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Saturday Ramble: A politics of the afterlife will prevent the world destroying itself

The Soul rising to Heaven

Life in the 20th/21st centuries has been broadly inimical to any concept of an afterlife.

The weighty intrusion of science into traditional modes of living bears down heavily on all forms of spirituality and anything deemed “natural”. Human society has become more like an ant-hill mimicking the construct of a machine. Observe your way of life more closely and this will become apparent, even to the most obtuse among us.

The thesis of this article is that a re-emergence of belief in an afterlife, amounting to a certainty, will reduce this tendency to dust. Take a look.

There was a time when everyone believed in an afterlife. And not only Christians.

In those days, death was a simple passing through a gossamer curtain to another aspect of life. People lived their lives to the full, conscious that they could survive anything.

In modern times those certainties have been lost beneath a deluge of atheism and scientific speculation. Giants of theoretical science claim that this is all we have … so just get used to it.

The inevitable consequence of this dogmatic view is that our existence must be protected by any means possible. Therein lies the politics of the afterlife.

Physical immortality through medical intervention is passionately sought and paid for, even if it means freezing a newly-dead body for hundreds of years. Cosmetic surgery — now on the NHS — is de rigueur among women of a certain age, often 23 or over.

Politicians of the Left have responded by weaving ever more legal safety nets to stop us walking into danger. The Left is, of course, mostly atheistic. Man is their god and the measure of all things. And he is doomed to extinction. The job of socialists is to extend that span for as long as possible.

The result of this kind of government action is that modern society has become neurotic, as David Cameron pointed out on one of his better days. Sometimes it crosses boundaries that properly belong to the individual and border on the psychotic. Everyone will have their favourite examples.

I believe the cause of this denaturing of life lies outside the political landscape, however. It derives from the moments when Darwin, Freud and others cackhandedly lost touch with the essence of existence and rebuilt it on a rickety structure of theory, poorly executed experiment, and narrowly-based investigation. In our century, the movement relies almost entirely on mathematics and complex equations.

And yet, contrary to received opinion, an afterlife is provable using a multitude of anecdotal evidence from the length and breadth of historical testimony. If you had read as many accounts as I have, you would be in no doubt. See this piece on survival after death — just below this one.

That may not be “science” as we know it. It will always fail the repeatability test of the scientific method because only interactions between simple physical objects tend to a similarity of outcome.

The main sickness of modern society is the feeling of impending doom, even execution, thus “What the hell!” And that sums up all the ills of our world. We seem to be sentenced to death by an implacable fate.

The great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, was convinced that almost all mental problems in adults are religious in nature, usually linked to a loss of faith. Now this might seem to be something the churches should deal with, not politicians. I don’t agree.

There is as much disputation and loss of confidence among churches and their denominations as in other policy areas. Totalitarian religions are as much to blame for the emptiness of modern life as the titans of science, which has become a religion in itself: Scientism.

Politicians could help by refusing to fund Big Science projects, such as the Large Hadron Collider, and concentrate scarce resources on technology, where small-scale projects can have immense outcomes for employment and productivity. Look at Silicon Valley.

Governments could stop “following the science”. It is this apparent invincibility that’s giving a few rather pathetic figures the aura of knowing all the answers. Their depressing materialism is infecting modern life with a nihilism that is totally self-destructive.

Science has replaced a god as the object of worship in many socialised countries around the globe, including our own. The answer is not necessarily to go back to any one religion, although if Christianity reformed itself, it might become a useful vehicle for a new way of looking at the world.

Since the loss of an afterlife is at the heart of our deep societal neurosis, some way should be found to bring it back on to the public agenda.

Loss of an afterlife is our modern tragedy. It can only be healed by a less materialistic philosophy and a new conviction that death is not the end.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

To be published soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world.

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Midweek Mysticism: What is an Energy Personality Essence?

Afterlife

It may surprise you to know that I’ve been communing with the thoughts of one for more than a decade. But then, as a friend once said, “Nothing you do will ever surprise me.”

A little harsh, I think, as I’m in very good company. Deepak Chopra, M.D. a respected doctor, and author of many compelling books, shares my strange compulsion: “[He] presents an alternate map of reality with a new diagram of the psyche, useful to all explorers of consciousness.”

Before I let you into the secret, here are some of the words of the Energy Personality Essence himself:

Each individual has access to intuitional knowledge and can gain glimpses of inner reality. The universe speaks to each of us. Consciousness creates form, not the other way around. All personalities are not physical. It is only because you are so busily concerned with daily matters that you do not realise that there is a portion of you who knows that its own powers are far superior to those shown by the ordinary self.

