Shadows on a wall: The message of Plato’s Cave

The great spiritual teachers taught us not to judge by appearances and to seek what is real, not what merely looks real.

The Greek philosopher Plato devised a metaphor to explain how our limited view of reality governs how we think and act. He likened us to prisoners chained to the wall of a cave unable to turn their heads. Behind them is a fire burning brightly, and between the fire and the prisoners is a raised path. Along the pathway walk puppeteers holding puppets that cast shadows on the wall. The prisoners are unable to see the puppets. All they see are shadows. They mistake the shadows for reality, knowing nothing of their real cause. Only when they are released can they can turn their heads and see the truth.

There is a reality that lies outside space and time, beyond our comprehension. We would be mistaken if we ever thought that our perceptions and beliefs were complete.

Are you content in the cave? Do you want to see and experience more?

Are you comfortable knowing that you cannot know everything? To be satisfied with not knowing is a profound act of spiritual awareness.

©David Lawrence Preston, 5.12.17

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365 Spirituality book

 

 

 

 

 

Spirituality goes beyond appearances to ultimate reality

There are many interpretations of ‘spirituality’, and they all relate to things outside the realms of physical nature or matter. Living spiritually doesn’t  mean following a particular religion, but it does infer the understanding that the universe has some order and that the creative force behind it (whatever that may be) is intelligent and purposeful.

Spirituality is highly practical. It is about finding meaning and purpose in an apparently imperfect world then using what we learn to create happy, healthy, prosperous and fulfilling lives. It is not a special thing to be found in out-of-the-way places – it is Life itself, flowing, ever-present and abundant.

The world we detect through our five senses is not the ultimate reality. Objects that appear to be solid are not as solid as we think they are.

One of the first to understand this was the Greek philosopher, Plato. He realised that everything we perceive through our senses is merely an expression of universal ideas or ‘Forms’ – independent entities which exist whether or not we are aware of them and able to grasp them with the mind. Love, for example, exists in the universe as an idea; we only become aware of it when it enters our experience. Even then, my experience of love may be different from yours. Meanwhile, the idea of love itself remains constant, permanent and unchanging, as do other universal ideas such as wisdom, justice, honesty, beauty and so on.

For more than two thousand years, Plato’s theory was just that – a theory. Then at the beginning of the twentieth century it was verified by scientists when quantum physicists discovered a ‘substance’ or ‘energy’ out of which all physical things are formed. In other words, the universe is not solid at all. It is made of energy and shaped by information fields. And so are you!

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 4.12.17

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‘Spiritual’ means ‘non-physical’

A creative intelligence flows through the universe which holds the key to living to your potential. This is not religion talking, but science, or, more specifically, quantum physics. Like the sun, it constantly emits energy. You are charged with this spiritual energy which needs only to be released for you to enjoy your life to the full.

‘Spiritual’ means ‘non-physical’. Our ideas, intelligence, imagination, sense of humour, kindness, creativity, and so on – all the qualities that make us who we are – are non-physical. We seek happiness, love, friendship and peace, and all of these are non-physical too. Our spirituality creates our world, because our lives are a reflection of whatever we hold in our minds.

‘Spirituality’ also relates to the meaning of life in all its splendour. Have you ever wondered who you are, why you’re here and where it leads? The only thing we know for sure is that we were born and one day we’re going to die. But do our lives matter? How do we fit in to the overall scheme of things?

Many philosophers have offered their views down the ages, each shedding a little light on the subject. We can learn from them all. My aim is to share some ideas that I have found to be helpful. Use those which appeal to you; the time may come when you are drawn to the others too. The Buddha offered the best advice over two thousand years ago:

‘Friends, do not be hasty to believe a thing even if everyone repeats it, or even if it is written in holy scripture or spoken by a revered teacher. Accept only those things which accord with your own reason, things which the wise and virtuous support, and which in practice bring benefit and happiness.’

How will you find out if an idea brings benefit and happiness? By applying it! Reading can take you only so far. Doing reaps incredible rewards.

Everything we need to build a happy and fulfilling experience for ourselves and become a force for good in the world already lies within us. Use it to create the kind of world you want to inhabit, one filled with peace, health, prosperity and happiness for all. No words can express how you feel once you have awakened the infinite power of Spirit within and experienced the freedom it brings. To quote Paramahansa Yogananda, a twentieth century teacher, ‘You realise that all along there was something tremendous within you, and you did not know it.’

