Cats Don’t Get It!

Spiritual Questions & Answers

Discovering inner health and transformation

Lucy seeks and shows affection in the way she nuzzles up to me. She meows gently and quietly — not stridently and persistently like the un-neutered tom who visits our garden making a thorough nuisance of himself.

I often have on hand a glass of orange or lemon squash to sip from. But if she thinks she will get away with it, my furry friend will not hesitate to jump up on to the coffee table to have a quick drink — just too lazy to walk into the kitchen where her bowl of water is always available.

Another thing — the soft chairs in our hall are full of torn fabric where she sharpens her claws even though I have placed a log of wood conveniently outside the kitchen door for her sole use. Yes she has her faults and definitely needs to change her attitude!

But is she capable of change?  I haven’t seen any signs of what I would call a social conscience in her makeup. No contrition at all when I tick her off. She looks at me as if I were just exercising my lungs. Animals of course learn how to gain rewards and avoid punishment. But no public prosecutor would take an animal to court on a criminal charge. Cats are known to be self-willed. But we don’t blame them for doing their own thing – for following their natural inclinations.

It’s otherwise with human beings. We also have a will but is ours not one based on rational understanding? For unlike animals have we not a higher degree of mind that can see beyond the things of the senses? — into a human realm of aesthetics, moral values, and spiritual principles. Not everybody seems to recognise this spiritual dimension to life.  However, many writers such as H.T. Hamblin and Emanuel Swedenborg have pointed to an ineffable realm apart from place, time and even person. An ‘eternal now’ where they found something deeply moving yet not easy to convey in natural language.

And does this higher perception not allow us to reflect on our own actions? A self-examination of which my cat is incapable. On the one hand we are free to make mistakes, rebel against what we know to be good and proper. But on the other hand we have a tremendous opportunity to face in a new direction, to turn our lives round, and even be transformed.

But why would we want to make any personal changes? One reason can be to do with wanting deeper happiness. If you have had a glimpse of something wonderful and beautiful you long to have it back.

Walking through the woods near my home, the other day, I saw a dead branch of a tree without any new growth that you would expect at this time of year – and I smiled ruefully to myself, for I felt a bit like that dead bit of wood. A bit lifeless inside. It was only when the fragrance from the wild flowers were pointed out to me that I took any notice. I saw the bluebells shooting up all over the place and heard the birds singing but they didn’t have the usual uplifting effect on me.

I have noticed this kind of negative state seems to come along when I have become pre-occupied with the wrong things. I have come to learn that personal change for me means less attachment to the things of self; less concern with what others think of me and of getting my own way in things; less priority given to bodily comfort and pleasure.

It is only when we change radio stations and switch into the things of spirit can we hope to feel enlivened and illuminated by the divine source to life. It is not surprising,  that I lacked the zest for life I had previously enjoyed, for I had been turning my back on the divine within; orientating myself away from the mystery that is the changeless force within our being. Without that Christ force we cannot change. But with it anything is possible.

First published in New Vision Magazine

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy

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7th July 2011CategoriesPrivate EthicsTags, , , , , , ,, , , ,  Leave a comment

Inner life crisis – What does it mean?

Inner lifeJohn was going through an inner life crisis. But he could not fathom what was wrong. He and his wife were comfortably well off and had got the house as they wanted it. He had always been a confident person. Outwardly in their lives nothing much had changed.

Inner life problems

But, now for the first time he was getting low moods and experiencing unease with no obvious reasons. These feelings were sapping his self-esteem. He found himself voicing self-doubt and uncertainty about where he was going in life; questioning his lifestyle, his career and even his marriage. He felt he had been drifting along, no longer with any sense of direction. He had lost touch with the ambitions that he had once had.

When one’s inner life not in harmony with one’s outer life

Life may have become less hectic. But this had meant there had been opportunity for him to hear his inner self telling him things he did not want to hear; that being pre-occupied with paying the mortgage, keeping senior managers happy and cutting the lawn at home plus all the other work he had done on the house, was not really what life is truly about. He needed to let go of the old and do things differently.

The process of self-discovery is to do with uncovering one’s inner life. This is not uncommon especially in middle age when there is less focus on the normal hurdles of early adulthood. Anyone might also become exposed to their own complacency, noticing an attitude of smugness and self-satisfaction that previously lay hidden, appreciating the mixed motives often behind  what they do. They start to notice a real self lurking within the persona they had been living.

John started to see that some of the things he had done had stemmed from a self-centered orientation whilst in his own eyes he had been acting in a worthwhile way. He was beginning to grasp the extent he had been living in a fool’s paradise. No wonder his confidence was reducing and sense of contentment becoming elusive.

Inner life crisis an opportunity for self-discovery

I believe the inner life crisis is there for a reason. It is prompting an honest self-appraisal of what we are deep down.

“Count your rectitude as foolishness, know your cleverness to be stupidity”
(Lao Tse Tao Teb King, xiv. Taoist tradition)

Despite a spiritual awakening, we can resist new insight and turn back to the darkness that once enveloped us. Often the outward appearance of everything we encounter continues to seduce us. This can show in smug self-justification of established patterns of behaviour as if a radical response to the inner crisis were not needed.

We might find ourselves thinking, `No matter what the current economic climate, I’m too astute and knowledgeable a person to go under.’ Or  `No matter what my weakness for sexual excitement might be I’m too good and worthy a provider, and family carer to be rejected by my partner.’

But, if instead we were honest with ourselves, would we no longer need to make up excuses? If we are genuine with others is it not less draining than constantly trying to hide our true selves from them?

Authentic relationship is the key to inner life harmony

My belief is that only by an authentic relationship with others, with whatever notion of God we hold, and with ourselves, can we hope to stop self-deception.

In line with this spiritual philosophy, those of us with a deep trust in a higher truth about life and the provision of a spiritual destiny, are never likely to lose hope, whatever in life threatens us. The spirit of truth and love lives on. However, such faith does lead to consequences. For there can be no new birth without some pain – there is no letting go of former things without some pain of loss.

“I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
(John 3:3)

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems