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.

 

Monday, 1 July 2019

The objectivity of truth in Final Participation

Yesterday I described how men and women characteristically - but in different ways - tend to regard Truth in a passive and materialist sense, as being That Which Overwhelms. Men by the overwhelming of imposing force, women by the overwhelming of social (especially peer group) consensus.

But that is, of course, potentially to leave out the spiritual aspect of life - the divine aspect; since the overwhelming is mostly (women especially, but nearly always men too) done by 'other people'.

And so we have these 'operational definitions' of truth that are, in practice, very 'relativistic' - in the sense that if lots of people, or just a few powerful/ high status people, decide something - then we are naturally - at a materialist level - inclined passively to accept it as true.

As I say, this is truth as 'that which overwhelms'; such a truth 'comes from outside' each us us - we are 'victims' of truth. If that was all-there-is top truth (in practice) then there could be no truth - because consensus isn't truth, power isn't truth...

If there is to be truth at all - and if that truth is to be something we personally endorse, rather than being compelled to submit-to; then there must be a higher truth that is not psychological but objective; and active, not passive. Because if truth is merely the external coercing, and our-selves submitting - then it would not be something that we personally would want. We would be merely slaves to truth.

(Obviously!) on the other hand, truth can't be something we make-up for ourselves - as a kind of wishful thinking.

Yet for most people these are the only choices - truth is either seen as that which is imposed (which in practice is usually 'other people'), or whatever-I-say (which is truth-as-delusion, since truth is private and unique).

In sum - these are demonic views of truth - with the choice being submission or pride, a hierarchy of coercion - we submit to the truths of those more powerful, and impose our own truth upon those whom we can dominate: i.e. the hierarchy of Hell.

This is another argument for the Goodness of Final Participation. That the truth that is Good, the truth which Saves, the truth which brings us towards being ourselves gods in harmony with the purposes of God - all these are the truth of Participation. They are voluntary truths in the sense that the truth is God's creation, we choose to endorse the purpose and nature of that creation, and because of love we joining our-selves to that ongoing work of creation.

So truth is not compelled but chosen - hence subjective; and truth is also objective and not just a figment of my mind, but has universality. And truth is mine, because I contribute to it; and truth is for anybody else who also chooses the heavenly life of collaborating in the work of creation.

If Time is primary instead of Space (Final Participation)

Transformation - a process in Time - has been described as the underlying principle (or assumption) of nomadic hunter-gatherer life and spiritual belief - a metaphysics to which I believe Man is destined to return, but in a freely-chosen and conscious way (Final Participation)

Most philosophy (and classical Christian theology) assumes that Space is primary, and therefore end-up (when pushing analysis to the limit of metaphysics) by discarding Time.

For instance, Plato had the ultimate reality as a Time-less realm of eternal, archetypal forms. Classical Christian theology follows this by making God outside of Time; in an eternity in which past, present and future are one.

But if, instead, we regard Time as the primary reality, then things look very different. Things exist in Time, which means that their reality stretches back either to eternity or to when they are made. Things are not defined by their cross-sectional 'spatial' properties - because they exist longitudinally, through-Time.

What we see now is a probably-ephemeral property of an entity defined as a self that goes backwards... More exactly, the entity is (in physics terms) a process. Its cross-sectional properties may, probably will, change - but it stays itself because it is lineally related to its earlier selves.

More simply, the ultimate entities are Beings, and Beings are distinguished historically. There need not be any specific thing or things about a Being that remains constant through the changes a Being undergoes in Time. It stays the same being, even if everything about it has changed.

In a system in which Time is primary, the 'units' are Beings, and the principle of their continued reality could be described as continuing-Life; and continuing-Life may entail Transformation.

A Being may transform (like a caterpillar to a butterfly, or a Man to a god) so completely that nothing about it remains unchanged - yet it is the same Being; lineally the same and going back forever without beginning.

So which is primary, Space or Time? It cannot be both although it could be neither. The question is one of metaphysics, hence answerable only by primary, direct personal intuition - each for himself. But unless asked and answered; you will merely passively, unconsciously, be absorbing the metaphysical assumptions of others.

  

Sunday, 16 June 2019

How can a genius of Romantic Christianity affect society more widely?

This question arises when comparing the 'impact' of Rudolf Steiner - who founded an international society and movement; and William Arkle, who died known only to a 'handful' of people and remains almost wholly obscure.

In general, the most valuable kind of genius is one who dicovers something 'simple'; that is, something that was difficult to discover (because, in fact, it was Not discovered until the genius did it) but, once discovered, easy to learn.

This can be seen by technologies such as the bow and arrow, wheel or arch, whose origins are unknown, were absent from many (or all) ancient cultures, and were (I believe we can infer) discovered by specific persons (i.e. geniuses) in particular times and places.

More recent examples would include the technologies of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, which were adopted quickly and widely - oince the intellectual heavy lifting had been done by specific geniuses (who often gained nothing personally from the inventions)


Rudolf Steiner was a genius of Romantic Christianity; but he made many serious strategic errors; and in the end embedded his major (and simple) discoveries in a vast structure of mostly-dubious factual-assertion; which formed the (infallible) scriptures of a bureaucractic Anthroposophical Society; housed in a grandiose headquarters of concrete (in both senses) buildings; engaged in all sorts of formal/ procedural/ bureaucratic institutional activities relating to education, medicine, agriculture, the arts etc.

In sum, Steiner attempted to 'impose' his esoteric message on the world via an organisation, by a stepwise process, that is - by a kind of compulsion - and this is an internally-contradictory, hence ineffectual, strategy.

The outcome is that it is very hard to find the core spirit of Steiner anywhere in the world; except among a handful of individuals who are essentially outside of the Society and institutional structures (and even these Steinerites usually remain captivated by the Ahrimanic distortions of their Master, rather than discarding them).

In sum, that of Steiner which we can perceive is merely the distortion. 


By contrast, except for a few disciples (who have not, apparently, made public their thoughts) anyone who has come to share Arkle's ideas must re-experience them for himself.

In other words, insofar as he has affected people, Arkle can only have influenced other people via imperceptible esoteric and direct spiritual routes. One who would share Arkle's thinking, needs to do so on the 'plane' of ultimate and universal reality - since their is neither System nor Institutions to 'educate' him. 

The question is whether the existence and effect of such esoteric and direct ways of sharing are really-real (or just wishful thinking).


It strikes me that William Arkle, especially in his pictures and his 'simple' prose pieces - such as Letter from a Father, Equations of Being and the Late Prose items - made some very simple spiritual discoveries that therefore could be learned rapidly and applied very widely.

Arkle's core insight is that we can come directly and by experience to know the detailed and personal love of God the Creator for ourselves; which will give us a great confidence and faith in our own lives.

And the fact that we are God's children means that we have a share of his divinity, and this will guide us through - enable us to learn from - all possible experiences that our life brings us.


The point is that all this is knowable for ourselves, once we know about it. It is effective, if we genuinely believe it is true. The insight is very simple, and our life can be very simple.

Of course, in works like A Geography of Consciousness or Hologram and Mind; Arkle also produced works with a great deal of complexity, involving metaphors drawn from physics and engineering.

The underlying message remains simple, and I think these complex works were produced as a form of persuasive rhetoric in response to the typical kinds of questioning of modern intellectuals, who are unable to take-seriously or to believe the truth of anything that is simple and obvious.

These works of Arkles function mostly like the mathematical 'working' done to convince a skeptic, when the actual result may be simple; they provide models or analogies of spiritual truths that strike us as childishly obvious; and by that hope to get past the 'watchful dragons' of the modern skeptical intellect (based upon deep and denied reductionist assumptions and dishonest arguments).


It would seem to me that Arkle 'must have' had a considerable influence on The World; since someone of his spiritual quality could not help but have done so! But not, of course, by the normal, perceptible, means of 'communication'.

Instead, I regard the creative insights of Arkle as having made a permanent addition to the primary thought-world that is the basis of divine creation. Anyone who engages in primary thinking, who has direct intuition, may therefore encounter Arkle's insights for themselves and without ever having heard of Arkle.

As a genius, Arkle was able to think some things for the first time; but now they have been-thought - and these thoughts are available to 'everybody' who would not have had the genius to create them anew from scratch.


Since Love is primary and a part of creation; I would further emphasise that the 'spead' of Arkle's ideas depends upon love. The 'range of effect' is therefore set by the scope of Arkle's love, and the difference made will be initially in realtion to that scope.

