Psychic Research and Spirituality.
Posted on 08 January 2013, 15:53
Do afterlife studies help us to be more spiritually advanced people? They do help us to be sure that there is a spiritual dimension to reality, and that is a big help. But we still have to sacrifice self-centredness and surrender in prayer to a wider consciousness.
Psychic research helps answer questions such as, Do I survive death? Can we communicate with the dead? Are telepathy, clairvoyance and psychokinesis real phenomena? Is there a God who we think will reward or punish us? Should we conceive this God in some other way?… And so on.
In the field of physics there are prominent scientists who suggest that the physical world that we see and touch, may be a projection of a more fundamental spaceless and timeless level of reality, and that all that exists does so through the activity of Mind/Conscious- ness/Spirit.
Spirituality considers what is actually happening in our spiritual development throughout our lives. Let us assume that we are spiritual beings having the experience of physical lives for our own good and the good of the Whole, and that there is a purpose behind the course that our lives will follow. And this is exactly what all the world’s religions assume. Spirituality can involve prayer for guidance in our path, prayer to lead us from self-centredness to an awareness of the thoughts and needs of others, to love and help the apparently unlovable, and a general zeal to serve That which is in all, through all, and above all. Spirituality develops as we grow in wisdom, learning from our mistakes, and as we gradually learn what it means to be conscious participants in a universe that is much greater than we can possibly understand. Spirituality develops as we learn to commune with the Inner Voice, and not to be in thrall to the opinions and demands of any religious or secular group to which we may belong.
Communities of Faith - churches
Spirituality demands that we should not be too proud to belong to a spiritual group, even though it has beliefs that we do not fully accept, and people that we find hard to like. In this way we learn to love and accept others different from ourselves, and learn humility by examining our beliefs from other points of view. Jesus summarised his teaching by saying that we must love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and love our neighbour as ourself. He was asked, “And who is my neighbour?” In reply he told the story of the man who was set upon by
Thieves, and left wounded by the roadside. Right thinking devout and orthodox Jews, priests and rabbis, fearful of the robbers, walked past the man and ignored him. But a wrong thinking, unorthodox foreigner, hated by the Jews, a Samaritan, stopped and looked after the man, bound up his wounds, put him on his donkey, took him to an inn and paid for his care.
Jesus is clearly teaching that it is love of neighbour that is essential… not orthodoxy.
Belonging and not belonging to Communities of Faith:
We are of course deeply influenced by the people with whom we have fellowship, and can be fearful we may lose our friends if we hold diverging beliefs. As an Anglican priest I was very conscious of this, conscious of our church traditions, and the customary ways of presenting spirituality. But I still wanted to know, if I put all this to one side, and without any preconceptions I surrendered to Spirit, what would I encounter?
An architect friend invited me to join with him in an Islamic group based in Indonesia, called Subud. It was in 1970. At the time it seemed to have no doctrines, simply that we should be open to Spirit. In their spiritual exercises, the latihan, we were encouraged simply to be open to Spirit, without prejudice as to what would come, and if we felt moved to dance, weep, pray, laugh, then we did. No preconceptions – what would Spirit lead me to do now? Put aside church just now, forget normal prayers, just be open. At first I did dance, weep,.. whatever, and all sorts of imagery came to mind, of light and dark, good and evil. Then there came a time when I truly surrendered, and it felt like a little death, and I lay on the floor sobbing. After that surrender I found I could ask questions of the Unknown, and get clear and wise answers. I could have almost a businesslike relationship with the Unknown, gaining clear answers, and involving me in striking synchronicity. During my spiritual exercises I was conscious of some plastic seeming barrier between me and the Unknown, which, if I tried to part it, I would experience an energy which I felt I could not endure. But after that surrender, came a new and matter of fact relationship, with communications such that I could not doubt that they came from another dimension of being.
Maybe each one of us has to find the Unknown for oneself, yet remain humble, since what comes in these encounters is for ourselves, and not to be imposed on others. We need always to keep Jesus’ parable about the Good Samaritan in mind, and love those who think otherwise from us.
We all need to remember that each one of us is seeing reality from our personal point of view, from the point of view of our personal beliefs and experiences, and this being so, no other person will see things from exactly that point of view.
In Subud, as with all religions and spiritual groups, there was much emphasis on “receiving”, receiving by words or feeling guidance about how one should behave, feel, react in the present moment. If the question on which one sought to “receive” seemed more important than usual, then it was suggested that one “check-receive”, either by praying again, or by inviting a spiritual friend to “check-receive”. The essence of spirituality, is self-surrender, and a willingness to enter into dialogue with Spirit through “receiving”, bearing in mind that each of us have our personal spiritual paths.
Let me quote again St Stephen’s version of the 23rd psalm:
32.The twenty-third psalm.
Where you lead, I will follow:
if it be your will, then I will follow, for you are my shepherd,
and you do lead me beside green pastures.
you do lead me beside still waters.
you will always lead as you have,
through death and through life,
and I am here because it is your will.
Teach me, O Father, more that I should follow you and not look either to the right or to the left,
let me be one who would follow and walk in your footsteps.
Let me not be concerned with the fact
that I do not know where your steps lead,
only that I may trust and love you.
For if I do this, I need have no doubt
of the destination being according to your will.
For where else would your steps lead me, other than the path
that you yourself travel on my behalf, that I may follow.
If I know this, then surely goodness and mercy will follow me all
the days of my life, and I will dwell with you.
Sometimes on this path I may feel the cold of the wind, and if I look to the left and see those that stand by my left hand, I may wish that I be with them.
Other times I may look at those on my right hand, and I may
wish that I were with them.
But always, Father, my foot is drawn and I must follow. Let me see that where my feet are drawn, this is not penance but my path.
Jesus: Your fruits are your own integrity, not the action of others.
Let us be judged by the Father and not by ourselves.
Michael Cocks edits the journal, Ground of Faith.
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.