Tuesday 30 January 2018

Reincarnation and Christianity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday 29 January 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can this be? - How does it work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope is what overcomes fear. 

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

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

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

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

Saturday 27 January 2018

The opposite of abstract is personal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 24 January 2018

Rudolf Steiner's 1918 prediction of the malign effects of the sexual revolution

The mechanism proposed by Steiner was that there were certain changes that needed to be made, spiritual steps that needed to be taken, by Western Man in a fashion that was willed, conscious, explicit - and if such steps were not taken (and they were not taken) then the desired changes would appear in a distorted form as instincts post-hoc interpreted rationalistically...

I have edited parts the lecture to focus on the parts relating to what-turned-out-to-be the sexual revolution, now mainstream and dominant in the West - I have ruthlessly 'translated' some of Steiner's idiosyncratic terminology - so this is an interpretation as well as an edited version. Some of my comments are [in square brackets].

The whole lecture can (and should) be read here - but, be warned, it is difficult

What if humanity on earth should persist in sleeping through the momentous spiritual revelation of the future? 

Then the Angels would have to try different means of achieving what the pictures they weave in the consciousness of man are intended to achieve. If men do not allow this to be achieved in while they are awake, the Angels would, in this case, endeavour to fulfill their aims through their sleeping bodies. 

Here lies the great danger for this age of the Consciousness Soul. [That is, the era in which consciousness, self-awareness, is intensified to the exclusion of contact with reality - the age of disenchantment, alienation, materialism.] This is what might still happen if, before the beginning of the third millennium, men were to refuse to turn to the spiritual life. The third millennium begins with the year 2000, so it is only a short time ahead of us. 

But what would be the outcome if the Angels were obliged to perform this work without man himself participating, to carry it out during sleep? Firstly, something would be engendered in the sleeping human bodies and Man would meet with it on waking in the morning ... but then it would become instinct instead of conscious spiritual activity, and therefore baleful. 

Certain instinctive knowledge will arise in human nature connected with the mystery of birth and conception, with sexual life as a whole; and this threatens to become baleful if the danger of which I have spoken takes effect. 

The effect in the evolution of humanity would be that certain instincts connected with the sexual life would arise in a pernicious form instead of wholesomely, in clear waking consciousness. 

These sexual instincts would not be mere aberrations, but would pass over into and configure the social life, would above all prevent men from unfolding brotherhood in any form whatever on the earth, and would rather induce them to rebel against it. This would be a matter of instinct.

So the crucial point lies ahead when either the path to the right can be taken — but that demands wakefulness — or the path to the left, which permits of sleep. But in that case instincts come on the scene — instincts of a fearful kind.

And what do you suppose the scientific experts will say when such instincts come into evidence? They will say that it is a natural and inevitable development in the evolution of humanity. But light cannot be shed on such matters by natural science, for whether men become angels or devils would be equally capable of explanation by scientific reasoning. Science will say the same in both cases: the later is the outcome of the earlier ...

Natural science will be totally blind to the event of which I have told you, for if men become half devils through their sexual instincts, science will as a matter of course regard this as a natural necessity. Scientifically, then, the matter is simply not capable of explanation, for whatever happens, everything can be explained by science.

Man would pride himself upon the growth of his instinctive knowledge of certain processes and substances and would experience such satisfaction in obeying certain aberrations of the sexual impulses that he would regard them as evidence of a particularly high development of superhumanity, of freedom from convention, of broad-mindedness! 

In a certain respect, ugliness would be beauty and beauty, ugliness

Yet, nothing of this would be perceived because it would all be regarded as natural necessity. But it would actually denote an aberration from the path which, in the nature of humanity itself, is prescribed for man's essential being.

Comment: In other words, our true destiny is for each of us deliberately, by choice, consciously and explicitly to make the next step in the evolution towards divine consciousness.

But if we do not make this choice and take this step (and we have-not done so in the past century since Steiner gave this lecture), then we will instead have...

What I find especially impressive about this prediction is that insight that the sexual aberrations would come to configure social life; and would be explained-away by 'science' as natural and inevitable developments: "Man would pride himself upon the growth of his instinctive knowledge of certain processes... and would experience... satisfaction in obeying certain aberrations of the sexual impulses"; and would see these as "evidence of a particularly high development of superhumanity, of freedom from convention, of broad-mindedness"; amounting to a mainstream societal adoption of value-inversion - "ugliness would be beauty and beauty, ugliness".

Well, we will have exactly what we actually do have: Steiner's prophecy regarding the sexual revolution has-been fulfilled; explicitly and to the last detail.

Monday 22 January 2018

The apparent implausibility of thinking as Man's spiritual destiny

I think is is probably usual to regard it as implausible that thinking is crucial to the next (and final) step in Man's divinely-ordained destiny... Thinking seems such a feeble, narrow and unsatisfying thing!

