The benefits of having some kind of spiritual theory

you need a spiritual theory

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So many ideas, but what is important?

There are many, many ideas and theories about spirituality that have sprung up over the last hundred years or so. Some of these are more or less serious, original, popular, well-articulated or worthy of attention. Some tend to emphasize particular aspects of spirituality, like perhaps the emphasis on psychology in some of the work of Ken Wilber, or on the social constructive elements in the work John Heron, whilst others go for a more broad-based approach, as found in the work of Martinus, whose “Cosmology” makes an account for every aspect of existence. In the midst of all these ideas and theories stands the individual, and what emerges as the most important thing is this: what is your theory?

How it can help

For those people whose spirituality is not lived under the direction of one of the world’s religions, or the worldview that these religions draw on and promote, it can be a very good idea to develop some kind of theory of spirituality. By this I mean anything from a simple, overarching framework of the spiritual universe, to something much more complete in its details. Having such a theory can really help guide practice and development. It can be a shining light in an otherwise difficult terrain.

It might be worth adding here that I also mean by “theory” something very broad and plastic. In this regard, “theory” means simply an idea that is more or less expanded. As applied to spirituality, it means a more or less expanded idea of the spiritual universe. Not everyone is a Plato or Isaac Newton. Yet it is not necessary for each and every person to develop an entirely complete theory. It is not necessary to build a theory for others to use, or to convince others. I’m speaking here only of what is relevant to the individual who feels they are on some kind of spiritual journey.

A theory of spirituality can help give the spiritual journey a certain shape and direction, a form. It can help the traveller get a handle on some of the challenges of the spiritual life. As well, it can help contextualize and conceptualize what the lived experience is. It can help one see more clearly where one is, where one has been, and where one is going. It can help one triangulate one’s position, but also help answer questions that nobody else can answer. One of the challenges of the spiritual journey outside of religion is that very often there is no other guidance but that which lies within. Having some kind of spiritual theory can help give that inner guidance a shape and vessel through which to speak.

What is needed

To get such a theory, it is necessary first of all to think. To get and build one’s own theory, it is necessary to think about everything one has come to realize and verify for oneself as being one’s truth or belief. This might involve, of course, drawing to mind the many important things that have influenced one through one’s life. This can include the many different ideas and theories shared by others in conversation or in books, or in one’s previous education. But it is still more important to come to some kind of recognition and valuation of what, ultimately, one believes or holds to be true oneself, despite what other people have said, thought or written down.

Such a theory does not need to be written down, although of course it may help if one finds writing helpful. The important thing is not that it is written, but that is thought through. It can take time to go through such a process of bringing to mind everything related to this theory that one has, or that one is forming. But it is time very well spent, because then the traveller will be much clearer about the journey, the terrain and the road one is taking through it.

As mentioned above, the theory I’m speaking about here can be more or less complete; it can consist of something as simple as a few broad strokes and “big ideas” about how everything goes together, or it can be complete and detailed so as to cover everything that exists. Its completeness is not of immediate importance, as it can always be developed and refined later. With this theory, simple or complex, one can measure one’s experience of life against it, and gradually come to an ever more accurate theory. This would also be the beginning of an individual’s spiritual science.

Isn’t such a spiritual theory redundant?

It might be argued that it is not necessary to spend time undertaking such an exercise, because people already have their theories of life and operate under them every day, and use them every day, continually refining them in a natural manner without any effort. However, this would be to mistake theory with something like a perspective, worldview or view of life, which can be more or less unconscious. It is true that our worldview is always coming into play and always being refined and added to by experience, by everything we read or speak about with others. However, this is something that is quite passive within us. A theory is something that we create, by our own mental power, and which involves will power and analytical processing. It means making choices about what the world is like, perhaps independent of our worldview.

It might also be countered that people cannot make such a theory, that it is too difficult or that one cannot escape the many influences that have fed into our worldview. Here, it may feel true that one’s theory of spirituality actually comes from this writer or that writer, and that one cannot think any differently to that writer. However, there will always be some kind of reason why one agrees with this or that view, and why one takes this or that idea on board. Here it will be important to rediscover those reasons, and not take anything for granted. One cannot truly have a theory if one does not attempt to own it, no matter where the thought may have come from, whether from Plato or Kant or the woman down the road. Here, it will be most unlikely that one’s whole theory of spirituality and the spiritual universe comes from just one source. As such, it is important to go within and try to work out where one’s ideas have come from. As an ancient philosopher once said, the unexamined life is not worth living.

