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We shall not cease from exploration

Posted on 24 November 2016, 18:18

We shall not cease from exploration,
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.
~ T. S. Eliot

For example, from childhood this writer was obsessed with the idea that you could prove the existence of God and the spiritual world through the study of telepathy, an obsession which continued into his thirties. Widening the scope of the obsession, at university he studied philosophy and psychology, wrote a long thesis on the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber and his inspirational book, I and Thou. He studied for an honours degree in theology. He read widely in parapsychology, psychic research and read many of such books as are now published by White Crow Books. In his forties he had several life changing spiritual experiences, including several years of conversations with apparently the spirit of Stephen the martyr. While he regrets none of this, and has been immensely enriched by it all, he was looking in a good direction when he looked at I and Thou and God. But at the time he lacked the spiritual experiences that would have given more depth of insight.

Studies such as I’ve described, to a large degree involve the same rational mind that is involved in scientific studies. That mind collects information, weighs, measures and reasons, makes theories and tests them, compares with the findings with those of other investigators, and makes a rational statement about what is probably the case. We must be very thankful for good science, and all the disciplines of the rational mind that have so enlarged our understandings of the universe, and have improved the quality of life of countless millions.

But there is another mode of thinking (not rational as a scientist might see it.) How to enter it? Here is a link to a video of a young Indian boy playing inspirational music on an old piano. Observe the masterly technique, how much the music expresses the ineffable. Notice his joy as he plays. Try explaining this with the rational mind. The ineffable meaning of the music, how can the rational mind say where this comes from? How did it come to the composer (Chopin) in the first place? How is it that the boy can do this? How can the boy respond so deeply?

See and hear this four year old Chinese boy. Don’t you love him?

Very widely viewed is this performance by a three year old violinist Akim Camara in the Netherlands before a vast audience in an open air concert led by Andree Rieu. You laugh, you cry, you share in a time of love and delight binding the huge audience together. You see tears of joy on the faces of some listeners. The little boy, so cute in his little suit, the loving relationship with Rieu, the humorous tricks. Where is the rational mind here? Yet we are in touch with something deep and sublime.

If you like you could say that we are seeing the difference between the left brain associated with the rational mind, with all its complex marvels, and the right brain associated with the intuition of a deeper creative dimension.
Leading scientists owe some of their greatest discoveries to intuitions received in dreams.

The rational mind can produce great blessings for humanity, but the feeling, much of the data and the motivation come from a deeper, non-rational realm.

Jesus called the deeper and sublime world “The Kingdom of Heaven”. The video of the little violinist points to such a world.

The writer of St John’s Gospel sees this deeper world more as the product of the creative Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” (Jesus was a physical manifestation of the creative Word.) But
Plato, who lived 438 BC and 328 BC, influences positively and negatively all subsequent philosophy. Saint John may have had Plato in mind when he talks about this creative Word as an Ideal Form, an idea in a more fundamental level of reality, which brings things to existence in the reality of the physical.

The physicist philosopher David Bohm was on the side of Plato. He talked about an Implicate and Explicate order, and maintained that there is an inner world of mind which brings into being all that is in the outer world.

The biologist Rupert Sheldrake postulates Memory Fields in an inner dimension producing the physical world, an important part in the formation of biological organisms and the instincts directing their behaviour.

The psychologist Carl Jung wrote about the collective unconscious, archetypes performing a similar function to Sheldrake’s memory fields.

Hindu philosophy speaks of the Akashic Records which contain the memories perhaps, of the universe.

The basic distinction is between the esoteric and the exoteric worlds, the inner and outer worlds.

What is in common between all these theories is that they all point to an inner realm of feeling, creativity, motivation, inspiration bringing about the events in the physical world which is one or when the subject of the rational analysis, measuring and quantification which is the purview of science.

Plato, Carl Jung, David Bohm, and Rupert Sheldrake, (not to mention St John!) were or are highly spiritual people.

The core of Plato’s philosophy is religious experience.  He worries that in writing about it, he may misrepresent it, and make the reader aware of his misgivings and the approximate nature of all attempts to describe and explicate this religious call.  This means that all Plato’s writings, like all good philosophy, are theology.  Platonic exoteric philosophy forever circles around the suprarational.  Everything Plato writes presupposes that such a vision of reality is provided by his Ideal Forms.  Plato has a place for rationality, but at no point tries to deduce morality from merely rational considerations.

Stoic and Epicurean philosophy represent the beginning of the rot. Guenon notes that “the appearance of Skepticism on the one hand, and of Stoic and Epicurean moralism on the other, are sufficient to show to what point intellectuality had declined. They share some of the ethical insights of Platonic philosophy but jettison God.  The point and purpose of human life is largely lost. They are like a too-thin papier-mache shell constructed over a balloon.  The balloon bursts aand the shell remains temporarily intact before collapsing without the inner core that made it possible.

Once the suprarational is abandoned and rejected there’s nothing to philosophize about.  Rational thought is not creative, it is analytic.  The problem with western civilization for the last three hundred years is that mainstream science has exalted reason and a machine view of reality, at the same time denying the reality of spirit.

Dissenting from such a view the poet William   Blake wrote “man by his reasoning power can only compare and judge what he has already perceived.”

It was through his poetry that Blake wrote excellent theology:

“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings. ... “
“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite. ... “
“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.”
‘In the universe, there are things that are known, and things that are unknown, and in between, there are doors.’
“Mysteries are not to be solved. The eye goes blind when it only wants to see why.”
I began with a quote from T S Eliot: here is another:

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar.

Such words aptly describe death-dealing aspects of contemporary civilization.  Once again, though, it is realistic to celebrate the truly wonderful achievements that the proper use of the reason has brought about.  But where reason is soulless, heartless, there can be terrible consequences.  I would hope that we can regard recent tumultuous events in the world as labour pains of a new world order hoping to be born.  There is a yearning for a doctrineless universal religion of love, and science appears on the cusp of a paradigm change where spirit is acknowledged.

I began my thoughts in this blog with the words

the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.
That place lies in the inner creative dimension that St. John calls “The Word.”

Last night, as I was sleeping: Antonio Machado
Last night, as I was sleeping
I dreamt-marvelous error! 
that a spring was breaking
Out in my heart.
I said: along which a secret aqueduct,
Oh Water, are you coming to me,
Water of my new life,
That I have never drunk? 

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt - marvellous error!
That I had a beehive
Here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
Were making white combs
And sweet honey
From my old failures.

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt- marvelous error!-
That a fiery sun was giving
Light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
Warmth as from a hearth,
And sun because it gave light
And brought tears to my eyes.

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt – marvelous error!-
That it was God I had
Here inside my heart.

NB “marvelous error” can also be translated “blessed illusion”
Michael Cocks edits the journal, The Ground of Faith.
Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.
His latest book, Into the Wider Dream: Synchronicity in the Witness Box is published by White Crow Books.




Well stated!!!  Unfortunately, as with every other positive quality, one can be too rational or overly rational, thereby jumping to the conclusion that what he or she cannot grasp on a rational basis does not exist.

Michael Tymn, Mon 28 Nov, 08:45

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“Children and the Light” by Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick – ALF Rose had this experience many years ago when he was ill with pneumonia as a young child of four or five. Suddenly I was out of my body and floating near the top of the window in my bedroom. I could see myself in bed and my mother kneeling at the side of the bed. She was crying and looked very distressed. I gazed at this scene for a little while and remember that I didn't feel any emotion at all and was completely indifferent to what I saw. Without any warning at all I was travelling very swiftly through a dense forest. Read here
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