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.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Understanding versus knowing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 and often only last a few months or years before being superseded by something else we 'believe' is true.

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

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

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

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

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


Reality made simple

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

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

Thus ultimate reality is alive - all agents are alive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 23 March 2018

The destiny of modern Man - and its refusal

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

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

The direction cannot, however, be reversed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So nothing can stop us.

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

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

What is evil about Lucifer and Ahriman?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Should history be understood as a meaningful process of development?

Edited from Unancestral Voice by Owen Barfield (1965).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Reilly on Barfield, Romanticism, Christianity and Time

 Owen Barfield in his seventies

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

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

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

What was missing from mainstream Romanticism was Christianity and Time.

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

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

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

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

*To which I would add William Arkle.

Monday, 19 March 2018

The history of my personal interest in the subject of consciousness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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