THE RICH MAN IN HIS CASTLE
The Christian Church has recently celebrated Easter, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his resurrection. It is a basic tenet of the Christian religion that this sacrificial act absolves all followers of Christ and brings forgiveness of their sins, expressed in Latin: “Ego te absolvo” This belief is diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Spiritualist religion which stipulates that as we sow so shall we reap. This is clearly expressed in the seventh principal of Spiritualism: We affirm the moral responsibility of individuals, and that we make our own happiness or unhappiness as we obey or disobey Nature’s physical and spiritual laws.
From a purely personal point of view I find the idea, that my sins can be totally absolved if I subscribe to the belief in a religious doctrine, to be an insult to my integrity. By removing my individual responsibility for actions undertaken by me and promising entry to paradise if I simply profess the Christian faith is, most certainly, disingenuous. Even if this were true it would undermine the very reason we live our lives. What would be the point in striving to attain understanding and enlightenment whilst living life as a compassionate human being if all that was really required was a place in a pew singing hymns on a Sunday morning?
Considering the singing of hymns; it is my belief that these form part of the process of indoctrination into religion. Rather like the repetition of a chant or mantra hymns may programme the mind of the congregation and promulgate ideas central to the creed. Within one of the best loved Christian hymns : All Things Bright and Beautiful (1848 Cecil Alexander ‘Hymns For Little Children’) are the lines: ‘The Rich Man In His Castle / The Poor Man At His Gate / God Made Them High And Lowly / And Ordered Their Estate’. In other words, know your place and accept your lot in life as this is the will of God.
Why, I wonder, would God want me to be just a poor man at the gate of the rich? I was born into a family that worked hard for its living, I have earned my wages too. From working as a young weaver in the dark satanic cotton mills of Lancashire to pounding the beat round the dismal landings of Strangeways Gaol, I played my part. But I dared to dream and always believed I was more than a mere cipher, capable of opening that gate and shaking off the chains of simple servitude. My estate was not blessed with any silver spoon, no one recognised any talent within me and helped to open the doors in fact quite the opposite. The headmaster at my secondary school was somewhat less than encouraging when he wrote on my final report ‘This boy will amount to nothing’. In 1997 I sent that man a signed copy of my book ‘Psychic Pets’ published by Bloomsbury in it I wrote ‘Not bad for a failure eh! SUTTY’. The publication of that book took me from the rich man’s gate onto the path to international recognition. The point being that I did not ever accept that my position in life was ordered by God, I believed that my fate was to be determined by my personal efforts.
However, in this often difficult world, it is never certain that we will be guaranteed success even if we do make great effort. The thing is, where happiness is concerned, to enjoy the journey and always give of your best. At the end of your days I believe that one should be able to look back not in anger but with delight appreciating that what we did do we did well with good intentions. We are all operating with free will, so what actually happens, or fails to happen in our lives is fundamentally our own responsibility. That is a basic tenet of the Spiritualist religion and one to which I wholeheartedly and without equivocation subscribe.
As Spiritualists we accept that our incarnate life is but a part of our eternal existence and that when we pass to spirit our personality is retained and is developing continuously. Taking my own life as an example, I fully expect to enjoy and learn from the sum of all my extensive experiences on Earth when I progress into the next dimension. My efforts to do what I see as being good deeds i.e. helping the weak, sick and needy, encouraging and assisting others less fortunate etc. will be with me just as will my less attractive traits as a somewhat bombastic self-opinionated aggressive Alpha male. No doubt you dear reader will have a degree of self awareness, you know your good points and perhaps have insight into your failings. That would be because you are a unique individual marching forwards to paradise or pergatory in time with your own drum. As the hymn says this world is full of all things bright and beautiful. It is your wonderful world and remember this, God in no way orders your estate, you do that. Play the hand you are dealt not someone else’s, believe in yourself and as for circumstances, Winston Churchill once said ‘I make the circumstances’. Believe that you can and I tell you this, when you do so the gate leading to that castle is half way open.