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The Principle of Essential Divinity
An Interview with Andrew Schneider
Andrew Schneider was born in 1942 in Kelowna, BC. Canada. He entered a seminary to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood with the Benedictine monks at the age of 14. He trained with them for five years, gaining a solid academic grounding for his later studies, developing a deep spirituality and learning to live in a disciplined way. He then joined an Italian missionary order (The Consolata Fathers) with hopes of serving in Africa where they had missions. He took his philosophical studies in Connecticut before spending three years in Italy where he took a year’s novitiate and two years of theology in Rome. His studies were deep and extensive.
After 11 years in the religious life, Andrew left to pursue studies in psychology at the University of British Columbia, followed by a professional development year at Simon Fraser University in BC. to qualify for a teaching certificate. This education was followed by five years working as a teacher and school counsellor in the BC school system. 1974 marked the end of this period and the beginning of a totally new orientation.
Prior to 1974 Andrew’s work experiences included: teaching children of all ages; teaching at colleges; founding and operating a school for New Canadians; and teaching Yoga. His service included counselling people in various settings; working with the poor, sick, physically and mentally handicapped and emotionally disturbed in Canada, USA, Germany and Italy. He also translated books and magazine articles for publication and wrote a newspaper column on metaphysical subjects.
Since 1974 Andrew has worked full time in the metaphysical field. He has founded two schools for esoteric studies in Canada and Europe. Andrew also initiated the World Service Association which offers programs for consciousness development to the public in BC. During this period of time he has taught close to 5000 classes, seminars and workshops, and given approximately 5000 private sessions to intuitively assist people with their problems. He was once described as “a teacher of teachers and a healer of healers”. Andrew is author of the book The Mysteries Revealed: A Handbook of Esoteric Psychology, Philosophy and Spirituality.
The scope of Andrew’s teaching is extremely broad and eclectic. He combines psychology and spirituality in such a way that he facilitates integration of the whole person: body, soul and spirit. In 1999 he created the Philosophical Counselling Institute for the purpose of training people in soul-based counselling, which is now taught in Canada, Sweden and Denmark.
Andrew’s sensitivity and warmth, his deep interest in people’s well-being, his vast knowledge combined with intuitive perception, as well as his outstanding ability to express complex ideas in clear, simple language make him a very respected teacher and sought after speaker.
Alida Hilbrander, World Service Association. (WSA): Our subject is Essential Divinity, and we would like to know what that means from your perspective: what does that mean for humanity; and what does that mean for the planet?
Andrew Schneider. (AS): Of all the Laws and Principles, Essential Divinity is the most difficult for anybody to understand, but I also think it is the most basic as well as the most ultimate of all of them. It is the most profound and the most comprehensive because something like Unanimity is an outflow of Essential Divinity. The words themselves almost tell you what it is. Essential Divinity suggests that everything that exists in its essence is divine. And then the question becomes what is divine? The word divinity in itself does not reveal the depth of its meaning, yet it is suggestive of ‘emanation of light’. And Light has been traditionally referred to as the ultimate intangible reality. It is perhaps associated with the Sanskrit word deva, which translates as the shining one. And loosely translated it means the intelligent aspects of life and nature that emanate their essence and radiate energy. Which is probably as close as we can get to understanding Divinity.
We do not grasp Divinity in itself because in order to do that our consciousness must be totally inclusive, which it is not. So the qualifying of the word ‘divinity’ in this principle with the word ‘essential’ is perfect because it refers to its essence, and the essence of anything is its soul. The only way that we can really grasp divinity is through Soul. And we are increasingly capable of doing that. Although we do not embrace spirit in its totality or directly we can do it indirectly through its expression in the essence of people and things, and ourselves. Another word for that essence is soul. And as people are developing soul-consciousness, which is increasingly happening today, we can experience the divinity, the ultimate life aspect through everyday experiences, through anything. The difficulty that every human being has in experiencing Essential Divinity is the fact that we are so focussed through our senses and so stuck both in the form of things which appeal to the senses, and one step further, so focussed on our desire nature and controlled by it, that this is what prevents us from really experiencing the Divine Presence.
WSA: Does this mean that Essential Divinity can be experienced in all creation and all events?
AS: Yes, and this aspect has been the source of my inspiration and meditation most of my life, being of that Ray of energy of Soul that always strikes for the highest.
WSA: Your First Ray Soul.
AS: And to the First Ray Soul that is a natural thing. Some people are more naturally inclined to connecting with this reality and others less so. And that is by design as well. But it is incredibly wonderful to have such an all-encompassing presence, because when a person appreciates and values that, then everything has meaning in relation to that, absolutely everything. I was reflecting just this morning that when people approach this for the first time, they would probably think when you experience the divine presence everything is wonderful and comfortable and uplifting, and so forth. And that is not it, that is not what it is about: it is about everything! My body was in pain this morning and that was as much revealing of Essential Divinity when one is not in pain.
