Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Participation in creation - two levels

In a nutshell; by being fully here and fully conscious - such that my own thinking of that time, place and nature is woven-into the evolving web of creation.

To backtrack and explain... There is an attuning to time, place and the nature of things which we may turn an epiphany - a passive, absorptive, time-less 'snapshot' of a situation.

You may recall such things from early childhood: a numinous picture (or perhaps sound, or smell); deep, engaged, lively... and detached. We have, in a state of raised sensitivity, taken a true-impression. 

Such epiphanies do not affect creation - they are not, at any level creat-ive. As I said, they are the true impact that Life has upon-us.

This is in its essence dreamlike, child-like, a resurgence of the primal consciousness of Man lost-in-Nature; still metaphorically in the womb of the Earth Mother...

Such are valuable; yet they do not sustain or develop Albion. They are Albion affecting-us - a memory that is valued; but tinged with regret because gone as soon as registered, and powerless to prevent it.

More is possible, desirable and - indeed - ought-to be aimed-at by the lovers of Albion.

My example here is of Albion-overseas - of New England, in the United States - and with reference to the mid 19th century world of the Transcendentalists of whom the first I came to know was Henry David Thoreau.

I can illustrate the epiphanies by an example from a library: looking at the cover of The Heart of Thoreau's Journals in Bristol City Library, one Friday evening late-opening... losing myself in an appreciation of Walden Pond, Concord, Massachusetts - where Thoreau spent two years, two months and two days in a hut he built for himself as an experiment in living: living for the real things.

The next step - and the first step that is actually of material assistance to reality - is to appreciate as a Segment of Life. Not a passive impression; but a state active, alert, wide-eyed, curious - in which my thoughts and the unfolding-reality unite and are woven-together.

The example is again related to Walden Pond; this time an early morning circuit of the pond with my wife in the Fall of 1998; a magical hour in which reality un-folded, and folded-into memory and anticipation, with an unexpected inevitability.

The 'magical' state of consciousness, when sustained in this fashion, becomes a part of ongoing creation - so that creation becomes, to that extent, enhanced by our personal self-awareness.

The effect is permanent, and made distinctive by the human consciousness.

But more can be done than this; when our real-divine self is active, and generative, and in Primary Thinking - which is creative in a primal sense. New thoughts emerge which are uncaused and never have been before - and these thoughts are in loving harmony with the divine unfolding of creation.

This is what JRR Tolkien called Subcreation, and Owen Barfield called Final Participation. So, this is the rare kind of primary creativity which is not given value by its public communication nor by public appreciation nor by any excellence it may posses... but which has intrinsic, instant and permanent value in reality: that is in God's creation.

Such is woven-into and changes creation; not only by its origin in human consciousness, but by its actual addition to the scope and realm of attained creation. After it, everything is somewhat changed and forever.

(The value of any subsequent communication of it, as art or science of anything else, is secondary and inessential - the permanent value is during the actual transformational-process of creation.)

My personal example is the process of selection, sequence and transition that went into the making of my radio documentary Solitude, Exile and Ecstasy, which included Thoreau's words and references to Walden Pond.

For several hours together, I was in an elated and hyper-aware state - and felt not just an external sense of what was right and effective, but that this also came from within my real self.

I have little doubt that those solitary and ecstatic hours of mine left their permanent traces in the web of creation, as it relates to that expression of Albion's spirit that is New England; and that was shaped at Walden and its environment, by Thoreau and others; and which continues and always will as an aspect of God's creating.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

This is the best of possible worlds, for its designed purpose

William Wildblood has done an important post at his Meeting the Masters blog; which he gives the provocative title The World Is Perfect. 

This truth flies in the face of common modern morality to such as extent that probably most people would regard it as actively-evil, insane or seriously-dumb even to consider the validity of the idea that my life and your life, and the lives of everybody who ever has been - has been the life we most needed (although almost never is it the life we ought-to lead, since people apparently very seldom learn from their experiences).

1. The first step is to recognise that this mortal life, the life between biological conception and death, is on the one hand extremely-important; and also on the other hand not the only life - and especially not the end of our lives.

We have an eternity to live after mortality; therefore much of what happens during this mortal life can be understood and made sense of only in that context.

2. As Chistians; we know that God was the creator, and that we live in the midst of creation; also that God is our loving Father and designed creation for our (ultimate, eternal) benefit.

For modern people, this entails that we reject the almost ubiquitous (and incoherent) idea that this world is some mixture of rigidly-determined and random; that each thing is just an effect of some previous cause - without end or beginning; or else things happens unpredictably and for no reason. by contrast, we need to assume that everything happens for a reason and by some intent or another.

This means that the world is, ultimately, alive and conscious and therefore intentional - there are reasons for everything (although, naturally, we don't personally know the reason for more than a minuscule number of these happenings - but that they do have a reason, we do know).

3. Another closely-related modern confusion that we need consciously to reject is that there is no such things as 'free will'. A better world for free will is agency in the old sense of teh world) or autonomy... meaning simply that an autonomous entity is one from-which intentions, motivations, thoughts can arise. That is, an entity which is (to some extent) its own cause, or a source of causes. 

There are many such entities in this world (for example people, but others as well) - and there is also God. This means that this actual world we experience is on the one hand God's on-going creation and it is also the outcomes of multiple autonomous entities.

4. For a Christian, God has a destiny - a hoped-for development - for each one of us, as individuals.

God does not want every human to be the same ('clones') but like any good parent, God rejoices in the differences between his children, and loves to see each (beloved) child develop unquely and in-line with his own nature, abilities and aspirations. 

At the same time, God's creation is boudn together by love - and the unioque development of each individual must cohere with that of each other in a heavenly harmony. The first commandment is love God and the second to love neighbours - it is love, and only love, which enables creation to be Good.

5. This is the world which we each inhabit, as mortals. God is always present and active in his creation - but mostly 'behind the scenes' because it is a major part of the divine plan that we each develop our own uniqueness in our own way.

By 'behind the scenes' I mean that God ensures that the experiences we most need for our development will come our way. This is not something we need concern ourselves about - our proper concern is to experience these experiences fully (and not, for example - a common modern response -  to avoid thinking about them) and to learn from them.

Each of us has different learning priorities; plus some people learn fast, while others do not learn at all. Others draw the opposite conclusions from their ex[eriences than God intends... all of this is a necessary and intrinsic part of the free will/ agency/ autonomy of people.

So, often we need multiple repetitions before we learn that which we (personally) most need to learn), often we need extremely harsh experiences before we learn.

And at the end of the day (as Jesus stated clearly) there were and are people who simply will not learn, who will neither listen to nor hear The Word. They can be given all sorts of experiences - they are shown miracles, shown love, hear or see divine communications - yet they will not learn.

6. There are many and vital inferences to be drawn form the previous five points; but one that requires specific emphasis is that we must personally and in our own lives (as Christians) believe that this is indeed the best of possible worlds.

This is just not 'an option' - it is mandatory.

Actually understanding this is somewhat difficult, given the number of lies and errors that surround us, and the modern disinclination to think. And having understood it - it is diffcult to live-by that understanding. Indeed, this is precisely one of the lessons we must learn!

So we must know this for ourselves, and for our own life. And we can expect that God will ensure that we have all the understanding we need for this purpose.

But we must Not trying to explain why every detail of God''s creation is the best possible for every single one of the people now and throughout history!

How could we possibly know this, and why would we need to?

So when someone comes up with a (real or imagined, factual or garbled) description of some innocent or good person who seems to have suffered very badly during mortal life - or some evil person who apparently had a gratifying (healthy, high status, powerful, cheerful...) mortal life... we should never allow ourselves to be drwan into trying to explain how exactly this fitted into God's plan for creation!

We do not know that person's destiny, who do not know their inner minds and how they were actually gratified or suffered, we do not know what happens after a person dies...

In sum, we prsonally cannot link the events of someone else's mortal life with their individual destiny (and what that person most needed to know, or whether they indeed learned it); nor can we understad how a person's mrtal life was linked with their post-mortal eternal and resurrected life.

We cannot do such things, and if we try to do so - and to persuade another person of our rightness - then we only reveal our ignorance and makes ourselves ridiculous.

On the other hand, it is perfectly reasonable and to-be-expected that we can know a great deal of this kind of thing about ourselves; insofar as such knowledge is helpful to the main purposes of our mortal life - much of which is about learning to be active agents.

So it is quite likely that God wishes us to work-out such things for ourselves (rather than simply 'telling us') - partly because that is the basis mode of mortal life, and partly because that is the only way that many people can actually learn.

It is a commonly observed fact that many people can only learn many important things the hard way. And when these 'things' are extremely important (for eternity) then that means that 'the hard way' is precsiely the way that many such things will, of necessity, actually be learned. 

The evolution of consciousness is a drive, not a response

When Owen Barfield writes about 'the evolution of consciousness' - he is talking process that is driving human development.

