What is New Age spirituality?
Is it relevant to our twenty-first century experience? Alain Aristide’s book sets out to illuminate the various paths to spiritual enlightenment.
Including short biographies of New Age authors, A Course in Spirituality references materials as contiguous as Eckhart Tolle’s bestseller The Power of Now, Ernest Holmes’ The Science of Mind, the wisdom of Abraham channelled by Esther Hicks, A Course in Miracles and the Kabbalah, among many others. It discusses numerous subjects as diverse as esotericism, meditation, mysticism, healing, theology, telepathy, hypnosis, re-incarnation, quantum physics, Ayurveda and many more arcane topics.
A Course in Spirituality is a journey beyond philosophy, filled with personal insights and surprising correlations, which hopefully will inspire others to seek their own individual enlightenment. May these writings be a coruscating ray of light piercing the gloomy skies of today’s human consciousness.
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A Course in Spirituality
An Inspiring and Enthralling Journey into New Age Philosophies
By Alain Aristide
iUniverseCopyright © 2015 Alain Aristide
All rights reserved.
"Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists."
We commence straight away with the serious and painful stuff. This chapter may not please you but is, unfortunately, absolutely necessary to begin our transcendental quest. By the way, all the other chapters will offer you remedies, so don't feel too discouraged reading these pages; light will come. One of the first steps is to look at oneself with truthful discernment and to accept who one is.
When we were born on this magnificent planet, our souls were pure, joyous, full of Light and divine potential, not knowing fear, limitation or sadness. Alas, after a few years, or even a few minutes, depending on the situation, our precious souls became contaminated with fear. We accumulated, consciously and unconsciously, such a heap of anxiety, grief and disappointment throughout our lives that it almost tarnished entirely our initial glow of Light. The package of these toxic memories, most of them psychological traumas, for which we can thank cruel and authoritative parents, grumpy teachers, bullies, perfidious 'friends', obnoxious bosses or disdainful partners (the length and variety of this list depends upon the clemency of your entourage), will unfortunately continue to grow until we acknowledge there are things in our lives that are obviously going wrong.
A perfect illustration would be a woman who has had five relationships, each time with a violent partner. If she does not realise that something is wrong, then, no doubt, the sixth partner will be exactly as bellicose as the preceding ones. But if she pauses for a second and starts thinking clearly about her anger and bewilderment, asking herself such questions as: "am I not worthy?; am I causing this somehow?; is it possible that every man is a bastard?", clearly this is the right road to putting an end to her recurrent nightmare and allowing the possibility of meeting a non-violent partner in the future. Inside each of us, the many facets of negative experiences have developed into solid and tenacious resistances. I use this word, resistances, to mean anything that impedes you from reaching your divine Self. Your divine Self is the untarnished Light of your inner being. I will give more details about this gracious state of being later.
I propose to illustrate these resistances through an allegory in order to better comprehend how they hinder our daily lives and perceptions. Imagine a trekker who is attempting to make the biggest ascent of his life, Mont Blanc, for example. The ascent alludes to our soul's evolution, and reaching the summit, to our final goal, which is our divine Self. Reaching the dizzying heights of this blasted crest is already difficult enough, but we are silly creatures and he has decided to carry with him a knee-bucklingly heavy rucksack full of stones of various sizes and weights. This sack wrecks his back, makes him feel tired after a few meagre steps, and finally forces him to the ground where he relinquishes the desire to ascend.
All of you will have recognised the alchemical transformation of these resistances into stones. They have different weights and sizes, in the sense that we can get rid of some resistances rather easily yet others require a lifetime to eradicate. By the way, a cancer is most often nothing more than a stone that has grown to such an extent that it finally confronts the body with its own death. I am aware that this sounds a little harsh, especially if your father, for example, has died of a cancer provoked by the asbestos he encountered during his twenty years working on construction sites. It is certainly more reassuring and comfortable to tell oneself that it was the asbestos which brought about his death, rather than any psychological or sentimental disturbance. In this case, it is more painful to admit that one of these stones had grown so immeasurably thick that it broke his body and soul. Although this insight is utterly irrational, one must simply consider the other employees who worked with your father and were equally confronted by this toxic mineral substance and who are still alive.
Are we prepared to look at death from another perspective rather than the typically dramatic human one? This might sound cold, but to tell the truth, I was confronted with the serious illness of my own mother. She nearly died of a pulmonary embolism which seemingly came out of the blue. She could have been called the healthiest person in the world (meaning she did not drink or smoke and she had a great diet) and she had never shown any symptoms indicative of such an imminent state. On the other hand, every day she had been faced with the most hellish of husbands, constantly putting her down with his egregious comments and the violence of his fists. Still, she won the battle with death and is still alive now; still struggling but at least she gained the wisdom to jilt this cad of a husband. I can say neither why nor how she survived. I will not give total credit to medicine as the doctor arrived very late, but I would say that the greatest part of her healing was her strong love for her children and the knowledge that she could not leave us alone with our father. She refused death. The incredible faith that contributed to her survival came from her love. In my opinion, this story corroborates the idea that disease is most often created by unresolved negative emotions and conflicts.
