Tradition

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From lecture 246, TRADITION: ITS DIVINE AND DISTORTED ASPECTS:

The topic of this lecture is the meaning of tradition. Let us first examine what tradition means in its best sense, and then what it means when it is distorted. Many human beings have distinct images about tradition. These images trigger off conditioned reflex reactions as soon as this term is mentioned or when human conditions reflect adherence to tradition either in its real or in its distorted sense.

Tradition in its real sense means the continuation of faith in eternal truths and values. Once a cosmic reality has been discovered and has been expressed in human life, those who experience the inevitable beauty, goodness and rightness of it, logically attempt to continue its expression. Please keep in mind that all true values, values of whatever nature, must have been at one point in time a breakthrough from the world of spirit.

To keep these values alive, it is necessary to feel and inwardly experience the particular truth in question. Ritual celebrations can do this, but they are not necessarily a guarantee for the continuous aliveness of a specific truth. A ritual can be an empty gesture. True tradition is therefore a continuous re-experiencing of the original breakthrough from inner worlds or other realities, a re-experiencing today of a dynamic aliveness, no matter how long ago the tradition may have been formed. Tradition, in its best sense, means adherence to eternal values or to certain aspects of these values, depending on which particular tradition we have in mind.

Tradition in its distorted sense means a dead weight, a meaningless carryover. This does not necessarily mean that a specific tradition did not contain eternal values and truths at the time it came forth. But at the present time its true meaning may be disregarded or forgotten, the rituals involved may be mechanically repeated and thus the tradition has been deadened; its reality has become flattened or even totally obliterated.

Tradition in its distorted sense might involve a meaningful truth, an experience, a custom that was valid at a certain time in history, under certain conditions and in specific circumstances. Continuing these same acts or attitudes or customs under completely different circumstances, under conditions where the meaning of this tradition has been lost is therefore a process of death, rather than of life. Carrying over a tradition in an unthinking attitude, adhering to a blind habit that does not make sense, that fails to elucidate through acts or attitudes the divine truth contained in the tradition in question, signifies death. Aliveness always means a dynamic thinking process, an awareness — not blind repetition.

So you see, my friends, tradition can be an intensely meaningful reality, or it can be a meaningless, dead repetition of the past that no longer has any application in the now.

Human responses to tradition are deeply embedded in the personality. All aspects of society are influenced by each individual’s attitude to tradition; whether a person is aware of a tradition’s real meaning as applicable today or whether he or she is in distortion and is merely repeating an act out of habit, makes a great deal of difference. Politics and religion, to name but a few aspects of life, are very clearly influenced by and also reflect a specific society’s attitude to tradition.

There are those who put so much value on tradition that all common sense goes overboard when a tradition is at stake. They believe that only what conforms to tradition, to the past, is of any value. They rigidly reject any change, which is of course a most foolish attitude, because the very tradition they adhere to now came into being at one time through change. Without continuous change, alive unchanging verities cannot be lived. True tradition must therefore always be coupled with change. The healthy balance of the soul of the earth can be attained and maintained when tradition and change interphase in a harmonious dance.

Those who follow tradition blindly and meaninglessly create extreme orthodoxies in religion and politics — and of course within the human soul. Such orthodoxy imposes on society a heaviness and a resistance to change. It springs from the misunderstood message of the soul to preserve the truths, the beauty, and the values that were given in the past. But it is forgotten that these truths came as a result of the soul’s struggle to find divine meaning and because of the personality’s willingness to overcome the fear of change.

There are also those who rebel against all tradition; they rebel against its meaningless, dead manifestation, just as much as against its real, alive manifestation. This blind attitude is a result of the belief that only new findings can be of value, that all that has existed in the past must be inferior or invalid. It overlooks the fact that eternal values have always existed and will always exist and can always break through to consciousness, provided certain prerequisites are being fulfilled.

