Look for my next book, A Theology of Love: Reimagining Christianity through “A Course in Miracles.” Out from Inner Traditions International in November The website maintained by Richard Smoley. Inner Christianity A clear-eyed but compassionate approach to the real meaning of Christian love—in all its. Richard Smoley is an author and philosopher focusing on the world’s mystical and esoteric Smoley’s second and best-known book, Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition, was published in by Shambhala Publications.
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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Provides a solid introduction to esoteric Christianity. Inner Christianity helps innre that mistake by spelling out, clearly and thoughtfully, the subtle interior mysteries of this religion.
This book could help many, Christians and others, find a new level of intelligence in Christian thought and practice. It could change the direction of your spiritual life. Drawing upon a wide range of mystical and esoteric literature and practice, he shows how multidimensional is the Christian message, and how profound its understanding of the nature and purpose of the psyche.
In a time of so much change and confusion, this potent book serves as a source of profoimd guidance and gnosis. In clear and vibrant language, he makes the deepest wisdom of the Christian tradition available and accessible to everyone.
This book is an empowerment of faith and spirit and will, I predict, become a classic for all who walk the path of Christ in the midst of their everyday lives. It speaks from a nonsectarian point of view, unearthing insights from the whole of the Christian tradition, orthodox and heretical, famous and christianitj. The esoteric tradition has traditionally searched for meanings that would yield a deeper inner knowledge of the divine.
While the Church fought bitterly over dogma, the esoteric borrowed freely from other traditions — Chrisfianity, astrology, and alchemy — in their search for metaphors of inner truth. Rather than basing his book around exponents of esoteric doctrine, scholar Richard Smoley concentrates on the questions that are of interest to every searching Christian.
How can one attain direct spiritual experience? Can we find salvation in everyday life?
How can we ascend, spiritually, through the various levels of existence? He is the coauthor, with Jay Kinney, of Hidden Wisdom: Sign up to learn more about our books and receive special offers from Shambhala Publications. Sign Up Or visit us online to sign up at shambhala. Jonathan Sainsbury All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any unner or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission inndr writing from the publisher.
Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following: Praxis Institute Press, for permission to quote excerpts from Gnosis: John of the Cross: Alchemist of the Soul, edited and translated by Antonio T. Robert Powell, for permission to reprint excerpts from Meditations on the Tarot, published by Amity House, ; reprinted by Jeremy P.
Image of Russian icon crucifix courtesy of St. Isaac of Syria Skete, Boscobel, Wisconsin, www. Includes bibliographical references and index. S66 — DC21 What you are looking for is what is looking.
Christinaity World and the Fall 3. Salvation and Gnosis 4. The Second Birth 5. The Gospels and the Curistianity of Christ 7. Love, Evil, and Forgiveness Symbols and Sacraments 1 1. The Secret Church Afterword: I owe them all a great deal. And finally, my warmest gratitude to Megan, whose love and affection gave me much comfort throughout the writing of this book.
The inher course of events has cast doubt upon progress, civilization, political and economic systems, even the essential decency of human nature. Christianity has not been spared.
Starting in the nineteenth century, science began to show that the earth had been born not six thousand years in the past, as the Bible seemed to suggest, but billions of years ago.
Even the Gospels themselves no longer seemed like Gospel truth, as historical and critical methods revealed that much in the life of Christ was not historical fact but myths and legends that attached themselves to him after his time. These developments have drawn forth a complex array of reactions from clergy and laity alike.
Some have actively rejected this knowledge, taking refuge in traditionalism and fundamentalism. Others have tried to integrate the new perspectives into their religious life, only to be left with a vague and unsatisfying liberal faith.
Still others are disaffected from religion in general or simply bewildered. Whatever course we choose, one thing becomes obvious: We no longer live in a conceptual world framed by the comforting certainties of church doctrine and the literal truth of cristianity Bible.
And yet, christinaity disorienting and disillusioning as the process of modern inquiry cyristianity been, it has not destroyed the religious search but has invigorated it. Rather than contenting themselves with secondhand truths, people have begun to ask how they themselves can know the presence of the divine. This inpulse crhistianity fed the explosion of New Age religions, alternative spiritualities, and traditions brought over from the East that we have seen in recent decades.
Many of these smolley, both new and newly imported, smpley enlightenment as a goal. They say that our ordinary state of consciousness is not the highest one of which we are capable, but a lowgrade, delusory state.
