Themes in Christianity

By George A. Boyd © 2021

Q: There appears to be widely varying ideas of what it means to be a Christian and what is the aim of the church. Are there some common themes that these different varieties of Christian faith share?

A: At the core of Christian religious life is a recognition of changes in character that take place as the result of the ministry of the church and the work of the Holy Spirit within the human heart. These appear to fall into three major stages: the sinner stage, the conversion and traditional religious stage, and the mystical stage.

In the sinner stage, the ego is dominant and resists the influence of other people, rebels against authority, and rejects religion. Some of the markers of this stage include:

  • Violence towards others, acting out hatred
  • Hating others
  • Blaming others
  • Justifying oneself
  • Defensiveness

At the conversion and traditional religious stage, the individual gains the conviction that he or she has followed the wrong path, and has gone astray. There is a turning to God and a new willingness to change. This character change transforms the individual’s behavior, beliefs, values, and identity. Identity shifts from ego to the Moon Soul or Christ Child nucleus of identity. This character change appears to follow several steps, which ultimately leads to leadership roles in his or her congregation.

  • Telling the truth to oneself about what one has done
  • Confession to others about what one has done
  • Repentance, deciding not to act that way anymore
  • Choosing to live a new life
  • Living according to new values
  • Living a more virtuous and prosperous life as a result of living these new values
  • Teaching these principles to others
  • Anointing to play a role in the church: pastor, priest, prophet, evangelist, or a church leadership position

In the mystic stage, the individual becomes absorbed in an inner journey of prayer and meditation, which ultimately moves the Moon Soul into the Presence of God. This stage of the journey occurs over a long period of time.

  • Opening the gate to the mysteries, which might appear as Pandora’s box, a closed door, or a sealed entrance to an ancient temple
  • Entry into the life of revelation and inspiration
  • Sanctification and drawing closer to God
  • Anointing as a saint

In Christianity, this inner change comes about as a result of turning towards God and allowing Jesus Christ to minister the Light to reform character and inculcate a new way of living. This inner change appears to be the common theme among different denominations.

In other religious traditions, there is a similar re-orientation from an ego-centered life to relationship with the Divine, as God can be known in that faith. The religious faithful in these other religious groups learns to live by new precepts and adopts new values, beliefs, and behavior—similar to what happens in Christianity.

We suggest you study these different markers of these stages of character reformation and sanctification that occurs in the Christian tradition—or other spiritual tradition to which you belong— and notice to what degree this process has occurred in you.

Those who wish to learn more about the dynamics underlying the transformation religion can effect in human values, belief, and behavior, you may enjoy our book, Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing?

On Communication of Spiritual Teachings

By George A. Boyd © 2021

Q: Why are spiritual teachings so hard to understand?

A: It depends on what level a spiritual teaching is being given. There are seven major levels at which a spiritual teaching can be communicated:

