There are always high quality films released around Christmastime and I usually avail myself of the opportunity to see them. Today I saw “Margin Call” a taut, suspenseful drama built around the financial crisis of 2008. In an unnamed New York financial institution tension is extremely high as an analyst has discovered that the bottom could fall out any minute and the firm’s assets could be worth less than nothing in no time unless they quickly sell off before lunch time the next day.
Two employees are sent off in a company car in search of the man who made the discovery. As they drive one observes, looking out at the busy night streets in what might be termed an access of pity, the crowds of innocents who have no clue what is about to befall them and society. This immediately reminded me of a similar expression in the film “A Few Good Men”, from some years back, where military man Jack Nicholson, under extreme pressure, famously yells “Son, you can’t stand the truth!”
What have these cinematic moments, of access to hidden information, have to do with esoteric studies and spiritual growth? How do these cults of the classified resemble the arc of the seeker’s path? Well, it has been my observation, over the decades of my inner journey, including writing, facilitating and teaching, that groups who define themselves as spiritual, from small conclaves of house bound students to large ashrams of disciples and everything in between, repeatedly make the classic mistake of looking down at the ignorant others who make up the rest of society. If only they knew what we know can blossom from a silent thought to an overpowering mantra.
Whether that knowledge concerns the illusory nature of the personality, the transitory nature of the body or tribe or civilization, the psychic abilities known as siddhis, the purity of vision which seems to come with an excess of meditation and lack of daily labour, the knowing that worshiped deities and revered prophets are but way stations on the way to enlightenment, or that respected religious and political structures are secretly debased by greed, lust and power hunger, the knowledge, despite being what we think of as “real” can be debilitating to the soul seeking true inner growth.
While those pursuing paths of light can, and do, help balance the planet’s share of darkness, they are no more special than the miscreants, children and little criminals they pity or despise. One chooses a path of light because one knows, at that stage, there is no other choice. One has exhausted all the options of pleasure and self-fulfillment, usually through many lifetimes, and one knows one can only continue to progress by submitting to one or other form of conscious service to others.
Those others are not lesser. They are equals, despite their apparent ignorance of inner truths. Even the devotees of religions, despite their enslavement to dogmas and restricted world views, are deserving of respectful empathy. As are the fans of major league sports, who seem, in my experience, to come in for much derision amongst those who are skipping gleefully along the path. Certainly those who are budding into individuation are the most inclined to see the shadows of their former adhering selves in the mass of wild enthusiasms unleashed at such events.
While I would not point the finger at self-initiated seekers any more than any other self-appointed elite or sub-culture, whether they be political, cultural or religious in nature, I believe it is always worth recalling, as we move inwards and upwards on the spiral of growth, that greater understanding should always be accompanied by deeper humility. There is always more to know and do and be, and we may only access that ‘more’ in a state of deflation rather than one of inflation.