Reading the White Eagle Teachings (2)
How we read White Eagle’s teaching will depend partly on our own unfoldment – as well as factors like how we feel at the time. In this it is unlike factual statement, with a single meaning (or even multiple, but definable, meanings). As we discovered in my first article, our receptivity changes with each new experience – hopefully unfolding each time although, just as in life, there will be times when something seems newly incomprehensible, even when it was clear before. Even the recognition of that is a pointer to our growth, however.
One of the areas where we are most likely to respond with puzzlement and incomprehension is that of reincarnation. Many of us make the assumption, quite unquestioningly, that this is something White Eagle teaches. It’s reasonable to assume so. What, then, of this statement? ‘Reincarnation, as usually understood, is an illusion’? I’ve put in some commas to emphasize ‘as usually understood’ because White Eagle certainly doesn’t say that there is no reincarnation – simply that there is something in it that we don’t understand.
Elsewhere he puzzlingly tells us that reincarnation both is and is not true, and in yet another place, that the normal ‘idea of rebirth is a very crude and inadequate description of what really takes place’ (Inner Teaching no. 6). I dealt with this enigma in my 1997 book, eyes of the spirit (pp 123-6), and I won’t go over the whole argument here. The first thing that may be worth saying, though, is that one of the reasons the concept of reincarnation is unsatisfactory to White Eagle – and may even seem contradictory to White Eagle himself – is that we see it from a purely linear, physical-world, perspective, and he sees it from a higher world.
‘I lived many years ago as an American Indian, is the sort of thing we might want to say; ‘and next life I should love to be a successful composer’.
That’s what I mean by a material-world perspective: without imagination, we find ourselves presupposing that our incarnations are in a straight sequence and ask such reasonable, this-world, questions as ‘Could they overlap?’. From spirit, I’d like to suggest that question simply cannot be asked. There is no time in spirit – we accept that from White Eagle – so why should there be any sense of sequence at all?
So while incarnation clearly enough brings us in through the door of birth into the physical world, and sees us leaving through the great portals of light, to get anywhere near understanding reincarnation requires a different viewpoint, one unattached to earth.
I won’t presume to answer the question within this article, but will rather comment on the implication: to understand White Eagle you have to be prepared to see things from the perspective of spirit, and that will most certainly mean not reading it in a conventional way but in a prepared state.
No wonder White Eagle talks almost always began at least with a prayer or invocation – or in the case of a Sunday address, with most of the service already having happened. We generally assume that that gave Minesta time to go ‘under control’, but I think it was just as much to ensure that we, the listeners, were raised and ready.
How many times does White Eagle talk – and pray – about ‘going into the upper room’ in order to hear teaching? Here is something he says right back in 1936, in the fourth Inner Teaching he ever gave: ‘It is not only in the words spoken, but in the power which is concentrated around us at these groups that you may learn.
Your teachers are here, giving greater things to you than White Eagle’s words can bring.’ We often talk about the group for whom White Eagle humbly claims only to be a ‘spokesman’ – how often do we remember that the intention behind his teaching is to lift us to the level at which that spirit brotherhood are present in our understanding and consciousness?
Two sessions before the teaching just quoted, he had reminded us: ‘Only those who enter the Silence reach indeed to truth’. In the ideal relationship, ‘Pupil and Master are so attuned that no word is necessary’. Attunement to the teacher is something to emulate, in short. In Inner Teaching no. 193 he asks: ‘Will you try to attune yourselves to the power of the spirit and not remain on the earthly mental plane?’.
I am inclined to think that the contradictions in White Eagle’s teaching – and there are quite a few – are all of them deliberate. They dislodge us from dependency on the teacher and remind us how essential it is that we do the work that is required of us truly to understand.
In just this vein he once asked, ‘Remember that old White Eagle is not an oracle; we are all children, learning’ (Inner Teaching no. 7). He also spoke of the subtlety of the contact he made through Minesta’s ‘base of brain’ chakra: ‘We would explain to you all that we do not work on the purely mental or mind plane when we come, but on the intuitional or Buddhic plane of consciousness, and the vibration is most delicate to sustain’.
Let’s allow White Eagle himself to sum up this part of what we are trying to say: ‘When you want to docket everything and tie truth up in neat little parcels, you will stumble.… You will all find that as you proceed along the path of spiritual unfoldment you will change. In all probability in twelve months from now you will see things quite differently from how you see them tonight. That is how unfoldment takes place. It is not that what is true today will not be true tomorrow, but a question of expansion, greater comprehension of spiritual principles.’ That’s from a late Inner Teaching (no. 286).
If I now quote an earlier comment, ‘It is not enough that you accept this truth with your mind. You must accept and believe with your whole being’ (no. 198) it may sound as though I am simply repeating the argument.
However, there is something new in this statement: ‘believe it with your whole being’. I know that in my own experience there are things in the teaching to which I simply paid an easy acknowledgment – or an intellectual one – up to a few years ago, even the reincarnation contradictions.
What has changed for me is that I now find myself considerably more able to really feel when White Eagle is talking (I include the printed page) – and in feeling, discover how utterly radical White Eagle sometimes is.
I think White Eagle really wants us to forget conventional understanding, to ignore the literal as unhelpful, and to absolutely give ourselves in imaginative understanding to how immense, how wonderful and how real the spirit world is.
Here’s an example: a phrase White Eagle sometimes uses is ‘the spiritual Sun’, or, more mystically ‘the Christ Star Circle’. I heard those concepts intellectually, once, now the first brings into my consciousness an almost incomprehensible blaze of light that leaves me reeling with its power; the second takes me into a world behind the Sun where that brilliance still reins, but some individualization of the illumined beings still exists. Every one of them blazes like the sun.
Every time my human consciousness feels far to small to grasp the full reality, yet is just large enough to know that the reality is there. When White Eagle seems to contradict himself, is it going too far to say that he wants to trick our minds out of their normal functions and demand that we engage different faculties, like many meditation group leaders may do?
In my next article I want to talk about ways in which White Eagle actually seeks to train our minds, and whatever lies beyond mere mind.
By Colum Hayward
© White Eagle Lodge, 2023