value while diminishing another. This adds to the complexity of good decision making and right action. The ultimate goal is a synthesis of these plural Values, or a maximization of them as best as possible. Sometimes, the best we can do is to consider what would be a good balance of them. --- need for a Synthesis of values
Kinds of choices choosing what is good?
Now, let us consider different kinds of choice situations.
In some cases, the choice between good and bad seems obvious, such that one way seems fairly certain to be Divine Will, while the other is not. An example might be slavery. Is slavery Divine Will, or not? The answer seems pathetically obvious, and yet history has told us a different story. Slavery might help certain people achieve more happiness, the slave owners, but it is certainly not of the Good. This is because important Divine Values are being violated, and the sensitive conscience realizes this, while the one enslaved to their own desire-greed has somehow justified this slavery. So when we speak of an obvious right and wrong, good and bad, there might always be some idiots who can’t see the obvious, or they are simply not being honest. Dumping poisonous toxins into a source of drinking water is obviously a bad. Helping to feed the starving is obviously a better moral action than shooting them.
The next kind of choice is when possible alternatives each have some positive values, such that their overall moral worth, or divine goodness, is difficult to assess and compare. In other words, the choice of what is best is not so obvious. And yet, there is a best, there is a wisdom-way, which can be known if one applies a healthy mix of moral sensitivity, intuition, and reasoning. So in this kind of choice, there is a best right way, which is not so obvious, but which can be known if one considers the issue with appropriate diligence. An example of this might be a social planning choice, whereby people need to consider many significant values involved and do some weighing of most importance; such that with some deliberate and persistent consideration, the best choice, the wise choice, can be found. And this better choice may indeed be God’s Will (the highest best good), or best in alignment with the Divine Purpose, or closet to the Wisdom of Love.
The next kind of choice is when there is a best wisdom-way among the alternatives, but the discovery of this wisdom is beyond our reach at this time. An example of this might be a choice between new kinds of medicine, whereby scientists do not fully know the overall effects of those medicines. There probably is a wisdom-way or best way, among these alternatives, in that one of the medicines will perform better than the other; but scientists just do not know which one is the better. Most of us are not professional scientists, but this example is analogous to many ordinary choices. Because many times there is a choice in front of us, of which one alternative is probably better than the others, but without omniscience or hindsight, we simply do not have the present ability to know which choice is the better. In these cases, there is a Divine Will, in that one of the choices is more aligned with Divine Purpose than the other, or one choice would have a greater positive effect on the world than the other; yet we simply cannot see this and apprehend which one is the better. Thus, we choose the best that we can, to the best of our abilities. And that’s all we can do.
The next kind of choice is when the alternatives are virtually equal in overall value, such that each alternative is equally consistent with Divine Purpose and equally wise, so equally Good and equally God’s Will. These are cases when there is no clear God’s Will of one choice over another. It’s not just that we cannot know any difference; there is no real significant difference in one choice over the other. So in these cases, the choice becomes non-crucial. Picking one way over the other is not crucial. One may still have to make a choice, but the choice will not be crucial to anyone or the world. If, in fact, it is crucial, then it must be of the previous kind of choice as discussed above.
The next kind of choice is when the effects of the alternatives are insignificant. (see previous explanation above)
How can we realize these Values? Or, what are the ways in which we can realize Values? This may have to be answered separately or in a part of the below
The question is not about what you did wrong or right
The question is: are you ready to move on now? (to the next step, level, focus)
Learning process – explains suffering
A common question in Christianity is about why there is suffering in our world, especially with innocent people, if we accept that God the Creator is loving, wise and powerful. If God is all-powerful and all-loving, then why a world which often lacks love and has so much suffering?
An answer to this can be found in the theory of evolution to do with natural selection and adaptation. For if we can believe that life is generally evolving over time into ever-better adaptable forms, then we might also see this creation, this world, is an evolving manifestation of love and wisdom. In other words, over time our world is becoming more loving and wise. Old ways and old forms that do not have enough love and wisdom will gradually die out and they will cease to carry into future generations. But like physical evolution, this psychic or spiritual evolution will take a good amount of time. So God has set forth a Plan for love, wisdom, beauty and harmony in our world, yet this is to be a gradual evolution of such Qualities rather than an instantaneous creation of perfection from the outset.