We have within ourselves a great reservoir of wisdom, strength and peace waiting to be recognised and released. Once we are strong within ourselves, we find that outer circumstances begin to mirror the inner, and life starts to change for the better.

©David Lawrence Preston, 28.11.17

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The Voice

WRITER INTERVIEW IN THE VOICE MAGAZINE, DECEMBER 2015

Adam Dickson puts some questions to author David Lawrence Preston

How did you start out as a writer?
I started by writing papers for academic journals. I had several dozen published. One was a case study on Aldi in 1990 (before they came to the UK) that won me an award for European Business Case Study of the Year.

In 1993 I started collaborating with a holistic health practitioner to put together a course in living we called the Dynamic Living Programme which was purchased in 27 countries around the world. We also published three books together – Creating Confidence and Awaken Your Inner Power (Element Books) and Decide to Win (Cassell) on sports psychology.

Our partnership was terminated in 1997, and since then I have published four more – on Confidence Building, Life/Self Coaching and Spirituality. The latest – 201 Things About Christianity You Probably Don’t Know (But Ought To) – examines the Christian religion from a historical/factual point of view.

I also produce a regular blog – blog.davidlawrencepreston.co.uk – covering my interests in health, spirituality and personal development.

How did you become an author for Hay House?
I approached them with my latest book. They referred me to their imprint, Balboa. Balboa embraced it enthusiastically.

Your most recent book has a controversial theme – can you tell us about that?
Ever since I was a child dragged to Sunday school every Sunday I have questioned the validity of many of the Christian teachings. The New Testament (Old, too) is full of contradictions and untruths and much – while acceptable to earlier generations – simply doesn’t make sense in terms of our modern scientific understandings.

Front cover 201 things

What are your writing aims for the future?
My next book will present a 21st Century version of progressive Christianity – compatible with scientific discovery – in which the old myths are discarded and deeper truths about the nature of the infinite and spirituality are discussed.

I also write on health and, in particular, energy medicine and the biofield. Some of my material finds its way onto my health and energy website, www.AcuPearl.co.uk.

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Tap it or bottle it?

People have asked for my opinion on the advantages of bottled versus tap water. Here goes:

When you drink pure, fresh water, the body loves it. You can almost hear it saying, ‘thank you’. So does it matter if it comes from a natural well or spring in a bottle, or from a processing plant through pipes and a tap?

In the developed world, tap water is regularly and extensively tested by the water companies to ensure it is of drinkable quality. But what is ‘drinkable’? Most tap water has been recycled many times from the sewage and drainage system using chemicals (mainly chlorine). The body’s immune system, liver and kidneys recognise foreign substances and have to work hard to eliminate them. Chemicals can leave an aftertaste, but what is far more worrying are the medicines, drugs, contraceptive pills, etc. that constantly find their way into the sewage system. Some say a concentration of hormones in the water is leading to a ‘feminisation’ of the male population! Moreover, boiling the water kills germs but doesn’t remove chemicals. Water filters can remove most toxins.

Even so, tap water is cheaper, widely available, convenient and easily transported to the point of use through pipes. There are no issues around the disposal of bottles or the carbon footprint of transporting the water from source to consumer.

Like tap water, the quality of bottled water is highly regulated in most countries. It is frequently tested both at source, the bottling plant and the point of sale to ensure there is nothing harmful in it. There are many forms – still and carbonated (artificially carbonated water is best avoided since it is more acid forming), plain and flavoured (with fruit juice, for instance). You have to be careful, though, because some commercially available brands, far from coming from a well or spring, are merely purified tap water.

Some say bottled water tastes better, and generally I concur. It often contains natural trace minerals, but probably not enough to make much difference to health. It can be purchased and carried with you when away from home (but so can tap water if a bottle is filled before you go out). But it has downsides too:

  • It is undoubtedly more expensive, and some say it is a waste of money.
  • The cost of bottling and transport in both financial and environmental terms is higher per litre than tap.
  • Glass bottles are better, but both plastic and glass bottles have to be disposed of. They can be recycled, of course; it’s good to reuse materials, but transport and recycling are energy intensive.
  • Some are stored in warehouses for long periods before sale.
  • The best water comes straight from a running spring where it absorbs the health-giving energies of the natural environment.  This is not something you can bottle.

