Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Truth-seeking and truth-speaking... Why does anybody ever do it?

The theme and conclusion of my 2012 book Not Even Trying was that real science (which is almost extinct now) was 'simply' the dedication of a group of people to seek the truth about some-thing, and to communicate honestly about it. 

That is all that can be said - as a generalization - about so-called 'scientific method'. 

But even to say this is to say a great deal - and to describe a situation that has been extremely rare in world history - and is extremely rare now. It was really only from approximately the middle 1600s to the middle 1900s in Britain and some parts of Europe (and their diaspora) that this situation prevailed to a significant degree. 

The thing it; to be a 'truthful' person is extremely rare; and to be a truthful person who is sufficiently interested in some particular 'thing' that one will work, over a significant period of time, to discover the reality of it - is much rarer still. And to have a society that values such an activity is so rare that - as I said - it perhaps only grew and survived in one place for a few hundred years. 

Anyone who is really concerned by the truth of a particular thing will rapidly realize that hardly anybody else is interested enough to make their opinion of any value. Furthermore, he will realize that few people are interested in truth at all

Truth is, at best, a low-ranked priority for most people, most of the time. Most people are orientated towards other people (whether real people, or nowadays virtual). 

Most people believe that 'truth' is just something rhetorical; something manufactured (expediently, for short term use) to support their current views of how inter-human affairs ought to proceed - or simply to support what they themselves happen to want to do. 

If you are a real scientist; you soon realize not only that extremely few other real scientists share your dedication to the truth of your particular thing; but also that few people care about truth at all

One of the most striking aspects of the leftist (political correctness) witch hunts that have been such a feature of the West since the late 1960s (and I have personally been involved in several of these; both as subject and an active participant) is the complete indifference to truth of almost everybody involved. Nobody cares what is true; only what effect a belief might have (and they always claim to be able to predict what effect a belief will have). 

Indeed, indifference is not accurate - there is a hostility to truth, and even more than this a hostility to the idea of truth. The idea that there is a true and real reality is what is the cause of such venom on the left. The left regards reality as relativistic, and something created by consensus (including 'peer review') and imposed by power.  

Yet, it must be acknowledged that there is something valid in the leftist critique - because the traditional idea of a single objective truth 'out there' waiting to be discovered, is also wrong. Science is necessarily a human activity, and real scientific truth does depend on the evaluations and judgments of people - albeit of truth-seeking and truth-seeking people. 

But then 'who decides' - and on what grounds - which people are the real scientists - especially in a world of professional science.

You cannot get away from people, from human minds, form personal judgments... Except by dishonestly disguising these with committees, votes, protocols etc - which themselves are merely either arbitrary or derived from human minds/ judgements etc as to 'what counts as' true...

At first it seems like we have a choice of just two wrong ideas. One is the idea that scientific truth does not depend on people, the other that it depends only on people. 

My answer is that the possibility of real science depends on Christian assumptions concerning the fundamental nature of reality. These include that there is a God who is creator of reality, and who loves Men - who are God's  children and made 'in God's image'.  

These assumptions must be in place for a scientist to seek and speak truth in a particular domain, for a human endeavor to seek truth to be possibly successful; and common enough that he can find other whose interest is the same. 

The assumptions can survive the loss of Christian faith in a person - for a while; or may occur in an individual of another religion (e.g. Judaism) who has absorbed, assimilated and endorsed sufficient of these assumptions from a Christian society. 

But the assumptions necessary for science cannot survive the comprehensive replacement of Christianity in a society's ways of thinking and behaving. Such a society has no reason to seek truth; and (consequently) insufficient desire to do so. 

This framework sees the scientific search for truth as being an impulse to know the reality of God's creation. The scientific impulse in Men shares in the divine creative impulse - therefore it is Good.

But to know the reality of creation (i.e. to seek and speak truth) entails aligning oneself with God's creative purposes. 

From this perspective, we can see that science is a potentially creative activity (one of many; including, but not restricted to; the arts, music, literature, philosophy, scholarship) in which Men may lend their minds and efforts to understanding the divine creative project in one particular area, and with the hope of participating in God's creation. 

The above model explains why science (as a social activity) once existed; and why science has not existed in most times and places. 

Leftist relativistic anti-science (which nw rules the world of public discourse) functions to oppose God and creation; and instead to assert that reality (ie. divine creation) does not exist/ does not matter - and that we have no obligation to seek or live-by creation.

And instead to take a this-worldly attitude of life - as being only about inter-human relationships of (for example) power and pleasure; to which considerations of truth and reality ought to be subordinated. For instance; such (common, officially-endorsed) ideas as that 'science' properly exists to increase human happiness, to alleviate suffering, to sustain a world of social justice, or to preserve the environment. 

Yet when 'science' serves such goals - instead of being truth-seeking/ speaking, then it simply becomes a part of the Establishment System, as now; and un-truthful and dishonest from top to bottom; in great and in small matters.  

Thus real science (which has always been rare, and is now all-but extinct) is a creative act of some Men which - if it is Good - will be aligned with God's plans. Real science cannot exist in a genuinely atheistic and materialistic society, where Christian beliefs have been displaced by The System. 

Monday, 26 July 2021

Imagination has become social reality

We tend to assume - following decades of mass media propaganda - that 'imagination' is always a good thing. Probably, that was the case in the past, when imagination was used to 'to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature' - that is, to imagine variants based-upon the natural

But since the Romantic era, imagination has extended beyond nature, and from the early 20th century has become autonomous. From the early 20th century, with modernism, surrealism, Dadaism etc - imagination became often a parody, subversion or inversion of the natural. 

Furthermore, as modern Man became alienated from the divine and spiritual (that is; at first able to ignore, then unable to perceive, the divine and spiritual realms) this cut-off imagination became reality.

So that in the modern, official and mass media, legal and corporate world - un-real, aspirational, asserted and enforced ideas very rapidly become normalized, accepted and then (to all intents and purposes) 'real'. 

In other words, humans now - as a matter of mundane everyday practice - imagine and make their own reality. The world is convulsed and organized according to these imagined and made realities such as the birdemic, antiracism, climate emergency and the trans-agenda. 

Apparently any-thing - any statement, any morality, any imperative, can be made-real now, and generally accepted as real - with little or no strain or sense of dissonance - even when it is a complete fabrication or an inversion of the natural. 

Indeed; that official-reality is a total invention or an inversion of natural-reality is generally taken to indicate its moral superiority (consequently; to privilege the natural is termed 'fascism'; and is demonized and suppressed). 

From this we may see that modern Men are so constituted that they will believe what they imagine; and they can be induced to imagine almost anything - especially by means of the mass media with its combination of fake-news, gossip and ideologically-shaped entertainments. 

And people do not distinguish between sources of imaginations and assertions - and seldom recall or discern-between the provenance of 'knowledge' - so that beliefs are as likely to be shaped by overt fictions (a movie) as by supposed facts (taught at school).

(Although, with institutional convergence - all sources of imagination/ fact are being forcibly harmonized to the leftist, materialist, anti-Christian ideology.)

People are psychologically-made such as to privilege this media world as objective and primary, because it is widely-shared and enforced by the powerful - and they subordinate and ignore their own conscience, observations and reasoning, because these are (merely) private.

In sum - Modern Man imagines his reality; and his imagination is fed to him by the mass media; so, for modern Man; reality is whatever assumptions the mass media is currently operating on

(And by 'currently' I mean 'the last few days' - and today's mass media assumptions may be the opposite of last week's, or the assumptions may imply the opposite of the media interpretation - but none of this matters: today's assumptions rule whatever.) 