Yet God’s power and will is not necessarily how we think it is. Just because God is all-powerful and lovingly wise does not necessarily mean that God will enforceably create a perfect world from the outset. Instead, the Plan is for living things to gradually evolve into more intelligent and adaptable forms, including the human species, and this is accomplished organic by natural selection rather than by a top-down higher enforcement. There is a Divine Plan, but it isn’t like a specific construction blueprint, as if God has planned out all the details of evolution from the beginning. That is an old-style thinking.
The true metaphysics is that the evolution of our world, and all creation, is an organic natural process whereby what survives over time is that which is more intelligent and loving and works better. And this is a kind of learning process, a learning as we go. It’s not like God has it all worked out, nor that this world is like God’s puppet theatre. The whole process involves learning as it goes and the uncertainty of this. So it is possible for any living organism or person to make mistakes.
Mistakes are inevitable in the process of learning and evolution, and natural selection means that what generally carries forward in time are successful intelligent patterns, not mistakes. Mistakes are throughout the world and all creation, if we define a mistake as an ineffectual or self-destructive action, which will thus be ineffective in its survival. This acceptance of mistakes in life will help us understand suffering, and that suffering is not generally part of the Divine Ideal. Suffering is just a case of mistakes; whether it be a person’s action, a government policy, a non-beneficial genetic mutation or a biological misdirection.
This theory of evolution and a learning-process also accounts for variety in the creativity, cultures and lifestyles of human beings. Creative novelty and variety seem to be natural impulses for humans, just as much as with the rest of natural creation. Life itself seems to have a natural desire/will for creative novelty and variety, as if it wants to try out new things like a child at play. In other words, one quality of creation is playfulness or trying out new ways, or spontaneous changes. Life doesn’t want to be stuck in just a few limited and definitive forms; rather, it wants to jump out of the present box and explore new possibilities. This is seen in our human world, as well as with newly created DNA structures over the long process of evolution. But all this possible variety must still encounter the reality of environment and be capable of adaptation and cooperation.
Now, with all of the above taken into consideration, we can still hold true that there is some degree of higher spiritual influence in the world. Yet still, mistakes (or accidents) can happen -- or in other words that some happenings are not Divinely intended nor do they serve any long-range purpose. Also understand that creation is a work-in-progress, and part of this progress will involve mistakes and learning from those mistakes. We progress, and life progresses, by learning from mistakes, and also by intelligently perceiving a better way or by accidentally finding a better way. This brings about an increase in success, making our lives and the world work more harmoniously and effectively. We learn and we grow intelligently, and our love and abilities grow as well. This can all be understood as organic development, or natural evolution, which is like building from the ground up.
However, there are spiritual influences at work as well in this evolutionary process. Here is where we part from a mainstream science, though there is no contradiction to scientific evidence. New age spiritual understanding will accept mainstream natural science and physics, yet this will be complemented by spiritual metaphysics and theosophy. The necessary tenet of spiritual philosophy, to distinguish it from mainstream science, is a belief in spiritual influences to do with guiding energies and metaphysical laws. This is the distinguishing difference. But there is no necessary reason for the spiritual view to disregard the physical view, since both can be understood as coherently complementary if there is no exclusiveness in the thinking.
So now, let us consider a difficult spiritual idea to understand, the idea of Destiny. First of all, Destiny is not simply whatever happens, for that would be the idea of fate or fatalism which means that whatever happens is meant to happen (by Divine compulsion) or else made to happen by unalterable forces (such as astrological forces, for example). But Destiny is different. Destiny means something is meant to be (by a Divine Ideal), but it is not necessarily what actually happens. For example, it may be one’s destiny to save a forest from destruction, but one might be successful in this. The destiny of an apple tree is to produce lots of apples, but this may not actually occur, due to external circumstances or due to other forces. So Destiny is an Ideal we are led to by inner spiritual influences; yet Destiny does not always work out. There is a factor of hazard in it; like you might or might not actually succeed. Destiny is our potential success. It is a work or soul-purpose the Divine has given to us to hopefully succeed in accomplishing. But if this were unalterably predestined and absolutely certain to succeed, then we couldn’t help but do it or succeed in it. Destiny is given to us from the Divine, but the Divine is not manipulatively enforcing this Destiny to be manifested.
Nonetheless, Destiny is like a power unto itself. Primarily, it is the spiritual Ideal we are meant to succeed in, but Destiny is also like a pulling power. Aristotle called this a teleological power, meaning that the intended ends were influencing and energizing an organic struggle to reach those ends. Within each seed of a tree is the end Ideal of that tree, what this particular life is meant to be, its destiny. An apple tree’s destiny is to grow apples. But fateful circumstances might prevent this from happening. Our human destiny is similar to this. So the Destiny Ideal is also like a power, which is like a pull. Destiny is pulling us towards it. It is like a power coming from the potential future, pulling us towards it. Yet because there are other forces in our lives as well, it takes some actual work to stay directed towards this destiny and not get veered away by other influences or forces from the world, or from within our personality.
A definition of fate would be that which happens in one’s life that is not caused by oneself. The person is not responsible for fate; it’s out of one’s hands. It happens and one cannot stop it or change it. This is the more general definition, but by this definition fate might be something caused by powerful people or corporations or armies, as long as the event happens without our will or control. Yet usually the idea of fate never includes man-made causes. Most examples of fate are from natural and supernatural causes, and not from human causes. The more we can attribute uncontrollable events to human causes, the less likely we call this fate. Examples of fate might include astrology causes, godly or supernatural causes, or natural causes such as earthquakes hurricanes. Fate can be good or bad, in relation to personal well-being or success.
Destiny is another commonly used term, but it has a somewhat different meaning. Destiny might be like fate, being not self-caused, but it could also be self-caused and so not like fate. Destiny usually means that something is meant to be; it’s like an end goal. An apple seed has a destiny to be an apple tree. We come into this world with certain potentials or natural abilities, and our destiny is to fulfill these. Yet this meaning of destiny suggests that destiny may or may not happen; it depends also on fate and also on our own will. But some people might use the term destiny as more similar to the meaning of fate, as a kind of fate with meaningful purpose. This usually goes along with a belief that our circumstances and the events of the world are determined by God or some other supernatural powers, and as such are meant to be, so this is destiny.
Yet common sense logic must reject the belief that all occurrences are supernaturally caused. First of all, we know that many events and circumstances in life have at least some degree of human-cause in them, that is, someone or some people are at least partly responsible for much of how things occur. Second, the events that are not human-caused are usually naturally caused, the results of physical causes. These human caused events and physically caused events could be called fate, from the perspective of the person who has to deal with them and who didn’t have any significant input into the occurrences; yet they are not necessarily supernaturally caused nor are they necessarily meant to be. Third to consider is that it is illogical to merely assume that an occurrence was meant to be just because it happens; since what happens could be caused by other people or merely caused by the impersonal physical forces of the Earth.
Finally, consider that what is really meant to be, destiny, may well be dependent on our own will, our own choices and actions.
It is true that one does not always have control over circumstances. Also true is that we are not cause to everything in our life (this is the limited view of karma). These causes we are not in charge of, nor responsible for, may be of many possible kinds, and this we will call fate. Yet, it is always possible to make more intentional action from our self, which means we can always make causes from our own will, our own heart and own intelligence. So, in spite of those things happening upon us, we can always make some changes in the energies by our own choice and will.
Karma is a belief that we are responsible for what happens, that what happens presently was caused by our own choices in the past, whether recently in this life or distantly in another. Yet this doctrine is too often simplified into an “I cause it all” belief. The more complete understanding of karma has to take into consideration social karma as well as individual karma. Social karma is the cause/effect reality of social choices and actions, which is the accumulative effect of multiple individual actions.