Spiritual disciplines such as meditation chtistianity free us from this oblivion and restore us to our full birthright as human beings.
Christkanity a parallel course, the perennial interest in Christian origins has led scholars to reexamine many ancient texts and to unearth new ones: Some of these works suggest that early Christians not only reached insights similar to those of the Eastern religions but also had a sophisticated understanding of human consciousness in their own right.
Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition
Smoleh is knowledge of a very specific kind — direct, intuitive knowing that surpasses ordinary reason and confers spiritual liberation. Gnosis strongly resembles enlightenment as portrayed in Hinduism and Buddhism. Although interest in these ancient teachings is considerable, many people assume the teachings were lost long ago, the victims of official suppression and popular neglect. But in fact careful investigation shows that these truths have always been kept alive in the Christian tradition and indeed have fed the chrisianity of Western civilization like a great underground stream that only rarely rises to the surface.
There have always been teachers and groups that have managed to reach these states of higher consciousness and have passed their knowledge on to the present. Knowledge that liberates consciousness is often described as esoteric.
Furthermore, these levels exist in a more or less objective way: Although these levels stand between us and God, they do so not as obstacles but as way stations. Mysticism is not quite so concerned with these intermediate states; it focuses on reaching God in the most direct and immediate way.
The mystic wants to reach his destination as quickly as possible; the esotericist wants to learn something about the landscape on the way. Moreover, mysticism tends more toward passivity: Both the mystical and the esoteric paths are generously represented in the Christian tradition.
Examples of the former include the fourteenth-century English text known as Iner Cloud of Unknowing, which emphasizes ihner to God in the stillness of the heart; the Quietism of seventeenth-century Spain; and Quaker spirituality, with its focus on the still experience of the Inner Light. This book, on the other hand, is chiefly about the esoteric strain: These brief points suggest what esoteric Christianity offers to the individual: It also offers a resolution of the age-old dilemma of faith.
As even the most casual reader of the New Testament can see, faith originally meant conviction or certainty: Faith in this sense is the conviction, deeply felt and unshaken by whatever the world may say, christiznity something real and vital lies beyond the surface of appearances. In this sense, faith too is a way station. It is the gateway to knowledge. To Christianity collectively, esotericism offers an outlook that can revitalize the tradition and cut through difficulties that now seem almost insurmountable.
One example is biblical interpretation, which now focuses almost exclusively on the literal truth of Scripture. Fundamentalists hold to scriptural inerrancy: Moderns, on the other hand, claim that while the Bible is meant to be literally true, it is a collection of legends and myths that often have little to do with what really happened. In their pure form, both views are dead ends. Fundamentalism requires us to take Genesis literally, believe that people used to live hundreds of years, and accept various odd but miraculous interventions of God in history.
The liberal perspective makes no such requirements, but in writing off so much of the central sacred texts of the tradition, it tends to weaken and even invalidate the Christian message.
Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition by Richard Smoley
Esotericism differs from conventional views in holding that the Bible has always been meant to be read on several different levels, of which the literal is only one and in fact the lowest.
The third-century Church Father Origen writes: Very many mistakes have been made because the right method of examining the holy texts has not been discovered by the greater number of readers. Scripture interweaves the imaginary with the historical, sometimes introducing what is utterly impossible, sometimes what is possible but never occurred.
And who is so silly as to imagine that God, like a husbandman, planted a garden in Eden eastward, and put in it a tree of life, which could be seen and felt. And if God is also said to walk in the garden in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that any one will doubt that these passages, by means of seeming history, though the incidents never occurred, figuratively reveal certain mysteries.
Viewed from this perspective, the story of the Fall is not an antiquated folktale but a vivid and accurate account of the human predicament, and the story of Christ is not only an account of a historical man but also a figurative representation of the path that each of us must follow to attain liberation.
Esoteric Christianity has long been secret and to some degree inaccessible, but this is not out of a hard-hearted elitism. It is partly because for centuries the mainstream churches looked askance at anyone who did not see divine truth as they did and shunned or hunted down such people. But even in our more open-minded era, esoteric work still requires the effort and sincerity to look within.
This is not always pleasant or easy, and the forces of exterior life generally pull one away from it. Outer Christianity also focuses on salvation in the afterlife. You ask for help from Christ in purging your sins and taking away the threat of damnation.
Inner Christianity does not deny that there is an afterlife that will be shaped by our actions in the present, but it is less concerned with obtaining salvation in the future than with attaining illumination now.
Usually this is seen as a change in life direction: