Sunday, 15 July 2018

In quest of Primary Thinking/ Final Participation in practice

This may seem to be a paradox; but it seems possible to pursue Primary Thinking/ Final Participation in a deliberate and purposeful fashion - and without falling into the trap of trying (and inevitably failing) to coerce the higher consciousness to a lower agenda.

Primary Thinking must come from the real self - so we need to attend to the real self and strengthen its influence. The real self has its own agenda; and that agenda is intrinsically aligned with Creation - because to think with the real self is to participate in divine creation.

The direction, or subject matter, of primary thinking cannot be imposed; but needs to be recognised - having recognised it, we need to harness our will to that matter. This may be resisted by our lower, contingent selves - since the creation agenda does not pursue this-worldly-expedience or advantage; and may not make much sense to us.

But if we can recognise a spontaneous, inner impulse from the Real Self, then by following that, we may experience more Primary Thinking: more explicit, more frequent, more intense...

This has (apparently, so far as I can judge) happened to me over recent months through my reading of the Fourth Gospel (aka. the Gospel of John). I felt a sustained, inner-derived urge to understand this gospel, above all other scriptures; to understand Jesus in light of this gospel; and I have followed this urge.

And I have reported some of the outcomes in this blog; although the primary outcome was actual direct and wordless experience - the blogging is merely a selective summary, expressed in language.

And this activity has been associated with a considerable increase in Primary Thinking, with a considerable increase in intuitive knowledge. I am now better able to recognise Primary Thinking when it happens, and am able to practise attending to it, taking it seriously, and according it authority.

I now, retrospectively, perceive that this wish to read and re-read the Fourth Gospel, to brood over it, was an impulse coming from my Real Self.

This may be a general lesson. If or when we do feel such an impulse - we should evaluate whether it is from the Real Self; is, perhaps, the Real Self trying to break out from the mass of distractions, false personalities, and evil impulses that make up the everyday mind.

This is something that could only be discovered, not imposed; and perhaps that is a quest that many people could benefit-from? The quest - that is - to discover the subject matter, activity, situation, person or whatever it may be - that their Real Self most deeply and sustainedly wishes to be the medium for its own growth and strengthening.

And having discovered it; do it: pursue this as the medium for theosis, by means of an explicit recognition and prioritising of Primary Thinking.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Another attempt at explaining the evolutionary trajectory of consciousness...

If we start-out unconscious and immersed-in the whole world, including what we would now distinguish as the 'spiritual' - seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling the divine; and aware of its activities in our own bodies -  then as self-awareness/ consciousness begins to develop, so we incrementally separate-from the spiritual.

(This is part of an individual growing-up, and it is part of the history of Man; these two being expressions of the same underlying reality.)

At this stage we get ritual, formal procedures, special places and practices that re-connect us with the spiritual. It is because the connection has been broken, and a gap opened between the person and the spiritual, that special structures and processes are needed to bridge the gap.

So the emergence of religion, and magic, are evidence of some degree of separation... Man is no longer unconsciously immersed-in the spiritual, the spiritual is no longer integrated-with all of living; instead man is consciously aware of the need to reach the spiritual - and able to devise effective methods of doing this.

However, as consciousness continues to develop, as self-awareness increases; reaching across the gap to the spiritual gets harder and harder, and finally becomes impossible. Man is self aware; but cannot become aware of the spiritual - he cannot any longer see the spirits, he cannot heard the word of God, he cannot feel the presence of the divine. And if he stays in this state - pretty soon he denies the reality of the spiritual.

Modern Man is in exactly this state. Intensely self-aware as baseline; and without the capacity to perceive the spiritual. It is the state of alienation - of being alone in the universe; and for many it is inescapable except by the obliteration of consciousness (for example, by intoxication).

There are three possibilities. The first and usual path is to accept that alienation is reality and to deny the reality of the spiritual, including the divine. This leads to despair, and suicide in one form or another - nonetheless it is chosen by most people because in the short term it justifies and excuses total selfishness of motivation.

The second is to try and move back to the earlier stage of immersion in the spiritual - to try again to perceive the spiritual world: see ghosts and auras, hear voices of angels, smell/ touch/ taste the presence of the divine. This can happen fully only when consciousness is surrendered; and can happen partially only when consciousness is lowered by some self-intervention, by consciousness alteration. This, broadly, is the New Age attitude, of self-engineering; of consciously trying to diminish the level of consciousness; to surrender-to the spiritual.

The problem is that to succeed (which in practice seems impossible for most people) is to become un-conscious. To succeed is not-to-know that one actually-has succeeded...

The third path or possibility is to begin where we are, which is 'located' in our self-awareness; that is in our thinking. But to expand the scope and strength of our thinking to include the spiritual.

This depends on us regarding the spiritual as real and important - so we are not trying to fool-ourselves - to expand the scope and strength of thinking is an active choice, a conscious motivation - something we must want to do and must do in awareness of our doing. So, since this requires sustained effort, we need to know that it is worth doing.

That is our task. Success comes when our thinking includes the spiritual - includes, potentially, everything that we know to be real. Success is known when we inhabit this expanded thinking - we locate our-self in that thinking. And, and because, when thinking derives from our-self (our real self, not a 'persona' nor an automatic habit).

So the third stage is that - starting from a situation of being cut-off by our thinking; we instead reconnect in our thinking.

How? That is for each to discover and do for himself; knowing that it is what is wanted and we are capable of doing it. Learning to do it, doing it in freedom, and with positive intent and proper desire... these are part of the necessary process. 

As usual in this mortal life; it is part of the divine plan that - as much as possible - we do things for ourselves, by our own best efforts; since we are being trained for eventual godhood. I God did everything for us, we never would learn. 

Help is there and will be provided when personal efforts fail - but we need to be aware that the basic 'set-up' is that the world provides experiences, which we need to tackle and learn-from. 

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

What makes 'higher' consciousness higher?

It is implicit in the ideas of Owen Barfield, and indeed in many others with an interest in consciousness, that to be aware is a higher state than to be un-conscious. Because to be a psychologically-mature adult is to be conscious of many things that in a child are unconscious. But why is it better to be conscious?

A first answer refers to agency - or 'free will'. Thus the adult may have agency, may control thinking, only because the adult is aware of what he thinks. He satnds outside of, observes, his thinking. By contrast, a young child is largely immersed-in his world, and (in his thinking) more-passively swept-along by it - there is little scope for agency. He thinks - but does not know that he thinks.

But even if agency requires consciousness - self-awareness; why is consciousness better than unconsciousness, why is agency better than being immersed-in and swept along?