So our present circumstances and events of the present world are somewhat the result of larger group choices and actions. This could be causes from a larger tribe, culture, country, or even corporations. Groups and cultures cause things of our world, not simple lone individuals, and very certainly I am not the sole cause of what happens all around me or to me. I live in a world with many others, and those others have causal powers just as much as I do. So it is silly to think that I am the sole cause of my world. There are causal influences coming from all directions, not just from me. So we all share in this law of karma.
Furthermore, we each have a capacity to infringe on other’s choices. I can intentionally get in the way of someone else's choices and their freedom, just as they can infringe upon me. It is possible, unfortunately, for one person or a group to infringe upon the freedoms and choices of others and even cause great harm upon them; without the consent of those being harmed. In the karma thinking this is called making negative karma. One can hurt another person, which is a negative karma; it wouldn’t be negative karma if the instigator were merely fulfilling the soul wishes of the person being harmed or if they were really satisfying karmic law.
So we have these two ideas of fate and karma, and both are simplifications of the real truth. They are partial truths. On one extreme there is the idea of fate that everything is out of our control, either due to astrological forces, genetic patterns, or divine will. Then, at the other extreme is the idea of karma that everything is self caused. Yet the Truth is that there are some events and circumstances in our lives that are out of our control and of which we are not choosing; yet other parts of our lives are self-caused. Life is really a mixture of both.
The important message in this is to make a goal, or make it a spiritual practice, to be more in control of our lives, to make more choices, and for these choices to be more causally powerful. What we have going on in life is a variety of influences. These range from social, economic, political, genetic, psychological, natural-earthly, supernatural, astrological, and also Divine. These influences also work on different planes: physical-kinetic, subtle-magnetic, emotional, mental, and higher spiritual levels. So there are all sorts of energies going on, all around us and coming to meet us.
Just take for example the emotional and mental energies. These energies can also be understood as vibrations. They are around us and potentially here in our space. The highest and lowest of energies, mentally and emotionally, are potentially here in this space. They can either influence our life, or not; some being good influences but some not so good. So what do we do? First of all realize that much of these influences happen subconsciously; that is, we are not consciously aware of them. Because of this, it is not possible to consciously shield ourselves, moment by moment, from lower energies. The only solution is to consciously and decisively be in the highest energy possible, or in the highest vibration. The highest vibration is love, or joy, which is how we experience the vibration of God/Being. Consciously tune into the highest energy vibration, which is the deepest experience of love, and also the deepest experience of freedom.
Do not let any lesser energies or vibrations be causes in your own being. Do not be swayed by lower influences. And the way to do this is to allow the inner Light to emerge from your own being centre. Mastery must come from our centre, from the inner to the outer. The outer will continually challenge us with its demands, and these demands are like forces pulling or pushing us, and sometimes enticing us. So the inner emergence and inner freedom requires a kind of vigilance and work. But not only outer forces are pulling us hither and dither, our own personality patterns are also grabbing and taking us away from inner freedom. So there is often a work needed, a work of vigilant practice, between inner freedom and either outer forces or personality forces. In fact, we will need to have patience and self-compassion in all of this, because the inner freedom will have only a limited success – its success will only be for a limited time.
So let us review a few of the goals suggested in all this. One is inner freedom and spiritual emergence from within, and also developing an inner strength and inner power,
In contrast to being merely passive and easily swayed by the many forces and energies of our outer world including those of people around us. This is all the more important when we understand that we live in a world full of all kinds of energies and forces. Some of these are physical, of which science studies, but the emotional and mental energies moving throughout the world have a potentially far greater impact upon us, even though we are not normally conscious of this. So much is going on subconsciously, that is, without our awareness.
Mastery is to become more conscious of all this going on, or at least conscious of what is immediately at our door to impact us, and then having the inner strength and power to sail through all this with freedom and love. The keys to this mastery are inner strength, inner freedom, and a sustained presence of love – which is to be in the highest vibration of life. Another important key of mastery is to persistently tune in to the highest vibration of love – since Love is already all around us pervading the whole Universe and is the essential vibration of God-Being. If we are attuned and connected with the Highest energy of God-Being, then we are free and protected from all lesser energies, since our energy vibration is then above and beyond the lower ones. And as well, we are then in the Highest Realization of Spirit.
