Monday 31 August 2020

Numbers and Measurement

The modern world is based on number which means it is based on quantity and measurement. This is what lies behind two such apparently dissimilar things as computer technology and bureaucracy which are the foundation stones of our contemporary world and which are dragging it deep into the darkness of spiritual oppression.

A world of number is a world of control in which there is no freedom. It is a world without mystery which means it is a world without beauty whatever nonsense may be said by materialistic thinkers who refuse to accept the shallowness and the soul-destroying consequences of their thought. Numbers relate to the operation of the material world, and they obviously have their place in the structure of that world. They can provide a kind of knowledge about its outer functioning and reveal certain properties of material things. They can help to master, to a degree, the material world in terms of what it appears to be. But they cannot tell us anything about what lies behind it or its source or how the life and consciousness that appear in the material world come to be. In short, numbers can tell us about the form of things but they cannot tell us anything at all about what these things are in themselves.

If you rely on number and mathematics to tell you about the world, you kill the world. You reduce it to a machine and you reduce human beings to machines, dead things even if they move about and talk. The fact is that numbers only relate to the shape and pattern of living beings - and everything in the universe is a living being of one sort or another. They cannot describe or reveal anything about their inner life and essence, their true nature, their spiritual being, what they really are. The world of the mathematicians is not a false world but it only relates to externals and appearance. God may be a Geometer in terms of certain of his outer activities but in himself, in his spiritual being, and despite the fact that he is called a Trinity, he is a deep mystery that the quantitative science of mathematics cannot begin to understand. And we are too.

Today, the consequences of several hundred years of materialism, going back at least as far as the medieval nominalists who basically inverted the order of things putting form before being, are coming to a head. The inevitable end result will be a totalitarianism in which freedom is outlawed and control is everywhere because everything must be measured and counted. When you reduce life to numbers, as we have, the individual becomes just a number itself, a mere unit. Then it has no autonomy but must fit into the mathematical structures on which society is run. It is just a statistic and its personal integrity has gone. Unless we rediscover a spiritual vision this is what the future holds, if not for us then for our children and grandchildren.

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Descent into Madness

I have felt disinclined to write on this blog recently and the reason is simple. There just isn't much left to say which hasn't already been said. How long can you keep pointing out that humanity is on course for global civilisational collapse which is what always happens when the impetus that gave rise to a new culture has dissipated and there is no creative energy left? How many times can you say that when the spiritual world is denied as it is now human beings go literally, yes, quite literally, mad and start engaging in self-destructive behaviour? Their minds descend into a kind of anarchic mess, antipathy for the other increases and the most mentally perverted become the most passionate in defending and promoting their perversions.

We are living in times which are both extraordinary and just plain dull. Nothing of any real interest is taking place even though recent events have been both dramatic and unprecedented. But none of it really means anything as nothing can mean anything in the absence of God. Now he has been forgotten for so long that in most people's minds he has become like Odin or Zeus, merely an old tribal god we have long since outgrown. Unfortunately, this simply means that human beings have begun to lose the will to live though they are still afraid of death. Without a spiritual background to life, it becomes merely a sorry succession of moments of seeking pleasure which eventually palls and then all that matters is avoiding pain. Our science is no longer the search for truth and understanding about the universe but a kind of technocratic support system crippled by ideology. Our art is the product of sterile minds digging into the body of the past and thinking they are making something new from the corpse. And our religion, what there is of it, amounts to little more than warming up the leftovers of a feast most of which has long since been consumed so the nourishment has gone. As for politics, well that is all of whatever stripe quite obviously moving closer and closer to totalitarianism.

I am neither a pessimist nor a cynic. I believe that God is always there and will reward those who remain faithful to the vision of holiness. The world in its present form will presumably die but that is not a bad thing. Corruption needs to be cleansed. But souls will survive in one form or another and they will go to where their mind takes them. In the spiritual world we get what we are. In the meantime, this world will become increasingly insane. What is there to love or honour or aspire to? Just an abstraction called humanity but humanity on its own is just a collection of flesh and bones. With God we are the most extraordinary and glorious beings. Without him we are just a lot of clever but foolish monkeys, chattering about nothing but full of self-importance.

