Saturday 9 June 2018

Striving for 'higher consciousness' (theosis) is a teaching of the Fourth Gospel

Why is it so difficult for us to attain a higher form of consciousness? Why is success so rare and brief? 

The reason is that the higher consciousness is a divine form of consciousness, and to participate in it we must be in-accord-with divine creation... and not many people are.

Especially given that we must consciously be in accord with divine creation - and also aware of it, and actively choosing it from our true selves (our souls).  (This cannot be something unconscious or passive - because the divine is always conscious, always active and purposive.)

Many traditionalists find this line of thinking to be un-Christian, if not anti-Christian; so it is necessary to link it with Jesus. The best source on Jesus is the Fourth Gospel.

In the Fourth Gospel, aside from Jesus himself, the best example of a God-aligned Man is the author of the Gospel, the beloved disciple himself - if we agree that the author is the resurrected Lazarus. The Gospel itself is the product of exactly the kind of divine consciousness that we seek.

A serious question - though - is to do with mortal versus post-mortal life. Clearly we can look-forward to a divine consciousness if we are believers in Jesus as the Son of God and the Good Shepherd who (if we will follow) will lead us to life eternal, with divine qualities that are 'symbolically' depicted throughout the Fourth Gospel.

But why suppose that we ought to aim at divine consciousness in mortal life?  And why suppose that our failure to do would be responsible for the most extreme sins of modern life, as Rudolf Steiner recognised in a great prophetic statement of a century ago.

Well, perhaps because that is a theme throughout the Fourth Gospel, a Second Message; if that is what is implied by (for example) the conversation with Nicodemus about being born-again, or the conversation with the Samaritan woman about living water, or the discussion after feeding the five thousand about labouring for that meat which endureth into everlasting life.

It seems that there is a core/ minimal requirement for salvation: believing that Jesus is the Son of God and loving, therefore having faith, in him; so we may follow him through death to Heavenly life everlasting.

This core message is about salvation, and refers to our state after death and resurrection - but it is not about what we should do in this mortal life. Salvation is attainable by anyone who has these core convictions (believes-in and believes-on Jesus), and only by them. However, this gives no guidance for our worldly-motivations during this earthly existence. 

However, there is also this Second Message - focused not on salvation but on theosis, on divinisation or sanctification - and this second message is about what we should work-for and strive-for during mortal life. What should motivate us. The answer is that we should strive to attain a new way of thinking and being that is aligned with the divine.

In other words, we ought-to strive for a higher consciousness, by aligning our thinking with the divine and by participating in the work of creation, even before death and during earthly mortality.

And if or when we do not strive for higher consciousness - there will be bad consequences (as we see all around us).



William Wildblood said...

That's a very enlightening piece, Bruce. Do you think that the degree we strive for higher consciousness in this life will be reflected in the spiritual state in which we find ourselves in the next? So salvation is like an entry ticket but heaven is actually structured hierarchically with each level representing a greater depth of union with the heart and mind of God? The more we attune ourselves to higher consciousness now, the more we will gain of heaven then even though, I'm sure, there is always scope for progress in the hereafter.

I feel that the time for seeking salvation only has passed. It's no longer sufficient and we should be aiming to become ever more conscious of ourselves as souls, true sparks of God here and now. The consequences of not doing this, now that we have acquired much more individual agency than in the past, will be serious. We are now capable of greater good and greater evil so if we don't actively choose good we will become worse. We aren't children any more which is why, as you have been pointing out so effectively recently, we must explore the deeper significance of St John's Gospel. The churches that don't recognise this are not serving their flocks as they should.

Bruce Charlton said...

@William. Thank you.

"Do you think that the degree we strive for higher consciousness in this life will be reflected in the spiritual state in which we find ourselves in the next? "

I don't think of things that way. I don't think there is that kind of hierarchy in Heaven, any more than then is in a loving extended family.

Rather, I think each of us has an unique role - but if we strive for higher consicousness in this life, we will be more aware and purposive in our unique role in Heaven, or something like that. Better able to fulfill our own unique contribution in participating in divine creation.