This is why the media can report as reality un-natural phenomena such as the imagined birdemic plague or climate catastrophe, can invert racial and sexual realities, can state that men and women are flexibly- and wholly-interconvertible - and will be believed; to an unrestricted degree... To the extent of structuring and administering the whole world policy and human micro-interactions alike. 

Life is made, and re-made, on the basis of these (and any other potential, equally arbitrary) imaginations.  

The capacity to make imagination into reality is thus a double-edged sword which pushes the world towards extremes of good or evil. Good imaginations can be made real - but so can evil imaginations; and indeed imagination can abolish or invert the distinction between good and evil. 

Armed with this power; Man is called-upon, each as an individual, to imagine the good - and to eschew the evil; to imagine the beautiful and true and coherent... 

But in practice, the opposite has happened. 

Man has refused to acknowledge or exercise his power to imagine God, good and divine creation; has refused to imagine a living and conscious universe in which each of us has an unique contribution to make...

And therefore has opened himself to become a passive conduit for the imaginations of the evil powers who have taken-over the public world .

And this remains un-recognized because of Man's capacity to imagine evil as Good; and undiscerned because of Man's willed self-subordination to external, evil-aligned, values. 

See Owen Barfield's book - Saving the Appearances (1957) for a source of the above ideas. 

Residual Unresolved Leftism

It is a feature of the spiritual war nowadays that The Enemy (i.e. those on the side of Satan, against God) are dispersed in many places, deny any self-definition; and indeed are just part of normal, mainstream 'public opinion' as revealed in officialdom, institutions and the media, 

It is sometimes said that this makes evil difficult to discern - on the assumption that the evil is hidden among the good, in many and changing forms, under many and changing names and deceptive rhetoric...

But the truth is that evil is very easy to discern nowadays; indeed evil has never been easier to discern IF the line dividing good from evil is drawn in the right place. 

The problem that many people have in discerning evil is that they are retaining too much evil in their own assumptions, in their own world view. 

They are (in effect) trying to use a line between good and evil, when that line has been positioned such as to include evil; therefore they find the discernment to be difficult and unsure. 

This is seen, for example, in what Owen Barfield termed RUP - Residual Unresolved Positivism - something to which everyone brought up in The West is prone. 

RUP is a matter of retaining 'materialist', 'scientistic', 'reductionistic' assumptions that were unconsciously absorbed in childhood and adolescence, are invisible to normal introspection, and which have become habitual framers of thinking. 

This happens when we consciously oppose positivism, wish for a fully-spiritual life, yet keep un-consciously falling back into positivistic ways of regarding the world; therefore we sometimes fail to detect (and may end-up supporting) positivism when it is being deployed by the powers of evil. 

Another - just as common and related - problem is RUL - Residual Unresolved Leftism

The assumptions of Leftism (e.g. Leftist concepts of equality, social justice, diversity, environmentalism, antiracism, feminism, sexual revolution, the mainstream hedonic utilitarian morality etc) is pervasive in public discourse as background assumptions. 

Very few people in The West are altogether free of these false, tendentious, evil-tending ideas - and Christians, as much as most, often cherish such ideals - or try to do so. 

RUL therefore confuses our discernment of evil; since Leftism has been a major (probably The major) strategy of evil in the modern world. 

Thus there is evil at work in the world and impinging upon our personal lives, yet because some evil in our-selves matches that external evil, we fail to recognize its true nature. 

With RUL, the line has been drawn wrongly; too close to evil - not including all of evil; with some evils left-over on the side of good; so discernment begins to seem difficult, complex... 

We become confused, disorientated, unsure of what to do and what to reject. 

But the difficulties and complexities are an artefact of the line being drawn in the wrong place - due to Residual Unresolved Leftism. If we can identify and repent all of our Leftist assumptions, the task of discernment is revealed as simple - indeed it has probably never been simpler than Now! 

But another difficulty is that when the line between good and evil has been drawn correctly, and discernment is swift and decisive - it will be found that most of the world, and pretty much all of officialdom, major institutions, and the mass media - are on the side of evil

It will also be found, more disturbingly, that most people are on the side of evil; which means that most individual persons we encounter will support the side of evil - will be cooperating-with and probably defending/ advocating/ working-for the powers of evil. 

And this applies even in Christian churches and among the leadership of Christian churches; because being on the side of evil is not about one's majority or average beliefs. 

Even one Leftist belief or assumption suffices to corrupt; because (as of 2020) the tendency of institutions and their choice between good and evil sides may be dictated by a single Leftist belief (such as the Litmus Tests). 

This may be disturbing, unfamiliar, and often demoralizing. 

Yet we should remember that with normal Christianity; any single unrepented sin - no matter how 'small' - is sufficient to cause damnation; because we only truly desire Heaven when we are prepared to give-up all sin for it. Heaven is a place without sin; and nobody can enter it who has not repudiated sin. 

Here on earth, something analogous applies to the sins of Leftism. To be on the side of God, persons and institutions must reject the devil and all his works. 

This does not mean any kind of impossibly perfect standard of behaviour - but repentance - which is the correct detection and identification of sin as sin -and the 'in principle' willingness to discard it. 

Perfection of thoughts and values is impossible in this mortal earthly life; but repentance is always and everywhere open to any person or institution. 

Residual Unresolved Leftism is a serious problem because sin is unrecognized, is indeed defended and advocated; and the consequence is that perception of discernment as difficult and uncertain - in a world where in fact evil is more naked and extreme than ever before. 

So, if you are confused, and find evil difficult to discern; look within for those unrepented sins which are probably the source of the problem. 

One great and immediate advantage of eliminating Residual Unresolved Leftism is that we attain clarity about the spiritual war of this world; and can set-to on the task of fighting that war instead of being enmeshed in confusion. 

Such clarity of discernment is liberating, exciting, and motivating! Which is just what most-people most-need in a world such as this. 

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Consciously overcoming the division of sleep from consciousness

It is interesting to consider how the relationship between sleeping states - deep sleep and dreaming sleep - and the awake state may have changed through the evolutionary development of Men. 

If we start with the historical (and early childhood) conscious state termed Original Participation by Owen Barfield; then it was a striking idea of Rudolf Steiner that this is characterized by what we would consider a less complete difference between sleep and waking. The awake person was not so fully awake is the case now; and aspects of deep and dreaming sleep remained active throughout the daytime. 

This would be a more passive and unconscious form of waking; whereby we were involuntarily influenced by the sleeping states; immersed-in them. In Original Participation Man's consciousness was integrated, but dominated by sleep.  

A suggestion is that the sleep states are (in some fashion) in communication with the divine and spiritual world; and therefore in Original Participation awake Man has direct experiential knowledge of the gods and spiritual reality. This may be why all early Men and all young children assume the reality of gods and the spiritual realm - because the experience and know it; not just when asleep but all of the time.

The idea is that, as Man's consciousness evolved through history, the division between sleeping and waking states became more distinct; until with modern Man it was complete (the phase called the Consciousness Soul). We are not aware of our sleeping and dreaming consciousness while awake (although they continue); and indeed we almost never remember anything from deep sleep, and even dream memories tend to be absent, partial or uncertain.   