For example, when Arkle painted something with love that embodied his genius insights, those things will have been strengthened and sustained by that love - in an objective fashion: they will have been 'Romanticised' in an objective and universal sense. A better known example would be Walter Scott or Wordsworth, who permanently transformed the power of The Scottish Borders and the Lake District (and similar landscapes) to inspire and elevate us - even for those who have never read either.

I am suggesting that - as an example, but much more widely - the Scottish Border and the Lake Distict were objectively changed by Scott and Wordsworth - we who lovingly-experience them now, do so in a way that is qualitatively different from the way such landscapes were experienced 300 years ago - and indeed we cannot recover the way they used to be regarded. And later on Tolkien further modified our experience of landscapes.

The new experience is unlocked by shared love.

This can be explained (to use the terminology of Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom) in terms of the concepts we use to interpret the raw perceptual data and memories of these places - our concepts are, when they are true, drawn from the universal, impersonal store of divine creation - and this store has been modified by the 'final participation' of human geniuses.

This, then, (as a general mechanism) is the main way in which a spiritual genius like Steiner or Arkle affects the world; not by their communications, and certainly not by institutional transmission - but by participating-in, and permanently transforming, the ongoing nature of divine creation - henceforth available to all that are attuned to it. 

Saturday, 15 June 2019

The polarity of our outer and inner guidance

Since we are each, from eternity, unique souls - then there is an unique destiny, a personal destiny, for every individual.

But discovering (and then, of course, following) one's unique destiny is a difficult matter, and many people don't know how to start - or how an unique destiny differs from randomness or arbitrariness.


To make an unique destiny possible requires both internal and external guidance, and it is from the dynamic polarity of their relationship that we can navigate our destined (but not pre-destined) path through life.

Our external guidance is known as the Holy Ghost, and is accessible to all Christians; since the Holy Ghost (according to the Fourth Gospel) was provided by Jesus after his ascension.

Yet if the Holy Ghost had been the only kind of guidance, then our destiny would be 'given' to us; and our task would merely be to consult the Holy Ghost, and then passively to 'follow' its instructions, as best we could.This would be a life a spiritually children (and was indeed our own life as children, and probably the life of all Men in earlier periods of Man's history.)

Such a life of obedient passivity is a one-sided caricature, because it never was, nor could be, wholly the case; but this life of child-like obedience to external dictates was surely once regarded as an ideal; wheras now a passively obedient life is Not the task of modern Man.

(Such a life is simply Not An Option. Modern Man is an adolescent in spiritual terms, negatively rejecting of passive obedience; and as adolescents we cannot return to childhood. Our task is freely to choose to develop, to grow-up, into spiritual adults... or else we will remain, as we are: perpetually adolescent.) 

Due to the evolutionary-development of human consciousness since the time of Jesus, our task is now to take an active, conscious path through life - freely chosen. This does Not At All mean that the Holy Ghost has been superseded, but instead that we now have a 'dual guidance system' formed from the interaction of outer and inner.

The inner guidance comes from our real self; the eternal self that is divine; albeit an undeveloped divinity; which is how it can be the creative source of uncaused thinking, primary thinking. A life guided solely by the inner guidance system would be merely egotistic, prideful, rebellious, hedonistic, impulsive - adolescent. 

But outer and inner guidance combine to form a classic polarity; in the sense that the outer guidance is centripetal, constraining, receptive, 'feminine'; while the inner guidance is centrifugal, generative, exploratory, 'masculine'.

This is a polarity because although they can legitimately be distinguished, neither guidance can exist in actual detachment from the other - and this union arises because at a deep level outer and inner are continually-being-produced-consequences of a single, living, conscious, dynamic process.

So our task in this mortal life is therefore actively to work from our own inner motivation, which is in continual interaction with the Holy Ghost. The result is experienced as 'intuition', which is our directly known direction and purpose through life.   

Monday, 3 June 2019

Love and Time = Creation

What Owen Barfield (drawing on Steiner) terms 'polarity' - I have reformulated as Beings in Relationship.

In other words, polarity is described abstractly in terms of a self-generating distinction, a dynamic process - but ultimately I understand this is terms of the Beings that constitute reality having Relationships.