Whether tap water or bottled water is best depends partly on where you are – I’ve lived in where the tap water is drinkable but highly chemicalised, and I’ve also drunk some unpleasant bottled spring waters.

On balance I prefer natural spring water, but overall, the benefits of being well hydrated far outweigh the differences between tap and bottled. It is better to focus on the health benefits of drinking clean, fresh water than the differences between bottled and tap, and experts agree it’s better to drink tap water than none at all.

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 21.11.2017

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David Lawrence Preston illuminates biblical inconsistencies in new book

David Lawrence Preston illuminates biblical inconsistencies in new book

A historical/factual perspective on Christian doctrine, discrepancies therein contained

BOURNEMOUTH, England — David Lawrence Preston notes that he was inspired to write “201 Things about Christianity You Probably Don’t Know (But Ought To)” (published by Balboa Press) after his investigation of Christian doctrine, which lead to the discovery of a significant amount of inaccuracies and contradictions within the canon text. Here, he labors to irradiate these inconsistencies while still finding value in Christian mythology from a non-religious viewpoint.

Preston dismantles discrepancies with clear language, intent on instruction for the wider public. The 201 points format provides further accessibility to the reader. Preston aims to inform people about scripture in the Bible they may not have otherwise been aware of had they ended their religious education after Sunday school.

An excerpt from “201 Things about Christianity You Probably Don’t Know (But Ought To)”:

“If I have to believe in a virgin birth, voices from the sky, walking on water, dead and decomposing bodies coming back to life and a man being carried up to heaven on a cloud before I can realise my spirituality, then Christianity hinders me. It’s a barrier. I can study it, learn from it and borrow the sayings and parables that make sense to me. The rest I can reject without fear of eternal damnation (a loving God wouldn’t do that to me anyway). That’s what more and more people are doing in this enlightened age.”

More information is available at http://blog.davidlawrencepreston.co.uk/.

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“201 Things about Christianity You Probably Don’t Know (But Ought To)”

By David Lawrence Preston

Hardcover | 5.5 x 8.5 in | 250 pages | ISBN 9781504336994

Softcover | 5.5 x 8.5 in | 250 pages | ISBN 9781504336970

E-Book | 250 pages | ISBN 9781504336987

Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

 

About the Author

David Lawrence Preston is a speaker, life coach and author specializing in life enrichment, holistic health and spirituality. His interest in Christianity dates back to his school days and his passion researching the world’s great spiritual traditions. He lives by the sea on the South Coast of England, where he dedicates himself to helping create a kinder, more authentic and spiritual world.

 

He Never Came Back (Even Though He Promised)

Social media recently reported that a Roman Catholic Cardinal, Georgio Salvadore, has stated that it looks as if Jesus Christ is not coming back, thus refuting a core Christian doctrine that lasted for nearly two thousand years. The cardinal is said to have then astounded his audience by claiming that when Jesus promised to return he must have been drunk!

Christians at first were upon in arms and later relaxed when the word spread it was a hoax. Apparently there is no such person as Cardinal Georgio Salvadore.

Even so, the fictional  Cardinal was touching on a raw nerve. The Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew and Luke, originally written between 70 CE and 85 CE) make it perfectly clear that their prophet, known as Yeshua in his lifetime, promised many times before his death that he would return at Father God’s instigation to establish the kingdom of God on Earth, and he would do so within a generation.

If you doubt this, take a look at Mark 9:1: ‘Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the Kingdom of God has come with power.’ If that doesn’t convinced you, Mark 1:15 reports him as saying ‘The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

He reaffirmed it in his Last Supper speech, telling his disciples, ‘I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it with you in my Father’s kingdom’ (Matthew 26:29). He didn’t mean a kingdom somewhere else and in the far distant future, but right here on Earth within the lifetime of those present.

By the time the Fourth Gospel was written around the turn of the 1st century, it was already clear that Yeshua’s prophetic words had been empty. Christians were embarrassed and widely mocked. He had not returned, and far from God establishing a kingdom for the Jews, the Jerusalem Temple had been destroyed by the Romans along with the rest of the city. Jews who survived had scattered in fear of their lives. That’s why the Fourth Gospel hardly mentions the supposed return.

