Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | February 4, 2010

How Best to Serve Humanity at this Time

I watched a lecture by William Meader last night – an interesting and hopeful talk from someone who seems to have trained in both psychology and the Alice Bailey tradition of esoteric philosophy. Towards the end of the talk he mentioned 5 ways in which he feels we can best serve humanity at this time, which I’ll summarize here:

1. Get away from dualist thinking. It would be nice to add to that the taking of a stance of Non-Absolutism: developing an awareness of multiple viewpoints (well explicated in the Jain doctrine of Anekanta). And as a corollary, the great contribution of Jung, who when asked how best to be of use in the world, declared “Withdraw your projections.”

2. Start to look at all social institutions as living things. Sense their ‘divine mandate’ – in other words look deeper than the obvious and try to sense a group or organisation’s soul, whether that’s the government, the Health Service or your family.

3. Get used to the ‘hill and valley’ experience that shows us that even when things seem to be on a downward trend there is in reality a general evolution or upward trend. (He expands on this in detail in the first section of the talk).

4. Realise that all formulations of the truth are partial and relative. We all have a piece of the jigsaw.

5. Examine the source of conflict in your own nature. Meader believes the ‘archetype of conflict is inherent in our human nature’. This would be a good point for debate. He is of the school that believes that the Higher Self must ‘master’ the Lower Self. I used to believe this, but now find this too dualistic (See point 1!) While recognising that a process of evolution, refinement even, characterises spiritual development, a model that splits one into two warring halves does not seem consistent with more holistic approaches, and in fact can create more tension I suspect than it resolves in some instances. But applying the doctrine of multiple viewpoints suggests that there is indeed a value in seeing things this way! If you have the time have a look at the talk and see what you think: is ‘the real battle’ the ‘transformation of your lower nature’ as Meader suggests, or perhaps simply a welcoming of it as one part of the Whole You? He is an engaging speaker, and I particularly liked his way of assessing where you are on the path. His rule goes: “You’re never as evolved as your high moments in consciousness would suggest. You’re never as unevolved as the low moments would indicate.” So next time you catch yourself blobbing in front of the telly, a warm beer in hand, don’t worry – you’re not really that unevolved! And when you emerge from a profound meditation, relax: you’re not the Messiah.

You can see the film clip here.

His Home Page is www.meader.org


Responses

  1. Have only listened to the first part of his talk so far but I too feel uncomfortable with the higher/lower nature interpretation and agree it seems to contradict a non-dualistic approach. I have thought about this a lot with regard to my Yoga practice – Yoga is often translated as ‘to yoke’, the idea being that you are mastering or controlling your ‘lower’ nature for your spiritual development. I have never liked that idea much either, and the weird thing is that my experience of actually practicing Yoga (and by this I mean postures, breathing and meditation) is it’s not so much about control or reining in the ‘wilder’ parts of myself, as about becoming more aware of my totality. So much of our dodgy behaviour seems to arise from bits of ourselves that we have excluded for whatever reason (the Jung quote about withdrawing your projections is great!). I keep thinking of that ‘Not the Nine O’clock News’ quote when the liberal vicar says it’s not so much ‘get thee behind me Satan! But come on in me old mate and have a cup of tea!’ I tend to think that this approach would serve us better with regards the supposedly more challenging aspects of ourselves; the more inclusive we are with ourselves, the more inclusive and accepting of others we become, I would think.

    I agree with you Philip, I think the trick is to become more aware of the whole you. Rather than seeing my Yoga practice as a ‘Yoke’, I like to perceive it as a method of creating a greater space inside myself for all those parts of me – the parts I already know and the ones that are only just edging into view. When I am really engaging with that process, I feel like a bit of me can stand back and see all those other bits with a greater clarity – I get a better feel for which ones are approriate in different situations and in doing so, feel like I can make better choices about how I act in my life. I feel even my most seemingly socially unaccpetable traits (I have many!) have an important role in certain situations. So, for me, it’s not at all about higher subduing lower but more about knowing myself more deeply and getting a better understandig of what is appropriate. This is the theory, anyway :0)! Will try and watch the rest of the talk over the weekend – very interesting.

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  3. I haven’t watched the video (bad me, to comment without knowing :-), but the trouble I have with the Bailey tradition is the great emphasis put on hierarchy and karma in a way I am not particularly fond of. Although I think none of us is put in a “wrong place” I also think it is not up to any one of us to get into the “you yourself are the only one to put the blame on “- attitude. We are all interconnected, our lives are interwoven, and our karma is unknown to us.
    As for the Higher Self and the Lower Self I have often felt that the Baily philosophy is a bit like a little child saying: “It wasn’t me that hit you, my hand did that.”