  1. Popular – This approach breaks down the teaching into very simple examples. It uses analogies to explain concepts. It gives key ideas without complex elaboration. You would find this level of teaching in “popular psychology”—magazine treatments of meditation and spirituality.
  2. Academic – This teaching level uses religious and scholarly citations to structure its presentation, which may be given as a lecture, a seminar, a scholarly paper, or a journal article. It constructs models to visualize the interrelationships between concepts. It comments on the meaning of the ideas presented in the scriptures and core texts of the teaching. It may compare and contrast these ideas with those presented in other religions or spiritual groups. It defines terms it uses in its exposition. It is based on established scholarship. This may require that you learn theological language to comprehend the teachings as they are presented at this level. Theologians and religious commentators communicate at this level.
  3. Metaphysical – The terminology used refers to essences and principles that can be readily understood and accessed, but an experience of the idea is necessary to fully grasp the meaning. Aspirants access these ideas through hypnosis or guided meditation. These essences and principles can be found in the Subtle Realm (“Pagan,” Wiccan, Magical, and Occult groups), the Biophysical Universe (Native American spirituality); Abstract Mind Plane (Process Meditation, Self-Hypnosis, Coaching and New Thought groups); Psychic Realm (Spiritualist, UFO groups, and channeling circles); Wisdom Plane (Forgiveness and 12-step groups); and First Exoteric Initiation (interpreting scriptural texts, symbols, and archetypes in Christian and Jewish sects). Many of the New Age, Christian and Jewish spiritual traditions tap into this style of teaching, where they will present an idea, elaborate upon it, and have those who are receiving the message contemplate upon it.
  4. Mystic – The languaging is designed to lead you into immersion in an altered state of consciousness. It cannot be understood intellectually. It is Gnostic: it can only be known through ineffable and wordless experience. It may be expressed through poetry. Christian and Jewish mystics, Sufis, Zen Buddhists and Taoists, and those who give Knowledge (initiation into the seventh Transcendental Path) convey their teachings in this way.
  5. Esoteric One – Here, the general narrative is understandable, but specific terms are not defined, so it is not possible to penetrate the teachings without initiation into the experience of the essence awakened in that Path and impartation of the Path’s core teachings. Buddhist and Hindu teachings, as well as many Paths established in the Cosmic, Supracosmic, or Transcendental bands of the Continuum utilize this style of teaching.
  6. Esoteric Two – The teachings are veiled in cryptic, arcane language and complex symbols. Only those with extensive training in the symbolic keys can fathom these teachings. This type of transmission of hidden knowledge typifies the Mystery School teachings, Kabala, and Theosophy.
  7. Esoteric Three – Only Masters or Initiates and their intimate disciples can penetrate this level of teaching. It is often shared as a telepathic impress, as a wordless glance, or spoken in the sacred Senzar language—the language of the Soul and of the angels. It is completely unintelligible outside the circle of initiation; this knowledge is not disseminated to those whom are not initiated—or to those whom are not highly advanced on the Path, who have not undergone the requisite preparation and spiritual development to understand these most profound spiritual insights.

Popular and academic treatments do not penetrate to the depths of a spiritual teaching. They can explain concepts, but they can’t provide an experiential means of fully grasping what is taught.

Metaphysical teachings span from the Subtle Realm to the First Exoteric Initiation. While they can share some experience of the idea they have explicated, but they can’t explain ideas that are outside of their narrow band of the Continuum.

Mystic spiritual teachings bypass intellectual understanding and opt for direct immersion in Mystery. This leads to mystification. But when you do have experiences at this level, it is timeless and ineffable.

Buddhist and Hindu teachings typically use the esoteric one approach, as do many other traditions anchored in the Cosmic, Supracosmic, and Transcendental Spheres. While you may follow part of what they are saying, you get stuck on the terminology they use and have no experience of the essence they indicate in their writings or oral teaching. Unlike metaphysical level teachings, the levels where these principles and essences dwell are at profound depths of the Continuum, so those who have not been trained in how to unite with the essences with which they do Pathwork, cannot be readily access this material. Only after initiation into their Path—and with study of books and scriptures and attendance at inspired discourse events—could you begin to grasp the meanings of the terms used in these teachings.

Esoteric two requires in-depth immersion in the teachings to understand the “secret code” that enable you to understand these highly abstruse teachings. Highly abstract meditations like Gematria, working out anagrams, unraveling complex symbols or figures that represent esoteric concepts, decoding ciphers and encryption, performing Pathwork on arrays of archetypes, finding correspondences, and penetrating to the esoteric meaning veiled in scriptures and other writings that the uninitiated cannot understand. Systems like Tarot, astrology, and numerology have derived from these deeper concealed systems of knowledge.

Esoteric three is the language by which Masters and their most intimate disciples communicate among themselves. It is not anything you might understand unless you have reached these same heights and entered the Sublime Abode where the Masters dwell.

Mudrashram® teachings, like many other teachings sourced in the Transcendental Sphere, are currently disseminated at the esoteric one level. While we provide an extensive glossary and articles going into greater depth on many of the concepts we present, you still cannot truly grasp what we teach unless you learn to meditate with us and awaken the three immortal principles—attentional principle, spirit, and ensouling entity—and truly experience what we describe at the seven stages of the Path.