When it comes to Creation - the relevant Relationship is Love.

To put it differently - When Love between Beings acts over Time, there is Creation.


This applies to God - it is God's Love acting through Time, that is Creation. (In other words, the process of love between beings in intrinsically creative.)


However, when Time (process, change) is Not mediated by Love; then we have evil - because any relationship other-than Love is anti-Creation.

So the Good/ Positive situation is of Creation (made by Love through Time).


Not-Love (anything other-than Love) is a negative situation - and is destructive of Creation.

(This is evil and the situation is hell. Absence of Love is hell.)


Not-Time is No-Creation; it would be Stasis; it would be neither Good nor evil; neither Heaven nor Hell - but Just-Be.

(Not Be-ing - just Be, just mere Existence.)

This situation is the Nirvana asserted by 'Eastern Religion'.


Note: This clarifies why Christians should acknowledge the reality and necessity of Time - and should set-aside pre-Christian hangovers and metaphysical errors (common to almost all mainstream, classical Christian theology) about God being outside-of-Time, or a state of Timelessness being the highest state. One would have thought (hoped) that the incarnation of Christ in history would have made this clear - but apparently not. Unless there is Time, there would be no Good, no direction, no Freedom - and no Love. Thus Time is necessary for Christianity; without Time, Christianity is refuted. It is a superiority of Romantic Christianity that it regards Time as necessary and intrinsic. 

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Romantic Christianity and morality

I should first say that Romantic Christianity is for adults, for post-adolescents. It is, in other words, a product of the modern adult consciousness.

It is for all Western adults, because all modern Western adults are Romantic; and all may (if they want it) choose to accept the gifts of Jesus.  

But I need to say this because this means that Romantic Christianity is neither intended-as nor suitable-as as a Christian way of bringing-up children - raising kids is still, essentially, pretty much the same as it was in the era of traditional Christianity. In other words, for pre-adolescents guidance must necessarily be external, and therefore a Christian environment is the key (home, school, church, books, 'media' etc).

But beyond adolescence lies the destiny of a Romantic consciousness, and the new thing needed is that this be a Christian consciousness.


One major concern about Romantic Christianity relates to morality - and in these times and this place, this means primarily sexual morality. Traditional Christianity was pretty clearly defined in relation to sexual morality; and mainstream modernity has as its (perhaps) core value the Sexual Revolution in its various dominating phases.

The Sexual Revolution is, of course, ever 'advancing' its scope (despite the contradictions) via advocating positively divorce, extramarital promiscuity, abortion, feminism, homosexuality, sadomasochism, transexualism and so on 'forward' toward paedophilia and I don't know what next - the stages of dominance of which define modern culture.

Traditional Christianity is clearly against the sexual revolution - on various grounds: for example the teachings of scripture, the authority of the church, the primacy of tradition, the rigorous implications of theology. Now, all of these grounds are 'external' - so Romantic Christianity requires that they must be validated by internal and intuitive understanding and assent.

The problem has often been that the Romantic impulse has, since the time of Lord Byron and Shelley, often been used as a reason to reject traditional sexual morality - by simply claiming that one does not find intuitive confirmation of 'conventional' morality; and that - on the contrary - inner conviction validates unfettered expression of one's own current lusts and desires.

This 'morally relativistic' way of reasoning has become 'official' over the past several years; so that the sexual revolution requires no greater validation than that claim that it would make some person or group unhappy, or simply unfulfilled (here and now) if they were prevented from doing some sexual thing that they currently very much want to do. If, that is, the 'thing' is currently approved-of by the mainstream sexual revolution at that particular point - and this has changed, and reversed, through recent history. For instance, 'Weinstein-type' promiscuous behaviour was strongly supported, positively-media-depicted, and leftist-advocated in the late 1960-70s, when 'hetero'-sex was officially regarded as merely a pleasurable type of physical exercise; not to be taken seriously.

This validation of extended sexuality began by being applied only to 'consenting adults in private' and was presented as toleration; but has swiftly been extended to public situations and to children of any age and it is now necessary that extending the sexual revolution (in officially approved direction) be actively and publicly embraced - and this positive attitude is compulsory. 


It certainly seems (to traditionalist Christians) as if Romantic Christianity is either sure to be distorted to rationalise the sexual revolution (as happens all the time among the mainstream churches, and by 'liberal' Christians'). But then, the fact is that anything can-be/ has-been/ is-being perverted to rationalise the sexual revolution - whenever the motivation to do so outweighs the desire for truth.

The way I think of it is that the intuitions of Romantic Christianity do not merely 'validate' the truth of sexual morality as it is (partially, with some distortions) represented by the various traditional Christianities (which situation would suggest that the intutions are not necessary, because we could take traditional moal codes as a short-cut to where we wanted, ultimately, to go). Instead, what happens is that by Christian intuition we are able to know for our-selves that sexual morality arises-from ultimate and universal reality.

We personally tap-into the very source of morality, in the nature-of-things - that is in God's creation. 


But this direct knowledge of ultimate sexual morality is Not in the traditional form of general laws and rules about collectives of people; instead (as Rudolf Steiner makes clear in Philosophy of Freedom).

What would be (can be) discovered is that morality is on the one hand absolutely specific to each situation, and also absolutely objective - there is always just one right thing to do, and one only.

And this we can know for-ourselves, and can only know for-ourselves - although equally the judgement of what we may say or do is open to the unique and direct evaluation on others who love us*.


*But only those who love us - because only such have the ability to know directly concerning our souls - by contrast, with other strangers and secondhand observers, they will merely be applying general principles to general situations.

  

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Barfield on Buddhism (in the twentieth-century West)

From Owen Barfield on CS Lewis (1989) ed. GB Tennyson, page 13:

Lewis had spent his early manhood striving in all sincerity to experience living what Alan Watts has called 'The Supreme Identity'. 

Lewis's very success in that endeavour - compared with the average run of idealists, who do not even make the attempt - proved to him that insofar as the experience is genuine and not merely a complacently fancied experience, it reveals itself as a theoretical truth but a pragmatical error. 

It is and can be an intellectual experience only. 

When it comes to the will, there is no identity, and the prayer must always be 'They will be done', just because my own will, if I look it squarely in the face, is a rag-bag of lusts and feeblenesses and terrors.  

Not for Lewis, therefore, are the lofty strivings of the twentieth-century Buddhist and his condescending smile as he contemplates Christianity and all other formulated religions.


This is also my conclusion. That 'twentieth-century Buddhists' - i.e. more generally Western advocates of Eastern deistic religions - are (to use another and blunter terminology) complacent hypocrites (i.e. do not rigorously practice what they preach) and self-aggrandising advocate of the dark side (because they refuse to acknowledge and repent their lusts, feeblenesses and terrors).

Harsh, I know; but that is my evaluation - on similar grounds as Barfield describes for Lewis. Here and now and for us; Buddhism and the like are not just an ineffectual spiritual dead-end; but an inducement to self-justified embrace of the dark powers - and thus associated with joining and fighting-with the wrong side in the unavoidable spiritual war. (As did Alan Watts.) 

For us; God must be personal, and our religion must be Christian. No alternative. Doing this - each of us, for his own life - is not straightforward; but the conclusion to be drawn from such difficulties to get to work on making it possible

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Video interview with Bruce Charlton on the spiritual significance of Owen Barfield and the Inklings


Keri Ford has interviewed me about the vital relevance of the Inklings for our time; with special reference to Owen Barfield.

I discuss Barfield's relation to the group; and the nature and history of my own engagement with Barfield - including the origins of this blog.


Sunday, 28 April 2019

The pervasive Ahrimanic and Luciferic errors of Rudolf Steiner

"There slumber in every human being faculties by means of which he can acquire for himself a knowledge of higher worlds."

Thus wrote Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy. In The Philosophy of Freedom he demonstrated that thinking was the power that allowed modern human beings direct access to the spiritual worlds, an access that had once been the privilege of only a handful of mystics. 

No longer was it necessary for average human beings to depend on scripture and other forms of religious authority, for they could discover spiritual truth directly through strengthened thinking. This direct knowledge, he argued, was the only foundation for true moral freedom. He went on to develop and teach practical methods by which it could be achieved.