It depends what is meant by 'better' - what is being asserted is that consciousness is indeed higher than unconsciousness - as an adult is higher than a child, and a human than a cow; but a young child may be (usually is) a morally-better person than an adult; and a cow may be a nicer creature than many humans.

What then does higher mean? The answer must refer to God's wishes and plans for people: divine destiny. My assertion is that God has various interlinked hopes and plans - some are moral, and some have to do with consciousness.

We can only talk in generalisations, and for some individuals divine destiny may be Not-growing up, and Not becoming conscious (for example, they may die as a child, or may have a mental handicap - and this experience may be a part of their soul's eternal destiny; intended from before mortal life for their benefit, to learn from it something vital). But on the whole, many humans are meant to go through adolescence into adulthood, to move from being unconscious to being conscious; and ultimately to become conscious in the divine way (to become Sons of God).

And divine consciousness is assumed to be most-fully self-aware, because fully agent: fully free.

So, as God is higher than mortal Man; divine consciousness than human consciousness; so higher consciousness is such because it is closer to the divine consciousness. Consciousness can be seen as a ladder from least to most, from (presumably, one average) the (supposedly) 'unalive' mineral world, plants, non-human animals, children, adolescents, sexually-mature adults - and more and more conscious adults.

The degree of consciousness constrains (that is it both makes-possible and also limits) the degree of agency, or freedom; and (I assume) God wants us each, enentually to become god-like in our agency; by choice, and apparently by incremental stages, throughout eternity; but also (usually, but not invariably) partially to experience divine consciousness, briefly at least, during our mortal lives here on earth. (This is theosis - the intention of becoming more god-like, during mortal life.)

In the end, whether we regard consciousness as higher than unconsciousness, freedom higher than passivity; whether we indeed regard thinking as primary, and ultimately more important than behavioural actions, depends on whether we choose to ally and align with God's hopes and plans - or not. Salvation, or not.

First salvation - at align with God's purposes; then theosis - to become more divine in our being and thinking.

As usual for Christians; we find that everything eventually depends on faith, trust, love - the first 'commandment' (to love God) is first for this reason: everything is built-upon it.

(Note: If we do not love God - then none of these distinctions matter. Perhaps only current happiness matters; and if current happiness is enhanced by the destruction of consciousness, or by destroying the capacity to think, to be agent and free in thought - or by being evil, according to God's distinctions ... well so be it.)

Monday, 2 July 2018

Owen Barfield and The Notion Club Papers

[Jeremy - in The Notion Club Papers, by JRR Tolkien]

Sometimes I have a queer feeling that, if one could go back, one would find not myth dissolving into history, but rather the reverse: real history becoming more mythical - more shapely, simple, discernibly significant, even seen at close quarters. More poetical and less prosaic, if you like.

If you went back would you find myth dissolving into history or history into myth?... Perhaps the Atlantis catastrophe was the dividing line?

Tolkien had a problem with his legendarium: the First and Second Ages took place on a flat earth; but at the drowning of Numenor (i.e. the 'Atlantis catastrophe'), and the advent of the Third Age (and the time of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings) the world became a round: a sphere. By this change - which was accomplished by direct action of The One/ Eru/ Iluvatar - the undying lands (Eressea and Valinor) became qualitatively separated from the mortal lands (Middle Earth); so that only the enchanted ships of the Grey Havens could get from one to the other - ordinary ships that went West just came around the globe to reach the other side of the Middle Earth land mass.

But this change in planetary geography due to the Numenor/ Atlantis catastrophe was also the dividing line between a magical-enchanted world of the elves; and the mundane world of Men. The Third Age was a transitional phase between these, during which the High and Grey elves left Middle Earth, and the 'magical Men' of Numenor faded and were diluted into being like the mundane men of Middle Earth (although in LotR we meet several of the very few-remaining 'pure' Numenoreans such as Aragorn, Faramir and Denethor). 

In the Fourth Age (our Age) the elves have all departed or faded into invisibility; the Men have lost all their magic, and the world is disenchanted - lacking contact with, or belief in, elves, or the Valar. (Presumably the Ents and the Dwarves have gone extinct, or concealed themselves.) Hobbits, as a type of mundane Men, are said to remain, but hidden.

Tolkien was never happy about the mechanics and implications of this flat-to-round earth transition; and he kept tinkering with the 'cosmology' until shortly before he died; even (astonishingly, in his seventies) planning at one point to rewrite the entire Silmarillion as a round-earth mythology, involving enormous changes - quite beyond then-resources of Tolkien's time and energy.

Yet there was a possible solution to this problem - and it was one that had been worked-out in detail by Tolkien's fellow Inkling Owen Barfield.

I shall describe this in a moment - but it needs to be made clear that Barfield's solution was never an actual possibility for Tolkien, for many reasons. Barfield was essentially CS Lewis's friend, and Tolkien and Barfield had never been close - probably they spent very little time together outside Lewis's presence. Furthermore, Barfield did not enjoy Lord of the Rings, indeed he apparently was unable to finish reading it. And then, although both were strong Christians, there was a denominational gulf between the two - since Tolkien was a devout traditionalist Roman Catholic and Barfield a heterodox Anthroposophist-Anglican.

Barfield was, indeed, a philosopher with so radical and original a metaphysics that few - even of his admirers and scholars - have been able fully to grasp and explicate the sheer scope of what he assumed, argued and asserted.

For Barfield consciousness was primary, and 'matter' was merely a secondary 'condensation' from pure consciousness. Furthermore consciousness 'evolved' - which means it changed by a process of developmental unfolding; in accordance with the divine plan to enable Men incrementally (and over many thousands of years, and multiple incarnations) eventually to attain to god-hood.

The aimed at divine mode of consciousness was what Barfield termed Final Participation: 'final' because it was divine, and 'participation' because it entailed becoming co-creators with God. Because consciousness was primary, Final Participation happened in thought, in thinking. God thought the universe into existence, this thought was objectively real; and if man attained to this level of consciousness, each Man (in harmony with God's purposes) would become a participant in this creation.

And, because consciousness is primary, for Barfield there was no reality apart-from consciousness. What we perceive (what know by our senses, and by reasoning from sensory data) is all we know of anything. There is an indescribable stuff (what Barfield terms the unrepresented) that exists independently of our perceptions of it; but perceptions can only be understood with concept,s, by thinking - so we know nothing about this unrepresented reality.

We only know what we think, and our thinking is a product of our consciousness, and our consciousness can change qualitatively.

What we regard as objective facts are actually 'Collective Representations. In other words, beings with the same quality of consciousness, perceive the world in the same way, and therefore usually come to regard the world as consisting of data which they suppose to be independent of consciousness. When everybody perceives a tree, then people tend to assume that what is really there is a tree; when actually 'a tree' is a concept that is absolutely dependent on consciousness. 