In 1924 at a lecture at Arnhem in Holland the spiritual philosopher, or spiritual scientist as he thought of himself, Rudolf Steiner said that by the year 2000 "humanity will either stand at the grave of all civilisation or at the beginning of that age when in the souls of human beings who unite intelligence with spirituality in their hearts the Archangel's Michael's battle will be fought out to victory." It's not hard to see which of those two options is the one that happened. Pretty much everything that could go wrong in the 20th century, especially the latter half, did go wrong. The Nazis and the Communists were defeated on the physical plane but the battle carried on at spiritual levels and we proved too weak and too inept to wage it successfully. We succumbed to the anti-spiritual forces that had been let loose. The higher impulses that had played on human consciousness were reacted to but they were reacted to on the material plane and misinterpreted as relating to earthly man instead of his spiritual self. This is why so-called progressive movements believe themselves to be at the vanguard of humanity. They have responded to the real progressive impulses but they have done so in a regressive manner, from the lower self, and they have corrupted and debased that which should have carried us forward into a new age of spiritual understanding. We can go so far as to say that the thought forms of many intellectuals were demonically inspired.

The dreams of those who thought we would be entering the Age of Aquarius in the new millennium have turned out to be vain false imaginings, in no small part because many of the proponents of this idea thought they could be spiritual without being Christian, perhaps because this does not demand the full recognition that one is a sinner in need of redemption. While there may be a Golden Age in the future I very much doubt present humanity will be here to see it. We really are not worthy. Repentance is always possible but the last twenty years has shown that to be extremely unlikely, certainly in the mass - individuals are a different matter. Steiner's thought that "in the souls of human beings who unite intelligence with spirituality in their hearts the Archangel's Michael's battle will be fought out to victory" still applies on an individual level. So, for those of us who recognise the signs of the times all we need do now, all we can do now, is watch and pray in the sure knowledge that God is there even in this most testing of times. 

Saturday 22 August 2020

Religion and the World

One thing we learn from scripture and see played out time after time in history is that if you really take the spiritual life seriously you set yourself against the world and the world will dislike you for it. It may even hate you for it, the obvious example being Jesus himself. It may also brand you mad or inhuman because your conception of what a human being is bears little resemblance to the worldly one, and that includes most conventional religious conceptions which really just add on a bit to the worldly version instead of replacing it entirely.

When you read the story of Jesus's life you see his only concern was doing the will of his Father. This means everything was submitted to the overriding reality of the spiritual world. Everything he said and did was to further the aims of that world as played out in this one. We have to understand that the priorities of the spiritual and material worlds are completely different. In fact, they are often diametrically opposed and this is something that worldly people do not understand. For them religion, if it exists, must just build on what is normal in secular life. It might challenge it a little but it would not do so radically, and yet this is exactly what religion should do. It should completely reframe what it is to be human and this includes concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood and so on, which are now seen in terms of the soul not the earthly human being with its likes, dislikes, hopes, fears and ambitions.

This is why the words of a genuine prophet upset the people. They consider themselves to be leading reasonable lives. They know they're not saints but they don't think they are sinners. They have their earthly values and priorities and live in the world as it is. But the prophet, and all religious people should have something of the prophet within them, really does march to the beat of a different drum and he doesn't care about excuses such as we have to deal with this world first before we can have the luxury of thinking seriously about the next. To him that just means you will never think seriously about the next world, and the next world is the only real meaning of this one. As a consequence, his thoughts and words and behaviour can seem not just extreme to worldly people but positively dangerous which is why he has in the past even suffered death at the hands of the world.

