Sunday, 24 May 2020

Father Christmas and Final Participation

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

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

How can we get back to that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

Thursday, 26 March 2020

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Jesus as God and Man - Original and Final Participation

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Thursday, 5 March 2020

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

A Being exists through time, and undergoes transformations.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Steiner's autobiography

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

The type is surely familiar to most people.


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Friday, 21 February 2020

Evolution of consciousness without reincarnation - but how?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 25 November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, 24 November 2019

The metaphysical evil of modern environmentalism

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Saturday, 9 November 2019

Limitations of Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, 8 November 2019

Moving forward to the new synthesis

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 18 October 2019

Keri Ford on the links between Steiner and Barfield


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

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

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

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

Sunday, 6 October 2019

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Thus one error leads on to another,


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

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

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

  

Friday, 4 October 2019

Keri Ford reviews a new book on Owen Barfield


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

Monday, 30 September 2019

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

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

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

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

And where are we really - there or here?

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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

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

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

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 5 September 2019

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

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

(Spoiler alert.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Projecting an earthly mortal society of Final Participation

If I am correct that the development of human consciousness will compel the collapse of civilisation, then it should be possible to say something about the kind of society that would eventually follow. In other words, I will project the nature of a society - here on earth, and with mortal Men - of Final Participation.

The present stage has been called the Consciousness Soul; and it is intensely individualistic compared with the societies of the past. In particular, our evaluations will be, need to be, and ought to be coming from our true selves; by intuition, primary thinking, direct knowing.


In the past, Group Selection of Men was a reality - we lived and died by virtue of our membership of groups; and this groupishness was an objective psychological reality. We could not help but regard ourselves as primarily members of a group - more exactly of nested groups: family, clan, nation etc. 

Groups that evoked the most powerful and courageous motivations would tend to prevail over the long term.

But in the modern era (beginning over the past few hundred years, and especially since about 1800) a new felt and experienced detachment developed (the evolution, from within, according to divine plan; of the Consciousness Soul).

Bottom-up, group-selected groups crumbled, because the mechanism that enabled group selection was removed. Modern groupishness is therefore top-down, necessarily coercive and imposed; it is totalitarian.

Therefore the war for the Consciousness Soul is between totalitarianism imposed-on the CS; and the stage that follows the CS - which is Final Participation. However, totalitarianism is self-destroying; so it will not last. We are concerned with what will come after.   


This means that the future of society will be based upon the cohesion of love: which means real, actual, effective, en-couraging love - of specific persons: family primarily, secondarily real and committed friends (currently so rare as to be almost extinct).

The society that emerges from such a bottom-up situation will presumably be the same in its structure as the societies that came before agriculture and civilisation. Low technology, probably illiterate, without strategic planning, no government, little differentiation of function except for that deriving from individuality, sex and age... Short lifespan, low density population, an immediate return economy of hunting, gathering and making for imminent use. In sum, a society much as (is believed to have) existed in the paleolithic era. 

What would be different is that while past societies were based upon the spontaneous, unconscious, groupishness of Original Participation; a state of 'immersive Being' --- the society of Final Participation would be one based on the experienced conviction that reality is to be found in the universality and objectivity of conscious thinking.

If the ancient paleolithic Original Participation society was based on instinct; the future society of Final Participation would be based on intuition.


There seem to be problems with this vision of the future. There is an economic problem, since efficient extraction of food and resources seems to be precluded. Hence the necessarily low density of sustainable population. Problems would be solved on a case by case basis, in accordance with individual circumstances - location, season, personnel etc.

But in FP, there would be no system or formula - answers would Not be the  same every time, nor the same for all people. People would Just Know what specifically to do here and now and for the best; whereas in OP people Just Did what needed to be done; without knowing why. All decisions would be made on this intuitive basis.

To move to this society can be resisted. It is a basic social situation that may (by the collapse of all possible alternatives) be imposed on an unwilling population who deny intuition and who damn themselves.

Or such a society may arise quite naturally from Romantic Christians doing the right things, making the right evaluations on the right basis; and rejecting the side of evil.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

How can Man become divine, while remaining himself?

If Murphy's favourite hammer has had both its head and its haft replaced several times over its long lifetime - is this still Murphy's favourite hammer? Or is it really a completely different hammer?

I think the 'dilemma', here, is between what we feel, as an unexamined intuition ('it's the same hammer'); and the difficulty of framing an abstract philosophical justification for why it is indeed still the same hammer - despite that everything about it has been replaced.

Properly considered, this is a very deep question indeed; and unless we have a 'theory' that explains why it is still the same hammer, then our metaphysics Must Be wrong.

Because what applies to the hammer applies to persons: applies to specific men and women Christianly-considered. We know that nothing makes sense about anything unless we are the same person through time; yet we also know that potentially everything about us may change, probably should change, as we undergo theosis - as we progress towards deity.

