Sunday, 26 July 2020

                                   Thoughts Prompted by Lockdown


“Go mark the matchless working of the power,
That shuts within the seed the future flower …”

What a marvellous invitation to us all. It was written by William Cowper many years ago. In so few words he has prompted us to look outside ourselves at the beauty and majesty of the world of nature and to see for ourselves the wonder that is the work of God.

During this virus-inspired lockdown, there has been ample opportunity for thinking and contemplation; for wondering afresh about the source and purpose of life; for looking at the natural world with eyes made sharper by the stillness that has enveloped our lives in so many different ways.  Many are saying the onset of this terrible virus gives us a unique opportunity to examine our world and what we as human beings have made of the singular and amazing  opportunity presented to us by life on Earth.

Things are bound to change as a result of what has been happening during the past  seven months but will they change for the better? That is almost entirely in our own hands. We as a species, shaped the social, legal and religious structures of our societies; we created the moral mores that have such a huge influence on people’s lives: we created the consumer society and its materialistic obsession with money; we choose to turn a blind eye so often to abuses of power. We also created sectarian religion with its lust for temporal power and its insupportable claims to possess absolute truth. There is no shortage of areas needing improvement. All we need is the will to use this unique opportunity in positive ways.

In my view, examining the natural world in depth and not just superficially, is a good starting point. Not only should we be awe-struck by the power that can produce such beautiful flowers from a mere seed but we should examine the manner in which all species, animal or vegetable are inter-dependent; how they live in their own way but do so almost entirely in harmony with other forms of life. Even a superficial examination of the natural world cannot fail to impress us with a profound sense of beauty. Nature does not create ugliness. Whether it be beauty of form and shape or of construction. Nothing that has been created falls short in this regard.

Examine the function of the humble leaf, for instance. Not only does it perform an essential service for the plant or tree of which it is a part by using its chlorophyll to convert sunlight into plant food but its design is perfect; utilitarian, symetrical and beautiful. How, I wonder would human beings have designed it? One only need look at some of the monstrous buildings human beings have designed or the homes that have been constructed for people to live in. Beauty is in my view, essential to the proper fulfillment of life. Surround human beings with ugliness and life in those surroundings will become ugly. Not in every case of course because some human beings are capable of rising above ugliness but that is only true of a minority.

Ugliness is not just a matter of form, it is also true of action. Many of the ways in which we have shaped our human societies positively encourage ugliness in action and behavior. Although the capitalist system has enabled many people to enjoy a high standard of living and has enabled science to lengthen human life and make it more comfortable and enjoyable, there is a negative side. The same is true of various non-capitalist systems used in different parts of the world.  Likewise with religion. All these systems possess far too few checks and balances to regulate human greed, lust for power and acquisitiveness. Many have made life for some easier but by no means all.  Linked to increasing human arrogance in our reasoning abilities, too many have been persuaded to embrace the arid doctrines of materialism. Above all, we constantly fail to recognise the corrupting influence of power or implement sufficient measures to minimize it. By our actions humanity is in danger of completely losing contact with reality.

The reality I refer to is not reality based purely on what is apparent to our physical senses. It is the reality that all life is spirit; that physical form is purely temporary; a requirement to enable spirit to experience the adjustments needed to live for a while in a physical world; to live under the constrictions imposed upon the inner spirit by the total domination of five physical senses. In this regard, all life, animal, vegetable and mineral is identical. Nothing that exists physically is devoid of the power of spirit needed to energise it. Physical life only exists by virtue of spirit.

One only has to think about those we love, whether human or animal, to realise the truth of this. What is it that we love? Is it the tangible things? The physical form, the voice, the physical strength or the achievements? What is love? Why do we fall in love with one person and not another? The answer to none of these questions involves just physical factors. Rather must we turn to personality and other intangibles. Of what do these intangible attractions consist? I believe we are not capable of answering that question in purely physical terms.  Look into the eyes of one you love and it is impossible to believe what you see in those eyes is transitory; that it will cease to exist one day. Our personalities are our core, the real person. Personality is a combination of inherited family tendencies, experiences since birth and the spirit within; the spirit Wordsworth described as being born “not in utter nakedness, nor in entire forgetfulness but trailing clouds of glory, do we come from God which is our home.”

Except we understand our true spiritual inheritance, life on Earth becomes inexplicable; a journey undertaken blindly and purposelessly. How can one explain the huge differences in individual personal circumstances if we persist in believing life occurred by chance in the primordial mud and that we cease to be when death comes calling? Where is the justice of one being born in abject poverty whilst another is born in the lap of luxury? How can we justify so many people living in total squalor with no hope of escape? Were it true that life ends in physical death, we would all be totally justified in adopting atheism and grabbing all we possibly can without concern for others. Fortunately, that does not happen because most people are at heart generous and caring; two intangibles closely allied to our spiritual, not our physical selves.

I have no doubt that life has purpose and I’m not alone. When he was a young man, the American poet, Robert Frost described the soul’s birth and purpose movingly in his poem, “The Trial by Existence.” In it he explains that each individual chooses to be born for “some good discerned”. This choice is made even after being told in detail all that awaits in Earthly life. The soul also knows it will not be able to recall with any certainty the fact that it chose. An inspired work, very much worth reading.

Many other poets and seers have explained that we are a great deal more as individuals than we see reflected in the mirror. We should pay more attention to them, for they have received inspiration through their inner selves. That same inner self which leads to our being attracted to one person rather than another; that same inner self which makes so many of us aware of atmosphere in a room or a building, even when there is no outward indication. The same part that knows instinctively there is a power greater than ourselves that orders everything in the universe but allows us free will to determine our own path of life.

By marking the wonders apparent in the natural world and contemplating their implications for ourselves both as individuals and collectively, we can begin to make sense of life. We can begin to see why since the beginning of time, humanity has been convinced of a power greater than  themselves: a power we call God. In doing so we will be following the dictum of John Milton, “In contemplation of created things, by steps we may ascend to God.”

Lionel Owen  2020
TSNU

                                        The Divine Architect

How often does one hear the complaint that if there is a God, why does he allow any of the terrible atrocities and natural disasters of this world to happen? Those who make such statements usually go on to say that as a consequence, either there is no God or else they cannot believe in such a God. To adopt this attitude is to totally misunderstand the nature of God and of Man.

Neither Man nor animals are creatures under the total dominion of God: A God who is always watching to ensure that human beings especially are not being harmed as a result of natural forces or human actions.  Life, and that includes all animals, insects, birds and fish, as well as inanimate life, such as the planet itself, does not end when physical life ceases. It is an expression of the love of God and his desire to see life progress. God, in his wisdom, gives all his creation free will because that is the way life, in any form, can grow in understanding. It is often through the consequences of what we call “bad” things happening that we and other life, learns to adapt and to improve. Because humanity possesses self-consciousness, we are able to learn both from our mistakes and to benefit from disasters in ways that animals find less easy to do, though in fact they learn to adapt also.

To come to even an imperfect understanding of God and our position in the scheme of things, there is one basic factor we need to accept. Without it, the whole mystery remains completely obscure. This factor is Spirit. We arrive in this world from another, non-physical world and at our birth we retain some memory of that other world but the memory fades as we mature. All life is spirit. The physical form it takes whilst on Earth is transitory and only necessary in order to experience a period of time where the Spirit is subjected to the enormous, often overpowering, influence of our physical bodies and our physical senses. Why?

Even schoolchildren these days are aware that energy cannot be destroyed. It can change its form; a solid becomes a gas or a liquid etc. but nothing is destroyed. So it is with our true selves, our Spirit. For the period of our stay on Earth, it is the form we see each day. The form we readily recognise and accept as our true self. However, this form is not permanent. Once we leave the Earth, when we “die”, the physical body is no longer required but the real self, the Spirit, returns to that world designed for the life of Spirits, no matter what form it had while on Earth. At that point, the physical body changes its form and reverts to the various Earthly chemicals etc. of which it was formed in the first place. However, the individual personality, the person we know and love, has not disappeared but continues to the next stage of its life experience in another world. Having accepted that life is Spirit and indestructible, we can now contemplate why we experience life in a physical body and the nature of free will.

Because physical life is finite, the influence upon our Spirit of our five senses is enormously powerful.  It seems to me that it is designed to enable our Spirit to experience the restrictions upon it that do not apply in the non-physical world. To use a simple analogy, it is similar to the effect on the mill stream of the mill race.  The race squeezes the stream into a very narrow channel, thus increasing its power. The Spirit has to learn how to adapt to these conditions and in doing so, the Spirit itself undergoes change. It is almost certain I believe, that Spiritual lessons are learned from a variety of experiences on Earth and it’s very probable that the same Spiritual lesson can be learned from a variety of different experiences. I believe for instance, that if we fail to learn the intended lesson from one experience, we then undergo a completely different experience that teaches the same Spiritual lesson.