To finish with this macabre stuff, a confrontation with death is often the last means at the disposal of the soul to show the individual that he/she can no longer deny the presence of certain stones. This would explain why the people who have to deal with a terminal disease and choose to recognise it as a necessary challenge on their evolutionary journey, instead of feeling a victim of a cruel and unfair world, most often overcome death. This incredible experience utterly changes their conception of life. They do not spend their day brooding about things anymore but rather focus on the beauty of each present moment of their remaining life.
Let's go back to these nasty resistances. We should all agree that the only way to climb the mountain is by dropping the rucksack. Although this rucksack has a different content for everyone, because we are all unique, some stones are recurrent and will be found weighing each one of us down. The greatest and largest stone is Fear; it is so immense that I need to put a capital on it. Fear is the wellspring of almost all our resistances. The miserable offspring of fear include: judgmental behaviour, egotism, unworthiness, destructive or abusive behaviour, depression, jealousy, guilt, addiction, hostility, fear of failure and success, ageing, disease, obesity, poverty; to name but a few.
The most obvious cases of judgmental behaviour take place during our conversations. Most of the time, the sole intention of the speaker is to convince the other "I'm right, you're wrong!" and therefore one does not even hear the responses or listen to what the other person is saying. This behaviour is neither constructive nor loving. Surely, this is in part due to our socio-cultural context, which has conditioned us from an early age to be the best in a competitive world and which discourages us from showing weakness. Here, fear is the motor at the core of this competitive pattern, since vulnerability is unbearable to most of us and leaves us feeling naked and defenceless.
The deceptive and subtle invisibility of judgment is present in our daily thoughts especially when we find ourselves in the interactive ambience of urban centres. Do you recognise some of these: "what a preposterous hair colour she has; why can't he walk quicker, this fat and ugly git; she thinks she's so pretty, this bitch; look at how he prances, how arrogant"? Traffic is the most fertile territory for the most preposterous, hostile and judgmental utterances, such as: "did you learn to drive in a zoo, you c**t", and so on. I personally, sitting in the passenger seat, have frequently been unable to maintain a conversation with the driver due to incessant hostile and aggressive mutterings aimed at other drivers. In conclusion, these despicable ejaculations and gestures are a true blight, in the sense that they have become such normal habits that we no longer have conscious control over them. Again the fear of appearing inferior!
Not feeling worthy leads to many undesirable patterns: depression, destructive behaviour, jealousy, failure, laziness, etc. In the nineteenth century, depression, alias melancholia, was known as le mal du siècle (the sickness of the spleen) and was a romantic trend mainly reserved for artists and wealthy aristocrats and which often ended in tuberculosis. Nowadays, depression has certainly lost its artistic veneer by becoming one of the most common afflictions in the industrialised countries. This disease has contaminated every class and can in some cases provoke suicide. In reality, depression is the plague of our century, as it pays us a visit anytime it wants and too often spoils our days.
Alcoholism and drug addiction are the dramatic and final destinations of feeling unworthy. There are many reasons which push an individual to this slow death. Escapism is not wanting to take a good look at yourself and your responsibilities. Drugs and alcohol provide a temporary soothing state of oblivion that impedes awareness of the latent causes of unworthiness. Here, fear wins again. Anger can also lead you down this path. Most of the time your anger is directed towards a member of your family, a lover, a friend or indeed yourself. Of course it is an impossible task to identify all the targets of your anger (the government, your boss, society in general, and so forth). Perhaps it is a cruel and violent father, or maybe a cold implacable mother who has never shown signs of love towards you. This anger is often subconscious and may take many years to identify and thereby face.
In Vienna, in my rather distant past, I lived in shared accommodation. The owner of the apartment, also my housemate, was an extremely intelligent individual who spent his days smoking a water pipe and sinking into the quicksand of despondency. I always wondered why he was so depressed and took so many drugs. One day we were sitting in the kitchen, cooking, when I began asking trivial questions about his parents. Without warning and in a flurry of chaotic hands, he snatched up and threw to the floor every single pan on the stove, together with their boiling contents, then started to demolish vigorously the kitchen's chairs, all the time wailing and ranting. A real mess! After having calmed down, I asked him why he had shed so many tears and become so angry. He answered: "It was my birthday yesterday and my father (a rather cold intellectual person who had been an eminent tutor at a great university) hasn't called me. He treats me like I don't exist and has never shown me any sign of affection or love. It's just unbearable!" Here were the roots of this 34-year-old man's miserable state, such a simple, and yet nonetheless, incredibly intricate cause. To be honest, I smoked the same water pipes and took every drug that crossed my path. I also needed years to discover that my destructive actions towards my body were greatly due to the anger I was harbouring towards my violent father. As soon as I recognised it, my battle with drug addiction was almost won.
