Death, Health, And Spirituality

A year after we first heard of Covid-19 in the West, we are still gripped by a sense of fear. Some people are so afraid of getting Covid-19 that they wear their mask even while they are alone in their car. I have personally witnessed one person wearing a World War II-type gas mask and home-made hazmat suit rushing into his apartment after disinfecting his mail and leaving it outside. From the reaction to Covid-19, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that — having never thought about it before — the majority of people have just woken up to their own mortality.

TOWARDS DEATH AND BEYOND DEATH

The spiritual person — the initiate — has always had a particular attitude towards his or her own mortality, however. That is, he or she is aware of it and has always reflected on his or her mortality, viewing life as somewhere between an illusion and preparation for whatever is beyond death (heaven, parinirvana, etc.). Undoubtedly, many esotericists, in particular, have always viewed themselves as somewhat alien to this world.

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Interview: Inner Christianity and Esotericism With Richard Smoley

Richard Smoley is a consulting editor to Parabola magazine and the author of several books on esotericism, religion, and spirituality, including Supernatural: Writings on an Unknown History, How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying about God and the Bible, and Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition.

During the 1980s, Smoley was a writer for the respected esoteric journal Gnosis, and in 1990 he became the journal’s editor. Under his editorship, Gnosis released issues on Gnosticism, Freemasonry, G.I. Gurdjieff, the spirituality of Russia, and more.

We spoke to him about the spiritual crisis of the West, alternative spirituality, and inner Christianity.  Continue reading “Interview: Inner Christianity and Esotericism With Richard Smoley”

Drawing on Different Traditions

We tend to think of the ancient world as having many distinct religions, all somehow pure and authentic in themselves. But the truth is more complicated, of course. Muslims, Christians, and Jews debated each other at times, and their religions influenced each other. Platonism also influenced these three religions, or at least their more mystical and esoteric schools of thought. Moreover, even in antiquity people often practiced different faiths, having, for example, to be a part of the state religion, for example, while practicing their own religion in their own lives. In the modern era, in Freemasonry, we find the influence of Hermeticism, alchemy, ancient Egyptian culture, etc., in the “higher Degrees.”

Today, whether ancient or modern, dead, obscure, or having millions of members, every religious tradition is available to us in some way, even if only through books. It is an odd thing to see, but esoteric schools, such as Martinism and those following the teachings of Armenian mystic G. I. Gurdjieff, virtually inaccessible two decades ago, now regularly appear on the net, including in my social media streams. Continue reading “Drawing on Different Traditions”