The Spiritual Decay of the West

The whole ideology of the modern West (and increasingly the East as it falls under the shadow of the West) is built on the denial of God. Sometimes we try to convince ourselves that this is a rational response to the world as we see it but that is just not true. There is no proof, as science sees proof, of God but there never has been. Indeed there never could be because, by definition, God is outside the realm of material science. He is not a physical thing and cannot be such because something cannot be the creator of itself.  No, the truth is that we do not want there to be a God because we do not want our freedom, as we see it, to be in any way curtailed. We are against God because we are for ourselves. That is the truth which we cover up by all sorts of grand sounding words and theories but the fact is that if you look into the heart of someone who denies God you will find an egotist. Of course, many religious people are also egotists (as, in some sense, we all are) but, if they are sincere in their religion, and have adopted it for the right reasons, they have taken a major step towards recognising that within themselves and trying to do something about it.

It is clear from history that human beings have often rejected God in an attempt to be free but this freedom is merely that of the human ego and so is just another and deeper form of bondage. However the nature of the human being is such that when you have no God to worship you look for something else to satisfy that need (the need for self-transcendence) within yourself. Now we have taken to all sorts of false ideologies and beliefs in order to do this but they all prove hollow and insubstantial because their roots are not in truth. And, strangely enough, we actually know this but cannot bring ourselves to accept the conclusion so we persist in our fantasies. We construct belief systems that pretend that man is primarily a social being or a sexual being or a political being or whatever else it may be, and we base our attitudes on that. But man is first and foremost a spiritual being. Everything else springs from this. If that is denied or ignored the result will be that we live a lie and our hearts and minds will not conform to each other. There will be an alienation caused by this split which will only deepen the wider the split becomes. This is the situation we find ourselves in today.

Modern man has gone mad and doesn't recognises his madness which increases by the day with the result that he needs to build more and more elaborate houses of cards (in science, politics, the arts, even certain forms of spirituality) to hide the reality from himself of his rejection of truth. This resembles nothing so much as an adolescent rebellion, and we are indeed like the prodigal son when he was at his furthest distance from his father. The question is will we, like him, eventually repent and turn back or will we carry on our self-indulgent ways to their inevitable conclusion? This question can be posed both individually and collectively. There's not much we can do about the latter but the former is of crucial importance, and the answer is entirely up to us. The good news is that wherever we are we can start to turn around now, from this very minute. Nothing can stop us except our own lack of will.

This chapter is called the spiritual decay of the West but one cannot say with any certainty that the decay started at such and such a time. There has practically always been an eroding of spiritual truth even if it is restored from time to time. But perhaps one can date the start of the decay in its current form to the end of the Middle Ages when God began no longer to be viewed as at centre stage and humanism became the predominating ethos. The creature took over from the Creator. This, of course, did bring advances in certain areas but against that we must set the fact that, as time went by, we lost the sense of truth as an absolute; an objective reality that stood above us and to which we should co-ordinate our being. We accepted the idea that reality depended on our interpretation of it and that, as a consequence, there was no such thing as reality. It became malleable. So our roots were in shifting sand. Is it any wonder we have become so fundamentally restless and confused? How could we be otherwise given the unspoken assumption that there is nothing real, nothing true, nothing absolute? Only the understanding that God is real can give our lives that fixed immovable centre that we need to feel secure. Without it we are hollow men who can be blown about in any direction but never find peace.

Decay means that something that was healthy is rotting and normally this is a one way process which cannot be reversed. However in spiritual terms it can if it receives (to put this in modern terms) some energy from outside the system. The birth of Christ was the supreme example of that. But on a smaller scale this can happen to each one of us individually if we open ourselves up to it, and that means (putting it this time in traditional terms) if we repent of our past ways and have faith. Faith in what, you might ask. How can I have faith in God if I don't even know what that means? I would say you don't have to know what it means. You just have to allow yourself to acknowledge the reality of a Creator who is all love and all goodness, and who is the source of all truth. I say 'allow yourself' because this is the reality and all that is preventing you from recognising that fact are the obstructions you put up with your self-centred thought and ego. That's all. Without your suspicious mind (which you are not asked to suspend but to see as something that interprets more than it perceives, perception being an instant thing, not taking place in time like mental processes) you would see the reality of God intuitively and then you could build on that. In this matter it is the mind that blocks perception though when it is correctly guided by intuition then it can help to deepen awareness and understanding.

So, acknowledge the Creator. For people in the West the best way to do that remains the Christian way, or, as I would rather put it, the way of Christ. He is the Illuminator of the Way. For those who might not be comfortable with aligning themselves with a particular branch of Christianity (all much diminished in modern times) Christ can still be, should still be, the centre of their spiritual life as he is the human face of God and in his person transmits the essence of the divine. This is not a recommendation for a pick and mix approach to religion but a recognition that all religions, including Christianity, have lost much of their spiritual force in this day and age but Christ has not. He remains what he has always been which is the Way, the Truth and the Life, though I mean this in a universal sense not a narrow sectarian one. Everybody, except perhaps the greatest saints, needs a form for their belief or it will peter out into emptiness. The form of Christ is the best because it embodies the formless truth to the highest and most perfect extent that has yet been known in this world. Christ will arrest decay.


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