WSA: When a person is getting more challenges there would be a greater contrast than just keeping one’s focus on Essential Divinity. So when you are in pain, what do you do?
AS: Find its meaning and see where it has a place. It has a place either because of what I need to learn or what it pushes me toward, which might be to let go of some attachment. It might be a reminder to me to take better care of my physical body, how I use my physical body. It could be any number of things, but pain and hardship and so forth are never useless, they are never without meaning. I feel sorry for people who do not have an ultimate reality to which they can relate all their experiences. Because then all you are left with is a linear process of: well this may be meaningful, or it may not. It would be very easy to almost get depressed, but more profoundly living without meaning and purpose. You need some bigger picture, you need some ultimate reality beyond the human, beyond the strictly human, in order to make sense of the apparent injustices in life, the apparent inequalities, the apparent contradictions.
WSA: That is when you would think that life is not fair.
AS: Yes. In the olden days people would say, and I guess people still say, God is not fair. As if there is some ultimate reality that is manipulating everything that happens. And if something is good then it is God’s doing, and if it is bad and we do not like it, then it is God doing that too! And that is silly, that is not the way reality is. The only thing that people can do to appreciate the universal presence, Divinity in itself, is to know themselves well enough to know where they end in their human nature and where they start experiencing themselves beyond that. And still the majority of people are restricted to their human nature. By definition: their physical senses, their emotional desires or reactions and their rational mind. That is our human nature. Essential Divinity begs us to go beyond that, to stretch to other dimensions of ourselves. And what people have to learn in that transition period, and people are learning that today, is to learn that this is not a stretch to some other reality that we do not participate in, which is like the old view of what spirituality is about: you have to leave who you are in order to experience the other. That is putting divinity as an outside force acting on us, but the demand now is to know ourselves well enough in our human nature, and then to take the step to know ourselves in our spiritual nature or our divine nature, and experience the ultimate reality that way.
WSA: So then it becomes part of the everyday reality.
AS: Yes it does, then it becomes integrated . It is a continuum from how far we have developed and how much we have accepted of ourselves with how well we know ourselves into those new areas. We call that expansion of consciousness through growth. And when it is based on that self-knowledge it automatically gets integrated with it. Because there is no jump that has to be made.
WSA: So that is the change we see nowadays, that the consciousness is becoming more integrated. Rather than being in different compartments of realities of which one is the human and the other is the Divine, that is experienced only when you die or when you go to church.
AS: Yes, and in church is where it was before. Now we realize that when we do anything like going for a boat ride on the lake, it does not mean going away from anything spiritual. It all depends where your consciousness is in terms of experiencing this world, in its beauty and in its ugliness, in all of its contrasts. It depends where we stand within our consciousness as to what we are going to experience, whether we are going to experience just the superficial aspect or the essential aspect.
WSA: Which brings me to another question: When you see all these bad things happening in the world, then the feeling comes that we are almost losing ground. Humanity is almost like on a slippery slope, especially in the environment. We cannot crawl back. How do you see that? You sound very positive of the growing consciousness in humanity but when you see the effects of it..
AS: Yes, I think we have to understand that everything, whether it is a human being, a community, humanity, nature, the globe, all are manifestations of divinity. When divinity is the ultimate all-inclusive reality, which it is by definition, then every single expression and every collective expression is a manifestation of it. We can mess things up really badly, but we cannot ultimately destroy anything which is part of the divine life. One of the things I have learned in life is that every single expression is unique and is totally necessary. And if it is necessary then it will be sustained in existence. We can mess it up a lot, but we cannot kill it, because everything that exists is by its very nature a created being. It does not matter whether it thinks or does not think, but all organisms in nature, all living things, are created beings and that is because divinity is of its essence and that divinity is foremost a created reality. So the creative energy exists in everything and not just things that we call living things, because everything is living due to the fact that it exists.
Even in physics there is a theory or a principle that every living being transcends itself. And one of the things that I have learned is that we transcend ourselves when we have completed the any level of consciousness of being of who we are. And that is true of rocks, that is true of trees, that is true of species, and that is true of human beings, individually and collectively. So things change when they transcend themselves, and that is not a change that we can label good or bad, it is simply a change, a movement. And every changed condition or state means that now the universe has a different reality, a new vehicle through which to express itself.