Probably, nearly all of our microscopic body is replaced through life; and even the cells that do last 'a lifetime' (neurons, myocytes) were not there at conception. The entire body is presumably replaced at the chemical level. And the mind of a zygote, morula, embryo, neonate, child, adult, senescent person... well this may have transformed wholly and more than once; leaving aside the re-formation of death and resurrection.

One attempted solution that is proposed by Owen Barfield - following Rudolf Steiner, is to posit an eternal and unchanging 'spirit' that persists through all physical and psychological changes. But this, I believe, rules out any fundamental change. If the Spirit is to carry a single identity it cannot change. All change is rendered superficial (i.e. a matter of body and soul, which are aspects of temporary incarnations) - while our core 'spirit' essence is static, by definition  - or else it would not be The Same. This renders theosis trivial - hence I reject it.

There is, however (you will not be surprised to hear) a metaphysical philosophy that can readily explain why Murphy's hammer is still his favourite, and why a person can have literally everything about him (body and soul) replaced (in the process of spiritual progression to full deity) - and yet he or she will still remain the same person.

Mormon theology is based on evolutionary development as a core assumption, which entails that Time is always included in any ultimate analysis, which means (to jump a few steps) that every 'thing' is 'defined' as an uninterrupted lineage, extending through-time.This is one of its great strengths.

So that fact that at two different cross-sectional moments, the same 'thing' may have Nothing in-common, does not matter.

This is an aspect of what I understand by 'polarity' based on process of '-ing'. Or, more simply, a conscious and explicit version of the spontaneous 'animistic' spirituality of children and hunter-gatherers; a metaphysics based on Beings and Relationships in Time


The above is based on a recent post at Junior Ganymede.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Tom Bombadil and Final Participation

If you don't already know them; I would highly-recommend The Letters of JRR Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter (1981) which are absolutely packed with fascinating and deep reflections.

In Letter 144 (25 April 1954) Tolkien makes a thought-provoking comment about the presence of Tom Bombadil in Lord of the Rings, and his importance to the story - which hits home on a matter I have been reflecting about over the past few years; the matter of the ideal form of human society, and (therefore) the nature of Heaven:

The story (of LotR) is cast in terms of a good side and a bad side, beauty against ruthless ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom with consent against compulsion that has long lost any object save mere power, and so on; but both sides in some degree, conservative or destructive, want a measure of control. 

But if you have, as it were, taken a 'vow of poverty', renounced control, and take your delight in things for themselves without reference to yourself, watching, observing, and to some extent knowing; then the question of the rights and wrongs of power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of power quite valueless. 

It is a natural pacifist view, which always arises in the mind when there is a war. 

But the view of Rivendell [i.e. the Council of Elrond] seems to be that it is an excellent thing to have represented, but that there are in fact things with which it cannot cope; and upon which its existence nonetheless depends. Ultimately only the victory of the West will allow Bombadil to continue, or even to survive. Nothing would be left for him in the world of Sauron.

I cannot, nowadays, shake the thought that it is the true goal of our Christian destiny to 'renounce control' in much the way that Bombadil represents; and that kingship, moderated freedom with consent; and an ideal of the control of the better over the worse - are all mortal expediencies that do not reflect the reality of Heaven.

What is more, the traditionalist ethical ideal epitomised by agrarian (pre-industrial) societies such as all those depicted in LotR (with the exception of the Ents and the Woses of the Druadan forest - since even Bombadil has a garden), seem more and more like mortal expediencies representing a phase in Man's development. The era of 'moderated control with consent' seems like an historic phase now receding.

Such ideals; which we see so inspiringly realised in the High Elves, Numenorean Men of Gondor, and even the Dwarves of Moria - are characterised by great arts and crafts, songs and poetry, courage and nobility, lore and knowledge... All of these ideals have been fading for several or many generations; and there seems waning support - and growing hostility - towards the requisite institutional basis of such a society (royals and nobles, guilds and professions, hierarchy and ritual, apprentices and canons).

In Barfield's terms, traditional society in LotR represents the evolving phase bridging between the unconscious immersive life of Original Participation (Ents and Woses) and the modern, disenchanted, materialist world termed the Consciousness Soul.

This evolution from Original Participation to the Consciousness Soul can be seen in terms of incrementally increasing control. As control increases, and in order to enable control; Man has become detached from nature, from The World; and regards living Nature as merely Things; so much material to be manipulated. Somehow, we have never been able to stop this tendency for increasing control at any intermediate or optimal level; once begun the quest for greater control seem to feed upon itself.

All moderating of the raw greed and lust for domination is, dissolved to mark the triumph of the bad side, ruthless ugliness, mere power and - inevitably - destruction. The spirit of Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman has already prevailed at the highest levels of authority, and the program is being rolled-out with accelerating velocity.

What lies beyond, and after this mortal life, is Final Participation, which is similar to what Bombadil represents. Final Participation is a renunciation of control - in contrast with Original Participation when control was neither sought nor even possible.

