Common Ground: The Kinship of Metaphysicians
A syncretic approach to esoteric teachings - the golden threads that connect Pagans, Yogis, Rosicrucians and Masons.
Everyone Speculates: What are the House Rules?
All religions acknowledge this ultimate reality: On the roulette wheel of Life, even if we are among the fortunate few who achieve health, fame, fortune and love, our winning streak is doomed to expire. In the end, the House always wins; we all die, by one unpleasant means or another. In my opinion, the only important differences between world religions is in how the leading lights of each faith envisioned what comes afterward.
To my way of thinking, altogether too much has been made of the monotheism-polytheism-deism-theism-pantheism debate, and the same thing goes for reincarnation, pro and con. I know what I believe; the only thing I really want to know for sure is, what happens in the final reality after all time has ended. When the universe has contracted and all the suns are gone, when everything is finished and all our stories have been told, will I—and will all the souls I have ever loved, both human and animal—be okay? I mean, really okay? What are the House Rules?
I am not alone in asking this. There are many variations and combinations of the following beliefs, but all of them are just human attempts to beat—or at least to understand—the House. They reflect our shared reality that life shreds us to pieces. It horrifies and insults us with nightmare events that we find completely unfair and totally unacceptable; yet it does it anyway. Where should we go to file a protest? By what method are we to deal with inevitabilities that we cannot change?
The method most people use is religion. If we are not comfortable with the faith of our family or tribe, we may struggle for years trying to find something that makes more sense to us.
Some Spiritual Masters declare that the House (Universal Mind) is beneficent, and that everything we experience is for our own ultimate good. Even when things are horrible, painful and depressing, we can still trust our Divine Mother-Father. We are children of the Divine ourselves, so we are assured of Truth, Consciousness and Bliss when we have awakened from this dream. However it is that we hear the Divine—whether as One voice or Many, whether through reasoned theological texts or intuitional emotional metaphor—is our own unique experience, our own private business. Different strokes for different folks; Truth is One, Paths are Many. But the bottom line is that we will be okay in the end.
Other Masters warn in apocalyptic writings that there is only One True Path. This life is not a dream at all, but urgently important reality. Furthermore, it is a Battle—and we only get one chance to win. There are dark forces which are hatefully bent on our destruction, and we need the intercession of a Power stronger than ourselves in order to escape eternal perdition. It is folly to think that we are strong enough, alone, to win against such ancient Evil. If we do not give ourselves over completely to a Savior or Guru—and to the commands and judgments of the organization which is that Savior's or Guru's mouthpiece on earth—our souls will be lost forever. These Masters believe that those are the House Rules. Any teaching to the contrary, no matter how loving or reasonable it may sound, is a lie perpetrated by the Devil to lead us astray. It is very possible that we may not be okay in the end.
Even atheists, agnostics and humanists formulate their philosophies of life—and one's philosophy, if believed strongly enough, may be said to constitute his religion. We all need something to hold onto, in order to avoid going crazy. Deep down we know that being in control is only an illusion; but it's much more reassuring to have that illusion, than not.
Consequently, some thinkers hold that the House (Natural Law) works on purely scientific principles. It does not possess human-like cognition; it does not have emotional preferences. What we interpret subjectively as a mega-disaster of tragic proportions, Nature experiences simply as a tidal wave or an earthquake or a volcanic eruption; all natural events. There is nothing personal about it. As human beings desirous of maintaining viable communities, we need to live as rationally, compassionately and inventively as we can from day to day, in accordance with the universally recognized principles which we call the Golden Rule. Whatever happens afterward is completely up to the House. Whether we retain any awareness after we die is unverifiable by science, so best left to private speculation and personal opinion. But the point of life is in our everyday, moment-by-moment engagement with it. It is very likely, these people feel, that our awareness is snuffed out completely with the dying brain—in which case, ironically, it is quite accurate to say that we will be okay forever; for there will be no consciousness to perceive anything else.
To borrow a quotation from Edgar Lee Masters' Tomorrow is My Birthday (which he wrote as the last words of William Shakespeare to his friends Ben Jonson and Michael Drayton, who stayed up drinking with him the night before):
There is no sweeter thing, Nor fate more blessed than to sleep.
Tyrants shall rise and slaughter fill the earth,
But I shall sleep. In wars and wars and wars
The ever-replenished youth of earth shall shriek
And clap their gushing wounds--but I shall sleep,
Nor earthy thunder wake me when the cannon
Shall shake the throne of Tartarus. Orators
Shall fulmine over London or America
Of rights eternal, parchments, sacred charters
And cut each others' throats when reason fails--
But I shall sleep. This globe may last and breed
The race of men till Time cries out "How long?"
But I shall sleep ten thousand thousand years.
So, as I count it, the vote is two to one in favor of our blessed eternal protection—either because we will be reabsorbed into the Oneness of Universal Mind, or because we will lose consciousness altogether and not have to worry about anything. We could be wrong, of course; the middle opinion might be the right one, or something completely out of our calculations might be awaiting us. The House is more subtle than the prognostications of any gambler, and it probably holds some surprises in reserve.
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