Wednesday 29 May 2024

Meeting the Female Equivalent of a Master

 This is an extract from my book Meeting the Masters which is relevant to the discussion of divine femininity and Satanic feminism. It refers to my contact with a spiritual being who was clearly female despite coming through a male medium. The essence of her message was that love disperses all darkness which is a statement that is almost trite but becomes profound when delivered by a being who, as in this case, embodied what she said. This encounter dates back to 1979 and I wrote the passage below in 2010.

"Earlier when discussing the Masters I wrote that I had no experience of their female equivalents. I had completely forgotten this talk! However, reading through my notes brings the whole episode back with absolute clarity. This companion in spirit (as she described herself) was obviously a very lofty soul. She emanated a loving gentleness that was profoundly affecting, and the balm of her presence had a consoling quality that caused me to feel an almost overwhelming sense of gratitude to her for taking the trouble to visit me. She had a feminine grace and purity that do not seem to be so highly prized nowadays but are just as much divine characteristics as will or intelligence. In addition to this, she transmitted a peace that made all troubles and fears just melt away. I remember the radiance of her peace very well. The Masters also brought peace but the peace she brought had a soothing quality all its own.

The question might be asked that, as this was coming through Michael, how did I know it was a female spirit? All I can say is that there could be no doubt. The soft voice, the gentle manner, the whole vibration of the person, all of these were clearly feminine. As always there was no trace of Michael and though this being spoke through a male body, the voice was feminine. The scent of lily of the valley she brought with her just confirmed all this. I never knew the Masters to be accompanied by such a heavenly perfume. Nowadays many people talk rather glibly about the goddess and the feminine aspect of divinity. Curiously, this is happening at precisely the time when a true grasp of femininity appears to be being lost, leading one to suspect that there is a political as much as a theological imperative behind it. However, there most definitely is a feminine aspect to divinity, most perfectly embodied by such figures of wisdom and merciful love as the goddess Isis and the Virgin Mary, and, in China, Kuan-Yin, and this is the closest I have ever come to experiencing it. It is probably not one many feminists would approve of though since one of its qualities is a perfect submission to divine will. I should add that it is the height of wisdom to submit to divine will since the only true freedom is freedom from self.


It is becoming increasingly apparent that certain aspects of modern feminism are actually antipathetic to true femininity because they seek to supplant the traditional feminine virtues, which are (largely, though by no means exclusively) to do with nurturing, intuitive wisdom and compassionate love, with those usually associated with the masculine. It is an old trick of the devil to sneak in falsehood under the coat-tails of truth, and he has successfully done so on this occasion by corrupting the idea of the feminine under the guise of the pursuit of an entirely legitimate and overdue fairness and equality, with which no-one could have the slightest argument.* All human beings lose by this but perhaps the biggest losers are women themselves who are denied contact with their true nature. I sometimes think that if the balance between the sexes were right then everything would be and we would finally know true harmony, but that time still seems to be a long way off. The sexes are meant to be complementary but, in the name of equality, they are increasingly being lured into a competitiveness which can only bring about disequilibrium. The root causes of this are egotism, both male and female, and metaphysical ignorance.


It is fine and good to refuse to be bound by stereotypes (cultural conditioning) but we should not forget that there exist archetypes too, independent of human will and imaginings, and that a properly functioning society can only be one in which these are acknowledged (I don’t mean slavishly enforced) rather than denied or ignored. For the individual as well, true fulfilment can only come from conforming to one’s divine pattern. This is not a plea to return to past modes of behaviour which were also unbalanced but for human beings to learn to be guided by what is real rather than what is desired to be real. The current state of affairs is too far advanced for deviation from that course to be likely at any time soon but I write these words for anyone, male or female, who might be open to them."


* The equality referred to here is one of spiritual worth as mentioned in the Divine Femininity essay.

Saturday 25 May 2024

The Purpose of this Blog

 I have been made aware that somebody recently has complained about some of the contents of this blog. I don't know exactly what but assume it is something I have written calling into question one or other of the shibboleths of modernity. One of the liberal dogmas that a good person must hold and if they don't it is because there is something morally wrong with them. A classic case of the illiberalism of liberalism.

The problem is that most people nowadays are unable to conceive that reality might have a metaphysical basis and so for them if something offends against feelings it is bad. What I write here is wholly based on metaphysical, that is to say, spiritual, assumptions. Worldly beliefs and ideologies do not enter into it. I say assumptions but I really mean traditional teachings and personal intuitions. My worldview is essentially Christian though with some modifications based on mystical and esoteric thought and personal experience. This involves the idea of the development of consciousness leading, put in its most basic terms, from animal man to modern man to God-realised man, a trajectory that moves consciousness from identification with Nature to self-identification to union with God. As far as I am concerned, this journey is what life is all about and anything that opposes it or would arrest it or reverse it is anti-spiritual and it doesn't matter whether that be human or supernatural in origin. It is working against the will of God. So to offend against modern sensibilities if those sensibilities are spiritually corrosive, and most of them nowadays are because they are grounded in a rejection of God and divine purpose, is not a choice but an obligation. I am not writing for a personal reason but out of what I consider to be necessity. I am not alone in that. Many other people are doing similar things because they too realise the gravity of our current spiritual position.

Enough about me! This post is just to say that I will continue to write about things I believe to be relevant whatever they might be. It is never my intention to cause upset but if God is a God of Love he is also a God of Truth and we can only really encounter his love in the full sense when we open our hearts to his truth. This may involve offending human feelings sometimes but that is only to awaken our minds to the deeper and, yes, more loving reality beyond personal feelings. 

Friday 24 May 2024

Divine Femininity

Someone has objected to my recent post Satanic Feminism. I'm not sure on exactly what grounds but it may be the juxtaposition of the word Satanic with that of Feminism. I should say that this phrase was not of my making but the name of a book published by the Oxford University Press, the premise of which I was discussing. I should also say that I was approaching the subject, as everything on this blog, from a metaphysical point of view and considering what the spiritual origin of this radical revolution was.

For feminism was a radical revolution, overturning thousands of years of a cultural norm that existed more or less everywhere in the world. I don't think people today really appreciate that. We in the secular West are so used to it and take it so much for granted that we never question it but perhaps we should. A spiritually aware person, and especially a Christian, cannot fail to see that feminism arose concurrently with the rejection of God. It goes against traditional teaching of all religions which may be a bad thing or a good thing but surely gives us valid grounds to examine its origins more deeply than we normally do.

My contention would be that a change in consciousness that was of divine inspiration and had an evolutionary purpose was hijacked by a counter-evolutionary force. Around 250 years ago developments that had been gathering pace started to come to full expression. A new form of consciousness, one that had appeared here and there for hundreds of years in pioneers of humanity, began to spread much more widely and impact the whole of society and culture. This was when the 'I' became fully aware of itself and of its ability to think and to act. No longer part of a tribe or group, it was now a full individual as a consequence of which it was spiritually cut off from the rest of the universe. A famous precursor of this form of consciousness would be the figure of Hamlet, often called the first modern person, but now it spread throughout all human beings, especially, to begin with, those in the West, and it led to the questioning of religion and the assertion of self. It had many benefits as people began to act independently, the development of science for one, but it also increased the sense of alienation. It was an advance because moving from group consciousness to self-consciousness is a necessary step to full and active participation in divine life but it also brought trouble in its wake as the separation from God became absolute. You cannot know yourself properly and be fully conscious of yourself if you retain the greater connection to universal life but when you lose the connection to universal life you may well be plunged into isolation and existential loneliness.

This change in consciousness lies behind everything of the last few centuries, good and bad. It lies behind feminism because it was experienced by both men and women equally who now had to negotiate life and being and relationships from a new perspective. Feminism from this perspective is an inevitable consequence of evolutionary development. As women become more aware of themselves as full individuals in a similar way to men so their inner life changes and that means their outer life must change too.

So feminism in its raw essence and origin was not Satanic. But what if that change was captured and re-routed? There are two forces in the universe, not two equal forces because ultimately everything comes from God, but still two forces that are in opposition. There is the divine force that seeks to bring human beings to spiritual completion and there is a counter force that we call evil because it opposes good. It is principally spiritual evil which means it seeks to do spiritual harm and if we do not understand what spiritual good is we may have a problem understanding how spiritual evil works. One way it works is by consolidating the material and worldly so some things that appear good in material and worldly terms actually work against the true and ultimate good. The aim of this evil force is to separate from God, not temporarily as in the sense of being a self-centred individual but permanently. This tells us that the current stage of full individual consciousness carries risks because if that sense of self is over-stimulated and encouraged it can lead to a much wider and deeper separation from God and the true good. Self-centred individuality is like adolescence, a temporary phase that should act as a springboard to a deeper adult engagement with God, but unfortunately the whole process has been derailed and we have got stuck and embedded in that phase. This has been due to interference from demonic sources but also, it has to be said, our own spiritual weakness.

This is the sense in which feminism can be described as Satanic as in the book cited earlier. A natural and healthy and spiritually positive change was hijacked and its material elements pushed and promoted while its spiritual ones were largely ignored, suppressed or denied. This means that the worldly ego was appealed to and its weaknesses exploited, while the redirecting of the ego to spiritual awakening, proper spiritual awakening I should stress because there are many forms which are to do with the ego self-medicating, failed to take place. Sunshine and rain cause both nourishing fruits and poisonous weeds to grow, depending on the receiving soil and the seeds that lie therein. A downpouring of spiritual energy can be reacted to by the soul or the ego depending on which one the subject is more attuned to. It can also be mis-channeled by the counter-evolutionary forces which can be identified under the traditional name of Satan, and this was what occurred.

What should have happened was what I mentioned in the earlier essay which was the development of a deeper understanding of both masculinity and femininity in their spiritual and creative aspects. If men and women had responded to spiritual energy spiritually they would have opened themselves up to their true spiritual archetypal qualities as man and woman, and this would have built on the Law and the Prophets rather than doing away with them which is the correct path of spiritual development. Feminism as we now know it is a perversion of a good. That is, its origins do lie in a certain truth but that truth has been corrupted.

For what it's worth, my understanding of man and woman and the relationship between them is based on the traditional Christian one qualified by an awareness of the recent development of consciousness, but this should have had an evolutionary impact rather than the revolutionary one it did have. Man and Woman are the two fundamental pillars of creation, equal in spiritual worth, different in spiritual function. The Satanic element of feminism is the confusion of worth and function.

You see, it is a metaphysical matter not a political or social or even a human, in the sense we now think of human, one. That is why people whose worldview is based on the ethos of modernity and secularism will not understand it. To such people a position such as the one I have outlined here will seem bad because it conflicts with their idea of good. But if you lack metaphysical understanding you cannot even know what the real good is. To learn about the true feminine mysteries discarded and rejected by feminism I would recommend a book written from the Catholic perspective by Alice von Hildebrand called Man and Woman: A Divine Invention. There is a divine femininity but it is not to be found in feminism.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Heaven and Hell

 There has been a good series of posts on the Orthosphere recently on the subject of universalism and whether all will eventually be saved. One of them is hereThey reminded me that I had written something on this subject a few years ago (here and here) which brought forth some interesting comments so it is clearly a subject that concerns people as well it might. Inevitably, no conclusion is reached in either case but the potential contradictions between perfect love and perfect freedom are explored.

For this is what it comes down to. God is a God of mercy and justice but in a conflict between the two which takes precedence?  Since God is perfect the answer must be that neither takes precedence and both are fully satisfied, but how can that be? For us it is not possible but with God, as we have been told, all things are possible. One way for the demands of both to be met is that the soul is granted an indefinite period of time to get it right. This might require something in the nature of reincarnation and karma but that is rejected by Christianity, and though there are hints of it in the New Testament (for instance, reaping what you sow, the idea that John the Baptist might be Elijah come again, and "did this man sin or his parents that he be born blind?"), they are inconclusive to say the least. I personally am sympathetic to reincarnation as something like an evolutionary mechanism but it does focus on the theosis side of the spiritual path and ignores, or certainly downplays, the significance of salvation. I believe both are important.