We are used to regarding actions and/ or feelings as the most powerful and important things in life - with thinking as a useful but secondary matter; merely reflecting on, analysing or planning what is the 'real' business of living.

Certainly, ordinary, everyday thinking as it currently is for almost everybody is very-obviously useless as the basis of Life! Our ordinary, everyday thinking is typically shallow, narrow, often false, and labile - we know, also, that our thinking is easy to mislead: by our own wishful thinking, and by the many (and often invisible) manipulations of propaganda and marketing...

But Rudolf Steiner, and following him Owen Barfield, have responded to these reservations with many clarifications of what is meant by thinking (i.e. that thinking I have termed primary) and how it both can and should be developed to become exactly what we most need.

From their work it can be seen that ordinary everyday thinking is deficient in two different but related ways: firstly that it is not our real selves that are doing the thinking, but instead only our superficial and artificial personalities. Secondly, that the thinking itself is narrowly literalistic, hence lacking in both scope and power.

Thus, our thinking is feeble partly because it is unreal and partly because it is artificial - and the combination means that our thinking is a feeble thing when compared with acting and feeling.

Because our thinking is unreal and artificial it is  unfree. Thinking that is free would need to be thinking that arises from that within us which is free; and that could only be our deepest selves.


Saturday 20 January 2018

Original Participation - the spiritual life of hunter gatherer Man (and ourselves as young children)

Human consciousness is divided into three sequential phases: Original Participation, the Consciousness Soul and Final Participation.

This sequence is primarily concerned with human society, or civilisation through hunter gatherer, agrarian and industrial phases and pointing at the destined future - but also corresponds to the development of Man from birth to mature adulthood.

Thus the consciousness of Original Participation can be seen both in the 'childhood of Man' (the earliest, simplest and most spontaneous society: the hunter gatherer life), and also in each Man's childhood.


I became extremely engaged with understanding the hunter gatherer mind some twenty years ago - by immersion in all sorts of books on the subject; both by leading twentieth century academics (mostly anthropologists) who lived among such people (or among those who had recently been hunter gatherers) and also by looking at some examples of 'first contact' literature from previous centuries when a variety of people - e.g. explorers, missionaries - described their encounters with hunter gatherers.

My interest was then focused on spontaneous animism; or the way in which hunter gatherers - and young children - interpreted the world 'anthopomorphically', or socially; in terms of being a collection of person-like agents. So large animals (such as the bear) or environmental objects both living (such as a tree) and 'non-living' (such as a mountain) would be understood as persons, each with a character, motivations, desires and intentions.

Thus, for the hunter gatherer the whole world was social; a web of relationships. And if we can remember and introspect about our own early childhoods, we can perceive that it was the same situation for each of us; we used to see the world as social, as full of living and conscious entities.

(This may also re-emerge in altered states of cosnciousness - such as the 'paranoid' delusions of self-reference in psychotic illnesses, or in some types of brain pathology, or some types of drug intoxication. The social perspective seems to be something of a default.)


The perspective of Barfield brings a further aspect to this subject; which is to notice that for the hunter gatherer the Self was much less developed and distinct than it is for us (living at an advanced stage of the Consciousness Soul); the individual hunter-gatherer is not, therefore, very aware of himself as an individual - does not perceive a line of demarcation separating himself and 'the world' (when 'the world' includes both the society of other people, and the society of significant entities in the environment - bear, tree, mountain etc.).

The hunter gatherer participates in the world because he perceives no separation between himself and the world; and much the same applies to young children even nowadays. But as civilisation developed, grew, became specialised... each Man separated from the world, and perceived life as himself one one side of a line, and everything else on the other side - losing the sense of participating in the world, and feeling more-and-more like a detached observer.

Indeed, matters have reached such a point, that we even feel detached from our own thoughts - that is, the thought in our minds are not regarded as the same thing as our-selves.

The disadvantages of the modern condition are obvious enough - alienation from life, and despair. But the advantages were also perceived by Barfield, drawing from the early work of his master Rudolf Steiner. The key word is freedom. By separating our perceived self from the world, the self becomes free.

The hunter gatherer is hardly free, because he hardly feels himself separate from the flow of the human and other environment in which he lives; and much the same applies to the young child. Modern Man in the Consciousness Soul phase is, by contrast, in a position in which he may becomes free, may be able to stand apart from the influences on his life; and consciously, deliberately, in full self-awareness exercise his divine creativity as a source of original thought, and potentially other actions as well as thought (although Steiner clearly described that it was in Thinking that Man primarily was free).

The equivalent phase to the Consciousness Soul for the developing Man is adolescence; when a man becomes conscious of himself (self-conscious) apart from other people - and this becomes 'a problem'.

