Sunday, 15 January 2017

The importance of pilgrimage

An essay from William Wildblood at Albion Awakening:

http://albionawakening.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/pilgrimage.html

I agree - and indeed try to make my holidays into some kind of pilgrimage - focused on a specific act of pious homage to some person whom I admire or place that has personal meaning, when possible; although I don't take this aspect as seriously as I should.

For instance, in 2011 when the family visited Oxford I went to CS Lewis's church in Headington Quarry to see where he was buried (alongside his brother Warnie), attended a communion service and sat in Jack Lewis's regular seat (which was hidden from the pulpit - Lewis used to sneak-out before the sermon, typically). By arrangement, I and a few others were shown around Jack and Warnie's home The Kilns, and wandered the grounds - meditating and reading.

I walked one evening alone to look at Tolkien's two homes in North Oxford, later visited his grave; and one early morning found the graves of Charles Williams and Hugo Dyson.

On a 1998 visit to New England I visited Emerson's house in Concord, and the graves of the Transcendentalists in Sleepy Hollow; and my wife and I walked around Walden Pond very early one Fall morning when nobody else was around. In New Hampshire, we later visited Franconia and Bethlehem - for their connections with Robert Frost.


Saturday, 14 January 2017

The question is not which side will win, but which side you will choose (and how you find the strength of belief necessary for making the right choice)

Wise words, edited from a blog post by John C Wright:

In the Christian worldview, no final victory here in this world is possible, but final victory when the world is remade is inevitable. 

Hence, in Middle Earth, the men of the west struggle onward without any glimmer of hope. The hopelessness of the quest is emphasized in many places (including in the true meaning of Strider’s true name). In Narnia, nothing done by Tirion can halt the Last Battle or the final downfall of night. In both cases, the protagonists are humble: schoolchildren or hobbits... 

For the Christian worldview the question is not which side will win. In Christian stories, evil is strong, but evil destroys itself. The question is which side will the protagonist cleave to

Lucy (particularly in Prince Caspian) was loyal; Edmund was not. Sam was loyal, and gave up the Ring; Boromir was not... 

Another example is the story of David and Goliath. From a pagan point of view, the story of David and Goliath is absurd. Hercules kills giants, not shepherd boys. There is no drama, no conflict, because a boy slaying a giant with a lucky shot is ridiculous. 

But this is a story as oft retold and as dramatic as anything in literature: because the drama is in the fact that the army of professional soldiers, and David’s own older brothers, are terrified, and will not fight, and David will fight. 

There is no mystery as to who will win: God Almighty is on David’s side. The mystery is why and how David finds the strength to believe that impossible, unlikely, unearthly truth.

Read the whole thing at:
http://www.scifiwright.com/2017/01/hope-in-secondary-worlds

Friday, 13 January 2017

The West must awaken Metaphysically - or it will not awaken at all...

Metaphysics is the name for our most fundamental assumptions concerning reality - and the particular horror of modern metaphysics is the pretence that there isn't one.

If there is to be any awakening of The West in general and Albion in particular - the first step is for people to become aware that they have metaphysical assumptions; and like all such assumptions they are assumed - and not, therefore, the consequence of any kind of evidence or proof.

There is no name for the set of assumptions of the modern West - and that is no accident; because the pretence is that we have seen-through metaphysics, and confront 'reality' directly.

We (supposedly) live without illusions, we face the facts, we live according to the bottom-line - we seize the day.

We assume (among other things) that God never was, the soul is a myth, death is utter annihilation, science is the only truth, that Human Life is entirely about maximising pleasure and minimising suffering... and yet we deny that these are assumptions.

*

In my experience there is nothing harder to achieve, than to get somebody-else to acknowledge their assumptions - and that other assumptions are possible!

(This metaphysical awareness is not mainly a matter of high intelligence; it is mostly a matter of attention-span and serious engagement - both of which are even rarer than high intelligence.)

Yet metaphysics is not just another 'relativism' - the fact that we make some assumptions does not mean that any one set of assumptions is just as good (or bad) as any other set of assumptions; because metaphysics is not the deepest we can go.

Beyond metaphysics there is what could be called intuition; by which I mean the ultimate reflective evaluation of our ultimate selves: that which convinces us, that we believe, what strikes us as most valid and true.

(This depends on many possible factors - coherence is one. Simplicity is another; comprehensibility is very important - we need to understand our own metaphysics; appeal is another - what strikes us as good, beautiful and true. But in practice the reasons for evaluation may be unclear and unarticulated: we just know.)

So, if we can excavate, isolate and acknowledge the nature of our metaphysics, then we can validly change it for something better.

We can - we really can! - awaken from the deadly hypnotic trance of modernity; and awaken to a better world - a world of breadth, depth, meaning and purpose.

*

This is important - I would say vital - because it is our metaphysics which is literally killing us in The West.

And the great weakness of Western metaphysics is that it is incoherent - indeed it is self-refuting; because when pushed to the line it claims that incoherence is reality; and the incoherence of metaphysics mirrors the incoherence of Real Life.

(It is this incoherent assertion of incoherence which leads to the claim to have refuted metaphysics; to the claim somehow to have confronted reality directly and unmediated and thereby discovered its incoherence.) 