Another possibility would be that purgatory is not just to purify the already saved of residual sins so that they are worthy to enter Heaven, its acknowledged objective, but also has a salvific aspect. Or, if we don't call this purgatory, there are forms of post-mortem existence that have this function. This would also be contrary to orthodox teaching which insists on the right choice being made in this life even if it is at the point of death. That's because there is something unique about life in a physical body as regards making a choice in complete freedom, a freedom that does not exist in the spiritual (meaning non-material) realm, or not to the same extent, because it is not fully separate from God. Nevertheless, if we want God to extend his mercy indefinitely, and we do not accept a return to the physical world, we should admit the possibility of repentance after death. 

Then there is the question of Hell and what it is. In one of the posts on the Orthosphere I commented as follows. Heaven is an opt-in destination so you must want to go there and behave accordingly. This would mean that anything that was not Heaven could then be seen as a form of Hell. Perhaps the mistake the universalists make is to see Hell as necessarily a place of eternal torment. That may exist but it may not be the default option for those who reject God. Hell may have many mansions too and many of these may be not too different to how this world is, all reflecting the varying degrees of God rejection and self-assertion to be found in human souls. But they are not Heaven. 

I said in the comment that Hell as a place of eternal torment may exist but I am not persuaded that it does. From the eternal point of view, what may happen to the truly recalcitrant soul that refuses to turn round and accept the reality of God is that it gradually loses its life force. All life comes from God. The demons must steal life energy from those who have it because they can no longer get it directly. Evil is parasitical. This is a major reason for their need to corrupt souls. They can then harvest the low level energy produced, the energy of anger, hatred, lust or whatever, but eventually souls that cannot receive life from God will wither and die if they cannot steal it from elsewhere. Meanwhile they will be in a sort of Hell because Hell is separation from God but this may not be experienced by them as torment. It may even have its pleasures though these will not be spiritual or not properly spiritual. After all, we are separated from God (apparently not really, of course) even while in this world.

God obviously wants all souls to be united with him but this must be on a voluntary basis or it is coercion and that would negate the whole point of creating souls with free will who can, in their turn, add positively to creation. If a soul fails the test of turning to God in an environment where that does require a choice (the material world) there are two possibilities. Either it is consigned (that is to say, it consigns itself) to the cosmic recycling bin or it is given new opportunities to get it right, perhaps here, perhaps elsewhere in quite different environments. The idea that it is tortured forever for the failure of a single finite life seems unreasonable, illogical and quite contrary to the idea of a God of love. However, like attracts like in the spiritual world, and for as long as a soul rejects God its consciousness will remain endarkened which is a kind of hell though may not be experienced as such by the soul that has adopted this position. I believe we need to see post-mortem conscious existence as containing many levels. It is not just black (Hell) or white (Heaven) but there are many shades in between. If we see Hell as anything that is not white we may be closer to true understanding. Perhaps jet black Hell is the one place from whence there is no return but most souls who fail to attain Heaven go to some kind of grey hell and from these there is possible redemption. Black Hell is for full and final God rejection but for those who may not have reached this tragic depth there remains hope.


Friday 17 May 2024

Spiritual Teachers are Largely Useless

In fact, many of them are net negative. I was prompted in this thought after being sent this link to the London Mind, Body and Spirit Festival which takes place shortly. Most of the spiritual professionals who appear at these affairs in talks and workshops are just selling their wares. They are basically business people who have a talent for giving a spiritual presentation but they cater to those who seek spirituality as a lifestyle accessory or means to develop themselves. They are the psychics, intuitives, positive thinkers, motivational speakers, wellness experts and aura readers who offer a kind of therapeutic self-help for people tired of materialism or, since few of them actually renounce it, looking to expand their horizons a bit beyond materialism. I suppose you could say they are a stage to be gone through but you shouldn't need to experience that stage to realise the essential emptiness and self-indulgence of it.

I'm sure some of these teachers believe they are doing good and perhaps some of them are but in my opinion they are mostly leading people away from true spiritual understanding down one of the many blind alleys that the novice might encounter when he first starts to aspire to something more than this world has to offer. Anybody who makes spirituality their profession, other than a bona fide priest who anyway follows a vocation not a profession and is certainly not in it for fame or fortune, is either a fraud or, since most of them are not that, an opportunist or, best case scenario, on a low rung of spiritual understanding. Some years ago my guides informed me that there were many teaching half-truths at present and, though they were not all evil, they were not very evolved. I wouldn't say the picture has changed since then. I am not saying these people are evil but what they have to offer is a spirituality intended to make one feel good, and the spiritual path is not about making the earthly self happy and fulfilled or even loving and good. It has one purpose only which is to reorient the heart and mind to God.

So, are there no spiritual teachers worth following? It depends what you mean by teacher. There are certainly people from whom one can learn but the whole concept of a spiritual teacher is foreign to the West. It is imported from Eastern religion, the guru and so on, and therefore it is operating on a different sort of level. But even on that level I would maintain that the spiritual teacher role as it exists now exists as much for the teacher's sake as it does for the pupil. Certainly we can and should share our understanding but the spiritual path today is an individual path and all teachers can do is give us a push in the right direction at an early stage. Thereafter, we must form our own relationship with God. No doubt many teachers would say exactly that but often by their behaviour they encourage dependence, personality worship and idolatry. Nowadays the spiritual teacher is just another manifestation of celebrity culture.

Monday 13 May 2024

Third Course of Table Talk

Here is a third and final selection from Coleridge's Table Talk, again with comments in italics.

Facts, you know, are not truths; they are not conclusions; they are not even premises, but in the nature and parts of premises. The truth depends on, and is only arrived at, by a legitimate deduction from all the facts which are truly material. 