As for growing-up into Final Participation; Barfield (and Steiner) would say that this seldom happens in the way that it should - it happens to few people (and only partly and intermittently) and has not yet happened to any human society. Final Participation would be a state of consciousness which retains the autonomy and freedom of The Self (which emerged during the consciousness soul) but returns to a felt-participation-in The World; but a participation of a new type.


The way I envisage Final Participation is that we participate in The World through loving relationships; in the sense that only an autonomous self, distinct from other selves, can love. And this means that in order to participate we must (again) recognise the world as wholly alive and conscious - just as was the case when we were young children, or as did hunter gatherers.

So, we have much to learn from hunter gatherers, and from young children - but not so as we can go back to that form of consciousness, but so that we personally - and also our modern societies - can go forward to Final Participation in which we would have 'the best of both worlds': both and simultaneously the felt-and-lived engagement with the world typical of hunter gatherers and children, and also the freedom and distinct individuality of the Consciousness Soul.

Final Participation, I would therefore regard as the destiny of each Man, and of Mankind as a whole - if we choose to accept it.

Direct Christianity is 'Outsider' Christianity

Past Outsiders have been blocked and trapped by their assumptions: primarily by their belief that Christianity was superseded. This is an error: the future is Christian; and the only relevant question is Christianity of what kind?

In terms of the desired social changes - Outsiders have lacked ambition and radicalism - hopes have seldom been more than keeping society in its basic nature but wanting to make more niches for Outsiders such as themselves - and, of course, according a higher status to Outsiders...

But a society based upon the creative and self-motivated individual would need to be utterly different from any society since the agricultural revolution about 12,000 years ago.

Indeed, a society based on the aptitudes and destinies of individuals would need to be a tribal and familial society - in basic form much like those of hunter-gatherers.

Such a society is the only type which can be natural and spontaneous, which can avoid the alienation inextricable from complex social organisation - specialisation, coercion, planning: fitting people into pre-decided roles...

The difference is that the original hunter gatherer type societies are largely un-conscious; lacking in awareness of their knowledge. Such societies are similar to the life of early childhood in the way that tradition is simply accepted, society is accepted, morality is accepted... indeed such things are not consciously known, there is no awareness of 'religion' or 'law' - for example - these are simply how life is done...

But a future society which would fulfil the hope of Outsiders would - inevitably - be aware of its behaviours; including that all behaviours are partly-given and partly-chosen - that is: humans participate in creating the meaning and purpose of Life.

In effect, the future (the intended or destined future) is that we return to the same kind of spontaneous and natural way of living as in the simplest early societies - yet with the enhanced awareness, knowledge and participation of fully agent individuals.   

(Children and hunter gatherers are hardly aware of themselves as distinct from their societies - but human destiny is to be conscious agents; so the future is of living in 'tradition' as it happens quite naturally, with full awareness and by choice.)

Such a society is not likely to be literate - nor is it likely to have a priesthood - nor rituals; no churches or temples - and presumably no scriptures.

We need to be able to imagine a Christianity which is orally-transmitted; indeed more than this. We should recall that there are immaterial, non-sensory modes of communication; and Christianity can and should be known by such ways (if or when we lived in a higher state of consciousness).

Christ was a fact, a cosmic fact, a living fact - he changed everything, forever...

Therefore, Christ can be known without scripture, and without us being told about him - he can be known directly, and in a way fully adequate to the needs of a Christian life.

If/ when such a time arrives when Men have developed their consciousness to a level that we can simply perceive reality; we will be able to know Christ (rather than merely know-about him). Such a Christianity might be very simple, in some respects perhaps fluid; yet it could be true in all necessary respects, and of immense personal power, because fully experienced.

The Outsider therefore needs to be able to think, to imagine, beyond beyond complexity, organisation, specialisation, books, plans and fixed institutions... beyond what we take for granted (and which will, indeed, be necessary and beneficial for a long time to come, very probably).

We cannot, therefore, root our ultimate convictions in things that may be contingent upon particular and temporary types of civilisation - when the future may well undo civilisation - as something which has served its purpose; and must give-way to higher and better things.  

Direct Christianity and the return of Christ 'in the etheric'

One way of thinking about Direct Christianity is that - in this modern era, and due to the limited scope and corruptions of the Christian Churches - we may experience Jesus directly, that is without the traditional sources of revelation such as church, scripture and practice.

I explored this possibility in a post last summer (before I had developed the idea of Direct Christianity) on Albion Awakening, which I excerpt and edit below:

Rudolf Steiner realised that it was God's hope, and the time was ripe, for modern Western Man to move to a new kind of intuitive spirituality of thinking. It was therefore Man's destiny to move forward from the dominant materialism, and spiritual blindness, of the modern era; and if this happened then there would be new and expanded possibilities of direct, intuitive knowing.