A basic need

There are very many reasons to start thinking along these lines, and continue thinking through one’s ideas about spiritual reality, as well as build them into a more or less simple theory. It is not necessary to create a Newton’s Principia of spiritual reality, as I’ve already said, but of course if you can then all the better for you. What feels right depends on many factors, including who you are, where you are and what you can do, as well as what you feel you need. However, I would contend that all who are exploring spirituality need to have at least some kind of theory. If they do already have this, then certainly it can be a good idea to look at it and develop it.


Author:
Anton Jarrod

Photo of Anton Jarrod
Anton Jarrod

Anton Jarrod is a writer, thinker and practitioner of modern spirituality. He is currently writing about issues in modern spirituality, as as well as the work of the largely unknown but important Danish thinker Martinus. He is the author of Martinus Cosmology and Spiritual Evolution: the essential ideas and teachings, as applied to the Gospels, published in June 2017.

New look website

I’ve decided to change the look of my website, ready for the publication of my forthcoming work, “Martinus Cosmology and Spiritual Evolution”. The old website took too long to load up, and so this website is cleaner and simpler.

It’s in the very early stages, and there’s lots of work to do on it. But get in touch if you have any suggestions on how it might be improved!

Image of a new look website
Have a look at my new website

Short List of Martinus Works (with abbreviations)

Quoting from Martinus’s works is a challenge, as readers soon enough find out. Not least because his sentences are often quite long. For my own work on Martinus’s texts, I have found that using abbreviations for the main works helps keep track of passage locations. These are the abbreviations I often use in my own notes for the main works that are found online. I will use them in posts here and elsewhere online.

Martinus wrote his books in sections, and so the number following the book abbreviation is the section of that book i.e. LB1.17 refers to section 17 of Livets Bog, volume 1.

“SB” refers to “small book”, of which 28 have been published. Sometimes a small book contains two or more articles, each comprising of several sections. I number the article and section as follows: SB20.3.3, meaning SB20 (Meditation), Article 3, Section 3.

This is the most effective and efficient method of notating and referencing Martinus’s works that I’ve found to be practically useful. I will update this with a full bibliography in due course.

List of Books

LB1. (Livets Bog, volume 1, 3rd edition 2012.  Read bookSee colophon.)
LB2. (Livets Bog, volume 2, 1st edition 2000.  Read bookSee colophon.)
LB4. (Livets Bog, volume 4, 1st edition 2008.  Read bookSee colophon.)
EWP1. (The Eternal World Picture, volume 1, 3rd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
EWP2. (The Eternal World Picture, volume 2, 2nd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
EWP3. (The Eternal World Picture, volume 3, 2nd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
EWP4. (The Eternal World Picture, volume 4, 2nd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)

Shorter books:

SB1. (The Fate of Mankind, 4th edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB2. (Easter, 3rd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB4. (On the Birth of My Mission, 2nd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB5. (The Ideal Food, 6th edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB10. (Cosmic Consciousness, 2nd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB11. (The Mystery of Prayer, 2nd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB12. (The Road to Initiation, 2nd edition 2015.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB16. (The Principle of Reincarnation, 3rd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB17. (World Religion and World Politics, 2nd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB20. (Meditation, 2nd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB22. (The Road of Life, 2nd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB23. (The Immortality of Living Beings, 4th edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)
SB25. (The Road to Paradise, 2nd edition 2013.  Read bookSee colophon.)

Links:

Danish: http://www.martinus.dk/da/vaerket/

English: http://www.martinus.dk/en/martinus-writings/

Congratulations to the two lucky winners

Congratulations to the two lucky winners of the GoodReads giveaway. A signed copy of my book, In A New Light, is shortly heading its way to you.