Yet from this insistence of incoherence, The West derives its tyrannical iron cage of mandatory bureaucratic surveillance and control; and its moralising and immoral mass media - that vast effort at ideological saturation bombing which IS the modern world.

People will not escape this suffocating System merely by discovering its lies, nor even by discovering its incoherence - they will escape by recognising a metaphysics of expanded acknowledgment and perception of realities; of meaning and purpose - and by recognising its validity in the very depth of their intuitive self.

This is the work of an instant! Albeit it may take weeks, months, years of decades to build up to that moment.

But the possibility is always there, and never can be closed-off altogether - or, if it is, we have no-one to blame but our-selves.


'Accountability' is for accountants (only)

Two definitions of accountability - the quick switch...

Our era has been described as The Audit Society, because corporate life is increasingly dominated by accountancy-derived concepts and technologies.

Accountability is one of these concepts - as its name implies. Discourse on the desirability of ‘increased accountability’ has become ubiquitous in political, managerial and even journalistic discourse. Accountability is assumed to be an intrinsically desirable goal, and nobody ever claims that one can have ‘too much’ accountability - the pressure is always for more.

Yet accountability is a slippery rhetorical term with two largely distinct meanings: a sharply-defined technical managerial meaning, and a looser, more general or ‘popular’ meaning. This opens the way for accountability to be used a rhetorically manipulative fashion - by shifting back and forth between technical and general meanings.

In general discourse, accountable means something similar to ‘responsible’, and carries connotations of ‘being answerable-to’. Conversely, to be unaccountable may be used synonymously with ‘irresponsible’ and ‘out of control’. Since responsible behavior is universally approved, then calls to increase ‘accountability’ sound self-evidently desirable.

The technical meaning of accountability in managerial discourse refers narrowly to the duty to present auditable accounts. Originally, this referred to financial documentation that was adequate in terms of completeness and self-consistency - such that it is amenable to the process of cross-checking which constitutes the basis of audit.

The current managerial use of accountability is a direct extension of this financial usage - an accountable organization is one that has the duty to present auditable accounts of its activities - in other words an accountable organization is one that will provide comprehensive and self-consistent documentation of whatever it does.

Only insofar as it is legitimate to assume that the provision of auditable documentation is synonymous with responsible behaviour is there any overlap between the technical and general concepts of accountability.

But the rhetoric of accountability operates on the basis of a ‘quick switch’ between the two. Any individual or organizational problem which can be connected to irresponsible behavior can be termed unaccountable in the general sense - and then the discourse can be switched over to a technical level in which the solution to unaccountable behavior is to set-up regular audit cycles that require comprehensive and self-consistent documentation of that behavior.

Behavior may be rendered technically ‘accountable’ even when the real world behavioral problems that led to the introduction of audit are unchanged or exacerbated.

Now that this model of accountability has become habitual, it is able to generate problems of technically ‘unaccountable’ behavior, even when there is no evidence that actual behaviour has been irresponsible.

There is a profound circularity about this reasoning. Accountability involves an assumed model of how organizations ought to operate, and how individual judgment should be regulated within these organizations.

The drive for 'increased accountability' may therefore operate as an excuse to justify managerial takeover.

Behavior is labelled as unaccountable (hence unacceptable) simply because it is not subject to managerial control, and this is taken (by managers and politicians who wish to control this behavior) to imply a need to introduce audit systems. Audit systems may then be set-up to advance the interests of those who have introduced them.

For instance, many University academics retain significant autonomy in their work, exercising independent judgment over such matters as hour-by-hour time-allocation, teaching style and content, and the subject matter of personal research. Such autonomy has - over many years and in many cultures - proved to be the only way to generate and maintain high academic standards.

However, this autonomy poses a serious threat to political control, since there is no formal mechanism by which academic behaviors can be managed. The concept of accountability provides the answer. If typical academic behaviour can be labelled as technically ‘unaccountable’, and if ‘unaccountable’ is regarded as unacceptable by definition, then there is a perfect rationale for introducing a formal system of monitoring and control.

Someone might be a brilliant and popular University teacher, a first-rate researcher of international reputation, a diligent administrator, and employed by a prestigious university - but technically such a person is ‘unaccountable’ when there are no formal institutional mechanisms for monitoring, documenting and regulating behavior.

Autonomy is re-packaged as irresponsibility while subordination of employees by top-down and hierarchical control mechanisms is restated in terms of ‘increased accountability’.

**

Edited from an book chapter of mine from 2002, entitled Audit, Accountability, Quality and All That.
https://www.hedweb.com/bgcharlton/audit.html

The music of creation, and our part in it - from William Arkle

The writer is our Father in Heaven addressing us, his children, by means of an imaginary letter ...

Another question you would surely like to ask me, is why I should need so many children around about me in this creative scheme of mine. Why would not, say, twenty or fifty be enough?

To begin with you do not yet know the depth of my nature. You do not yet know just how much I have to give. If what I had to give were just a simple thing it would not require an elaborate situation to give it in, but what I have to give is most elaborate, and so, to create the necessary width of understanding, I need to find expression for all my qualities, and lay them all out for you to see.

As many of these qualities have to be lived, so I need many different children to live amongst one another.