(It can immediately be seen how alien this way of understanding would have been to Tolkien, even if he had known and grappled with it - which he would have been unlikely to do; probably regarding it as pride-full and blasphemous.)

If Barfield's understanding of the evolution of consciousness was applied to the Numenor/ Atlantis Catastrophe, we would understand it to be a qualitative change in consciousness, imposed upon the inhabitants of the world by The One. It was consciousness that changed, primarily; and as a result, the world became perceived as spherical instead of flat.

(It is not a matter of whether the earth 'really had been' flat, or not; but that such a question is meaningless - since there is no 'really' which is independent of consciousness. To the Second Age consciousness of elves, men, dwarves, Sauron, orcs etc; the new form of consciousness perceived the world as round. And there is no going-behind this perception.)

So, the drowning of Numenor really was, as Jeremy of the Notion Club Papers suggested, a 'dividing line' - in which the era of enchanted myth changed-into the era of mundane history. The change was instantaneous; but the working through of this change took some thousands of years.

(Such a Barfieldian perspective also explains how Tolkien's legendarium is real: really-real, not just applicable fiction! It is real because it is 'about' consciousness; it is a way of 'representing' consciousness and its development, under divine shaping.)

So where does that leave Modern Man, in our Fourth Age - which Barfield sometimes called the Age of the Consciousness Soul? Well, we are of course disenchanted, can no longer perceive the elves or the gods; indeed we deny the reality of any God at all. Whereas the enchanted world of Tolkien's First and Second Age was one where most things were alive and conscious and in communication to some degree (a residue of this remained in the Third Age, in Lothlorien - preserved by Galadriel's ring)  for mundane man, everything is dead: indeed Man understands himself to be dead, and consciousness to be an illusion or epiphenomenon of material processes. Because only matter is real, and matter is experienced as un-alive...

But this is incoherent, insane; it is not a viable form of consciousness: it is consciousness turned against itself. It simultaneously claims to know, while denying even the possibility of knowledge. It claims to discern meaninglessness, to know exactly that which is un-knowable (i.e. to know with certainty how things really-are, independent of that consciousness which knows). 

We need to move into a Fifth Age of Middle Earth; in which we can begin to know that consciousness is primary, and to know that consciousness and reality are indivisible.

This was not a matter that Tolkien addressed in any of the work published during his lifetime - but it is a special appeal of the Notion Club Papers that Tolkien comes to the very edge of this matter; which is a thing that can be done in high fantasy.

In a nutshell, we can - if we choose - regard the Notion Club as a fantasy version of The Inklings; and the unfinished text as the start of a process by which these Fantasy Inklings would, in the course of the full narrative and as its climax, solve this most important of all the problems facing modern materialistic Man.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Good magic and Final Participation

When it comes to magic, what is real and what is the provenance of the real, one can only work forwards on the basis of whatever primary thinking intuitions emerge. This is what has emerged, so far:

I assume that real and Good magic was an 'everyday' possibility for people in the remote past, but seems not to be at present. Examples of real Good magic would include Ancient Egyptian priest-magicians who accomplished supernaturally-enabled feats of building and making, the British builders of megalithic monuments, and most recently some reports of some tribal shamans or medicine men.

But magic was not really 'used' in the past, not used to attain human will; rather, men were immersed-in the divine; and insofar as a man conformed to divine purposes, he was able unconsciously to be a conduit or coencentartion of divine powers. This was therefore a kind of channelling, and not of human will manipulation nature (the human mind serving as a channel for divine powers and purposes). I presume that magical rituals were mostly about the mental preparation that made this channelling possible.

As human consciousness, the autonomous, agent self, became stronger through human history; so this magic became impossible. Men were no longer immersed-in the spiritual but stood apart. The spirit world was invisible, imperceptible - only exceptionally and by more and more extreme measures (and finally not at all - many modern people never-and-cannot perceive the spirit aspects of reality).

From about 1500 onwards in The West, Men stood apart from the divine; and from that time attempts at magic were attempts of the self, of 'the ego' to coerce nature, to compel results - they were driven by human desire and will.

And Renaissance magic was ineffective, in terms of its stated goals. Its effects are explained by changing of human minds (the mind of the magician, and the mind of any human subjects) - in a kind of self/ other brainwashing, and also by evil magic done by subordinating the self to serve demonic forces.

Good magic became impossible because Men were (due to the evolutionary-development of human consciousness, in-line with divine destiny) no longer immersed-in God's creation. Men increasingly stood apart from creation, the personal self became differentiated-from the divine; and therefore Men's powers were derived only from Men.

That is the current situation (although it was meant to be a brief and temporary phase - we are stuck-in-it due to wrong human choices; we are stuck in spiritual adolescence - refusing to move on to spiritual maturity. We are stuck because maturity requires each person's explicit choice and wish).

Here and Now, most claims at magic are bogus - in the sense that they are done by convincing the self or other people that magic has-been-done: modern manipulative magic is psychological (and any benefits are a kind of psychotherapy).

Attempts to control reality, to make reality to conform to explicit human wishes, by magical systems such as spells and rituals, are not effective; they do not do what they set out to do by the mechanisms they posit. And what they do do, is not what was intended, nor are the means correctly known.

Rare instances of real Good magic are either done unintentionally, by accident, due to an unpredictable, unplanned, unconscious and momentary alignment of a person's purposes with divine purposes.

Real and evil magic can be done, in a way; but they are not done in conformity with the magician's will; the magician is not controlling supernatural reality, but is being-controlled-by it. When a magician really summons a demon, and some magical consequences ensue; the magician is being manipulated by the demon, not vice versa.

And evil magic can do only what demons can do, what immaterial spirits can do - which seems to be done by acting on minds; tempting, persuading, convincing, via sins. Demons cannot create, cannot affect divine creative activity: creation is solely divine.

The magic of the future will happen insofaras an individual person attains primary thinking, or Final Participation; when someone consciously and voluntarily aligns their thinking with the universal reality of God's thinking - which is creation-in-action.

We may then, as individuals, participate-in the ongoing work of creation. And that is our proper goal now (i.e. theosis) - but especially in post-mortal resurrected life.

When we think In Reality, we must be aligned with divine purposes. We are (or may be) doing real magic in this world, and doing it consciously and purposively; those purposes coming from that which is divine in us (what we inherit as children of God) - but these purposes are not 'devised', the purposes are emergent-from that divine mind in us. That which makes this possible is Love - specifcially love of God (which, for us, is Jesus Christ) and of our divine family, consisting of God's loving children.