A century later, the Society he founded seems dedicated mainly to preserving and disseminating his nearly 60,000 transcribed lectures [Note: this number seems considerably too large an estimate, since Steiner only lectured actively for about 25 years, which is about 9,000 days - and he did not deliver six lectures every day]. 

The result of his own spiritual research, these lectures cover everything from gnomes to seraphim, from the history of Atlantis to recipes for compost. "Steiner says" is the constant refrain of anthroposophists, who seem to prefer citations from these lectures to direct knowledge of anything. While Steiner's initiatives in education, biodynamic agriculture, homeopathic medicine and care of the mentally retarded have been lovingly preserved, anthroposophy has, since his death, produced little in the way of social innovation. 

Anthroposophists, when they can be understood at all, express superstitions and prejudices that would embarrass a redneck. Fearing injury by everything from rock music to microchips to Jesuits, they have become a society of esoteric hypochondriacs, in neo-Amish withdrawal from modern political and economic life.

How is it that a movement dedicated to strengthened thinking produces so many goofy and morally useless ideas?

How did the author of The Philosophy of Freedom become this ghost to whom his readers so idolatrously surrender their independence of judgement?

That sound and stirring concepts give rise to corrupt and neurotic human organizations is pretty much a summary of the history of all spiritual movements...


I have been again engaging with Rudolf Steiner - because I regard him as one of the most significant thinkers of all time, and because he is a vital contributor to my deepest understanding of reality. Steiner is essential, but...

Yet again I find myself up against the phenomenon of which MacCoun speaks above. When I read or listen to Steiner's own lectures, or to the best of his followers expounding, I am overwhelmed by a sense of suffocation under such a mass of wrongness that I find it hard to continue.

But I disagree with MacCoun in her specific diagnosis that this is due to the Anthroposophical Society (AS), and the way it dealt with Steiner's legacy. I also disagree with her belief that the AS could - in principle - be reformed... I regard the AS as a symptom of Steiner's deep mistakes, and therefore it is unreformable

The problems lay with Steiner himself, and with his decision to become a spiritual leader of an organised movement.  But I repeat myself...


The problems are deep, because Steiner made the serious error of developing a meditative technique that he regarded as intrinsically scientifically valid; and spent two and a half decades, day after day, putting himself into this trance-state and spouting forth in lectures whatever came to him in this state.

Steiner did not live up to his own best understanding - indeed as a matter of daily routine he fell below the standards he himself had understood and explained. Steiner distinguished the Luciferic and Ahrimanic types of spiritual evil - and he fell into both in his late work of lecturing and organising the Theosophical then Anthroposophical societies.

Steiner's focus on meditative technique - and training in this method - was Ahrimanic, materialistic. But (contrary to his own assertion that meditation should be in clear, alert consciousness) the actual meditative method he used was Luciferic - it was (according to multiple descriptions) a dissociated trance state of lowered consciousness, including lucid dreaming. He then took this unconsciously-generated, 'altered state', 'atavistic' material and systematised and taught it as fact - Ahrimanic again.

For many years, Steiner had this working like a machine. Ask him a question, he would go into a trance, and from his unconscious would generate vast masses of material on the subject - and by Steiner's unique intellectual brilliance (he was a genius) this dream-material would be systemised and rationalised even as it emerged in his speech

The vast bulk of Steiner's work from about 1900 was, then, an exemplification of exactly those errors and evils that he himself first diagnosed as spiritual problems of our time: the backward looking Luciferic trances, and the modern bureaucratic organisation he founded, led and left-behind: the Ahrimanic Anthroposophical Society.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

That monotheistic feeling...

If man wishes to build for himself a world conception, he rightly strives toward harmonizing the individual parts...

One who approaches the world with the expectation that everything must explain itself without contradiction, as if it arose from an undivided foundation of the world, will experience many disappointments when he faces the world and its experiences in an unprejudiced way. It is traditional for the human being to treat all that he perceives in the world according to a pastoral world conception, in which everything is led back to the undivided, divine, primordial foundation; everything stems from God and therefore must be understandable as a unity.

This is not the case now, however. What surrounds us in the world as experience does not stem from the undivided primordial foundation. Rather it stems from spiritual individualities different from one another. Different individualities work together in all that surrounds us in the world as experience. This is how it is above all...