What we are doing on the planet today is being instrumental in really changing nature as we have known it in the past. But then nature changed even when human beings were not here. We had ice ages, and if an ice age would occur right now we would think that we had caused it. Whether we did or did not would be a different question. But ice ages occur, sun cycles become more active; so there are natural changes that occur. When human beings have an influence on it we call it unnatural and it is, compared to the past. It is to the extent that we do not follow universal laws. But that is a big learning: human beings do not know universal laws until they mess them up sufficiently, that is how we learn what is universal. And we do not start learning that until we have advanced a fair bit mentally in our evolution. Humanity has not advanced very far in its evolution; it is only in the past couple of hundred years that we really have started to develop the mind. When you develop a new instrument you do not, at first, know how to use it properly; you use it ignorantly and selfishly; we are seeing lots of evidence of this. What we are now doing is developing our highest capability, which is the mind, and that is where we are destroying things. We are not following universal laws in the ways we use the mind. But we have to see the consequences of that before we can align ourselves with universal laws. And when we are talking about aligning ourselves with universal laws it is really soul-consciousness we are talking about. Until we have developed that we are not going to be aligned with nature to any significant degree, not with the mental tools and powers that we have created. Primitive human beings do not have a destructive effect on nature because they do not have the tools to do it . But because we have developed the rational mind to the extent that we have, we have created bombs, we have developed toxic elements and so forth, and have used those for selfish purposes. With mental development we have a far greater capacity to destroy. But part of the development beyond our human nature and in soul consciousness is to learn from that, to see the consequences and to discover that there are laws operating here. We can see more and more people waking up to the fact that certain kinds of behaviour are beneficial collectively. And that is why we also need political leaders who do things that are not good for humanity, because that shows everybody that there are certain values , certain qualities, certain standards and laws that must be obeyed, otherwise people suffer.
I just read this morning that one out of five countries in the world are having war, that is 20% of the countries, not 20% of humanity, of the 190 odd countries that there are in the world, which is a lot. We are not going to be kinder to nature then we are to each other, and we are not going to be kinder to each other then we are kind to ourselves. So we come back to the beginning then - that we have to know ourselves and to understand ourselves sufficiently, to take care of ourselves and to love ourselves, and then by extension we will do that automatically with other people, and then we will also do that automatically with nature. The whole self-help movement is not very old; how many years ago could you buy books on well-being of any kind , physical health or emotional health!
WSA: And then the books on soul-consciousness that have come out in the last ten to fifteen years, all of a sudden that is accepted; before it was called all this flaky stuff.
AS: This is really new on the planet. I think there are tremendous changes happening and I attribute these significant changes to the fact that people are beginning to respond to the essence within themselves and to the divinity that is expressing through us. The whole big change that has occurred is from relating to divinity externally to now relating to it internally. There is an expression in esoteric philosophy that says that when you develop soul-consciousness, the soul within you recognizes the soul within the other, and it is that recognition that causes then the union that takes place and that union has all kinds of qualities to it: respect, acceptance of diversity, compassion, support. Thus when the soul within us becomes active it recognizes the soul within nature, it recognizes the soul within politicians and the political system, the economic system and so on. Everything has soul, but sometimes the form, particularly with human beings and the behaviour, does not reveal the soul very well.
WSA: What I hear you say is that actually the negativity that you see humanity express serves the purpose for the rest of us to recognize that this is not what we want to align ourselves with. And that also serves the greater purpose.
AS: Everything is purposeful. And that is a hard one for us to accept when we don’t like a behaviour or we don’t like an act or a condition and we really want to eliminate it. No amount of energy will eliminate it until we do see the purpose of it, and then we can put it into context and approach it in a more intelligent and loving way. Usually what we don’t like and want to eliminate is what we recognize outside of ourselves rather than in ourselves. But some people are very good at condemning themselves and are excessively hard on themselves which is no good either.
One of the facts of Essential Divinity that I like and reflect on frequently is the oneness of life that is manifest in ultimate diversity, infinite and eternal diversity And this oneness of life cannot be fully grasped because we are divided within ourselves. But I sense it, more so at times than at other times And because in itself it is eternal and infinite, then everything created and manifest is also. There is no duplication in life, even when in rough appearances it seems that there might be. Even ‘identical’ twins are not exactly alike, neither are two rocks; everything is always totally unique and every moment is always unique. Everything, no matter what it is, contains the ultimate reality. Every unique expression contains the ultimate reality, that is the holographic idea. People have spoken of this thousands of years ago, so it is not a new idea. Now we have a scientific picture of it, a scientific model, since now we can make holograms in which the whole is contained within the part. And that part is everyone of us - not only the parts but our own essential self contains the whole. That is the basis then for growth, for development and for creating a life that is truly meaningful.
WSA: Because it has all the potential within it.
AS: Exactly, I am reading a book now, which is not very profound, but it is kind of a sociological look at how little things can make big differences and how little acts can start huge chain reactions. The authors talk of how all epidemics start with just one individual thing. Not only diseases but social conditions cause vast changes in society. So it is with our own consciousness and our own psychology, and the accumulation of thoughts and the accumulation of words that we express, and the feelings that we have. And if we are relatively consistent in terms of creating a majority of words, thoughts and feelings that support some new creation, that new creation will result. It will; it is inevitable.