One vital and crucial aspect of this was that If Man developed this new spirituality, Then he would come to experience Christ as a living and active personal presence in the world - not by seeing, hearing or touching Christ in his body (this would have to be an imagined Christ, an hallucinated Christ); but instead by a direct, intuitive knowing of Christ in thinking.

What this means, in practice, is that for modern Man it is more important to become spiritual than to become 'a Christian' because to become a non-spiritual Christian is not enough; while to become truly spiritual will also, inevitably, sooner-or-later, lead to becoming a Christian by direct personal experience.

Could it really be that - here and now, in this modern world - well-motivated sincere spirituality of the true self will lead to true Christianity for any serious, seeking individual, without any other input being necessary?

Yes, I think so.

This sounds outrageous at first; but it is clear that merely 'being a Christian' in the usual sense is not enough now (if it ever was).

Modern Christians are often terribly lacking in discernment, and wide-open to demonic deceptions, corruptions and inversions.

The traditions of the churches are wrecked, Biblical interpretation deeply distorted, philosophy riddled with false assumptions; the general culture is one of lies, ugliness and sin-enforced as virtue; many or most church leaders, priests and pastors are primarily secular Left materialists working strategically to harness Christianity to politics; Good to evil...

There are so few safe and reliable sources of Christianity that it seems we must have direct knowledge of the truth - or else what we learn may be worse than nothing.

Specifically: we need direct and personal knowledge of Christ, or we are lost. 

If that is what we absolutely need, then that is what God will surely have provided.

Because we need direct knowledge of spiritual truths, that is now made available to us; and the method by which this is possible should therefore be our first priority.

Thursday 18 January 2018

Directly-participated Christianity

I have been struggling to find a term to express what I believe is needed in the modern West, here-and-now, for you and me; and the best I came up with was Spiritual Christianity, which I was never happy with since 'spiritual' is such a vague and multi-meaning kind of word.

(And a word that mostly refers to mostly-bad things, and things which are mostly-bad.)

Perhaps Direct Christianity is a better term?

What I am trying to express is that we need to be Christians (first and foremost) - and/ but we need to be Christians whose faith is based primarily upon what is directly-known.

There are two direct sources of knowledge: inspiration and intuition.

Inspiration is direct knowledge of God-without, of God as a separate Being. It is an old form of knowledge - for example Socrates describes very explicitly his inspiration by The God (his daemon, as it is sometimes called). Inspiration may come from prayer, meditation or simply arrive in the mind - the point being that inspiration is experienced as directly knowing the nature, motivations, wishes of God.

Intuition is direct knowledge of God-within, of God within-us - made possible because we are sons and daughters of God, therefore partly divine. Intuition is, I believe, a recent possibility - only possible since we became self-conscious in the modern way - and only made possible by means of the slow developmental-unfolding of the 'cosmic' work of Jesus Christ.

So, Direct Christianity would be something relatively new (only possible at all for a couple of hundred years, and only becoming widely possible more recently) - something that is active and a choice, something only possible by being able to know (consciously, explicitly) the true, divine self we all have-and-are.

For most people, attaining Direct Christianity can only be a goal, gradually and intermittently attained, and of variable strength and intensity. It provides us with the essential experience from which we can learn reality - this learning being a thing that happens at the level of eternal and universal reality (and not within our mortal brains or bodies).

Anyway, the idea is that Direct Christianity is now the primary form of Christianity, and indeed the only truly honest and viable form of Christianity - something which almost all serious Christians actually-do... but more-or-less unconsciously... And to do it un-consciously is not really to do it at all!

What I mean is that to be a serious Christian as a Westerner in The West and Now cannot be the passive and obedient, unconscious and childlike thing that it used to be some hundreds of years ago - and cannot means cannot. Those who think they can, are fooling themselves.

But anyway, we shouldn't want-to - we should want-to move forwards to something better, because more divine, more Christ-like.

Since it can be done - we ought to choose-to do it: but is must be chosen, cannot be compelled.

Note added: If you wonder why I suppose Direct Christianity is possible; one possible answer is that it is necessary. Here-and-now, with psychology, society and churches as they are, it is necessary that we have access to direct and personal forms of guidance - and preferably at least tow such, in case of errors. And because it is necessary, God has ensured it is available. 

Further note: In a simultaneous post, William Wildblood clarifies that (to use the terms above) Inspiration needs to come before Intuition.

Wednesday 17 January 2018

The Five Phases of Life

1. The morning is the time for Primary Thinking - Final Participation. I rise at 5.30 typically; and if any time is going to be possible on a given day to attain this highest (and most divine) of consciousness states, then it is mornings: up until about 10.00 or so. That's when I do my best thinking, by far (assisted by note-taking, the notes generally being discarded soon after) - and when I sometimes feel consciously that I am thinking from my Real Self. This is the time for Intuition (coming from within).

2. From around noon to the evening I am in the mainstream, modern Consciousness Soul state - that is, I am conscious mainly of my-self and more-or-less feel cut off from the world, from other people. And the self I am conscious of is not the real-self but one or another of the superficial and functional selves, learned by interaction with experience, inculcated by The World.

3. In the evenings I tend to sink into the Original Participation - that is an un-conscious, passive state of immersion in The World. I may respond strongly to external situations, arts and people, but in a kind of trancelike and only semi-conscious sort of way. A somewhat 'shamanic' and imaginative state of affairs - and perhaps a time for Inspiration (coming from without).

4. Deep sleep is, of course, wholly passive and completely cut-off. There is no consciousness at all - it is a kind of vegetable life. This is absolutely necessary; but what really is going on, I don't know. To come-out from deep sleep is to feel its importance - clarified, refreshed, re-booted!

5. Dreaming sleep is conscious, but in another place altogether, and another time - a time in which vast amounts of experience may be compressed into very little time-as-measured-during-awakeness. This is a mostly passive consciousness, but in the 'underworld' (something like Jung's collective conscious, or the Ancient Egyptian 'dwat') - and it seems to provide necessary experiences that otherwise I would not have.

As dreaming sleep comes to an end, presumably having done its work, the dreams become repetitive and I then awaken; and it is best if I immediately get up and awaken fully. Dozing on beyond this point is boring, pointless; and sometimes leaves me too dulled ever to properly awaken the next day.

I seem to be stuck with this cycle of activity, purposive consciousness declining through the day, then the two types of sleep; and it is futile and indeed counter-productive to try and fight against it.

Best just to make the most of it...

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Steiner on evil in dreams

People holding the materialistic view of life have no idea to what man is exposed between going to sleep and waking. He is actually exposed to these beings who persuade him in his sleeping state that good is evil, and evil good. The moral order on Earth is bound up with the human etheric body, and when man sleeps, he leaves his moral achievements behind him on the bed. He does not pass over into the state of sleep armed with his moral qualities.

From a 1922 lecture by Rudolf Steiner

This passage, which I encountered in a book collected some of Steiner's writings about sleep, stuck in my mind and triggered reflection on the topic of evil dreams.

Sometimes - quite often - I behave in a evil way during my dreams. In one sense this is hardly surprising, because I (like everybody) have much evil in my heart; so why wouldn't it come-out in dreams?

Furthermore, if dream experience is - as I assume - an aspect of the experience of our mortal lives, then the point is how we respond to these experiences. Dreams may provide experiences which can be good for us, or turned-to good - but which are (thankfully) absent from waking life. If we respond well to these experiences, then we will move towards divinity during our lives (i.e. theosis).

On the other hand, if we respond wrongly, then we will move away from divinity - and this was encouraged by the 'Freudian' idea that the evil we do in dreams is evidence of fundamental hypocrisy, and proof of each of us being 'really' depraved - dreams reveal the true self.

Steiner disagreed:

You may recently have seen in the newspapers some interesting and thoroughly well-founded statistics. It was stated that criminals in the prisons have been found to have the soundest sleep of all. Really hardened criminals are never tormented during their sleep by bad dreams or the like. This only happens when they dip down again into their etheric bodies, for it is there that the moral qualities lie. It can much more easily happen to one who is striving to be moral, that through the constitution of his etheric body, he carries over something into his astral body and is then tormented by dreams as the result of comparatively trifling moral lapses. But generally speaking it is a fact that man does not carry over at all, or only to a very slight extent, the moral constitution he acquires during earthly existence but is exposed during sleep to the beings just referred to.

So, Steiner suggests that spiritual progress during waking life is not carried-over into dreams; indeed there is a sense in which there is a reciprocal relationship whereby the better the waking Man, the more evil he experiences during sleep. (This made me think about how CS Lewis, a good man, was terribly plagued with nightmares.)

But Steiner goes further in attributing some dream evil to demonic (specifically Ahrimanic) beings. He says that awake-good people (at least during this consciousness era) are especially exposed to these ultra-materialistic anti-spiritual beings whose aim is to prevent men taking the next developmental step.

It isn't clear to me from this lecture - but often Steiner sees Ahrimanic beings as providing the challenges and threats - the necessary resistance - which modern man needs in order to grow.

If Steiner's view is broadly-correct, then it seems we must continue to suffer the misery, fear, disgust and shame of evil dreams - for our own ultimate good. The point is not to stop, ignore or be afraid of these dreams; but properly to understand them, and constructively to learn from them.

Monday 15 January 2018

The meaning of Death (and Life)

Some say death is the primary issue for Men - in a sense it is; in another sense our understanding of death is entirely dependent on our understanding of life.

