Talk on Reincarnation

October 6th, 2016

We put on an event in Tunbridge Wells on Christianity and Reincarnation, and it was filmed. See the results here.

Attention and prayer

October 5th, 2016
“Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.”
Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace
This closes a circle that I’ve been pondering. A friend has enlisted me in her research project on the nature of attention. Soon, she’s interviewing me about an example of bringing strong attention to bear on a concrete situation. The examples that came to mind were all times of extreme stress, mainly to do with conflict. In such times, I remember the most strongly what prayer can do. If something has disturbed me in the day and go to bed without addressing it, I wake at 3am and can’t sleep any more. If I manage to dwell in the problem, describing it to myself, trying to understand, and then taking up the attitudes of the fourth and fifth subsidiary exercises in a prayerful mood, I can get to a place that is beyond the mixed concerns that make my soul restless. I think this is what John Taylor was describing in The Go-Between God, which I’ve blogged about here.
Is this consciousness — which Simone Weil seems to have been striving for — what Jesus had? Constantly aware of the reality of the broken world, whilst not being deflected by it from his vision of the oneness of all things? Simone Weil’s life demonstrates that we’re not quite ready to bear such a consciousness yet — we veer over into fanaticism, described beautifully in terms of transpersonal psychology in this article.

Simone Weil on Beauty

October 5th, 2016

From the Wikipedia article on Simone Weil:

For Weil, “The beautiful is the experimental proof that the incarnation is possible”. The beauty which is inherent in the form of the world (this inherency is proven, for her, in geometry, and expressed in all good art) is the proof that the world points to something beyond itself; it establishes the essentially telic character of all that exists. Her concept of beauty extends throughout the universe: “we must have faith that the universe is beautiful on all levels…and that it has a fullness of beauty in relation to the bodily and psychic structure of each of the thinking beings that actually do exist and of all those that are possible. It is this very agreement of an infinity of perfect beauties that gives a transcendent character to the beauty of the world…He (Christ) is really present in the universal beauty. The love of this beauty proceeds from God dwelling in our souls and goes out to God present in the universe”. She also wrote that “The beauty of this world is Christ’s tender smile coming to us through matter”.[54]

Beauty also served a soteriological function for Weil: “Beauty captivates the flesh in order to obtain permission to pass right to the soul.” It constitutes, then, another way in which the divine reality behind the world invades our lives. Where affliction conquers us with brute force, beauty sneaks in and topples the empire of the self from within.

Simone Weil – waiting and attending

October 5th, 2016

[Simone Weil] felt quite clear that it was her own vocation to be on the threshold of the church. She had frequently discussed Catholicism with J. M. Perrin, a Dominican priest she first met in Marseilles. He urged her to seek baptism. But shortly before leaving for New York she had written to him, saying, I have always remained at this exact point, on the threshold of the Church, without moving. It was the place where she made her spiritual home.

This sense of waiting on the threshold was a key element of her larger spiritual perspective, in which she stressed the importance of an attitude of attentive, receptive waiting. In New York she wrote in her journal: Waiting patiently in expectation is the foundation of the spiritual life. In her letters and journals she was slowly and hesitantly carving out an account of how attentiveness could enable spiritual growth. It was, she believed, the person of receptivity and openness who would discover the truth. Deep truth had a way of eluding those who set out to grasp it by willpower.

Simone Weil believed that this discipline of attention was necessary if we are to know God. But she also believed that it was necessary if we are to know, and to help, other persons. In this way her philosophy of attention seeks to unite contemplation and action. In an essay written before she left France, published inWaiting for God, she says, Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them attention. The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle.

From http://americamagazine.org/issue/335/article/simone-weils-last-journey

Angels and consciousness

January 25th, 2016

Matthew David Segal has written an interesting post about Steiner and the Hierarchies on his blog, which deserves some deeper examining.

Spiritual Background to Organisational Life

August 9th, 2015

I have revised this paper that I first wrote about five years ago, which sets out some thoughts on the work of the Hiearchies in organisational life. Here’s a taster, from the conclusion:

The Holy Spirit, working through my Angel, beckons me to choose life, development and self-giving love instead of stasis, decline and selfishness. He does this by reminding me that everything that I encounter is the reality that I have chosen to co-create. And that the ‘I’ that I truly am has been shaped and endowed by the Logos through many cycles of time to arrive at this point of wondrous privilege and potential: the point at which it is given into my hands to decide how I choose to see reality around me, and what I choose to co-create in the future.

Creation is an overflow of the divine love, endlessly abundant and generous. Its purpose is to beckon creatures to increase the glory by attaining the power to create by exercising their choice to love. By creating organisations, we are not only making optimal places for human creativity to unfold. We may channel the forces of the Logos to create new worlds.

