Christianity has strayed far form the original teachings and the beautiful minds of the gnostics and mystics who carried forward the true teachings of the spiritual Christ. In the Middle-Ages there was a clear recognition of the misguided and manipulative ways of the Church of Rome. The Cathars referred to it as the ‘Church of Wolves’ because the teachings increasingly dwelled on sin and the material Christ, choosing to ignore the spiritual and mystical aspects of the original teachings.
A relatively recent book, ‘The Lost Child of Philomena Lee’ by Martin Sixsmith in 2009, and the film adaptation called ‘Philomena’ directed by Stephen Frears (2013), traces the inflexible attitude to teenage illegitimate births of the Catholic Church. Accidental pregnancies are even today seen as evil acts demanding severe punishment and a life devoted to atonement for committing this sin of all sins. 15-year old Philomena’s son Anthony is wrenched from her at the age of 2 to be sold for big money to rich Americans. As an elderly woman she decides to search for him on his 50th birthday. It turns out that he has died of AIDS, but as the disease progressed he returned to the convent where he was born in Philomena’s native Ireland, to try to find her. The greedy sisters, living in luxury thanks to their illegal income, fail to tell her of this, or even that his body was buried in the convent graveyard.
The senior sister at the time of this shocking incarceration of teenage mothers and the nurturing of their babies born without pain-killers as penance, now frail and in retirement, is finally confronted by the journalist helping Philomena with her search. Sister Hildegarde says bitterly that she has kept her vow of chastity all her life so why shouldn’t others! Celibacy is something so unnatural and unnecessary in the name of religion. Catholics seem to thrive on the suffering and self-punishment meted out by an omnipotent and ruthless King of their imagining. These are the crooked interpretations of power-seeking egos surely, as it was in the Middle Ages.
This kind of religion demands that we submit and vacate our true and natural self. We buy into such hierarchies by deferring without question to their absurd and harsh rulings. The divine spark of original Christ is extinguished forever by the blood and sweat of human suffering and punishment as followers (those who follow and have no mind/nature of their own) become merely consumers buying a material set of beliefs and idols. In the story, Philomena’s sense of goodness is strong, natural. She doesn’t blame what Martin calls ‘the evil nuns,’ and yet her whole life has been ruined by the mistake she made at the age of 15. She considers herself to be a serious and irredeemable sinner. She is so pure that she defers wholesale to the rulings of God’s dubious representatives. What profligacy is this?
Sylvanus taught clearly, as did the Buddha and other remarkable energies, that we humans have the potential to be God. His model is realizable in our daily life. He says,
‘Light the light within you. Do not extinguish it! Certainly, no one lights a lamp for wild beasts or their young.
Many followers of religions look to the lights outside themselves for light. They mistake their own light as ‘ego,’ or some kind of arrogance which they must eradicate or hide. There is no place for the individual in the eyes of obsessive clerics who sadly climb into positions as educators and damage the purity and natural qualities of many of their ‘sheep.’
‘You were a temple, (but) you have made yourself a tomb. Cease being a tomb, and become (again) a temple, so that uprightness and divinity may remain in you.’
Unfortunately, the world is dominated by living tombs who have lost all contact with their own unique voices. This is why we live in a world of mass mediocrity often studded with dubious and adulated stars.
‘Knock on yourself as upon a door, and walk upon yourself as on a straight road. For if you walk on that road, it is impossible for you to go astray. And if you knock with this one (Wisdom), you knock on hidden treasures.’
We each have all we need inside us to become living Gods and Buddhas, now, in our lifetime. We all have a sacred mission which we constantly evade while deferring to other so-called ‘leaders’ and ‘holy beings.’ As Sylvanus advises, it is important to always keep in mind that ‘everything which is visible is a copy of that which is hidden.’ The Cathars referred to the visible world as the world of the Devil, created to tempt us away from the invisible and our essential being as spirit.