You can learn these methods in our intermediate meditation courses, the in-person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program, and build upon this foundation in the Mudrashram® Advanced Course in Meditation.

Perhaps some intrepid ones will attempt to popularize Mudrashram® teachings in the future, through producing basic introductory materials written at the popular and metaphysical levels, so beginning aspirants can grasp them. As Mudrashram® becomes a larger movement, this might spur some academic researchers to study our novel teachings and attempt to integrate them into a larger rubric of related spiritual teachings.

Reflections on Character

By George A. Boyd © 2020

Q: What is character? How do you improve your character?

A: Character is a series of traits and habits that condition the expression of your personality in your interpersonal relationships that are in alignment with your values.

A trait is a quality you can ascribe to a person based on their demonstrating it on a regular basis. For example, John always treats you with kindness when you are with him.

A habit is behavior that you practice for a sustained period that becomes automatic. The behavior of kind actions becomes a regular part of you when you practice this for several months.

A value is something you adopt as part of your conscience to guide your behavior. Values are expected and idealized behavior: they are standards that you hold yourself to live up to.

There are different schemas for what are valuable character traits. For example, here are some traits that are commonly mentioned when people refer to positive character attributes they see in others:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Decency
  • Truthfulness
  • Respect for other people
  • Caring and kindness
  • Compassion

The organization, Character Counts, lists six core character traits on their website, https://www.charactercounts.org:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Fairness
  • Caring
  • Citizenship

Associated with each of these core character traits in the Character Counts schema are a series of related descriptors that expand upon these central factors. We suggest that you refer to their material for a better understanding of these six dimensions of character.

In many religious and philosophical traditions, there are a series of commandments or observances that adherents of that group are expected to adopt. For example, in the Jewish and Christian faith, they admonish their followers to live up to the tenets of the Ten Commandments. In Yoga traditions, yogic students are asked to observe Yama and Niyama.

My friend, Swami Baba Nataraja, disseminates the following guidelines for ethical behavior to his students:

“Baba believes that spiritual life truly begins when seekers adopt and live ethical guidelines. He encourages others to follow the same high standards to which he holds himself, the Shaivite restraints—the moral principles of Yama and Niyama. Here is a list of those moral principles:”

Yama

  1. Be non-violent in thought and action
  2. Do not steal or covet
  3. Discipline desire
  4. Relinquish lust and greed
  5. Restrain arrogance and anger
  6. Refrain from lying and betraying promises and confidences
  7. Avoid injustice and drunkenness
  8. Forsake wrongdoing and shun evil company

Niyama

  1. Be pure in body, mind, and speech
  2. Love your fellow man
  3. Seek contentment and serenity in life
  4. Cultivate devotion through daily worship and meditation
  5. Be steadfast in hardship and forbearing with people
  6. Tithe and give creatively without thought of reward
  7. Study with an open mind the scriptures and books of wisdom
  8. Perform occasional penance, tapas, and sacrifice

Swami Baba Nataraja

Ways to Improve Character

You can improve character through the following active personal measures:

  1. Learning about positive character traits and deciding to incorporate them
  2. Doing a moral inventory to identify where you have character deficits and identify the alternate positive behavior you wish to practice
  3. Monitor your daily activity and notice when you fail to live up to a moral ideal; reflect at the end of your day what you could have done instead to express that more positive quality
  4. Meditate on your negative character traits and find the core virtue that is hidden in them; choose to express that core virtue instead
  5. Deconstruct the beliefs that hold negative character traits in place, and replace them with new affirmations that allow you to express more positive traits
  6. Find a role model who demonstrates positive character traits and emulate them
  7. Identify the ideal expression of your Self that you want to be. Place your attention in that state of this “future Self.” Solicit guidance from your future Self as to what specifically needs to be changed to shape each facet of character into the nobler expression that you are capable of expressing in this idealized state.