Good and Bad
Ignorance is a lack of Light. It is a phenomena, but not an essence or substance in itself. Augustine said that sin is just an absence of good, and sin is not a real thing in itself but just a nominal term for this phenomena of good being absent in a worldly location. Plato and Plotinus believed that all badness comes from ignorance – a lack of knowledge. In other words, every bad or evil in the world is simply an effect of stupidity. Yet, their concept of knowledge and stupidity was not merely a thinking, because knowledge involves both heart and head. Goodness is known in the heart, so ignorance is a lack of heart, just as much as it is a lack of intelligence. Anyway, there is a lack (or absence) of heart and intelligence in our world, and we can generally call this ignorance. But we can also model this upon Light. In this world, the Great Light of Intelligence and Love is shining and spreading. But shadows often appear. And shadows are a phenomena of an absence of Light, which is caused by blocks or obstacles.
So the Question is: what are these blocks and obstacles? And if we remove them, then the Full Light will shine into this life.
good and bad are inevitable polar effects of the learning process
good and bad are inevitable polar effects of the learning process (or process of actualization) (or this world-in-becoming). This learning process is necessary in the larger divine scheme of developing individuals gradually understanding and actualizing the true divine goodness, while in this learning and exploring process there is bound to be plenty of mistakes and wrong turns – which result in bad circumstances. As well, bad happenings are warnings that something needs fixing or healing, just as pain is a warning from the body about something wrong; while good effects/events inform us of what was done well according to natural law or divine will. Bad effects/events are the result of incorrect actions, just as good effects/events were caused by good actions; as in the law of karma, whereby good actions cause good effects and bad actions cause bad effects. }
Bad is not just the good in a disguise. Ignorance is not equal to nor the same as knowledge. Ignorance is the cause of bad effects, while actions from true knowledge create good effects.
Ignorance and knowledge are both necessary in the overall scheme of divine-becoming (in the manifesting world). It would not be true that every occurrence of ignorance is divinely necessary. Also, these are relative phenomena, such that knowledge at one level is ignorance from a higher perspective.
what causes bad? Ignorance and selfish greed causes much of the bad stuff, the harm onto others and the environment. Environmental harms are certainly caused by human greed, though it is usually a small minority of people who really cause the harms. Human against human harms are mostly caused by someone’s greed mixed with a lack of concern for others.
Thoughts and actions create good or bad in the world
We all know that some actions in the world can be harmful to others or to nature. There is no higher spiritual purpose to these harmful actions. They are basically mistakes of ignorance or actions stemming from mental illness. God is not willing that these harmful actions occur. It may well be that we can learn from these actions, just as we can learn from any mistakes, but this does not mean that they are purposely intended by God or that there is a hidden divine purpose in these actions.
The mind creates good and bad in the world, by way of thought. Hateful thoughts, harmful thoughts, unforgiving thoughts, and greedy thoughts are all bad thoughts, ugly thoughts. These thoughts are bad because they harm and hinder progress towards the Divine Perfection on Earth. They lead us astray and away from the Divine Aim, rather than forward towards Love, Truth, and Beauty. There are many kinds of hindering thoughts, which can be called negative thoughts. And they do not serve the Divine Aim, but instead hinder it’s unfoldment. In addition, the thoughts of everyone accumulate in the shared mental atmosphere of this planet, which also holds thoughts from past generations. All thoughts are held in this mental atmosphere, until transformed by regenerated thoughts. These thoughts have an influence.
Bad thoughts produce bad influences. This should remind us that some influences upon us are not good; so it is incorrect to assume that everything is good and leading us to our best. The truth is that negative influences are all around, especially carried by thought, and these are not from the Divine Source nor do they serve some hidden divine purpose.
