Reading the White Eagle Teachings (3)
Maybe my previous article will have given the impression that the only way to derive the best from White Eagle’s teaching is with a serene expression, cross-legged in front of a candle! No, I didn’t quite mean that – I have had too many experiences of sudden flashes of insight from White Eagle’s teaching at the most unexpected moment, or from something read quite unexpectedly or in passing, to believe that. But what I think links the two types of experiences is the absence of intrusive mind, and it is mind that I want to talk about in this third article.
‘The absence of intrusive mind’ – I wonder myself what that means! Well, some of the negatives around ‘mind’ are so obvious as to be truisms. The mind seeks to analyse, it is critical, and it has an extraordinary capacity for believing that it is right (sometimes against all reason!). But I think the phrase means a little more than that, even, and the key word is ‘intrusive’.
When we function from a place of serenity and the mind is quiet, all sorts of further imaginative enquiry is possible, but then the busy mind charges in, saying ‘It is like this’ and even ‘It is not like that’. People who felt they agreed become divided; personal belief is shaken. The mind is truly important, but maybe less so when we are reading or listening to White Eagle, although I will nuance that statement shortly.
He himself has said (PRAYER, MINDFULNESS AND INNER CHANGE p. 22): ‘Remember, do not try to fit spiritual truths into earthly interpretations until you see the way quite clearly. Leave them as treasures, jewels, awaiting the time for their setting in the right way and the right place.’ That’s rather a nice image – jewels waiting to be cut. Ever since ancient times, it has been a truism that the ideal human being is healthy in both body and mind: mens sana in corpore sano – a healthy mind in a healthy body.
People today put huge effort into keeping their bodies fit and trim, but do they think of what keeps the mind healthy? I am not so sure. By contrast, and actually very subtly, White Eagle is constantly looking to the good functioning of our minds. He certainly doesn’t say that we should really be sitting on a wonderful cushion all the time.
For instance, our minds need to be trim enough to keep focus. We need to listen – and listen subtly. When we don’t allow the subtle nuances he wishes to convey, when we interpret rigidly, it actually disturbs him. He once said to an audience of people he knew well: ‘We are sometimes aghast at the interpretation which is put upon our words even by your good selves’ (Inner Teaching, henceforth IT, no. 217).
We also need to be able to move from our mind to our heart – or, if you prefer, engage the ‘heart mind’. That’s something that does exist, scientifically – there are indeed cognitive cells in the heart. But what White Eagle means is a mind that fully allows the imagination and the sympathetic emotions. He once said, ‘The message of the spirit is not usually understood by the intellect alone, which does not always comprehend the language that is spoken. Love understands it always.
The love in your heart will always understand the language of the spirit, for this appeals to the mind in your heart.’ (IT 218) I was lucky at university to work with a mentor for whom the defining mind was not the be-all-and-end-all it might have been for some of his colleagues. We used to smile when he used his catchphrase, ‘Let us float the notion that….’, but floating the notion is exactly what, I suspect, White Eagle wants to do with us as he speaks. ‘Let’s float the notion of reincarnation’, he might almost have said – or just as easily, ‘Let’s float the notion that reincarnation is not a useful idea’ (see my first article).
The mind then does not fix itself on whether the statement is correct or incorrect (after which there can be no discussion) but stays in the creative area with the idea. ‘If reincarnation takes place, but is not an adequate concept for what really is happening….’ (which attitude, I believe, is behind what White Eagle says) is a beginning that opens our imagination. As I said in my second article, we can’t help but try and see the whole idea from a spiritual perspective. In this way, I think, a focus on White Eagle’s teaching really trains the mind – it trains it in the direction of fluidity, openness to alternatives, and breadth.
‘There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea’, begins a hymn that I have always liked. May there always be wideness in our reading of White Eagle’s teaching. But there is a second characteristic of White Eagle’s mind training, and that is discrimination.
Earlier I said I would modulate my apparent rejection of the critical mind, and now is the moment. A well-trained mind is quick to spot where it is being led in the wrong direction. Yet a classic tool in this is not the analytical mind but actually the heart. If something does not feel to be true, if kindness is missing, if respect for others is not there, if spiritual principles seem to be being flouted, White Eagle says, then be really careful with the statement you are hearing.
I think I’d like to add something that has more to do with mental training than something White Eagle specifically tells us. Given the huge amount of statements about spiritual things that the new century offers us – from ‘Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene’ to all sorts of ideas about cosmology and messages from other planets (all of which may be perfectly true, but are hard to verify) – I think it really behoves us as pioneer light workers not to say ‘this is right and that is wrong’ but simply to recognize what is an objective statement (‘today is Thursday’) and what kind of statement is a subjective one (the sort that should really begin, ‘My own belief is that….’). Many errors are made by confusing the two, and I would love to feel that in the Lodge we were able both to show flexibility and the power to discriminate between belief and shared and agreed ‘fact’.
Lastly, I think that White Eagle does not just open our eyes to a spiritual viewpoint, but rather indicates that, as time goes by, we will start to recognize that thoughts belong on different planes. His comments on ‘spiritual science’ in the address that begins this issue are interesting. As we progress, we shall be able to say much more clearly than we can today what thought really comes from a wordless plane – but still know in our hearts what truth it contains. Then the whole thing will become simpler. We will know what level of emotion enables the thought to be real, and how much imagination is involved.
The simple objective statements that we use and hear all the time are obviously physical plane statements, and no less useful while this is where we live. But we are already starting to recognize the etheric level and explore what yoga calls the breath body. All the planes will start to become real to us – but a really healthy mind, trained according to White Eagle’s teaching, will help!
By Colum Hayward
© White Eagle Lodge, 2023