consciousness, human being, inner cosmos, Uncategorized

The Modern Mystery School

I have just completed the first draft of my book. The working title is “Matter and Consciousness”, because it is an exploration of the relationship between the external world “out there” and our internal world, our individual experience. I am not giving much away when I say that the outer world of matter and the inner world of consciousness are more alike than we might imagine. Indeed, they have so much in common that they can usefully be considered as two sides of the same coin.

Now, if this is true, as I believe it is, then it has far- reaching implications. It implies, for example, that the world acts as a mirror. It reflects back to us, very accurately, who we are, our state of mind, our belief-system, and our level of consciousness. It also implies that each of us is a miniature of the universe – microcosms of the Cosmos. Conversely, it implies that the universe is Man on a gigantic scale.

It can be no coincidence that, as I was writing the book, I set in motion a process designed to create a “modern mystery school” (MMS). A number of people are now involved in this. One way of capturing the essence of the school is that it is the whole person exploring the whole world. This suggests that the school has two main components – a whole person education, and a whole person exploration. At the heart of this is the fact that, in today’s world, the vast majority of people experience only parts of themselves. As a consequence, they experience only the corresponding parts of the world. In essence, these are the physical parts. Our prevailing way of exploring the world – science – reflects this. It, too, explores only the physical aspects of the world and the human being. Indeed, science insists that these are the only possible aspects.

In contrast, the MMS will educate its students to experience and use all parts of themselves, including the non-physical parts. This will enable them to use additional forms of perception and consciousness to explore the non-physical aspects of the world.

That’s it in nutshell!

consciousness, human being, inner cosmos, natural, Uncategorized

Matter and Consciousness

Consciousness can know only itself. It could not be otherwise! This is because being conscious is a form of resonance. Something inside us resonates with something in the world around us. And resonance is possible only between two things that are basically the same. They are on the same wavelength, if you like. In other words, we are able to be conscious of the world around us only because we are very similar to it. We are essentially microcosms of the Macrocosm. To turn this the other way around, the universe is Man on a gigantic scale!

OK, then. If it is true that consciousness can only know itself, this strongly suggests that the world around us – indeed the whole universe – is consciousness itself. This enables us to define consciousness as “experience, and that which is experienced.” Consciousness is both the observer and the observed.

I have always found this idea very helpful. But of course, it flies in the face of the “science story”, which tells us that the universe is just made of dead, unconscious, meaningless, matter and electromagnetic radiation. Science tells us that everything, including ourselves, is wholly physical. This suggests that, if we want to understand the universe as consciousness, we have to find ways to go beyond the physical.

In my forthcoming book (working title is “Matter and Consciousness”), I describe two  road maps to get us beyond the physical. They are Changing Lenses, and Redefining Energy.

Changing Lenses means using forms of perception that do not rely on our five physical senses. The best analogy is changing spectacles. If we wear red glasses, the whole world appears to be red. When we wear blue glasses, the whole world appears to be blue. Similarly, when we use our physical senses to view the world – the normal for most people today – then the world appears to be wholly physical. Modern science is based on using only the physical senses. If we used our non-physical “inner senses”, then the world appears to be non-physical. I go into detail about this in my book.

Redefining Energy takes us to the point where we see energy as “ordered movement”. (In fact, quantum physics basically agrees with this idea). The important point is that there is nothing inherently physical about this. Physicality is very subjective. It all depends on us, and on what we use to perceive the world.

One more thing – consciousness is not passive. At its best, consciousness reaches out and grabs the world! (We do this by paying attention) In other words, it reaches out, and grabs itself!


the big questions

Modern Mystery School

It has been quite a while since I last wrote here. This is because I have been focusing on creating a modern mystery school. This needs a little explanation!

I use this term simply as a shorthand, because what Graham and I are setting up will resemble the ancient mystery schools in two significant ways. First, it will provide a whole person training – education in its original sense, if you like. You could call this “a modern spiritual training”. And second, it will facilitate the process of the whole person exploring the whole world. You could call this “an extended science”. I will say a few words about each of these.

