Cosmic consciousness = a state of mind which is initiated when someone experiences a cosmic birth. It gives complete access to God’s own consciousness and the cosmic laws of the universe.
Intellectualised Christianity = a worldview where Martinus combines the traditional Christian beliefs of neighbourly love and an all-loving God with logical analyses of cosmic laws and the structure of the living being and the universe.
“Wounded refugees between two kingdoms” = an expression that Martinus uses to illustrate the present state of humanity between two epochs, the animal kingdom and the real human kingdom.
“But you don’t even believe in God!” his wife said angrily next to him in bed, looking at their joint incomes with a view to buying a new house. “So why should you go on paying church taxes instead of just leaving the church? We could save at least 7,000 crowns every year. For me, it’s already settled.”
“No! Yes! No! … Or … I don’t know.” The slightly subdued husband sighed. “It’s complicated.” And then, with more fervour: “But … I think … there is a small risk that God exists. It’s a tiny risk, but still.”
He got agitated and started painting a scene in the air, his imagination perhaps being sparked by having watched The Lord of the Rings again: “Just imagine what will happen, then, when we die? We might end up burning forever in a kind of Mordor … fire everywhere! With an evil eye watching us. Flames all around us. And for ages and ages! Just because we didn’t care in time.”
“But surely that won’t help, just paying taxes to the church? I mean you still don’t believe in God, do you?” his wife said incredulously.
“Well, you do what you want. But there is a miniscule risk that God exists and I will not – I repeat not – take that risk!”, the husband concluded and turned around to go to sleep, thus ending the discussion about leaving the Swedish Lutheran Church and thereby avoiding church taxes.
The scene above is taken from a Swedish sitcom called “The Sunny Side” (“Solsidan”) portraying more or less well-to-do people in a materialistic suburb of Stockholm, Sweden. The series deals with everyday experiences from a humoristic perspective, normally without any traces of existential or spiritual issues. However, I think this little dialogue can tell us something about how our present humankind is searching for God in two different ways.
Firstly, it shows us how that many people are still influenced by earlier images of a wrathful and vengeful, almighty God. The depiction of God in The Old Testament may have been powerful and imposing in its time, but it has little attraction for our present-day, more emphatic and sensitive human beings, who shun the thought of wrathfulness and punishment. Taking reincarnation into account – an irrefutable fact in Martinus’s world picture – it is highly likely that many people have suffered from fear and anguish in their previous lives at the thought of what will happen after death. Such unconscious memories and historical traditions may play a part in the scene above, where the main motivation for the husband’s unwillingness to leave the Swedish Church seems to be to secure a pleasant life after death. (Even though such a life in itself may appear quite irrational in Scandinavia, arguably the most secularized countries in the world when it comes to traditional religions.)
Secondly, and more importantly, the husband’s hesitation above may indicate that we are far from done with God, notwithstanding all the materialistic and scientific progress
characteristic of our time. Leave the church and cut the bonds altogether to the tiny remainder of spiritual sanctimony? Leave God? Even if I think that “God” is a man-made, outdated concept? Where do I go when I am lonely and sad, in times of crises, illness and death? Intellectual reasoning alone does not easily satisfy these needs. Here, we may find Martinus’s description of our development useful, starting with instinct-based religious manifestations in the animal kingdom and the beginning of the primitive humans. As he points out, the religious instinct makes itself known as an involuntary cry for help in moments of despair, often moments of death. This same instinct can be seen even today when soldiers and other people instinctively turn to prayer in moments of anguish, pain and death.
During our development as human beings, Martinus tells us that the religious instinct goes through different stages, from inhumane religious practices fuelled by primitive feeling and the energy of gravity, to growing humane ideals taught in the different world religions through the world redeemers. This “old world impulse” was mainly based on feeling and gave humankind new ideals to strive for, with Jesus Christ as the foremost practical example of the utmost neighbourly love. For many centuries, belonging to a world religion and believing in a god or in a divine existence was a natural part of most people’s existence. The capacity to believe was innate and organic.
But times change. Just compare our own time with the society in which Martinus (born 1891) grew up. During his childhood, nobody would discuss whether to leave the church or not. On the contrary, it was a homogenous religious society in the countryside, where prayer, church sermons and Christian education were still self-evident routines of daily life in Scandinavia. As Martinus himself tells us later on, he had a genuine inner relationship with God even as a child. He prayed every day and he saw Christ as the perfect model for behaviour, asking himself what Christ would have done in this or that situation. At the same time, Martinus also reacted to what he felt to be inhuman and cruel religious beliefs, such as priests condemning children who had been born out of wedlock or who died before having been christened. In his analyses, he often points out that clergymen who advocate war, for example, can never be representatives of a true, humane Christianity. Nevertheless, the contemporary audience of his cosmological analyses were probably more or less acquainted with the biblical and Christian references in Martinus’s works, seeing them as a natural link between the old world impulse and the new, spiritual science or The Third Testament.
As the journey proceeds and our intellectual capacities grow, the grip of the old world impulse will eventually end. Traditional Christian images and concepts have lost their inspirational power over many modern Scandinavians as well as citizens of other countries. Many people would reason like the wife in the initial sitcom scene – why pay money and cling to ideas that you cannot possibly find meaningful any longer? Consequently, at one point or another, we do leave God.
In the beginning, a non-existent God is perhaps a great liberation from many illogical restraints. Later on, we may find ourselves lost and confused as prodigal sons or prodigal daughters. Personally, I seem to be straying along a road whose direction is far from straight. At some points, I move steadily forward, trustful of finding a new relationship with God and highly inspired by the intellectualised Christianity of Martinus’s analyses. On other occasions, my satiation with all kinds of religious practices make me steer away from thoughts that appear too vague and unreliable. How can we be sure of anything? “God, if you really exist, why don’t you just appear and talk to me?”, I may find myself angrily demanding, pursuing a path that suddenly leads me further and further astray. In yet other moments, I yearningly look back at “gold copies” of our past: memories of beautiful churches, colourful paintings and the devout, child-like assurance that “God takes care of us all”. (If you followed all the rules, that is …) But after a while, this path of memory, too, seems to end in tangled bushes and you realise that you are lost again. “God, where are you?”
We remain “wounded refugees between two kingdoms”, as Martinus describes it. We cannot return and we don’t know where to go. But one day I think we will all experience the same surprise: religion may be dead, but God could still be alive. In fact, we may never have realised how present God really is. Not limited to old religious traditions, nor absent when we turn to politics or science and art. What is our quest for knowledge but a search for God? And we may feel God’s presence when we least expect it. In his initiation into cosmic consciousness, Martinus tells us he was embraced by God and bathed in a sea of love: “I felt that this was the very consciousness of God, his own sphere of thought. It was the substance, the omnipotence, the supreme power, through which the divine I ruled and directed oceans of worlds, galaxies, and nebulae, in microcosmos as well as in macrocosmos. I was spell-bound. The divine fire vibrated within me and without, above and below” (On the Birth of My Mission, chap. 17).
Experiencing this may still lie ahead of us. For now, we have to pursue our individual paths. But I would agree with the husband in the sitcom quoted initially – there is definitely a risk that God exists, and luckily, it is quite a substantial risk. Many are longing to re-establish their relationship with the divine and return to their spiritual home after a long journey in the world with suffering and darkness. We hope to return without fear, since the God that Martinus and many religious mystics describe is a God of all-encompassing love and light. Therefore, next time when we turn around in bed and prepare to sink into our night-consciousness, we can imagine that we will visit our home and have a little conversation with God. And one day when we have learnt more in the school of life, we will remember it when we wake up.