Western civilisation emerged from the dark ages on a wave of conflicting religious faiths. From the fanaticism of the East to the emotionally driven West, the stage was set at around 1100 for a conflict from which the repercussions continue to affect the stability of the world to the present day.
It was the time of the first crusade: a dispute between Christianity and Islam over sovereignty of Jerusalem, the spiritual centre for both religions. Responding to power struggles within the Byzantine Empire and threats to vital trade routes hampered by Seljuk Turks, Pope Urban II rallied the faithful in a speech that succeeded in stirring the emotional ambience of the masses. The tenets of the teachings of the founding master Jesus were conveniently put aside while priests and holy fathers (the political spin doctors of the time) inculcated the people with hatred of the infidel and the desire for death and destruction. It was a masterful stoke of propaganda.
Having been granted ‘plenary indulgence’, by the Catholic Church, the crusaders were absolved of any sin in whatever action was necessary to reclaim the holy land. This was really the green light to indulge in atrocities and to show no mercy to the enemy. The fighting forces, as well as the civilian hordes that followed in their wake, were willing to undergo enormous hardship and sacrifice in their quest for the sacred city of Jerusalem. But could slaughter and bloodshed ever bring about a peaceful solution to unify religious differences? Or was it just a demonstration that whatever Man sought outside of himself as victor or martyr would always fail him in the end. Two thousand years on and it’s business as usual in the Middle East, where religious intolerance and conflict is as rife now as it has ever been.
Every country, continent or region resonates to a unique facet of the earth’s spirit or body of mankind. Africa is often cited as the cradle or ancestral birthplace of Homo sapiens. To me it symbolises the womb of the earth, the place where the elemental forces of life are conceived. Israel and surrounding areas of the Persian Gulf symbolise the entry point of life from the birth canal. From here the emanation of love from the earth’s spirit filters through the psyche into existence. This was the geographical region of the mythical Garden of Eden from which Adam and Eve were ultimately cast out and began the fall into matter. It is this deeply subconscious pull to return to the source of life that accounts for the intensity and fanatical resolve over the millennia to enter and reclaim the holy land. But it has been a case of mistaken identity through the distortion of the religious idea. Love, the sustaining quality of life on earth, has been gradually eroded over time from its original golden essence to a vapour of its former beauty and glory.
The volatile nature of the struggle between Israel and the surrounding Arab states has created a dynamic tension that agitates the wellspring of the human psyche. But, like a magnetic vortex of immeasurable power, it has attracted all of the world’s negativity, irresistibly drawn back to this place where it all started. The pressure which has been building up since the last great flood that devastated the ancient world is periodically released through the world psyche as shock waves, which manifest as earthquakes, catastrophe, revolution or periods of financial turmoil.
Existence is a war of attrition, the meeting place of extraordinary forces that continually crush and dismantle the structures that threaten to clog up the rhythmic flow of life. The cyclic movement of seasonal change performs this task as part of the natural way of things. War and destruction is the way in which humanity parallels the same process. It’s an endless process of death and rebirth until, through grace, something happens to an individual that signals it’s time to come home.
The final crusade is pending and will be instigated once more by religious conflict and violence – but with far greater consequences for the future of the human race. Tension and provocation due to the nuclear threat posed by Middle Eastern states and provinces will be the external catalyst for the destruction of western civilisation. No one can say exactly when it will happen. The only certainty is that it’s coming and there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent it. However, for the individual man or woman the final crusade is ultimately an inner battle and begins when the belief in the world has been shattered. This is an intensely personal experience, often triggered by traumatic events that penetrate the mind structure of the individual and instigate a profound change to the life. The challenge is then to confront the sentinel of ignorance, which is the pain of living past – the build-up of all the emotional negativity and unhappiness gathered since birth through unconscious living.
The physical body was once known as the temple. A temple is a sacred space, the dwelling place of God; or at least it was supposed to be. When I first began to turn inwards I knew that the temple had been desecrated and profaned. In violating what had once been pure, the task to somehow clean up the mess appeared immense, even impossible. Anyone reading this will know to some degree what this entails. Twenty years on, I can report that indeed the challenge is still immense but not quite impossible. In future articles I’ll be describing the experience of my own inner journey.
The dismantling of the pillars of the temple, the ignorance of unconscious living, creates space that releases the knowledge of life and love. The willingness to endure whatever pain and suffering is necessary is the mark of virtue that provides the catalyst to transform matter into an ever finer transparency or receptivity to life. This burning out of the ‘defiant one’ eventually purifies the inner space that restores the temple to its original state and amazingly negates the need to ever suffer again.
Lance Kelly 2012