It struck me that presumably the same applies in the opposite direction: that waking consciousness has probably lost access to deep and dreaming sleep. Perhaps in earlier phases, waking consciousness could affect dreaming sleep, and even deep sleep; and therefore in original Participation these sleeping states were more conscious, more subject to waking motivations, and probably more memorable. 

Whereas nowadays (for many people) dreams are characterized by their own crazy illogic and irrelevance; perhaps for early Men they were coherent, useful, memorable - by the waking Man. And maybe something analogous applied even with the slower, simpler, 'tidal' consciousness-world of deep sleep. 

(Steiner suggests that in dreaming sleep, ancient Man - and children - are in communion with the lower angelic powers; and in deep sleep, the higher angels - or, I would guess, perhaps even the simple and basic aspects of the knowledge of God, Jesus Christ and/or the Holy Ghost.) 

So, modern Man's consciousness states are not integrated; but instead divided, alienated, encapsulated. 

And what of the goal of Final Participation? We might assume that the division between sleeping and waking would again become crossable, 'permeable' - but this time dominated by waking consciousness and by its capacity for free agency, for conscious choice. 

Thus we may be able to choose to bring our waking consciousness and cross into dreaming, and even deep sleep; there to both gain conscious control of these states, and to remember better what happens in them. 

So we may again become integrated in our consciousness; but this time with awakeness dominating. 

However, this state is voluntary - not automatic; conscious not unconscious; and is subject to the constraints of Final Participation - which is, after all, an attainment of divine consciousness (albeit usually partial and always temporary) even when we are mortal on earth. 

Therefore, we might be able to choose to bring awake consciousness into dreaming and deep sleep; but only insofar as we our-selves are aligned with God's purposes, meanings and mode of thinking. 

If a person has chosen the side of Satan against God, then Final Participation is not (at that time) possible. 

Furthermore sin interferes with Final Participation. Un-repented sin blocks FP in the long term (because we are not aligned with the divine); while currently-active sin in thinking will curtail FP for its duration; which is surely one reason, albeit not the only reason, why Final Participation is always temporary - indeed usually very brief.  

Nonetheless, even with all these provisos, this gives an idea of what to aim for in Final Participation how to go about it; and how to know when it has happened. That is, we can aim towards more frequent and fuller integration of the waking and sleep states; do so consciously; and within a Christian context.  

Sunday, 24 May 2020

Father Christmas and Final Participation

I have previously written - a couple of times - about Father Christmas being real: more exactly of how this is true, what it means that Father Christmas is indeed real. I think this is actually a very exact explanation of the main purpose of this our mortal life - between our pre-mortal spirit life in Heaven, and the resurrected life in Heaven to come.

We came from a primal paradise as spirits, as spiritual children; and chose to become incarnated as mortals here on earth. We can sometimes recall what this life was life from that residual memory that survives into early childhood. The rest of our mortal life is about our wish to return to this (dimply recalled) Heavenly existence - but in a different and new way.

How can we get back to that?

We can't as a final and solid state in mortal life - because mortal life is change, decay and eventually death. So all states of mortal life are intrinsically temporary - by design. But we can sometimes and briefly be there - be in Heaven again.

We get there, we are there, and we lose it; but that again is part of the design. We can - and should - aim to return there; again and again. And each time we overcome a different challenge to get there. And thereby we learn.

That is the main reason for this mortal life. To learn how to overcome the constraints of mortality to return, again and again, to Heaven.

This learning is temporary, so far as this mortal life is concerned (we may forget, eventually we will forget); but the point is that we learn in mortality to benefit in eternity.

That's what it is about; we are learning in mortal life where all is temporary; but the benefits of this learning will be in our coming life everlasting.

Our major challenge is therefore to overcome The World - repeatedly, on a daily, hourly, basis. 

Our task of learning is therefore to rise-back-up to that Heavenly world we once inhabited; not to sink-back-into it.

To be a parent is (potentially) to rise-back-up into childhood.

To know Father Christmas as real, as a parent, is an instance.

It is a higher state to know Father Christmas is real as an adult than as a child; because we must participate consciously in the reality of Father Christmas. We must do this by choice, and actively; freely, knowing that we do it. This is Final Participation.

By contrast, the child knows Father Christmas is real simply by unconscious, passive absorption in a social world where Father Christmas is real - this is Original Participation.

The child immersed-in that Christmas reality; but our task in this mortal life is to rise to embrace that reality; to co-create that reality, in harmony with God.


Thursday, 26 March 2020

Why didn't God 'communicate' by direct knowing in past ages?

I have deliberately asked this question in the opposite way than usual.

The usual question is along the lines of wondering why the supernatural has receded, why people disbelieve in deity, why God does not communicate with modern Men using visions, dreams, voices and by the 'channelling' of scriptures and other revelations?

Of course, one answer is that God still does all of these things - because some people do continue to experience them. However, plenty of people do not, and cannot, have such experiences; furthermore, those who do have such experiences do not seem to be transformed by them in the way they were in the past. Modern supernatural experience sometimes seems more like a lifestyle choice, hobby, or a way of making a living.

However, what is less often remarked is that these are all 'communications' - I mean, these are indirect means by which God may transmit knowledge to people. All require the use of perceptual, sensory information - which may be defective. Furthermore, these sensory inputs must be interpreted in order to be understood.

Whereas now - it seems - God communicates by directly implanting understanding into the mind, into the stream of thinking. This cuts-out the need for potenitally faulty, errorful perceptions; and cuts-past the problems of misunderstanding.

When God makes himself known by direct means, he goes straight to the limit of capability of that individual. However, this isn't 'perfect' because each person's capability is limited and also distinctively biased. Plus there are the same (usual) problems about communications between people.

Nonetheless, it might reasonably be assumed that direct knowing is superior to the older modes of 'communication'.

If so, why then did God 'bother' with what seems like a worse method? Why did he persist with it for so long?

The answer is apparently that this is related to the evolutionary-development of human consciousness. Men in the past quite naturally and spontaneously perceived God and the spiritual realm.

Then, as development proceeded through the ages, this spontaneous capacity diminished.

Why? Because the divine intention was that Man could be independent of the divine and spiritual - could become able to disbelieve and deny in order that he could freely choose to align with God's creation.

Thus, in his personal development, each Modern Man becomes detached from the spontaneous immersion in the spiritual and contact with the divine of young childhood; and then is able freely to choose to join with the divine plan, to become a divine friend of God - not only a child of God, but a grown-up child of God.

And then, but only then; Man can directly know, can (sometimes, but not in a sustained way) align his own thinking with God's thinking; have his thinking be also a part of the divine thinking.

Can potentially participate - consciously and by choice - in the creative work of God

Note: The above ideas are derived mainly from Owen Barfield, and to some degree from William Arkle - as I understand and have developed them.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Jesus as God and Man - Original and Final Participation

For metaphysical pluralists such as myself; Jesus as both God and Man entails that I have some idea of what (on the one hand) constitutes the divine and what (on the other) characterises a Man.

By saying Jesus was a Man we mean he was subject to mortality: to change, disease, decay and death. He was 'doomed to die' as Tolkien's One Ring said about 'mortal men'.

 And Jesus was divine for two reasons - one present from birth, the other from the Baptism by John (the final three years of his life, and the time of his ministry).

Jesus was chosen to incarnate as the Saviour because, in pre-mortal life, he uniquely attained harmony with God's divine purposes, his motivations were fully aligned-with Creation.

