This is a brief, modern allegory for how best to live on Earth, according to every great spiritual tradition:
Go with God. Forge a conscious connection to God, the omnipotent Principle that is the only truth and rests at the center of everything.
Take your bike. This noble-savage life on Earth is an illusory manifestation of God. As a carnal being living in the illusion, make responsible decisions in the better interests of Heaven, Earth and yourself. (Biking, of course, is an efficient, non-polluting means of exercise and transport, a noble choice in today’s world.)
Don’t hit a bus. Like drugs, fire, sex, rock ‘n roll, and most other things on Earth, a bus can be a noble thing that enhances life, or a savage thing that damages life. Be discerning. Make moral, ethical choices to avoid the things of this world that harm or destroy you and those around you.
If you do (hit a bus), go with God. In the course of living on Earth we all encounter forces that cause us suffering. Especially at those times, remember that those painful forces are an illusion. Foster your conscious connection with God, which is the all-powerful, ultimate truth, which brings inner peace during lifetime, especially important in times of suffering, and which beams you to paradise when you die.
That, in a nutshell, is the basic principle shining at the center of every great spiritual tradition:
God is the only truth and the only real power, and life on Earth is an illusion that has no real power. God lives at the center of everything, so access the power of God and find inner peace by connecting your conscious mind with your soul. Give your life over to God.
As Hindus overcome maya, as Buddhists overcome attachments, and as Christians, Muslims, and Jews overcome sin, they’re all working on this same basic principle of transcending life’s destructive illusions to forge a conscious connection with God.
There are a few variations from one faith to the next:
Buddhists might argue that they don’t believe in God, but instead strive for nirvana, which is probably just a semantic difference. Striving for nirvana and fostering a conscious contact with God are essentially the same thing; both involve bringing the carnal mind (brain and hormones) more in line with our God-mind, or soul, or atman).
Christians, Muslims, and Jews each have a slightly different notion of sin (sin being the rough equivalent of what I call the savage side of life on Earth).
Jews believe that humans are born good, not sinful, but your human inclinations pull you off-course toward sin, or het, as you grow up in this world.
Christians believe that humans are born with a propensity to sin, and giving your life over to Christ and to Christian teachings can help you overcome it.
Muslims believe that studying the Koran discourages sinful (haraam) behavior by strengthening your faith and knowledge and by guiding you to do good deeds in society.
So, all of these great, time-proven religions help people to contend with Earth’s painful illusions by fostering conscious contact with God.
Again, that’s the fundamental aspect of spiritual growth, the core principle of every true spiritual path:
Connect to a higher power, God, to overcome suffering.
There are also various spiritual paths that are not religious and that focus on the core principle while trying to remain free of the exclusive trappings of the various religions (e.g. Christ is the chosen savior, Mohammed is the chosen prophet, Jews are the chosen people….)
Following is a list, with links, of some of the more notable spiritual paths that avoid the strictures of the traditional religions. I’ll try to list them roughly in the order of how widespread they seem to be. I hope to add to this list as I encounter other paths that are also built around this spiritual core.
- The 12-Step Program (Alcoholics Anonymous and its many off-shoots) has saved the lives of millions of people by turning them onto a spiritual path that is encapsulated very neatly in 12 steps and enriched by countless clever slogans. The 11th step, in particular, advocates seeking “through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.” (Review the principles… or Enjoy some of the famous 12-Step slogans…)
- A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is a massive (more than 1,000 pages make up the textbook, workbook, and teacher’s manual) collection of information channeled in the late 1960s through the mind of Helen Schucman, a New York clinical and research psychologist. As such, a great deal of inspired philosophy and wisdom proliferates around the elegant, spiritual core. According to ACIM, the surest way to connect to God is through forgiveness… presumably because experiencing the vast suffering on this noble-savage Earth results in lots of emotional wounds that need healing. (Read more… )
- The Infinite Way is, likewise, a vast collection of channeled or inspired information. It exists as 1,300 hours of tapes and CDs from class and lecture work of Joel Goldsmith, the founder of the program, and transcriptions, books, and articles extracted from his vocal teachings, in the 1950s. Most of the lectures build around the core principle: God holds all the power, the trappings of Earth are powerless, so forge conscious contact with God through contemplative meditation, via the divine center within you. (View one example of those inspired teachings… )
- The Seth Material, again, is a vast collection of information channeled in the 1970s through Jane Roberts from an entity called Seth, who refers only in passing to God (the All-That-Is), which is the sum of all consciousnesses and creator of all universes. Seth’s main interest seems to be people’s outer egos, which shape the material world, and their inner egos (probably equivalent to what I call our astral and ethereal bodies), which work together in a vast community of highly creative inner egos to help people on Earth to shape their world. The more a person can connect his outer ego to his inner ego, the more he can shape the world with his thoughts and intentions. So, the Seth materials might be considered an “applied science” of the main principle… which involves fostering the direct connection between our conscious mind (outer ego) and God (All-That-Is). Seth seems more interested in our conscious contact with our spiritual bodies for the purpose of shaping our world with our intentions. (Read more… )
- Theosophy, based on the channeled and inspired teachings of Helena (“Madame”) Blavatsky, talks of an eternal, omnipotent, nameless power that embodies everything and is at the core of everything. Theosophy doesn’t seem to encourage people to nurture a personal connection to that divine power, but simply states that the connection exists and provides the source and foundation of life. Theosophy holds a special connection to ITC as described on this site, as it refers to a spiritual hierarchy under “The Seven Rays”… which seem to have some connection to ethereal cluster (The Seven Rainbow People) that facilitated the contacts between INIT and Timestream. (More about Theosophy… and the Seven Rays...)
