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