You can also develop positive character traits and express your innate spiritual virtues through the following passive spiritual measures:

  1. Renounce negative behavior and speech; make a sacred vow to live up to spiritual principles
  2. Contemplate the light of wisdom and review your behavior; through insight and realization, you will abandon negative speech and behavior
  3. Use discernment to identify behavior that arises from the ego; choose instead to allow your spirit, your active nucleus of identity, or your ensouling entity to dictate your behavior
  4. Dissolve the karmic precursors of negative behavior and attitudes through using transformational meditation techniques like transformational mantra, Kriya Yoga, and Nada Yoga
  5. Do process meditation to end phenomenon on negative attitudes and beliefs; re-create a more positive expression of the Soul in human life
  6. Invoke God, your spiritual Master, and the Holy Spirit to reform your character and allow the holy virtues to express in you
  7. Practice austerity such as fasting, voluntary silence, and continuous repetition of mantras to discipline the body and mind to reduce rebellion against the expression of the Soul’s love and virtue

If you have vitiated your character through associating with people with negative character traits, have been subjected to abuse or trauma growing up or through involvement with cultic groups, or you have become entangled in an addiction, it is possible to rehabilitate your character and reform yourself. It is important to surround yourself with positive, supportive people and to implement elements from both active and passive measures to begin to improve your character.

We offer coaching programs to assist with your rehabilitation that will concomitantly help you improve your character: Dysfunctional Family Recovery, Cult Recovery, and Addiction Recovery. We invite you to explore these programs to see if they will provide the support you need to overcome these hindrances from your past, which will allow you to move confidently towards a more positive future.

The Permutations of Devotion

By George A. Boyd © 2020

This was written on Good Friday, 2020, at a time when the devotion of 2.07 billion Christians are focused on the Lord Jesus Christ on the day of his Passion.

Devotion is a pure quality of the spirit. This purest, unalloyed, sublime emotion, which the spirit fees towards God, is often expressed in increasingly distorted ways as you depart from the spirit’s loving heart.

  1. On the dense shores of Matter, devotion becomes perverted into the intense craving of greed, of lust, and of the desire for revenge and retribution. It shows up as the addict’s craving for food, for alcohol, and for drugs; and as the criminal’s driven pursuit of money through theft, robbery, and extortion.
  2. When these base passions and addictions have been worked through, devotion masquerades as anxiety and obsession. The over-solicitous parent, who tries to control every aspect of her daughter’s life; the young woman obsessed with trying to live up to perfect standards of beauty and performance—these draw upon this distortion of devotion. Romantic infatuation—the obsessive fascination and yearning of romantic love—also springs from this layer of devotion.
  3. When perfectionism, worry, and romantic obsession are put away, devotion appears as the drive for career and academic success and advancement. This characterizes the workaholic, whose work is the most important thing in his life; or the overly conscientious student, who dedicates himself to his studies to every waking hour.
  4. At the next layer, devotion becomes the quest for excellence and highest performance. The athlete, who dedicates her life to perfecting her skills as a runner; or the musician, who practices long hours to master the violin—evoke this type of devotion.
  5. The next aspect of devotion is personal idealization. The sports fan who idolizes his baseball team; or the music fan who follows his favorite band from concert to concert, and buys all of their songs—these evidence this type of devotion. The adulation of celebrities also taps this zone of devotion.
  6. Devotion next channels as dedication to a cause. The religious zealot, who attempts to proselytize people to join her religion; or the political activist, who attempts to persuade people to vote for her candidate and support him—these operate from this facet of devotion.
  7. Devotion is next typified by spiritual idealization. Here a devotee looks to a spiritual leader as superhuman, or a Divine Representative, who is portrayed as perfect, all knowing, and the embodiment of all that is good and holy. The devotee, who commits himself to spiritual advancement, and seeks to obey and please his spiritual leader, drinks from this deep well of devotion.
  8. Freed from clinging to any form, the spirit who realizes itself beyond the trammels of mind, knows itself to be of the same essence of God. Once this state of inner innocence has been achieved, the spirit becomes capable of returning to this primordial fire of pure devotion, and loving God in purity and truth.
  9. At the final stage of this journey of devotion, when the spirit re-unites with the Divine Beloved, devotion is submerged in the Oceanic tides of Infinite Love. Here, the devotee and the Divine become one, and there is no longer any separation.