Thus any idea of a person 'using' magic to attain human purposes is nonsense. We may participate-in the Good magic that is ongoing divine creation (either unconsciously and immersed-in, or consciously and voluntarily in primary thinking); or we may be used-by the demonic powers in their work of sabotaging and inverting divine creation. Ultimately these are the only two options.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Escaping bad habits of thinking - I dissent from Barfield's advice

That modern Western Man has developed bad habits of thinking is obvious to anyone who has tried to escape them. In a post a couple of days ago, I excerpted a representative analysis of this phenomenon by Owen Barfield, which he concluded by suggesting that the only cure for bad habits was good habits.

Here I ultimately disagree with Barfield; because the essence of the problem is not just the badness of habits, but the dominance by habits - so the cure of bad thinking habits is more along the lines of reducing the habitual element in thinking.

It has proved to be very difficult indeed for individuals to go beyond the point of analysing this problem in their own lives, to giving general and effective advice (or training) about what to do next. For example, Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield thoroughly understood the nature of the problem; but Steiner - in my view - became sidetracked into system-building, and movement-building; and in more than a century his anthroposophical movement has got nowhere in achieving Steiner's original goals for a new consciousness.

Barfield made no claims to expertise in this matter, and always pointed to Steiner as the authoritative source of guidance - yet Steiner's specific guidance (for example in How to Know Higher Worlds, 1904-5) has a long track record of failure, and indeed even in principle seems clearly insufficient and prone to unwanted consequences.

My understanding is that the reason for this difficulty is that, when to comes to going where we want to go (which Steiner sometimes terms Pure Thinking, Barfield terms Final Participation and I have called Primary Thinking) - then habits are the enemy, and there is no such thing as a 'good' habit.

My understanding of this is rooted in the simplifying idea that (very briefly put) what we are trying to do it to attain a conscious version of the spontaneous and intutive state of young children or simple hunter gatherers. That is, our goal is a life in which the present moment is intuitively comprehended; and therefore all a life without much in the way of strategy, complex social systems, plans or routines.

I am aware that there is an inevitable, indeed irreducible, element of strategy, system and plan in any life - I regard the matter as one of polarity in which there are valid distinctions that cannot be made into division (i.e. we can validly distinguish between stability and change, but these are abstractions, and in life neither can be produced in a pure form; because life is 'developmental', and development is a process that necessarily includes stability and change).

However, my point is that any increase in the habitual, organised, systematised, strategic, planned elements of life will thwart our goals. Final Participation cannot be implemented by a flow-chart. And the attempt to organise, to drill, to proceduralise; has been a trap into which person after person, organisation after organisation, institution after institution has fallen over the past couple of centuries during which the need for a development in consciousness has been known.

If not, then what? First, we need to be careful that the form of the question does not simply lead us back into error. The demand for general advice, for general guidance, often contains an implicit demand for 'a system'. When the objective is to live from our real and divine Self, in harmony with God's creation; then any explicit, communicable external and objective system is going to be wrong - since it must be a simplified, partial and distorted version of God's creation.

When we align-with and participate-in the on-going reality of creation this is exactly-Not about implementing pre-decided plans. It is about love as the basis for working-with God in our family-business. Coming into this business with a set of plans developed before we joined, when we were lesser people (as we are now) would be harmful - and indeed simply does not happen.

(Love makes possible creation, love sustains creativity - and the family is the true metaphysical principle of reality.)

To join with the work of creation (which is the nature of Final Participation, of Primary Thinking) requires that we are not of that way of thinking - it is not that this is a test or exclusion criterion - but that Final Participation just-is a setting aside of the abstract models, plans and schemes, rules and protocols that Man has developed over the past several thousand years of 'civilisation' in his state of increasingly alienated consciousness.

(That Rudolf Steiner developed a massive, complex system of abstract distinctions and protocols, and a huge international social organisation - with and elaborate headquarters, a bureaucracy, multiple branches and specialities; is a measure of how far Steiner fell-away-from the clarity and purity of his original insights.)

When we are stuck in bad habits, based on false metaphysics; we need to correct our metaphysics: that is vital. If we are materialists, we need to stop; if we are not Christians, we need to start. But this of itself will not induce the desired changes - the nature of our situation tends to lock us into falsehood and error... bad habits.

We may have insight and be born again as believer-in Jesus; but for our-selves to become more divine (i.e. theosis; which is what Final Participation is about - the divine mode of thinking) we cannot achieve by drilling ourselves into some new habit: it is habits-as-such that are agents of our alienation.

This is why we cannot rely on any organisation, any system, any abstract scheme, strategy or plan of training. Why we must take personal responsibility for our theosis. Why we need to become attuned to the actualities of the existing situation, to develop aware intuition as the basis of life.

The aimed-at state - as I said - is much like that of the child or hunter gatherer, a life in which memories and aspirations all find integrated expression in the present. However, the child is passively immersed-in living and unconscious of it - he may be an instrument of God, but never a co-creator.

Our aim, by contrast, is to be consciously participating with life, with God (our Heavenly parents) and his grown-up children (our older brothers and sisters); and this is done by-and-in our thinking.

Bad habits of thinking - excerpted from History, Guilt and Habit

One of Owen Barfield's best books is a four volume collection of public lectures published in 1979, called History, Guilt and Habit. The following I have excerpted and edited from the lecture entitled The Force of Habit, given in Vancouver, 1978.


What we perceive is inseparable from how we think - and from this many consequences follow...

One of them is discovering how differently mankind as a whole used to think in the remote past: the thoughts themselves were images rather than concepts. And this entails that the world they lived in then, was different from the world we live in today.

They perceived images rather than thought them - what we perceive as things, they perceived as images...

The difference between an image and a thing lies in the fact that an image presents itself as an exterior expressing or implying an interior, whereas a thing does not. When what begins by being an images becomes, in the course of history, a mere thing; we are justified on describing it as an idol. And a collective state of mind which perceives only things, and no images, may thus fairly be described as idolatry.

The world we perceive around us today is no longer a world of images, no longer an exterior expressing an interior, but simply a brittle exterior surface... which is not, however, the surface of anything.

Thus the quality of the world we live in is determined not only be what we perceive, but what we fail to perceive.

But this world of outsides with no insides to them, which we perceive around us and in which we dwell, is not something unshakably and unalterably given, but is the product of the way we collectively and subconsciously think. It is correlative to our mental habit.

It is this cut-offness, this imprisonment, to which many problems of today can be traced. For instance, the growing prevalence of mental disease, and the uneasy sense of guilt that has come to pervade our society and - still more - our sociology.