This is tantamount to denying the existence of freewill, you may feel. It is not the case. It only seems so to our finite brain which always tries to persuade us that it is in control. William Wordsworth explains our birth and the influence of the brain far more eloquently in his poem “Intimations of Immortality”.

“Our birth is a but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And comes from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
Not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, which is our home.”
….

“The homely nurse doth all she can
To make her foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.”


Free will means exactly that. We are free to decide in any way we wish, how to deal with whatever circumstance we meet. However, with freedom come responsibility and consequence. In making a choice, certain consequences arise that will affect the future of ourselves and others. We must be aware of this if we are to make the most of the opportunities life on Earth gives to us. Because we quickly forget the “imperial palace whence we came”, our lives on Earth can easily become a series of uncomprehending, staggering steps as though we are blinded. Such is the experience of many unfortunately. Can this be changed?

Yes, because our true, inner self (Wordsworth’s soul) is aware of who we really are and the purpose of our life on Earth. It is that same inner self which guides us through the apparent maze of life here. It knows the lessons we need to learn in order for our Spirit to grow brighter. It prompts us to take this decision rather than that and leads us sometimes into experiences that can result in valuable lessons being learned. We may ignore the prompting of our inner self if we choose. The consequences could then become unpleasant, not just for ourselves. For instance, we may be prompted not to embark upon a certain course but we ignore the prompting, due perhaps to fear or greed. Both of which result from misunderstanding our true nature and from forgetting we are Spirit beings. Also, surrendering to them makes us more inclined to ignore the prompting of our inner self in future.

We cannot avoid responsibility for the choices we make, whether they be good or bad and that responsibility extends beyond our Earthly lives. However, when life here is over we experience in the next world, a review of our lives on Earth. During this review we are able to see the effect of our choices, not only through our own eyes but also through the eyes of others. In this way, added to the better knowledge we then have of the true reason for our life on Earth, we can judge how effective our Earthly life has been in relation to the growth of our Spirit. Good and bad are viewed together and I believe most people do far more good in their lives than is realised.  It is natural perhaps that we tend to overemphasise the negative but the review allows us to take a balanced view.

How is spiritual progress measured?

It is all a matter of light. The Spirit is a body of light  (“the bright star that rises with us”) and the brighter that light is, the more progress we have made. That’s all very well but what leads to progress?

The answer is service. Each of us has opportunities throughout life to be of service to others. I speak here, not of some great, publicly acclaimed act of service or of outstanding bravery but of everyday service to one another, or of courage shown in the face of adversity. Service can be spending time to really listen to the concerns and fears of another person or being empathetic when they are experiencing loss. There are countless other ways in which such service can be given and in many instances people automatically respond in helpful and positive ways.

Here on Earth it is not always possible to see how bright the Spirit is but in the next world, all can see it.  Indeed where we dwell in that world is determined by the brightness of the Spirit. It is as though there are many different countries or continents, each delineated by the brightness of its light. It is impossible for any individual to dwell in a particular country or continent there unless their individual light is at least equal to the light emanated by the country concerned.

It is important to realise that opportunities for service to others are no fewer in the next world than they are in this. We all arrive there just with the personality we have developed here and nothing else.  We invariably need help and guidance. It is never refused. In turn we are able to provide help and guidance to others there. Service is the coin we use to pay for spiritual progress. Such progress never ends and as the individual Spirit progresses, so it becomes brighter and because each Spirit is a part of God or the Great Spirit, its brightness expands the brightness of that awe-inspiring power. Thus it appears God does not stay the same but grows as we each grow, for we always were and always will remain, a part of God.

Is this expansion perhaps the main purpose of life?



Lionel Owen 2020

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

What Does it all Mean?



“We are at war”, is what they said. I couldn’t understand.
Where were the bombs, the guns and sirens wailing loud?
No blackout, no conscription, no martial, marching band,
And no troops a-striding with shoulders broad and proud.


“Who is it we are fighting?” That’s what we sought to know,
“Where do we find the enemy?” Whose finger’s on the trigger?
Putin? Donald? Ayatollah? Or that Kim who’s so Gung-Ho?
But none of these were mentioned, it was difficult to figure.


