Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The necessity of intuition - the corruption of instinct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, 20 May 2018

Destiny versus Progress

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

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

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

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

But they are wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Why was Jesus 'The Word'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 10 May 2018

We already know 'everything' - childhood beliefs and wishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

The meaning of 'spiritual'

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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