Be sure to check back for new giveaways in the future!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Four Gospels by Anton Jarrod

The Four Gospels

by Anton Jarrod

Giveaway ends January 20, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

95 Questions

On the 7th November 2016, two days after announcing the publication of my book on Martinus, “In A New Light”, I had the idea to try to gently promote the work. The idea came to me to draw up a list of 95 questions that the book asks and answers. I had Luther’s 95 theses in my mind at the time, hence 95 questions and not 60 or 101. The idea was to post one question a day on twitter.

However, after a while I saw that it was perhaps a bit boring and uninteresting to people to deliver the questions in this way. So I decided on 15th January to just draw up the list of 95 questions and put them in a single blog post. Instead of posting them on twitter, I put the full set of questions here instead:

 95 Questions

1          What is the nature of #love or #evil and does it have any purpose at all?

2          The role of #US #President is a powerful one in our time, but where does #real #power lie?

3          What kind of consciousness is behind a good #politican or #president?

4          What is the #future of #humanity?

5          Is there such a thing as #Armageddon, from a #spiritual point of view?

6          What is #energy and does it have anything to do with #spirituality?

7          Is there a new #spiritual perspective and how relevant is it to today’s #worldproblems?

8          What does the #eucharist mean and what is the #flesh & #blood of #Jesus?

9          Does #Jesus mean #reincarnation when he speaks of being born of #water and #spirit?

10        Who are the real #demons that #Jesus casts out during his #ministry?

11         Are there different types of #consciousness, & what other ways could we categorize them?

12        Is there another meaning of the #parable of the #sower?

13        What is the #real #kingdom and where could it be?

14        How “could the #human being really be an #organism in a larger being”?

15        How does the new #spirituality differ from #religion?

16        What happens after we die? The Danish #spiritual thinker #Martinus reponds.

17        Is there a relationship between #meateating or #vegetarianism and #spirituality?

18        Are we #alone in the #universe and how can we know?

19        Does the #universe contain a more advanced #intelligence than ours?

20       What is the real #HolySpirit that is mentioned in the #bible?

21        What is the #meaning of your #life and how can you really find out?

22       Who are you really and how can you have true #knowledge, and not merely #belief?

23       What is the real #origin of #humankind?

24       What is the ultimate #purpose of your #life and experience?

25        What is the purpose to any #suffering you are experiencing?

26       Is there anything you can do to end any #suffering you are experiencing?

27        What is happening to you when you #dream or #sleep?

28       Who is really in control of your #spiritual #development?

29       How can you ensure that your #actions will be #successful or lead to the intended outcome?

30       How can you make the #best out of what is available, #spiritually, in our time?

31        What, in the end, is #consciousness?

32       How can you overcome fear?

33       Is there a future of #peace for the #world?

34       What is #spiritual #revolution and what would it look like?

35        What is the basis of #health, both physical and spiritual?

36       Is there such a thing as a spiritual #gene?

37        What is the basis for #beliefInGod?

38       Is #religion any use in the modern era?

39       What is the deeper analysis of the human #body in the modern spiritual perspective?

40       What would be a good #spiritualpractice for modern people to practice?

41        Is there any way that modern spirituality can speak to modern #science or social science?

42       Can modern #spirituality help deal effectively with #terrorism in the 21st century?

43       What is the spiritual process that is behind the virgin birth?

44       Is there another way to read the #Christmas #gospel?

45        How can people whose worldviews are not entirely described by #religion or #science understand the #nativity?

46       What could it mean, that the #virginmary was visited by the #holyspirit?

47        What is the nature of the conception of #Jesus by the #virginmary?

48       Is it important that Jesus’s parents were spoken of as being righteous, and if so, what is the significance here?