It’s also why the last book of the New Testament to be written, the Second Letter attributed to (but not actually written by) Peter, felt the need to make excuses for the uncomfortable fact that the kingdom promised by Yeshua nearly a century earlier had still not materialised. ‘Do not ignore this one fact, beloved,’ it pleads, ‘that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.’ (2 Peter 3:8)

Why doesn’t the church have more to say about this part of Yeshua’s message? Is it because they worry that bringing it to people’s attention would make a vital part of his core teachings irrelevant in our time? After all, he was wrong. The world was not transformed within the lifetime of his disciples. God did not appear, and neither did he. And he probably never will.

 

©David Lawrence Preston, 7.11.17

 

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Front cover 201 things

Hay House/Balboa Press, 2015

Bridge and the Game of Life

Having recently taken up the game again after a twenty year gap, it seems to me that in many ways Bridge is an analogy for life.

Think about it. People come from North, South, East and West. Everyone must come to the table. There are rules and conventions to be observed.  If you don’t, you’ll be disappointed. The game can be relaxed and informal or more serious.

You form partnerships. You also have to face rivals and antagonists. There are dealers and dummies and most of us can benefit from good teachers to help us face the challenge. There is also merit from teaching others.

You’re dealt a hand; it may be balanced or unbalanced, strong, medium or weak. Your task is to make the best of it. Others are dealt hands too, but you don’t get to see their cards until the hand is played. Some have more winning cards than others. Some have lots of trumps, others none at all.  You look for a good fit with your partner/s taking account of both your and their strengths and weaknesses.

You make a play for what you want. Sometimes you’re over optimistic and take on too much; sometimes too pessimistic, undervaluing yourself and your resources. Sometimes you have to bluff.

Having bid, you play your cards. Sometimes you lead, sometimes follow. You have to follow suit if you can and if you don’t you’re in trouble. It feels good when you can trump.

Sometimes you’re vulnerable. The rewards for winning when vulnerable are considerable, but so are the potential losses. It takes courage to aim high but the payoff is great.

At the end of each hand, you add up the points. You’re a winner or a loser, but you decide how much it matters. Have you enjoyed the game? Have your co-contestants enjoyed playing with you?

Eventually we all leave the table. Are you happy to do so, or regretful? Can you look back on hands well played and lessons learned from your mistakes? If so, you’ve got it!

©David Lawrence Preston, 5.11.17

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Alcohol – an excuse?

The recent sexual shenanigans at Westminster have thrown light on one aspect of Parliamentary life that often goes unnoticed – the role of the easy access to alcohol in the Houses of Parliament due to the numerous bars and long opening hours available throughout the building.

It’s quite normal for people of all ages and backgrounds to blame alcoholic excess for bad behaviour. Haven’t we all heard people say, ‘I was drunk – I don’t remember/I wasn’t aware of what I was doing’ as an excuse? Or, worse, men deliberately getting a woman drunk so her guard slips and he can have his way with her without resistance?

Are these men not simply revealing an inner wish to be perceived as a kind of Lothario that thankfully remains suppressed when sober?

Well, I don’t believe that alcohol is an excuse for bad behaviour because it doesn’t turn us into someone we’re not, but REVEALS who we really are. It takes the mask off .and shows us the person in the shadows beneath.

The point is, moderate alcohol lowers inhibitions that have been carefully put in place by education, socialisation and the threat of legal action and retribution, that is, measures designed to raise us above animal instincts and encourage the kind of responsible behaviour upon which ‘civilisation’ depends. I’m not referring here to getting completely blotto on, say, 12 or more units, but the kind of pleasant, easy going feeling that comes from 2-3 pints of beer or a couple of medium-sized glasses of wine without losing our ability to function.

When I hear someone using alcohol to excuse bad behaviour, I ask myself, ‘What does this reveal about the real person underneath?’ All too often, we see a man (and it usually is a man) thinking he can get away with it, deflecting the blame onto the grape or the grain.  The spectre of hordes of leery, alcohol-fuelled, middle-aged MPs behaving like love gods among their female colleagues is not a pleasant one.

Alcohol overuse and dependence has become a major problem in society. Isn’t it time the law acknowledges that alcohol does not take away our personal responsibility but shows us what is really going on within?

©David Lawrence Preston, 5.11.17

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