WSA: Like a new energy.
AS: Yes, we are building something, and it seems that all of a sudden the change happens, but it has not happened out of the blue, it has happened out of an accumulation of things. There is something called the ‘tipping point’ and that is when it tips over into a new reality.
WSA: That is when the penny drops.
AS: The hundredth monkey effect. Even economists talk about the’ twenty percent principle’. If you get anything up to twenty percent then it jumps from there to hundred percent.
WSA: I have heard that ten percent of the people need to have a higher consciousness, another ten percent may be negative. Eighty percent are non-committed, but when the ten percent is happening or maybe eleven percent, then the other eighty percent fall in line because they go with the flow.
AS: Something like that, between ten or twenty percent. That is what we are working at today. We would not be doing this at this point in history if there were not two factors present: One, we are now capable of making this profound change in consciousness. And the other thing is something we don’t understand. It is the Divine Presence in its cycles of manifestation requiring this new expression at this time. So there is something operating from deep within us which is totally universal, which we don’t understand, but which is actually the cause of it. But nothing would be happening if we had not evolved to the point where we are capable of making these new choices. And people who are capable of making the choices for divinity, for the essential divine nature of life, are those people who know themselves well enough and, as I have said, who are capable of using their mind freely, which means not being controlled by their desire nature, and who can therefore make choices based on the ability to make distinctions between the quality of one thing and another . They recognize when something of superior quality is present and they choose that. Whenever we make a choice for greater quality we are actually developing soul-consciousness. Because greater quality means that the divine is present in such a way that its presence is not being blocked as much.
WSA: Then we have stepped into a new groove, because people follow certain patterns all the time, is n’t that right?
Andrew, what has this meant for you in your life? You have been doing this teaching of personal development, spiritual growth and soul-consciousness, what has your journey been? You alluded to it that you are a First Ray Soul, and so all this must have been part of your life from the beginning.
AS: I have always been able to grasp, in my own way, the Divine Presence, the Essential Divinity. That has not been difficult for me in my life. My earliest memories of it go back when I was ten or twelve years old., but I was able to articulate it when I was about fourteen. But the challenge in this for me, in my life, is how to reveal this Essential Divinity, how to express it in words when I talk about different things, to acknowledge it within other people in a way that is not abstract. Because very often it would be abstract and I would miss the person. I would relate to the presence that was there, but often they would not relate to that within themselves, so therefore they felt that I was not relating to them. Well I was, but to a deeper part of themselves that they were not in touch with. Over the years this is what I have had to pay attention to. It is easy for me to see the divine presence in people, really easy, because I have been doing this for fifty years. But I need to acknowledge the humanity in another person without losing the connection to the divine presence within them, even when that humanity is not to my liking or is self-destructive on the part of that person. One of the things that deeply bothers me and affects me is when people are really negative about themselves. It really bothers me emotionally; it upsets me, because I can see the divine presence that is there and it is like they can’t relate to it, and therefore they put themselves down in such a destructive way that it denies that divine presence. To me that is a kind of killing, it is a squelching of this unique expression of life. That bothers me, and it also bothers me when someone does that to somebody else by putting the other person down.
I was recently at a gathering when someone got up to speak and I could see them starting to do that and I found myself walking out, not realizing what I was doing, but realizing after I had done it and why I had done it. I just did not want to hear that. So my challenge is to help bring that essential divinity out of people and help them to recognize it and connect with it and honouring where they are at, without expectations at the same time. And when they fall short in their own eyes from the impulse from deep within themselves that they feel, to be understanding even though I may see more of that divinity within them then that they see or feel. That is a hard balance, that is really a difficult balance.
WSA: Do you see more of that or less of that in the students that have been attending your sessions? Some of them have been there for years and years.
AS: It is gratifying, it has been very gratifying that more and more people are really getting it. That’s what keeps me going. If none of them would have gotten it I would have given up and become a carpenter or something.
WSA: Do you still have people in your courses that have a low self-esteem and in their soul-consciousness?
