29. ANCIENT TRUTHS
TRANSCEND THE PSYCHE
"Pilate said to him, Are you a king then?
Jesus answered, You say that I am a king.
To this end was I born,
and for this cause came I into the world,
that I should bear witness to the truth.
Everyone that is of the truth hears my voice.
Pilate said to him, What is truth? " (John 18:37,38.)
Pilate's question about truth, as described in the Gospel of Saint John, is a real question; one that defines Christianity: one that must be answered before we can become Christian in fact, and not just in opinion or intention. This defines true spiritual experience, which the earliest saints called Theosis, which, from a glimpse of our proper purpose as human beings, shapes a purpose that endures throughout our life, to be fulfilled in a spiritual awakening for which we were created, an awakening which does not bring the purpose to an end, but fulfils it.
To Christians, the Gospel is truth, yet our belief is fragmented by the fact that today few of us really treat it as truth. In our modern world, with its faith in the power of science, Christianity has for a long time now been an enigmatic survival. It is dead, yet it lives on, encouraging belief but troubling our educated minds with doubts. We face the continuation of the phenomenon, yet do not find it intellectually believable and, for most of us in the West, are unaware that Christianity itself long ago told its followers that what it taught could not be understood intellectually, and that God could not be reached by the arguments of reason, but only through the longing of the heart. Two worlds are pulling us in opposite directions.
This conflict at the heart of our beliefs eats like a worm into the apple of our faith. We believe the Gospel on Sundays and stretch our belief a little at Easter and Christmas. But now, in our times, especially where we work in modern ways, we must work with a different belief system from Monday to Saturday, at least from nine until five. Often the habit of this operates beyond our control, so that the spiritual aspects of life, having no clearly-defined physical source, are treated as nothing more than the 'personal baggage' of our psyches, and, until it is resolved, this division at the heart of our view of the world fragments our very perceptions. It steals almost all its power “ power it would gain from greater integration in our inner lives - from our ability to make decisions about ourselves, for the Christian reality has the ability to give us power over our psyche. (That is what this book is about.) But this fragmentation of belief, when it occurs, emasculates the forces of the psyche, blunts the double-arrow of attention, destroys the stillness of our hearts and stifles the offspring of the power of prayer, where spirituality must be built on the rock of an integrated psyche.
The root of the Christian integration is a Christian worldview, one which allows us to perceive together, with attentive acceptance and not through the kaleidoscope of doubt, both inner and outer world, physical and spiritual. But now we have no basis for this integration. It is denied us by the rules “ the narrowest Newtonian view of science “ that were taught us in childhood.
This divisive Christianity is very different from that taught by Jesus or explained by Saint Paul. Between the different churches now there is little common ground on which individuals can meet and share their truths, for today what was once the common ground of faith is now a wasteland of accidental opinions, its once well-cleared paths have for centuries been overgrown or led aside into swamps and quick sands, or shaped has wandered so that we blunder suddenly upon steep precipices. In our times, the routes shown on maps on which all details of the once-known paths of spiritual fulfillment and the healing of the psyche, both of them trails left by true spiritual endeavor, are seen as selfish or deluded - sometimes both. The cause of all these narrow views of life lies in the way we have been taught to think about such questions. On the one hand, anything that is not only called spirituality, but goes beyond our everyday sense and necessity in the way that all true spirituality must do, is instantly suspect to a world whose science is based on the methods of Newtonian physics and subject to the motivations of materialism. As a result, it is subjected to rules and enquiries inappropriate to the inner reality that concerns it, and with inappropriate criteria we find an inability to reach agreement, our judgments are argued but not understood, and our criteria now are but the opinions of the day that tomorrow will be forgotten. Within all this, there is a real conflict between spiritual thought and modern thinking. Not only does the reality in shared spiritual experience need to be understood more clearly in order to be enjoyed more fully, but understanding it differently would enable us to relate it properly to the sciences we do understand.