Our thoughts influence the world around us, and the thoughts of others tend to influence us. Thoughts are the precursors to behavior and action. The seeds of action begin in the mind. So we need to work with our own thoughts if we want to help the world and serve the Divine.
Negative emotions also influence the world. Our emotions influence the world around us, and the emotions of others tend to influence us. And as with thought, emotions can be negative or positive. Positive emotions help bring us closer to the Divine, while negative emotions cloud us from the Divine and keep us in a prison of separation.
So as with thought, if we can transform our emotions, we help transform the emotional quality of the world.
Something I found… (Soren Sorensen): Many people promote the idea that "good" and "evil" are merely polarized opposites that balance the whole (ultimately suggesting equal desirability); but, in my opinion, this widespread belief is extremely dangerous to our wholistic health and happiness. If you hold this belief, I strongly urge you to seriously consider the proposition that "good" is balance and that "evil" is imbalance. I think you will find this perspective to be very revealing!
In systems of religion or spiritual teachings a question often arises as to
why there are negative things happening or harmful actions or people who hurt others.
In other words, why is there bad in the world? One simple answer is that there really is no bad or negative stuff, for it is only our limited minds that cannot perceive the goodness in all things. Some have even claimed this to be an enlightened understanding. Often this is a belief that everything in life is really perfect, or else that all events in the world are part of God’s wisdom or God’s plan. But these are ridiculously incorrect beliefs and also dangerous beliefs, because it tends to cause passivity and lead people to think that there really are no injustices in the world and that social action for change is futile. It might make someone feel better if they believe in such a way, but it is simply a denial of the obvious.
Also, to claim that every happening in the world is actually good or even perfect is to necessarily entail that every person is actually good and perfect, or that people never do anything wrong or accidentally harmful. For are not people causing much of the happenings in our world?
The fact is that there really is bad stuff in the world, bad people and bad actions; just as there really are restaurants with lousy food. So, in a spiritual metaphysics whereby God is love and wisdom, how does this occur? First of all, it is true that God is Love and Wisdom, but not true that God manipulates everything, as if everything were by the hand of God. For there are freedoms in this world; which includes the freedom of its creatures to experiment and also make errors. We learn and develop, mentally and also socially, by experiment, and any experimental path must include possible mistakes and misdirection.
All of life evolves from ignorance to knowledge, via experiment.
Another part of the metaphysical explanation for human badness is that people are developing towards spiritual goodness, love and wisdom; but they are not yet there, not yet having achieved their spiritual maturity. People are like children along a path of development, or like students on a path of learning. Therefore, people do not necessarily exhibit full spiritual behavior, with a fullness of love and wisdom, because they haven’t got that far yet – their spiritual development is still a work in progress.
Now let us get more into the details of this explanation. One important idea is that children are never evil. There are no evil children, and there is no evil in children. There is nothing in anyone’s true nature that is evil. However, there is ignorance and even stupidity. We should not call anyone stupid, for it looms with an impoliteness, but certainly there are stupid actions. In the case of children we simply cause this ignorance – that they didn’t understand what they were doing, or they didn’t understand the harmful or dangerous consequences. Yet this could also apply to adults who are new to something, like kids, as with the example of building a nuclear power plant that is flawed and destined to fail at some point. Thus, ignorance can be anywhere, from colleges to businesses to government. It just means that one does not yet understand the full consequences or possible effects of one’s actions. And so with ignorance, mistakes are certainly possible, which translates to bad action and harm in the world.
There is also possible sickness, specifically mental sickness, that can be cause to harmful things done in the world. Generally, we would label people as having a mental disorder only if they are extremely abnormal in how they behave. But we are being too polite, for in fact there are plenty of people with mental disorders and they have jobs in politics and business, etc. The worse cases in history have been dictators. But if a business owner or executive makes a decision that harms others or the environment, for the sake of money, is not this a mental disorder? Spiritually it is.