AS: There are a lot of people who have low self-esteem because there are so many people today who are gaining the mental understanding of the next steps in consciousness. They know mentally about the Laws and Principles. They have heard about the Universal Laws, but maybe they have not done sufficient personality work to be able to integrate those well into their lives. Therefore they still hold on to a lot of the old patterns. I would say the majority are in this transitional phase where they have gained in knowledge; and I believe the knowledge is necessary for mentally oriented people to be able to build this kind of bridge into the deeper connections. More personal work is needed, and I have not spoken of this before, but one of the things that holds bridging people back, people who still have a lot of transformational work to do within their personality but have a very good knowledge of soul-consciousness, but are not integrated, is that they don’t have the support groups. Nor do they have the support people in their lives to a sufficient degree. And by ‘support’ I mean people of like mind, who can support them in their transitional process. They may go to a workshop once every three or four months, they may do some good reading and so forth, but you need active interaction with people to support and develop consciousness because the development of consciousness is not an individual thing. That is a left-over from the Piscean Age. If you are associating with people who are not developing their consciousness, like ninety percent of the time, that is not going to do it. It is not going to create this critical mass that you need in order to move on. But if you have taken some steps beyond where those ninety percent of people are, they may be coming to you for help, for advise; maybe they just expect encouragement, and that is helpful. But you also need the people who are moving on. This is one of the things that I think has already been amply proven. We have a saying Birds of a Feather and it is because like attracts like, and that is essential in terms of developing consciousness, because by definition soul-consciousness is group consciousness and is characterized by greater inclusiveness. So it requires other people to be included at that level where you can be strengthened. It has been shown that when people meditate together, all you need is one or two people in a group who meditate at a deeper level than the rest and that will help the rest to meditate at a deeper level. Or if you have one profoundly compassionate person resonating at the buddhic level of consciousness in a group of meditators, it pulls the others in that direction as well. This principle is true of our overall development. We spoke a little while ago about the ten or twenty percent to change the consciousness to change humanity. We need to use this principle in our everyday lives as well.
WSA: So this is where the purpose of the meditation group is. Like our group meditating on the Universal Laws and Principles.
AS: Absolutely. And when we do that, to link up with the rest of the people, not just take it as a personal meditation but take it as a group meditation. You don’t have to be physically present with someone to benefit from their level of consciousness or of the collective consciousness.
WSA: Which is a good thing to hear, because most of the people who are getting these transcripts are all over the world.
AS: And we need to deliberately include them and link up. It makes a psychological difference but it actually does connect people.
WSA: Tell me more about your journey. You were quite young when this was made known to you.
AS: Yes, my journey. I have always looked for a role in life where I could offer something that I felt that people needed. So one of my earliest aspirations was to be a missionary in Laos and later on I wanted to be a missionary in Africa. I guess it was because I read about these people who were poor and needed lots, and I just wanted to help people. But for some reason I wanted to share the universal laws, I wanted to share spiritual principles. Because whenever I wanted to help other people it was in a non-physical way and I think that has always been so because I know how the mind creates and destroys in my own experience and how words create and destroy. Even as a teenager I would go and visit people who were bedridden in their homes or were in hospitals and did not get visitors. I would go to the head-nurse on a floor of the hospital to give me a list of people who would appreciate a visitor. And there I was using words to try to make their suffering a little easier. Words are connected with mind, so I have always been focussed on trying to develop the mind in the best way I could, to understand it and to use it in a positive and constructive way, and then to help other people to do the same.
When you develop mind you go from the concrete informational processing mind to the more abstract, you go deeper. Then you go beyond your humanity and there is a whole dimension of energies. It is the Essential Divinity that is present there with all its qualities. Having started to meditate at the age of fourteen and meditate daily for the next twenty years, that is where I went. I went into that place beyond analysis, beyond information, and it deeply enriched me. In these early years of my life my physical health was terrible. I had all kinds of illnesses and problems. I was bedridden for six months at the age of five, bedridden for two months at the age of thirteen; it seemed to go on and on. But it was this ability to connect with the deeper part of myself that put this other in context. I never ever felt sorry for myself. I never felt it was unjust, it just was. This was my experience, and when you can experience the vicissitudes of life, in your physical body for example, or even in your emotional body, and at the same time experience something more permanent, more solid and more beautiful in a way, then those vicissitudes have significance. What happens then is that the formless reality becomes even more beautiful and more rich and in some way, more meaningful. So it works both ways, the hardships are minimized in terms of their destructive energy and the uplifting energies become more profound and certainly appreciated more.
That kind of contrast continued for many years in my life, particularly until my early thirties. Then in my thirties I decided that I would focus specifically and directly on spiritual laws and principles, and to assist other people to understand them and apply them in their lives. But this application challenge, which I mentioned earlier, is a daily challenge for me. How can I take these abstract energies and laws, and make them real for people. My understanding is that I cannot do that to any great degree. People have to do that for themselves because the application of a universal principle has to be unique in that individual’s life This is not the way society functions today and people still want me, in the spiritual courses and so on, to give them examples of how to do this. It would be the same as a doctor prescribing medication on the experience of a few people - that this medication always treats these symptoms. Well, we know that does not work. That especially does not work with universal laws; I cannot tell people how to apply them; I can only try to help them understand the law or principle. Each person has to apply them to the unique circumstances of that person’s life. If that person is unique then their situation and their circumstances are also unique. Universal laws and principles have to be applied to that person’s psychology, their evolution and their state of consciousness. People have to do that for themselves. But you see we have become lazy over the past two thousand years: we expect other people not only to tell us what to do but how to do it. And this is part of the new consciousness today: we have to understand what the reality is and then to understand ourselves well enough to put those two together. That is personal work.