In the world today, education has largely been replaced by its opposite – schooling. Confusingly, it is still called “education”, when it is clearly not what education should be, or used to be. Schooling differs from education in two important respects. First, it rarely develops the whole person. It focuses mainly on the intellectual and the physical. (As we shall see, this has striking parallels in science). And second, it is not designed to “lead out” the best and uniqueness of each individual, which is what true education does. On the contrary, it is designed to tell people what to think, what to believe, and how to behave. Schooling is therefore a recipe for conformity, because it tends to stifle creativity and individuality. Although the ancient mystery schools differed from place to place, they were united in their belief that the whole human being should be developed, and not just the intellectual and physical parts.

The ancient schools were also united in another sense. They knew how important it is to use the whole of ourselves to explore the world, rather than just the physical and intellectual parts, which is what usually happens today, particularly in the sciences. Science today relies almost exclusively on two modalities to explore the world – our five physical senses (and extensions to these senses, such as microscopes and telescopes), and our intellect. It should come as no surprise that the world responds accordingly, and reveals to us only its physical and intellectual aspects. We call these aspects “scientific knowledge”. The problem is that many people make the mistake of assuming that this is knowledge about all aspects of the world.

When we combine the fact that schooling, not education, is the norm today with the fact that the dominant form of knowledge (science) is based almost exclusively on the physical/intellectual way of exploring, we get two serious consequences. First, people are not being allowed or encouraged to reach their potential. They often remain pale versions of who they could be. Just to be clear, we are not speaking about “success” or anything like that. When we say “potential”, we mean the potential to be fully human. Because they are schooled, rather than educated, most people are not as intelligent as they could be, and this is reflected in the state of the world. It is a world in which the “most intelligent species” causes all the problems! Second, given its way of exploring the world, science gives us only a partial, one-sided picture of the world – the physical/material picture. Our understanding of what the world is and who we are therefore remains very limited. We believe that this, more than anything else, underpins the materialistic values and behaviour that pervade the world today.

The ancient mystery schools explicitly went beyond the limits of the physical, because they recognised the importance of exploring and understanding the non-physical aspects of the world and of the human being. (Some people call these the “spiritual aspects”.) To be able to do this, they had to develop certain forms of consciousness that are largely unknown today. What the mystery schools offered to their students was a rigorous training to awaken and develop “organs of perception” that enabled direct experience of the non-physical aspects of the world. These organs of perception can usefully be thought of as “inner senses”, to distinguish them from our five physical senses, the ones that give us direct experience of the physical aspects of the world. The knowledge they gained is usually called “esoteric knowledge”, indicating that it was available only to those few people who had developed their inner senses. We believe that a training in the inner senses is an important component of a modern spiritual training. And it is the inner senses that make an extended science possible. It is “science of the whole”.

We recognise that great changes that have taken place in the millennia since the mystery schools thrived. These can be captured in three words – knowledge, technology, consciousness. We have much more knowledge today, about the world and ourselves, than our ancestors did at the time of the mystery schools. That much is clear. However, against this, we have to weigh two things – the fact that much of what we know today is knowledge of the physical aspects of the world and ourselves, as well as the fact that the teachers and students in the mystery schools knew much about the non-physical aspects of the world and the human being. Nonetheless, our much wider, more detailed knowledge means that the mystery schools of the 21st Century will be different, in some significant respects, from the ancient ones.

The modern mystery schools will be different, not just because our knowledge has changed, but also because we have changed. There are compelling reasons for believing that human consciousness today is not what it was two or three thousand years ago. Although it can sometimes seem otherwise, we are more conscious today, individually and collectively. The best account of this that we know is The Secret History of Consciousness, by Gary Lachman. When thinking about a mystery school for our times, we also have to factor in these changes in consciousness.

Last but not least, we have modern technology, with all that this implies. It implies, for example, that students and teachers do not always need to be in the same physical space. Much can be done on online, and this modality is likely to become much more functional, not least because of the restrictions ushered in by the current pandemic.

One last thought – if education is about leading out the best and uniqueness from each individual, then the corollary of this is surely that each of us contributes our best and our uniqueness back to the world. We all have something unique to say and to contribute. And we should all give our best. This comes only when we give the whole of ourselves to the world. Our modern mystery school is designed to help people do just this.

These are early days, and there is still much thinking to be done, and many conversations to be had. To find out more, please contact us.