My plan of creation is vast in your sight because my being is vast also, but do not let that be a cause to think that any of you do not matter to me; you matter to me all as individual children and also as players in my play. If you do not play your part, who is to do it for you? No one can, and it thus leaves a gap.

You are all players in my orchestra, and I cannot make the sounds I had hoped for if any of you are unable to play the individual parts that make up the whole piece of music.

But my orchestra is not like yours. In my orchestra no two parts are the same but they are all needed to make up the true beauty of the sound I have visioned.

I need a large family because I need to express a large number of characters, so do not think only of rushing to my heaven, for it is not necessarily in heaven that you will be able to learn the part you have to play.

When you think of my music, try to remember that it is a continuous creation and not a single piece that is to be repeated. I have no desire to repeat my music, rather do I spin it newly all the while, so what you add to it now, and at any other time, is continually affecting the performance.

You and I are making this music now, and each of your sounds is valuable to the effect, and I am the one who all the time gathers them in and weaves them together into a whole of constantly changing music.

Thus I even make use of the discordant sounds since they all express in some way the reality of the complete situation.

Not that I would have you think that I sit back and coldly 'conduct' this music, or feel any pleasure from discordant notes. I am doing many things at the same time in ways that you would not yet understand, and each discordant note pulls at my heart and my sympathy.

My music is not made to entertain, it is the expression of our endeavour, and effort, and suffering, woven together with the beauty of the beginning and the end.

It is this very music that I use to order and adapt my school of living to the needs that I sense in it. The music reports to my sensitive ear the exact condition of my whole work and my nature responds to its beauty and its needs.

Edited from Letter from a Father (1973) by William Arkle:
http://williamarkle.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/letter-from-father-by-william-arkle.html


Gryphon - Mid-seventies early music/ folk to progressive rock

Aide from Steeleye Span, my favourite group of 1974 was certainly Gryphon; a four peice band with recorders, crumhorns and bassoon, guitar and percussion - who performed mostly Medieval and Tudor music with a folky verve and humour;  and some jazzy improvisations



Including 'Mummerset' accents and musical jokes:


In the late spring of 1974 I saw the my Dream Team combination of Gryphon supporting Steeleye Span at the Colston Hall in Bristol - maybe the best concert ever, for me?

Within a year - as seemed to happen a lot in the seventies, Gryphon had brought in electric guitars  'progressed' towards rock music - and were involved in providing music for the Royal Shakespeare Company Tempest production - leading to perhaps their loveliest achievement - the title track from the second album Midnight Mushrumps.



And in less than a year from MM, the 'progression' of Gryphon had essentially left-behind their early selves and they became a pure rock band, at which point I lost interest.

But the first album and about half of the second one, remain firm favourites - and the abiding image or vision of an exceptional group of highly musical young men having fun:






Thursday, 12 January 2017

Reverse engineering reality - how to behave well even when you do not know what is really going-on

If you know the intentions and motivations of some person or institution - and what they want you to do and not-to-do - then you should be able to infer enough of what is really going-on behind the scenes (behind the smokescreen of misleading, hype, spin and outright lies - cunningly selected and mixed with a few truths and facts)... that you can make the right decisions, despite considerable ignorance.

The problem is that we almost-never know the 'whole story' of what is really going-on. Mostly this is just impossible because so many things are secret, complex, remote, inter-related - and of course because in a world of dishonesty nobody knows what is really going-on (including because people, and intuitions, are lying to themselves - all the time).

But not knowing the whole, true story is no excuse for not doing the right thing - especially in a society so polarised as this one! We should not delay nor wait for 'more evidence' or 'future research' before knowing the right course. We should not 'give the benefit of the doubt' to those we know to be (overall) wickedly-motivated.

In an evil context, delay = collaboration with evil; agnositicism = cooperation with evil.

Typically, we already know enough to act well. 

Because when we know that some person or group has malign intentions towards us - or simply malign intentions in general - then we can be sure-enough that what they really want us to do is what we should not do; and vice versa

For example, when the Chinese communist dictatorship encouraged intellectuals to 'let a thousand flowers bloom' by speaking freely and openly about their most radical ideas; this was in order to identify and eliminate dissidents. As a malign ideology, what they wanted was bad for Good people.

And when Western progressives suddenly expressed an intense interest in 'preventing bullying' in schools by setting-up all sorts of new surveillance and monitoring systems, what they really wanted was to enforce political correctness and the sexual revolution.

Of course, if they know we are assuming the above, they may try to bluff us by asking us to do what they do not want us to do, and forbidding exactly what they most want us to do. But this is usually not possible - and can be a strategic disaster. 

And, at the point of contact between the individual and the malign oppressor, it is usually clear (perhaps on reflection) what they really want us to do (although they will typically attempt to disguise this by re-framing and misdirection).

When (as often and increasingly happens) we are asked to sign-up for some new project or campaign to raise awareness of this or encourage that; to protect this or suppress that; to raise-funds-for or subsidise this - alternatively to defund or to tax that - then it should be clear enough what is really going-on that we know what we ought to do.