I was prompted to write the paper by the interest of some of those involved in the Grubb School of Organisational Analysis. I am delighted to hear that their MA programme will be starting soon. I benefited greatly from two short courses organised by the Grubb Institute which I attended, and which flowed into the paper.

The elusive I

June 22nd, 2015

Is ‘I’ a pronoun, or the activity it carries out? It has two aspects: it is a spark of the divine fire (which feels like a ‘thing’) and a process of connecting with the world (which feels like an activity). Rather like light in the famous quantum experiment, which it is for us depends on how we look. Maybe there’s an inverse correlation, though. Like joy in Blake’s poem, the I will never be found as a thing; it can only be intuited as we let go of it.

One has to lose one’s earthly I if one is to perceive one’s true I. And without developing this surrender, one cannot approach this true I. One would like to say: the true I should not be sought if it is to appear and reveal itself; and it hides itself, if it is sought. For it is only found in love. And love is the surrender of one’s own being to the other being. For this reason the true I has to be found like a stranger. 
Rudolf Steiner, DIE MENSCHLICHE ERKENNTNISFÄHIGKEIT IN DER ÄTHERISCHEN WELT Dornach, 22. April 1923 untranslated  (Lit.: GA 084, S. 142)

John 5

June 20th, 2015

My Father works until now — and I too work. (John 5: 17)

Everything we do builds on the past. Our bodies are the products of our heritage, and of age-long evolution; our memories and the capabilities we have learned earlier in life serve us; even our thinking rests on patterns of thought we have grown accustomed to.

This is why statistical predictions are so depressingly accurate. If you move the waste-bin by the entrance to the station concourse, the flow of people will adjust. When the manager decides to put strawberries instead of raspberries on the end of the aisle, sales will go up.

Then there are the things that cannot be predicted. Where does inspiration come from, that helps me to think anew about a knotty problem? What makes me decide to take my loved one a present for no reason at all (assuming it wasn’t on the end of the supermarket aisle!) What makes me give my time to a project no-one will hear about, but which matters to me?

This could be what is meant by the working of the Father being joined by the working of the Son. Deterministic pictures of scientific evolution share with some dogmatic religious pictures the idea that there is no free will. Then Christ only continues the work of the Father, and everything continues on the track that the Father has set for it. The context for this statement is the complaint made by the Jewish authorities that Jesus has healed a man on the Sabbath day. Of course, the bequest of creation does not stop because it’s Sabbath. However, in the hiatus of the memorial of the first creation, Christ proclaims a new creation — “I too work”. We can experience a faint echo of this whenever we find the power within us to do something new and unpredictable. An audit of the day will show that there usually are not many such moments. Such an audit may also stimulate the desire to bring a few more into the day.

The plan of the world

June 18th, 2015

Beautiful words from the first lecture of Rudolf Steiner’s fundamental lecture cycle on the spiritual hierarchies make me ponder in what way he means the plan of the world.

Spiritual beings had first those imaginations, inspirations, intuitions, those ideas and thoughts according to which the world, as we see it, was formed. Man finds these thoughts and ideas in the world again; when he rises to clairvoyant vision, he finds the imaginations, inspirations, and intuitions, by the help of which he can penetrate into the world of those spiritual beings. We can, therefore, say that before our world came into being there already existed the wisdom of which we are going to speak: it is the PLAN OF THE WORLD.
– See more at: http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA110/English/APC1928/19090412a01.html#sthash.cvxJTM6b.dpuf

It’s so hard to get our heads round the fact that the plan of the world does not exist as a blueprint determining everything; rather it is the final cause – the direction in which everything is moving. One of the best expressions of this is the film the Adjustment Bureau, where the Angels carry the plans of each individual’s destiny, and have to see how the plans are constantly branching and bifurcated. Nevertheless they are sure that a major rewrite of the plan will be impossible. Only the love of two human beings can bring this about. Thus the film is a comedy, not a tragedy: life proves to be greater than fate. 

Two ways to be lost

June 15th, 2015

Whatever imbalance of soul we look at, it can be mapped onto a dynamic between self and world.

We may think the world is to blame for our woes; or that we are to blame for the woes of the world.

We may ward off encounter as an attack, seeking refuge in our shell, or we may flow out too far and lose ourself in the other.

We may be proud or we may be self-abnegating. 

We may be a victim or the perpetrator.

These two extremes are the reflection of summer and winter in the soul. In summer we stream out and become one with the cosmos; in winter we withdraw into our own shell.

Learning to negotiate these extremes is a part of the art of being human. Learning to understand our own and others’ one-sidedness helps us to deal with the world and each other.