The moment of reality

Reality is bound up with the present. This, according to Zen and as re-expressed by Eckhart Tolle – the Power of Now..

The present, now, is the door to reality and focus on the past and future distracts from the intensity of experience.

But…

How does that square with Alfred North Whitehead’s theory of relativity – where reality is a process and certainly not an instant?

It seems to me that the integration of these two concepts through the interpretation of the present – Now – as momentary rather than instantaneous. By this I mean to include the immediate past and the immediate future into a lengthened and extended instant. I think (though I’m never certain when trying to understand Process and Reality) that this is what Whitehead refers to as prehension.

It seems then that consciousness requires some element of time, that which immediately surrounds the instant in which we exist. It is observation that crystallises out the particular reality which we choose. (Bohr, Born, Schrodinger – the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics). The experience of reality requires the flow of time – to allow the immediate past and future to give context to the instant that is now.

Consciousness can then be described as observation surfing on time, and the fragment of time that surrounds the instant creates the moment in which we exist. Hence – reality as momentum, moment.

Australia and Contemporary Religion

Wonder Full. The Australian reaction to the terrible attack by a self-styled Islamic extremist was just that – wonderful. At the moment of grief – they deliberately reached out to all in their society, particularly in fact to peaceful Muslims. Peace is surely the anti-dote to terror. We knew that “an eye for an eye” failed over two thousand years ago.

The bearded men (men, funny that..) who machine gun children in Pakistan, hack soldiers in London and behead and sell women in Iraq – aren’t religious – Islamic or any other type; any more than were the IRA Christian Catholics when they bombed civilians indiscriminately.

Vladimir Soloviev put it like this (contemporary for him was the 1870’s):

“ I shall not dispute those who maintain a negative attitude toward the religious principle. I shall not argue with the contemporary opponents of religion, because they are right. I say that those who reject religion are right because the contemporary state of religion calls for rejection.. Speaking generally and abstractly, religion is the connection of humanity and the world with the absolute principle and focus of all that exists. Contemporary religion is a pitiful thing. Strictly speaking, religion does not exist as the dominant principle, as the centre of spiritual attraction. Instead, our so-called religiosity is a personal mood, a personal taste. Some people have this taste, others do no, just as some people like music and others do not…” Vladimir Soloviev. Lectures on Divine Humanity. St Petersburg 1878.

His point of course, is that true connection to the Divine is quite different from a self-styling religiosity. It’s easy to tell one from the other. Peace or war. Tolerance or dictatorship. Social justice or division. Joy or hatred.

As Christ said: “by their fruits shall you know them”. As Teilhard de Chardin said “Joy is the unmistakable sign of the presence of God”.

So – glory to Australia – for their wonderful reaction. Peace, compassion and social cohesion in the face of terror. Thank you. We’re not even on seven – never mind seventy times seven.

Lizzie’s Lament

This is for you Elizabeth. Happy Birthday. I hope you appreciate the irony. (Your’e neither a Lizzie, nor Lamentable. You should never have made such a fuss about use of your proper name – Bet’y !)

Piano’s out of tune, but then – after all these years so am I…

He who made the M my dear, He made the timely C

He equated it to thee my dear, to shape our lovely E

Perfected in your Mass my dear, your vibrant energy 

You lighten life for all my dear, and surely so for me

G and A and U my dear, A and G and thee

spells your crystal age my dear, a diamond jubilee

 

Gervase x

Feminine Divinity

The male societal domination of the past thousands of years has led to the casting of God as essentially male. Think Islam, modern Judaism and Christianity as incorporated into the Roman empire. They have excluded the feminine from their portrayal of the  Divine. I hadn’t realised this until reading the work of Vladimir Soloviev, who was led in his Christian philosophy with his encounters with Sophia, who he described as the feminine principle of ultimate wisdom, power and love. He equated this with the Holy Spirit – the female aspect of God. This, for me anyway feels intoxicatingly true.

The equal duality of God as feminine and masculine simply feels right. It is surely a device of man – and I mean male man –  to portray God, or at least the powerful aspect of the Divine as male. With the female figuring as a rib as the revered only semi-divine aspect of a God that is essentially male (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).

All of the thinkers at least that touch me – think Jung for instance – point to the dynamic balance between opposites in the creation of reality. Surely then God is as female as male – and mystically represented in their integration.

… and think about a world where there was a true balance between male and female. The stark atheist tyrants of the 20th century were all brutally masculine. Can you imagine a feminine Hitler, Pol Pot, Mussolini, Chairman Mao, Stalin? Can you imagine feminine leaders of IS beheading journalists?

I for one would be inspired by a world where for a century or two we let the feminine aspect of the Divine (within all of us, whether man or woman) lead and inspire us. As Emma Watson points out men have as much or more to gain as women.

 

*(By the way I don’t in any way demean Roman Catholicism, but rather the take over of Christianity by the political establishment, which Christ would have resisted)

Society and Leadership

Wilfred Bion believed that societies operate according to one of three basic assumptions. These are – dependent – broadly where society looks to a leader to depend upon; flight- flight – where there is a perceived external threat where the leader galvanises and curdles (my word) society; and the pairing group – where there are two leaders (archetypal parents). In this latter group system there is a hopeful expectation because the true leader, the future leader, is yet to be born. Bion termed this the messianic idea.

Bion observed that we are each as humans essentially social animals. We have these group structural tendencies within us, even before we are operating within a group.

“Our individual psychic make-up is intimately related to others, both the tendency to form constructively working groups and the potential for forming any of the basic assumption mental states when in a physical group setting with others”.

Societies do seem to me, practically to group as Bion suggests. It also seems to me that there is a tendency for dependent societies to flip to fight-flight and back, and that pairing groups emerge only after a period of stability. A quick personal review:

Russia (now) – under Putin. Dependent, but he introduces external enemies because he is failing to provide (the basic function of a dependent leader) – therefore moving toward fight-flight. This is also reflected across many middle-eastern countries, the difference being the “religious” archetype that their leaders draw upon, introducing a twisted and unreconstructed medieval view of Islam to create an enemy (all of the rest of the world). In Britain I would suggest we had a dependent/fight-fight society right through to Margaret Thatcher, but that this moved with Blair-Brown and now Cameron-Clegg toward a pairing group society. (Who will the future Messiah be for British politics, we sure are looking for one!). The USA was perhaps set up in the first place as a pairing group society (checks and balances!). It’s why it doesn’t (it seems to me) work so well when either the Democrats or Republicans have ALL the levers of power – Senate, President, Supreme Court, Congress – and why this happens so seldom. The leaders in Scotland, most recently of course attempted to carve out a new fiefdom by drawing on the dependent and fight-flight models. We are now moving back to a pairing group structure between Salmond-Sturgeon – which reflects the reality of the fundamental pairing group of Scotland-England. (Salmond as a UK MP, Sturgeon as First Minister of Scotland).

Foundational to Bion’s view is that humans are interdependent, part of one-whole.

The chapter on Bion’s study of groups in Symington’s review of Bion’s work has a quote from Vladimir Soloviev (Russian 19th century Christian mystic and philosopher), which sums up this basic tenet.

“The self-deception in virtue of which a human individual regards himself as real in his separateness from all things, and presupposes this fictitious isolation to be the true ground and only starting-point for all his relations – this self-deception of abstract subjectivisim plays terrible havoc not only in the domain of metaphysics – which, indeed, it abolishes altogether – but also in the domain of the moral and political life”.

Soloviev, though, goes much further, and prefigures Teilhard de Chardin with his observation that all is connected and interdependent, all part of one.

Meditation on the Uncreated Light

Hesychasm was (is?) a mystical tradition in the Russian Orthodox Church, led by the monks of Optina Psytin.  They practised medidation on the “Uncreated Light”, which, though present in everything and enveloping all things within itself, is hidden from human beings until, through spiritual training, they are able to perceive it. They practised a form of “praying without ceasing” to that end.

Morning Meditation of the elders at Optina Pystin

Grant that with peaceful minds we may face all this new day is to bring;

Grant us grace to surrender ourselves utterly to Thy divine Will;

Instruct and prepare us in all things for every hour of this day.

Whatever tidings may come to us this day, may we accept them tranquilly, firmly convinced that everything that happens to us fulfils our divinely-willed destiny.

Govern our thoughts and feelings in everything we do or say, granting us the wisdom when to speak and when to remain silent.

When unexpected, unforeseen things happen, let us never forget for even a moment that everything comes from Above.

Teach and guide us that we conduct ourselves in all sincerity and reasonableness toward every other human being, helping us that we bring neither confusion, doubt nor sorrow to anyone.

Bestow upon us, O Lord, strength to endure the weariness this day’s labor will bring, and give us the courage that each of us may bear his full share in all its tasks and events.

Guid Thou our willing, teaching us to pray, to believe, to hope, to bear, to forgive and – above all – to love.

 

(Thanks to “Vladimir Solviev: Russian Mystic. Paul Allen)

 

The abyss of the spiritual heart..is the real person

So much wisdom within the Russian Orthodox  and mystical tradition..

“The serpent of evil creeps along beside one so long as one confines oneself to the world of phenomena alone. However as soon as one lifts oneself and enters the spiritual world, one lifts the serpent along as well, thus changing its nature, and the serpent then becomes one’s divinely-sent helper”. Grigori Skovoroda

“Beside the sea a green oak stands/A golden chain upon it – /By day and night a learned cat/Walks round the tree, bound by the golden chain./When he goes to the right, he begins a song/When goes to the left, he tells a fairy tale”. Alexander Pushkin

“Although to distant shores beyond/By chains unseen we all are bound/ Even in fetters we must fulfil/ The round the gods have drawn/ Within themselves, as by a higher Will/ All things create yet other wills/ Beneath the mask of matter calm/ The fire divine burns on and on”. Vladimir Soloviev

“The most important organ of a person is the heart, note the physical but the spiritual heart. The abyss of the spiritual heart encompasses and includes everything. It is the ruler of everything in the human being, it is the real person”. Grigori Skovoroda