I just had an enjoyable hour-long phone conversation with a man who wanted to talk with me about my book, "Return to the One: Plotinus's Guide to God-Realization."
It has been so long since I'd picked up the book, I read through it really quickly this morning to refresh my memory about what I'd written.
I have to say that I was impressed. Hey, I made a lot of sense!
However, early on in our phone conversation I had to tell this guy that my views about both Plotinus, and spirituality in general, have changed quite a bit since I wrote Return to the One.
Not completely, of course. For example, I still consider that there must be something eternal, which for me is best called "existence." If existence didn't exist, nothing else could.
Another good word for existence is the One, since existence is the foundation, or substrate, of, well, everything that exists. That makes existence an overarching unity.
However, since this man liked Return to the One a lot, finding Plotinus's philosophy highly appealing, he was a bit (maybe a lot) taken aback by how much my views had shifted over the past fourteen years or so.
Near the end of our conversation he even read a passage from my book in an attempt to convince me that what I'd written was true. Which was kind of weird, but in a nice way.
I did my best to explain that I still believe in some broad themes of Return to the One. I just now prefer to look upon those themes in a more naturalistic and scientific fashion. Instead of "soul," I prefer to think of "consciousness." Instead of "spirit," I've come to favor "laws of nature." And as already noted, I like "existence" more than "God" or "the One."
We talked about how I was able to write the book, even though I knew next to nothing about Plotinus, a 3rd century Greek Neoplatonist philosopher, before I started to research it.
Plotinus's ideas fit fairly neatly into the Eastern form of mysticism and meditation that I'd spent about 35 years practicing before writing Return to the One. So I had a lot to draw on, including my extensive reading in other sorts of mystic philosophies both of the East and West.
What I found most interesting about our conversation was this man's surprise that my views about spirituality could have changed so much. For me, the issue was simple: when I wrote Return to the One I believed in what I said. Now, I have other beliefs. I've changed.
For the better, in my opinion.
Doesn't everyone change? Our tastes in music, food, hobbies, clothes, and so much else evolve over time. We also learn more about the world, so our factual knowledge is constantly changing. Yet somehow our spiritual/religious beliefs, or the lack thereof, are supposed to stay constant?
That doesn't make sense to me.
It presupposes that there's some sort of divine objective truth, like 1 + 1 =2, which, once you possess it, shouldn't be discarded. Well, if anyone knows what that truth is, please enlighten me as to what it is. I used to believe that such existed, but I don't anymore.
Change happens. Such is the way of the world. Also, the way of how we view the world, philosophically, religiously, spiritually.