How much of this is really prison-sickness? Of course not many people actually think of themselves as in prison. They only feel it.

They feel it because virtually everything that is thought and written today - from science to literature and criticism, from sociology to aesthetics, from theology to politics, and in politics from extreme right to extreme left - is thought and written on the walls of that prison.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Albion and the Collective Conscious

On the one hand I can't rid myself of the conviction that Albion - the ideal of England, and of the island of Britain - is a reality; because at times it is experienced as absolutely solid, palpable, 'obervable'; something I can rest-upon and build-from...

On the other hand, I am of the conviction that all institutions are corrupted and net-evil; and therefore Albion is not represented by any group, system, organisation, or anything of that kind. Allegiance cannot - or should not - be given to any actually-existing institution...

So where is it? What is the actual location? There are two answers: one only semi-true but easily understood; the other wholly-true but hard to express.

The semi-true idea is that Albion is found, from time to time, in some specific people, places and things.

The wholly-true idea is that Albion is a truth that cannot be found in the material world because - while real - it is an immaterial, a spiritual, reality.

What kind of thing might Albion be? A partial answer - en route - could be something like the idea that Albion is an archetype of the 'Collective Unconscious'; which should mean that it has an objective reality, accessible universally; being something that exists in a realm independent of individual minds (Not arbitrary, Not a product of wishful thinking)...

But... the idea of Collective Unconscious is actually insufficient and incoherent, because a Collective mind that is Un-conscious means that it cannot be known directly, but can only be known by inference and implicitly.

Yet, without direct knowing, we cannot really know. Because then everything is secondary, incomplete, subject to distortion, incommunicable with accuracy and confidence... If the Unconscious is primary, then life is just a kind of delusion; each person most-likely having a different delusion.

So, if Albion is really-real, as I feel is the case; then Albion is a part of the Collective Conscious; an immaterial/ spiritual realm that is objective and universal and also directly knowable by each person. In fact, that is exactly what reality actually-is; since the sensory perceptible realm is Not knowable, but changes and is different for each person.

Albion is real to those who know it directly - and consciously know that they know it. Not despite, but because it is in the immaterial Collective Conscious; Albion is as solid as reality itself.

And what we personally happen to perceive (see, hear, touch, smell, taste), at this moment, in the flux of everyday experience; is irrelevant to that reality.

Note: The Collective Conscious is an idea taken from Owen Barfield - who described it as an unfortunate and absurd paradox that the Collective Un-conscious had gained some currency and support before (and without) any concept of the Collective Conscious... It is, indeed, stange to suppose that would could infer the presence and content of an Un-conscious, without first having direct and conscious knowledge of the actual existence of such a realm. Yet among the metaphysical confusions of modernity, such non-sense goes unnoticed and unremarked... 

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Linking Steiner's 1918 prophecy with the Fourth Gospel

Barfield tells us that we ought to strive for higher consciousness - for Final Participation. I am convinced: I agree. But why is it so difficult for us to attain a higher form of consciousness? Why - if this is what God wants us to do - is success so rare and brief? 

The reason is that the higher consciousness is a divine form of consciousness, and to participate in it we must be in-accord-with divine creation... and not many people are.

Especially given that we must consciously be in accord with divine creation - and also aware of it, and actively choosing it from our true selves (our souls).  (This cannot be something unconscious or passive - because the divine is always conscious, always active and purposive.)

Many traditionalists find this line of thinking to be un-Christian, if not anti-Christian; so it is necessary to link it with Jesus. The best source on Jesus is the Fourth Gospel.

In the Fourth Gospel, aside from Jesus himself, the best example of a God-aligned Man is the author of the Gospel, the beloved disciple himself - if we agree that the author is the resurrected Lazarus. The Gospel itself is the product of exactly the kind of divine consciousness that we seek.

A serious question - though - is to do with mortal versus post-mortal life. Clearly we can look-forward to a divine consciousness if we are believers in Jesus as the Son of God and the Good Shepherd who (if we will follow) will lead us to life eternal, with divine qualities that are 'symbolically' depicted throughout the Fourth Gospel.

But why suppose that we ought to aim at divine consciousness in mortal life?  And why suppose that our failure to do would be responsible for the most extreme sins of modern life, as Rudolf Steiner recognised in a great prophetic statement of a century ago.

Well, perhaps because that is a theme throughout the Fourth Gospel, a Second Message; if that is what is implied by (for example) the conversation with Nicodemus about being born-again, or the conversation with the Samaritan woman about living water, or the discussion after feeding the five thousand about labouring for that meat which endureth into everlasting life.

It seems that there is a core/ minimal requirement for salvation: believing that Jesus is the Son of God and loving, therefore having faith, in him; so we may follow him through death to Heavenly life everlasting.

This core message is about salvation, and refers to our state after death and resurrection - but it is not about what we should do in this mortal life. Salvation is attainable by anyone who has these core convictions (believes-in and believes-on Jesus), and only by them. However, this gives no guidance for our worldly-motivations during this earthly existence. 

However, there is also this Second Message - focused not on salvation but on theosis, on divinisation or sanctification - and this second message is about what we should work-for and strive-for during mortal life. What should motivate us. The answer is that we should strive to attain a new way of thinking and being that is aligned with the divine.

In other words, we ought-to strive for a higher consciousness, by aligning our thinking with the divine and by participating in the work of creation, even before death and during earthly mortality.

And if or when we do not strive for higher consciousness - there will be bad consequences (as we see all around us).


Thursday, 7 June 2018

Could Rudolf Steiner have become a Professor?

Rudolf Steiner looking 'Professorial'...

I always wondered why Rudolf Steiner did not (so far as I know) try to become a Professor; since the scholar's life would probably have suited him a lot better than being the leader of first Theosophical then Anthroposophical Society groups - and lecturing (on every topic under the sun) to the general public.

But as I consider the matter, I do not think a German Professorship would have been a possibility for Steiner - although I suspect that, if he could have developed sufficient proficiency in the English language, he would have walked-into a Professorship in the Anglosphere.

The first difficulty was that Steiner's editorial work on Goethe's scientific writings was controversial, and criticised for being insufficiently scholarly (lacking the usual scholarly 'apparatus'). Another problem was that Steiner was awarded his PhD from Rostock, which (I gather) was among the couple of least prestigious ('lowest standard') universities in Germany.

Then he did not proceed to work on his higher/ post Doctoral 'Habilitation' thesis - which was necessary to teach in a German university as a Privatdozent (an unpaid position occupied while waiting/ hoping for a 'call' from the Ministry of Education to occupy a Chair). Steiner also lacked the  private income or family backing, as well as the network of upper class supporters, needed to take this long-slow-risky career path.