Thus he was born divine - but until age 30, apparently Jesus did not know he was the Saviour. That is, he was wholly- and always-immersed-in God's creation; and implicitly but not consciously working in total-harmony with God's purposes.

Therefore, the pre-ministry era of Jesus's life corresponds to Owen Barfield's definition of complete Original Participation - a total but passive and unconscious participation in the work of creation.

From the baptism by John; Jesus became conscious of his divine nature and destiny; and therefore attained the fullness of active freedom, of choice and agency: became a co-creator, shown in the miracles, where Jesus was working deliberately with God. This is Barfield's Final Participation.

So, the post-baptism Jesus was fully divine, and a mortal Man.

The life of Jesus illustrates the distinction between Original and Final Participation - and the nature of the destiny of modern Western Man - here and now; as we attempt, albeit partially and temporarily, to achieve was Jesus did, wholly and at-all-times.

Thursday, 5 March 2020

What happens to a human Being at incarnation and death? And resurrection. (Identity through time is by provenance.)

A Being exists through time, and undergoes transformations.

When a Man incarnates, the pre-existing spiritual Being transforms by a process including the organisation of 'solid matter', to incarnate as a zygote.

At death, the human Being leaves-behind solid matter and transforms to spirit.

With transformation of a being, the identity is maintained by provenance - i.e. by continued linear existence.

There is no retention of previous forms of organisation - so this is not a spirit getting matter added to it, or subtracted from it...

The reality is a continuously-existing-Being, transforming from a first spiritual entity into a solid entity (incarnation), then to a second and distinct spiritual entity.

It is the same Being throughout; because it has existed continuously, in unbroken continuity, through time.

Continuing from the schema above, the concept of transformation can also help us to understand what happens at resurrection.

Resurrection is a transformation of the spirit, when that spirit has been-through the prior transformation of mortal incarnation and death.

The human Being that is resurrected has, therefore, a lineage of transformations that include pre-mortal spirit, mortal incarnation, then post-mortal spirit.

The assumption is that only such a Being, with such a lineage, is able to be resurrected into an eternal divine incarnation.

(This is why Jesus needed to be born and to die, before he was resurrected.)

These descriptions can be regarded as a deeper explanation of my argument against computer AI.

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Steiner's autobiography

I have been exploring Rudolf Steiner over the past seven or so years - the amounts to a really large project of reading or listening-to scores of his works; tackling books and essays about his ideas; several biographies and memoirs... and reading online sources and watching videos of all kinds of people talking about Anthroposophy.

I did this initially because of Owen Barfield, who regarded Steiner as a thinker of world historical importance and who was an Anthroposophist from his middle twenties - one of the first in Britain. And then because I agreed with Barfield's estimate - but in an extremely qualified fashion.

I am gradually forming some kind of overview of the problem with Steiner; how it is that he can be so important - a major genius; and at the same time mostly, nearly always, productive of utter nonsense. How he can be so important, yet his legacy is mostly a series of essentially (i.e. in their essence) bogus initiatives in education, farming, politics, and medicine.

His writings on medicine, for example, are so terribly bad that I would not know where to begin in criticising them - they are wrong at almost every level - in their basic approach, their detail, the kind of mind set they encourage... they have nothing to do with medicine as I understand it.

But really this is nothing unusual for geniuses. When it comes to most geniuses, we are quite happy to take what we value and leave the rest behind. We value Isaac Newton for his mathematics and physics, and leave aside his theology and alchemy... and we do not find it hard to acknowledge that Newton was perhaps the greatest scientist ever and also a horrible man.

The deep problem with Steiner is that he insists over and again and with all the force he can muster - that his work is a wholly consistent and coherent whole which should be taken in toto. The Anthroposophical Society (in practice) regards Steiner in exactly this way - he is wholly well-motivated, wholly good, always right.

They really do regard Steiner as being as infallible as any human ever has been - and that is the way that his ourvre has been preserved and is presented to the world. It began during Steiner's life; and it has continued ever since. Any acknowledged faults are so minor and quibbling as merely to stress his overall and essential infallibility (rather like when job applicants admit to such 'faults' as perfectionism and working too hard).

But Steiner had flaws, including serious ones; and probably the worst was his defensive refusal ever to admit that he had changed his mind, said anything wrong or made a mistake. He was what Colin Wilson termed a Right Man - whose self-esteem depends on a brittle self-image that - ultimately, at root - he is always right, all the time, about everything.

If ever a Right Man is confronted with contradiction or incoherence - then he will explain (perhaps patiently, perhaps angrily) at endless length how this is not really contradiction or incoherence - at a deeper or higher level, everything fits together perfectly; and anyone who says otherwise is malign, foolish or incompetent.

The type is surely familiar to most people.

The problem for Steiner's self-image is that - at least at the level of obvious common sense; he changed a great deal, many times, throughout his life. And, being the massively productive genius that he was, the amount of information and assertion he generated was phenomenal - yet somehow all his life, and all his enormous body of work - had to be made into a unity, bound-together in a fully harmonious system...

This led Steiner into all kinds of tortuous assertion, selection, special pleading - and what would certainly be called dishonesty if it wasn't that he seemed to have been able to persuade himself; so I suppose it is a species of delusion.

In the last year of his life, Steiner wrote an autobiography The Story of My Life (published 1928) covering the first 2/3 of his life. It is very interesting, at times profound - I would recommend it. If you don't fancy reading; it is available free of charge and beautifully read by Dale Brunsvold in an audiobook format.

But it is a fiction of Steiner's life, not history. It isn't just that Steiner focuses (quite rightly) on spiritual aspects as contrasted with material one; it is that the picture painted is untrue: it is an old man looking back and making a unity of what was diverse, making coherent what was a sequence of U-turns and reversals. It is projecting the elderly Steiner back onto his childhood, youth and young adulthood.

The autobiography asserts that Steiner was secretly (on the inside) always exactly what he ended being - a magically insightful and charismatic figure of hypnotic presence; the dominant, confident leader of an international movement and but that this was necessarily hidden for various reasons, or people had misunderstood, or enemies had misrepresented, or whatever.

To the eye of common sense; Steiner was a very insecure young man, often lonely, dependent on being looked-after by others (including his first wife - that seems to have been almost the entirety of the relationship); apparently lacking direction and being rather passively led by offers and opportunities from others, rather than by any life strategy.  

Steiner was always extremely intelligent; but his personality underwent not one but many extreme transformations. The younger Steiner showed no signs of spirituality or clairvoyance; and was variously, explicitly, obviously at different times a Roman Catholic, Kantian, atheist, political radical, materialist, nihilist, Nietzchian, anti-Christian and much more.

Somehow this is all brought into a apparent coherence by a brilliant act of synthesis that has convinced Anthroposophists ever since. But the real story is much more interesting and remarkable. It is a story of one of the most extreme personal transformations in history; such that one can hardly recognise the older and younger Steiner as being the same person.

This is important to recognise because Steiner did himself a terrible disservice by his insistence on consistency, coherence, and system; he made it almost impossible for anyone but a disciple prepared to swallow everything uncritically to take him seriously.

By insisting on taking him in an all or nothing fashion, Steiner created a small minority of cult-followers who are intellectually servile and worshipping; and a barrier against the vast majority of people who are interested and impressed only by a small proportion of his output.

The best thing that could happen to Steiner would be if he came to be treated as just an ordinary genius.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Evolution of consciousness without reincarnation - but how?

