Friday 20 April 2018
Different objectives of Eastern and Western religions
In this excerpt from William Arkle's essay Reality (from The Great Gift, 1977) he discusses the difference between the Christian idea of an eternal life that retains our ultimate self-hood; and the 'Eastern' objective of annihilating the self (which is seen as an illusion).
This corresponds to the Christian idea of God as 'outside'/ separate from/ not-identical-with his creation; as contrasted with the Eastern idea of God and creation being an ultimate unity and including ourselves.
Arkle argues that our loving God probably allows people to attain to the Eastern state ('Nirvana') if that is what they genuinely yearn for. But, he regards God as wanting us to become gods - deified selves; and having created reality with that aim.
Within your universe of values you have to discover and find for yourself this more essential and more valuable level, and to learn to separate it out from the less essential and less valuable level, which is your outer personality self fulfilling its needs. The inner, spiritual, essential self is working to fulfil its higher needs, but often it is being prevented from doing that by the activity of the outer personality self, which is grabbing all the attention in order to fulfil its own level of needs. Maslow spoke very clearly about this situation, so if you’ve had the chance to read Maslow’s books you will know exactly what I am talking about.
Now that is your reality; you can’t get out of that, unless perhaps it’s possible to destroy your own ego. I think what some Eastern religions, some forms of Buddhism, do is to take away the separate stance of the ego, which is one of the gifts which the Creator has given to us, and it unifies its own reality with the greater reality, not in the form of becoming a friend of that reality, but in terms of neutralising its own ability to be separate.
This attitude combines its attention and energies with the attention and energies of the bigger system of creation, which we could call the system of the Supreme Being, and, in this way, it seems to destroy its own separate existence and become a part of the Creator’s existence, but I don’t believe this is what the Creator wishes of us, or wishes for us, and if you believe in a system rather than a Creator, I don’t believe it’s the best way of making use of the system.
In the deeply religious sense, I believe that the Creator stands outside the system, and we can have an understanding of his Being in that way. We can make friends with him in that way if our own reality remains a strong and separate reality while we are becoming aware of the nature of that Being we call Creator.
I think it’s also possible to become a part of the energies which are the most ethereal level of creation, and this would be a sensation of continuing bliss, if you like. One would then bask in the rays of the Creator’s creative intention, just like a physical person would enjoy standing under a warm shower, and one could lose one’s reality in that way, in the enjoyment of standing under that warm shower and enjoying its warmth and its activity, and letting go of every other form of reality, every other form of responsibility, every other form of identification.
In that way, one returns to the womb of one’s being, but I don’t think one has actualised or accomplished the purpose of the potentiality which has been given to our being. But on a smaller scale, we have to deal with the overcoming of the outpost of the substitute personality ego if we want to become established in our proper essential higher reality; which is to say, our own essential divine being.
In order to achieve the awareness and the ability to be with our true self, to be according to our true self, to respond with the nature of our true self, we have to learn to eliminate the activity of the outer self, which has taken over the activity of living from our bigger, whole self. But this is a difficult thing to do, and everyone who is trying to do it will tell you the same thing – that it is a difficult thing to do.
How long it will take is not in anybody’s ability to say, because everybody does it in a different way, and takes a different time to do it.
Excerpted from the essay 'Reality', from The Great Gift, 1977.