Because how can we have anything meaningful to say about death until after we know what it is? What happens when people die?... Well, the meaning of an individual person's death - its timing and circumstances - surely depends on that what that specific person's life was for.

Any answer to this question of death - what makes a death good or bad - immediately references back to the larger context of life - death happens in a context of first being-alive; so we can't know about death until we know about life, its meaning and purpose; what our life has to do with us.

Neither death not life are abstractions - they come down to personal events. My life is the primary event, my death happens after my life...

We cannot forever keep kicking the can down the road: that is we cannot live on the basis of means being substituted for ends, or by pretending to regard means as if they were ends... I mean it is insane to live 'for' some value like education, fitness, health, money, power... while continually deferring the question of 'for what?'. Education to do what? Getting fit to do what? 

With respect to dying - values such as dignity when dying are obviously usually good - but clearly not absolutes (many valuable things are undignified - like giving birth to a child). Peacefulness when dying... okay, but as-such peacefulness is just an evanescent emotion - it is good to be peaceful so that we can... what?

And that which peacefulness may assist is dependent on the meaning of death, and of life.

Such questions as the meaning of death and life are mainstreamly regarded as unanswerable, or a matter of opinion... But that is to prejudge the issue as meaningless.

To know that they are unanswerable is to assume as a matter of conviction that they have no meaning - if they had a meaning, it could potentially be known and then there would be an answer.

To regard the meaning of death and life as a matter of individual opinion is to assert that there is no meaning - since opinions change, and are manipulable, culturally dependent; most people's opinions are shallow and worthless...

To regard the meaning death and life - My death and My life - as matters of opinion; is to have an already-formed conviction that life is meaningless - and therefore death too. 

Can we, personally, ever know what our own life is for; and therefore potentially understand the meaning of our own death?

To ask that question is to answer yes - implicitly; If there is to be meaning. To have a meaning that we can't possibly know, would be a meaningless situation - which is incoherent.

Yet if knowing the meaning of death and life is important, perhaps vital - why don't we all already know it?

Well, let's say we do already know it - implicitly; and our job is to make this explicit. Part of the meaning and purpose of life (among those of us who are aware of these issues, who think-about these issues) is precisely the becoming-conscious of that which (perhaps) everybody implicitly but unconsciously already-knows.

But why would we have to achieve this, and by effort - over time?

The best reason for a gap between implicit and conscious knowing would be that positive effort over time, decision, choice... was the only way it was possible to achieve conscious knowing.

Could it be that some things can be built-into us; but other things can't - and can only be achieved by our own personal efforts, choices, will etc.

And that life is perhaps (partly, but significantly) about this process of getting-more-conscious?

(I mean my life, not everybody's life who ever lived - including the majority of people who died in the womb or as infants or in other ways. But my life, and yours who read this.)

And conscious about death too? I presume so. Whatever we think about dying needs to be in a context of the meaning and purpose of death; and what we think about dying can only be coherent if there is indeed meaning and purpose to death.

The meaning and purpose of life and death are therefore not abstract - and they are personal. They are personal, but they are a matter of reality, not of opinion.

The reality of meaning and purpose in my life, your life, every life - is there. Meaning is there, whether we know it or not.

And our task (yours and mine - but not everybody's task) is to become explicitly, consciously aware of that reality.

(But whether or not we want-to, or can, communicate that consciously-known reality to some specific other-people, under the prevailing constraints of time, space and personal interest and attitudes... is a very secondary matter.)

Direct knowing (participation) compared with perception, feelings and abstract models

I think we need a metaphysics of direct knowing - so we may escape from the incoherent, self-contradicting, auto-destruction that is modern metaphysics.

(We need not feel guilty of 'wishful thinking' when we reject an inadequate and nonsensical metaphysics! This is something our culture ought to have done 200 years ago, and only eight generations of inattention and inadequate concentration has defended the absolute garbage that passes for 'scientific' or 'rational' or 'realistic' thinking in modern, mainstream public discourse.)

The physical world we learn of by sensory perception - and this imposes itself upon us: perceptions happen-to-us, and we are therefore passive in relation to them. Nonetheless, we also know that sensory perceptions are unreliable (we experience illusions, misinterpretaions, hallucinations etc), and differ between individuals (and within one person, over time) - so sensory perception cannot be a fundamental basis for life.

The world of the body is known by feelings - that is, by our awareness of emotions (emotions being our brain's monitoring of inner body states). Feelings also impose upon us - like perceptions, we are over-whelmed by feelings - we are (mostly) passive in face of feelings. Yet we know that feelings are evanescent - they fade, they change, they are different between different people at different times - feelings cannot be a fundamental basis for life.

