Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A Matter of Truth

If I write:-                                2H2 + O2 = 2H2O

that is to say, two molecules of hydrogen when combined with one molecule of oxygen produce two molecules of water, then that is a statement of truth. In other words, the symbols used in this chemical equation correspond to "things" which we can handle in the outer world, and which behave in accordance with that equation. The truth lies in the sense of equivalence between symbol and object.

Similarly, if I write:-                     10 + 5 = 15

this could correspond to the fact that if I enter a shop and buy ten articles, enter a second shop and buy a further five articles, I will arrive home with fifteen articles. In other words, there is a direct correspondence between the symbols used in the arithmetical equation and the objects I take home. I have made a statement of truth relative to those objects and their symbolic representation, but these exemplars are not the only kind of truth.

In the comments to an earlier post ("An Instrument of Power," posted on 10.8.2013) it was suggested that I draw the Wand of Power.  I have long puzzled over my antipathy towards that idea.  What purpose would the drawing of the Wand have served?  I concluded that the only purpose which could have been served, and which could have been served equally well without the use of a drawing, would have been to point me in a particular direction, for a Wand of Power needs to direct its energy.  Thus it was that when, in a state of meditation, I pointed the wand to some point ahead, a great hole opened in the air before me.

..........Through that hole I stepped, to be confronted by a world of fire, flames that did not consume.  As I walked through the flames I saw that they were heads of people, man and woman, young and old, modern and ancient, of many faiths and beliefs.  Everyone had their faces turned towards a great column of brilliant, white light.  So bright was the symbol of enlightenment that all eyes were closed against that symbol of enlightenment.  And I also, as I approached the light, was obliged to turn my eyes away......... 
                                                              [Extract from my personal diary]

The symbol referred to in this extract was not truth in itself, but a pointer to an ineffable experience which was truth. It was what I experienced that day that was truth, not the imagery which pointed the way.  Similarly, no words in any book, no matter how learned in psycho-spiritual matters, no matter how holy and sacred, can be said to be the Truth.

Like the Wand, the Word is a pointer towards the truth.  Truth is revealed through experience.

Finally, to say, "God Is," or even that, "I Am," is not truth.  They are nothing more than statements using written symbols.  Equally, to say, "God Is Not," is not truth either, for the same reason. But, the experience of God, or by whatever means that theistic experience is named, and which is an ineffable experience because God cannot be defined, now that is truth, and it is absolute, because that experience is "known" by the totality of my innermost, deepest, being.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Mortification, and a Tale of Woe

On Saturday, eleven days ago, whilst Lucy was in England doing her knitting wool thing, Molly and I were taking a stroll around the local Plan d'Eau. The weather and the ground were damp that day, and there came a moment when, lo and behold, I found myself lying on my back and gazing at the limited wonders of an overcast sky. My first reaction to this unexpected state of affairs was to murmur, "Oh Moll!" as I discovered I had let go her lead. Now as you probably know, our Molly is as deaf as a beautiful, black post; her eyesight isn't up to much either. Thus it was with a sense of pleasure and relief that I felt her snuffling my face, with her tail banging against my chest. She had not wandered off, and was safe. It was only when I realised what a fool I might have looked, lying on a wet and gritty path, that I found the necessaries to get back on my feet, and drive home.

At home, I was engaged in the partial laying of a new hall floor, a task I wished to complete before Lucy returned home on the Monday, two days hence. This I did manage to do although the pain in my right thigh, and a slight niggle in my right knee, was causing some difficulty. You see, when I fell - I had caught my foot in a grass-camouflaged animal hole - I did so with my bunch of car keys and my purse/wallet in my right-hand trouser pocket. If I knew the values of the parameters involved in the thigh/keys/wallet-to-ground contact, I'd happily calculate the force of the contact for you. It felt like many tonnes per square centimetre. (Alright, tons per square inch then.) As the week progress, my thigh improved quite satisfactorily. Unfortunately, unsuspected damage to my right knee, held in abeyance whilst my thigh healed, now made itself unpleasantly apparent.

Yesterday, having collected all the reasons I needed to see my local GP, (my alarmingly colourful knee and associated pains, two hypodermic syringes of anti-flu stuff for Lucy and me - mine's free - and a request for my annual blood test) off we went to the surgery. After some gentle poking and prodding, and slight manipulation, the doctor concluded that there had been a sprain, damage to various ligaments, bleeding into the knee joint, and possible disruption to the meniscus between the thigh bone and the lower leg bones. (For those interested that's a cartilage between the femur and the tibia and fibula, the whole joint suffering the effects of a haematoma.) At the completion of our visit, and not needing to have an X-ray - which can be a real pain, sitting in a clinic with sick people and screamingly ebullient kids running around - we went on our way rejoicing, as the saying goes, to 'la pharmacie' for some painkillers.

It has to be said that yesterday I was feeling rather less than well. Nights are difficult to cope with at present, and when the morning finally arrived, and finding me in something of a 'below par' state, I was offered breakfast in bed.

"Poor Tom!" I hear you saying, "Needing to be fussed and coddled."

Now please do not be concerned on my account. Being fussed and coddled by Lucy is not something I have a strong aversion to; in fact I have no aversion to it at all;  I will go further and say I rather like it. So there you are, confession is good for the soul, and so is fussing and coddling.

This morning, meditation was very difficult. Frankly, I was feeling on the up and found it difficult to find a sense of inner tranquillity. I burned a stick of frankincense and myrrh (well you have to do things properly, and my knee is far from pain-free) but it didn't help. Then, before I had a chance to start beating up on myself for my failure to carry out my spiritual exercise in a successful manner (get thee behind me, Ego!), some thoughts came to mind. But before sharing those thoughts with you, let me say that in my experience mortification of the senses was a necessary path out of the extreme spiritual difficulties in which I found myself in the late-eighties/early-nineties. I have never found physical mortification an attractive proposition, so have never indulged, except when falling down when taking a stroll, or similar experiences.

Now let me share those thoughts I alluded to a little earlier.

"When the will, the moment if feels any joy in sensible things [experiences of the senses - my brackets] rises upwards in that joy to God, and when sensible things move it to pray, it should not neglect them, it should make use of them for so holy an exercise;  because sensible things, in these conditions, subserve the end for which God created them, namely to be occasions for making Him better known and loved."
                                                                                                    [St. John of the Cross]

So I don't feel bad about my morning meditation. The next thought is one I really like.

"Anybody who wishes to do so can get all, and indeed more than all, the mortification he wants out of the incidents of ordinary, day-to-day living, without ever resorting to harsh bodily penance."                                                                                                                    [Aldous Huxley]

So that's alright then! My fall (Oh the pain! Oh the agony! etc. etc.) turned out to be a blessing in disguise?..........No-o-o-o-o-o!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Further Probings

Whilst it can be of some help to study the psyche along reductionist principles, the holistic and dynamic structure of the psyche can never be completely ignored or forgotten. In a sense, that proximity to the ever changing nature of one's inner being throws a spotlight on the apparent fragility and powerlessness of the "I", that inwardly observing self. The real sense of deep unease that arises from one's Selfness (ego, or false self) is that it is not entirely in the realm of consciousness. Some part of it, and maybe the larger part, lies in the unconscious mind beyond the relatively weak control of the conscious will. I cannot be unaware of the predatory nature of my Selfness as it forever seeks to control and manipulate every aspect of my conscious life. Trying to fight that psychic predatoriness is like trying, single-handedly, to clear virgin ground only to see Nature move back in with all the urgent and willing power at her command. Similarly, my sense of Selfness refuses to be denied its assumed divine rights. So, also, it seems to be with my soul, my most inner and Higher Self. I am a house divided against itself. "I" desire to rest in silence; my Selfness wants the opposite, to be filled with anything but silence.

Although I have become accustomed to talking about the ego, and also the Higher Self, almost as separate entities, they are, each one, states of being that exist in part or wholly in the unconscious mind.  Furthermore, although there is a different feel about the experience of these states, it is impossible for me to draw a line of demarcation between them, for that would be an action appropriate only to my conscious sense of Selfness, a flawed reality. Thus I can see no way that reductionist principles can be applied to my unconscious mind in order to gain enlightenment. Only the language of imagery and an intuitive sensing beyond the physical senses are of any assistance. It is a source of great wonder to me that the unconscious mind is able to 'speak' to consciousness in this way;  and on occasions insists on so doing.

For all its power to consume and control, I think it would be a mistake to call Selfness either bad or even good for that matter. Judgementalism can play no part in this assessment. Selfness simply 'Is'. The difficulty that I need continually to confront arises from its assumption of Godlike importance and sense of rightness, for therein lies its fundamental flaw. But who or what within my awareness makes this assessment? Maybe this and other questions should be left alone, because they simply draw me back onto the merry-go-round designed to establish the sovereignty of my false self, my Selfness. The paramount task in the search for the true self is to disengage, detach, allow to slip out of focus, break concentration on egoistic traits, and allow timeless silence into my being. And that is what my Selfness least desires.
If I could see the total reality of the power of my ego I would be terrified. It seems to leave my consciousness just the bare minimum I need to survive. I have no real power, no real control. It is like being the most insignificant of human beings caught up in a war of the gods; or Jacob fighting with an opponent that is variously a man, an angel, or God. Even so, "I" must be of some importance in the inner grand scheme of things. That I do not know why the observing "I" is important is a direct result of the fact that I do not yet know myself, do not yet know what I truly am.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

And So To Continue

It seems to me that there are two forces operating inside me, each one seeing my developing spiritual life from a different and opposing perspective. On the one hand there is that awareness of Selfness, or consciousness, that suffers under the illusion of its being the bearer of ultimate reality, that sees growth only in terms of being spiritually upwardly mobile, growing and adding to what has gone before. It sees my life as a process of constant acquisition in one form or another. On the other hand, there is that other force, largely unconscious, that is as close to Reality as I can imagine, that sees my spiritual growth as a continual movement downwards, of disposing of, and losing, all the false accretions of my past life.

To describe all that I have experienced since last I submitted a post on this site, would be impossible. Yet it would be enough to fill this site for many weeks to come. In an effort not to make obvious mistakes, I have nevertheless made mistakes. In an effort to reach, at least towards, perfection I have fallen far short, and rightly so. I have set myself goals that were doomed to failure, such as posting every Saturday without fail. At the time of my decision to do that, I thought I was imposing a useful and even necessary discipline on my activities. It would have been better to have concentrated more on the discipline of my daily meditations and other spiritual exercises, and to have written as and when it felt appropriate. In deciding to drop that, and other, strictures on my posts, I have engaged in the process of disposing of, and losing, false accretions. Going backwards and downwards seems to be a thoroughly exhilarating way to go onwards and upwards, as C. S. Lewis phrased it.

Thus it is with what feels to be a tentative, even perhaps nervous, post I am continuing where I left off last month. It feels good to be coming back.