This foe is quite invisible, it’s a virus so they say,
You cannot tell when it will strike, you pass it on unsung,
It came from bats they tell us, (not those at Lords in May!)
But at its worst it steals your breath - you need an iron lung

Every night the News, is full of stats and tales of woe,

And governments say “Stay at home,” to keep this beast at bay,
The schools are closed, the bars, the clubs. You fear your job will go.
Some say “Good”, some “Not enough.” Most just hope and pray.


But wait a while, there’s another side and one we can’t ignore
,Peace has descended, all is calm, no barking dogs, no builders,
We’re reading, painting, knitting, it’s true of rich and poor,
And what is more, we’re spending time getting to know our Childers.


Some say it is the Earth’s revenge for exploiting it so badly,
Others, it’s God’s punishment for cruelty, greed and sin.
Rationalists won’t hear of this, “It’s nonsense”, they say gladly.
The cause is down to human kind so we the war must win.


In every war the heroes shine, rising over what’s mundane,
They give their all, forsaking self, sacrifice their life for others.
Nurses, doctors, all staff in health provision, each of whom attain
The highest levels of devotion to their sisters and their brothers
.

We salute you all, we thank you too, we’re forever in your debt,
Long hours, few comforts, and despite the fear that you must feel,
You comfort, tend and reassure, great skills deploy each day and yet
We cannot show enough how much we value you. Our gratitude is real.


Sadly some are taken from us, they pass all on their own
Because loved ones can’t be there; husband, daughter, son or wife.
You can be sure, unseen ones are there and no-one dies alone
The grave does not destroy our love for those who shared our life.





The peace and calm we feel all round, could bring us all so much,
Look within, know who you are, find inner strength and joy,
Being alone’s not loneliness and deep inside we’ll find such
Wonders. Why neglect this stillness like a child’s abandoned toy?


It’s a chance to look around, see anew with wondering eyes,
Watch the flowers bud, blossom, blow and marvel at their hue.
Be still and learn; the world’s a magic place - a living paradise.
Before this time we rushed around. Is that something now we rue?


Go out at night, away from lights, look up and fill your vision.
There is the light from stars and suns that left there long ago.
Worlds galore in grand display, arrayed with such precision.
Now not too busy to watch this show, God’s heavens all aglow.


Did all these worlds and suns appear by merest chance? Or is this
Panoply a proof to those who really see, of mind and grand design?
No human brain can grasp the scale or calculate its breadth. A mys-
Tery beyond our ken, a source of wonder, awe and beauty so sublime.


We miss our friends, the social round, the pint down at the pub,
The kids are home and drive you mad with questions and their chatter,
But life is change, we must adapt; change too, now there’s the rub.
All’s not bad. Things were wrong before, p’ra’ps now that need not matter.


When it’s all over, we have a chance to change things for the better,
To take the lessons being learned, transform ourselves and others.
We’ve rediscovered so much we’ve missed, let’s cast off the fetter
Of habit, work together, friends, sisters, brothers, fathers, mothers.


Corona appertains to crowns, let’s use what we’ve learned and crown
Our efforts in this dreadful time with care, respect, and love for all.
Upon life’s path let’s shine love’s light, so joy deletes the frown.
There’s so much good that can emerge, so let’s all stand up tall.


Lionel Owen 2020

The Divine Architect



How often does one hear the complaint that if there is a God, why does he allow any of the terrible atrocities and natural disasters of this world to happen? Those who make such statements usually go on to say that as a consequence, either there is no God or else they cannot believe in such a God. To adopt this attitude is to totally misunderstand the nature of God and of Man.

Neither Man nor animals are creatures under the total dominion of God: A God who is always watching to ensure that human beings especially are not being harmed as a result of natural forces or human actions. Life, and that includes all animals, insects, birds and fish, as well as inanimate life, such as the planet itself, does not end when physical life ceases. It is an expression of the love of God and his desire to see life progress. God, in his wisdom, gives all his creation free will because that is the way life, in any form, can grow in understanding. It is often through the consequences of what we call “bad” things happening that we and other life, learns to adapt and to improve. Because humanity possesses self-consciousness, we are able to learn both from our mistakes and to benefit from disasters in ways that animals find less easy to do, though in fact they learn to adapt also.