That won't happen to such people now but anyone who takes the spiritual life seriously to the point that they reject the values of this world will be looked at askance. They are rejecting worldly order and that is disturbing. In a certain sense they are telling people that they are ignorant and bad and no one likes to be told that. But religious people who make an accommodation with the world and its priorities and put worldly ideas of good on a par with spiritual ones are really just imposters like the Pharisees of old. The spiritual and the worldly can never form an alliance and that is going to be increasingly obvious in the coming months and years. 

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Music, an Influence on and Reflection of Consciousness

Western music, once the greatest in the world, has fallen on hard times. It flourished for over 1,000 years and spoke to the whole person, body, mind and soul, but now is reduced to a pitiful caricature of itself and this is true whether you are speaking of popular music or the more serious variety.

It is certain that our distant pagan forefathers would have had the kind of music we used to regard as primitive, heavy on the drums and accompanied by rhythmic chanting which whipped up primal emotions sometimes to the point of hysteria though they might have thought of that as spiritual ecstasy. It wasn't. It worked on the physical and what occultists call the astral bodies, the latter being the vehicle of the emotional nature. There was minimal melody and no harmony. Somewhat similar to what a lot of music has returned to today though in our time technology has made it even more powerful in its effects to, I might add, our great spiritual detriment.

But as Christianity conquered the West the influence of church music, plainsong and Gregorian chant, would have seeped into the consciousness of everyone, softening, civilising and elevating the primitive paganism of the past in music as well as everything else. Elements of love, joy, peace, hope, forgiveness, all Christian virtues, would have gone out of the church and into everyday society including its music, in the process uplifting dance from a purely sexualised form to one with considerably more grace and elegance.

Polyphony and harmony came from the church music of the Notre Dame era and this developed into the wonderful Renaissance sacred music of composers like Josquin, Ockeghem and a whole host of others. But secular music was affected too including instrumental music as instruments became more sophisticated and news ones were invented. When we reach the time of J.S. Bach we come to an apogee of Western art and a music that had grown quite naturally from its ancient seeds in the liturgy of the Church. Soli Deo Gloria as he wrote at the end of many of his compositions, secular as well as sacred. Baroque music is strongly tied to the dance with its dependence on the basso continuo or figured bass but this is a dance of lightness, elegance and refinement with nothing crude about it and always the primary inspiration is melodic. 

The development in music from baroque into classical might be said to have begun the descent even though the works produced are among the greatest in the Western canon. This was the time of the Enlightenment which was the worship of Reason. Consequently, there was a tendency in music to separate itself from both God and Nature and this carried on into the Romantic era when the centre of the creative process became the composer himself. Again, this resulted in works of exceptional beauty and power because enough of a connection to the past remained to temper the self-centredness and make sure it was not exclusive, and that combined with the appearance of men of genius in a relatively large number. But the disconnect from the spiritual world was becoming obvious. The focus on human emotion dominated spiritual feelings and the ego began to assume its current role as the leading impulse behind artistic creativity. The idea of Soli Deo Gloria was gone. What should have happened was that human imagination and creative drive would have been allied to spiritual perception. What actually did happen was that the former first set itself apart from the latter and then pushed it aside altogether.

The watchword of the 19th century was Revolution. Tradition was overturned to a far greater extent than we now recognise. Romantic artists felt that something vital had been lost and this was reflected in their work which was often deeply nostalgic. But they knew they could never get it back by returning to the past. That was an impossibility. The past is always gone. We must always strive to create a future that is new and based on what we are now even if it can and should contain transformed elements of the past.