WSA: Then it is important that we start with the personal work and the personality, so that we can anchor that consciousness. We cannot just be up there and getting it.
AS: That is a real challenge to help people still do that but then to try to share as much of my experience of the universal as possible. This search for universal laws was a deliberate search for about twenty five years in my life at a rather young age through a lot of the reading I had done. I was writing book reviews and alternative newspaper columns, but particularly the book reviews on alternative consciousness, psychic things, mysteries of life and so forth. So I was getting dozens of books that publishers would be sending me. I read a lot and widely and one of the conclusions I came to was that if anybody can do anything then everybody can do it. So there has to be something that links the one person to the many. Granted that each person is unique and that any ability can be expressed uniquely. But that ability itself is not unique to that individual.
What first got me interested in this and coming to that conclusion was reading about different healers - people who would do laying on of hands for example. They all had their own explanation. What I was able to see, however, was that the explanations they were giving was a difference in form, but the energy was the same. So if it is the same energy I assumed it must be the same source for that energy. Then I started studying how healing works and once I started learning about that I started teaching how to do healing. Then I got my proof that people could do it and that there are just a few things that people had to know and do, and the healing would work. Many years ago I read an article in FATE Magazine with the headline: The Man With The X-Ray Eyes. The story was that this man would look into people’s bodies with his eyes closed. Today we call that clairvoyance, but that was how it was put. And I thought to myself, if he can do it I can do it as well. I experimented with it and explored what was involved to be able to do that. When I practised it, I did so not totally in a subjective way because I had other people around to verify whether I was accurate and what I was perceiving. I did all kinds of variations of it and then I started teaching that.
What I was looking for in all of this is: what are the universal laws and energies that govern the things that we do and the abilities we have? I was looking at the kind of alternative abilities that people were not understanding at all, and that many people would scoff at, saying that it was not possible. And the reason they would say it was not possible is because they did not understand it; you have to go to universal laws to understand how to do these things that are other-dimensional in nature. What you experience in meditation and altered states of consciousness is all governed by universal laws.
I began looking more and more into qualities, like love. What is love? What is patience? What is compassion? I would take the virtues that I grew up with in the church and what the Buddhists taught, what people who obviously had a high moral sense and expanded consciousness were saying that we as human beings needed to do, and then to try to find the universal laws that governed those things. When I was a student for the priesthood there were all these virtues that the priests were preaching about - you had to do this, you had to do that, and it was all overwhelming for me. So in my meditations over several years I finally boiled it down to one, and that one was love. And if I could just practice love all the rest would take care of themselves. Well, I was right on track I understand that now. It is that focus on love and tracing it to its universal sources that connected me with the Universal Law of Attraction. Exploring that and going deeper into this experience of oneness beyond love, which is closer to the idea of Essential Divinity, took me to the Universal Law of Synthesis - how everything becomes synthesized and eventually merges even beyond duality. The Law of Economy, the third universal law, I got to that through different means as well. Then I discovered that people actually wrote about these universal laws, but I probably spent twenty years discovering it.
WSA: Because it was not actually defined at that time as Universal Laws or written about as for example the Universal Laws of Right Human relations, Goodwill, Group Endeavour, Unanimity, and so on? Or was it?
AS: Well it was written about, but I did not have the information at the time anyway.
WSA: You got it from the Source.
AS: Yes, that was my journey, you don’t ‘get’ things unless you experience them. So for me, it was not like reading it in a book and saying ok, what does this now mean? I went at it the hard way, and really the only way to expand consciousness. You can’t expand consciousness by reading it in a book. I had to explore it and experience it. And then reading it in a book afterwards, and then say ‘O, that is what it is!’
WSA: It was a good way of finding out that you were not all the way out of it, because someone else discovered it as well.
AS: I knew that I was not all the way out of it because it was so right! The meditations had a lot to do with it. But it is interesting that once I started really connecting with the universal energies, universal qualities, universal laws, my intuition naturally developed because I was using my abstract mind a lot. I did study philosophy for four years and this is like pure philosophy. Well not just the history of philosophy, but like ontology and epistemology- those really hard core traditional philosophies where you have to develop your abstract mind in order to get through them; otherwise they are totally a foreign language. So this really forced me to develop my higher mind. I was in my early twenties during this time, around eighteen to twenty-two. Then in the decade following that my intuition started to develop more and more.
WSA: And that came about naturally?