Truth is made up of facts but it goes beyond facts as reality transcends things.

 

How inimitably graceful children are in general before they learn to dance ! 

Dance, like music, can exalt or corrupt but it tends to increase self-awareness so compounds a loss of innocence.


* s face is almost the only exception I know to the observation that something feminine — not effeminate mind — is discoverable in the countenances of all men of genius. Look at the face 

of old Dampier, a rough sailor, but a man of exquisite mind. How soft is the air of his countenance, how delicate the shape of  his temples!

The evolved soul will combine elements of the masculine and the feminine though always in the context of the man or woman that he or she is. You could see transexuals as a corrupted debasement of this idea.

 

On Astrology and Alchemy

It is curious to mark how instinctively the reason has always pointed out to men the ultimate end of the various sciences, and how immediately afterwards they have set to work, like children, to realize that end by inadequate means. Now they applied to their appetites, now to their passions, now to their fancy, now to the understanding, and lastly, to the intuitive reason again. There is no doubt but that astrology of some sort or other would be the last achievement of astronomy: there must be chemical relations between the planets; the difference of their magnitudes compared with that of their distances is not explicable otherwise; but this, though, as it were, blindly and unconsciously seen, led immediately to fortune- telling and other nonsense. So alchemy is the theoretic end of chemistry: there must be a common law, upon which all can become each and each all; but then the idea was turned to the coining of gold and silver.

 

It is my profound conviction that St. John and St. Paul were divinely inspired; but I totally disbelieve the dictation of any one word, sentence, or argument throughout their writings. Observe, there was revelation. All religion is revealed;— revealed religion is, in my judgment, a mere pleonasm. Revelations of facts were undoubtedly made to the prophets; revelations of doctrines were as undoubtedly made to John and Paul;—but is it not a mere matter of our very senses that John and Paul each dealt with those revelations, expounded them, insisted on them, just exactly according to his own natural strength of intellect, habit of reasoning, moral, and even physical temperament?

The way the heavenly powers work is to impress ideas on their disciples in the world. That way human will is left free and we have to, as it were, find the original within ourselves, stretch up to it from the clues given so increasing our own intuitive faculties. 

 

So little did the early bishops and preachers think their Christian faith wrapped up in, and solely to be learned from, the New Testament,—indeed, can it be said that there was any such collection for three hundred years? —that I remember a letter from x to a friend of his, a bishop in the East, in which he most evidently speaks of the Christian Scriptures as of works of which the bishop knew little or nothing.

Interesting if true. I don't know enough of early church history to know.


In natural history, God's freedom is shown in the law of necessity. In moral history, God's necessity or providence is shown in man's freedom.

What makes a human being human? Freedom.

 

The sum total of moral philosophy is found in this one question, Is Good a superfluous word,—or mere lazy synonym for the pleasurable, and its causes;—at most, a mere modification to express degree, and comparative duration of pleasure?

What is the Good? We used to know but we don't any more. We have lost the idea of the true good.

 

It is curious to trace the operation of the moral law of polarity in the history of politics, religion, &c. When the maximum of one tendency has been attained, there is no gradual decrease, but a direct transition to its minimum, till the opposite tendency has attained its maximum; and then you see another corresponding revulsion. 

Hope for the future then.

 

Never take an iambus as a Christian name. A trochee, or tribrach, will do very well. Edith and Rotha are my favourite names for women.

I have no idea what this means but how could I leave it out?

 

No man was more enthusiastic than I was for France and the Revolution: it had all my wishes, none of my expectations. Before 1793, I clearly saw and often enough stated in public, the horrid delusion, the vile mockery, of the whole affair.

You could say this about many movements ostensibly for freedom which after the initial burst of energy turn sour as freedom becomes disorder and the breaking of boundaries leads to chaos.

 

Every attempt, in a sermon, to cause emotion, except as the consequence of an impression made on the reason, or the understanding, or the will, I hold to be fanatical and sectarian.

Any preacher or orator who seeks to appeal to his audience's emotions might enflame but does not illumine. In fact, he does the opposite. Wisdom is sober.

 

You are always talking of the rights of the negroes. As a rhetorical mode of stimulating the people of England here, I do not object; but I utterly condemn your frantic practice of declaiming about their rights to the blacks themselves. They ought to be forcibly reminded of the state in which their brethren in Africa still are, and taught to be thankful for the providence which has placed them within reach of the means of grace. I know no right except such as flows from righteousness; and as every Christian believes his righteousness to be imputed, so must his right be an imputed right too. It must flow out of a duty, and it is under that name that the process of humanization ought to begin and to be conducted throughout.

Which comes first, rights or duties? Certainly there can be no rights without duties. The first section shows the folly of the idea of reparations.

 

I think St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans the most profound work in existence; and I hardly believe that the writings of the old Stoics, now lost, could have been deeper.


 To carry on the feelings of childhood into the powers of manhood;…. this is the character and privilege of genius, and one of the marks which distinguish genius from talent. 

To preserve innocence while still absorbing experience is to maintain the contact with God.

 

I quite agree with Strabo that there can be no great poet who is not a good man, though not, perhaps, a goody man. His heart must be pure; he must have learned to look into his own heart, and sometimes to look at it; for how can he who is ignorant of his own heart know any thing of, or be able to move, the heart of any one else? 

 

Some music is above me; most music is beneath me. I like Beethoven and Mozart—or else some of the aĆ«rial compositions of the elder Italians, as Palestrina and Carissimi.—And I love Purcell.

Some music comes from the higher world, some from this world and some from the lower world. In fact, not just some but most now in the case of the latter.

 

The most common effect of this mock evangelical spirit, especially with young women, is self-inflation and busy-bodyism. 

Wokery summed up.


If a man is not rising upwards to be an angel, depend upon it, he is sinking downwards to be a devil. He cannot stop at the beast. The most savage of men are not beasts; they are worse, a great deal worse.