The structure of music broke down as the post-Romantic era turned into full-blown modernism. At the same time, the emotional content, which had been ramped up both in terms of the musical message and by sheer volume as singers and orchestras became more powerful, moved in two directions. One, in serious classical music it was quite simply rejected. The music was now cerebral, abstract and elitist, totally divorced from the natural. It had become machine-like and spiritually dead. But in popular music feelings became more important, only they were much cruder feelings. No longer was there any inclination to elevate the emotions. Now, as rhythm and the beat assumed greater centrality in the overall musical package, the lower emotions relating to the body and its gratifications were brought out, encouraged and given their head. Certain writers at the time regarded the advent of jazz as extremely destructive of higher sensibilities and a real factor in the degradation of civilised values, indeed of civilisation itself. It's hard to argue with that and when you see where this sort of music has led the conclusion they were right is unavoidable. We have returned to the deep pagan past of drums and orgiastic dancing in which we do not rise about the ego but fall below it with lyrics all too often depicting crude sexuality and real love totally ignored. A modern love song is likely to be at best a self-pitying complaint but much more probably will sound like the grunts of rutting beasts.

Music is the most profound of all the arts. It can raise us up to a world of divine beauty and order or it can drag us down us to chaos and base material satisfactions that do make us beast-like but without the natural dignity of beasts who act as they act because it is what they are. But human beings are not animals and when they behave as animals they become worse than animals.  We have now replaced a music that elevates with one that degrades and the worst thing is that it is the young that are targeted, people at their most susceptible. Man can be like an angel or an animal and it is music that helps us turn to one or the other. We are fortunate today in that we do have access to all the great music of the past through recorded versions but deeply unfortunate in that most of our modern music is degraded and corrupting.

Monday 17 August 2020

Love Your Enemy

I don't suppose there is much doubt that this is the hardest spiritual instruction to obey in a completely honest way. I personally don't see myself as having any actual enemies but there have been people in my life I find antipathetic and don't get on with, and one particular person who has caused me no end of problems. And if you extend this group to individuals with a public profile who you profoundly disagree with and who you think are responsible for creating a world in which the spiritual is denied or travestied, the list becomes quite long.  Can a Jew love Hitler? I'm sure some heroic souls have made the effort not to hate because, as we all know, hate stains the soul of the hater, but actually love? That is asking a lot.

And yet it is what Jesus asks us to do. The actual passage in the Sermon on the Mount says, "Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you." Without using it as a get out of jail free card, i.e. an excuse to ignore the instruction to love your enemies, I think the second part does qualify the first somewhat and bring it to within slightly easier reach. Are you expected to love your enemy as you love your friend? That would be silly and demean your friend. It would make real friendship meaningless. However, Jesus goes on to point out that God makes the sun rise for everyone, good and bad, and that says to me that he is fair and without prejudice. Might that be a start for us in obeying this injunction? If there are those we dislike for one reason or another, even those who have harmed us, we should attempt to view them as God views them. Not by being blind to their faults but by seeing them as redeemable as we would hope God would see us when we behave badly. Giving them every chance to improve rather than damning them, and enabling them to do that by not acting towards them as we feel they are acting towards us. If we do, how are we different or any better than them which presumably we assume ourselves to be?

The Masters told me that if you look for the good in people, you will help to bring that out. If you focus on the bad, you will bring that out. This does not require being naive and Pollyanna-ish. Then you will probably just enable wrongdoing and that is not what love your enemy means. But it does mean forgiving and quashing all negativity within you. After all, can a truly loving person ever hate? Isn't it a contradiction in terms? If you do hate there is darkness in your soul. Only love brings light so perhaps when Jesus told us to love our enemies, he was not thinking of the benefit that would accrue to the enemies so much as the benefit that would accrue to us.

The Christian life is about sacrifice which is one of the things that marks it out from other spiritual approaches. For a normal person, certainly for me, loving your enemies is a sacrifice. It's not just swimming against the emotional tide; it is also a blow to pride. If you love your enemy you are, or can seem to be in the eyes of the ego, somewhat humiliating yourself. In a way (again, for the ego) your enemy has beaten you. But this is what Jesus asks, for us to accept the defeat of the ego with a good grace and turn that defeat to spiritual victory.