Currently, the mainstream highest conscious understanding of things; and the basis for public discourse, is abstract models. Abstract models are simplified and selective simulations of reality - and they are the currency of what passes-for rationality - I mean such word-concepts as the ideals of equality, happiness, suffering; education, wealth, violence; health, justice, virtue... And the models used in managment, science, law, the military etc. In public discourse such abstractions are given 'operational definitions' which we know-for-sure are incomplete/ biased/ wrong... but we treat abstract models asif real because (we are assured) there is nothing else.

(Modern public discourse is intrinsically coercive: based on compulsory assertion that TINA... There Is No Alternative - i.e. no alternative is allowed, no alternative will be taken seriously, any proposed alternative will simply be ignored - the current abstract model is mandatory.)

Thus it is facile to demonstrate that all the current, available bases for public discourse, for Life, are certainly-wrong, and lack any coherent basis - except for the assertion that there is nothing else better.

But there Is something else better; there is a coherent metaphysics which could serve as a solid basis for Life, and for public discourse - which is that there is a single reality that we can each of us know directly.

By directly I mean unmediated - and not by a chain of unreliable perceptions, or by contingent feelings, or by means of incomplete biased models.

Direct, in fact, entails identity - to know directly universal single reality, entails that the knower is (to that extent) joined-with and becomes a part-of that reality. Direct knowledge entails participation in reality... (And this is where Owen Barfield's term comes from.)  

Participation is not with the whole-of reality - but a part of it (real and direct - but partial - participation) ... Thus our direct knowing is real, but (extremely) incomplete and biased... that is, direct knowing is partial, and that partiality is not a microcosm of the whole.

So we have the possibility (by definition, by metaphysical assumption) of real knowledge of reality - real truth; but incomplete and distorted... But over time our knowledge of truth can get greater and we can learn more of the context hence increase its representativeness.

We have a personal perspective, and we have had limited experience; therefore we do not have all truth about everything - and to know fully any specific truth requires knowledge of how it fits into everything...

Different individuals will grasp different portions of the total reality from different perspectives, and with different degrees of completeness - hence disagreement between individuals is to be expected. But over time, individuals will tend (spontaneously) to converge on the single true reality.

Furthermore; although our knowledge may direct and correct, when we communicate this knowedge to others we are back in the realms of perceptions, feelings and abstractions - and this is another source of inter-individual disagreement. 

The above coherent metaphysics is possible - but it cannot be forced upon anybody; it must be chosen.

Metaphysical assumptions cannot ever be proven - they are assumptions (and assumptions are necessary for proof).

Metaphysical assumptions are not supported by evidence, so don't look for any! Because they are assumptions (and assumptions are necessary to define the nature and status of evidence).

So we must choose to assume metaphysics - and when we are contradicting the metaphysics that we have unconsciously-absorbed from society and unthinkingly reproduce - then we must consciously choose our metaphysical assumptions.

This seems strange - it may seem bogus. Because perceptions, and feelings force-themselves upon us - and we are used to being compelled to accept abstract models on the basis that 'there is no alternative' - it seems artificial, contrived, dubious for us consciously to choose-to-assume the fundamental basis of our reality; to assume the nature of reality.

But that is what we must do if we want to have a coherent metaphysics. 

Direct knowing is active, not passive; it is individual not groupish; its objectivity (sameness between individuals) is a product of multiple individual increases in knowing - as they spontaneously converge on the underlying singleness of reality.

When there is (honest and well-motivated) disagreement, the answer is simple: all individuals should attain more knowledge - because as individuals attain more knowledge, they will agree more.

And because communication is inherently indirect; there is an important sense in which each of us must (sooner or later) learn and know for himself.

The future is individual, the future entails greater knowledge, the future is chosen... it is more-and-more conscious. And it is unbounded - since (form our individual finite perspective, and with finite experience) there is always more to know.

Such a Life is intrinsically-creative - because to know is to participate, and all knowing is individual.

Friday 12 January 2018

"Strengthened" thinking and Steiner

The path of attaining to Rudolf Steiner's objective of Pure Thinking, or alert and aware clairvoyance (what Barfield terms Final Participation and I have dubbed Primary Thinking) is something I have often seen described as a practice of 'strengthening' our thinking.

This is usually approached by a series of exercises devised and prescribed by Steiner - which amount to exercises aimed at single-mindedness, concentration and broadening of subject matter.

But, the history of Anthroposophy - including its failure to build on Steiner's clairvoyant ability, the tendency to regard his pronouncements as-if a vast infallible scripture, and to treat the man himself as wholly-well-motivated and wise - suggests that these exercises are a failure. At the very least; the results are slow and modest - and they seem not to lead to a transformation of thinking.

This is because any kind of strengthening can only strengthen what is already-dominant; and the essence of Primary Thinking is to allow the dominance of the thinking of the Real Self. The Real Self may be, perhaps usually is, utterly buried under the thinking ('cognitive processing') multitude of superficial and false selves; inculcated and entrained by modern culture including the need for efficiency and expediency in context of a positivist-materialist society.