 

For compassion a human heart suffices; but for full and adequate sympathy with joy an angel's only. And ever remember, that the more exquisite and delicate a flower of joy, the tenderer must be the hand that plucks it.

 

The Trinity is the idea: the Incarnation, which implies the Fall, is the fact: the Redemption is the mesothesis of the two—that is—the religion.

 

I am, dying, but without expectation of a speedy release. Is it not strange that very recently by-gone images, and scenes of early life, have stolen into my mind, like breezes blown from the spice-islands of Youth and Hope— those twin realities of this phantom world! I do not add Love,—for what is Love but Youth and Hope embracing, and so seen as one? I say realities; for reality is a thing of degrees, from the Iliad to a dream; Yet, in a strict sense, reality is not predicable at all of aught below Heaven. Hooker wished to live to finish his Ecclesiastical Polity;—so I own I wish life and strength had been spared to me to complete my Philosophy. For, as God hears me, the originating, continuing, and sustaining wish and design in my heart were to exalt the glory of his name; and, which is the same thing in other words, to promote the improvement of mankind. But visum aliter Deo (God wishes otherwise), and his will be done.

This was spoken on July 10th 1834.  He died 2 weeks later.

 

 

Friday 10 May 2024

More Table Talk

Here are some more excerpts from Coleridge's Table Talk. It's just a small selection but what seem to me to be the most interesting pieces and most relevant to our day.


Plotinus was a man of wonderful ability, and some of the sublimest passages I ever read are in his works.

Plotinus is indeed sublime but he lacks one thing which is the knowledge of Christ.

 

I was amused the other day with reading in Tertullian, that spirits or demons dilate and contract themselves, and wriggle about like worms.

Makes sense.

 

Luther has sketched the most beautiful picture of the nature and ends and duties of the wedded life I ever read. St. Paul says it is a great symbol, not mystery, as we translate it.

A symbol, presumably, of God and Creation.

 

Why need we talk of a fiery hell? If the will, which is the law of our nature, were withdrawn from our memory, fancy, understanding, and reason, no other hell could equal, for a spiritual being, what we should then feel, from the anarchy of our powers. It would be conscious madness — a horrid thought ! 

Perhaps this is what hell is. When the will has so turned against God that it starts to disintegrate. Madness must ensue.

 

An ear for music is a very different thing from a taste for music. I have no ear whatever; I could not sing an air to save my life; but I have the intensest delight in music, and can detect good from bad. Naldi, a good fellow, remarked to me once at a concert, that I did not seem much interested with a piece of Rossini's which had just been performed. I said it sounded to me like nonsense verses. But I could scarcely contain myself when a thing of Beethoven's followed. 

I understand this, being in the same boat with regard to ear and taste.

 

Galileo was a great genius, and so was Newton ; but it would take two or three Galileos and Newtons to make one Kepler. It is in the order of Providence, that the inventive, generative, constitutive mind — the Kepler — should come first ; and then that the patient and collective mind — the Newton — should follow, and elaborate the pregnant queries and illumining guesses of the former. The laws of the planetary system are, in fact, due to Kepler. There is not a more glorious achievement of scientific genius upon record than Kepler's guesses, prophecies, and ultimate apprehension of the law of the mean distances of the planets as connected with the periods of their revolutions round the sun. Gravitation, too, he had fully conceived; but, because it seemed inconsistent with some received observations on light, he gave it up, in allegiance, as he says, to Nature. Yet the idea vexed and haunted his mind.

 

Bacon, when like himself — for no man was ever more inconsistent — says, "Prudens quaestio dimidium scientiae". 

This is from Roger not Francis. Translation: To ask the proper question is half of science. 

 

It is a melancholy thing to live when there is no vision in the land. Where are our statesmen to meet this emergency ?

If he could have lived now!

 

Is the House of Commons to be re-constructed on the principle of a representation of interests or of a delegation of men? If on the former, we may, perhaps, see our way; if on the latter, you can never, in reason, stop short of universal suffrage; and in that case, I am sure that women have as good a right to vote as men. 

This is from 1830. I'm not sure if it is in favour or against universal suffrage. It depends on what he means by 'if on the former we may see our way'. But see further excerpts below for more light on this.

 

Rousseau, indeed, asserts that there is an inalienable sovereignty inherent in every human being possessed of reason; and from this the framers of the Constitution of 1791 deduce that the people itself is its own sole rightful legislator, and at most dare only recede so far from its right as to delegate to chosen deputies the power of representing and declaring the general will. But this is wholly without proof; for it has been already fully shown that, according to the principle out of which this consequence is attempted to be drawn, it is not the actual man, but the abstract reason alone, that is the sovereign and rightful lawgiver. The confusion of two things so different is so gross an error, that the Constituent Assembly could scarce proceed a step in their declaration of rights without some glaring inconsistency. Children are excluded from all political power; are they not human beings in whom the faculty of reason resides? Yes! but in them the faculty is not yet adequately developed. But are not gross ignorance, inveterate superstition, and the habitual tyranny of passion and sensuality, equally preventives of the development, equally impediments to the rightful exercise, of the reason, as childhood and early youth? 

Democracy by putting the unit (one person, one vote) above its actual capacity (reason) clearly prioritises quantity over quality. This is its fatal flaw.


The principle on which the whole system (of democracy) rests is that reason is not susceptible of degree.

The above comment in a nutshell.

 

Necker, you remember, asked the people to come and help him against the aristocracy. The people came fast enough at his bidding; but, somehow or other, they would not go away again when they had done their work. I hope Lord Grey will not see himself or his friends in the woeful case of the conjuror who, with infinite zeal and pains, called up the devils to do something for him.  They came at the word, thronging about him, grinning, and howling, and dancing, and whisking their long tails in diabolic glee; but when they asked him what he wanted of them, the poor wretch, frightened out of his wits, could only stammer forth,  " I pray you, my friends, be gone down again!" At which the devils, with one voice, replied, " Yes! yes! we go down! we go down  — But we take you with us to sink or to drown! "

A warning to those who open the door to mass immigration from 3rd world countries in order to boost their own power, popularity and/or wealth.