AS: Yes, that came about naturally, which it has to. A lot of people say they developed their intuition by doing exercises and so on. I don’t believe that, I don’t think that is possible. I don’t think you can develop true intuition, which is a buddhic plane sense, through any kind of exercises. You develop intuition through being compassionate, deeply understanding, patient, accepting, in other words practising the virtues, practising the Soul qualities. That is how you develop the intuition, because those practices take you to the buddhic plane. And one’s effectiveness, for example, in being able to be a true healer, not to just treat symptoms, but to truly be a healer who takes people from the symptom to the Soul, requires you to live a quality compassionate life, because healing is a characteristic of the buddhic plane as well. So there has to be sufficient compassion to be able to manifest the healing that way. The healing I was referring to earlier was the healing of symptoms and certain conditions. And that is bridging.
WSA: So you never went to Africa?
AS: I never went to Africa! I had decided not to continue in the religious life any more. I had decided that I wanted to be a psychologist, a priest-psychologist. That is what I really wanted to be, so I could combine psychology with spirituality, which is what I am doing now. But the religious order I was in did not want me to do that. Then they told me that they were going to send me to Africa after I was ordained. They never mentioned any of this before, but they were going to send me to Ethiopia to open up a medical centre down there, which would have been an interesting idea. But I was really focussed on this integration of the human psyche with spiritual energies.
I had the good fortune in my training to meet a couple of priests who were very intelligent and very open. One young man made a comment to me one day that really got me interested: he said a lot of what we see in terms of symptoms of saints and mystics we can also see in mentally disturbed people. That really sparked something within me. I wanted to understand why. What is going on here in the human psyche, where one person you call a saint and another you lock up in a mental institution! A very close friend of mine, the best friend I had in the religious life, was having some of these experiences and to him they were totally mystical experiences. Because of these experiences he was dismissed from the religious order. He resented me profoundly, because I ,in his eyes, was not as spiritual as he was and yet I left voluntarily. To him I was throwing something away that he prized so much and could not have. But through being guided from within I made sufficiently good choices to follow my own authentic path.
One of the important values, and it is consistent in what we have been saying, that we need to keep in mind, is that in order to enter this new age of consciousness and really connect with the Essential Divinity, is to realize that in part it is a collective journey, while at the same time we have to honour our uniqueness and take responsibility for ourselves. What that means is that we have to deal with the issue of authority. Where is the authority in our life? Is it outside of ourselves in the collective - is it outside ourselves in the terms of divinity - is it outside ourselves as an outside authority? Or is the authority within ourselves, and is that authority within ourselves of such a stature of being that we can follow it and totally trust it ? That is a big leap for a lot of people, a very big challenge.
I was beginning to recognize at the age of twenty-four that the authority of the church, the authority of any external rules and so forth, while fine in themselves, will not take me to that point where I need to get to. So then I started following more of what I felt I needed to do. That took me out of the institution of the church, yet at the same time directed me more deeply into spirituality, into the more universal. Then I continued on in university and discovered that the so-called authority of psychology was also not taking the direction I needed to go. It was in fact taking me in the opposite direction. It was so materialistic that I abandoned that and continued my deeper knowledge of psychology. Then I started working in the school system and the educational authority, and after five years of that realized that it was also not taking me where I needed to go, so I left that. It was finally at that point after leaving three institutions, and getting enough experience in all three of them, to be able to discriminate in spiritual matters, psychological matters and educational matters, that I could now educate psychologically and spiritually in a way that really suited my purpose in life.
WSA: It is incredible how a life takes you through these different experiences
AS: Yes, you don’t know where it is going at the time, all you can do is trust that it goes in the right direction.
WSA: And then when you look back on it you are awed how everything had a purpose and fell into place, and how it was meant to be.
AS: I think that people often experience that kind of thing when they go through relationships as well, like individual personal relationships. Even when a person gets divorced or separated once or twice, each one of those relationships has the potential of contributing an enormous amount to the person’s life. It is what we do with things, whether we learn from them, whether we expand our consciousness from them or not. So when I see people’s lives unfolding I do not necessarily understand it; I can see what is happening in their lives right now and talk about that, but ultimately it is their own journey.
WSA: It is their own journey and they have to make sense of it
AS: And it has to be that way, because then we respect the other person and we respect their journey. There is an intelligence operating in their life far more profound then anybody’s intelligence. I trust that people are going where they need to go, and doing what they need to do.
WSA: Often you hear people say ‘I went the wrong way’, ‘that was a mistake’, a lot of regrets expressed, because they do not see their journey; they do not see the process.