For example, a possible trait of mental or emotional sickness is not caring about the good of others. The person might be well aware of the harm they are doing to others, and as such they are not flawed by ignorance, but instead they are flawed by mental-emotional sickness. They are either insensitive to the pain of others or else they do not really care. In the near future we will be normally calling this a mental-emotional illness, because it is nature in a healthy emotional person to be sensitive and caring for other people. There are extreme cases of this sickness in those who kill innocent others.
Mental-emotional sickness is a deficiency or lack of something that is necessary for overall health and balance. If we lack a needed chemical in the body, we call this a physical sickness. If there is too much of one thing but too little of something else, we call this an imbalance. If there is stuff in the blood that is toxic and harmful to other parts, then we call this a physical toxicity. The same kinds of problems can also occur mentally and emotionally. Of course, science recognizes that deficiencies of important chemicals in the brain will result in mental disorder; but there are far more cases of people with other kinds of deficiencies in the emotional body, or thought toxins in the mental body. In fact, most people have some problems if we expand our definition of sickness in this way. Everyone seems to have some kind of…. deficiency or imbalance.
So what causes mental-emotional deficiency or imbalance? Two main causes.
One cause is simply that each of us is still developing and maturing; so there are deficiencies because certain potentials of our being have as yet developed. This goes back to the child analogy. And until all of our capacities are fully developed, there is the possibility of imbalance with the qualities presently there; in other words, some balancing qualities are still underdeveloped.
The other cause is from outer energies… or from social environment… elaborate..
Sickness is an unfortunate accident caused by an unhealthy or deficient environment for personal development.
So, we can pretty much explain all bad things done by human beings in the world: either as ignorance/stupidity or mental illness/disorder, or both.
Selfishness and emotional insensitivity can explain pretty much all acts that we might label as bad or evil. Emotional insensitivity and the lack of caring about the welfare of others can be explained by mental-emotional sickness or a deficiency of something that ought to ideally be there.
We can explain selfishness also as an insensitivity to the needs and feelings of others.
Yet selfishness is also caused by ignorance. But this ignorance is not an ignorance about the physical world, such as a child’s ignorance about the dangers of running into a busy street. Selfishness is not a case of I didn’t know. It is foremost a case of I don’t care. But it is also a case of one’s consciousness not yet expanded to include a larger sense of self-being.
And also the heart is not yet open (or expanded).
Relating back to judgment..
One kind of darkness is fixed judgment. It has already been pointed out that judgment is not necessarily a bad thing, for wise judgment is quite useful to discern the relative value of things and also useful to make practical decisions. Often we have a choice between a high road and a lower road, so we need wise-good judgment to discern what is best. But there is a kind of judgment that does not serve a higher purpose. This is the kind of judgment that only hurts and puts down, or that boxes in others. Often, it is a cruel judgment, intending to hurt, or it may be a prejudiced judgment which unfairly categorizes people into some limited box. So the judgments that we should be cautious to avoid are those which are either intended to hurt, put down, or intended to box. This is the kind of judgment that has given judgment in general a bad reputation.
Yet even if people are in bad judgment, or involved in hurtful or fixed judgment, we should remember that this form of darkness is simply a lower stage in the process of human maturity. It is simply one of the lower steps, to be learned from and then outgrown. So we need to understand that fixed and hurtful judgments are stages that people go through on the path of growing up. This is not to label them good or ideal, but rather to view them in perspective of a larger process of spiritual maturation.
Also, we might understand this from an esoteric perspective involving all of humanity. Fixed judgment is a useful example to explain something about the transformation of humanity. Fixed judgments made by the past of humanity are still here, still present, unless they have been transformed. Any judgments are in process of transformation, though often they get stuck in a repetitive cycle and are continuously relived through people in the present. The fixed judgments made from long ago have either already been transformed, in the mental sphere of humanity, or else they still linger on through the minds of living people in the present. In the latter case, there is still a need for transformation, or transmutation to finer evolutionary maturity. Remember that everyone is involved in this. Judgments from the past are still here, in the mental sphere of humanity, unless they have already been transmuted. So one aspect of our spiritual work is the transmutation of these fixed judgments and other lower stuck energies.
(where am I in the hierarchy of transmutation. ??)