To come to even an imperfect understanding of God and our position in the scheme of things, there is one basic factor we need to accept. Without it, the whole mystery remains completely obscure. This factor is Spirit. We arrive in this world from another, non-physical world and at our birth we retain some memory of that other world but the memory fades as we mature. All life is spirit. The physical form it takes whilst on Earth is transitory and only necessary in order to experience a period of time where the Spirit is subjected to the enormous, often overpowering, influence of our physical bodies and our physical senses. Why?

Even schoolchildren these days are aware that energy cannot be destroyed. It can change its form; a solid becomes a gas or a liquid etc. but nothing is destroyed. So it is with our true selves, our Spirit. For the period of our stay on Earth, it is the form we see each day. The form we readily recognise and accept as our true self. However, this form is not permanent. Once we leave the Earth, when we “die”, the physical body is no longer required but the real self, the Spirit, returns to that world designed for the life of Spirits, no matter what form it had while on Earth. At that point, the physical body changes its form and reverts to the various Earthly chemicals etc. of which it was formed in the first place. However, the individual personality, the person we know and love, has not disappeared but continues to the next stage of its life experience in another world. Having accepted that life is Spirit and indestructible, we can now contemplate why we experience life in a physical body and the nature of free will.

Because physical life is finite, the influence upon our Spirit of our five senses is enormously powerful. It seems to me that it is designed to enable our Spirit to experience the restrictions upon it that do not apply in the non-physical world. To use a simple analogy, it is similar to the effect on the mill stream of the mill race. The race squeezes the stream into a very narrow channel, thus increasing its power. The Spirit has to learn how to adapt to these conditions and in doing so, the Spirit itself undergoes change. It is almost certain I believe, that Spiritual lessons are learned from a variety of experiences on Earth and it’s very probable that the same Spiritual lesson can be learned from a variety of different experiences. I believe for instance, that if we fail to learn the intended lesson from one experience, we then undergo a completely different experience that teaches the same Spiritual lesson.

This is tantamount to denying the existence of freewill, you may feel. It is not the case. It only seems so to our finite brain which always tries to persuade us that it is in control. William Wordsworth explains our birth and the influence of the brain far more eloquently in his poem “Intimations of Immortality”.

“Our birth is a but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And comes from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
Not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, which is our home.”
….

“The homely nurse doth all she can
To make her foster-child, her Inmate Man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.”


Free will means exactly that. We are free to decide in any way we wish, how to deal with whatever circumstance we meet. However, with freedom come responsibility and consequence. In making a choice, certain consequences arise that will affect the future of ourselves and others. We must be aware of this if we are to make the most of the opportunities life on Earth gives to us. Because we quickly forget the “imperial palace whence we came”, our lives on Earth can easily become a series of uncomprehending, staggering steps as though we are blinded. Such is the experience of many unfortunately. Can this be changed?

Yes, because our true, inner self (Wordsworth’s soul) is aware of who we really are and the purpose of our life on Earth. It is that same inner self which guides us through the apparent maze of life here. It knows the lessons we need to learn in order for our Spirit to grow brighter. It prompts us to take this decision rather than that and leads us sometimes into experiences that can result in valuable lessons being learned. We may ignore the prompting of our inner self if we choose. The consequences could then become unpleasant, not just for ourselves. For instance, we may be prompted not to embark upon a certain course but we ignore the prompting, due perhaps to fear or greed. Both of which result from misunderstanding our true nature and from forgetting we are Spirit beings. Also, surrendering to them makes us more inclined to ignore the prompting of our inner self in future.

We cannot avoid responsibility for the choices we make, whether they be good or bad and that responsibility extends beyond our Earthly lives. However, when life here is over we experience in the next world, a review of our lives on Earth. During this review we are able to see the effect of our choices, not only through our own eyes but also through the eyes of others. In this way, added to the better knowledge we then have of the true reason for our life on Earth, we can judge how effective our Earthly life has been in relation to the growth of our Spirit. Good and bad are viewed together and I believe most people do far more good in their
lives than is realised. It is natural perhaps that we tend to overemphasise the negative but the review allows us to take a balanced view.

How is spiritual progress measured?

It is all a matter of light. The Spirit is a body of light (“the bright star that rises with us”) and the brighter that light is, the more progress we have made. That’s all very well but what leads to progress?

The answer is service. Each of us has opportunities throughout life to be of service to others. I speak here, not of some great, publicly acclaimed act of service or of outstanding bravery but of everyday service to one another, or of courage shown in the face of adversity. Service can be spending time to really listen to the concerns and fears of another person or being empathetic when they are experiencing loss. There are countless other ways in which such service can be given and in many instances people automatically respond in helpful and positive ways.