I would advocate discarding the language of strengthening, and indeed any 'effortful' attempts at deepening thinking; because the effort is almost-inevitably coming-from and directed-at the wrong thing/s.

There is no need for strength, there is no need for concentration; Primary Thinking is quite natural, it is always going-on - we 'merely' need to attend to it... That 'merely' is in fact usually very difficult to do, but this is not the kind of difficulty that can be overcome by conscious-striving; more by 'allowing'...

Allowing the Real Self's thinking to come to awareness and deciding that its natural and spontaneous thinking is valid. Is - indeed - direct knowledge of reality.

For this there is (sadly?) no 'method' - although motivation is clearly crucial. One who is motivated to attain Primary Thinking for the right reasons, with the right aims, will be able to do so.

It seems to me that emphasis on strengthening, striving, focusing, concentrating etc. almost-always encourages the wrong motives, or perhaps it arises-from the wrong motives in the first place: motives of power and gratification especially.

Direct knowing is available only to one who loves creation and wishes to participate in loving-creation.

Monday 1 January 2018

Polarity and Primary Thinking: Not Process but Provenance

I have belatedly realised (such things always take me a t-herribly long time) that the modern world is being duped - wholesale - by the fake assertion that process is the ultimate source of validity; whereas in fact provenance is the basis of truth...

Allow me to explain... The (modern, fake...) idea is that 'understanding' of something is a matter of being able to describe it in terms of process; and that correct understanding has happened when process leads to predictable outcomes.

So - the modern activity of professional bureaucratic research that calls-itself 'science' claims that valid results are what come-out-of this process of research, and what comes out of this process is intrinsically valid. Science is regarded as The Process.

But, it would be truer to say (although still an abstraction) that science is what comes-out-of scien-tists; that is, out-of individual human creative-beings whose motivation is scientific. Science is what-(real) scientists-do.

Other examples would be my current obsessions of Primary Thinking and Polarity. I have been having difficulties explaining these, including to myself (especially polarity...). And these difficulties are related to my trying to do this explaining in terms of process - which is an abstraction.  I should instead have been trying to understand them in terms of their provenance.

Yet my explicit metaphysical foundation is that ultimate reality is personal, not abstract - my bottom line is that reality is made up of beings (variously alive and conscious beings). Abstractions are therefore merely models - therefore (being models) always simplified and always incomplete and always not-true... no matter how expedient or useful in limited circumstances.

So, trying to explain Primary Thinking in terms of process is always and necessarily wrong - in reality primary thinking is the thinking of that-which-is-primary: i.e. the thinking of our real self, which is a divine self (a son or daughter of God): a self that is in part existent from eternity.

The thinking of this real self is primary thinking - and the validity of the 'products' of divine thinking comes from that provenance: that is from thinking's origin in the real self. Thought that originates-from the real self is valid, and that provenance is what makes thought valid...

And polarity... I have (following Coleridge and Barfield) tried to explain it abstractly, that is as a model... but polarity so-considered is a process; a process consisting of opposed by inextricable centrifugal (feminine) and centripetal (masculine) elements... and so on. And all processes are abstractions, hence wrong.

So, in the end, polarity has not really been understood. And nobody can make a machine or any other model that 'does polarity'... Only beings do it.

Polarity is an abstract model of creativity, and creativity is done by beings.

The ultimate creativity is to create creators - that is, to pro-create, to have offspring. Thus the ultimate reality, of which polarity is merely an abstraction, is the fertile dyad of man and woman; of two complementary beings.

Other types of creativity (literary, scientific artistic etc) are inextricable from the inclusion of beings - a poem without a person to read/ a symphony without someone to hear it... is not a creative product but merely ink marks on paper.

All creativity entails beings. (And beings entail life and consciousness - of some type and degree.)

That is, creativity is also (like polarity, like primary thinking) a matter of provenance, of source and origin...

So, to return to Primary Thinking - we cannot explain it as a process, indeed that is its nature to be inexplicable as a process - else it would not be primary (and instead 'the process' would be primary).

We know primary thinking by knowing that we do it - more exactly, that we have been-doing it: that our real self has-been-thinking. We cannot look-within the process of primary thinking - because primary thinking is what eventuates-from our real self. We know primary thinking by recognising that it has-eventuated - we recognise primary thinking as a product-of our real self, thinking...

Therefore, the deepest understanding is not of (inevitably incomplete and biased) abstract models of processes; but knowledge of the nature of the beings that constitute reality.

Aside: All this is why and how Christians can correctly regard love as primary in God's creation - which would not make sense if ultimate understanding of creation was of the nature of physics or mathematics. Love is primary because beings are primary - thus ultimate reality is alive, conscious, purposive.