And the same applies to slippery slopes. Minor 'reforms', presented as merely a regularisation of the existing state or voluntary or too trivial to become bothered-about; should be assume to be 'stalking horses' strategically directed as major, mandatory and harmful changes; when they emanate from sources we know to be malign.

It really isn't all that difficult - if we allow ourselves to notice and respond to our innate discernment.

And our first duty is not personally to support - with our own efforts, money and cooperation - that which we believe to be evil-in-intent.

Enough people behaving this way would make positive changes happen - very rapidly; without any need for planning or organisation. It is something everybody could, and ought-to, do.


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

We *must* discern angels from demons (despite our fallibility) - we cannot opt-out of this

Ultimately, everything depends on discernment - by which I mean the capacity to evaluate and distinguish-between Good and evil.

Yet discernment cannot be done on objective grounds, but must be done by inference.

And our ability to discern is fallible - we can be fooled, we can fool ourselves, we can mistake expediency for Goodness (or, indeed, suffering for Goodness)... there is no reliable and valid method of discernment.

As an example of the situation we find ourselves in, I will use the discernment between angels and demons (who can simulate or impersonate angels).

1. We cannot do without angels - by which I mean that they influence us and the world, and if we choose to ignore this influence then this is a self-blinding against a vital aspect of reality.

Since we are not meant to ignore (=deny the reality or significance of) angels - we must discern them from demons.

Ignoring the whole issue is therefore not a 'safe option' - we need to discern.

2. It is difficult to discern angels from demons. There are no objective, measurable, publicly-agreed criteria (e.g. demons may appear and beautiful and feign to be Good; angels may be tough or even harsh in their actions or advice, because they understand more and see further).

3. Although we cannot discern objectively or reliably; because we need to discern, we can assume that we can discern - since God is both our loving Father and the creator.

4. How then are we 'supposed to' discern angels from demons if both our intellect (mind) and instincts (gut-feelings) are so prone to error as to be all-but useless?

The answer is by The Discernment of the Heart.

This is something that in some ways we do naturally - but we tend to over-ride it with intellect and/ or instincts; and we also need to learn to distinguish and comprehend it.

The discernment of the Heart is possible because it was built-into us by God, as our ultimate and bottom-line guidance. As such it is immune to distortions of logic' or 'evidence' and to emotional manipulations - it is reliable and true; but the 'flip side' is that the signal is so simple and pure that it is hard to justify, indeed sometimes it is hard even to notice the evaluation of the Heart among the noise and distraction of the world and our minds and bodies (and the deceptions of demons!)...

(Because it has no method or measure, the discernment of the Heart is also easy to deny in a materialist society such as this one.)

5. The situation is: we must discern, we can discern, but we will err in this - not by error of discernment, but by ignoring, over-riding, or being unable or unwilling to detect this discernment of the Heart.

6. Therefore we must discern, we will err; and therefore we must be ready and willing to repent.

7. This, then, is the Human Condition. This is our destiny and path and how we are meant to live.

The 'set-up' is that:

1. we must discern
2. we will err
3. we need to repent

This is - broadly - how we need to approach matters such as angels, demons, religious experiences, signs of the Holy Ghost, the evaluations of truth and holiness, the validity of theories (including theologies), books (including scriptures), institutions (including churches) and persons (including leaders and teachers).

Fairy Tales are real: more real than (modern) real life

Fantasy fiction (Fairy Stories) may currently be the only source of sustained and convincing ‘good metaphysics’ available to many people in The West: our only access to the eternal truths of real reality – as contrasted with the despair-inducing, hope-less, meaningless, purposeless fake-realities of modern life.

From my new essay published at L Jagi Lamplighter's 'Superversive' (i.e. the opposite of 'subversive') blog:

http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/2017/01/10/on-fairy-stories-and-why-they-matter 

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Triple moonbow - was it really there?

Not what I saw - but similar

I just saw a triple moonbow, or moon halo - a rainbow around the gibbous moon (apparently caused by the refraction of ice crystals in high cirrus clouds) - It took about five minutes before I began to see the third faint circle (and five minutes later it was gone).

All the time I was looking at the rainbow I was thinking of Owen Barfield's question - Is it really there?




Brexit is much more hope-full than Trump - and also more likely to fail

My interpretation of divine destiny is that we - in England, Britain, The West - are supposed to move forward to a new kind of Christian society different from both the present secular Leftist modernity and the preceding traditionalist religious societies.

If traditional society was, in essence, the immersion of individuals in a public realm of religious practices (with little self-awareness in distinction from society); the aim is, I believe, a society which takes the increased self-consciousness and individual agency (i.e. personal freedom) of modernity and joins-us-together into a voluntary network of loving relationships.

So, if the traditional past had us as something like young children in an ideal family - dependent, and primarily obedient; in the future we are supposed to be something more like the grown-up (fully agent) adult children in an ideal family.

Therefore, I judge current events by their potential for this next (and final) step in the evolution of consciousness and Christian love.

*

From this perspective Brexit (understood as a popular aspiration, rather than the specific vote which revealed it) potentially represents something altogether new; whereas Trump is much more like going-back to an earlier era.

Post-Brexit, England is in a high risk but high reward situation - which may well lead to nothing at all but might be the start of something very good.