Almost everybody who believes-in the evolution of human consciousness, also believes-in reincarnation - but not me.

While I think it probable that reincarnation was usual before the advent of Jesus Christ; I don't believe that reincarnation has been normal since then, at least among Christians - and has indeed been very exceptional (or absent). This for the simple reason that Jesus came to bring resurrected and eternal life in Heaven to his followers, and my assumption is that resurrection happens soon after biological death - which combination (as I understand it) rules-out reincarnation. (although perhaps not something like projected avatars...).

However I also believe that through history (and pre-history) the consciousness of men has developed according to a divine plan or destiny (consciousness has 'evolved' in an old sense of the word). In other words, Men at different points in history have thought and experienced differently - and this is evolutionary-development of mind is (of course) reflected in language (as documented by the work of Owen Barfield), religion, society, science, art and everything else.

But the key point is that socio-cultural change is driven by the inner change in human consciouness - and that inner change has inner causes - and not (or not primarily) the other way around (as most people suppose).

However, if for the past c. 2000 years at least, human souls have one mortal life, and if therefore we can experience only one mode of consciousness and one era of evolutionary history - then what is the value of an evolution in consciousness? Why have consciousness changing through human generations - if, for each individual person - consciousness is Not changing?

My answer is that each of us is unique, therefore each of us needs different experiences in our (one) mortal life; and the evolution of consciousness is a way that God uses to give individual human spirits the many types of experience that each needs.

Other ways of providing different experiences come from different families, different social circumstances, nations, levels and types of civilisation etc. But one of the important ways in which mortal life is tailored to the needs of individual incarnating spirits is through the phases and stages of the development of consciousness.

So that the simple hunter gatherer societies had (in important respects) a very young-child-like consciousness even among adults. Medieval Europe was essentially rooted in the developmental stage of an older child (with its fixed symbolism, hierarchies and rituals). Modern society is essentially the adolescent stage.

And there has never yet been (except among individuals and small temporary groups, perhaps) any time and place where the adult form of consciousness has prevailed - although that is the task of our stage of evolution: i.e. to become properly adult in our consciousness.

Our task (here and now, in The West) is to grow-up spiritually; to attain (and this must be an active and conscious choice, which is a reason why it has not yet happened) what Owen Barfield called Final Participation.

Monday, 25 November 2019

The Luciferic Ahrimanic double-whammy that has (partly or wholly) destroyed all institutions (including churches)

One of Rudolf Steiner's most valuable insights was that evil has an older Luciferic and a more modern Ahrimanic form.

Luciferic evil is instinctive, short termist, selfish and psychopathic - for example the lust which desires other people merely for sexual exploitation, or the sadism that desires torture, or the power that desires to humiliate and crush. This is the evil of Caligula or Nero, of Ghengis Khan, of the post-war African dictators such as Charles Taylor.

The Ahrimanic evil is more modern; it is the despair-inducing, soul-destroying, utterly-demotivating Iron Cage of totalitarian bureaucracy - where all is a single system and all Men are merely cogs to serve it. This is the evil of late Soviet communism, of The Borg, of the overpromoted-middle-manager, Head Girl Type (e.g. the-3-Ms - Merkel, May, Macron) that increasingly runs large organisations, corporations and Western nations.

These evils synergise - especially when Luciferic liberation - such as the middle sixties style sexual revolution feeds the vast arrays of spies, informers, officials, inquisitors and controllers that is the realm of modern sexuality - enforcing their inverted value system with bribes, threats and coercion.

The modern era emerged from what Steiner termed the era of the 'Intellectual Soul' - and example of which is the medieval world of Western Europe, with its institutions of religion, law, education and the like. These institutions were simple bureaucracies but with a 'light touch, and considerable space for individualism, eccentricity and indeed selfish psychopathy...

But when Christianity receded then was excluded, these institutions became compromises which pleased neither the Luciferic libertarians, nor the totalitarian Ahrimanic powers. 

Think of the education system of the the first half of the twentieth century. It was regulated and hierarchical, it had rules and certificates and exclusion - but the period of education was relatively short, and there was space for considerable personal judgement and large variation in philosophy and practice between institutions.

Schools and colleges were regarded as suffocatingly oppressive and controlling by the little Lucifers of the sixties counter-culture. This began the destruction.

And then the Ahrimanic systemisers found more and more evidence of their bureaucratic incompleteness. Human judgement meant the possibility of individual corruption, variations meant that some institutions must be deficient or wrong. The pressure was irresistible to bring all institutions under a single 'true' ideology and to close off all loopholes, fill all the gaps in the systems...

Same applies to churches. They became a compromise that satisfied nobody. On the one hand they were institutions of patriarchal dictatorship; on the other hand they were economically and economically 'unaccountable' - what was going on in them? Nobody knew. Who controlled what they did, lost of mostly unidentified people, What were the details of their operations? Unrecorded...

The response was a massive programme of incremental monitoring and control of every aspect of decision-making - and the integration of this with the national (eventually multi-national) System.

There is no functional coherence to this pincer movement of institutional destruction - the only coherence is destruction. There is not coherence or direction to the end result of this crude mixture of psychopathic irresponsibility and totalitarian control - except the evil ethic of value-inversion.

But the end result is that nobody supports the actual compromise of any existing institution - always they want more Luciferic license, and/or more Ahrimanic 'accountability'.

Hence, all institutions, of every kind, have-been or are-being destroyed... With no end in sight, and no end possible even in principle - since in our secular, hedonic-despairing, God-eliminated society there is no higher value that might be able to transcend the destructive paradox.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

The metaphysical evil of modern environmentalism

Modern environmentalism is anti-human, its underlying assumption is that if it wasn't for the activities of man - then there would be no environmental problem.

This applies pretty much across the board, and goes back even to the early (1970s) environmentalism (or 'ecology' as it was called then) - when the emphasis was medievalism/ de-industrialisation, anti-consumption, self-sufficiency, voluntary simplicity. In general, Man was intrinsically a problem and therefore ought to tread-lightly (as possible, with as few feet as possible) on the earth.

More recently, with the Global-Warming-climate-change-emergency-revolution mob; this has become a kind of self-hatred combined with that generalised loathing of people that surfaces among even the most mainstream of environmentalists - such as Sir David Attenborough.

I mean that barely suppressed desire to clean the planet of all people - starting-with, but ultimately not-confined-to, climate-change deniers... 

This assumption of Men versus The Environment is even accepted by the opponents of mainstream Green activists - but they simply take the opposite stance that Man is more important than the environment.

But the lesson of the philosophical understandings of Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield is that Man co-creates the environment. The environment has no independent existence separate from Men's conceptualising of it. As Steiner summarised in Philosophy of Freedom, we know nothing of percepts without concepts, there is no objectivity without common concepts.

As Barfield said, in the Saving the Appearances (1957) - that which is unrepresented in unknown. The most we could know or say without Man is that there is something-else, but what that something might be?... Well, it would not be 'the environment' as we know it.

Without Man thinking, there would be no environment. If Men were destroyed, the environment would also be destroyed.

Therefore, mainstream environmentalism is incoherent - and always has been. Its motivational chronic anti-Man animus is revealed for the evil it is.

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Limitations of Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom

Rudolf Steiner's The Philosophy of Freedom (PoF; 1894) played a very important role in my personal development - indeed, it was perhaps vital. Nonetheless it is ultimately wrong and can cause serious problems if not (after understanding it) one fails to discard or transcend it. .