Steiner's PhD was published in 1892 (Truth and Knowledge) and his magnum opus, the work of his heart, Philosophy of Freedom in 1994 - but both failed to attract approval, or even interest.

On the other hand, Steiner's qualifications and publications were extremely good by the standards of UK and US universities, and in that sense he could surely have obtained an academic job there, or in many other places other than Germany (which was without question the premier university system in the world, at that time).

But I presume Steiner either could not or would not move from the Germanic nations - he was consequently unable to make a living, despite trying a few careers. When the chance for paid lecturing came along, he grabbed it and made a great success of it.

Nonetheless, intellectually and spiritually speaking, I would have to regard it as a mis-step when Steiner allied with the Theosophical Society, and began to generate spiritual science in accordance with Madam Blavatsky's channelled revelations... He made a further error in getting 'mixed up with politics' from 1918, with his 'Threefold Society' ideas...

I think it took Steiner until 1924, and after he became terminally ill, before he began to rework his ideas in some very interesting (incomplete, not followed-up) directions in the Autobiography and Anthroposophical Leading-Thoughts/ Anthroposophical Guidelines...

A subject to which I will return soon, I hope.

But I regard it as a matter for regret that Steiner was, in a sense, 'forced' to make-a-living by becoming a spiritual leader - it would have been better for him if he could have remained a Dichter und Denker (poet and thinker) - a scholar-intellectual.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The necessity of intuition - the corruption of instinct

There are various lines of argument that point to the since fact: modern Man has corrupted instincts.

By this I mean that when modern Man does 'what comes naturally' he does not behave in an adaptive way. Adaptive means fitness enhancing; means increasing of reproductive success.

So modern Man, behaving 'naturally' is Not a 'healthy animal' but a sick one, a demented being, a crazy creature.

This is something new. There used-to-be a thing called the Natural Man, who had a natural morality - and upon-whom Christian morality could build; but this is no longer the case.

There are several materialist/ scientific reasons why this might be so; such as mutation accumulation, the multiple and combined toxicities (chemical, hormonal, electromagnetic...) of the industrial society, the evolutionary 'mismatch' between the society we evolved-in and the society we live-in, and the saturation propaganda for evil and unnatural behaviour from The System of bureaucracy and the Mass Media.

There are also spiritual reasons: the idea that we are meant to, divinely destined to, be attaining a higher form of spiritual consciousness; but are (en masse) refusing to do this; and are therefore unwitting victims of unconscious and distorted instincts.    

The corruption of instinct is the end of traditional forms of religion - of those many forms of religion based upon an authoritative church structure and the obedience of the adherents: the large-scale traditional forms of (for example) Eastern and Western Catholicism, Anglicanism, Calvinism and the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist and other churches.

To varying but vital degrees - all of these depend upon a baseline of unconscious consensus about 'natural' Good and evil, beauty and ugliness, truth and dishonesty. This consensus has been destroyed along with the instincts that supported it.

And this corruption of instinct has happened soonest, most powerfully and more thoroughly among the church leaders; thereby accelerating and increasing the problem among the masses, the laity, the followers.

Thus, everyone is corrupt; but the corruption is made worse by the fact of its being worst among those with power, status and wealth. 

Nowadays, everything must be made explicit and fully conscious; including the assumptions which used to be taken-for-granted.

This has become most obvious in the area of sex and sexuality, where what used to be regarded as good, desirable, virtuous on the basis of common sense assumptions; are now subverted and inverted because the common sense is either become feeble or itself inverted.

We need to go as deep as our primary (metaphysical) assumptions, to know them; discern and decide - decide not not by common sense, nor by instinct - which is gut feeling; but by intuition which is the discernment of fully conscious, primary thinking of the real and divine self.

Indeed, before we can even attempt this, we each need to have decided that it is coherent and possible; that there is a part of ourself which is divine  and which can know - know directly and without mediation - the truth of things.

We must - that is - be able to distinguish between instinct - which is thing of the animal in us; and intuition, which is a thing of the divine in us.

Instinct cannot save us - but will, on the contrary, direct and drive us into damnation and death; but divine intuition can save us; and it is the only thing that can save us.


Sunday, 20 May 2018

Destiny versus Progress

Christianity is rare among religions in being intrinsically historical, with Jesus Christ coming into the world at an actual time and place, living a life-in-time, and setting-off a sequence leading up to another historical event of the second coming, the end of this earth.

It is a fairly common error, however, for Christians to think and behave as if all times and places and people are The Same. Traditionalist Christians who (rightly) disbelieve in secular notions of 'progress', err in rejecting the necessary idea of destiny.

Destiny implies that there is a real change in 'things' between the incarnation and second coming - the exact nature of this change is a matter for dispute, but not the fact of it. History is real, and goes deep.

This fact is all-but denied by many Christians, who hold fast to the idea that what was right thinking and right living is the same now as it was 200, 1000, or 2000 years ago; they regard this as necessary to avoid 'liberalisation'/ dilution/ apostasy of the faith.

But they are wrong.

There is a qualitative distinction between one who believes that God has a plan or destiny, unfolding throughout history and ultimately aimed at our spiritual condition in post-mortal life; and one who believes in the goodness of secular progress aimed exclusively at material conditions in this life and this world.

Many Christians are confused by the common and usual but mistaken metaphysics which states as dogma that the Christian God is outside of Time - this is neither scriptural nor does it easily accord with the  basic time-contained nature of Christianity, and its unfolding over thousands of years before and after Christ's life.

It has been all-too-common for theologians to think and speak of the divine in terms of infinities and time-less, changeless eternities - a pagan or pure-monotheistic philosophical view of God that has time as the world as illusion.

By contrast, it is simpler and more sustaining for a Christian to put aside infinities and eternities; and to regard this world as having a destiny, a direction in which God hopes and intends the world shall go; but that what actually happens, due to the free will or agency of Men, can and does go-against this destiny; as has probably been happening for the past 200 years at least.

This divine destiny is about individuals as well as masses; it is about me today as well as the timescale of peoples across generations. It is part of our task to acknowledge this, and then try to understand it and live by it.

In other words; I am saying that we need a change in perspective; we need to think in terms of destiny rather than dogma, of the direction we should-be going; rather than organising our lives and societies according to a fixed and eternal blueprint.

We should think in terms of getting back on the right track to the destined future, rather than reverting or recreating some situation in the past.

And should notice there is a truly vast and decisive difference between this, and secular progress. 

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Why was Jesus 'The Word'

"In the beginning was the Word" - we know that the word was Jesus, before he incarnated - but until just-now, I never understood why he was The Word (that is I never found the explanations adequate, nor did I comprehend what 'word' was here supposed to mean).

