Sunday, 24 May 2020

Father Christmas and Final Participation

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

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

How can we get back to that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, 26 March 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Jesus as God and Man - Original and Final Participation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 5 March 2020

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

A Being exists through time, and undergoes transformations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Steiner's autobiography

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The type is surely familiar to most people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 21 February 2020

Evolution of consciousness without reincarnation - but how?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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