The new-age person will neither blindly worship tradition, nor blindly rebel against it. He or she will take every specific tradition, as it becomes an issue in his life, and will examine it with intelligence and self-honesty. Do you have a personal stake in maintaining this or that tradition? Does living this tradition make sense in your life now? What does it mean to you, and why are you adhering to it or rejecting it? When you examine life’s issues in that way, you will find the most constructive way in which you can continue your traditions and make them new most meaningfully. If you have the right attitude, you will never rebel when an old tradition is discontinued, or when it is replaced by new customs, rituals and celebrations. Ask yourself if the old tradition has been superseded by truths and values that are more meaningful for you today or not. With this attitude you will live in a dynamic now; you will be able to value what deserves to be valued from the past, but you will also be able to let go of the past and thus create a new future, rather than a dead repetition of the past.

On this earth sphere you talk about old and new. Often these words carry positive and negative connotations. It can be either way. Some people think of the old as all good, all benign, unthreatening and full of values, while anything new they regard as threatening, disrupting, wrong, bad. These people are, of course, the traditionalists. There are also those who see anything old as outdated, undesirable and bad, while anything new is totally desirable and good. I hardly need to point out that here again you are face to face with an apparent duality which you can transcend when you see the positive and negative possibilities in both extremes.

On a level of deeper spiritual reality, neither of these terms makes any sense. There is neither old nor new, and there is both. Everything already exists and always has existed, and always will exist. What is new on earth is that a certain aspect of ultimate reality “vibrates through” into the world of matter. You must remember that the level of matter is a condensation of finer vibratory forms. These forms exist already in what you may call spirit. All life pulsates, expands and contracts. Matter comes into existence by spiritual forms pulsating “outwardly.” When the contraction occurs, life withdraws and matter disintegrates. Although I have spoken about this before, you often forget these ideas and do not think of your life in these terms. The more you can remind yourself of this truth and the more you feel it in your life and in your ideas, the closer you will come to being in truth.

The forms that exist in the world of finer vibrations do not only manifest as objects, although objects certainly bear witness to the existence of these forms. There is no object on earth that does not have its origin in spirit, where it is perhaps “used” in a different way, because of the different conditions that exist in the world of spirit. Its essence is “pulsated through” into matter, and there it recreates its original form in a modified way, in a symbolic way, in an adjusted way that fits the circumstances on this level of reality.

Aside from objects we are of course dealing with concepts, abstract ideas, values, truths, laws, and so on. It is often hard for a human being to imagine that an idea existed in finer vibratory form before it reached his or her consciousness. The many abstract concepts and laws I have discussed with you throughout the years of our work are realities in our sphere of life. Like objects, concepts often differ in application and meaning in the two spheres, because on your plane you only perceive very simplified and cruder manifestations of these ideas, concepts and laws.

To return to the concept of tradition: Tradition in our world describes merely an aspect of a certain specific reality. It refers to the reality of valuing eternal truth in its manifold manifestations, or perhaps in a certain specific manifestation. As this attitude vibrates through into your dimension of reality, it becomes diminished, modified and separated from its entire meaning. This is inevitable, since your reality is limited. In the fourth sphere a unity is split into a duality, whereby much of its original meaning is lost or distorted. It is always possible for you to recapture the original meaning and thus open up to a further influx of various levels which together will depict a more complete reality. Such openings occur through specific mental attitudes and activities, and are the result of the struggle to see beyond the limited confines of your world.

The other aspect — counter-tradition — also exists in our world, in our dimension of reality that is always ready to break into your reality and thus to expand your reality. It exists as the constant movement toward renewing and giving new life to the eternal truths and laws. So the old and the new exist in the timeless reality of eternal now — not as old and new timewise, but as concepts or attitudes with a specific meaning and expression behind them.