This is because PoF explains itself in terms of an abstract, simplified, and grossly incomplete model of human thinking. It is A Model (Percept + Concept = united by Thinking).

And any model is false - because simplified compared with complex reality; and false because abstract when reality is 'animistic' (about Beings and their Relationships).

The PoF is, in fact, Ahrimanic in structure: it divides the world into categories of percepts and concepts, and suggests that these are united in thinking. Yet the world is not really divided into percepts; not is thinking objectively divisible into concepts.

Therefore if we begin in Ahrimanic materialist alienation; if we then understand PoF which tells us how it works, and how to escape it...

But if we stop at that point; assume the validity of PoF and try to live by the model of PoF - then we will be stuck in just another kind of abstract materialism: we will loop back into the demonic traps of Ahriman.

We will just create yet-another bureaucratic religion - as happened with Rudolf Steiner's Anothroposophy: which consists merely in learning stuff (studying the scriptures of The Doctor) and doing Anthroposophic stuff (education, medicine, agriculture etc) according to the usual Ahrimanic vocabulary/ lexicon, blueprints, flow charts, recipes, rules and regulations...); as defined by the usual Ahrimanic hierarchy or authority and temple structure with sacred places and rituals...

The Philosophy of Freedom does not, therefore, in itself give us freedom, not even a little bit - unless it is seen as a first step; as a ladder that is ascended then discarded. We need an alternative to Ahriman, not merely a different kind of Ahriman; nor a reaction back to seek an impossible to Luciferic unconscious instinct - or Original Participation...

We need, in other words, to move forward to what Steiner called the Intuitive Soul and Barfield called Final Participation - and this entails something qualitatively different-from the analysis, theories and methods of Steiner's Anthroposophy, and different too from the philosophical abstractions of Barfield.

They are perhaps essential - at least for some people such as myself, but they are a starting-point merely.  

Friday, 8 November 2019

Moving forward to the new synthesis

When beauty, truth and virtue become separated, they pretty soon die.

Indeed (as I have implied before, in my books on the corruption of science, and the decline of genius) - when there is a move from the unity of the traditional Christian religiousness (with residues of Original Participation) to a concentration of life-energies upon just-beauty (artistic romanticism), just-truth (science and the Wissenschaftlich factual-systematic academic subjects) or just-virtue (some types of Protestant) - then there is at first an enhanced achievement in that specialised field.

The exceptional productivity of first generation atheists (i.e. childhood traditional Christians, who become atheist and then channel their religious energies into 'their subject') provides a misleading, ultimately false, impression of a wonderful future of enhanced attainment from rejecting religion and specialising in some narrower aspect of Culture. 

Thus, first-generation atheists who become commited artists, scientists and ethicists (such as 'fundamentalist' Protestants, or the existentialists) may achieve genius-level work, when they have been brought-up as traditionalists, and assimilated and retained a unified thought structure from that.

But with the next generation, brought-up as atheists, and without any coherent unity of world-view, the specialised art, science and religion withers and begins to die - because separate organs cannot live independently of the whole organism.

Art for arts sake, science-as-religion, purely ethical philosophy (or Christianity indifferent to beauty and truth) are all non-viable; and will sustain in-name-only, only by assimilating to mainstream secularity - bureaucracy and the mass media...

OK, but what then? Above all others, Owen Barfield pointed the way forward; perhaps because he was born in 1897; yet (ahead of his time, in this respect) he was brought-up in a thoroughly secular fashion - as an atheist, in an atheistic leftist radical household. Therefore Barfield could not revert to a childhood Original Participation religiousness; but in seeking to overcome the fragmentation and death of Life, he could only move forward.

Barfield was able to move forward, because he had extreme appreciation and ability in all three of the main specialised capacities (art, science, ethics). He had an intense appreciation of poetry and music and great ability as a writer; a brilliantly philosophical rigour; and an two-sided sensitivity to contemporary ethical collapse (he saw both the profound faults of the past, and the utter inadequacy of contemporary 'solutions').

Then, Barfield had the intellectual honesty to recognise that the prevalent situation was unacceptable and non-viable - it was, in a word, evil. The only possible answer to this gathering, unavoidable crisis and denied-decline into damnation, was that the separation of life into 'watertight compartments' must be overcome. A new synthesis was required.

Barfield had also the rare insight that going-back was simply not an option. Barfield argued that a reversion to earlier forms was undesirable, because it was precisely analogous to an adult trying to become a child; and for the same reason it was anyway impossible.

Since an atavistic reversion to past unity was not going to happen, and the present disunity was evil and unsustainable; we simply must move forward to a new kind of unity. 

Barfield saw that the broken threads of Culture must be rewoven, if we personally and socially were to avoid an incremental descent into hell-on-earth; but rewoven in a new and unprecedented way. Specifically, re-woven in full consciousness and with full choice.

Past unity was essentially traditional, hence unconscious and unexamined; the future unity could only be freely chosen, and as such conscious.

Future unity - which he called Final Participation - was not something that would happen-to us, but something we must each make-happen. So, if we did not make that choice and effort, it will not happen. We must know what we are doing, and then do it.

Moving on to a new unity and synthesis of Good is - unavoidably - up to each of us, personally: starting now.   

References: Owen Barfield's main books on this theme are are probably Romanticism Comes of Age, Saving the Appearances, World's Apart, and Unancestral Voice. All are equally good, although all take sustained effort to understand - each has a different character. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Symbolism has broken down in Christianity; and the church is symbolism

I believe that symbolism has all-but broken down as a way of attaining the transcendental, especially the divine. I would see symbolism as including creeds, rituals, icons, scripture and all holy writings, spoken language (forms of words,  in ceremony,blessing, prayer etc.), priesthood: the church itself (all churches that are regarded as having an essential role or authority in some aspect of Christianity).

Indeed, as soon as symbolism was understood, it was already breaking-down - because when symbolism really works (as it did up towards the end of the Middle Ages) it is regarded as reality, not symbolism.

The symbol is not seen 'literally' (that is a modern distortion) - rather the literal symbol and the transcendental reality are seen as inseparably one.

But when I was first a Christian, I sought the fullest kind of symbolic Christianity. And I was shocked and dismayed that there was no single church or denomination which took symbolism seriously and thoroughly - none at at all; not a single one.

Some were strict about ritual, but not about language; some about scripture but not about words of prayer or particular 'translations' of scripture; some about vestments but not about ceremony - none at all try to provide a thoroughly consistent symbolism.

As I say, at first I was dismayed and felt lost. Then I recognised that this was an implicit (albeit not self-aware) manifestation of the actual, objective, loss of the power and necessity of symbolism.

I now regard this as a consequence of the developmental-evolution of consciousness in Western Man, and part of the increase in self-consciousness and separation from The World; our sense of losing the spontaneous, unconscious sense of being 'in' the world, including 'in' the divine world.

(The complete loss of Original Participation and the advent of the Consciousness Soul.)

In a world without symbolism; the only possible replacement would seem to be the primacy of intuition and the necessity and possibility of direct and unmediated knowing - developing to the new situation of Final Participation: loving participation in the divine creation.

So, my argument is that the fact that no existing Western church will take symbolism seriously is evidence that symbolism has become impossible, ineffectual - and we are faced with either being stuck in our present alienation, or else (as I advocate in Romantic Christianity) moving forward to a different form of consciousness: intuitive direct knowing, Final Participation.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Keri Ford on the links between Steiner and Barfield

Keri Ford has done a really excellent 23 minute analysis of the relationship between Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield. For me, this matter is of first rank important in my own life and thought, and describes the unavoidable current crux of our civilisation; so I am delighted to have such a concentrated consideration of made available in this format.

One interesting and original aspect is that Keri draws upon Barfield's unpublished, semi-autobiographical novel English People - written from 1927-9 (which is available free online) - to demonstrate the point of contact between these two thinkers, and the way in which Steiner worked-upon Barfield in a manner analogous to Barfield's intense appreciation of lyrical poetry.

Near the beginning of the video, Keri also tackles the 'elephant in the room' about Steiner, that ultra-detailed and systematic bizarreness of 'objective description' of past, present and future which confronts anyone who tries to read Steiner.

Keri frames it very helpfully in terms of Steiner describing history as he observes it 'from the inside'; and that what we need to do is first acknowledge the validity of this project, and only then address Steiner's attempt - not by wholesale rejection - but by trying to do better.

Sunday, 6 October 2019

RUP in another guise: The problem of residual abstraction (maths, geometry, physics) in philosophical/ theological thinking

This is a really, really Big problem! What is more, it affects the very best and most important thinkers and writers in my pantheon of influences for Romantic Christianity - Steiner, Barfield, Arkle...

The problem is that the understandings and explanations of such people are/ remain rooted in abstract phenomena - despite that these are intending to advocate a personal, 'animistic', 'anthropomorphic' metaphysics.

Their basic idea is that reality is a matter of Beings in Relationships... That the ultimate entities are Beings (alive, conscious, purposive) and that what holds things together and provides structure is the relationships of these Beings.

Yet ni advocating a metaphysics of Being and Relations; these authors fall back, again and again, into abstraction; into the use of examples drawn from physics, geometry and mathematics.

eg. Steiner in Philosophy of Freedom develops his argument wholly abstractly, in terms of categories of percept and concept, and his example is the geometrical figure of the triangle.

Barfield uses physics as his primary mode of explanation; the rainbow is his most famous example; and he calls his new way of thinking 'polarity' which he describes relationships between beings in abstract-mathematical-physics ways - using magnetism and electricity as explanations.

Arkle's main book, A Geography of Consciousness, uses geometrical and physics graphs, tables and diagrams to explain his 'system' - despite that he explicitly asserts everything is alive and conscious.

This could be regarded as a prime example of Residual Unresolved Positivism (RUP) as described by Barfield - and the fact that Barfield himself was prone to it (as was his Master, Steiner) shows how difficult it is to shake-off. This difficulty is most apparent in Barfield's most deep and rigorous book - How Coleridge Thought - when the clash of perspectives is the source of greatest difficulty in understanding the argument. Barfield seems unaware of how his abstractly-structured schemes are so fundamentally at-odds-with what he is trying to prove using these schemes. The key term 'polarity' is mathematical and derived from magnetism (later electricty) - and as difficult to understand intuitively as most such ideas are.

The problem is so old that it can seem inevitable - it goes back to the ancient Greeks, who nearly always used (the ancient equivalent of...) physics as the basis of their metaphysics - with principles such as fire or water underlying 'everything'.

Another example is that 'form' is taken as primary (as with Plato, Aristotle and Aquinas) - and 'form' is conceptualised in geometric terms and often using geometrical examples. (A modern instance is Sheldrake's morphogenetic fields.)

Whereas the primary reality is actually A Being, not A Triangle; is a Being's motivation, not a force or principle.

This abstraction then leads on to the problem (the error) of regarding Time as... optional. The delusion that Time can be set aside, redefined etc. When a world is seen as abstract as its reality and bottom line - then Time loses its function; indeed Time becomes a nuisance!

Yet, if the world is of Beings, beings exists In Time, and only In Time. In cross-section, there are no Beings - because in a 'zero' timescale there is no Life, no Consciousness - if Life and Consciousness are primary, then there is and always must be Time...

Thus one error leads on to another,

But what this does show is the need for further work for Romantic Christianity; because Steiner, Barfield, Arkle are all in error by using maths/ geometry and physics as their models and explanations.

There us work to be done to restate their arguments in terms that are coherent with the conclusions of their arguments.

The good news is that - when thus restated - the metaphysics and theology of Romantic Christianity becomes something intuitively understandable by a child; rather than requiring advanced training in the natural sciences. 


Friday, 4 October 2019

Keri Ford reviews a new book on Owen Barfield

On the one hand, it is good that people are paying attention to Owen Barfield; on the other hand, when Barfield is enlisted to support a mainstream Leftist agenda, something has gone terribly wrong... Keri Ford provides some details.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Understanding the consciousness of Fiver - the shamanic rabbit of Watership Down

[Fiver:] Well, there’s another place - another country - isn’t there. We go there when we sleep: at other times to; and when we die. 

El-ahrairah [the rabbits' god] comes and goes between the two as he wants, I suppose, but I never could quite make that out, from the tales. 

Some rabbits will tell you it’s all easy there, compared with the waking dangers that they under- stand. But I think that only shows they don’t know much about it. It’s a wild place, and very unsafe. 

And where are we really - there or here?

[Hazel:] Our bodies stay here - that’s good enough for me.

I am re-reading Richard Adams's novel of genius, Watership Down, for something like the fifth time in the past decade; and it strikes me as even-better with each re-reading.

One of my favourite characters has always been the seer or 'shaman' rabbit, Fiver; whose trance states and clairvoyant visions guide the chief rabbit Hazel in the big decisions that need to be made.

(The fact that Fiver is meant to be a shaman is confirmed by the heading of chapter 26 which is a relevant quote from Joseph Campbell's Hero with a Thousand Faces. Adams was significantly influenced by Campbell's work on anthropology and mythology, and the two men later became acquaintances - Adams speaking at a celebration of Campbell's 80th birthday that is recorded in The Hero's Journey book and video.)

In the above passage Fiver describes the source of his visions; which is the 'underworld' or what Ancient Egyptians termed the 'dwat' - and which was redescribed in would-be scientific terms by Jung as the Collective Unconscious. The world of gods, the spirit aspect of sleeping mortals, spirits of the dead, and perhaps other beings such as angels and demons.

Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield had many interesting things to say about the changing, developing relationship between our conscious and waking minds in our mortal, incarnated (embodied) lives; and this underworld.

The first stage is when men (or rabbits, perhaps) were pure spirits, not incarnated. In this state there is no distinction between the waking Overworld and the Underworld.

The second stage is after incarnation, when there is a distinction between the Overworld inhabited by bodies, and the Underworld which can only be visited by the spirit part of Men (and rabbits) - while 'Our bodies stay here' - i.e. in the Overworld - as Hazel says above. The body

At this second stage there are 'specialists' in crossing to the Underworld, those who modern people term generically shamans - like Fiver. To do this, the spirit must be separated from the body, in a trance, sleep or some other 'altered state of consciousness'. But this crossing generally needs to be done by an act of choice, and perhaps by means of a learned skill; and is a hazardous business.

There is a personal price to pay for most shamans - in terms of such as illness, disability. alienation, social hostility and so forth. Fiver, for example, was a 'runt', smaller and weaker than average male rabbits and of a more nervous disposition.

The first stage seems to be normal when Men lived before agriculture and settled dwellings; as nomadic gatherers and hunters. When men had access to stores of food, they settled and developed specialised occupational hierarchies.

