It would be very easy to focus on the man and his contribution to many of our lives and indeed the world, yet I know that what he really wanted is to help each of us make whatever transformation we could make, rather than be celebrated as a personality.
Accordingly, each year I explore some of the key principles that were the focus of his work, in the hope that we may come to a better understanding and, more importantly, a better application, of them.
I’d also like to invite you to comment on this article or ask any questions you may have at the bottom of this page. In this way I hope that we may collectively draw out an even greater understanding. So please, the comments will always remain open and I’d be delighted to have the opportunity to help you individually to get the answers you seek.
So, what advice do I have to offer? If I can walk a fine line correctly, none. A key spiritual principle is to, “Give no advice, take no advice,” yet this is only a half truth. As we are all about the whole truth, we can also say that unless we take advice at the right time and from the right source, we are ultimately doomed to limitation.
How is this so?
Our spiritual progress depends on us assuming a position of individual responsibility, that is, consciously choosing our actions according to our conscience, being our best capacity to apply the highest truth that we can from a position of authenticity, or being true to our heart. We can also call this a form of Right Action. When we are in our full integrity in acting on what we believe to be true, we are able to learn a genuine lesson through the outcome of those actions, that is, as long as we can accept responsibility.
To be more specific, we aim to accept responsibility for the effect of our creations (the results of our actions) after the fact, but also assume responsibility for the cause of our creations, that is, to pre-emptively assume a position of responsibility before the effect has come to pass. This can also be thought of as being an act of Faith, which John defined as, “seeing the end from the beginning.” This is also the basis of The List, a tool used for resolution of our karma.
For now, suffice it to say that responsibility has both a Yin and Yang component, that is, an effect and a causative aspect. We have discussed responsibility in terms of the 10 Steps to Perfection before. This means that our lessons depend on our capacity to perceive both cause and effect before there is an effect and, ultimately, before we even choose to be the cause.
A lofty goal, perhaps, but such is Perfection in Action. How do we assume this dual form of responsibility if we act only on external advice? Also, insofar as we are not yet Self-Realised perfected beings, what karma do we take on by offering imperfect advice that others act upon, blindly, when it is to their detriment?
Blind faith is not the order of the day, so we achieve little of meaning without our own self-reliant Faith. Here we should distinguish between achieving temporal things versus achieving spiritual substance. The List and karmic completion are not about things, bearing in mind that the whole temporal universe is illusory, Maya, and but an outer manifestation of some cause, which proceeds from consciousness.
Productivity is not the goal, getting things done is not the goal, our responsibility is the goal. Sometimes this is hard for new students to grasp, since we are recommended to fill our List with things to be done or achieved, but the point often overlooked is that it is the creative essence behind them and responsibility for them that we truly seek, not the things in and of themselves.
In other words, what we wish to cultivate is our ability to wield the creative power of God, responsibly and unerringly, without surprise or resistance to the outcomes.
Matter is but our plaything in this playground called the Universe. The toys we play with are not the object of this game but instruments with which we learn to make music.
So, on the one hand, “give no advice” is a correct principle, for when we share our ignorance we potentially place impediments in the way of those who receive it and encourage them to abrogate their individual responsibility in favour of being told what to do. Thus they (and we) should “take no advice.”
However we are not all the way there yet, for our final release cannot come by our own effort alone, as important as that effort is to fit us to receive the assistance we require from those who’ve walked the Path of Perfection before us.
So, when we receive the Voice of God, do we proudly say, “Oh, I don’t take advice?” No. In point of fact, we must maintain a certain receptivity to the promptings of God, and also maintain a definite willingness to act upon them – in other words to “take some advice.”
So we have a correct principle, with it’s opposite as a corollary. Give no temporal advice, nor receive it, but always be alert to spiritual advice from the small, Still Voice of God, arising from within us.
The key is to learn how to first hear the voice, and then to recognise when it is in fact the True Voice of God, and not some partial truth or lie arising from our reactive, imperfect consciousness, and then to heed the voice and act upon it.
Hence, “Faith without works is dead.” What use to take advice without acting upon it?
We must learn to take this kind of advice, while learning to reject that other kind of advice, arising from intellect, reactivity, ignorance, or other darkness of mind.
The challenge is simple, learn to hear that Inner Voice and to distinguish it from all other voices and then to act Faithfully upon it. It is worth briefly noting that aside from our reactivity, or “old tapes,” we can also be deceived by other variously sourced “voices” such as from entities and other consciousnesses, well-intended and otherwise. In fact, it is one of the burdens of progress, that as we become more sensitive to such voices, we must also become more discerning.
In the first instance, to hear one’s own Inner Voice and distinguish it from others, we learn by applying the 10 Steps to Perfection – through having Faith in that voice (Step One), we then act upon it, which we call Virtue (Step Two) and thereby come to a Knowledge of the Truth (Step Three) through the experience that ensues. That truth may be that we did not identify or hear the voice correctly and so we have the, “opportunity to experience the joy of self correction,” as John put it.
You can read more about the multitudinous natures of the voices we may become aware of in last year’s anniversary message.