Barfield is not, therefore, regarding consciousness is something which respond-to historical change; but the opposite. So, he is saying that it was a change in the consciousness of Western Man that drove the scientific revolution and 'materialism': first consciousness changed and then science arose...

And therefore Barfield is contradicting any idea that 'modern Man's different way of thinking is a product of the scientific revolution. He was also contradicting the idea that the change in consciousness was due to natural selection. Rather Barfield is stating that changes in consciousness have been driven-by the unfolding of a divine plan (or 'destiny') for Man.

(A plan/ destiny aiming, ultimately, at the divinisation or theosis of Man - Man becoming a god (or full Son of God, as the New Testament terms it), with a god-like way of thinking.)

The development of new forms of human thinking is something which has (again according to Barfield) happened several times in human history, and indeed prehistory. However, in the past the changes in consciousness were driven at an unconscious level and required only the passive acceptance of Men.

Currently (at least since the Romantic movement of the late 1700s), and for the first time, we are experiencing an unconscious drive towards a new kind of consciousness that will not happen unless and until it becomes conscious and chosen.

So, our current situation is that we are being driven 'instinctually' (unconsciously) towards a new consciousness / a new way of thinking. But for it actually to happen requires that we become 1. consciously, explicitly aware of what is going-on; 2. then accept this destined change, but; 3. not just accept it, because we need also to; 4. actively embrace and work-at creating this change in ourselves.

In sum; the modern situation is that we must each, personally, want-to ally our-selves with the destined change in thought and consciousness, and must make efforts to make these changes in our-selves.

Or... it will not happen; and because we cannot go-back to an earleir state of consciousness (any more than an adolescent can become an actual child again), we will remain 'stuck' in the current phase of alienated consciousness - the problems from which will continue to be cumulative.

So far, very few individuals have done this four stage process of theosis - and the great majority of people in the West remain entirely unconscious of what is going-on behind-the-scenes.

Nonetheless, at an unconscious level - the instinctive drive towards the next, and final (because divine) qualitative development of thinking continues; and leads to many undesirable outcomes.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Making Barfield's explanations themselves more biological: towards a more thorough animism and anthropomorphism...

For the past couple of years I have understood the essence of Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield in relation to thinking, and during that time I have striven to re-express these more simply in order to make them more widely known. But it has been hard to achieve this goal, and my estimate of my own success has not been great. 

For example the vital idea of 'polarity'. If you follow the previous link you will see some of my attempts at explicating polarity. However, I have come to realise that root problem relates to polarity being a metaphor derived from physics (i.e. from magnetism) - often with mathematical (e.g. geometric) aspects. And this makes it difficult to apply to the situation of human reality.

So Coleridge, for example, argued cogently and (to me) convincingly 200 years ago that we must have a logic based on polarity - but it is terribly difficult to grasp what he meant by this, and how we would go about such a change, and what positive difference it might make... William Blake seemed to express much the same conviction as Coleridge in some of his poems - especially the early aphorisms... but again it's a big jump from appreciating poetic 'paradoxes' to changing the structure of mainstream thinking.

But is, instead, we use biological metaphors and analogies to explain the same essential situation, then it is much more comprehensible. So, if we do our philosophy in terms of life, development, growth etc - then we find that we don't need a special concept of polarity. A living being generates contrasts and differences that can be distinguished (as we validly and usefully distinguish the several organs of a body, such as the heart); yet these distinctions are not separable (as we cannot separate the heart from the rest of the body, without killing both).

In fat, a thoroughgoing animism, or anthropomorphism, seems to be the best solution to many difficulties. And this has the added advantage of fitting with our own childhood experiences as well as the evolutionary-developmental-history of human consciousness. We can see that our task is to return to the simple, childlike animism and anthropomorphism - but this time not unconsciously and because we know no differently, but deliberately and in full awareness of what we are doing.  

In a sense; Coleridge, Steiner and Barfield all knew this and explicitly said this; but they did not follow-through with the task of ejecting physics and mathematics from their explanatory schemata and replacing them with the child-like way of thinking of reality as alive, conscious, purposive - and with the relations between entities understood as relationships between beings.

Or consider the way that Steiner and Barfield describe the evolution of consciousness through various stages - and the possible future of the Imaginative Soul/ Final Participation. We seem to see a mechanical universe going-through various phases towards a predetermined outcome (and Steiner, especially, attaches all kinds of mystical-numbers of years to these phases and the way they play out - with predictions stretching millennia into the future).

How much clearer it is to state that the evolution of consciousness happens because God wants it to happen and influences the world accordingly; but only insofar as each Man chooses (from his agency) to ally himself with God's plan. Man's destiny is therefore what God hopes will happen, it can be achieved only incrementally, but each individual must choose to cooperate; and might well choose to oppose.  

Animism and anthropomorphism are only 'childish' in a bad sense insofar as the child knows nothing different than them (and much the same applies to Men in simple, tribal hunter gatherer societies). Modern Man knows many different ways of thinking - especially the simplified-modelling of reality with mathematics and the sciences; and every model is partial and distorted and of ultimately unknowable generalisability... all of the explanations of mathematics and science are at bottom only simplified models that may, or may not, be useful for some specific purpose and situation.

Yet reality is as it always was. There is nothing childish about recognising that we were correct about the ultimate nature of reality when we were children and before Men had civilisations - after all nothing has ever disproved it!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The Inklings and the completion of Romanticism

Barfield's understanding of Romanticism as an uncompleted destiny is of primary importance to an integrated view of The Inklings. Barfield articulated this very clearly in Romanticism Comes of Age (1944) as well as subsequent books; but none of the other Inklings seems to have understood or been-persuaded-by the argument.

(Probably they were put-off by the fact that Barfield drew much of his understanding from Rudolf Steiner, and referenced Steiner's work frequently. Because although Steiner was certainly a genius of world historical importance (Barfield seriously and coherently compared him with Aristotle); he was also wrong about most things, most of the time - and in a peculiarly gratuitous and overwhelmingly prolix fashion.)

In a nutshell, Barfield saw Romanticism as a necessary but unfinished, indeed corrupted, development of human consciousness. Therefore, he saw the only viable option for modern Man as the completion of this change.

What happened to Romanticism, according to Barfield, was that it arose in the late 1700s and initially was taken forward very promisingly in practical terms by Wordsworth and Blake in England and Goethe in Germany; and was very fully theorised by Coleridge... but that it was soon diverted into modernism - that is metaphysical materialism/ positivism/ reductionism/ scientism - in the forms of varieties of atheism, political radicalism and sexual revolution. 

By contrast, although both Tolkien and Lewis embodied Romanticism in much of their work, and were anti modernism in all the forms described above - they advocated and adhered a return to pre-modern states: Traditionalism.

In sum, rather than moving-through Romanticism to a new form of consciousness (along the lines theorised by Coleridge); Tolkien and Lewis attempted to fuse Romanticism and Tradition, or perhaps to use Romanticism as a means for returning to Tradition.

The completion of Romanticism is therefore still an uncompleted project! Indeed, the whole issue has proven to be very difficult to discuss at all. Coleridge never succeeded in making himself understood by anybody! - arguably until Barfield himself brought together and interpreted many scattered passages (e.g. especially in What Coleridge Thought, of 1971).

It is no mystery to me why the project of Romanticism remains uncompleted - to complete Romanticism requires:

1.  A rapid (not incremental) and wholesale (not partial) replacement of fundamental metaphysical assumptions concerning the basic nature of reality.  And...

2. This task must be done actively, voluntarily and explicitly by each person as an individual.

By contrast, the modern prevalent perversion of Romanticism (i.e. atheist, materialist, leftism) was introduced incrementally, unconsciously, by mass influences and in a top-down fashion; such that the whole system of modern Western thinking is commonly unrecognised and denied, is incoherent and self-destroying, is dishonest and relativistic.

Could Tolkien and Lewis have followed where Barfield was leading? It is hard to imagine - since they would need to be convinced of the impossibility of Traditionalism and also of the possibility, and goodness, of completing Romanticism. They would need to acknowledge that Romanticism was, in its original impulse, not merely a 'reaction' to industrialism and materialism; but an embryonic new form of consciousness. Romanticism-completed would (even without Steiner) also have struck at the particular self-definitions of Tolkien and Lewis's different, but in this respect similar, definitions of Christianity in terms of creeds, institutions, and authority...

Tolkien and Lewis would therefore surely have found it difficult to distinguish between Barfield's suggestions for a completed-Romanticism and the modernism they opposed root-and-branch. Nonetheless, we can - looking back on the Inklings and perceiving them as a spiritually-coherent group who themselves had a destined role to play in the development of Western consciousness - ourselves do the work that Tolkien and Lewis could not, and would not have done.

Which is to complete Romanticism with the help of their imaginative literature.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

I have received the Owen Barfield Award for Excellence, 2018

As can be seen from the announcement on the official blog of the Owen Barfield Literary Estate, I have been given the 2018 Owen Barfield Award for Excellence!

This award is mainly for my work on this blog; which has accumulated about a hundred posts since it began in November.

The OB Award is a great satisfaction to me; especially since it was made by Owen A Barfield, grandson of, and literary executor to, the great man; and Jane Hipolito, one of the premier Barfield scholars and a good friend to Barfield.

Understanding and extending the work of Owen Barfield has been a major focus for the past few years; but I must again acknowledge the crucial stimulus I had from reading the group Inklings biography The Fellowship, by Philip and Carol Zaleski. Until I read The Fellowship, I had struggled to get attuned to Barfield's mind - although I had bought and read many of his major books.

But the Zaleski's book 'unlocked' Barfield for me; and since reading it I have felt very-much 'on Barfield's wavelength', sharing his world view and his concerns - and this to a greater extent than any of the other Inklings.

When considering the Inklings as a spiritual group of souls linked by a kind of implicit destiny - Barfield's work intuits, theorises and makes explicit what the others did in creative terms. By a fairly close and appropriate analogy; Barfield was Coleridge to JRR Tolkien/ CS Lewis's Wordsworth!

I therefore feel it is no exaggeration to claim that understanding and extending the major theme of Barfield's work on consciousness and its development, constitutes the single most important issue in the Western world today.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Understanding versus knowing

Having been a doctor or a scientist or some kind of an academic for much of my life, I have been focused on 'understanding' - and indeed my natural disposition has also pointed that way.

But 'understanding' the world is problematic, because what it really amounts to is making simple models of the world, and using these for prediction and manipulation. All human understanding is inevitably simplified - due to the inevitable constraints and also because that is implicitly the purpose of the whole business... to take the 'infinitely' complex and interconnected world and render it into something simple enough that we can deal with.

This also means that all understanding is wrong - we know it is wrong because we know that most things have been left out, and because to make a model we draw-a-line around a bit of the world and treat it as separate when in reality everything is somewhat connected with everything else.

So understanding the world is - no matter how apparently useful - an exercise in error.

We know that models are false, and we can never know that they are applicable or not - and we can't ever really know except in terms of the model itself - because on major simplification of models is that the outcomes are selective and limited.

And we might know a model worked - in its own terms - up to 'now'; but (as the history of science amply shows) situations may arise in which a previously useful (predictive, manipulative) model breaks-down and fails even to satisfy its own very circumscribed criteria...

The main problem with thinking in terms of models, however, is to believe that they are True. This is what Owen Barfield termed Idolatry, the worshipping of the model as an idol. As when Galileo asserted that his model was really-true - and refused to regard it as merely a more-or-less useful/ better model (hypothesis/ theory).

The modern error has been to assert that Galileo was right, when in fact we know for sure that he was wrong... we just keep on doing this! We assert that the models of science/ technology/ medicine, economics etc are true - when in fact they are never true... and often only last a few months or years before being superseded by something else we 'believe' is true.

It is a shallow and foolish error - a deep metaphysical error; but it is an error that pervades modern life and which is enforced with strong sanctions. 

It was an insight of Goethe that models are not knowledge, and that 'knowing' something is more analogous to knowing a person than to modelling a phenomenon. That is, we get to know a friend, we do 'understand' a friend - we do not hypothesis and test models of their behaviour - making and checking predictions, trying to perform manipulations etc. That is what 'managers' do, not friends!

We get to know a friends by... well being with them, thinking about them, being concerned about them... stuff like that. We may know our mother or father in this way, although we cannot and do not want to create a simplified model of them - and if we do, we don't suppose that the model has captured their essence; in fact we know for sure that all such models are wrong.

Through human history we went from knowing, to understanding, and now we should go back to knowing - but this time knowing that we know. Our original knowing (as children, as early Man) was unconscious, was simply taking-for-granted - but now we need consciously to know what we are doing, and to choose it rather than simply taking it for granted.

This is, indeed, the task of tasks which confronts us.


Reality made simple

Bear in mind that our understanding of the ultimate nature of reality is concerned with assumptions - metaphysics - and there is no 'evidence' for it. On the other hand, there must be first assumptions; and these assumptions have immense consequences. 
The primordial situation is pluralistic - many things, not one thing.

These primordial things are agents - which is to say they are dynamic entities: each agent a self-generating source of... thought. Thus ultimate reality is dynamic, changing. It is organised to the extent of there being distinct agents - but no further.

Thus ultimate reality is alive - all agents are alive.

('Polarity' or 'polar logic' is a consequence of this primordial situation - it is a metaphysics of dynamic, self-generating, plural agency.)

Among these eternally existing primordial agents is God; and God (at some point) creates our world by 'shaping' the primordial agents.

God does this with the objective and hope of developing other agents like God - so that God will not be alone, so that God will have a family. Creation is motivated by the desire for more Gods.

Creation is the cohesion and harmonisation of agents - by love. Love is the primary cause of creation - at the heart of everything that is created.

In sum, primary reality is multiply-dynamic, held-together and brought into harmony by love.

In creation there is an unfolding, a development - due to the dynamic interaction of agents; this is destined (ie. has a direction and goal intended by God) but is not determined, because of agency.

In fact the development is itself creation. Creat-ivity is agency participating in the developmental-unfolding of reality.

Consciousness is a necessary, intrinsic aspect of agency and life - but consciousness varies greatly in quality and quantity. The direction of the evolutionary-development of consciousness is towards greater awareness of itself and its operations.

In an ultimate sense, therefore, reality is dynamic - thus always changing; but also plural, thus permanently structured.

'Good' is that which affiliates with creation - with cohesion and harmony - with love. Good is an opt-into creation.

Evil is that which opposes creation - opposes love, cohesion and harmony. Evil is the intended destruction of creation.

Every agent is - in any particular action - aimed-at, tending-toward, either good or evil.

Friday, 23 March 2018

The destiny of modern Man - and its refusal

There is a shape to history (human, and ultimately planetary history) - but the shape is not seen in the usual focus of historians, but in the history of consciousness.

History has a direction - and intended direction; which is to say a purpose. But that destiny can be paused or diverted.

The direction cannot, however, be reversed.

Because we are talking of consciousness we cannot ever go-back. Adolescents behaving like children may perhaps be better than them remaining as perpetual adolescents; but adolescents behaving like children are not the same as children, because they have been-through childhood.

What drives the current and recent development of human consciousness are unconscious-impulses - instincts - that affect Men. These impulses originate in the divine, and they are intended to be spiritual impulses: that is, instincts intended to eventuate in the spiritual realm.

That is, these driving instincts are referenced to goals in ultimate, eternal  and spiritual reality (which is that universal reality of divine creation which we may access and participate-in by the Primary Thinking of our real self).

But when Men refuse to acknowledge the reality of the spiritual realm, will not recognise the divine-within, and will not think from their real self with agency and awareness...

Then these divine impulses will remain unconscious, and will become manifested in the material realm instead of the spiritual realm. What was intended to be a spiritual development of consciousness is then distorted into a parodic idol; hellish instead of heavenly.

For example; the divine spiritual impulse was for men to recognise - to know by direct apprehension, that we ouselves and all men have a partly-divine nature as children of God, and that our destiny is to live by loving participation in universal creating-reality.

The materialist distortion is socialism, communism, Leftism in its many manifestations as it has grown over the past couple of centuries (from early roots in pacifism); that is The System aspiring towards total ideological propaganda, monitoring and control; externally to impose a hellish materialist parody of the divine impulses.

The consequent materialist parody is most clearly seen in the modern results of the sexual revolution. The divine impulse for the development of consciousness in relation to sexual morality (as for all virtues, and the pursuit of beauty and truth) was that these universal realities become apprehended directly by conscious intuition, and freely lived-by in recognition of their Goodness. Instead the modern world has a literally-hellish materialist parody of sex and sexuality - legalistically defined,  ever-more prescribed and imposed, justified and sustained by lies.

So, the malaise and malignancy of modernity can be seen as a consequence of rejecting divine destiny; and this rejection is possible because the destiny entails that what was unconscious becomes conscious, what was obeyed because of authority becomes known-as-Good, and what was known-about becomes known-directly...

All of which requires individual agency and personal effort. Nobody and nothing can make us do this. Indeed, we cannot even learn from experience what to do, so long as we continue to hold to materialism, or indeed to hope for a return to an earlier era of unconscious obedience to external (benign, parental) authority.

We are in a situation where we cannot stay-the-same (because we are a slippery-slope to hell-on-earth) nor go backwards, and spiritually growing-up is the only Good possibility.

Yet we must choose this, each for himself or herself. We must understand and we must learn; and this takes effort; it will not 'just-happen'.

On the positive side; if we do understand, and do learn, and then choose - we will succeed. Because we will be following the divinely-destined path, will be fuelled and directed by those spiritual impulses and instincts I described at the beginning.

So nothing can stop us.

The above is my re-expression of a lecture of Rudolf Steiner from 1918, which I have often written about, sometimes translated as The work of the angels in Man's astral body. It is probably significant that Owen Barfield assisted in the English translation of this lecture, published in 1960. Certainly, there seem to be resonance of Steiner's prophecies in Barfield's works from Saving the Appearances (1957) onwards; and especially in the sexual dystopia described in Night Operation (written in 1988).

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

What is evil about Lucifer and Ahriman?

Edited from Chapter 13, the final one, of Unancestral Voice by Owen Barfield (1965).

By the Adversaries, Barfield means Lucifer and Ahriman, who are conceptualised as as actual but distinct aspects of 'Satan' - they are the adversaries of Christ's plan for the development of Men to the fully-divine form of consciousness. This idea comes from Rudolf Steiner, but is too complex to explain here. 

In what follows, Barfield makes a subtle distinction concerning evil that I consider to be not just misleading, but false - however (in the parts I have emphasised in bold text) he also makes a deep, vital, important and neglected point. Square brackets indicate editorial additions.

"[The Adversaries seek, not transformation but either continuity or substitution. 

"We have spoken little as yet of good and evil. If you are wise you will not think of the adversaries as evil. 

"Not they, but what they do - if man fails to prevent it - is evil.  

"They are not evil, because it is only in the activity of preventing them that Man achieves freedom: the freedom without his transformation [i.e. resurrection to eternal life] would not be self-transformation."

Now, I regard the best definition of evil to be that which opposes the divine destiny for Man; and in that respect, the adversaries certainly are evil; since opposition to God and to Jesus Christ is precisely what they do...

I think what Barfield means here is that the adversaries just are the way they are; and God has made this world such that Satan's activities are a part of it: in other words, opposition is allowed.

That is just a fact of mortal incarnate life. God has his reasons; which we personally may or may not understand - and which nobody understands in detail.

However, Barfield wants to put the focus on a place we seldom allow; which is that the major evil in this world comes from Man's failure to oppose, to prevent, that which the Adversaries want to do.

In a sense demonic evil is just a fact of life, about which we personally can do nothing. But demonic evil nearly-always works by Men's implementation. And another fact is that Men have freedom (agency) either to implement or to oppose evil.

Assuming that we are here to experience and learn from life - this is one vital thing we are here to learn: we are here to learn to 'prevent' evil; that is not to implement it, to work against it.

We should ideally never allow ourselves to think along the lines of 'the devil made me do it'. And when we do think like this, it must be repented.

What Barfield is saying here is that we need to learn to take responsibility for the evil that is done - and to take responsibility for 'preventing' evil as best we may; because that is to be free; and to be free, to embrace our being as a moral agent, is one of the essential things that God wants from us.

Should history be understood as a meaningful process of development?

Edited from Unancestral Voice by Owen Barfield (1965).

"I still wonder", said Chevalier, "if it is really as important as you suggest for people to find a meaning in history?"

"I will tell you one reason why it is important", came the swift answer. "As long as a man sees history as a meaningless jumble of events, he will see his own life - which is a part of history - and the lives of those around him in the same light... Just one-damn-thing -after another."

To find meaning in our own lives, or the lives of our friends, family, or those we admire - entails that history has a meaning; which entails that history has a direction, a destiny, an intended plan that is good.

It is also necessary that our own lives (and everybody else's life) be joined together; and joined with the destiny of history.

For there to be meaning in one thing requires a great deal more - in fact meaning in one thing requires meaning in every-thing.

And - taking a further step, which can't be explained briefly here, but may be obvious... Meaning in everything also requires that everything be alive and (to some degree, in some way) conscious...

Conversely... to deny meaning, shape, purpose to history (including that history which is the origin and evolution of the planet and life) - is to deny meaning in Everything.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Reilly on Barfield, Romanticism, Christianity and Time

 Owen Barfield in his seventies

Writing in a Festschrift to Owen Barfield (Evolution of Consciousness: studies in polarity, 1972 - edited by Shirley Sugarman); RJ Reilly wrote a superb chapter modestly entitled A Note on Barfield, Romanticism and Time.

What Reilly said has direct relevance to the 'project' of this blog.

He links to a comment by Barfield from Saving the Appearances to the effect that the romantic impulse never attained to maturity during the nineteenth century; and the only alternative to maturity is puerility (i.e. immaturity, childishness, foolishness).

What was missing from mainstream Romanticism was Christianity and Time.

Christianity, because rejection of the limitations of the churches went over into anti-Christianity (or 'anything-but Christianity', in the case of the 'spiritual but not religious' perennialist philosophers and seekers).

And Time was rejected because of the tendency of the tendency of Romanticism to regard enlightenment as all times in the 'ephiphanic' moment, that enlightened moment as out-of-Time and as all-Times - an indifference to chronology, or sequence - the denial of any destiny to history.

It was an achievement of Barfield to pick up the thread of Romanticism and point ahead to its maturity - including the inclusion of both Christianity and Time; and this highlighted those thinkers whose Romanticism did indeed include C&T - the likes of William Blake, ST Coleridge and Barfield's Master Rudolf Steiner.*

This forms a neat summary of the Romanticism, and indeed the strategy, I would endorse - a Romanticism in a Christian framework, and (also consistent with Christianity) one which understands human life and culture in terms of a destiny (an intended plan or sequence) unfolding through Time.

*To which I would add William Arkle.

Monday, 19 March 2018

The history of my personal interest in the subject of consciousness

I have been interested in consciousness, and unusual conscious states, for my whole adult life and continuing - but in various ways and with different focuses.

c1974: I discovered the work of Robert Graves; first the Claudius novels, then the essays and criticism. I became fascinated by his remarks concerning the poetic trance, and the possibilities of non-logical leaps of inference and types of knowledge. Bernard Shaw's writings on Creative Evolution (Man and Superman, Back to Methuselah) pointed at higher consciousness as the (impersonal) aim of Life - this amplified by a mystical nature writer called John Stewart Collis. HD Thoreau's Walden and Journals described moments of connection with nature, which I sometimes experienced.

1978: I discovered Colin Wilson's work, with its primary focus on attaining higher forms of consciousness - since then I carefully read through most of his books, many several times. About this same time I encountered CG Jung, and the idea of archetypes that lent depth, universality and significance to life and art. A book of essays by composer Michael Tippett (Moving into Aquarius) talked of the importance of this kind of thing in artistic creation.

1994: I began an active scientific study of consciousness from the perspective of the theory of evolution by natural selection. I began to publish on the subject. To Thoreau I added an engagement with RW Emerson and other 'related' authors like Walt Whitman, William James, Robert Frost.

1998: Shamanism was of increasing interest - I read anthropological texts, and also - from about 2001 - Neo-Jungian writers such as Joseph Campbell and James Hillman.

2010: Having become a Christian, I investigated Eastern Orthodoxy (and the analogous 'Celtic'/ Anglo Saxon British tradition) - i.e. the practices of constantly-praying/ meditating ascetic monks and hermits, wonder-working Saints etc.

c2013: Having committed to Mormon theology and metaphysics; this was the beginning of my current phase of great interest in William Arkle, Owen Barfield and Rudolf Steiner, supplemented by William Blake and ST Coleridge.

So, for me, consciousness has been (in different, sometimes contrasting, ways) the single major intellectual and personal interest over a span of more than four decades - and continuing.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

The dawn of Romanticism in 1740 - publication of the first novel

Colin Wilson was the first to recognise that human consciousness changed in 1970; and what marked this historic moment was the publication in London of Pamela: or Virtue Rewarded, by Samuel Richardson - which was the first novel.

The novel produced an instant sensation and within months had spawned numerous imitations. And the novel was the first evidence of the power of Imagination. Romanticism was born.

From that moment, human imagination exploded in the Western nations: the British Isles, Germany, France - spreading to all the developed countries and increasing until it was the dominant social theme by around 1800 - and the world was never the same again.

But if 1740 really was The Moment - then the direction of causality remains to be established.

Colin Wilson argued that The Novel caused the change in consciousness; but I would argue that the change in consciousness caused The Novel - and that Pamela was merely the first evidence that Man (specifically Western Man) had already begun to undergo a change in consciousness.

Here we come to the ambiguity in the term 'evolution'. Wilson saw the evolution of human consciousness; but he saw this as consciousness adapting to changed circumstances - he saw consciousness as 'passively' following changes in the environment...

But I see a process of developmental unfolding, in accordance with divine destiny. Thus I see human consciousness as developing a greatly-enhanced power of Imagination as a process of a long term plan for humanity. The novel was an early product of this change.

Consciousness is itself the driving force; and it was the change in consciousness which drove the changes in the environment - such as the Romantic Movement and the Industrial Revolution.

Most historians of ideas, on the contrary, regard Romanticism as a reaction-to modernity - especially a reaction-to the Industrial Revolution. (e.g. That Romanticism was a daydream of escape into magic and nature from the grimy and alienating 'realities' of industrialisation.) But this can't be right if we consider Pamela as the beginning of it all, since in 1740 the Industrial Revolution was as yet so small in scale as to be almost imperceptible. The greatest commentator of the age, Samuel Johnson, saw continuity, not revolution.

Instead, I would say that both The Novel and the Industrial Revolution were different products of the same driving, qualitative change in human consciousness; a change that affected England before it affected anywhere else - but which before long had affected everywhere else in Western and Central Europe and the diaspora of these peoples.

This general insight - of changing consciousness driving culture - was articulated by Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield; although neither emphasised much the point that this was a developmental divine destiny; and that its ultimate aim was the aim of God in creation: to enable Man to rise to full divinity.

Enhanced Imagination was something that was imposed-upon Western Man - it was not his choice, he was passively-swept-along by this change in consciousness.

But 250 years later I think we can perceive that Imagination was only meant to be the first step - and the divine plan was that Imagination would lead on to Man's explicit choice to embrace an Intuitive consciousness that was also conscious and free. That is, Man needed voluntarily to embrace what I have termed Primary Thinking.

So, the intention was that Imagination would show us the way - but Imagination is not-necessarily-real. Imagination was meant to lead-onto Intuitive Primary Thinking. While Imagination is creative in the realm of public communications, Intuition is creative in terms of universal reality - Intuition is, in fact, human creativity in the context of on-going divine creation. Intuition is Man's participation in God's creativity.

Yet since 1740 this evolution, this developmental unfolding of consciousness, has stalled; and we now live in a world where Imagination is encapsulated, hermetically sealed-off from Real Life which is The System, The Bureaucracy, an invasive totalitarian web of surveillance and control... Intuition (or claims of Intuition) is regarded as merely wishful thinking, evidence of childishness, or an evil attempt to manipulate others for personal advantage...

This happened because, unlike previous unfoldings of human conscious development, this last one (into the divine type of consciousness - divine in quality albeit not - initially - in quantity or scope) must be consciously chosen.

(We must consciously and explicitly choose to become gods - we cannot be made gods unconsciously and without our consent and cooperation.)

We must become explicitly aware of the next-step, then need to choose it. And this entails becoming explicitly aware of God's Plan - of our divine destiny - and choosing to join this; to be, live and work in harmony with God's Plan.

So far - very few people seem to have done this - of those we know, perhaps Goethe, William Blake, ST Coleridge, Rudolf Steiner, Owen Barfield are among the well-known examples of people who have made this choice; who have made this choice and qualitative step...

But culturally - the divine destiny of consciousness has been roundly and comprehensively rejected by modern Western cultures; as foolish, childish, meaningless nonsense - itself evil or tending-to evil.

Modern Culture is therefore divided between two wrong answers: between those who reject the assumption of God, and those who reject the assumption of a developmental unfolding of human consciousness.

Yet my belief is that both need to be accepted - which entails recognising them explicitly, and choosing them freely. Only then can Man take-up and resume his development towards divine consciousness.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Good vibrations? High frequencies? The language of consciousness

It is common in spiritual writing over the past decades to discuss the raising of consciousness, the evolution of Man towards divinity, in terms of a higher Vibrational state, or high Frequency communications. This is done by many authors and thinkers - including some that I greatly respect (such as William Arkle).

It goes along with several other physics derived terms used in spiritual discussion - Energy is one popular one (especially in Alternative Healing) and of course Light - which is used often in the Bible...

There is a question of the extent to which these are intended to be literal or metaphorical. However, the work of Owen Barfield on the development of language tells us that this literal versus metaphorical distinction may be an artefact of modernity - and not an aspect of reality.

Reality may be, and probably usually-is, both literal and metaphorical; in the sense that literal factuality does not capture the 'symbolism' or meaning of facts, while the symbolism tends to discount or ignore the question of factuality.

So, I recall reading in the Russian Orthodox literature about light emanating from Saints being both literal and symbolic. My understanding is that such glowing could, in principle, be photographed or filmed - and was, in that sense, 'objective'. On the other hand, demons may, it was said, appear in the guise of brightly-glowing angels... so light is not 'evidence' of Goodness.

The question about Frequency/ Vibration is whether there is supposed to be a literal, factual aspect to the description; is high frequency consciousness something that might, in principle, be measurable by a device? Some New Age thinkers clearly suppose so.

But the perspective of Barfield and Rudolf Steiner was that objective phenomena are always and inevitably known via consciousness; and when consciousness is different, what is objective is different. This would include physical records such as photographs, videos, readouts... in reality they are interpretable, know-able, only by human consciousness, and when human consciousness changes, so does our knowledge of such records.

(Perception is thus bound-up-with knowledge.)

In other words, there is no-such-thing as objectivity separable from human consciousness.

This suggests that there may in reality be something describable as a frequency or vibrational state of consciousness, and this attribute may be perceptible or even measurable in some states of consciousness but not others.

On the other hand, I question whether this physics-based way of describing and discussing life and consciousness has in fact been effective - whether this way of speaking and writing is a good idea? My objection is that it is abstract, in the sense of being the opposite of personal.

There is a major divide among those interested in religion ad spirituality between those who seek to escape persons and regard reality as abstract; and the opposite. In general, the movement through human history is to regard higher, more true religion as being abstract. Probably because we all start out, as young children, seeing the world as animated and conscious (everything significant as alive and purposive, motivated - everything as quasi-persons) - then growing-up and becoming intelligent and wise is seen as an incremental process of abstraction.

We mostly regard the abstract as real, useful, generalisable; the personal as childish, unintelligent, crazy... and indeed children, mentally handicapped and psychotic people are often and characteristically 'animistic' in their thinking. (Paranoia, in the technical sense of self-referential delusions, is the natural state of the naive human.)

To discuss spirituality in terms of Vibrations, Frequency, Energy and Light are all ways of abstraction. Abstraction has been the trend for hundreds, even thousands, of years... And how is this abstraction working out, thus far?...

Well, abstraction is alienation, disconnection; it is to understand God as a series of attributes or properties, God's goals as akin to setting-up a machine, a computer, a force-field... a complex system. It is to see persons in terms of how they serve abstractions; virtues in terms of how we interact with a system; sins and vices as disruptions to our efficient functioning.

In sum, such language feeds an understanding of the universe as unalive and unfolding with inevitability and impartially... when, surely, as Christians we ought to be understanding reality in terms of persons, not the universe; in terms of personal aims, wants, needs, hopes... and of course love?

The recourse to physics concepts as a key metaphor or and the bottom-line factual-symbolic primary description of life, is a thing fraught with hazard; at least for the modern mind.

It is, at any rate, something I am working on noticing and expunging from my own thinking. The intent being to replace it with a conscious animism, an aware knowledge of reality as ultimately - factually-symbolically - consisting in living conscious Beings.

Such an animism is regarded as objective, meaning (as objective always does, in reality) shared perceptually between those of the same quality of consciousness. Those of a different quality of consciousness (such as the mass of modern people, and indeed the naive and child-like, would not and could not perceive this reality of reality-as-Beings.

That is to be expected....

(Note: Reality consists of Beings; including parts or components of Beings... Not everything in reality is a conscious Being in its own right; just as our right thumb, a lymphocyte in the blood, or a calcium ion in our nervous system are not individual Beings, in their own right. Yet everything not itself A Being, is part-of A Being.)

Friday, 9 March 2018

Original 'Participation' is not really participation

Just to clarify: Original Participation is misnamed, because it is not participation.

We cannot participate in that which is unconscious and passive - in OP we are immersed-in-reality, we go-along-with-reality... indeed we are swept-along by it...

But we cannot our-selves take a participating role in reality until after we have become consciously aware of reality; and then (from our-selves) actively chosen to join-in-with the ongoing work of creation.

So, Final Participation is, in fact, the only true participation.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Working through Barfield's metaphysical implications...

A big problem, perhaps The problem, is that we have an incoherent metaphysics - that is, our basic assumptions are incoherent; or, at least, if all metaphysics is incoherent to some extent, ours is incoherent where metaphysics are most needed, where incoherence does the most damage.

Of course nobody wants to talk about, let alone think about, metaphysics - and especially their own metaphysical assumptions. I know that for a fact, and I don't know what can be done about it - but I need to sort out these matters for myself, and writing helps...

Fundamentally, we think of Things in terms of static categories (like A Being, Love and Creation) - but we ought to think of Things in terms of dynamic 'processes' (like Be-ing, Love-ing and Create-ing). We need a metaphysics that some have called 'polarity' - but this has proved almost impossible to explain, at least I have thus far failed to make it clear - probably due to the tendency to begin the explanation by stating categories...

I agree with Owen Barfield and Rudolf Steiner (as I interpret them) that a vital aspect of the work of Jesus Christ was, in some poorly understood and ill-defined sense, to divide History between a passive, unconscious mode of being BC, and the advent of (what was intended to be) an active and conscious mode of being AD.

For example, BC the idea of a Good life was strict obedience to external laws, rules, rituals (static categories) - whereas Christ brought the ideal of conscious agency, personal discernment, and and loving - all of which are active, dynamic (or polarities, if you prefer).

But mainstream Christianity made an unfortunate error in trying to assimilate the Christian message - which was one of radical metaphysical change - to the pre-existing systems of Greek and Roman Philosophy; leading to intractable contradictions and confusions, lack of understanding and clarity.

For example, if you understand agency/ free will as a category or Thing done by A Being - they you can't make any sense of it. But if you understanding it as a process done by an entity whose essence is Be-ing... then its importance and nature become clearer (or, would do, if this whole way of thinking was more less alien, familiar).

The problem is that no matter what mainstream 'static' Christianity asserts - in matters such as the reality of agency, or the primacy of Love - its deep structure contradicts. Mainstream Christian metaphysics cannot help but see Love as a static thing, maybe like a force or like a feeling; but working by a sort of attraction between categorical persons - because it envisages a reality that is, in essence and reality, eternal, unchanging, perfectly perfect.

It can be expressed in terms of Time. Mainstream Christianity and the near universal metaphysics of modernity regards Time in a static way as identical with a moment. In the Hindu/ Buddhist version, this means that any moment is exactly like any other moment and a microcosm of eternity.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was one who brought this into the Western mainstream explicitly, with this idea of a moment as an epiphany of all; Life being (ideally) known to be a series of such epiphanic moments - each moment equivalent. Strictly, such a moment takes zero time, it 'out-of Time' - so there is an equivalence between eternity and the instant. The ultimate goal is a Nirvana in which all change ceases, bliss reigns, and the only awareness is of this fixed state of bliss.

Well, that is one way of looking at it - but the other, is that we continue living and the epiphanic total-moment gets swept into our past, and the best we can hope for is another such moment, and another... Life then has no direction or goal, it is merely a sequence of instants...

This has been combined with an atheistic utilitarianism (Life conceptualised as being hedonic; about maximising pleasure and minimising suffering) - and descended into the modern West as an implicit (unconscious, unexamined, unacknowledged) metaphysics of Life as a series of atomistic, disconnected moments.

Each Life moment 'ought to be' as gratifying as possible - and each moment is on the one hand infinitely important (like the international firestorm that follows the use of a politically-incorrect taboo word or hate-fact) - yet also each moment is utterly insignificant because it is superseded by other moments, and there is zero continuity between the moments.

This is the modern metaphysic: on the one hand; our life is going nowhere and has no meaning because it is merely a sequence of isolated moments; therefore nothing matters, things don't add up, death is merely a cessation to this arbitrary sequence. On the other hand; nothing can be or is more important than each moment, than This moment - and nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of alleviating momentary suffering or enabling and maximising momentary pleasure.

Most 'mainstream' Christians (in the main denominations) would acknowledge that the modern metaphysics is bad; but would not acknowledge that their own metaphysics shares exactly the same problems and is at-war-with Jesus's teaching and indeed cosmic effect on Man and Reality.

But I see this all the time, in contradictions, complexities and 'mysteries' that Christianity is obliged to introduce to distract from this deep problem. Of course the deep problem - the fundamental contradiction - is not solved; but people are typically sufficiently confused and distracted to assume that it has been solved.

When the problem is simple, yet the supposed answer is complex - people generally assume that the answer is true but they haven't really understood it. Or they may assume that their understanding of the problem was 'simplistic. However such a situation is basically-unsatisfactory and - over time - has been a weak point probed and exploited by those hostile to Christianity.

In sum, the Christian responses to the problems such Free Will the Problem of Pain/ existence of evil, the 'virtuous Pagan' problem - caused by the universality of Christ's message contrasted with the extreme geographical and temporal restriction of the scripture, the church and its personnel, or any specific denomination; the need for developmental-evolutionary change of Men (theosis) - the weakness of the answers strikes the outsider as evasive failures.

Mainstream Christianity has failed metaphysically to reconcile many key aspects of the implicit nature of Jesus's life and teaching with the explicit explanations of it. The resulting dissatisfaction has - overall - led to an incremental 'liberalism' that merely masks apostasy and has gradually subordinated Christianity to prevalent secular norms - which are themselves metaphysically even-less coherent than the flawed understanding of Christianity they presume to replace!

I see all this in terms of the working-out of error through time, in which early errors become every larger and more obvious in their incoherent and false consequences. Looking around the modern Western world at the mainstream secular hedonism and its religious including Christian alternative, I see nothing that gets-right what really needs to be got right at an explicit metaphysical level.

But knowing that there is something seriously wrong does not tell us what is wrong nor how to set it right...

My contention is that the surface wrongness lies very deep in the metaphysical assumptions, and that there is an alternative tradition of Christian metaphysics based in a developmental-evolutionary and dynamic state of assumptions - still lacking a lucid account - which, once habitual, either solves or dissolves these hitherto intractable problems.

This sounds awfully complex itself - but in fact the real Christian metaphysics can be expressed so simply that a child can comprehend it; because is the metaphysics of God's created Reality as composed entirely of living Beings.

(Including parts or components of beings - which is how many mineral entities can be understood; not whole Beings of themselves, but all parts of some living Being. e.g. A mountain may be a Being, a grain of soil probably is not.)

In brief, metaphysically we need to return to something very like the simple transforming animism of early childhood and early Man. Everything that is, is 'alive' and 'conscious' in the sense of being intrinsically dynamic, purposive, growing-destined - and related (by love-ing) to everything else created and to the creator.

On such a basis a Christian life may be led, and understood consciously, and pursued with agency.

Of course, even when metaphysics is coherent where it needs to be, the great challenges of mortal life remain - right metaphysics only gives us the correct starting-point and the understanding necessary to know that we have a purpose and it s nature. It is up to each of us to pursue that purpose, as it affects us each specifically and uniquely.


If,as I said above, it is correct that Christianity was bound-to an unsatisfactory (and pre-Christian) metaphysics at an early point in its history - what was the effect?

Well, clearly, for several times and places over the past 2000 years, there have been great, indeed superlative, individual Christians - and there have also been (much more rarely and temporarily) fine Christian societies (albeit of very small scale, by modern standards).

So it could be argued, from its 'fruits' or outcome, that the mainstream Christian metaphysics was true, because it has sometimes sustained good Christians, or that at least it it can't be bad enough actually to prevent someone being a good Christian. Or that Christian metaphysics is irrelevant - because the real thing about Christianity is not metaphysics...

It is quite true that the real thing about Christianity is not metaphysics - otherwise it would not be possible legitimately to discuss the two separately - but that does not make metaphysics irrelevant.

My understanding is that the wrong metaphysics did not matter as much in the past as it does now (and for the past couple of centuries) - although it did have adverse consequences in the long and bitter (and profoundly un-Christian) 'heresy' disputes, wars and persecutions concerning Christology and the Trinity.

The fact that modern Christian churches remain unable to acknowledge the basic wrongness of the early-centuries church reactions to the Monophysite, Arian, Pelagian etc disputes has become something like a fatal flaw at the heart of things. The whole way that these disputes in the early Christian centuries arose, were formulated and conducted is clear evidence of profound wrongness in the way that the Christian churches were set-up from the start...

Christianity was muddling on - sometimes overall-Good, many times Not, until its great challenge began to emerge at about the time of the industrial revolution in the later 1700s: the challenge of modernity.

My understanding is that the challenge was divine in origin - it was the unfolding of Man's destiny that was desired; it was the irresistible pressure to make a Christianity that was conscious, explicit and based in the individual's direct knowledge of God and thus the individual's agency: the individual's autonomous free will.

The impulse behind modernity was the developmental push towards Man becoming more like God, during mortal life.

However, this pressure did not, except in a few individual persons, lead to the God-desired change. Men did not understand the need to develop what I have termed Direct Christianity.

Instead, Western human agency split between reaction and radicalism: between a doubling-down on tradition and conservatism; versus a this-worldly materialist throwing-out of Christianity, and all acknowledgement of the reality of the spiritual, of purpose, of meaning.

Attempts to 'liberalise' metaphysically-unreformed Christianity became assimilated to the secular materialist ideology. Attempts to be spiritual but not Christian very rapidly assimilated to the secular materialist ideology.

Extremely few people apparently understood the need to be both Christian and spiritual, to be individualistic and Christian; to be guided by intuition - but as a tough inner conviction of Good and source of resistance to adverse social pressure - and not merely as an excuse for short term hedonism and careerist or status-seeking self-aggrandisement. 

We now know, 200 years later, that tradition-conservatism failed to prevail or even to defend itself - and the perspective of this-worldly materialism has triumphed in this world. God and the immaterial are excluded from the public realm - and increasingly from private thinking. And the Global monitoring-control system of bureaucracy and the mass media are successfully pursuing goals that are more obviously demonic with each passing year.

The large and powerful Christian churches are by now de facto assimilated into secular materialism and have become fake/ pseudo Christian - while covertly anti-Christian; meanwhile the various traditionalist-reactionary and really-Christian churches are wedded to an indefensible metaphysics, as they have been for up-to 1900 years.
(This secular materialism triumphant is 'Leftism' - understood to include all worldly-materialism including the fascism, national socialism, conservatives, Republicans, libertarians etc - as well as the entire self-identified Left. It is the ideology of the entire Global Establishment at its elite level.)

What modernity has done is to probe and probe at the metaphysical flaws and inconsistencies of mainstream historically-dominant Christianity; and because these metaphysical flaws are intractable (they are built-into the assumptions), and because the mainstream theologians are unable or unwilling even to acknowledge that metaphysics is separable from the Christian religion; the mainstream can only double-down on them, and hope that the lethal criticisms will eventually go away.

But whatever (apparently) happens, my understanding is that the deep problem remains that divine destiny, 'the challenge of modernity', has been refused.

We now know in our hearts that while most of modernity-triumphant is evil and evil-seeking; some of the original impulse towards modernity was valid and necessary for man's spiritual development. We know in our hearts that both available sides are wrong - Leftism is wrong and evil in motivation; traditionalist Christianity tries to do Good... but is crippled and poisoned by a kind of fundamental and chronic metaphysical dishonesty.

Since no group in the modern world is prepared to tackle this matter head-on and explicitly - and indeed it is possible that no actually existing group can do so - since in this time and place groups may exist to serve the individual in his spiritual development, rather than the other way around... Then the implication seems to be that each individual person needs to take-on this heavy responsibility for his own spiritual development and theosis.

Our great fortune is that we are children of God the creator of this world and he would not leave us bereft of help. What we need to do we can do.

This is not, and cannot be, a matter of replicating the strategies of an earlier era - building churches, ideologies - persuading via the spoken and written word - getting power and protection... If it is truly individual, and truly based upon direct knowledge of the spiritual and the divine - then we have nobody to 'persuade' of truth, except our-selves.


Monday, 5 February 2018

Original Immersion, Detached Agency, Agent Participation: Renaming Original and Final Participation, and the Consciousness Soul

I have very often used Owen Barfield's categories to describe the evolution of consciousness over the past three years. These are Original Participation (OP), the Consciousness Soul (CS) and Final Participation (FP).

However, I have not been happy about the actual names, which are partly uninformative and, as I now have come to feel, somewhat inaccurate.

Original Participation is not truly a participation in reality and creation because it is a passive and unconscious state. The Consciousness Soul (this term comes from Steiner, rather than Barfield) is simply uninformative. And  the term 'Final' in Final Participation is not descriptive - but rather it informs us that this is the qualitative mode of divine consciousness, and therefore no further evolution (except quantitatively) is possible.

So I will be trying-out a new set of terms: Original Immersion, Detached Agency and Agent Participation.

Original Immersion (this was OP)

This refers to the original state of consciousness for Man. Original in the sense of its being both the mode of consciousness of young children, and also of early tribal man - foragers/ hunter-gatherers.

It is a state of passive and unconscious immersion in reality - 'animistic', regarding the world as alive and conscious.

There is little in the way of a separate self - therefore little in the way of agency. The content of thought is mostly caused.

The child's thinking is therefore essentially a consequence, rather than being internally-generated. So, the child is not 'creative' - does not originate or generate thinking. 

It is also something of a 'twilight' state, in some ways intermediate between the awake and asleep state of modern Western adults - and a modern adult can experience Original Immersion in some altered states of consciousness such as trances, delirium and certain 'drugged' states and psychosis (for example).

Detached Agency (this was CS)

This refers to the characteristic state of consciousness of an awake, alert, modern Western Man.

Our self is detached from the world, observing it through the senses; and we are strongly aware of this separate self and its agency in thinking.

The evolutionary step is in agency - thinking becomes a primary cause, self-caused: thinking emerges-from the self intrinsically. Thinking need not be a consequence of external factors.

With detached agency, Man becomes creative - originates thinking. However, this thinking is at the level of ideas and imaginations. These thought must be translated into the external world - by 'actions'. And actions are known only via sensory perceptions.

Therefore in the stage of the process is indirect. Thinking does Not participate in reality 

Initially the self may feel cut-off, and doubt the reality of the world ('solipsism'); and ultimately - by inference - may doubt its own reality.

The agent self experiences the world as perceptual/ sensory input that is made-sense-of by reasoning - i.e. a matter of facts and theories. Thus is it is literalistic, scientistic, materialist and reductionist. Reality is dead/ not-alive.

There is no experience of objective meaning nor purpose nor relationships: these are just theories.
Subjectivity is the dominant experience; objectivity is conceptualised sensation.

Agent Participation (this was FP)

The thinking of the creative and agent self participates in reality - directly. This is the divine mode of thinking.

That is, thinking is real, and reality is thought - and there is a unity, no separation - therefore reality is changed (expanded) by thinking.

So, with Agent Participation, the Man directly knows reality - not indirectly via senses and reason or facts and theories. Direct knowing means there is no mediation, which means that there is unity.

For a divinity, reality is 'made' by thought; and known directly because the reality is the divine thought.

However, Agent Participation is partial, from a perspective. Thus some of reality is known directly, and creativity has also a limited scope. 

Thus, in Agent Participation, everything than can be thought is real - but only some things can be thought. Everything than can be thought is known - only some things can be thought.

And in Agent Participation with respect to creativity: everything that can be thought is original, uncaused and self-generated (although, naturally, it may and probably will use the existing knowledge of that self).

Everything that can be thought is participated-in, and therefore this thinking is directly creative (without mediation) - but only some things can be thought and only some kinds of creativity are possible.

The idea is that scheme describes the (ideal) development of a child to an adult who is divine - being a son or daughter of God: Original Imersion being young childhood, transforming to Detached Agecy at Adolescence. Most modern men are arrested at this adolescence of consciousness, but almost all will have periods of Agent Participation - even though they may be brief, feeble, and not taken seriously.

The scheme also describes the development of human society from earliest Man through modern Man to the divinely destined future of man. And it describes states of consciousness which we each may move-between - even during one day of our lives.

But the main 'lesson' or value of these categories is that Agent Participation is what we ought to - and need to aim at in our lives - as indeed the primary aim of a Christian.

In other words, these categories are a description of spiritual progression, theosis, sanctification or divinisation. Therefore, Agent Participation cannot be achieved except insofar as a person is Good and motivated by Love.

Because to participate-in creation is to participate in the loving work of God, it is the most profound alliance-with God.

Hence the absolute nature of the first and second commandments: Love of God, and of Neighbour (our neighbour being our co-participant). Only thus may creation proceed.

Note: These three states are - strictly speaking - 'polarities' in the sense that although they can be objectively distinguished (as above) they cannot be fully separated or detached one from another. For example, even a young child is not fully without agency or creativity; and certainly some hunter gatherers display these traits at some times.  

In other words, these are extremes or emphases of a unitary process of human consciousness. Any categorical scheme, when applied to a process, can only result in such polarities - because ultimately the unity cannot be divided without destruction of its nature. 

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Reincarnation and Christianity

It seems that reincarnation goes-with a belief in the superiority of spirit - the superiority of existence as a spirit over incarnated existence...

I say 'goes-with' because I don't think reincarnation logically-implies the superiority of spirit, but goes with it in a natural kind of fashion - apparently; if such versions of reincarnation are considered as Hinduism, Buddhism and recent doctrines such as Anthroposophy and some New Age ideas. By the 'superiority' of spirit, I mean that with reincarnation it is usual to see life as a pure spirit as superior to life 'in' a body: the body is seen as a restriction.

(For example, Rudolf Steiner envisaged a long-term evolutionary process by which Man would become incarnated, multiple times - with a more and more 'solid' incarnation; and then the process would be reversed - but with enhanced consciousness - until Man was again fully spiritual. A U-shaped evolutionary descent into, and out-from, matter over many thousands of years. I am not sure whether this was also Owen Barfield's mature theological position - but I think it was.)

For reincarnation, repeated incarnations serve the life as a spirit - and usually the ultimate goal is to stop reincarnating, discard bodies, and live permanently (finally, eternally) as a spirit.