Prentice-Hall has been publishing the books of this astonishing being since 1972, the last in 1997. The author’s name is Seth, although his words were delivered by a remarkable woman called Jane Roberts and taken down in shorthand by her husband Robert Butts, an artist.

And, yes, the process is “channeling,” that ghastly word much used in the Blair era, thanks to his busy wife Cherie. It’s gone downhill all the way since then, but don’t let that put you off, it has always had a respected role in genuine mysticism.

The books are fairly chunky tomes written with huge intelligence and understanding, and are never less than dazzlingly insightful. They are not the fare of glossy women’s magazines or tabloid newspapers — the Daily Mail excepted, perhaps. They are also very addictive. I have quite a collection of Seth books.

The name Seth is interesting. The biblical Seth was the third son of Adam and Eve, depicted in their creation myths as a divine incarnation. The children of Seth were thought by some to make up a superior strand of humanity. Some of the Gnostic writings are often described by scholars as “Sethian”.

Let’s finish with some words of wisdom from the great Essence himself:

Do not think of the mind as a purely mental entity, and of the body as a purely physical one. Instead think of both mind and body as continuing, interweaving processes that are mental and physical at once. Your thoughts are quite as physical as your body is, and your body is quite as non-physical as it seems to you your thoughts are. You are actually a vital force, existing as part of your environment, and yet apart from it simultaneously.

The latter point is borne out by mystical experiences and is deeply unsettling to scientists. Those with ears to hear, and eyes to see, will know exactly what Seth is saying.

If you want to try one, I recommend Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul.

John Evans

Coming soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com.

Author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

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Midweek Mysticism: What’s wrong with Christianity?

Trees Cathedral
Christian Cathedrals are forests carved in stone

The story of the moment is the slow collapse of Christianity in Britain, especially among the young. The perception is that all organised religions are under threat in favour of a broader spirituality.

One underlying reason is the politically-correct notion that to choose one faith over another is “discriminating against” all the others and clearly angers some. Given the obvious fact that living involves a whole series of choices and that civilisation is a collection of past decisions, this is a spurious argument that, in the round, is slowly destroying the West, and certainly Britain as a robust, unified country. Obsessive Leftist politics has played a major part in this dissolution of the old faith.

Surprisingly, the Girl Guides are the new centre of attention after their creed was altered, removing references to God and Country, replacing them with Myself and Community.

As someone Christened into the Church of England when young, but who has developed a wider vision of its mission, I’m not surprised by these developments. The real pity is that the latest mass movements are beating up the organised religions for the wrong reasons. The truth is, all major faiths have their source in an original nature religion akin to Druidism (see pictures above).

An added complication is that violent Islamism has turned many people away from religion across the board, while the churches have settled into a comfortable, well-funded rut.

Historically, all religions arose from the same inner realisation: a sense that there is something bigger than us, apparently outside ourselves. This perception is mysticism and affects most people, but some — the mystics — grasp it more powerfully than others.

The best mystics are also capable writers. The two Spanish contemporaries, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila are among the pick of them. St John’s The Dark Night of the Soul is a masterpiece, once you get round the clumsy stucture of it: poetic verses, followed by commentary.

Long research among the religious texts of the world have convinced me that there is no essential spiritual difference between them. As a French poet put it: mystics all speak the same language.

My own understanding, which is being confirmed daily by modern scholarship, is that the only proof we have that someone called Jesus existed at all is a single document of wise sayings, referred to by scholars as “Q”. The Gospel of Thomas, with its 118 sayings beginning “Jesus said …” is almost certainly an echo of it.

The four familiar Gospels of the New Testament were written at different times by what we would now call “novelists”. Luke was the most talented. He put colour, pace and structure into his writings, which included The Acts.

These documents were probably intended as texts for small proto-Christian groups and are widely different in storyline and content. Any similarities are almost certainly explained by succeeding writers copying their predecessors. Q is the one founding source of all of them.

None of the authors knew Jesus personally or could swear that he existed, except by faith or necessity.

Art expert Waldemar Januszczak made a recent TV film in which he showed the first depictions of Jesus in art. They are bland and contain little detail. They bear no resemblance to the florid, almost photographic, paintings of the Middle Ages. Renaissance artists turned Jesus from a cipher in a very ancient document into a potential movie star.

As for the crucifixion, it was an elaborate metaphor showing a “god” who comes down to Earth and suffers in his human body. Look in a mirror and hold your arms horizontally sideways. What do you see? A cross. Life itself is a crucifixion for all of us. The later interpretation of this event is more crucifiction than crucifixion.