49       What is a #cosmicglimpse?

50        What does it mean, to be in the #animalkingdom?

51        What are the ways #modernspirituality can understand the immaculate conception?

52        How might a #modernspirituality explain physical conception?

53        What is the difference between spiritual science and #mysticism?

54        How might the #parable of the sower be interpreted anew?

55        What happens after #monotheism and #atheism?

56        Is there such a thing as an #energy of #intuition?

57        What does modern spirituality understand by the #saved and the damned?

58        Is there a function for #forgiveness, beyond its psychological benefits?

59        What does it mean, “the Father and I are one”?

60       In what ways is our current civilization actually quite primitive?

61        What is the right thing to do in the face of injustice and evil?

62       What is spiritual science?

63       Do human beings have unfinished sides and if so what are they?

64       What is the purpose of religion and belief?

65        Is there another way of looking at baptism and what it is referring to?

66       Do you know what pole development is and what it might mean for your evolution?

67        Is there such a thing as “fate of humankind” and if so, what is it?

68       What is the X1 and how does it relate to things as they appear?

69       What is perfection in Martinus’s thinking and how is it achieved?

70        What does Martinus think is the real significance of the crucifixion?

71        Is the triune principle something that we can know empirically?

72        Was Jesus God’s one and only son?

73        Does one choose the circumstances of one’s birth, and other factors that determine life?

74        What are “birth pangs” as regards spiritual evolution?

75        What is materialization and how is it possible?

76        What determines pole development?

77        What are the six basic energies and how do they combine?

78        What factors and principles in Martinus’s works explain conflicts like those happening in Syria?

79        How is a human body produced by an immaterial “something”?

80       How is eternity structured in Martinus’s worldview?

81        What happened at the tomb Jesus was crucified?

82       What is the primordial desire?

83       What factors of consciousness are behind the existence of social inequality, according to Martinus?

84       How is the “I” of a being involved in cause and effect?

85        What is a “macrobeing” and where is it?

86       Does prayer have a function beyond what is ordinarily understood?

87        How can money and business be squared with modern spirituality?

88       What can account for the experience of homo- and bi-sexuality?

89       What kinds of consequences are there for imbalances between intelligence and feeling?

90       What is the future of worship?

91        Is there such a thing as Heaven?

92       Is there such a thing as Hell?

93       Who are what is the devil or Satan?

94       What or who is God?

95        What is absolutely real love?

Errata

(This post has been created from the page ‘Errata’, which has been deleted to keep the top menu clean).

Many first editions of books contain errors or “errata”, no matter how diligent the proofreading has been. This is perhaps more so when the author is also the proof-reader. When errors are identified, they can be corrected in a subsequent printing.

On this page, I will put up a list of identified errors for In A New Light: Volume 1. When an opportunity arises to create a new printing or edition, these can be included. In the meantime, please use this list for the current first edition. Page references refer to the paperback edition, published in November 2016.

Page 299: Book title for the author “John of the Cross” is incorrect. It should read: John of the Cross, St. 1994. Dark Night of the Soul: Books 1 & 2. Washington: Image Books.

Martinus as a blacksmith’s apprentice

Smithy at Hornbæk (1875), P S Krøyer.
Smithy at Hornbæk (1875), P S Krøyer. (The Hirschsprung Collection)

As far as we know, Martinus never attended school after the age of 14, and did not go to university. Instead, he set out to work like many rural teenagers of his generation. Yet he went on to engage with some serious thought as an adult, perhaps against the expectations that his start in life could have predicted.

After working as a herd boy from the age of 12, Martinus had the idea of becoming a blacksmith’s apprentice[1], according to the account from the 1963 recording. What must that job have been like for him, a small, 14-year-old boy? It couldn’t have been easy work. The apprentice role would have included such tasks as working the forge to keep the temperature hot and even, assisting the master blacksmith with hammering the iron, wielding sledge hammers and so on.

Without doing any local historical study of the working conditions in Sindal at that time, it would be difficult to know what the life of a blacksmith’s apprentice there would have really been like. Even with study, it is worth thinking about how much we can really learn about the life of another, especially the inner life. Ultimately, it may be interesting in terms of details but devoid of any actual or real value. Still, if people find it is interesting then there is some relative value in presenting such information.

As for Martinus, he writes how he found the work too hard. He worked there for a few months before quitting and finding work as a dairy assistant:

I didn’t like my work in the smithy either. One should strike while the iron is hot, but when I had struck only a few blows with the sledge hammer I was so exhausted that I couldn’t lift it any more. But the blacksmith shouted, “Strike harder, damn you, strike harder!” I wasn’t used to that kind of tone and was very unhappy about it. I was home only on Sundays

Notes:

[1] http://www.martinus.dk/en/articles/index.php?mode=1&artikelnr=1494&artikelsubnr=2

What was Martinus’s schooling?