 

The malignant duplicity and unprincipled tergiversations of the specific Whig newspapers are to me detestable. I prefer the open endeavours of those publications which seek to destroy the church: there is a sort of honesty in that which I approve, though I would with joy lay down my life to save my country from the consummation which is so evidently desired by that section of the periodical press. 

Tergiversation is 1: evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement: equivocation. 2 : desertion of a cause, position, party, or faith. Merriam Webster definition. This refers to the bad faith of large sections of the left. Bad faith is often a sign of wrong motivation.

 

The darkest despotisms on the Continent have done more for the growth and elevation of the fine arts than the English government. 

 A perennial complaint.

 

So long as Rubens confines himself to space and outward figure — to the mere animal man with animal passions — he is, I may say, a god amongst painters. His satyrs, Silenuses, lions, tigers, and dogs are almost godlike; but the moment he attempts anything involving or presuming the spiritual, his gods and goddesses, his nymphs and heroes, become beasts, absolute, unmitigated beasts. The more I see of modern pictures, the more I am convinced that the ancient art of painting is gone, and something substituted for it, — very pleasing, but different, and different in kind and not in degree only. Portraits by the old masters are pictures of men and women: they fill, not merely occupy, a space ; they represent individuals, but individuals as types of a species. Modern portraits — a few by Jackson and Owen, perhaps, excepted — give you not the man, not the inward humanity, but merely the external mark.

Wait for the 20th century!

 

As there is much beast and some devil in man; so is there some angel and some God in him. The beast and the devil may be conquered, but in this life never destroyed. 

 

O. P. Q. in the Morning Chronicle is a clever fellow. He is for the greatest possible happiness for the greatest possible number, and for the longest possible time! So am I; so are you, and every one of us, I will venture to say, round the tea-table. First, however, what does O. P. Q. mean by the word happiness and, secondly, how does he propose to make other persons agree in his definition of the term? Don't you see the ridiculous absurdity of setting up that as a principle or motive of action, which is, in fact, a necessary and essential instinct of our very nature — an inborn and inextinguishable desire? How can creatures susceptible of pleasure and pain do otherwise than desire happiness ? But what happiness ? That is the question. The American savage, in scalping his fallen enemy, pursues his happiness naturally and adequately. A Chickasaw or Pawnee Bentham or O. P. Q., would necessarily hope for the most frequent opportunities possible of scalping the greatest possible number of savages for the longest possible time. There is no escaping this absurdity unless you come back to a standard of reason and duty, imperative upon our merely pleasurable sensations. Oh ! but, says O. P. Q. I am for the happiness of others. Of others! Are you indeed ? Well, I happen to be one of those others, and, so far as I can judge from what you show me of your habits and views, I would rather be excused from your banquet of happiness. Your mode of happiness would make me miserable. To go about doing as much good as possible to as many men as possible, is indeed an excellent object for a man to propose to himself; but then, in order that you may not sacrifice the real good and happiness of others to your particular views, which may be quite different from your neighbour's, you must do that good to others which the reason, common to all, pronounces to be good for all. In this sense your fine maxim is so very true as to be a mere truism. 

The problem with this Benthamite utilitarianism which Coleridge rightly condemns is that we rarely know what constitutes true happiness or where it lies.  If heaven is the real home of happiness, which it is, then everything that may lead to heaven is good and everything that does not do that or leads away from it works against happiness.

 

Demagogues always appeal to men as men; and, as you know, the most terrible convulsions in society have been wrought by such phrases as Rights of Man, Sovereignty of the People, &»c., which no one understands, which apply to no one in particular, but to all in general. The devil works precisely in the same way. He is a very clever fellow; I have no acquaintance with him, but I respect his evident talents. Consistent truth and goodness will assuredly in the end overcome everything; but inconsistent good can never be a match for consistent evil. Alas, I look in vain for some wise and vigorous man to sound the word Duty in the ears of this generation. 

The devil is a clever fellow until you are wise to his wiles and then he is a total idiot. But he does know how to bait a hook.

 

The English public is not yet ripe to comprehend the essential difference between the reason and the understanding — between a principle and a maxim — an eternal truth and a mere conclusion generalized from a great number of facts. A man, having seen a million moss-roses all red, concludes from his own experience and that of others that all moss-roses are red. That is a maxim with him— the greatest amount of his knowledge upon the subject. But it is only true until some gardener has produced a white moss-rose, — after which the maxim is good for nothing. Again, suppose Adam watching the sun sinking under the western horizon for the first time; he is seized with gloom and terror, relieved by scarce a ray of hope that he shall ever see the glorious light again. The next evening, when it declines, his hopes are stronger, but still mixed with fear; and even at the end of a thousand years, all that a man can feel is a hope and an expectation so strong as to preclude anxiety. 

It seems to me that this is an important difference between religion and science; one deals with eternal truths while the other is based on conclusions generalized from a great number of facts.

 

I never from a boy could under any circumstances feel the slightest dread of death as such. In all my illnesses I have ever had the most intense desire to be released from this life, unchecked by any but one wish, namely, to be able to finish my work on Philosophy. Not that I have any author's vanity on the subject.

A fitting comment to end this group of extracts and something to which we should all aspire. 

 

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Table Talk by Coleridge

The excerpts below are quotes from Table Talk by Samuel Taylor Coleridge which consists of recollections of his conversations published after his death by his nephew Henry Nelson Coleridge. I came across the first one recently and thought it very pertinent to our present time, particularly with relevance to the reaction during the recent health scare. So I looked through an online version of the book and found it full of similar pithy observations, a few of which I reproduce here with an occasional comment in italics

 

 There is the love of the good for the good’s sake, and the love of the truth for the truth’s sake. I have known many, especially women, love the good for the good’s sake; but very few, indeed, and scarcely one woman, love the truth for the truth’s sake. Yet without the latter, the former may become, as it has a thousand times been, the source of persecution of the truth – the pretext and motive of inquisitorial cruelty and party zealotry.