Chris Thomson  

Graham Stewart

Click to access Books and Courses

consciousness, human being, inner cosmos, Uncategorized

Thoughts on the Inner Cosmos

We resemble the Cosmos in many ways. This surely suggests that it resembles us too, because resemblances always work in both directions. This gives us the fascinating possibility that the Cosmos is as human as we are Cosmic! So, what are the practical implications of this? I believe that the implications fall into two main categories. First, we human beings have the potential to know Cosmically. And second, we have the potential to be Cosmic. Let’s look first at our potential to know.

If it is true that we and the Cosmos resemble each other, then it follows that one way of getting to know the Cosmos better is to get to know ourselves better. I am by no means the first to suggest this. It was at the heart of Pythagoras’ work and, more recently, it was Peter Ouspensky who pointed out that to know the world, we should study ourselves, and to know ourselves, we should study the world. As above, so below!

Perhaps I hardly need add that this is not the way of modern science. As you probably know, science studies the so-called objective world “out there”. Very separately, it also studies the so-called subjective world “in here”, the world of human thoughts, feeling and behaviour. When it tries to connect the two worlds, science ties itself in knots, because it makes the sweeping assumption that objectivity can be applied to subjectivity (but not the other way around!). It therefore assumes that the “objective” laws of physics and chemistry can be applied to the subjective world, such as consciousness. It has not occurred to science that this might operate in both directions, that the laws of consciousness might apply to the world “out there”. This is where the Pythagoras/Ouspensky approach comes into its own. My own shorthand for this approach is “inner cosmos”, because this term tells us that when we look closely into ourselves, we see a reflection of the Cosmos. If you like, each one of us is the Cosmos in microcosm.

The inner cosmos approach differs radically from the approach of science in two important respects. First, it makes no distinction between objective and subjective. And second, it assumes that all the laws of Nature are underpinned by deeper, metaphysical laws, the laws promoted by the Pythagoreans. I will go into detail on this later, but here is one example, just to give you a sense of what I am talking about. The Law of Octaves can be found in physics (e.g. light), in chemistry (e.g. the Periodic Table), in biology (e.g. plant morphology), and also in the arts, music being the most obvious example. It is also found in aspects of metaphysics, such as the seven major chakras, and the Seven Rays. The point I want to make is that all the laws of Nature are underpinned by deeper Cosmic principles, and that these principles underpin everything about us, just as they underpin everything about the Cosmos. Effectively, they connect us to the Cosmos, and the Cosmos to us.

As for dropping the distinction between objective and subjective, ultimately everything is subjective, insofar as everything “out there” is as seen through our human eyes, from our human standpoint, and through the prism of our human mindset. In this sense, everything is subjective. Conversely, everything is objective, insofar as it is shared between us. I leave you to ponder this thought.

What about our potential to be Cosmic? I hope this does not need much explanation. If we are indeed miniatures of the Cosmos, size should not matter. Each of us is, potentially, a very small version of the Cosmos. The more closely we look into ourselves, we more we realise the truth of this. Hence the importance of learning to access our inner cosmos. As to what it might look like to be Cosmic, I believe that we all have some sense of this, even if this sense fades too often.



The Gathering Storm

As you may know, this is the title of the first volume of Churchill’s history of the Second World War. He saw, long before most others, what was going to happen. As it happens, there are storms forecast for today here in La Cerdanya. At least, we can all see them coming. I chose this title because of the political and social storms that are gathering on several fronts, and about to break.

Here in Catalunya, people are waiting for the court in Madrid to pass sentences this week on the nine Catalan politicians who have been held in prison for two years. Their crimes? To keep their promise to the people who elected them to hold a referendum on independence, and carry out the result of that referendum. Madrid calls this “sedition” and rebellion”, and condemns the violence. In fact, the only violence came from the Spanish police, who beat up people while they were trying to vote. As you can imagine, things are tense here.

Another storm about to break is Brexit. An unelected Prime Minister, who is a notorious liar, is trying to manipulate the European Union to reject his overtures. He will then tell the people that the EU is the culprit, and that he should be therefore elected in the election that is likely to come very soon.

Meanwhile, in my other home country, Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has a dilemma. She wants another independence referendum soon, not least because of Brexit, but she wants it to be legal…in other words, with the consent of Westminster, as before. She knows that is very unlikely, but she wants to avoid a Catalan situation. Quo vadis?

As for the other gathering storms – climate change, Trump’s madness, China, and the Middle East – the less said, the better. I do not think that it is a curse to live in interesting times. On the contrary, it is very interesting!