Various individualities work together in influencing these events that are relatively independent of each other. If you do not take this into consideration, if you assume everywhere an undivided foundation of the world, you will never understand these events. Only when you take into consideration what is to a certain degree the ebb and flow of events, the varied individualities who work with or against one another, only then will you understand these things in the right way.

This matter is indeed connected with the deepest mysteries of human evolution. Only the monotheistic feeling has veiled this fact for centuries or millennia, but one must consider it.

If one wishes to progress today, therefore, with questions of a world conception, above all one must not confuse logic with an abstract lack of contradiction. An abstract lack of contradiction cannot exist in a world in which individualities are working together independently of one another. 

A striving for conformity will therefore always lead to an impoverishment of concepts; the concepts will no longer be able to encompass the full reality. Only when these concepts are able to take hold of this world full of contradictions, which is the true reality, will they be able to encompass the full reality.

From Individual Spirit Beings and the Undivided Foundation of the World: Part 2 by Rudolf Steiner.

This particular section of a lecture by Rodolf Steiner jumped out at me; because he shares my own understanding that monotheism is an understandable but misguided urge; one that can only be achieved by an 'impoverishment of concepts', an ignoring of primary and intuitively-known realities, that - in the end, and especially at present - plays into sustaining this age of secular materialism.

In other words, a highly abstract monotheism, one that primarily asserts the unity of the world, is hostile to our intuitive knowledge of the multiplicity of agent Beings in reality. This world is Not merely 'aspects' of a primordial unity; it is a Society of Beings.


And this is why, for Christians, Love is the primary necessity; because it is Love which harmonises, and aligns the purposes of Beings into a participation in creation - Beings whose wills otherwise would be chaotically at war.

Christians are One in Love and Purpose - not in monotheistic Being. 

There is a qualitative distinction between the false monotheistic harmony of unity, and the true Christian harmony of Love.

This is why it is important for Christians to acknowledge that in deepest truth they are not monotheists, nor are they 'Trinitarian' monotheists - but that Christianity implicitly acknowledges and works-with the genuine autonomy of many, many Beings.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

A world without edges

The world Now is qualitatively different from how it was a few generations ago. The changes themselves were not hard-edged, but the cumulative consequences are qualitative.

The world used to be one in which there were hard-edges outside of us. The task was to work from within one or other category that was made by the hard edges.

But the edges dissolved, or were-dissolved... Some of this dissolving was done by the forces of evil - but other forces of evil were concerned to introduces new hard-edges; especially, the global totalitarian bureaucratic System is all about hard-edges. But the reason that we experience The System as tyranny is that we recognise its categories are arbitrary, not-true. We only stick by them because we are compelled, and we can only be compelled because we cannot conceive of any better alternative.

To my mind, those who wish to reintroduce the old hard-edges are welcome to try; but I think this simply cannot succeed. All attempts have failed, and I think they have failed because Men's minds have changed, in a fundamental fashion.

We experience the world differently, which is as much as to say that our world is different - really different. The edges have gone because - for us - the edges are no longer present. 

In a world where there are no edges, or more exactly, no edges that we spontaneously and whole-heartedly recognise as real and 'objective' - we must either live by (what will be experienced as) passive compliance with some arbitrary external source of edges - or else must develop another way of discernment, that comes from within rather than from without.

Yet it is difficult - sometimes impossible - for Men to imagine and believe any inner source of objective reality. The loss of edges is experienced as a loss of all reality, a world of arbitrary, fluid, subjectivity. Imagination is seen as untruth.

The answer, and perhaps the only imaginable answer, can be described; but to believe it, to regard it as real, to regard it as objectively valid... well, that requires a great deal of metaphysical rebuilding, the making of new foundations - which most people are unwilling even to consider embarking upon (perhaps for fear of losing what they already have, but mostly because they think-they-know that the effort would be futile).

In a world without edges, and where edges are not coming back; then that primary task is to derive discernment each from his own resources; but to know that discernment to be objective, and to reference a single and shared reality.

To put it differently, we seek a world where the imagination is true, and where that truth is universal - for all Men.

This has been sought for more than 200 years - but mostly the first and fatal step has been to discard Jesus Christ. Among the minority of Christians who sought this path, there has been a failure to re-imagine Christianity in the necessary, post-edge-world, personal-objective mode.