One should add that the real good is the same as the real true so it is the apparent or even the false good that people, especially women, prefer to the real good, and this is because it makes greater appeal to their feelings or to their desire for comfort, safety and general 'niceness'.


The true key to the declension of the Roman empire — which is  not to be found in all Gibbon's immense work — may be stated in  two words : — the imperial character overlaying, and finally destroying, the national character. Rome under Trajan was an empire without a nation. 

This is not exactly two words but one can see what he means, and it could be said to be what is happening to the West now.

 

Kant assigns three great races of mankind. If two individuals  of distinct races cross, a third, or tertium aliquid is invariably produced, different from either, as a white and a negro produce a mulatto. But when different varieties of the same race cross, the offspring is according to what we call chance ; it is now like one,  now like the other parent. Note this, when you see the children of any couple of distinct European complexions, — as English and Spanish, German and Italian, Russian and Portuguese, and so on. 

I have noticed this in people of my acquaintance.

 

There are two principles in every European and Christian state: Permanency and Progression. In the civil wars of the seventeenth century in England, which are as new and fresh now as they were a hundred and sixty years ago, and will be so for ever to us, these two principles came to a struggle. It was natural that the great and the good of the nation should be found in the ranks of either side. 

Many of the present problems are caused by the abandonment of what Coleridge calls the sense of Permanency.

 

Either we have an immortal soul, or we have not. If we have not, we are beasts; the first and wisest of beasts, it may be; but still true beasts. We shall only differ in degree, and not in kind;  just as the elephant differs from the slug. But by the concession of all the materialists of all the schools, or almost all, we are not of the same kind as beasts — and this also we say from our own consciousness. Therefore, methinks, it must be the possession of a soul within us that makes the difference. 

Bring back the use of the word 'methinks'.

 

This is not a logical age. A friend lately gave me some political pamphlets of the times of Charles I and the Cromwellate. In them the premises are frequently wrong, but the deductions are almost always legitimate; whereas, in the writings of the present day, the premises are commonly sound, but the conclusions false. I think a great deal of commendation is due to the University of Oxford for preserving the study of logic in the schools. It is a great mistake to suppose geometry any substitute for it. 

You could apply this to our age in the sense that reasoned discourse stripped of ideology is becoming rarer, but I suspect that could have been said of many other times too.

 

St. John's logic is Oriental, and consists chiefly in position and parallel; whilst St. Paul displays all the intricacies of the Greek system.

The mystic and the philosopher.

 

The first three Gospels show the history, that is, the fulfilment of  the prophecies in the facts. St. John declares explicitly the doctrine, oracularly, and without comment, because, being pure reason, it can only be proved by itself. For Christianity proves itself, as the sun is seen by its own light. Its evidence is involved in its existence. St Paul writes more particularly for the dialectic understanding; and proves those doctrines, which were capable of such proof, by common logic. 

A proof of Christianity lies in the fact that it offers us more than we could have ever hoped for or imagined.

 

St. John used the term Logos technically. Philo-Judaeus had so used it several years before the probable date of the composition of this Gospel; and it was commonly understood amongst the Jewish Rabbis at that time, and afterwards, of the manifested God. The Jewish Church understood the Messiah to be a divine person. Philo expressly cautions against anyone's supposing the Logos to be a mere personification, or symbol. He says the Logos is a substantial, self-existent Being. The Gnostics, as they were afterwards called, were a kind of Arians; and thought the Logos was an after-birth. They placed the Abyss and Silence before him. Therefore it was that St. John said, with emphasis, “ln the beginning was the Word." He was begotten in the first simultaneous burst of Godhead, if such an expression may be pardoned, in speaking of eternal existence. 

To assert that God is a Person is not a childish projection but the most advanced religious doctrine.

 

The national debt has, in fact, made more men rich than have a right to be so.

It certainly has and even more so today.

 

Pantheism and idolatry naturally end in each other; for all extremes meet.

As now when completely incompatible ideologies unite to contest the real.


Plato's works are logical exercises for the mind. Little that is positive is advanced in them. Socrates may be fairly represented by Plato in the more moral parts; but in all the metaphysical disquisitions it is Pythagoras.

It's a pity we know Plato by his nickname or we could talk of Aristocles (his real name) and Aristotle. Apparently he was given this nickname, which means broad as in broad-chested, by his wrestling coach. All philosophers should have a wrestling coach.

 

In fact, there are the popular, the sacerdotal, and the mysterious religions of Greece, represented roughly by Homer, Pindar, and Aeschylus. The ancients had no notion of the fall of man, though they had of his gradual degeneracy. Prometheus, in the old mythus, and for the most part in Aeschylus, is the Redeemer and the Devil jumbled together. 

An interesting insight.


"Most women have no character at all," said Pope, and meant it for satire. Shakespeare, who knew man and woman much better,  saw that it, in fact, was the perfection of woman to be characterless. Everyone wishes a Desdemona or Ophelia for a wife, — creatures who, though they may not always understand you, do always feel you, and feel with you.

If the highest state of matter is to reflect spirit perfectly you can see what he means here.


The man's desire is for the woman ; but the woman's desire is  rarely other than for the desire of the man. 

A generalisation but not without substance.

 

I cannot say I expect much from mere Egyptian antiquities. Everything really that is intellectually great in that country seems to me of Grecian origin.

Sometimes he gets it wrong. On the other hand (and see below), the Greeks did make rational what the Egyptians seemed only to understand intuitively.

 

There was, I conceive, one great Japetic original of language, under which Greek, Latin, and other European dialects, and, perhaps, Sanskrit, range as species. The Japetic race separated 

into two branches; one, with a tendency to migrate south-west, — Greeks, Italians, &c. ; and the other northwest, — Goths, Germans, Swedes, &c. The Hebrew is Semitic. 

Japetic means descending from Noah's son Japheth and seems to refer here to Indo-Europeans.

