Let us look at the basic doctrine of the ancient Culdees, at what the rival church declared to be their ‘heretical’ beliefs which set them apart from the mainstream of contemporary religious thought. It will be seen that the differences arise from the Druidic influence on one and not on the other. The seven ‘heretical’ beliefs of the Culdees, which the Culdians accept were as follows:
The Nature of the Godhead
God is essentially a spirit, the Supreme Spirit, who preceded all that exists and was/is the creator of all. This Great Spirit is both male and female in nature and expressed as a Great Divine Energy rather than as a personalised being. This Supreme Spirit is the fountainhead of every humanising quality; it is through human beings that the human dimension of God is expressed in the physical world. Nothing that humans can do can in any way add to what God has and therefore any form of adorational worship, pleaful prayer, placating praise or hypocritical affirmations of devotion serves no purpose as far as God is concerned. The allegation of the Culdees was that the Romanised church tended to regard the God it worshipped as a kind of super sovereign, a being requiring the homage paid to great rulers. The Culdees believed that all the benefits of worship were obtained by the worshippers and that it was hypocritical to think otherwise. Nevertheless, because these benefits were worthwhile, ritual worship, in an appropriate form, was not condemned.
Because there is a very wide spectrum of comprehension among human individuals and each can interpret spiritual matters only in accordance with his or her development and understanding, a person’s concept of God is a very personal thing. Therefore, Culdians use the expression “the God of my heart” when referring to the Divinity. They will discuss the nature of the Godhead among themselves, but to argue the point resolves nothing, nor do their teachings provide any dogmatic concepts. This is a personal matter between them and their God. Nobody joining the Culdians is required to make any concessions of conscience in this matter.
The Nature of Man
This is where Culdians part company with many other theological and philosophical concepts because they believe that, as far as humankind is concerned, human beings themselves are the all important element. Romanised Christianity contended that God exists solely outside of humankind, whereas the Culdees understood God to be present everywhere including within ourselves.
Culdians affirm that humans have virtually unlimited potential for progress and have a destiny of Godhood. All are evolving towards that destiny and physical evolution merely complements spiritual evolution. Speaking of evolution, Culdians believe this to be the creative process in action. Humans, as individuals and collectively as humankind, are seen as God’s deputies on Earth, having and exercising stewardship over the planetary processes. They are the guardians of their Mother Planet and partners with Nature in her development and wellbeing. As partners with Nature they must harmoniously co-operate with her. The strength and success of any partnership is dependent upon the degree of collaboration and co-operation given.
Looking back over the evolutionary process we see that it has been aimed at the evolution of humankind and that among human individuals some have progressed far along the evolutionary road. Towards what? That is the question at the heart of the Culdian philosophy. The answer to this is the essence of the Culdian teachings which can be found throughout our literature.
The concept of progress towards Godhood implies there will be eminent beings, masters who are more advanced in every way. As we move further into the New Age of transition, which is a period of ‘sorting out’ and consolidation, we come up against the concept of the Super being, people who have reached a stage of development far and way above that of the average person.
This brings us to the central core of Culdian teachings which is the promotion of the concept of Super beings. These are Masters of Life who have achieved ‘the Mastery of Life’. From this it is but a few short steps to the portal leading to Godhood. Anciently, the advancement towards the Mastery of Life was seen as a mystical quest, the Grail symbolising the end achievement. Culdians usually use the term ‘Soulpath’ for the journey towards this achievement.
Many people have misconceptions about the teachings regarding Super beings and imagine we are promoting some kind of elitism or something akin to the Nazi theory of a master race. Nothing of the sort. What is promoted is the concept that everyone has some capacity for self-betterment and it is in the inherent nature of humans to strive towards this end. The concept of the ‘Godman’ is very ancient, but while it was once considered as prerogative of a few to strive for it we now proclaim that it is within the reach of everyone.
The ancient tradition, which the Culdians follow, rejected this concept, holding that it is totally wrong to claim that an innocent babe is born into this world with an inherited debt of sin. The terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are concepts based on attitudes. If we look for Evil we can find it; if we look for Good we can find it. Original sin is blasphemy against the justice and love of the Supreme Spirit.
In the history of the Christian churches, many different theories of atonement have been advocated. For nearly a thousand years the most widely accepted view, known as the ‘ransom theory’, was that Christ’s death was a ransom paid to Satan by means of which man was delivered from the bondage of sin. Anselm, who died in the twelfth century, gave classic expression to the ‘satisfaction theory’, by which Christ’s death was interpreted as the satisfaction of God’s justice and honour. Abelard, who died a few decades later, formulated what is known as the ‘moral influence theory’, that the atonement was primarily an expression of God’s love. The Protestant Reformers maintained that Christ bore on the Cross the punishment due for our sins, an interpretation sometimes called the ‘penal substitution theory’. None of this is part of the tradition which we follow and so Culdians reject the concept of vicarious atonement altogether, finding it irreconcilable with the idea of a good and just God.
Good and Evil
Culdians believe that God, being all good and omnipotent, would not permit focal points of Evil in the theological sense. However, manifest Evil does exist; cancers and such malignancies, the many thousands of starving children in the world, the vile crimes perpetrated in our society are all evidence of the existence of Evil. They are the result of some human activity which is a deviation from Good. Evil, in the Culdian concept, is simply the absence of Good. Sin, being interpreted as the contravention of some priestly edict or prohibition, or the ignoring of some prescribed religious performance, is not equated with Evil. Only the violation of God’s natural laws can be deemed ‘sinful’.
The Culdian concept of Good and Evil is simple. All that is conducive to spiritualisation; all that serves the common good of humankind and accords with the needs of human development, cultural progress and enhances the quality of life, which also fulfils the Creative Design of God as defined in the Higher Teachings, is Good. All that counteracts or inhibits this is evil.
The doctrine of reincarnation, accepted by the forerunners of the Culdians, stems directly from the Druidic legacy. The ancient Kelts fervently believed in reincarnation and for those who have studied the matter in depth there is ample evidence to indicate that they were not misled. However, it is conceded that the mechanisms of reincarnation may not be in accord with present Christian notions, but enlightenment will come with greater understanding.
Culdians accept the principle of kharma, (there is good as well as bad kharma) as stated in their teachings, but do not relate it to fate or events, kharma being something brought down from a previous incarnation. They believe that no part of the pattern and blueprint for kharma exists externally, but that these are impressed on the physical and mental make-up of the reincarnating entity. For instance, kharma can significantly affect the glandular make-up of an individual who may, for example, have specific urges and drives, or lack these, or perhaps may think defectively. As the result of these characteristics life may be difficult, but it is not the difficulties which are the actual kharma. These are the consequences.
One big mistake made in relation to adverse kharma is that it has to be accepted philosophically or fatalistically. Many take the attitude that their kharma is something they have to live with and make the best of, but this is completely wrong and only compounds it. Kharma can be seen as a challenge rather than a struggle. It can be said that through the effort to meet the challenge the consequences of the kharma are worked out. Placid acceptance does nothing to alleviate it, no matter how bravely it is faced or how stoically it is borne, and this is something many find difficult to comprehend.
These seven traditional concepts form the basis of the modern Culdian philosophy. It is a case of inner knowing of these concepts and not blind acceptance. This is because our philosophy holds that this world is not a place of perfections or ultimates and that all that can be glimpsed are facets of the Ultimate Truth.