From reading Owen Barfield, I realise that to understand words we need to understand concepts; and that concepts change through history. The concept of The Word, as it is used in the King James Bible and the Fourth Gospel, needs to be understood by its usage. So, I did a word search for 'word' and read all the usages in the Fourth Gospel.

From that I realised something of the scope of the term, and that 'word' in the Fourth Gospel meant (in part) something more like knowledge - but an objective knowledge that was permanent.

And from my reading and brooding on Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom (1894); I knew what kind of knowledge that needed to be.

The Fourth Gospel tells us that we need to acknowledge that Jesus was the Son of God, sent by the Father. Why did the Father need to send him? The answer is that Jesus was The Word, and he became The Word incarnate; that is, The Word in This World.

Until Jesus was incarnated, Man did not have direct access to The Word - but only by indirect communications; however, by incarnating Jesus gave Man access to The Word - directly, objectively, permanently; if Men recognised Jesus as the Son of God.

Jesus would not have been much use if he was 'a teacher' merely, because a teacher needs to be listened to, heard, understood... and even when correct the understanding may be forgotten or distorted.

What was/ is needed is direct and permanent knowing; and this entails that when two people know something, they must know it direct and unmediated, and it must be exactly the same thing that they know. They must know the true-concept, not merely a copy or version of it...

We might picture this (as a simplified model) in the form that knowledge is located in a realm we can all access, and when someone thinks an objective thought he 'borrows' a thought from this realm, while he is thinking it - after which it returns to the realm to be available for anybody else to think.

This model is merely meant to emphasise that objective knowledge cannot depend on communication, or copying. Objective implies it is shared, public, identical between individuals. It is also necessarily true - which is another meaning of objective.

So, why do we need to acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God?  Because he is the only source of direct knowledge; it was incarnated with him - he is the source from-which we may know directly.

It is knowing that Jesus is the Son of God that 'points us at' the source of direct knowledge. (Because Jesus is The Word, we know that The Word is real, we know its location, we know what to do to find it.)

If we do Not acknowledge that Jesus is The Word, then we will 'die in our sins'. This is not meant as a threat, but as a simple fact. Jesus brings us immortality by resurrection; but unless we know and follow Jesus, that resurrection will merely be of our-selves as we-are here-and-now; that is, 'in' our corruption and sins (mixed in with purity and love - the mixture will vary between people).

Our 'heaven' will then be our-selves in a place with similar people to our-selves. Qualitatively, this heaven will be the same kind of place as this earth - but eternally.

But what about Hell? Jesus brought Hell into the world - as many have noticed.

Well, when knowledge is understood as objective and permanent and dwelling-in the soul (this being an implied property of The Word, in the Fourth Gospel); this means that once a person has known Jesus, has known him as the Son of God, this is permanent.

To know Jesus is to be 'born again' as Jesus describes it to Nicodemus. It is permanently to be transformed. We cannot ever be the same as we were before, because (as I said) The Word is objective - it does not depend on memory or attention, it cannot be eroded by disease or death. We cannot un-know that which we know.

This may clarify: To believe 'in' Jesus is to know he is the Son of God; to believe 'on' Jesus is to love, trust and follow him.

Both believing-in and believing-on are choices, they cannot be compelled upon anyone but must be freely chosen. However they are knowledge, as well as choices; and objective knowledge is permanent and cannot be undone.

Furthermore, objective knowledge is public - and our belief in and on Jesus is itself objectively-knowable; it is not private - God knows what we each know.

(Men do not know what other men know, and can indeed lie to themselves about what they themselves know; but the knowledge is objective, permanent. We must learn to distinguish objective knowing from our 'current psychological states'.)

Hell is when somebody knows that Jesus is the Son of God; but does not love him, does not trust him, will not follow him.

More exactly, Hell is an active rejection of what Jesus offered - it is to know and hate Jesus, to regard his promises as lies, to regard his heaven as a Hell...

It is to know and invert the scale of Good and Evil established by the Father and endorsed by the Son. And thus to prefer a life in company with those who think likewise - which is Hell.

In sum; Jesus was The Word - which is approximately objective knowledge.

By being born Jesus brought objective knowledge into this world - and Jesus's primary teaching was simply to 'point at himself', and who he was; and invite us to love him and have faith in him, because he loved us and would die for us.

By bringing objective knowledge into this world, Jesus made it possible to become Sons of God, like himself - on a par with himself. Because such a Son of God must know - merely doing is insufficient. A 'god' must know the truth; and know it explicitly.

But The Word/ objective knowledge - while real and permanent in this world - is a possibility; it is not compelled nor is it coerced. The Word must first be recognised, then embraced - if it is fully to be believed and to be effectual.

The 'system' was established between Jesus and his disciples - in Chapters 13-17 of 'John's' Gospel we can see Jesus describing how this has worked. The disciples have first done what others can now do - they believed in and on Jesus.

From that point, and the coming fo the Holy Ghost; direct and objective knowledge has been available to all - as it never was before that moment; that is available to all if they want it, and when they choose to believe what they find.

But all this is conditional upon having the necessary concepts - the necessary metaophysical understandings and assumptions. Because the wrong ones will block the possibility of knowing.

Modern people absolutely-need to know that knowledge can be direct, objective and permanent - utterly independent of the contingencies of communication, perception, comprehension, brains, biology, age and illness... and indeed independent of death.

Note added: The purpose of a satisfactory explanation of Jesus's incarnation, death and resurrection needs to include both objective and voluntary aspects. There needs to be some understanding of how these events changed objective reality in a permanent fashion (regardless of human knowledge), and also an understanding of how human freedom interacts with that reality. 

Thursday, 10 May 2018

We already know 'everything' - childhood beliefs and wishes

At first sight that we 'already know everything' seems a ridiculous idea, that has apparently been refuted by the great accumulation of knowledge through human history; but I believe there is a sense in which the broader argument is indicative of a profound insight - and this is why the argument has been taken seriously for more than 2000 years (ie. since Plato); and is intrinsic to the work of Owen Barfield.

The sense is that life is two curves running from childhood to maturity - a rising line of self-consciousness which increases from childhood to a maximum plateau attained at adolescence. And a descending line of innate and spontaneous knowing which is high in childhood (albeit it is an unconscious knowing), and reaches a nadir in at adolescence.

In modern society adolescence is (spiritually) usually where matters stop - what we call adulthood is not 'maturity' but merely a sustained and degenerate adolescence. Modern 'adults' have lost their  spontaneous natural knowledge (instead just passively absorbing propaganda and hypothesies from 'society') and they live in a cut-off state of self-consciousness (so cut-off that it doubts and denies even itself). 

