Sunday, December 21, 2008


Only when I am conscious of being creatively fecundated by the ground of my being, by the intelligence which transcends my own, am I not in despair. I despair of my spiritlessness, which comes upon me all too frequently. I despair of my defining myself - perforce - by my activity, my rational activity because such activity inevitably becomes a prison. I despair, most of all, when I am thrown back on nothing more than my rational awareness in its empirical immediacy. At this latter point, I feel I am buried alive: sentient, conscious, but impotent.

The definition of oneself by less than a universal intelligence is spiritlessness. Of course one can define oneself by reference to such and be unaware of it: one can call it ‘God’, ‘the divine’ one’s ‘creativity’, one’s ‘lucky star’, one’s ‘demon’, and so on. But one is thus defining oneself by reference to an intelligence that transcends that of the individual. The trouble starts here when one tries to arrogate responsibility for these things to one’s conscious ego. Even if one regards these things as somehow objective and apart from one’s self, they are primitive notions and leave the self dissatisfied, or in despair.

Kierkegaard and Nietzsche are not only the fathers of Existentialism, they also represent the two alternatives remaining to those who try and think themselves into well-being. There are only two possibilities: either one recognises and revels in one’s complete dependence upon that intelligence and that creativity that is not under the control of the ego (‘God’, in the vocabulary of religion), or else one refuses this and in defiance regards one’s own ego as the only source of authority of any kind. The first state is faith, the second is spiritlessness. The first state is serene without being fatalistic; the second state is desperate, frightened and in all probability angry as well. This second state is also temporary, for it only exists while the ego considers itself both rational and opposed to faith.

Kierkegaard said: ‘the whole development of the world tends in the direction of the absolute significance of the category of particularity’. What he meant by this was that the person is destined to discover its unique rootedness in the incomprehensible Creator or else destroy itself in despair.

The ultimate despair, one which has recognised the illusoriness of the ego’s self-regard, is not far from faith, since it is the necessary precursor to faith. The desire for an absolute identity for oneself remains vivid; and yet to see that self as grounded on nothing, neither ego nor intelligent unknown, is the most exquisite Hell a person can enter.

Nietzsche’s biggest mistake was that of the Romantic: he desired to take a step backwards into paganism, after having had acquaintance with a later stage of the evolution of human consciousness (that of the Incarnation). But the simple life cannot be aped: one cannot without self-harm, will to enter a more primitive form of consciousness. Knowing, as he did, the illusoriness of the ego’s self-love, his self had, then, to be grounded on the void, for the void is all that is left to the ego when it renounces its own groundedness in the Creator.

Socially constructed identities have gone. They are no longer possible. The self has to define itself by reference to that which creates both us and everything else.

There is no way in which one can manufacture a self. The self is not determined by an essence, it is true; but it is determined by what the universal intelligence constantly requires that the self shall be. How could this be otherwise when even the 'random' movement of the individual sub-atomic particle is guided at every moment by what the universal intelligence wills it shall be (this is in effect the significance of Bohm’s ‘quantum potential’). That requirement could never be defined by the self; but the self can nevertheless see the direction it has to take in obedience to the universal intelligence.

Where do we begin? We could (or must) begin by positing the Creator. Now if at this point you turn away from me in disgust or disappointment, or even in impatience, then that is possibly because you are a closed mind. I could replace the word ‘Creator’ by a less contentious term, such as ‘nature’, ‘world’, ‘being’ and so on; but my language would lose its force. If you take exception to my use of this word, that reaction is probably due to a failure of the imagination: you are probably operating with stunted, nursery conceptions of what the word means. You are in all probability still wrestling with a Father Christmas conception of the deity. For this reason you are probably incapable of understanding what I have to say. If you leave me here, I bid you adieu.

Philosophers are sometimes hypocrites. They have generally decided on the point they want to make before they get down to write the argument which is to bring them to their conclusion: the conclusion, far from concluding anything, always begins what they have to say. Therefore read their books from back to front, as Nietzsche advises. They argue for a position and pretend to present a conclusion derived by inference from premises. After labyrinthine wanderings through esoteric argument, they arrive at the point they were aiming at, i.e. from which they started. We will have none of this. We posit the Creator and then give our reasons for so doing. We posit a universal religious urge and the real possibility of encounter with the universal intelligence as the satisfaction of this urge.

It is not true that encounter with the Creator can be achieved by a process of cognitive accumulation analogous to the cognitive accumulation that leads us humans to develop our technology. The Creator is discovered by the human mind as a matter of course, if it is allowed to develop naturally and is not deceived by the delusions of knowledge. The atheist, though useful, is really a poor fool who believes things that flatter his own ego. For example, he believes that those who have faith in God have this as a result of cognitive accumulation. It is not surprising, given this, that the atheist is an atheist. The atheist merely proves the point: there is no possibility of faith in the Creator arising as a result of cognitive accumulation. There is, similarly, no knowledge of the self that comes about by cognitive accumulation. The self is discovered by virtue of the undistorted experience of the self. The Creator, likewise, is discovered by experience of the intelligent and creative roots of the self. This is not the same as cognitive accumulation.

