If you are interested in reading a humorous thriller with a heart and a touch of New Age spirituality, I recommend you to turn to the novel Propinquity (spiritually speaking meaning at one with). The theme is about the revival of a Gnostic Queen of England, who was, in the novel, being successfully revived after 800 years. The book actually predated the famous Da Vinci Code. Both share the same theme of Medieval Roman Catholic Church's role in annihilating Gnostic practices in the West. Da Vinci Code excels in its intricate and thrilling plot that appealed to popular interest towards conspiracy whereas Propinquity excels in its well constructed plot and its genuine and passionate approach towards the subject matter. I rank them equally good.
I was approached by the author of the book John Macgregor to write a review for his novel. I do not know John personally but I can see his impressive personality and genuine interest towards New Age spirituality in what he presented himself in his website. I gave five stars to his novel in Amazon.com and my review can be read HERE. Therefore, I'm not gonna write my review again here, interested readers can follow the link.
The question that I like to tackle here is: Why is Gnostic practice, or direct spiritual experience, being persecuted and completely exterminated in the West?
Nowadays there is no trace of any actual practice passed along. We can read from old texts which in many cases were written by people sympathizing with the Roman Catholic Church's actions. This fact made room for all kinds of speculations and conspiracy theories, and is one of the reasons why Da Vinci Code became an overnight success.
It was not the case in the East. India has always been the most liberal place for direct spiritual experience. In Muslim, there is Sufism. China is more interesting. Let's see.
China had always been dominated by Confucianism which lent support to an authoritarian central government which would not tolerate dissidents seeking other higher authority than the Emperor himself (Each Emperor was supposed to have the mandate from Heaven and symbolized as "Son of Heaven" 天子). Yet China still had its home-grown Taoist deep meditators seeking for direct spiritual experience (Neidan). The Emperors were kind of allowing them to practice their art if they did so away from the common folks. Those few (including some Buddhists) surfaced among the common folks would be persecuted from time to time (not more brutalized then towards common criminals, and in some cases even tolerated if the masters were good at healing and kept a low profile). But they always resurfaced years later, in particular in provinces far away from the capital. Some even organized uprisings aiming at overthrowing the government and turned the country into a religious one - but always with disastrous results for the rebels.
The above can only lead me to conclude that the Caucasians in those days were indeed barbarians. They could not stand deviations, and to such an extend that physical existence of those people even in isolated practice could not be tolerated. In the novel, the Queen learned her stuff primarily in India, presumably those who could teach her the stuff in Europe were exterminated or going to be exterminated soon. Her fate was doomed, so by some ingenious trick using special herbs faking death, she managed to escape being killed. Unfortunately she was not revived in time - not until 800 years later in a novel.
Nowadays the main advocacy of human rights is in the West rather than in the East. India and China certainly have overwhelmingly more cases of human rights violations than Europe or the United States. You might ask: How come barbarians become civilized and previously more tolerant people have become less so? But what strikes me as a more interesting conclusion is: Barbarians can be tamed, yesterday and today.
Needless to say, this conclusion of mine has nothing to do with the book.