I have a close association with a person whom I regard as not a good person. This person is constantly abusive to me and full of anger and hate. I wondered why fate brought me together with such a person and came to the conclusion that it is actually for my spiritual benefit. It is precisely so that I may learn 'to love my enemy and pray for those that persecute me', something I clearly needed to learn. It is the egotism in me that has made it necessary for me to experience this. 

One final point.  Love your enemy relates to personal relationships and means we should never hate persons.  But this a world of good and evil and the injunction in no wise applies to principles. Love your enemy does not mean giving evil the same respect as good nor untruth the same honour as truth.

Saturday 15 August 2020

Demonic Subversion

It has often been observed that liberalism is both a symptom and a cause of a decaying civilisation and that neither it nor any ideology associated with it, such as in modern times feminism and anti-racism, can build or preserve a civilisation worthy of the name. This has been the case in the past and it is certainly the case now. But now there is something else. On previous occasions something like liberalism has arisen when a society has built itself up and reached a certain level of prosperity and comfort. It is, if you like, a self-indulgence that is basically parasitic on the work, creativity and energy of previous generations. A luxury that a wealthy and successful society can afford or thinks it can. We have that today but we also have something not so much in evidence at the time of the collapse of previous civilisations though I am sure it was present. But it was not present to such a high degree.

I am talking about what I have often talked about on this blog which is demonic corruption. I talk about it so much because it is the root cause of everything negative. Actually, the real root cause is human egotism and selfishness because without that the corruption would have nothing to work on, no ground in which its seeds could sprout. However, if we are looking for the driving force behind the spiritual degradation of the 21st century, we must look to the world beyond the physical.

It's a fallacy to think there is material and there is spiritual and the latter is always 'higher'. It may be less restricted in terms of the constituents of which is it made but it is by no means necessarily morally better any more than the mind is always good. The spiritual in this sense is a mental world and so can be as good or evil as the mind can be. It is useful to think of the spiritual world as extending vertically as the physical world extends horizontally with the various levels of being/consciousness/experience, whatever you want to call it, separated from one another by the quality of their spiritual vibration, their intrinsic openness to the full reality of God. We can with perfect justification talk about higher and lower in this context, and there is a moral value to these terms.

The lower levels are where the demons exist. It is probable that they have cut themselves off from the light and life of God and can only continue to exist by stealing energy from human beings. Ancient blood sacrifices come to mind in this respect and in the modern world I would surmise that the abortion of unborn infants does too, but there is also 'negative energy' of any sort, anger, hatred and the like which the demons can use and absorb to sustain themselves. Because they are so low themselves they can only feed on energy that is of a similar quality. It may even be that what we think of as damned souls fall into this bracket which is not a pleasant thought. In CS Lewis's Screwtape Letters there is the implication at the end that the senior devil Screwtape is going to consume the life forces of the junior devil Wormwood who has failed in his attempt to corrupt a human soul. He signs his last letter 'yours ravenously'. The meaning is chillingly clear.

This may seem like science fiction but think of this. What are demons? They are clearly fallen souls that have reached the point at which they have totally cut themselves off from God. But God is life. How then do they get life? They must steal it from those that have it and they can only do this if they influence souls who still can draw life from God to 'lower their vibration'. They are like flies that feed off filth.

This is just speculation but it makes sense to me given what we do actually know of good and evil spirits; that they exist and that heaven and hell also must exist as places that reflect the consciousness and moral state of their inhabitants.

Sunday 9 August 2020

Conspiracy Theories

I have always fought shy of conspiracy theories for several reason. Many of them seem far-fetched and the product of eccentrics with bees in their bonnets who home in on only one aspect of the contemporary world. I have also probably been more influenced than I should have been by the sophisticated attitude that loftily sneers at people with tinfoil helmets and knows so much better because we're all rational now, aren't we? Mostly, though, it is because conspiracy theories are normally focused on the political and my interests have always been in the spiritual.