 

I more clearly see that the doctrine of Trinal Unity (that is to say, the Trinityis an absolute truth transcending my human means of understanding it.

 

The result of my system will be to show that, so far from the world being a goddess in petticoats, it is rather the Devil in a strait waistcoat. 

More true than ever today.

 

The controversy of the Nominalists and Realists was one of the greatest and most important that ever occupied the human mind. They were both right and both wrong. They each maintained 

opposite poles of the same truth; which truth neither of them saw, for want of a higher premise. 

I see what he means but I would still place the Realists above the Nominalists. The latter could be said to be the origin of modern materialism.


A Fall  of some sort or other — the creation, as it were, of the non- absolute — is the fundamental postulate of the moral history of man. Without this hypothesis, man is unintelligible; with it, every phenomenon is explicable. The mystery itself is too profound for human insight.

The doctrine of the Fall makes sense of so much.


A woman's head is usually over ears in her heart Man seems to have been designed for the superior being of the two; but as things are, I think women are generally better creatures than men. They have, 

taken universally, weaker appetites and weaker intellects, but they have much stronger affections. A man with a bad heart has been sometimes saved by a strong head; but a corrupt woman is lost for ever. 

The tragedy of feminism which poses as a liberator but actually corrupts.


The Trinity is the Will; 2. the Reason, or Word; 3. the Love, or Life. As we distinguish these three, so we must unite them in one God. The union must be as transcendent as the distinction. 


If a man's conduct cannot be ascribed to the angelic, nor to the bestial within him, what is there left for us to refer it to, but the fiendish ? Passion without any appetite is fiendish. 

Demons exist.


The best way to bring a clever young man who has become sceptical and unsettled to reason, is to make him feel something. Love, if sincere and unworldly, will, in nine instances out of ten, bring him to a sense and assurance of something real and actual ; and that sense alone will make him think to a sound purpose, instead of dreaming that he is thinking. 

We must distinguish between feeling and feelings.

 

Talent, lying in the understanding, is often inherited; genius, being the action of reason and imagination, rarely or never.

 

I, for one, do not call the sod under my feet my country. But language, religion, laws, government, blood, — identity in these makes men of one country. 

Immigration without proper integration is a disaster. This is why it should be kept to reasonable limits, limits which it has far exceeded in Western nations in recent years.

 

The Pilgrim's Progress is composed in the lowest style of English, without slang or false grammar. If you were to polish it, you would at once destroy the reality of the vision. For works of imagination should be written in very plain language; the more purely imaginative they are the more necessary it is to be plain. 

 

Party men always hate a slightly differing friend more than a downright enemy. I quite calculate on my being one day or other holden in worse repute by many Christians than the Unitarians and open infidels. It must be undergone by everyone who loves the truth for its own sake beyond all other things. 

It's more important to be on the right side than to believe exactly the same things.


People may say what they please about the gradual improvement of the Arts. It is not true of the substance. The Arts and the Muses both spring forth in the youth of nations, like Minerva from the front of

 Jupiter, all armed: manual dexterity may, indeed, be improved by practice. 

The difference between inspiring impulse and execution.


I hold all claims set up for Egypt having given birth to the Greek philosophy to be groundless. It sprang up in Greece itself, and began with physics only. Then it took in the idea of a living cause and made Pantheism out of the two. Socrates introduced ethics, and taught duties; and then, finally, Plato asserted or reasserted the idea of a God the maker of the world. The measure of human philosophy was thus full, when Christianity came to add what before was wanting - assurance. After this again, the Neo-Platonists joined Theurgy with philosophy, which ultimately degenerated into magic and mere mysticism. 

Egypt probably did not have an intellectualised philosophy as such but it did have a highly developed knowledge of mysticism and magic. Otherwise this is not a bad history of religion in the West.

 

This is just a small selection from the first half of the book. I may do another post on the remainder but it serves to remind us that Coleridge was much more than just a romantic poet.

 

Friday 3 May 2024

Strait is the Gate

 A few days ago I was out for my usual early evening walk. The particular circular route I was taking this time started off in a local park then proceeded up a road that goes to the downs and then across a field with horses that leads to a small wood from where it's a mile or so home. I like this walk because of its variety but this day I was feeling the routine and, to be frank, monotony of my daily life more than usual. Many years ago I was told by my teachers that my life must continue in a routine until I left my physical body, and such has been the case up until now. I realise this is necessary, unglamorous as it seems, as a spiritual discipline but sometimes it can become frustrating and on this occasion I was feeling that frustration. The spiritual darkness of the contemporary world was also weighing down on me and I lamented this out loud, asking God and my guides if a little break in the clouds might be possible. Don't be weak, came the response as a thought in my head. You are lucky to be in the position you are in where you can see what you do. When you reject the world you cannot expect worldly reward and satisfaction. When you allow God to work on you, you must be prepared for hardship on the level of the earthly ego. That was all very well, but still I asked for a little light in the darkness.

When these thoughts were going through my head I turned off the road going to the downs and into the field with horses. Luckily I had my phone with me as I was expecting a call from my daughter. I don't usually carry it when I go out. This is what I saw. 


The last time I had gone through this field there was a path that led to the woods at the end and it was twice the width it was now. There had also been no gate. The landowner had clearly decided to reduce the size of what was a public right of way through his field and put up a gate and posts to narrow the path. That was a pity but what struck me was that here, almost immediately after I had asked my question, was the answer to it. It came from Matthew 7:14. "Strait is the gate and narrow the way which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it." I had been lamenting the circumscription of my life but here I was being told in no uncertain terms. "What do you expect? This is how it is. Stop complaining, open the gate and go through!"

If it weren't for the fact that this teaching is applicable to others I wouldn't mention it here. After all, it's a tiny incident and its significance would be lost on most people. That significance could even be entirely imaginary. But I do think God speaks to us at certain times. He does not thunder from on high. He speaks so softly we might miss it if we weren't paying attention. On this occasion, though, it seemed to me that he answered my question in a perfect way.