Direct contract with the gods incrementally faded, and a 'professional' priesthood (in charge of myth, ritual, sacred objects, scriptures etc.) displaced shamans.

As the second stage continued in Man's history of consciousness, it became harder and harder to cross this boundary, until (in the past few hundred years) more and more people become unable to cross the boundary, and attain the experiences of the Underworld which are the basis of knowledge of the gods, the dead and other such matters.

Religion became less spirit-experiential until it became almost wholly material-procedural. 

Thus we reach third stage, which is materialism - the assertion that there is no spirit, not Underworld, no gods, and no dead.The fact that extreme changes in consciousness are required to have even a chance of shamanic experiences; means that the content of such experiences are hard to recall accurately; and allows experiences of gods, the dead, clairvoyance etc. to be relegated to the realms of pathology - delusion, hallucination, delirium and the like.

The fourth stage if what Barfield terms Final Participation - it is when experience and knowledge of the Underworld comes directly into the Overworld - during normal, waking consciousness. So, knowledge of the gods, the dead, angels and demons, and so forth are woven-into the stream of conscious, awake-thinking.

An analogy with the shamanic era is that this integration of the Over- and Underworld is an act of choice. The Underworld must be believed, regarded as significant, attended to and taken seriously - all of which stands in stark opposition to the materialism of the third stage era.

When the fourth stage happens during mortal life it is a temporary foretaste and learning experience of post-mortal resurrected, Heavenly life; when this becomes the usual nature of consciousness. But our mortal experience of the fourth stage is probably mainly intended to give us a Heavenly understanding of our mortal situation - so that we can learn the significance of our own lives, and the main phenomena in the world around us.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

The race-illusion of John Cowper Powys - the quest for Original Participation

 Dressed for a pageant in 1939, Petrushka/ Paracelsus... a proto-druid

"We Aboriginal Welsh People are the proudest people in the world"

JC Powys (1872-1963) - opening sentence of Obstinate Cymric (a collection of essays published in 1947)


The last twenty-eight years of his life, John Cowper - a good deal of a defiant invalid, resorting nervously to his eternal cigarette and often subsisting on such detestable fare as milk and raw duck eggs [to ease his duodenal ulcer] - lived in almost uninterrupted retirement in Wales. 

He strove with what stubbornness there was in his fluid make-up to persuade himself he was Welsh! Since the second year of the century he had fallen deeper and deeper under the spell of a race-illusion more harmless than Hitler's but quite as irrational.

However, characteristically, Powys delighted in identifying himself with a conquered race.  

In reality his ancestry for many generations had been predominantly English; and the traces for the Celt in his character and disposition are extremely slight. And his long seclusion among the mountains and his intensive study of Cymric cultures resulted in little or no change in his real outlook.

Edited from John Cowper Powys: Old Earth Man, a critical biography by HP Collins, 1966, page 170.


This kind of race-illusion is a sub-species of the life-illusions, or secret fantasy identities, that many - or most people apparently harbour and live-by. The difference (as usual with JCP) is the uninhibited, self-conscious way that Powys wrote about such matters, and his cheerful assertions that that they were indeed illusions - or self-delusions.

My understanding is that these are ways in which people try to cope with that alienation which is intrinsic to the materialism of the modern age. They (we, most likely) elaborate a parallel world, generally of a more child-like, primitive, spontaneous, immersive, unselfconscious, natural or rural kind - some inner attempted version of what Barfield terms Original Participation.

Indeed, Powys pursued this quest for Original Participation with greater and more sustained intensity than any other writer I know of. he was indeed one of the most thorough-going Romantics in history. So his many and varied books (the autobiography, the major novels, essays, philosophy, diaries and letters) give an unsurpassed, and extraordinarily detailed, account of his successes... and the limitations of his success.

Before I was a Christian, I tried (more than once) to grasp and implement Powys's ideas in my own life. But I could not make them work; and Powys himself did not really make them work (as can be seen in his diaries).

This was an important lesson: for me really to be a Romantic, I must be Christian. But/And also - to be a Christian, I must be a Romantic - in a way that includes much of the spirit that drew me to the philosophy of JCP.

The crucial difference is that living-by-illusion, is transformed-into living-towards-reality.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Field of Dreams (1989) and literalising the yearnings for Original Participation

Field of Dreams is a movie I like - I rewatched it recently to check. At the time I first saw it, which was perhaps 1991, it coincided with an awakening of yearning for what I would now regard as Original Participation. In other words, I sought meaning and purpose in life in something like a return to the consciousness of early childhood of early tribal Man.

(Spoiler alert.)

Original Participation is participating in the creative love of the universe by a passive immersion in it; in the way that we all did in early childhood. And this is what the Field of Dreams 'dream' is about - it is about recovering and reliving that child's-perspective; by watching baseball games featuring  long-dead players, in an idyllic situation which literalises a common set of yearnings and fantasies.

That is what I wish to emphasis. Much 'fantasy' is popular because it suggests that 'if only' we could literalise our fantasies, then we would be perfectly happy forever. Of course, they are seldom foolish enough to state explicitly the idea that any kind of external objective situation would really make us perfectly happy forever; but that is what innumerable works of art (novels, plays, movies, tv series) show us.

In Field of Dreams we are shown a man who follows his deepest inner promptings (in the form of an hallucinatory voice), and is rewarded by what looks to be a wholly satisfying life (with his wife and daughter; and an expanding circle of aficionados, who pay him for the privilege and continue to make it possible...) of watching old-time baseball and tending to the ball park where it happens.

This is the theme of so many fantasies; if only fairies, Middle Earth, Hogwarts or whatever were literally true and I could live there - then I would have a wholly-satisfying-life.

Yet, the stark reality is that if we had everything we wanted, exactly as we want it - if our fantasy situation was literalised - it would pretty soon cease to be wholly-satisfying. We would get used-to-it; and probably we would get fed-up of it.

Watching the Chicago 'Black Sox' ghosts play every day, a couple of times a day, while feasting on hot dogs would certainly be great At First... but it is very far from enough!

For post-adolescents the fact is that a literalisation of Original Participation would not suffice, and we only suppose it would suffice because we know it cannot happen. We can daydream that the Field of Dreams would 'make us' perfectly happy forever, because we know it wont happen - this the illusion is maintained, and may harden into delusion.

This is the way in which we - modern Men - are maintained in a state of spiritual paralysis. A bureaucratic, materialistic, totalitarian ('Ahrimanic') machine - such as Hollywood, big business and the mass media - produce multiple ('Luciferic') dreams of passive, immersive Original Participation; which we yearn for but which we know cannot happen... We simply try to spend as much time as possible living 'in' these dreams; in the (shrinking) gaps between serving the machine.

The sixties showed, and the lesson has been confirmed multiple times since; that we are not going to be able to return to Original Participation, that we don't truly want to; and most importantly that even if we did, it would not suffice.

We simply must find a third path into the future - that which Barfield terms Final Participation. This is the state we can confidently hope for in Heaven; but also a state which we can inhabit and cherish for periods of time, and rather imperfectly, here on earth - as part of that learning from experience which is our task.

because, on closer examination; even the daydreams of Original Participation have elements of Final Participation about them; they are often highly conscious, active rather than passive, exist in the realm of thinking rather than inarticulate Being, and are developing situations into which we bring creativity from our-selves.

If we recognise that our goal should not be a state blissful passive immersion; but a process of joyful active creation - and we are most of the way to where we ought to be.