There are at least nine other ancient figures who went through similar lives to Jesus: virgin birth, strange stars in the sky, miracles and teachings, grisly deaths: Horus, Attis of Phrigia, Zoroaster, Glycon, Heracles, Dionysus, Romulus, Odysseus, and Krishna.

None of this takes away the necessity for organised spirituality for most people, but a sense of perspective and historical accuracy is essential if one is not to be implicated by default in the appalling violence that periodically overwhelms various religions.

Christianity has been more vicious than most in stamping its mark around the world. Dissenters burnt at the stake for minor infractions, and slaughter on a mass scale that would make Adolf Hitler wince. The religious Crusade in the 1200s AD to wipe out the Cathars in southern France was atrocious. Men, women and children were brought down from their mountain retreat and burned to death in a field without mercy.

Later, St Bernard of Clairvaux said ruefully: “They were better Christians than us.”

Religion then is a social form of mysticism derived from the same instinctive source. The two pictures above illustrate how Christianity across Europe developed from the Druidism it replaced, with considerable violence. The Romans massacred 2000 druids on the Isle of Anglesey, effectively destroying the movement and attempting to wipe the record clean.

It took the romantics of the 19th century to re-establish it as a religion of nature, which Christianity has long demonised as the work of the Devil. Witches were set alight at the stake or drowned in a ducking-stool.

The fact is, Christianity took over much of what is called Paganism in order to placate the local population. Druids had sacred groves in the woods where they held their ceremonies. Cathedrals and Gothic churches are forests carved in stone.

Vegetation and Green Men are depicted in the walls and columns, most markedly at Rosslyn Chapel north of Edinburgh, which is said to be a copy of the Temple in Jerusalem.

Bishops wear robes and decorations not dissimilar to their pagan forebears. Magic — prayer for favours — is rife. Hymns are musical spells seeking friendly outcomes. Underneath there is little difference between the ceremonial of church and grove. They even look the same, and probably sound similar too.

But the Church has become tired and boring to much of the population who regard science as the new voodoo which answers their needs in multiple ways. However it remains true that nothing provides the deep connection with reality that mysticism does at its spiritual best.

We seem to have come full circle from pagan nature worship to a modern realisation that we can only progress in understanding by touching the profound soul of the universe with our own being.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Coming eventually: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com.

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Midweek Mysticism: Sermons are too often mosaics of stale thoughts and ancient iconography

Richard Chartres

The best part of any church service should be the sermon, for, while every other ingredient is known, the sermon is, or should be, original, imparting either a unique lesson or a well-worn one expressed freshly. No one does this better than Richard Chartres, Bishop of London (Pictured above with the Queen).

True to form, he produced a sparkler during the Funeral Service for Margaret Thatcher at St Paul’s Cathedral this morning. Soaked in mysticism — and a little humour — its theme was immortality, or “everlasting life” as Christians prefer.

There was a glancing reference to that most mystical of Christian texts, The Cloud of Unknowing, and he spoke refreshingly of the Afterlife as “another dimension of existence”.

Christians often find comfort in the ancient phraseology and poetry of the biblical texts, which have taken on the quality of music. Some get quite heated about the Authorised Version and the Book of Common Prayer, which they would like to be set in stone.

They should realise that these words are not meant to be entertainment, but a living expression of the highest spirituality — which is distinct from emotionality. When emotion prevails, as it often does in church services, the essential mysticism is drowned out. The Bishop ably avoided the trap.

If all sermons could be set in such pellucid language as this one, I believe attendances would rise. The Bishop has an instinctive awareness of this, saying that it was typical of Margaret Thatcher that she was always trying to help out in “typically uncoded terms”.

He quoted her on the purpose of going to church: “We often went to church twice on Sundays, as well as on other occasions during the week. We were taught always to make up our own minds and never take the easy way of following the crowd.”

Today, there was no shortage of people in St Paul’s, mostly the “great and the good”. Margaret Thatcher herself was undoubtedly both great and good, although the small bands of protesters outside the cathedral will never accept that. They have been mesmerised by the stale thoughts and unworkable ideas of Karl Marx and his modern followers, such as Ed Miliband, who was present.

Marxism is a perverted reworking of Christian ideas, where harsh “solidarity” has replaced the simple companionship of the original. Marxists regularly blame religion for subduing “the people,” blind to the fact that Marxism itself has become an angry secular faith intolerant of all others.

For religion in general to prevail in our shrill, noisy and overcrowded society, it must demonstrate in clear, approachable language the whole object of its being: everlasting life — immortality.