But there are multiple problems with this approach. For one thing, the Bible, especially the New Testament and specifically the Book of Revelation, is one long conspiracy theory. If you are a Christian, a real one, then you are a conspiracy theorist. No two ways about it. We live in a world of spiritual warfare in which demonic powers seek to corrupt God's creation, in particular that most important part of it which is the human race. 

The second reason is of more recent development. The political has seeped over into the spiritual using that word to describe the essential part of what makes human beings human. The dreadful lie, Marxist in origin and now universal in the ideology of the left, that everything is political has taken root everywhere and is believed because the spiritual has been more or less chased off the face of the Earth, certainly insofar as it might have any meaning or real relevance to life. Everything is really spiritual but everything has been made political now. This means that a spiritually concerned person has to take note of what is going on in the world today and cannot retreat to a position of inward detachment.

The third reason I have become drawn to the conspiracy theory point of view is the present time. In all seriousness, how can anyone not look at what has happened to the world over the last few months and fail to see the deep manipulation of human beings that makes them participants in their own enslavement? We are actively encouraged to fear each other, stay away from each other and cover our faces or be shamed. Last night I stood on a station platform waiting for a train in the open air as announcements were made that failure to comply with mandatory mask-wearing in all areas of the station would result in fines of one hundred pounds. This didn't appear to be enforced and a number of people paid no attention but the fact that this authoritarian announcement could be made unchallenged is extraordinary. The only reason I can come up with is that we have been so softened by relentless propaganda over the last 100 years that we are easy pickings unless we have some solid grounding in religion and by that I mean, as far as the West is concerned, Christianity. Other contemporary spiritual approaches will not save us from sin and evil because they can all be accommodated into those things. Only the light of Christ is strong enough to resist them which, by the way, is a very good argument for the truth of Christ.

Who are the most vilified people in the modern world? I'll give you a clue. It's the group who are most likely to resist the corrupt and dehumanising ideology of the modern world. The ones who built the civilisation that is currently being destroyed and who are painted as oppressive and cruel. Many of these people are also among the destroyers because they see some personal advantage to be gained but this group is also the place where you will find the greatest number willing and able to fight for freedom and truth, and that is why they must be undermined and are presented as fundamentally selfish and wicked. Conspiracy theory? Maybe, but I submit it's also true.

In the past I have, for reasons given above, inclined towards the popular view that things go wrong more because of human stupidity and greed than because of some dastardly plot. And if you are looking at the picture from a this worldly, purely human perspective, that may well be so. But you cannot just look at things from that perspective. The real plot is supernatural. The relatively long time span during which all the pieces have been manoeuvred into place proves that even if nothing else does. Plenty else does though. There has been a relentless whittling away at spiritual truths and their replacement with anti-spiritual and, more recently, anti-natural values, if values is even the right word. For they are actually non-values whose only real purpose is to oppose real values. But they have become accepted because we have lost our moorings in transcendent reality so have no grounding in anything real. We can be pushed in any direction because nothing actually means anything. This is always the case when a society loses faith in God. And that means that such a society is destined to go. It will collapse either from external attack or internal decay or both.

In the immortal words of Private Fraser (a terminally pessimistic sitcom character from the 1970s for non-British readers), "We're doomed!". Things will not get better. They will continue to deteriorate. But this is actually a cause for optimism. There is nothing eternal in this world and not meant to be but when outward things are this bad it means, paradoxically, that God is not far away. He is causing us to turn away from the wreckage of this world and towards him, the only place where truth and goodness and real beauty abide everlastingly. As the world descends further into lies and spiritual oppression and most people accept that because it appears to offer them safety and security and they have no faith in anything higher, remember that. When the world turns dark we must hold fast to our inner knowledge of the light that shines just beyond its horizon.

Saturday 1 August 2020

Blog break

I shall be letting my brain lie fallow for a couple of weeks so won't be posting anything here during that time. All comments are still welcome though.