The consequence is that few have succeeded - yet succeed we must, because an honest and rigorous analysis tells us that there is no alternative.

More exactly, the consequence of failure is that mortal life will be a Waste of Time, because all our lived experience will come to nought of value, because our frame of understanding will negate experience.

Incarnation and death will become the only positive value of mortal life - and everything in-between At Best only a Waste of Time.

And that, I suppose, will be the end of things.

  

Christianity in an Ahrimanic age

I have found a modified version of Rudolf Steiner's schema that evil can be distinguished in two forms - Ahrimanic and Luciferic - to be a valuable tool.

The Luciferic is (roughly) the impulsive, instinctive, self-gratifying, psychopathic kind of evil - as characterised by the frenzied violence and torture of unbridled war; or the greedy lustfulness that drives the sexual revolution. This tended to be the dominant form of evil in ancient times - and of course it still continues.

But that does not capture the modern form of evil - which may originate in this kind of 'id'-driven thirst for instant gratification; but which takes this and operationalises it in the form of definitions, laws, regulations, and bureaucracy - enforced by omni-surveillance and micro-control mechanisms. This is the Ahrimanic - a cold, rational, systematic form of evil.  

In other words, the distinctive and dominant form of evil of this time, of modern times, is totalitarian. The Ahrimanic is the totalitarian, bureaucratic, strategic...

It is the evil of a whole society organised in pursuit of evil that has been pre-defined as Good. It may be an evil without pleasure; evil as an industrial process - a crushing, icy evil. The modern sexual revolution is presided-over, guided, implemented - not by passion crazed Caligulas - but by stony-eyed officials.


The problem is that almost all the real and serious Christian denominations and churches (I mean the best churches - not those that are liberal, apostate, vaguely-Christianised-leftist organisations) still seem to regard evil as Luciferic; and respond to its threat (or try to respond) by doubling-down on the Ahrimanic aspects of Christianity.

For example, the sexual revolution is seen by Christians as primarily about the Luciferic - to be opposed by better organisation. Whereas the real problem is not the work of lust-crazed individuals seeking pleasure; but the Ahrimanic, incremental, planned strategy of a vast army of drab, cold-eyed, strategising bureaucrats; armed with United Nations mission statements, European Union laws, International consensus definitions, guidelines, terms-of-service, models of best practice etc etc.

All too often the Christian response to the sexual revolution has been along exactly the same lines as the totalitarian bureacrats. An increase in planning, systems, supervision; a greater number and precision of rules; tougher enforcement - and so forth.

This is to fight ice with more ice; to fight Sauron with the One Ring. Such a Christianity presents the individual with what looks like nothing more than a choice of rival bureaucracies - one powerful and growing, the other small and collapsing. A choice of two would-be totalitarian monitoring and control systems. Both alienate, both are evil in form.

One can either be crushed by secular materialism, or crushed by religious practices...


The answer to the dominant Ahrimanic evil cannot be merely a different version of the same. Nor can it be a version of old-fashioned Luciferism; which is, anyway, an impossibility...

The middle sixties saw a massive cultural upsurge in the Luciferic (turn-on, tune-in, drop out - let it all hang out etc.) and that would-be explosion of the id and the instinct, merely fuelled decades of ever-expanding and further-encroaching bureaucracy. Nowadays, the Luciferic 'liberation' serves merely as an excuse for ever-more Ahrimanic constraint.

If evil comes from some combination of the domination of the Genital urges (Luciferic), and the raionalism of the 'Left Brain' (Ahrimanic) - what is needed is the Heart. And that is something new, something untried - but something profoundly Christian.


What Christianity needs cannot be captured in any formula or rule (that is just more Ahrimanic stuff) - in a totalitarian age we cannot expect to protect Christianity, or even to be Christian, by adhering to any principle of truth, or any flow-diagram of validity.

Nor can we fall into the trap of regarding anything other than the systematic as Luciferic, hence evil. There is a third way - the way of Jesus - and that is the only Good way. 

We must acknowledge the individual person in relation with God to be the fundamental unit of truth, beauty and virtue. This has been said many times before - but never done. A religion of the heart must be rooted in persons, not abstractions; because only persons can love - yet love is objective, the primary basis of all creation, the heart of Christ's teaching.