A Child Visiting his Grandparents on Sunday by Laurits Andersen Ring (L.A. Ring)
A Child Visiting his Grandparents on Sunday by Laurits Andersen Ring (L.A. Ring). A supplement to schooling perhaps?

What was Martinus’s schooling? It is always interesting when people come forward with a new expression of spirituality. Naturally, we wonder about the basis and background of this expression. Schooling is here as good a place as any to start with. What kind of education did these people receive? Did all their ideas come from their teachers? Who were their teachers?

From the account of his own life, Martinus suggests that he had no formal education or training in spiritual matters during his early life. He received a basic schooling, until the age of 14, but he did not go to high school or university or form part of any spiritual circles or groups. In this regard, he was very much a typical, rural Dane. Despite a longstanding and deep religiosity, he does not appear to have been a student of esoteric subjects.

On this basis, the education that Martinus received would have been quite simple by today’s standards. It would have consisted of a training in simple arithmetic and functional writing skills, perhaps what in England we used to call the “three Rs” (“reading, writing and arithmetic”). In 1814, there were educational reforms in Denmark that made education for all children up to the age of 14 compulsory. The reforms established the well-known “folkeskole” or folk schools[1]. It was this basic education that Martinus would have received.

Grundtvig & religious education

Nikolaj Severin Frederik Grundtvig (b. 1783) played an important part of the religious and cultural revival that laid the foundations for the kind of folk education that Martinus would later be a benefactor of[2]. Undoubtedly, as a Lutheran minister and writer, a “Prophet of the North as the Germans have called him”[3], he also played a part in imbuing the future of folk education with its religious character. Martinus relates how he learned, “Psalm verses and [the] catechism. And a little geography and arithmetic. And sometimes a little Danish history and nature study”[4]. It was probably a basic Grundtvig-style of religious education that was provided, mediated of course through the teachers at the school he attended in Sindal.

As Peter Manniche writes about Danish folk life, “It is not easy to gain a personal impression of the religious life of a village”[5], but which may have consisted of the “natural mysticism of the old peasant religion”, bound up of course with Lutheran Christian doctrines. It will be difficult to determine for sure what Martinus’s early education consisted of. And we do not know Martinus’s teachers, or what they taught him. However, we can be reasonably confident that it would not have been so very different from what many rural people at the time, either in Denmark or across Europe, were taught.

So one may ask, is school religion a significant part of Martinus’s story? Can it account for some of the content of his writings and teachings on spirituality later in life?

Notes:

[1] http://eng.uvm.dk/Education/Primary-and-Lower-Secondary-Education/The-Folkeskole/About-the-Folkeskole

[2] Rørdam, Thomas. 1980. The Danish Folk High Schools. Edited by Alison Borch-Johansen. 2nd rev. e. Copenhagen: Danske Selskab.

[3] Manniche, Peter. 1969. Rural Development and the Changing Countries of the World: A Study of Danish Rural Conditions and the Folk High School with Its Relevance to the Developing Countries. Oxford: Pergamon Press. P 86

[4] Martinus, [Martinus Thomsen]. 1992. “Erindringer (Memoirs).” Kosmos, no. 3

[5] Op. cit., pp 179-182

A curious start

Early Morning Writing A Blog
Writing a blog

It is a curious thing to start writing a blog post when there is as yet no audience. It feels a bit like talking to oneself. Yet, one has to start somewhere, and even though this blog or website has no visitors as present, it still seems worthwhile to prepare some content that might be useful in the future.

In the next weeks and months, I will aim to share some details of Martinus’s life from the sources that are available to us in English. These are mainly the “Memoirs” from a 1963 interview/recording, published in the magazine Kosmos, and some short books, such as “On the birth of my mission”. There is as yet no biography of Martinus in English.

I may as well begin with Martinus’s birth. He was born on 11 August 1890 in a small village called “Sindal”, in north-western Denmark. His mother, then 42 years old, was called Else Christine Mikkelsen. He was her first and last child. The identity of his father is not known with certainty, but Martinus suspected it was ‘Lars Larsen, the landed proprietor of the large farm “Christianshede”, which was later renamed “Kristiansminde”‘.

http://www.martinus.dk/en/articles/index.php?mode=1&artikelnr=1494&artikelsubnr=1