Let us consider the movement of your path, this particular path I first brought to you a few years ago. When you look back, you will see a spiral movement, which is the movement of the great life currents. You see certain repetitions in the spirals, phases re-encountered on deeper levels with new understanding. These aspects appeared as new when you first gained them in the previous curve. Thus the old truth, learned in the previous curve, makes new sense because of the additional material you have learned on the way. What was once an entirely new truth, a revelation, later becomes renewed in repetition — an old truth under new light. But the renewal could take place only because other truths — new and old — have been discovered along the way. They are new in the sense that they have been unknown by the individual; they are old in the sense that they existed before they were known to the individual.

The same spiral movement exists in the personal development and growth process of each individual. You cannot fail to see it if you observe it clearly, with full consciousness. The material of the lectures, which is the groundwork of the rhythm you follow, lays the plan for this movement that is very organically adapted to a much greater reality than what you can perceive. Every expansion you have ever experienced on this path — and there were quite a few — always meant the incorporation of hitherto unknown — new to you — aspects of inner reality and therefore a new approach to your work. The organic movement brought about seemingly miraculous changes of personality in the best sense; it brought new fulfillment and the awakening of previously dormant potentials. A new abundance made itself more and more noticeable, on all levels, in many individuals and in your path as a whole, as an entity.

Yet there was also great resistance to expansion of thinking, to each innovation, each new approach, method, or spiritual concept I gave you. Each new approach or expansion of seeing — witnessing the world in a new light — has always created a sense of threat. You wish to hold on to the old familiar approach which is known to you, to keep the confines of thinking and perceiving untouched, unexpanded. Here you become a traditionalist. In the distortion of the personality all principles exist in distortion, just as in the purified part of the personality all principles exist in truth, faithful to their real meaning.

Each new phase is greeted with rebellion against the authority that presents you with what seems to break the tradition you have become accustomed to. Tradition is created wherever human life takes form. It exists on the largest social scale and on the smallest, most temporary scale. The path as you have known it, say until two years ago, had established a certain tradition with which you had begun to feel somewhat comfortable. This tradition had to be broken — renewed — by adding new truths to it — new to you, but not new per se, for these truths have always existed. Only after your accepting and trusting the new truths did they become incorporated into the body of the total work, the path. So a temporary “new” tradition came into being until the next breath of the great pulsating movement the organism was ready for vibrated into matter. When you trust the new/old truth and do not obstruct it, you incorporate it in your life and thus your entire consciousness is widened and expanded; wisdom, freedom and abundance is added on to you.

Growth is not possible otherwise. It can only exist when this movement is intact and as unobstructed as possible. Growth must combine the old and the new. It must retain tradition and renew and enliven it.

These are eternal verities and principles that hold true for everything, for every conceivable aspect of life. I spoke about this quite generally and abstractly, but would now like to address myself more specifically to the new phase of expansion you are going through and the attitudes in you that make this expansion unnecessarily painful. In your fear you confuse issues; your thinking becomes muddled and disconnected in your very attempt to rationalize your rebellion against something new, when you endeavor to maintain the comfortable confines of this path as you have known it till now. But it would not be this path if it could remain static. The path is a movement, a journey, that comes to a halt when the movement is obstructed. Stagnation was the fate of many spiritual, religious, psychological truths that have been filtering through into your world of matter. Stagnation has been the fate of so much that once had deep value. People stopped the movement due to their fear of antagonizing those who obstruct further movement, change and expansion. They lacked the vitality to withstand opposition to further expansion and movement. This is why so many seemingly new organizations, orientations, or schools of thought, arise constantly. The old is either being calcified by the distorted concept of tradition, or totally disrupted by the distortion of seeking change, seeking the new.

So far we have succeeded in keeping this path on course in this respect, combining tradition and change in their best sense, thus keeping the spirit pure. Opposition to both these aspects — tradition and change — has existed, exists now and will exist, of course. But the nucleus of this path has kept a steady balance.

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To my teacher Marieke Mars who taught me self-honesty. To my courageous and loving pathwork helper Dottie Titus.

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