If you know of other spiritual programs that might fit onto this list, please let me know via email or in the comments section below, and I’ll do some research. Thanks! MM
Mark – How would you classify the Seth material ? I have just finished my third Seth book. This is the most insightful material I’ve (ever) read yet – which is saying a lot.
Hi David, from what I gather, the Seth material, like ACIM, is a rich collection of inspired writing. I haven’t studied it enough to see if that core spiritual principle is at the heart of the Seth material.
I’ll look into it. Thank for the heads-up.
I did a quick look into several websites about the Seth materials, and added it to the list. See what you think… if I did it justice….
Hi Mark, As always, great insight. However, I have a problem with the whole God concept of it being a person. I just can’t picture a eternal being sitting on a throne judging people for the things we do. That which is the center of everything HAS to be much larger then that. With much greater tolerance for us mere mortals that are just trying to evolve spiritually. Which we WILL do over multiple life times.
Hi George, I agree completely. I don’t see God as a personality who judges anyone or anything.
Most of the sources I’ve looked into describe God as a complete collection of all consciousness everywhere. It’s the ultimate creative force. We’re just a part of God, and God’s a part of us… at the center of our being.
The key for us humans is to release our ego and to open ourselves up to that all-powerful force. Giving our lives over to God (the all-powerful, creative one… not the silly judgmental guy sitting on a cloud 🙂 ) can take a 10-ton load off of our shoulders.
Still, we all have to find the notion of God that feels right to us. We have to define that stable and all-wise power-greater-than-ourselves in some acceptable way, and release ourselves to it.
I have my own views, and I probably get preachy sometimes… which I’m tyring to overcome.
God bless you, my friend.
(PS – my wife’s cousin and her husband from New Jersey visited us last month. I always think of you when I think of New Jersey. I hope all’s well.)
Thank you for the thoughts Mark. I’m sure you’ll be much please to hear that I’m no longer drinking. It seems our unseen friends have other plans for me!
Oh, forgot to ask, what part of NJ are they from?
That’s huge, George. Congratulations.
They’re from Hillsborough township.
Regina grew up in Jersey City.
Mark – it’s always hard to distill the essence of such an extensive body of work (as the Seth material) into a single paragraph or two (But that was pretty good).
It’s either Yale or Harvard that is retaining the entire body of work.
I’m getting so old. I remember buying that book when it was first released back in the 70’s.
As St. Augustine said, ”God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you think you understand, you have failed.”
The use of words brings dualism into the experience.
For instance, people could be better Christians by studying Buddhism and other paths like it which teach about experiencing the non-dual state.
I never had any idea of what “God” is until the ethereals told us through ITC:
‘Many Earth people mistakenly perceive God as a person or an individual entity. God is not a person, but the highest principle of life, as well as the absolute reality. He, or IT, is the absolute unity and the absolute, unlimited and all-encompassing Universe. As a limitless entity, the universe can never be one of the creative individuals who are numerous in the cosmos.’
Even with that, the concept is way beyond my real comprehension, but that’s the definition that’s burrowed its way into my consciousness and ego. So if I ever sound preachy about God, that’s probably the basic concept I’m trying to convey.
Also, that idea of nonduality was one of the hardest things I had to absorb into my ego. Like most people here in the Western world, I grew up in a world of good-vs-bad duality. It became a part of my psyche. I still find myself (often!) reverting back to dualism… especially when I think of politics. 🙂
A lovely post, Mark, and very inspiring. You once wrote that you had doubts about Edgar Cayce because a few of his prophecies did not eventuate, yet I place great store in his ‘readings’ and his approach, and, while his is a deeply Christian orientation, his teachings are quite in sync with those of Seth, Joel Goldsmith’s and the Course in Miracles, and equally profound. I had explored each of these in depth before coming to the Cayce material, and I found no dysjunction between them. Cayce’s focus was not as philosophical as some, or as scientific as others, for most of all, he advocated what the Dalai Lama calls active compassion – putting one’s spiritual beliefs and compassion into our daily interactions with others … not just being good, but being ‘good for something.’
As for Cayce’s prophecies, he did emphasise that the future is not set, that our free will is greater than destiny, and that when we change our thinking and attitude, we change our future. His ‘sources’ made it quite clear that our choices and thinking determined whether a prediction came true, or things took a different direction. However, he did make quite a few accurate predictions, and helped thousands with his health readings.
If you have the time and interest to read up on Cayce, a really good biography, which explains his metaphysics and philosophy, is Edgar Cayce, an American Prophet, by Sydney Kirkpatrick. I might have given my copy away, but if I can find it, and if you are interested, I’ll send it to you.
Hi Tosca, I’m impressed and inspired by what I’ve read of Edgar Cayce’s materials. While all time-based predictions are open to the whims of time (and therefore not real reliable), his writings are filled with truths. I hope I didn’t sound to skeptical of his work at some point in my writing.
I think I have a copy of the “American Prophet” book on my shelf downstairs.
No Mark. You spoke respectfully of him. It’s just that I have gained so much from his readings, and although he is not well known in Australia, I do mention him to others. I think it’s wonderful that you talk about other great teachers who can inspire, guide and help us to find our way in this often confusing world.
The Cayce books were some of the first that I read (many years ago). I agree that the Cayce teachings are very consistent with Seth’s (and many others). The ethereals’ definition of God sounds very consistent with Seth’s explanation of “All That Is”.
The truth is certainly out there and available for people (very) committed to finding it and connecting the dots.
Thanks again Mark for a great site – the information you’ve provided over the years has been very helpful for this journey.
I totally enjoy trying to put all of this information together to make some kind of sense of things.
David and Tosca, do you think the Cayce materials should be added to the list in this article? If so, do you know of any specific messages of his that relate directly to that spiritual core… the need for humans to turn their lives over to that ultimate higher power?