Here on Earth it is not always possible to see how bright the Spirit is but in the next world, all can see it. Indeed where we dwell in that world is determined by the brightness of the Spirit. It is as though there are many different countries or continents, each delineated by the brightness of its light. It is impossible for any individual to dwell in a particular country or continent there unless their individual light is at least equal to the light emanated by the country concerned.

It is important to realise that opportunities for service to others are no fewer in the next world than they are in this. We all arrive there just with the personality we have developed here and nothing else. We invariably need help and guidance. It is never refused. In turn we are able to provide help and guidance to others there. Service is the coin we use to pay for spiritual progress. Such progress never ends and as the individual Spirit progresses, so it becomes brighter and because each Spirit is a part of God or the Great Spirit, its brightness expands the brightness of that awe-inspiring power. Thus it appears God does not stay the same but grows as we each grow, for we always were and always will remain, a part of God.

Is this expansion perhaps the main purpose of life?



Lionel Owen 2020

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Global Spiritualism



 In South Africa, the native population still follow age-old spiritual traditions.  Their Shamen or Sangomas know, as humanity from the beginning has known, that life continues after the death of the physical body and that communication between those who have passed and those of us remaining on Earth is not only possible but has always happened.  They still communicate with the spirit world (their ancestors) as their forebears have done for centuries.  Some years ago, the well-known British medium, Albert Best, visiting South Africa, went to meet a Sangoma and in broad daylight, Albert’s late wife, materialised, fully formed beside him for all to see!
 
There is nothing new in this.  Psychic gifts have always been around.  Spiritualism is a natural progression from the work of Shamen.  It is designed for a different type of society, that’s all. Emma Hardinge-Britten, in her fascinating book “Nineteenth Century Miracles” describes the work of numerous mediums and psychics all over the world, both before and after 1848.  The inexorable growth of materialism since the Industrial Revolution led to millions of people moving from the land, where they worked closely with nature, to cities, where the natural world was almost entirely absent.  Those in the Spirit World, who care for and worry about us, knew the world needed a dramatic demonstration of the power of the Spirit in order to counteract materialism: Hence the Hydesville knockings and the birth of Spiritualism in 1848.

The early days Spiritualism produced a lot of mediums, many of whom were what we call Physical Mediums, gifts that we encounter but rarely today.  These gifts allowed the mediums to dazzle and amaze nineteenth century Americans and Europeans:  So much so that by 1863 it was possible to hold a convention of people representing several million Spiritualists world-wide.  Unfortunately, human greed allied to the cupidity of many sitters, led to widespread fraud, especially where materialisation was concerned.  As a result the numbers of avowed Spiritualists declined rapidly, a situation not helped by splits within the Spiritualist movement; splits that led to the formation of organisations such as Christian Science, Theosophy, Spiritism and Christian Spiritualism.

Religions have always split.  This is human nature I suppose; people wanting to be the big fish in the smaller pond.  We need to focus more on what unites us instead of what divides and begin working together again, exchanging ideas and discussing the way forward for us all.  Especially is there a need to discuss and implement, ways to raise the standard of mediumship and give it a more spiritual dimension.   Many demonstrations of mediumship today are little removed from fortune-telling.  The proof of life after death and the philosophy that stems from this is vital for a world struggling through the morass of materialism.  People are crying out for guidance and we owe it to them and those in the spirit world to be less self-indulgent and work harder to help them. What can we do?
 
In addition to a willingness to work with other groups and discus openly mutual challenges and the future, we need to examine our past.  Spiritualism as a religion, not just as a vehicle for psychic development and practice, brought a new dimension into religious thinking.  A dimension incidentally that caused much heart-searching within the Christian church at the time.  It is a dimension which all the great religions had in their infancy but lost as they were side-tracked by the lure of power and its corruptive influence.  Not long after 1848 Spiritiualism began to produce a body of philosophy, under guidance from spirit, and powerful speakers appeared.  Speakers, working in trance and through inspiration, like Emma Hardinge-Britten, Andrew Jackson-Davis, Estelle Roberts and many others were able to explain why knowledge of eternal life is so important for us all.  We need more like them today.