Voluntary renunciation of control power, domination, manipulation comes after the fullness of control has been either been grasped or else at least comprehended. My feeling is that this is what Bombadil represents; my notion is that at some point Bombadil had the possibility of power, domination and control - and chose to renounce it.

The tough aspect is that this is also a renunciation of much that we value most - such as arts, crafts, science, canonical accumulation of texts and the like. It is, in a genuine sense, a voluntary renunciation of civilisation.

In a sense this is an impossibility, just as pacifism is an impossibility in time of war (or, as pacifism is dependent upon that which it repudiates). Nonetheless, despite impossibility; what I think we have - at present, here and now - is the situation in which there is an irrevocable and cumulative loss of faith in those compromises (moderated controls) upon which civilisation depends - there is a mass withdrawal of 'consent'.

On one side this process is being encouraged, top-down, with evil motivation, by those who seek the destruction of civilisation because they believe it will lead to the self-chosen damnation of souls. This is Tolkien's bad side.

On the other side - which constitutes most of the good side; this top-down dismantling is opposed by (broadly) well motivated persons traditional religion and reactionaries of various types. However, it seems likely to me that the society they are fighting For (their positive goals, their alternative to the destructions and inversions of top-down evil) cannot happen.

'Moderated control by consent' is an earlier phase (the long transition-between Original Participation and the Consciousness Soul); a phase now gone, now not genuinely wanted, now irrecoverable. I feel that we either have been, or will be, called-upon to move beyond the incipient or actual absolute totalitarianism of the Consciousness Soul - move on to a Bombadil-like renunciation of power and the desire for control.

In Final Participation we are called-upon to take delight in things for themselves without reference to ourselves, watching, observing, and to some extent knowing; we are called upon to participate in creation directly in thinking - and not via arts and crafts and science.

This will come beyond death, because it is the nature of Heaven. The still-open question is whether it is meant also to come before death; or whether in this world it is impossible to actualise, and instead an ideal that we affirm even as we are overwhelmed by the worldly triumph of control.


Monday, 8 July 2019

The opposite of abstraction is experience

I've been reading Rudolf Steiner and listening to his ideas being expounded; and realise that a fundamental problem is that Steiner tended to end with abstraction. Although he stated that reality consisted of living Beings; these were explained in their nature and effect using abstractions.

The opposite of abstraction - and the nature of reality - is experience (i.e. the experience of Beings) - thus reality is within-time, and happens through time; experience is process not category. 

Abstraction (as in my sentences above) is usually the fate of human discussion and exposition, since these are conducted in language, and language is abstract. We can use language to point-at experience, to describe the context of experience; but of course this will be secondary.

It is perhaps this that makes people sake that mystical experience is ineffable, un-expressible - but that is true of all experience, so the property of ineffability is not distinctive to the mystical. e.g. We cannot capture being-in-love - or any other emotion - in language.

Behind all abstraction, language and any other form of interpersonal communication there is direct, unmediated experience, a 'knowing' that is potentially a shared experience of Beings. And this is going-on all the time, in all of us - but nearly always unconsciously.

In other words, our true and divine self is always there; even when it is never attended-to. Because the real self is not inside us, so much as a perspective on reality. Reality is universally accessible, but each of us has a perspective on it; and we can only come to know reality in a linear and sequential fashion.

So, in a way, the real self is like a peephole opening onto the totality of reality (the underworld, the dwat, the collective conscious and unconscious...). Of course it is more than just a peephole; because the real self is also the source of real freedom; and a producer of (uncaused) thought; and potentially the mans of our participation in divine creation.

But in terms of our ability directly to know, we might imagine it as a peephole through which we can incrementally discover everything there is to know, eventually (but of course, that everything will keep growing, and we may contribute to it)- but always from our unique perspective.

There is an abstraction for you! A crude and simple abstract model of reality - looking through a peephole at the ocean of reality that is always everywhere and within... As such it is certainly false - both ridiculously partial, and seriously distorted. What, then is the point of it?

By my understanding, much of our learning - nowadays in this mortal life - is a matter of becoming conscious of something that is already happening, but beyond our awareness. Thus, the abstraction is helpful if or when it draws attention to some neglected reality that we may then - by experiencing it in our thinking - come to know for ourselves.

However, probably only when we come to know it for ourselves. Abstractions at the level of abstraction - and locked into that level by the need for language in public discourse - are a lethal tyranny for the soul.

And all public discourse, all institutions and organisations, operate solely at the level of abstract language or other symbolism; and so are always partial and distorted - always false. This is a big lesson that we need to learn - it is one of the big lessons of our time.

And our learning is assisted by the fact that our institutions and their leaders are so obviously corrupt and increasingly evil that we are quickly learning that they are wrong - and the abstract laws, rules and guidelines by which they attempt to control us are also wrong.

And if we want to know what is right we can derive it only from that which is validated by direct personal experience. and we are wrong.