Whereas Trump is quite likely to lead to several immediate benefits; but is - at best - essentially business-as-usual from a few decades ago, with a strong (albeit eccentric) Establishment/ Leader figure (and other major social institutions) at the helm.

(The secular Left nature of Trump and his administration can be seen from the key litmus test of being pro the sexual revolution - the sexual revolution having been the primary ideological battering ram of the secular Left for the past 50 years.) 

The power structure and trends (and materialist metaphysics) remain intact - and secular Leftism will resume from the new reset-point.

*

The weakness of Brexit is therefore also its strength. The weakness is that there is no leader, and indeed no leadership class (what little, mostly simulated, leadership there was during the Brexit campaign has either melted away or been swiftly neutralised by the Establishment: corrupted or crushed).

Hence Brexit seems likely to fail in the short term - but if it does not fail then we have something very positive and hope-full for the long term.

Brexit is almost purely a consequence of invisible, politically-powerless people - it is a leaderless movement, unarticulated - unpredicted and unpredictable, undetected and unmeasurable; and apparently utterly uncomprehended and uncontrolled by the major social institutions.  

The nature of Brexit is a consequence of the extremity of corruption in Britain; where the Establishment is so totally-dominant among the leadership of all major institutions (which are now thoroughly assimilated and inverted) that they monopolise all leadership and public discourse.

Therefore in Britain change will have to come (if it comes at all) by some wholly-novel 'mechanism' - based upon a mass of individual 'awakenings' - each of which is very private, very autonomous, against-the-odds - and very difficult, therefore, either to control or to extinguish.

*

If the underlying social change represented by Brexit gathers strength, then it would have its effect (at least initially) either invisibly or negatively - since it lacks explicit and recognised representation.

Of course there may be, I hope there is, a small and organised core of honest and competent leadership for the Brexit movement - but this would be secondary; it would have to be secondary, or else Brexit would quickly and easily be snuffed-out.

*

How is positive change even possible under a Brexit scenario? Well, modern society requires, and gets, a truly massive degree of self-policing, self-control, self-punishment - whereby the mass of people have been ideologically inverted into active support of evil (of nonsense and lies enforced as truth; ugliness as beauty; and wickedness as virtue - and vice versa).

This is done by the people, to the people - because it is expedient when Life is regarded relativistically, materialistically, and as terminated by death.

But if people have, as individuals, awoken to a new metaphysical awareness - that is, a new system of assumptions which they know from-themselves - then individuals become agent; and immune to the divide-and-rule system of control.

*

A system of true and self-aware agents would be new; and impossible to control - except by enrolling agency to positive goals - presumably by Love.

At present, modernity denies genuine agency, and indeed real-reality. If this changes - then everything changes. Inexorably, unstoppably, bottom-up.

And Christian agency (assuming that is what eventually emerges) just keeps bouncing back - no matter how many errors and failures it suffers, it cannot be demoralised because of the infinite power of repentance.

When Christian agency is sustained even in the absence of a strong, honest and true church and institutional leadership - then it indomitable; and indeed is all-but indestructible (in the eternal perspective).


Notice of Rogue One: a Star Wars Story

[No spoilers]

I went to see this movie with my son - and I knew nothing much about it except what I saw in the trailer and that John C Wright had said it was good.

http://www.scifiwright.com/2016/12/rogue-one-spoiler-free-review

I agree with JCW - Rogue One is good!

I liked the spirit behind the film - its confidently measured build-up; the cast of characters and their development; the fact that the action scenes (fights etc) were the proper length (having been skilfully constructed and edited by criteria related to dramatic effectiveness), and not drawn-out and artificially-extended, as is usual with such things .

And most of all I liked the spiritual dimension which underpinned it and was referenced throughout - this made the film be 'about' more than just an adventure.

Perhaps because of the somewhat Zen-Buddhist-like spirituality, the overall plot of the movie was very unusual, and often surprising - the only other films with this feel and dramatic shape that I have seen were by the great Japanese director Kurosawa.

I can see why Rogue One was a box office success - it is an excellent movie. But what is more important, I think it is likely to be - overall - good for the audience. Timely - one might say.

Well done to the people who made it!


Monday, 9 January 2017

The Way of Repentance via strict honesty, judged in an ideal context

Given that we nearly always fail in this world (e.g. see previous post about how we fail to live in a higher conscious state in the mainstream modern life of work and society)... given this endemic failure, our way must be a Way of Repentance.

In other words, the spiritual path is one where we recurrently recognise our failures; and (I would add) this recognition can potentially be attained by a strict and never-ceasing honesty.

We need to recognise that in normal discourse there is (intrinsically):

1. Simplification
2. Selection - in terns both of narrowness and short-termism
3. Bias
4. Wrong motivations (false aims)

The key is to recognise the deficiencies of routine discourse in terms of truth and reality: not true (not even trying to be true) and not embedded in reality (but only in a micro-operational reality, such as bureaucratic imperatives, or here-and-now social advantage or harmony).

Truth and reality are understood in the most total and ideal fashion - truth in terms of the wholeness of validity in every respect (anything short of which, must be recognised as a pragmatic, short-termist 'model' or hypothesis of unknown validity) - and a reality which encompasses divinity and eternity; (including God the creator and divine parent, post-mortal life, and our ultimate destiny and desire to become fully divine sons and daughters of God).

Everything ought to be seen in this perspective - and since this rarely happens we must explicitly notice, acknowledge and repent the failure. We must therefore respond to our deficiencies, and the deficiencies of everyday life and discourse as judged against this ultimate standard.

This implies we should not let any falsehood pass without noting it.

This absolutely requires us to interrupt every conversation or process whenever any such dishonesty (failure of honesty) becomes apparent - explicitly to note this dishonesty.

(It is the difficulty of doing this which holds us back. It is this habit which we need to inculcate in ourselves; by intent and then by practice.)

For instance, any and all questions (or required responses) that are framed in narrow, biased, false-motivated terms should not be answered without explicit reference to the falsehood of the situation.

For example, false statements should be noticed for what they are - eg intentionally deceptive, a screen for bad motivations, or simply hypothetical models which are known (for sure) to be grossly-simplified: selective, distorted, short-termist hence not-true (at best pragmatic means to a proximate end - which must be evaluated for its compatibility with the ultimate end of Life).

So first we experience honesty - in private, and in solitude and detachment - this enables us to recognise the basic situation...

This Way of Repentance is both very positive and motivating, and also starkly realistic.

It is positive in the sense of the fact that by repentance we are continually escaping the narrow and deadly constraints of 'the iron cage of bureaucracy', and the triviality and exploitativeness of normal social life; and on the other hand it is extremely humble in that we are forced continually to recognise our failures: our pervasive, recurrent, and impossible to avoid failures

The limited scope of meditation - bad habits of thinking

There is a striking gulf between what is possible in meditation and in the rest of life of social living and work.

In meditation we may achieve a pure, clear thinking - independent of our sensations and perceptions; and experience an intuitive knowledge of truth and universal reality - but it is astonishing how little impact this has on social/ work life - indeed, it seems often to have no impact at all.

And if our social/ work life is operating at an unsatisfactory level of shallowness, alienation, purposelessness... then it is clear that progress made during meditation may have essentially zero benefit on the rest of life.

Higher states of consciousness are contextual - bad habits are stronger than spiritual insights.

The social milieu (with its materialism, nihilism, despair...) is stronger than our individuality. When immersed in the stream of life we are overwhelmed - the rush and strength of phenomena and events quite overwhelm the practices we have attained during solitary and detached meditation.

We then live unspiritually, we live merely in automatic responses to stimuli - our behaviours merely effects of external causes; our very thoughts seem caught up by stuff we experience through the senses.

On the one hand static detached meditative thought and some sense of spiritual progress - on the other hand simply automatic functioning as a puppet of social and media life and the constraints of work and survival...

So we find many people who have put considerable sincere effort into meditative spirituality (or prayer, or study of scriptures or the practise of religion...) who strike us, in normal life and social or work-interactions, as spiritually just like other people - indistinguishable...

We perceive no special depths in them, no spirituality, no holiness. All their meditation (prayer, study, practices) seem like a complete waste of time: ineffectual, self deceieving...

And - much worse - the same applies to ourselves - in our mainstream normal discourse and behaviour we perceive no depths, spirituality or holiness in ourselves! Our meditative self is aware that our everyday 'personality' is shallow and materialistic, just like everybody else!

We imagine we are acheiving a better, higher, more spiritual state - but 'real life' suggests we are deluding ourselves.

Can anything be done? Yes - but clearly it is difficult: clearly it is very difficult indeed - much, much harder than most people make-out; and only few people have ever gone any way towards overcoming it.

Our ai is to become one of those who are deep, spiritual, holy in the mainstream, everyday, social and working life - transformed right down to the small mundane details, the instant 'automatic' responses, the fine grain of functionality.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Patrick Harpur - interview


Good interview with Patrick Harpur - an English scholar and writer whose wide-ranging work is worth exploring.


Friday, 6 January 2017

Britain's best future already exists in the national unconsicous - Owen Barfield in 1940

If you are convinced that it is well for a man, or it may be a nation, to make something, there are two possible ways of imparting the conviction to him.

You may convince him by argument that such a thing, if made, would be a good and useful thing. That is one way.

On the other hand you may say: “This thing already exists, potentially, and is merely waiting to be brought into visible being. Moreover it is your true nature to make it, because its archetype already exists in you. If you fail to make it you will be acting in a way that is fundamentally false: you will be a sort of hypocrite.”

Now I believe that this second method is the only one which has any chance of success to-day. I also believe that it is inherently a better method, because for one thing it is in harmony with religious faith. Ethics are concerned with what ought to be, where religion is concerned solely with what is.

It is, for instance, not a religious appeal to say “You ought not to be acquisitive,” whether or no we add “because in that way peace will be secured.” It is a religious appeal to say: “It is the will of God that you should not be acquisitive,” whether or no we add “and you will find that it is really your own will also, the will of that true self of yours for whose salvation Christ died.”

The question is, therefore, is there any chance of producing by this second method a widespread conviction in the minds of English people that it is their urgent business to create a new society? In attempting to answer this question one naturally asks first, whether attempt has ever been made before.

A century ago a great man was writing in this country on social change and political questions... Coleridge saw that a new society was needed in Europe and that it could only be brought about by a change in people’s ways of thought and feeling. He virtually foresaw, as the inevitable result of habits of thought which were then comparatively new but were rapidly becoming prevalent, the very disintegration which we are now experiencing. He chose the second method of appeal.

Coleridge tried to familiarise English people with the notion that there is what he called the “idea” of a nation, a constitution, a church – that is, not a theory of these things worked out empirically, but something which they are in fact and in the nature of things striving to be; and that the first problem is to recognise this “idea” in each case.

He failed to “get it across” -- it was beyond his, probably beyond any man’s, powers and he never won more than a small audience. The failure was disastrous because for anyone who will first take the trouble to master Coleridge’s system of thought these writings of his contains a depth of Christian political wisdom which I believe to be unsurpassed by any other English, possibly by any other, thinker.

Is there any better prospect of success to-day? I believe there may be... People have gradually acquired the habit of referring in the most matter of fact, even glib, way to this particular aspect of the “unmanifest.” To this extent we are all accustomed to “moving about in worlds not realised”.

This fact seems to me to create a totally different situation; so that, if Coleridge were here to-day, he would fine exactly what he formerly lacked, a point of contact with the minds of his contemporaries from which at least to make a start.

Am I making my suggestion at all clear? What I want to get at is that the true form of the society which Britain ought to create already exists potentially in the nation’s unconscious; and that an appeal which proceeds on that basis stands the best chance of success.

Edited from Effective Approach to Social Change - Owen Barfield - 1940
http://www.owenbarfield.org/effective-approach-to-social-change

**

Note: This seems an inspiring and energising insight into the nature of desirable social change; and how we ought to set about inducing it.

(And also - very helpfully - what not to do!)

Quiet - too quiet? Something seems to have changed since Christmas... Spiritual revival?

Things are quiet - much quieter than usual.

From where I sit and walk; there aren't many people out and about. Not many cars, not many shoppers. Internet activity seems sharply diminished - at least, I suddenly have significantly fewer daily page views, and the blogs I look-at have fewer comments. The so-called 'news' seems to be even more content-free than usual...

Apparently, something has happened. What?

My hope is that this represents a withdrawal by many individuals, a withdrawal from the mainstream, virtual reality, media, bureaucratic Matrix-world... that people are making a bit more un-structured time for that most hope-full of all activities: thinking for themselves.

At any rate, this kind of change was what I predicted would need to be one of the first signs of a spiritual revival in the West:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2016/11/signs-of-spiritual-revival-what-to-look.html

What is my reason for saying that agency/ free will entails uncaused causality? Some notes...

My answer is metaphysical - that is, a matter of primary assumptions.

It is that agency is a divine and indivisible attribute. (Coleridge/ Barfield is clear that some things which can be distinguished - discussed separately - such as existence and agency - cannot be divided: this is a characteristic of 'polarity'.)

Indeed, one of the very primary attributes, maybe even the most important.

*

I therefore think of agency as a primary attribute of the essence of the self that - from itself - it can originate. What does agency originate? Thought.

(This derived from Rudolf Steiner's Philosophy of Freedom.)

So the agency we are concerned with is thinking (not doing stuff, not actions).

Some thinking is just a consequence of previous causes; but when it is divine, our thinking is an aspect of our primary essence. This is possible because we are - by origin - eternal intelligences: i.e. divine. This is what makes agency possible.

So, from eternity we have existed and had thoughts originating in our selves. I imagine, as a picture, an immaterial thinking entity; thinking things from itself, not in response to anything at all - this thinking entity would still have thoughts even if nothing else existed.

From this primal state, we have been built-up by the agency of the creator and by various accumulations and modifications - but everything ultimately depends on the fact that we are micro-gods by origin, generating our own realities by thinking. This also means that thinking (cognition) is primary, comes first for us as individuals.

*

The above is, of course, a pluralistic universe, because there are many other entities in the same basic situation; including God. God's role is therefore 'secondary' for us - we do not depend on God either for our primary existence or for agency/ thinking; but of course without God is a very simple state of aloneness.

One consequence is that rejection of God could mean simply declining to 'join' the shared and complex created reality - the economy of love - which was made by God - and this choice is not necessarily evil: we could choose silence, simplicity, aloneness, lack of self-awareness - just being, in our own world of thinking.

*

Often, in not understanding the possibility of agency/ free will, people are making a metaphysical assumption which is dominating.

Something like: everything that happens must either be caused by something else or just happen for no reason, 'randomly'.

But this does not exhaust all possibilities, and indeed is probably not a natural or spontaneous way of thinking. Indeed, randomness doesn't really make sense at all, at any level. It is just a pragmatic mathematical tool.

So, to simplify, most people are probably assuming that everything which happens is caused; a consequence of something else, back to infinity...

But then that doesn't make sense either - as Thomas Aquinas perceived. An infinite regress means that nothing could ever happen, or else everything just makes a gigantic circles of causes.

So, neither randomness nor all actions being consequences of prior causes is imaginable.

*

The way out of this impasse is probably by imagination - if an alternative can be imagined then he can be felt as real.

 If a self can be imagined that is a real self (and not just consequences) then it must have the power to be an uncaused case (a first mover).

Such primary causes must be the causes of everything - I don't see that there just has to be one such cause (God) - rather I think the totality is full of such first causes (pluralism) - these are why things happen rather than nothing.

This is a situation I feel I can imagine, which is why it satisfies me. Therefore I accept it as assumption.

By contrast, universal causality, or randomness, don't make sense to me.

The basic problem here is how to do metaphysics, how to evaluate rival metaphysical assumptions...

I don't think we can go deeper than what we can imagine: imagine in a thorough kind of way, when giving it our best shot.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

The world of thinking

http://blogs.ft.com/photo-diary/tag/northumberland

As I stood and looked at the stars; I had an insight that the world of thinking was the primary world -- Not that it was the only world: not solipsism nor idealism: not that the material is unreal...

But that the proper place and destiny is known in the mode or realm of thinking. And only there (in its fullness).

That in thinking I was divine, and that in thinking there were no limits on knowing.

(In practice thinking is partial, distorted, limited - but in principle there is no barrier or constraint on knowledge.)

Of course, love comes before all - and love is also in thinking: love is active and binding in thinking; and this is why I felt such happiness there-and-then. And this love includes those who have died or are estranged: that is a measure of the boundless power of thinking.

But is thinking good? - Is it always and necessarily good?

Well, it may be contaminated with falsehood, resentment, despair etc - which all amount to the failure of thinking. Because thinking of the kind I mean is intrinsically pure, real, good - its concepts are universal and eternal truths.

Anything which is known in the light of pure, real eternal truth is itself true.

That is exactly how we know truth.

(We don't know truth from facts - we know facts from truth)

And understanding of facts (not their 'factual nature') is then the quest.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Moth Attack!

For the second time in two years (and never before in my life), I have suffered moth attack - so that three out of five of my woolen pullovers have a ragged hole in them.

But how? I threw-out fully half my wardrobe and washed all the rest; we found a horrendous nest-origin among an old, semi-hidden box of wool and knitting needles; we wiped, hoovered, swabbed and sprayed - We felt safe...

But... Last week. Again.

Eventually under the wardrobe I found a small, felt, Tyrolean hat I had kept as a memento from childhood; and inside was an horrendous moth headquarters and fortress. It had lain there, secretly incubating for two years.

So now, at last, we are All Clear.

Or are we?...

The Butterfly Effect is (metaphysical) nonsense with near-zero real-world relevance

Well, it is. And the reason is that the initial intervention is assumed to be uncaused - hence undetermined - while everything after that point is assumed to be determined (albeit in a non-linear fashion).

So, the flapping of a butterfly's wings is implicitly supposed to be uncaused - by the free will and agency of the butterfly; but from the moment those wings have flapped there is assumed to be no further agency, but events unroll inevitably (e.g. toward a hurricane somewhere else...). 

This bizarre assumption probably comes from the origins of the Butterfly Effect in computer programming - including analogue computing: the programmer (implicitly assumed to be an undetermined agent) stands outside the system he is manipulating, but his set-up and interventions unroll deterministically.

In the real world, however, the validity of the Butterfly Effect depends on agency. In the first place, the Butterfly wing-flap may not be an act of agency, but may itself be a determined consequence of prior causes - in which case, the Butterfly wings do not cause anything at all - they are merely one link in a multi-factorial causal chain of unknown origin.

On the other hand, if the Butterfly Wing-flap was due to Butterfly agency, hence uncaused; then we have acknowledged the reality of agency in the world, and cannot afterwards coherently assume that agency is necessarily absent from the system from that point (i.e. we cannot assume that the entirely of the system is deterministic if the programmer is not).

(In computer programming terms, if the initial programmer has the free will/ agency needed to set-up a deterministic system and set it into motion; then other programmers may be a part of the system and divert it unpredictably (because interventions were uncaused) - or further programmers may intervene from outside the system to make changes to the outcome.) 

In a softer version; the Butterfly Effect is mistakenly used to refer to the ancient observation that small causes may have large outcomes, and large outcomes may depend on small causes; as in the old nursery rhyme 'For want of a nail' - which traces the death of King Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth to the lack of a single horseshoe nail.

But even here, the Butterfly Effect gets misused and generally misleads. What is valid about the Butterfly Effect is to explain one reason why empirical and statistical methods that work well over the short term become worthless, rapidly as the timescale is extended. The longer-term is therefore either unpredictable; or else requires the measurement of entirely different variables.

For example weather forecasting, in the UK, sometimes works well over a few hours or a day, based on measures such as wind speed and direction and satellite pictures (and predictive programming); but becomes useless over a few days, and is worthless for medium- and long-term forecasting. Medium/ Long term forecasting either can't be done at all, or seems to be done better by focusing on different measures; for example the activities and doings of the sun and moon, somewhat as Piers Corbyn does. And the worthlessness of standard weather forecasting methods for medium/ long term forecasting based-on wind etc is utterly unaffected by the use of ever bigger superexpensive supercomputers (which are periodically successfully demanded by the state funded forecasting services, and which never work because they never can work). 

On the whole, however, it is clear that the Butterfly Effect has approximately zero real-world relevance or validity - whether defined strictly, or as the term is used in pop culture.