Early Spiritualism did not have churches and powerful trance, physical and mental mediums developed their gifts in home circles.  Indeed I know no leading medium today whose development did not involve sitting in a home circle.  Development was not all that such circles provided.  They also gave anyone prepared to sit in love and harmony with others to link with those in spirit, an almost magical sense of the true beauty and glory of life in all its forms.  Home circles are not just places to make contact with family and friends and receive proof of their continued existence.  In such circles, knowledge of the life awaiting us after passing from Earth-life is given with a gentleness and love that brings immense comfort to the sitters.  Details have been given of the boundless opportunities existing for us all once the need for food and physical shelter are removed; details of the schools and halls of learning; of visits from those bright beings who have progressed beyond anything you and I can envisage; of gatherings for special celebrations and of groups dedicated to helping those on Earth.

I know churches that see home circles as competition and therefore discourage their formation, preferring to run development circles in the church.  This is to completely misunderstand the role of home circles.  In the past the spirit world have told us that one day mediums will not be required because each individual will be his or her own medium.  Each of us will be able to contact those in spirit whenever we choose and receive guidance direct.  It is only through the intimacy and harmony of home circles that this wonderful state of affairs can be achieved.  Let us therefore switch off our televisions, put away our smart phones and at least once a week join our friends from the spirit world in joy and harmony.  The benefits would be immense.

Nowhere could the influence of the spirit world have greater benefits than upon scientific research, if only scientists asked for help and made themselves available.  However, the materialistic bias of scientific training needs to be altered before this can happen.  Some scientists are finally willing to accept that much that happens on Earth cannot be explained satisfactorily on the basis of physics and materialism alone.  Should we perhaps make greater efforts to show that Spiritualism and mediumship are not ‘weird’?  It is as natural as breathing and scientists in the spirit world can help those on Earth.  To do this we would of course require logical and convincing arguments, not airy-fairy New Age gobbledegook. 
 
If we succeed it would return science to the holistic position it held before materialism took hold.  Then science accepted that all physical life was energised by the power of spirit and the physical should always be examined in relation to the spiritual.  Science could benefit a great deal from such a change.  Many of the disasters brought about by introducing new drugs and medical treatments too hurriedly could have been avoided by co-operation with spirit scientists.    What an opportunity this is for Spiritualists! 
 
For an illustration of how Astronomers and Astro-physicists could benefit and thus widen our understanding, one need only look at “The Lowlands of Heaven”, written through automatic writing by the Rev George Vale-Owen. In it was given a description from spirit of Dark Matter and Dark Energy, things unknown at that time.  They were only discovered by scientists in the late twentieth century and even today, little is known about them and their purpose.  Spirit claimed in 1913 that these forces were used in the creation of ectoplasm and the transmission of light throughout the universe:  Fascinating claims that at least deserve to be properly investigated.

Global Spiritualism faces many challenges but incredible opportunities.  Challenges within Spiritualism itself are the easiest to overcome.  If we stopped being so defensive and introspective, put more effort into raising standards, worked in closer harmony with the spirit world, then our internal squabbles would quickly disappear.  The role of ego would be diminished and ideas for widening our spiritual impact on humanity in all fields of human endeavour (not just in religion) would begin to flow.  We should look forward with confidence, secure in the knowledge that the spirit world will help us all the way.
 
Lionel Owen                                                                                                             March 2017


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Spiritual Path

I was recently sent an Internet article that talked about what was referred to as The Spiritual Path *. Whilst there was some very interesting and useful information to help relationship issues and other emotional problems, the majority of the article seemed to focus on New Age philosophy which has always seemed too ‘airy-fairy’ to me, and Theosophy. It got me thinking and I should like to share with you the thoughts that came to me on reading the article. 

New Age practitioners expect one to accept spiritual messages purely on trust, without any attempt to provide meaningful proof of where such messages originated; Messages received, allegedly from other planets and solar systems for instance. Indeed I am of the opinion that so-called New Age thinking has damaged Spiritualism by encouraging people to accept ‘messages’ even when such ‘messages’ do not contain one jot of evidence to prove that the individual bringing the ‘message’ is really the person that the medium claims it to be. Conversely, the greater willingness of sitters and congregations to accept information without requiring proof, has made mediums lazy. Far too many appear in public to demonstrate mediumship before they have developed their psychic gifts to a competent level where they can fulfill the true requirements of a medium. i.e. The need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that life continues in a Spirit World after we leave this one. It is different when a medium is giving a private, one-to-one, reading. Then the need for proof, though important, is less essential, especially where the medium is using his or her gift to help the sitter with an emotional or spiritual problem. In public though, the need for proof is paramount, in order that people, other than the recipient of the message, can also be satisfied that communication between the two worlds is taking place. 