As the fire of Divine Love purifies these layer over the spirit, you become increasingly capable of acting upon successively deeper expressions of devotion—until Divine Love removes the final gossamer veil, and reveals you as you have always existed, as pure spirit born form the immortal Light of God.

Contemplate these layers of devotion. Offer them all upon the inner crucible of your heart’s purest love, so you may emerge as the radiant butterfly from this cocoon of matter and mind that has entombed you through the Ages.

Arise, oh spiritual butterfly—and now, at long last, become free!

The process of learning to re-unite the spirit with God is called Nada Yoga. It trains you how to free your spirit from the trammels of matter, and how to travel through the inner channels of light and sound back to re-union with its Divine Beloved. We teach Nada Yoga in our intermediate mediation courses, the in person Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation and the by-mail and online Accelerated Meditation Program.

The Seven Covenants between the Divine and Man

By George A. Boyd © 2018

The promises of the Divine to mankind are called covenants. In the Bible, these are listed as the Covenant of the Law and the Covenant of the Blood. In actuality, there is a Divine promise for each stage of spiritual development. These seven covenants are described below, and matched to the stages of the Path.

The Covenant of the Law was predicated on the karmic principle of “as you sow, so shall you reap.” Here man is fully free, but also fully responsible for the consequences of his actions. One is bound to the endless cycle of births and deaths. This stage is called “on the wheel.”

The Covenant of the Blood was based on the idea of that the Divine can forgive violations of the underlying moral laws of the Universe. It looks to a purification and dissolution of the karmic impediments to dwelling in the Light Stream or Planetary Life (the Spirit). It produces atonement with the Christ Life within, and constitutes the rebirth or resurrection experience of the 1st Initiation. Due to God’s mercy and sacrifice, the necessity for some future births is canceled. This stage is called “Stream Winner.”

The Covenant of Fire constitutes the ability to actively process, recreate, and transform karmic potentiality through the active reception of the Light as well as through the ministry of the Light to others. One gains the power to “speak the Word” and to so program the forces of the subconscious and Superconscious mind to conform to the image of Perfection, the “I AM Presence.” It corresponds to the work of the 2nd Initiation. This is the “Once Returning” stage.

The Covenant of Compassion evidences the redirection of thought and will energies in the direction of world service. It is through the radiation of pure thought and Buddhic Illumination that the subtle karmas of the astral and causal/mental Planes are evaporated. It corresponds with the work of the 3rd and 4th Initiations. This is the “Not Returning” stage.

The Covenant of Inner Divinity occurs when you step beyond the operation of the karmic laws into the world of Being. This is the Soul Plane, Nirvana, and constitutes the 5th Initiation, the stage of the “Arhat.” One becomes the embodiment of Divine Love and Perfection, replete with the powers to operate on the inner Planes.

The Covenant of Grace Divine reflects the ongoing communion with the Lord and the knowledge of His will and purposes. It begins with the choice to act as a conscious coworker with the Almighty, and to minister His Love and Grace through the disciplic relationship with others. This empowerment bestowed by the Divine allows you to establish the disciplic relationship with others. This is the stage called “Bodhisattva.” It is the mantle of the Adept, the Master, and the Guru.

The Covenant of Surrender is marked by the vanishing of the individual Soul into the limitless Ocean of the Divine. This is Liberation, and constitutes the relinquishment of all activity in Creation. A further work at this stage made possible through the active intervention of a Perfect Master or Sat Guru is the manifesting a Ray of the Infinite Life for the benefit of all Creation. This stage is called Buddha, Divine Incarnation, or Avatar.

Those of you who are interested in our writing on the topics of religion, cults, and terrorism may enjoy our book, Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing? You may also enjoy our Public Webinar series, “A Study of Spiritual Paths.” [Click on the Public Webinars tab on the Public Webinar Access page to order these webinars.]