The Function of Spirituality: The Sacred in Our Lives

By Rudi Jansma
[Lecture held for the Shri Nijanand organization at Jaipur, India, Dec. 25, 2004.]

An ancient scripture of the Mayans of Mesoamerica, the Popol Vuh, says that in the beginning there was only silence; only the endless ocean was there. There was no form of life or thought or emotion whatsoever. But in this endless ocean awoke God-Seven, who had been slumbering for innumerable ages -- and whose name was "Feathered Serpent." His outer skin was a gigantic blue-green, egg-shaped aura.

The first thing which happened was that the Mind of God came forth in two aspects, and these two aspects -- each of them a god in itself -- started to confer. They discussed their task and the future. The Divine Mind perceived the Creation they were going to make with the help of the divine architects and builders: the earth, the plants, insects, and animals. But their ultimate purpose was to bring forth a being which would be able to remember and pay homage to its creator.

So first they created the elements and the earth, then plants and animals. And then humans. But at that point the divine minds failed. They tried again. Again they failed, although this second humanity was far more developed than the first one. These humans -- not yet men and women -- had a mind and powers, but they misused them. They could make utensils and the simple instruments they needed, but their thinking and talking was idle. They did not remember their Creator; they did not recognize their divine origin. They lacked spirituality entirely. The forces they evoked, and used or misused, turned against them. They perished painfully.

Then the twin aspects of Divine Mind came down to live on earth in the form of twin brothers, thus laying the basis for spiritual humankind. They were great artists, and very spiritual. But these spiritual twins were called down to the Underworld to meet the evil and magical lords of lower nature: the thirteen forms of disease, death, misuse of power, and so on. These lords were intelligent cheaters, too, and the divine twins succumbed in the lower world of deception and passion: they died.

But of course the essence of the divine is immortal -- the essence never dies, and it will ever be there to accompany and help wherever possible. The twins' essence incarnated in human beings: through "immaculate conception" they entered the womb of one of the daughters of the Lords of the Underworld. She was exiled to the earth where the twins were born as spiritual humans. After a long time they, too, were called to the Underworld to face the challenges the evil Lords put before them. Now they succeeded. The spiritual had conquered the material and passionate within humankind -- and within each individual human being. The destiny of human beings is to become gods themselves, better expressing the ever-imperishable divine essence which always remains beyond the manifested universe.

This long introduction from the other side of the globe shows that the need for spirituality is universal and is the guiding force of upright humanity in every country in the world, whatever form of religion or philosophy people express themselves through. How can we recognize the spiritual Divine Mind, our Creator, within ourselves? How can we distinguish it from that which draws us down to the underworld of misery, disease, and mortality, tensions and wars -- only to perish in despair?

Plato -- who lived in the Western world not long after great souls like Buddha, Mahavir, and Lao-tzu in the East -- wrote wonderful books which have become a cornerstone of all Western philosophy -- and the West would have been a more spiritual and pleasant place than it is today if it hadn't lent its ear to the "Lords of the Underworld" as well. Plato talked about three forms of intuition. Intuition means tuition from within, a teaching from the spark of God within each of us, which we can hear when we listen to the Voice of the Silence which is in the center of our heart, beyond personal emotions and thoughts. Plato called these forms of intuition the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. These are three faces with which God shows its One Being to humanity.

Deep within our own heart we know what is Truth: truth unstained by any lie or deception. Deep within we know what is Good: it is morality beyond rules. Deep within we know what is beautiful: Truth is beautiful, the Good is beautiful, and Beauty is in every expression of humans who strive to be close to the divine and in billions of expressions of nature, which is the manifestation of the divine. Truth is the impersonal god-aspect of philosophers and scientists -- which we all are to some extent. The Good is the god-aspect of religion -- and we are all religious to some extent, even when we call ourselves atheists. Beauty is the god-aspect of art, or of any really esthetic feeling we have. Real artists, whether poets or musicians, architects, sculptors, or other creative workers, labor to turn even the coarsest form of matter into something divine. Words -- which can be used to curse or insult a person -- can be used by poets in expressions of divine devotion. Architects and sculptors use the hardest stones of our material earth to build temples or prayer houses of utmost refinement.

The Good is the same as unwavering service to Truth. It is universal justice. And, most emphatically, it is compassion, which means "sharing in suffering." This is the great divine Force, in Tibet symbolically depicted as a divinity with a thousand arms and eyes and heads turned in all directions in our world as well as higher spheres, which is ever and ever again sacrificing itself to give spiritual support and guidance to every soul on its evolutionary pilgrimage. It helps the dust molecules of the earth to turn themselves, guided by divine energies, into beautiful flowers -- the highest expression of divinity the plant kingdom can produce.

In humans it trains the mind -- but we humans have the choice either to follow the impulses of the compassionate forces in nature by means of teachers, books, the arts, or religious practice, and above all by the practice of daily life; or to follow the seductive voice of semi-wisdom, delusive art forms and religions, and go along the path of delusive behavior. That is why spirituality is needed for each and every one all over the world: to show the way and lead human minds in making this choice.

What is the sacred -- the God -- in our daily lives? It is the silent ever-presence which is beyond thoughts and emotion. It is the divine spark within us, our guide and our individual dharma beyond rules. It is that which we really know. It is the spiritual in our life. Follow it, and you will be happy and calm right now. May you recognize the peace within your heart.

(From Sunrise magazine, August/September 2005; copyright © 2005 Theosophical University Press)

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There is only one eternal, immutable truth. It can appear under many different aspects; but even so, it is not the truth which changes, it is we who change of our manner of conceiving it. -- Henry Madathanas