There is a need in my view, for a return to basics where the training of platform mediums is concerned. Every aspiring medium should be required to provide proof that the communicator they claim to be receiving information from, really is that person. Such proof will take many forms, such as physical description, relationship to the recipient of the message, details of any physical infirmities, personality, reason for passing to the Spirit World, even addresses, details of friends, neighbors or relatives and many others. To obtain such information the medium must not only be sensitive and alert to information being transmitted from the Spirit World to any of his or her five physical senses but also maintain two-way communication with the communicator by asking mental questions. This requires time and a level of dedication and hard work from the student that seems lacking in many today.

The other focus of the article was on Madame Blavatsky's Theosophy which as a Spiritualist I have always found far too intellectual and exclusive, the fact that Madam Blavatsky was at first a Spiritualist notwithstanding. The concentration on becoming a ‘Master’ by communing with ‘Arisen Masters’ always seemed to me to be ego driven and elitist.

I have always believed that we, as individuals, choose to come to live on Earth in order to learn spiritual lessons through our interactions with other life that shares the planet with us. We try to learn tolerance, understanding and how best to help one another. All this is helped enormously once we have convincing proof of our immortality through contact with those close to us who have passed on.

I believe we should be striving to be the best physical person we can be but also recognizing that we and all others will frequently fall far short of the ideal. We should always try to guard against becoming judgmental. At the same time we should be trying to understand the true relationship that exists between us and all other life on the planet (animal, vegetable and mineral), not focussing on trying to become some kind of esoteric "master". Whilst I think mystics have contributed a great deal to our understanding of God and our place in the scheme of things, I have never thought one should encourage people generally to lead lives insulated from the physical world to a greater or lesser degree. For instance, I have always questioned the true value of the contemplative life chosen by nuns and monks in both the Christian and Buddhist traditions. I believe nuns and monks are sincere in their convictions and many are truly ‘good’ people but have always wondered about the wisdom of cutting oneself off from normal physical life when it is the very thing we have chosen to come to Earth to experience! I know they still have their human challenges in the nunneries and monasteries but can it be the same? This is not to say that I disagree with encouraging contemplation and meditation but I believe such practices should not take over our lives. They should instead, take their place alongside the rest of what life on Earth requires of us.

In many ways the early Spiritualists, with their insistence on treating Spiritualism as a science that required proof of its claims, were in advance of many modern Spiritualists and mediums. Returning to basics in my view means reverting to their approach. After all, they were operating in societies with a far less liberal attitude towards their Spiritualism than is the case in many places today. We are much more liberated in the practice of Spiritualism than were they. It behoves us therefore to be at least as rigorous as they were in the practice of mediumship.

*http://www.health-science-spirit.com/spiritualpath.html

Friday, 25 November 2016

MIND



                 MIND

A mystery great of human kind,
That’s hidden from probing eyes,
That search within the brain to find,
The mind that elsewhere lies.

Though ‘prisoned in our mortal flesh,
Mind’s made of finer corn,
It came with us from heaven’s crèche,
On wings of spirit borne.

It dwells within that special place,
Where soul and body meet,
A place that shows the human race,
Has more than clay clad feet.
  
 It is the captain of our ship,
That sails Earth’s stormy sea,
Ensuring that this special trip
Will teach us how to be.

When we think we’re fast asleep,
Mind does not doze or roam.
It is alert, our soul to keep
Aware of heaven, its home.

Mind is our link twixt God and Man,
It knows we are divine.
Mind is aware of His great plan,
Who drew that grand design.

Mind gives the lie to those who say,
“Eternal life?  No never.”
Listen now, your fears allay,
Your soul lives on forever.
 
The mystery really is not mind,
But Man’s persistent error,
In thinking that at death we’ll find
Nought but fear and terror.

Your mind it is more truly you,
Than what the glass reflects.
Keep fed and prized, whate’er you do,
It’s fine in all respects.



Be still for that’s when mind excels,
And links you with that power,
That comes from where the angel dwells,
Who tends you every hour.

Some there are who cannot know,
The beauty of their mind,
There is no link within to show,
What you and I can find.

But with that link the heavens ope,
And show us life eternal.
With active mind there’s always hope,
Of knowing love supernal.


Lionel Owen                                                                                                                                   November 2016