The incarnations can serve spirit in various ways - each reincarnation might provide an experience to allow spiritual progress, or be a kind of opposite of this - the incarnation being a punishment or adverse consequence of earlier lives... but in the end the idea is that these incarnations, these repeated embodied lives, are merely a means-to-an-end; they have the purpose of ultimately allowing the body to be discarded.

In Christianity the picture is different - but there is here a difference between 'Mainstream' Christianity and Mormon Christianity.

In most kinds of Catholic and Protestant Mainstream Christianity, the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost include two spirits (Father and Ghost) and one resurrected incarnate (Son). The overall sense seems to be that whether God is a spirit or incarnated makes no difference - since there is (by the mystery of the Trinity) a unity of all three.

But there is a implicit sense in Mainstream Christianity that being incarnated is a problem. Man is regarded as primarily incarnated, as beginning as an incarnate - and the problem of incarnation is solved by means of Jesus descending into the incarnated state, dying and being resurrected... The feeling is that incarnation is a problem that needed solving, and was solved by such means.

For Mormon Christianity, incarnation is superior to spirit life. The Father is incarnate - God is not 'a spirit' but has a body.

Men have their (pre-mortal) origins as spirits, and incarnation is seen as a necessary step in progression to full divinity, to become like the Father.

(Not all pre-mortal spirit Men have incarnated, and presumably not all will necessarily incarnate - if they chose not to. They would remain as spirits - as angels; or as demons, none of whom are - according to doctrine - permitted to incarnate. Therefore, for Mormonism, incarnation is a privilege.) 

And Christ too (although highly-divine as a pre-mortal spirit) necessarily went-through this stepwise process in order to become fully divine, like his Father. But instead of dying and becoming a spirit (as happened to all men before Christ) - by dying and resurrecting; Christ began the new era in which all mortal incarnated Men died and were resurrected.

For Mormonism, incarnation is superior to being a spirit (all else being equal); in the sense of incarnation being a more divine form of being (and, as I said above, necessary for Man, including Christ, to become fully divine).  

Therefore; for Christians in general, and Mormons in particular, there is no point in reincarnation - unless something has, in some way, 'gone wrong' with the primary incarnation (maybe that it was ineffective at achieving its purpose for some reason - perhaps extremely premature death?). 

My conclusion is that - for Christians - reincarnation isn't a thing that is necessarily ruled-out nor false... As I have previously noted, the discussion in the New Testament of whether John the Baptist was a reincarnated prophet - and if so which one - suggests that the possibility of reincarnation was acknowledged by Jesus and his followers.

It is more a matter that reincarnation is superfluous for Christians, but esepcially for Mormons - at least under 'normal circumstances. Only if something has gone wrong with the primary incarnation would there seem to be any compelling reason to have further incarnations.

This leaves-open the question of how often things go wrong in human mortal lives, such that further incarnations are required (or desirable). Is it common or rare? To that I have no answer.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Faith, Hope and Charity as an essential prerequisite to evolution of consciousness

To take the next divinely destined step in the development of Man's conscious being (i.e. Primary Thinking) is extremely difficult. It can't be done by starting from where we are and then trying hard, doing exercises, concentrating, analysing, working at it... Primary Thinking is not a technique.

The reason is because what is needed is the Thinking of the Real Self - and we, here and now, are not 'located' in our real self; but instead in a variety of false selves. Changing this is difficult. How do we locate the real self? How does a false self (which is where we are, now) find the real self - allow its thinking to take-over...

What block us? The answer is (put simply) fear.

Fear is the problem: endemic, existential fear - why? Because (to progress as God wishes us) we must choose reality - choose to set aside fake knowledge. Yet we are locked into unreality and fake knowledge by our materialism, our worldliness, our fear of what will happen if we abandon them...

If we continue to focus on this world - on how this world makes us feel (happy, sad, pleasure, pain, suffering etc) as an end in itself - then we are trapped, because this is a false perspective. By adhering to it - by trying to optimise our responses to the experience of personal mortal life in this world - we are trapped in a vicious cycle.

So why do we continue doing it? Fear. Fear that if we fail to focus on how we feel and the material facts-of-life, then we will feel unbearable and our lives will fall to pieces. This seems very reasonable - everything about this world tells us that it is necessary to focus on such matters - and makes us deeply, existentially afraid not to focus on such matters...

What can possibly overcome such a reasonable, sensible, evidential, existential fear? 

Faith, Hope and Charity (Charity being Christian Love) must come first - and without FHC there will be so significant progress or advance or raising of consciousness.

How can this be? - How does it work?

Faith is trust in God, and the God that we can trust is a God that is wholly good, and loves us as a child (Charity).

Faith is the maximum extreme of an ideal of the child's trust of his parents - it is the ground of a young child's existence that his parents want the best possible for him - over the long run. But God, unlike our mortal parents, is the creator - so our trust in God is also a trust in creation; a trust that the world is set-up for our personal ultimate benefit in the kind of way an ideal parent might set up the home as a place of experiencing and learning.

We need also to know that the point of this life (our mortal life) is Not only this mortal life; but our mortal life is one of experiences from-which we can learn: learn for the benefit of our eternal life (after death).

Mortal life is extremely important, indeed vital for our ultimate goal because we must become incarnate and die in order to be resurrected into that everlasting and Heavenly life that Jesus promises.

But the importance of our experiences during mortal life are related to what we most need to learn. The experiences of mortal life are not an end-in-themselves; the experiences of our mortal lives are real and important because they have eternal significance.

It is Faith which gives us this perspective, the faith is made possible and reasonable by God's Charity/ Love for each of us an an unique individual in God's creation - and that leads to the validity of Hope.

Hope is what enables us to overcome fear - and Hope is reasonable, valid, believable; because we know that this world and our specific life has been set-up by God for our own personal ultimate benefit...

(As well as the benefit of our brothers and sisters among God's children; the analogy with ideal earthly parents is exact - they want the best for each individual child; and for all of their children.)

Hope is what allows us to see beyond the pleasures, pains, happiness, sadness and sufferings of our mortal lives.

Hope is what overcomes fear. 

We can escape our false selves, and escape the trap of our low-level and false consciousness, only by transcending fear so that we can know reality; and we can transcend fear only by knowing reality - by FHC...

By knowing in our hearts that there really-is something beyond and more-significant-than the subjective experiences of this world.

We need to know that our experiences in this mortal life are 'in God's hand' and for our ultimate personal benefit - that our life really-is that detailed and personal and specific.

On such a basis (and only on such) we can drop our worldly-materialist-fear-based 'defences' and 'do' Primary Thinking' - we can allow ourselves to think from our real selves; because we are confident that this is what we should do, and can do.

Saturday, 27 January 2018

The opposite of abstract is personal

This is the essence of what I am currently trying to get across - a break point with the usual way of considering things.

Abstraction (pretty much) IS Positivism... and Positivism is what we are trying to escape. This, at least, is the case when Positivism is reconsidered as meaning Abstraction.

We start out as Personal - when we are children. As human culture (so far as we know) started out as personal - animistic, anthropomorphic, everything alive, conscious, personal.

Abstraction was introduced by (?) the Ancient Greek philosophers, and it grew initially in and from a situation of unconscious and spontaneous personalism. Thus the AG's advocated abstraction, but they were (by our modern Western standards) very animistic in their thought, behaviour and language (this last being well attested by Owen Barfield in his 1928 book Poetic Diction and elsewhere).

Since then Western Culture has become more abstract and less personal until now public life is wholly abstract - to the point that even in the Mass Media the personal is wholly abstract... that is my interpretation of the identity politics which has taken-over in the past 50 years: even people are now wholly (abstractly) representative of the class/ sex/ non-sex, race, religion of whatever. (As in the foundational feminist phrase The Personal Is Political.)

OK, it may be agreed that modernity is too abstract - a matter of models and symbols... but most people would regard The Concrete as the Opposite of The Abstract; I'm here pointing out that it is the Personal which is opposite.

So we must apparently become Personal instead of Abstract - but, I would emphasise, Not by trying to go back to being unconsciously and spontaneously and passively Personal, like a child or a putative simple hunter gatherer...

This times and in the future it much be a choice, a choice or decision that must be consciously and freely made. We need to decide that Personal is how things Really are: that deep-down and objectively things are ultimately Not abstract, but that they Are instead personal.

So we live in a reality, a universe, a world, where things are persons, things are beings - beings are persons... at bottom and root we have living and conscious beings.

This entails that mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology are not really real; these are (more or less use-full) simplified (= ultimately and always false) models.

(Same applies to the abstractions of managerialism - all those processes, measures, stats and targets - they aren't The Bottom Line they are plain wrong.)

It's a big change I am asking and advocating; but I think this is exactly what is demanded, what we need to do - by divine destiny. It's where we are all going, sooner (this mortal life) or later (after mortal life)... although we can, of course, always deny it; because we can (we are free to) deny anything...