Ageless Wisdom at your fingertips
In a time when the world thirsts for tranquillity and security, mainstream religions vigorously compete for souls, damning those who don't toe their line - unwittingly contribute to an atmosphere of intolerance and fear.
But is there a better path, a clear-cut road to illumination? What is the purpose of life? Have we lived before? Why is there so much suffering in the world? Where are we ultimately heading?
These questions and more are answerable. They are all part of what some called 'Ageless Wisdom,' or a body of knowledge dictated by the mysterious Tibetan teacher, Djwhal Khul.
This wisdom was filtered into the pages of sacred literature that was elusive and accessible to a few, until now.
In a rare interview, Dorothy Riddle, chairperson at the School for Esoteric Studies, offered some piercing insights into many questions that have befuddled us.
"We offer modern, accessible presentation of ageless wisdom in our disciple training," Riddle told me. "There is a kind of vindication; that what this school has been advocating all along is know supported by Quantum Physics. There is scientific proof that we are all connected; that there is but one life of which we are all part."
She argued that we are spiritual beings having multiple human experiences, and that we are here to learn and contribute to the development of society. It is a theory with far-reaching implications. We are part of everything in the cosmos. That the very deities to which we pray are within us.
That the "Kingdom of God is within" begins to make sense.
Riddle has a calming, therapeutic effect when she speaks. A daughter of missionaries, she was raised in India and China; that explains her tolerance of other faiths and expressions. "Portions of this wisdom are found in mainstream religions, such as "the Golden Rule."
She recalled serving tea to the Dai Lama as a student and being overwhelmingly moved by his aura and presence. This experience cemented her belief that "no religion has all the answers".
The School for Esoteric Studies, an offshoot of Alice Bailey's Arcane School that was founded in New York in 1956, is a highly selective, graduate school with a global reach.
Its correspondence programmes are presented in English, Spanish, and Italian. Lessons are mailed electronically to students who are trained in meditation and other mental exercises. They are also required to submit written work on their experiences, work that is assessed by one of the school's commentators.
Its membership is small in comparison to other metaphysical organisations, but Riddle welcomes the intimacy. "We expect that our applicants have some esoteric knowledge before coming to us. I would say that we complement other schools. We are here to provide more advanced studies."
Riddle also worked as an economic development specialist in more than 80 countries and has first-hand experience of Caribbean affairs. The school's teachings have aided her professional work, she stated.
"I have learned the value of detachment, of not being individualistic, but thinking for the good of the whole. Mental discipline and being able to focus energy, ethically, can be productive, especially in challenging situations. In the negotiation process, the common good is paramount."
Her school does not promote or dwell on psychic phenomena, although she has had her fair share of occult experiences. She said that it is basically a distraction and hardly indicative of spiritual understanding.
Riddle counsels that we must not be controlled by our emotions - the definitive hallmark of spiritual development; that too many of us pollute the environment psychically through anger.
She stresses service and seeing ourselves as part of an integrated whole. But she is never dismissive of evil, "of individuals in our communities, and in the world", bent on disturbance and psychic chaos.
"Evil is the continuation of something that is no longer appropriate. On another level, we can experience cosmic evil or the use of energy for selfish reasons."
She welcomes enquiries on abnormal psychic experiences, such as hallucinations. "In order to be mentally healthy, you have to manage the boundaries of our energy field. Like you, I am surrounded by radio waves. I don't hear them but if they become part of our experience, we become unstable." It is then that she raised the concept of shielding ourselves from mental and emotional poisons from others.
"We can shield ourselves and others through visualisation and colour therapy. Green is a healing colour. White light has all the colours and energies and is extremely powerful."
Expectedly, she viewed prayer as an equally essential part of shielding. "Prayer is a strong tool; it is a statement of intention; an affirmation, and can be very powerful."
Of the end of days, Riddle spoke of free will and choices. "We can only surmise on what the future holds for us." She baulked at the notion of predestination and argued that higher intelligences do not hold the key to our future; nor do they know the outcome of our lives.
Here, the Christian doctrine of God's omniscience is turned on its head. The cosmic experiment is analogous to parenting, she noted. "You teach your children and can only guess how they will turn out. After a while, you have to let them go to make their own decisions, their own choices. In the same way, we are given that space and opportunity to learn and grow."
Riddle is mindful of today's paradoxes. "On the one hand, we have more willingness to be helpful and community centred. At the same time, we are confronted with violence. Unfortunately, it is easier to be violent than to be constructive and loving."
And as the world experiences flux and change, Riddle is guardedly optimistic. "When change occurs, the old is removed. This can be a painful process."
But she argued that the pain isn't always necessary. "We can change on every level by making positive choices."
• Dr Glenville Ashby is president of Global Interfaith Council and author of 'Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend 'and 'Bridge to Enlightenment'. Feedback:glenvilleashby@ gmail.com or follow him on Twitter@glenvilleashby