The iconography of the Church derives from ancient Jewish texts which baffle the young and anyone not brought up in a Christian context. The Bishop resisted the prevailing showy language and posturing. I often wonder why he is usually passed over for the role of Archbishop of Canterbury, as happened again in recent weeks.

In his later work, The Book of Privy Counselling, the anonymous Cloud author sets the standard very high, as does his subject matter. It is the logical, if counterintuitive, way into the modern world for the Church of England.

Today, the Bishop of London, who is patron of London Internet Church (.org.uk) showed how it could be done.

John Evans

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Midweek Mysticism: Are you Born Again?

Afterlife

Born Again is an intriguing and evocative phrase in the Christian pantheon. It arises from the Baptist version of the faith and traces its origins back to John the Baptist in the New Testament, in particular to the scene in the Gospels when Jesus is “baptised” in the River Jordan by what seems to be the leader of a mystery school, so typical of the period.

Immediately after he was baptised, as he was praying, the heavens opened and a dove came down and rested on Jesus. It was the Spirit of God in the form of a bird that had come down to show who Jesus was. Jesus saw it and John also saw the dove. Suddenly there was a voice from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”.

This account, with its burst of light, the dove and a voice, has all the hallmarks of a mystery rite, presided over by an adept, and accords with specific states known to manifest in such a context.

Born again lives on today in the southern states of America, where being a born again Christian is a settled part of the religious heritage of the Old South.

This ceremony is now widely imitated in churches around the world. In modern times, a Born-Again Christian is someone who has been baptised into a Baptist church or another denomination, usually by two burly men dunking them in a river and declaring the dunkee “born again”, a mere shadow of the ancient procedure.

I was “Christened” into the Church of England as an infant when a Vicar put a finger into a font of “holy water” and traced a cross on my forehead, a sad case of reductionism.

The emergence from water to air imitates the action of birth. Modern clergy are often ignorant about real spiritual states and resort to play-acting rather than the initiations found in the ancient mystery schools and in the solitary practices of genuine mystics.

But what does it mean? Are people really born again? The truth has its origins in ancient Egypt, with echoes of it living on in the higher degrees of masonic rituals, in the spontaneous, or induced, mystical states of mystics, and in near-death experiences (NDEs), widely reported in hospitals.

Here’s how it’s presented in my book The Eternal Quest for Immortality — Is it staring you in the face?: “The process involves the emergence of something alive, though not physical, from out of the body. There is a distinct “plop” or shock as it happens. The living body remains unaware that the separated part has gone, temporarily in the cases we are describing. This “soul” is the personal consciousness and is therefore the essence of a person. It is the part that survives bodily dissolution at death. The undisputed fact that it can leave a living body shows that anecdotal reports of the soul departing a person in pain and distress, as in near-death experiences, are true. Death is not the fearful thing it seems to outside observers. It’s as if a lifeboat removes consciousness from the worst aspects of physical shut-down.”

In ancient Greece, young soldiers were put through a process leading to this experience as a means of removing all fear of death. The tiny force of Greeks who sacrificed themselves against the vast armies of the Persian king Xerxes at the Battle of Thermopylae, gives a sense of their fearlessness in the face of assured extinction.

In his book A Search in Secret Egypt (1935), Paul Brunton illustrated how the mystery schools precipitated this mystical state in their candidates. According to Brunton, the candidate was taken to a chamber deep inside one of the pyramids, tied to a sarcophagus and left in total darkness in the sealed room overnight. You can imagine the terror of the situation, even if you were not claustrophobic or afraid of the dark.

Fear was the essence of the practice. So horrific was the experience that the personal consciousness (soul) springs out of the bodily envelope into a place of supreme calm, where darkness doesn’t exist.

This is the after-death state, the Bardo of the Tibetans and for which all cultures have a special name. In the Far East the experience is called “a showing of the nature of reality”, demonstrating its temporary nature. Dante calls it Purgatory — you can’t get away from sin in Roman Catholicism.

Many commentators wonder why modern Christian denominations in the West are declining so fast that they are being ignored in favour of secular governance and more mystical philosophies.

The reason is obvious: churches have become meeting places for the nostalgic, and comfort stations for the elderly. All the life and living truth has been sucked out of them, as science replaces genuine mysticism in public discourse.

Religion will only become relevant again when the real story behind the much edited texts of antiquity is told without the concealments. Total honesty is the only way to resurrect the original meaning. That is Syntagma’s mission statement.

Christianity in particular must be Born Again!

To round off this discussion, here’s a link to my own experience of the state. If you read Syntagma regularly, you have probably come across it before and are excused: Consciousness after death

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Coming up: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com.

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