AS: I don’t regret, but at the same time I can point to things where I say ‘that was stupid’. I was stupid at that time for doing that, but I don’t regret it. I was just not intelligent enough or I was too lazy, or lacked experience. When you don’t demand perfection of yourself, then you don’t have to be hard on yourself. I think that when you regret and beat yourself up for what you have done and so on, it is like you are expecting far too much; you expect to be perfect and to be perfect is an illusion. You then usually project that expectation on others as well.
WSA: That is when we talk about Essential Divinity it is the last of the six Principles. We start with Right Human Relations and then the Principle of Goodwill, it is like a progression. Essential Divinity is more at the apex of it.
AS: It is at the apex and it is what makes sense of all the rest. If Essential Divinity did not exist then none of the others would either. Why do we need right human relations? Because we have Essential Divinity, it is that what we honour in the other, but you do not have to know that at the time.
WSA: It is a beginning and the end.
AS: It is always that way, because the ultimate purpose of anything is divinity. What we know is that the ultimate purpose of anything is what gives birth to any process. It is like wherever we end up gives birth to where we begin, because that is the circle. It is like death is the end of this life, but as soon as we are born we begin to die. A profound death started this life, death from outside the form to entering into the form, death being a major transition. Death in the other sense, as the breaking down of things, actually begins from the time we are born. But everything is that way. It is the goal of our journey that gets us starting the journey. It is like you have the goal of going to Vancouver that gets you in your car, that gets you going. If you did not have that goal, that purpose, you would not start. It is like the flower that has bloomed, formed its seed and the seed begins the new life - the seed is in the flower and the flower is in the seed, the beginning and the end. Essential Divinity begins with all, it gives reason to it all, it redeems all and embraces all. It is because of that very nature, being so extensive and ubiquitous, that it is the most abstract, the most difficult to embrace in consciousness.
WSA: So the best thing for that is meditation because you have to go inside.
AS: You have to go beyond your senses. You have to, at least, in a meditative way, alter your consciousness, to let go of desire, stop emoting and go beyond linear thinking and take a deeply yin state of receptivity and allow this vitality, which goes by the name of Essential Divinity, to impress itself upon you. Let it dominate instead of letting the self, in any of its forms, to dominate. And as we do that, we can take that experience from the meditation and have that same attitude when we go about our daily life. It is a lot easier in our daily life when we are relaxed or when we take a profound interest in something, because when we are relaxed and take a deep interest in something we are far more receptive and let it speak to us - and also let the deepest reality in one another speak to us. Most of us can do that more easily in nature, like non-human nature, and that is a good place to practice it because it is less blocked in the natural environment. It may be more difficult in urban settings. Whenever we are stressed, for example, that is the most difficult, if not impossible, time to experience Essential Divinity or Soul energy. Because as soon as we are stressed we increase our survival drive and we block our ability to function from the higher parts of our brain. It is interesting that the more we meditate and the more open and more flexible we become, the more we develop the pre-frontal lobes of the brain. Someone labelled them a few years ago as the “angel lobes.” Very little was known about them. But we do know now that when we develop soul consciousness there is a brain part that connects with that, and it is the pre-frontal lobes. Interestingly, it is very close to the Brow Centre or Chakra. But whenever we are highly stressed we function more from the lowest reptilian brain, the primitive brain, and that cuts of the connections with the higher. Any kind of abstraction that we want to connect with does require the higher part of the brain in order to be able to connect.
People need to do the personality work to develop higher consciousness because the different parts of our brain can block higher functioning. For example, if we have not dealt with emotional issues then the limbic brain, which is the second lowest, will dominate. Our desire nature and our repressions, suppressions, and all of the emotional stuff, will block the ability to function from a higher part. And our fears particularly can block us, because they not only involve the limbic brain but the primitive brain even more so. The lower the brain that controls, the less the connection with that higher part of the brain that can liberate us from those things.
We need to work with the abstract realities, the universal energies and that will help integrate our experiences. If a person is open when doing the higher work then the lower gets transformed much more easily. But people have to do the new consciousness thing, which is that when you work on the higher, look at what the lower blockages are and be willing to deal with those. The old attitude was, ‘let’s get beyond these lower problems and blockages and just deal with the higher and increasingly live there as much as possible’. That is still a very common attitude even in spiritual circles today
WSA: Which is the mystic path.
AS: It is the mystic path and it is really common. A lot of that actually comes out of some Eastern teachings, at least as they are applied here in the West. It is also very common in Christian mysticism. A lot of the spiritual paths that people are getting into today are still Sixth Ray rather than the Seventh Ray of integrating the highest within our everyday life.
WSA: Thank you so much Andrew for giving us much to think about and to reflect upon. You have covered everything and more of our questions. The Principle of Essential Divinity has become more real, and you have given us some tools on how to impact our lives with this universal principle.
Universal Laws Committee
The World Service Association - P.O. Box 733, Salmon Arm, BC. V1E 4N8
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