Our discipline is to work the principles as best we understand them, accept that we may make many mistakes at first, but learn not to judge, criticise, or condemn ourselves (or others), but yet accept all outcomes with a dignified air of responsibility and impartiality. In this way we do two things – first we release some of the reactivity we carry, which improves our mental clarity, and we get better at recognising the difference between this one still voice and the many reactive voices.
As already stated, to receive advice is without purpose if we will not act upon it, so the cycle cannot complete or manifest its purpose without us putting the voice into action, again upon our own responsibility.
So we could paraphrase the principle to read more like: “Give no advice out of your own ignorance or receive it out of others, but act always on the spiritual advice you discern to be in line with true principle; give abundantly of this principle, and so release yourself from the distracting voices of darkness.”
Advice and The Scale of Emotions
As with all principles, we may examine them in terms of the Scale of Emotions. At Unconsciousness, we don’t really have a concept of advice, instead taking suggestions as commands.
Herein is a significant danger when we talk out of a position of Unconsciousness or talk to someone at that level, especially as Practitioners of Body Electronics (or any health, counselling, or advisory role). People are highly suggestible at this level and can be as easily programmed for demise as for progress, for they lack the ability to discern, think logically, or to be individually responsible.
At Apathy, there exists an awareness of advice existing as an option to be considered rather than a command, and yet no capacity or desire to do so. Advice, regardless of its quality or source, can be perceived as “all well and good” at this level but of no great value.
At Grief there comes the beginning of logical thought and the ability to appraise advice and weigh its merits, although often accompanied by the trap of intellectualism, wherein one still approaches it from a “hypothetical” perspective, rather than an action-based one. At Apathy, there is no action because one does not desire action; at Grief there is no action because one becomes bound up in the contemplation of action, unless it is to monotonously extoll others to action based on the advice they freely dispense. Remembering that Faith without works is dead, we see that advice at this level is problematic.
At Grief we are at an impasse when faced with conflicting advice if both appear to have equal merit, whereas at Fear we can see beyond this, having somewhat solved the problems of logical or linear thinking. In spite of this, we remain equally paralysed, since we can’t apply to ourselves the advice we would give to others.
Nonetheless, at Fear, as “the beginning of knowledge”, we begin to perceive a turning point from the effect end of creation that applies at Unconsciousness, Apathy and Grief, towards that of causation at upper levels on the Scale of Emotions. We finally become serious about acting on advice, except that we’re so scared of the consequences that our attempts can be short-lived and half-hearted. Considering that Fear sits halfway up the Scale and relates specifically to the heart chakra, this term “half-hearted” is particularly poignant.
Only at Anger do we become fully focussed on action. There is a kind of action, called Social Activism, that exists at Apathy and is often mistaken for action, but there we can’t go it alone and will quickly doubt ourselves if everyone else doesn’t continue to think the same way as us. In other words, everyone else’s opinion or advice (in our group) overrides our own. Our “like-mindedness” is actually an illusion, since we hold thoughts only while everybody else does too.
However, at Anger, we feel fully in control, perhaps a little too much so, we’re not scared, and we have a well thought out position, albeit typically one-sided when it comes to facts. Our advice is now more in the form of orders – we expect it to be taken and reject all else contrary to our way of seeing things. We can give it, but we can’t take it, when it comes to advice.
At Anger, advice given is not beneficent but intended to sustain or expand one’s own power and advice received is treated with extreme suspicion, as a threat. However, at Pain we are willing to sacrifice our own agenda in the giving and receiving of advice, although we yet lack the impartiality to be reliable in this.
Pain is our first glimpse of truth in the matter, that pain being our willingness to accept that we don’t have all the answers after all. However, because we cannot yet love what we are receiving we are also somewhat blocked in giving. Of course we begin to see our own reactivity at this level and can finally start seeing how self-deception has been and is acting within us.
We are still quite polarised at this level and will tend to either act to withdraw from or suppress Pain into the self-centredness that becomes Anger, or face it head on, finally with Love. Advice at this time, of the right sort, can be a crucial factor in our choices. Not that we really need to be told to love the pain, although there are some safe places to tell someone exactly that, since if we are genuinely making an effort of receptivity, that suggestion can arise from within in the form of our Inner Voice.
If received and acted on, we progress to Enthusiasm, where we have a new ballgame, because now we have equanimity within our reach. This means that we have access to an abundance of inner advice, the clarity to weigh it in a more-than-intellectual way, and the freedom to act on it.
This is Discernment, wherein the advice coming from outside us has little power because our inner compass is becoming so strong. We learn to shut our own mouths when we can see the potential effects of our actions and so are inclined to stop dispensing advice, particularly of a reactive kind.
Read this how you will, but if you (don’t) take my “advice”, look always for the source of inner causes, not just to the manipulation of outer effects.
Once again, thank you John for giving us the tools to see beyond the surface into truth.
I look forward to your questions and comments if there is more to be clarified here regarding the giving and receipt of advice.
In Love, Light, and Perfection,