The atheist performs a very useful service: he keeps those who have encountered the universal intelligence on their toes. This latter encounter can only remain active, vivid and fertile if it is kept in constant review and under constant criticism. The atheist performs this task for those who have faith. I cannot imagine any worse state of affairs than one in which everyone believed uncritically in some divine being. It would be as bad as the situation in which no-one believed in such a being. The atheist performs the task of maintaining the mental hygiene of those who live in a state of encounter with universal intelligence and he is to be thanked for his service. He pricks the balloon of self-importance that is liable to afflict those who, directly or indirectly, encounter universal intelligence. When the concept ‘God’ is no more than a sort of social cement, its usefulness is exhausted. Worse than that, it is an injurious notion because it creates the illusion of group identity based upon shared cognitive accumulation. Unfortunaltely, the atheist suffers from the delusions of the ego; but that is another story.

Nietzsche detested Socialism because he saw it as the comfortable lowing of the herd. In the final analysis, it is the individual that is the source of all social cohesion and shared value. If – as is the case – the individual identity is intrinsically superior to the group identity (maleness, Englishness, middle-classness, educatedness, socialistness etc.) then ethical values, and therefore social cohesion, can only come from a transcendent source. Humanism is bunk: it tries to derive values from the abstraction ‘man’ or from aspects of group identity. Neither of these is a possible source of values. Not the abstraction ‘man’ because this is either the old essentialism, or it is scientific nonsense, or meaningless abstraction; and not the group-identity values, because these never fit the individual and exist only for the reasons of expediency found by those whose priority is social organisation.

It is for all these reasons that I do not find the idea of the Incarnation, the timeless Creator’s appearance in time, as absurd. If there is a Creator of the universe and if he has, by virtue of his intelligent creativity, produced creatures capable of appreciating and desiring him, then it seems to me anything but absurd that he should so order the process of time, by means of which he has produced these creatures, as to be able to reveal himself within it. Anything else would be divine cruelty of the purest kind.

There is nothing that militates against the notion of an intelligent Creator in the interminable wrangling and conflicts of human groups. Anyone with half an eye can see that there is something profoundly wrong with human beings as human beings; and I am not referring to all the frailties and afflictions to which we are subject. I am referring to something essentially wrong with the state of being human. Man, to abstract and generalise, is unformed, man is guilty, man is riven by contradictions, man is, in a word, imperfect. One only has to consider non-human nature to appreciate this: there is nothing wrong with any of it. No non-human being is a purely transitional being. And yet, man’s unformedness and guilt are precisely his greatness, for without them he would not have any desire to raise himself to a position in which he can comprehend his maker. For man knows that he is unformed. I say ‘raise himself’ merely in order to identify the desire; I mean of course, ‘allow himself to be raised’, for there is little that man can do to raise himself out of his native purblindness. If left to himself, he will simply follow his animal instincts and strive to increase his pleasure.

There is no single truth for everyone, because what we call ‘truth’ is only a means and not an end. The end of the acquisition of truth is an encounter with the universal intelligence; but many who claim to be in search of truth stop short of this ultimate aim and settle for accumulated knowledge. It is absurd to forget that there are mindstyles. A ‘truth’ strikes a mind as illuminating and convincing because the mind in question needs the truth in question. The same truth will strike another mind as absurd. This has nothing to do with the value of the formalism used to express such ‘truths’. Mathematics, logic, computer algorithms - all these are supremely useful and can both generate and express illuminating truths. But the belief that the universe is mathematical, logical or governed by an algorithm is the height of absurdity. It arises from the belief that since these methods can generate illuminating ‘truths’, there must be some ultimate truth at the end of the process of such generation. The chains of inference that give us illuminating ‘truths’, it is believed, has an end in some final proof. But belief is not created by proof; consensus is. Consensus is the lowest common denominator of knowledge; it is akin to the lowing of the herd.

It really is nonsensical to speculate whether mathematics comes out of the nature of mind itself, or whether it comes into the mind from outside, from what we call ‘the world’. Obviously both of these possibilities could be true at once. The formalisms, the symbols and rules of combination etc. come from without, or are suggested by what we observe in the world; the relations at the heart of our formal arguments, however, inhere in the nature of the intellect and come from within. Why is it that we so resolutely refuse to spot the difference in nature and status between form and content? Sometimes we even go as far as denying the validity of the distinction. To understand the difference between the form and the content of one’s creative thought is to see that the former is socially constructed, time-bound and fallible in every possible way, while the latter is simply unassailable. Form can never properly ‘get at’ content, which is why disputes exist.

What we imagine as the end result of long processes of inference – truth, then – is in fact not arrived at by means of those processes, but at best in parallel to them and sometimes in spite of them. It is true that an accumulation of illuminating ‘truths’ can facilitate the achievement of that state that we have called ‘an encounter with the universal intelligence’; but there is no direct connection between the process and the result, as if one were entitled to expect such a result from one’s efforts. The result comes when the futility of inferential thought is recognised and when the inexpressible core of awareness that is established in an encounter with the Creator makes plain the eternal gulf in human thought between form and content.

To believe that one possesses some sort of ultimate ‘truth’ when one has only a series of inferences couched within a particular formal language, is to be in a state of spiritlessness and despair.

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