Another destructive pattern must be mentioned, which is perhaps more present on the unconscious level, and therefore can seem shifty or sneaky. Sondra Ray calls it "the death wish". The words death and wish are queer and contradictory siblings, are they not? This macabre desire is a reframing of the collective urge for auto-destruction. It is the rampant temptation to sabotage your most precious things, such as a relationship, a career or anything which is truly cherished. This urge comes upon you like a vampire with no warning and its effects are devastating for all involved.
For example, you had a nice day and everything is fine. You then go to a restaurant with your beloved partner. All of a sudden, you start saying the most hurtful things, a sport at which you are extremely good thanks to your keen wit, which always manages to find the most mean spirited comments. Once you have started, you cannot stop. You are compulsively driven to make this person hate you in every possible way. Even if you know that you are wrong on a particular matter, you will lie with cold indifference just for the sake of being mean. Your assiduous perseverance has as its sole aim rejection and rebuttal from your partner. Once home, misery consumes you; still you feel relieved in a way because you can say to yourself: "I'm such a piece of crap; I don't deserve him; she's too good for me". On the morrow, you awaken and immediately start to think about the previous night's tribulations, realising that you were a bloody fool and wondering what can have made you launch those poison-tipped darts. You start feeling really ghastly, almost ill. You cannot figure out why this has happened and are baffled. You pick up the phone and call to apologise; hopefully you will be forgiven.
Guilt is truly a poison, one which runs deep in the veins of the Judeo-Christian world, where for centuries is has worked its devilry at the heart of consciousness (avoidance of this sad prospectus might be possible for those lucky enough to have hippy parents). There is hardly any institution that does not promote the subtle throb of guilt. One of religion's most clever devices has been the association of guilt and sin, so that one is in a constant state of servitude and cannot survive without the pardon of the parish. What good comes from such self-castigations: "I'm such an imbecile; it's all my fault; they surely hate me"? Guilt spoils everything and, despite the belief of 'guilty sinners', is not constructive at all. Its main aim is to put you down and to disfigure your intrinsic innocence. I would say that it is all too often induced by too much thinking and pondering, leading only to self-censure.
Imagine a party at which you enjoyed yourself. You were brilliant, showed great wit and caused many of your fellow revellers' bladders to burst from their incontinent laughter. You are now walking back home, jubilant and jolly. But then, you start to think about the jokes you told, one in particular about a dead grandfather. Your active mind also remembers that a friend of yours who had been at the party had just buried his grandfather the day before. You try to recall his face and start to fantasise about an indignant frown pointing insistently and perpetually in your direction. You also remember that your friend had drunk a lot that evening. You come to the stupid conclusion that this is entirely your fault, that you were a moron and that he will never speak to you again. Arriving home, your partner asks about the party and you respond in a desultory manner that it was quite grim. What a shame, a great evening became grim. On top of that, you cannot sleep because you have embarked upon an endless discussion with yourself, finding any possible reason to feel guiltier and guiltier. What fun! Or rather what rubbish, believing guilt is a virtue and makes us humble and honourable people. It is a sheer lie. Say no to this old pattern and be, instead, humble to yourself, honouring your own worth.
All these nasty habits and unconscious traits have been the prevailing wind in our minds and souls for such a long time that they have solidified into concrete entities, waves and rocks that beat us and tear us, and have collectively formed a personality of their own. The ruler of this potent and malevolent troupe is called ego. It is a naughty sneaky villain, always employing the most cunning devices to hinder you from embracing your divine Self, or just from being happy. When you feel joyous or proud of yourself, it often pops up and tries to put you down with its perfidious darts. A secretary who is looking for a new job reads an ad that says: "Good secretary wanted, minimum three years of experience, good compensation, prestigious international company". On a good day, she will find this ad extremely attractive and give a call straight away, leaving no time for pondering. But if she waits even a short time before calling, no doubt she will have such defeating thoughts as: "I only have two and a half years of experience, it isn't enough; surely there'll be a room of pretty creatures waiting to be interviewed and I'm so ugly; prestigious company, mmh, they surely want the best, can I do it?". This is nasty ego at work on her aspirations. In the end, if ego wins, an excuse is found, the call goes unmade and she remains lazy and depressed for the rest of the day.
Excerpted from A Course in Spirituality by Alain Aristide. Copyright © 2015 Alain Aristide. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
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Table of Contents
CHAPTER I: RESISTANCES, 15,
CHAPTER II: HOW TO GET RID OF YOUR RESISTANCES, 27,
CHAPTER III: METAPHYSICAL QUESTIONS, 45,
CHAPTER IV: THE POWER OF THE MIND, 105,
CHAPTER V: THE PRESENT MOMENT, 139,
CHAPTER VI: RELATIONSHIPS, 175,
CHAPTER VII: MONEY, MONEY, 225,
SEVEN SHORT BIOGRAPHIES, 267,
Gregg Braden, 268,
Deepak Chopra, 271,
Louise Hay, 274,
Abraham-Hicks Teachings, 278,
David Wilcock, 291,
Stuart Wilde, 300,
RECOMMENDED READING, 309,