The task of adolescence ought-to-be to change that descending line of knowing into an arc - rising in adult maturity to reach the same kind of spontaneous and universal knowing that we began-with - but this time it is conscious knowing.

Thus, children know everything but are unaware of the fact, adolescents know nothing and are aware of the fact; but spiritually-mature grown-ups potentially know everything, and know-what-they-know.

I say adults potentially know everything, because the process of discovering-what-you-already-know is linear and happens in-time; so it would be more accurate to say that knowledge is un-bounded, open-ended, and tends-towards a situation of knowing everything-that-can-be-known - always from the perspective of a single self.

This scenario is, presumably, why all real learning - all knowing of truth - has the distinct feeling of being a realising, a remembering, a recognition... true knowledge is always 'familiar' - we always feel that we 'always knew that' but had never articulated it. I'm saying that we always Did know that - but did not realise we knew it, and could not use that knowing until after we had articulated it.

In terms of knowledge the trajectory is therefore from unconscious knowledge to conscious knowledge; from the implicit to the explicit; from immersion-in knowledge to standing outside it; from passivity through contemplation to creativity.

The idea that we already (in childhood, spontaneously) know everything truly knowable but are unconscious of the fact - and that learning is a kind of remembering and making-explicit and understanding has a complementary aspect. This is that our spontaneous childhood beliefs and wishes have a validity, even and especially when these Bs &Ws have no correspondence with earthly reality, experience or apparent possibility.

An example is flying. I have clear memories of not just yearning to be able to fly (fly by 'levitation', without wings or propulsion - just moving through the air), of knowing what it would be like to fly, and the conviction that it was possible for me to fly... if only I could discover the 'knack'.

More profoundly, I - like most people - was apparently born into this world with the belief that it ought to be a paradise; and that any departure from paradisal conditions was a kind of violation: unjust, against the order of things.

Now, obviously there is no biological basis for human flying, nor any social basis for life as paradise; and therefore such in-built hopes and beliefs are either extraordinary yet common delusions or reality-distortions; or else they relate to a reality that is different from our own, but of which we have memory.

My assumption is that this reality is of pre-mortal spirit life - when we could indeed fly, and life was indeed paradisal. And at an unconscious, implicit, but effective level - we remember this...

We could also, as spirits, do many other things that I believed (against the evidence) was possible; such as read minds, communicate telepathically, change the world by thinking a thing, have my thoughts compelled, move things by a kind of telekinesis, and 'talk' with animals and befriend them.

(Interestingly, such beliefs also re-emerge in people with psychosis and altered states of consciousness.)

In sum, I think that we could reflect more on these childhood, and - in our culture - child-ish, counter-evidential beliefs and desires. And could regard them as destined paths to truth - things we need to become aware of, and to understand.

Note: The above is a version of the 'argument from desire' which was used often by CS Lewis, and also by JRR Tolkien - and which I personally find compelling. I refer to it and provide references in this essay.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The meaning of 'spiritual'

Spiritual is a dirty word among many serious Christians; yet it is necessary that the Christian revival I so much hope and work for be a spiritual Christian revival - or what I have termed 'Direct Christianity'.

The meaning of 'spiritual' as I use it here is not a matter of surface beliefs of a spiritual type; it is about metaphysical assumptions. I believe that mainstream Christianity, indeed official Christianity through much of its history, has shown a tendency towards abstraction that has been a factor in its demise - this needs changing, indeed such change is more than two centuries overdue.

(By needs I mean that this is the path of divine destiny, this change - which is a theosis - is what God wants from us; a vital part of what Jesus came to bring us.)

'The opposite of abstraction' (and what we need) has no generally-accepted or respectable name - it is something-like 'animism combined with anthropomorphism'... I mean the understanding that reality is alive, that nothing is 'dead' and everything is conscious (to some, usually limited, degree) - and also that everything is purposive; either having its own purpose (as Men do) or else a part-of something that is purposive (as a grain of sand, or a leaf of grass).

So to be spiritual is not to have certain specific beliefs about, say, spirits, ghosts, telepathy, meditative trances, communication with the dead or whatever; rather it is (or should be) the baseline and permeating conviction and (ideally) experience of Life, the Universe and Everything as alive, conscious, purposive and with everything in relationship with everything else.

The 'metaphysics' is our explicit description of such a reality - and in modernity we must have expicit descriptions, it is a necessity of our phase in order to move towards maturity of thinking - then the task is to make this metaphysics the baseline and permeation of our lives...

The work of Owen Barfield has made me aware of this matter; and how this correct understanding is blocked by unexamined metaphysical assumptions that are all-but universal in modernity; including among Christians - and it is this, as much as anything, which blocks the Christian awakening we so much need (as individuals - and by individuals as a society).

I mean that modernity assumes (without explicit awareness that this is an assumption, and could be changed) that everything is naturally dead - assumes the universe began as lifeless and devoid of consciousness; assumes that everything is essentially random or deterministically caused (hence has no purpose); assumes that isolation of consciousness is primary and that all relationships are a later development, and must be generated and sustained by communications...

Our modern mainstream Christian understanding of Genesis seems to validate this materialism - with God creating the dead stuff, plants and animals and with the first sign of consciousness (Men) coming at the end... Taken this way it is not all that different from the Big Bang cosmology and evolution by natural selection.

Yet before the making of the earth - there was spiritual awareness, consciousness, purposiveness, being... As pre-mortal spirits we inhabited a world of universal communication, universal relationships, universal meaning and purpose... And (as Barfield tells us) the movement was from this, and towards separation-off of individual consciousnesses (such as you and me) in order that our free will, our agency, be developed.

The new thing, the later thing, is free will and agency - communication and relation were the backdrop, taken for granted...

It is this baseline, background, implicit-in-everything animistic/ anthropomorphic understanding that is spiritual - and which we need to restore. 'Restore' because it is spontaneous and natural to us as young children, and seems to be the 'religion' of all the simplest nomadic tribal societies - but unconsicous, naive, unarticulated. But this time restore voluntarily, with explicit understanding, chosen because it is true.

Christianity ought not to be seen in opposition to this; but for much of history the developmental focus was on individual freedom; and the animistic aspect was neglected. Only from the late 1700s with the advent of Romanticism were we ready for the balance to swing back - but it did not happen.  Instead we got a pagan or atheistic spirituality and a Christianity based on impersonal abstractions that saw most of reality as 'dead', determined, random...

It needs to happen from now - Christianity needs to build on a different and animistic metaphysics. It is that which is intended by the term 'Spiritual' Christianity.

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.