  4. There´s only the Self and its many disguises, and layers and layers of cultural conditioning, so there is no need of separating things, we are all of that, and true, one important point : we are all connected, so karma is rarely individual. And one other important point, gosh, none of us alone is the Messiah!
    (A relaxing tought, since response-ability becomes a shared thing! Well, maybe not so relaxing, because how many of us actually know that it is the case, and that in the end, we will need to be aware of the basic connections to find solutions?…)

  5. I watched the rest of the talk and listened to another of his on sexuality and spirituality; the latter made me feel really uncomfortable about that whole ‘higher/lower’ nature focus of his. His understanding of how we engage sexually – and by this he does extend beyond physical sex to include our creative processes as well – had me wrinkling my nose. It really does buy into that supposed split between spirit and matter, which for me is an illusion. He seems to be saying that we can engage sexually but being on the ‘path’ means that we should not overly identitfy with that moment of surrender because to do this would be allowing our ‘lower’ urges to dominate. For me, it’s all about how you interperate what is supposedly a ‘lower’ impulse and what is a ‘higher’ impulse. That moment of surrender which he is suggesting we don’t overly identify with (he speaks about a wise and objective part of us observing this process) in my view is a deeply spiritual act – I am much more in favour of that Tantic notion of surrendering and becoming utterly a part of that moment, and understanding this as a path to God and enlightenment, not a distraction away from it. This process of surrender takes trust – it’s an embracing of and opening to life which I would never term a ‘lower’ impulse. In that surrender, the boundaries that hem us in and often blinker us, get blown away. I don’t like his ‘vertical’ higher/lower understanding of what it means to be human – I feel that a more horizontal approach (no pun intended!) is healthier. He also keeps equating our ‘animal’ nature with ‘lower’ impulses – it’s the worst of dualistc thinking that has me running for the hills! Your right, he is an engaging speaker though and I really liked his suggestion of seeing the soul or sacred nature of institutions and ideas even when the expression of those is less than perfect or distorted. Thanks for posting!

  6. Thank you for this Maria – beautifully expressed, and I agree with all the points you make absolutely. Meader’s position reminds me very much of a spiritual teacher I followed, Mikhael Aivanhov, who also talked about the Higher and Lower Self in similar terms. In many ways this view typifies esoteric teaching pre the advent of psychology (and in particular Jungian, Humanistic,and Transpersonal). It is a strand one can find throughout eastern teachings, the Abrahamic religions and the Western Mystery Tradition through to the 19th and early 20th century, but then along comes psychology and calls this model into question. Instead we have the much healthier holistic approach that the ‘new spiritualities’ and the ‘revived’ ones of Paganism, such as Druidry and Wicca, espouse which don’t split us into warring factions. The reason I posted Meader’s material was (a) to stir the cauldron a wee bit and (b) I was interested in his background in psychology so wondered how it informed his rather ‘old-fashioned’ approach (I have yet to see the sexuality lecture) and (c) It’s good I think to apply the ‘Multiple Viewpoint’ approach, and so to challenge one’s own beliefs. I abandoned this dualistic view of the self a long time ago, and never found I experienced great struggles internally – as if my ‘Lower Nature’ wanted to endlessly rob banks and bonk everyone and I had to ‘rein it in’ by my nobler characteristics. But in attempting to try to understand what a ‘Lower Nature’ that needs checking might be, I realised that it must refer to those characteristics of acquisitiveness, which I guess most of us have, and then those of cruelty, which seem so prevalent when one watches the news and yet which seem so alien to me and I’m sure most people. The important point, though, is this: is cruelty and abuse actually encouraged by such a dualistic approach? Certainly looking at the Catholic Church abuse scandals would indicate that attempts to split us into battlefields of good vs.evil is a dangerous enterprise with a peculiar self-reinforcing mechanism. I’d imagine a Catholic would use those very cases to bolster the view that there is indeed a war going on inside. So you get a peculiar sort of mirroring in which a world that thinks there is a split is creating a split world by that very process. In which case the viewpoint becomes a damaging rather than enlightening one.

  7. Glad the banks are safe and you’re not planning on running amok!! :0) Seriously though, I think you are right about cruelty and abuse being the product of that split. The thought of perceiving huge parts of ourselves as inherently ‘bad’ ‘evil’ or unacceptable – the psychological pain and inner tension that causes – surely potentially distorts us in some way. Abuse and cruelty are interesting ones because they articulate something about the way we often unconsciously think in those binary oppositions and act accordingly – in that world view, power becomes fetishised and vulnerability an unacceptable weakness – it’s easy to see how the battle between these inside us might lead to some of the horrors that certain humans inflict on others. Of course, the true value of power and vulnerability as positive forces gets lost because we have culturally pitted them against one another. It seems that energy is energy – how we channel it will determine it’s impact on us and the world; our energy is shaped for good or bad by our thinking and perception – these are the channels for its expression. I agree with you absolutely, if we constantly think in terms of being at war within ourselves, then this will be reflected in the cultures we create and the relationhips we have with each other. Dualistic thinking seems to lead to so much exclusion and fear.

    You write about a ‘Multiple Viewpoint’. Do I remember you mentioning this with regard to Jainism before? Is it a Jain practice? A very worthy one I think.


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