Hunters and gatherers?

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“That’s women’s’ work…” I threw the wet sponge in his direction. Had he not been laughing as he said it, I might have been tempted to throw something more substantial. There was a time, not so very long ago, when the roles of men and women were thus rigidly defined, and women continue to suffer the fallout from centuries of patriarchy, even today. But, I wondered, as I scrubbed the bathroom, where did the whole idea of gender roles come from, and what, in reality, might that mean?

Define your terms, I reminded myself. What was I looking at here? Okay, ‘gender role’ was a bit of a generalisation. There have always been those who crossed the divide, adopting and excelling in areas usually considered the preserve of either male or female.  For anyone with an interest in the Mysteries, that divide is not a physical thing anyway, but speaks more of the energetic nature of the individual, so already the lines become blurred.

We tend to think in terms of male and female in general terms. In the Mysteries we see these as two poles of a single force, rather like a battery, with both poles and an alternating current being required in order for either to function to its full potential. That applies just as much within the individual as within a society. ‘Masculine’ and ‘feminine’ then equate to positive and negative… or dynamic and receptive… with the physical vehicle expressing itself in terms of whichever trait is dominant, and that shifts depending upon both the circumstances in which it finds itself and the level upon which it is functioning.

Then there is the nature of reality itself… which level is real? Is it the level that we experience through the physical senses, the realm of the mind which makes sense of what we experience, or a subtler realm that makes use of both the experience and the understanding we gain from it? Is it possible to say for certain?  Or is it, as esoteric thought teaches, that all manifestations of reality are equally real on their own plane?

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On the physical level, it is probably logical and fair to say that, in the earliest times, roles were defined by function. If the male of the species is generally larger, stronger and fuelled by testosterone, it makes more sense for him to be the warrior and hunter, while the female gives birth, nurtures the young and protects the ‘nest’, tending the hearthfire and such tasks as must be done beside it.

Fair enough. Take it one step up and, on the surface at least, men do seem, on the whole, to be the more dynamic and potentially aggressive side of the equation… though it is also true that the lion is peaceable compared to the lioness when the cubs are threatened.

According to the archaeologists, we were originally a hunter/gatherer species. The temptation might be to think that the men did the hunting while the women gathered the berries and tended the fire, though I am not sure we can generalise here either…and even berries must be hunted first. Maybe we are just a hunting species? Or maybe gathering is a type of hunting that just requires a different approach?

I realised that it was toward this that my thoughts had been meandering. There had been a scintilla of realisation, logged but uncaptured… one of those ‘aha!’ moments that are gone before they arrive, leaving behind them some vague comprehension of we know not what. Such light-bulb moments, however fleeting, are always worth pursuing. Although most of them are lost to the conscious mind, what surfaced momentarily is still in there somewhere. The trick is to let the associations lead you to it…and this type of contemplative meditation that can be exceedingly useful.

All the waffling in my mind led back to a single, simple thought. We are hunters… and while the dynamic hunt on the outer, the receptivity of the tender of the flame hunts on the inner. It need have nothing to do with whether we are men or women, that really is a generalisation although our bodies may reflect aspects of how we work, but only to do with how we function in the world.

The dynamic hunter seeks, finds, acquires… and provides. In physical terms, these are the spear-wielders who bring home the proverbial bacon, actively climb the ladder of success, and wear the mantle of authority and protection.

The receptive hunter looks within, growing and nurturing, as one would a child, teasing out understanding like carding wool and revealing the kernel of wisdom as one would the flour within the grain.

Many societies still frown upon any deviation from the accepted ideal where gender is concerned. ‘Real’ men don’t cry… a woman’s place is in the home… many of our customs, definitions and socially acceptable behaviours still insidiously mirror and encourage this outmoded way of thinking.

Neither society nor individuals can function fully without a balance between the two modes of being, any more than a battery with a single pole will work. By allowing ourselves, and each other, to embrace both sides of who we are… dynamic and receptive, we embrace a richer experience.

Who?

 

“You’d make a lousy feminist!”

My son’s words followed me down the garden path as I left. As a child of my generation, I am used to the changing face of the familiar, but his throwaway comment of, ‘It’s a female Doctor!’ had shocked me profoundly.

‘I suppose it had to happen eventually…’ and ‘Shouldn’t be allowed…’ were my immediate comments upon hearing the news. The thought of a female Doctor just seems plain wrong to someone who was around for the very first episode of Doctor Who. William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, John Pertwee and Tom Baker… it was bad enough when the face of the Doctor changed back then, but to have a sex change as well just doesn’t sit right, even though I know the storyline allows for it.

Personally, I gave up on Doctor Who after Tom Baker, though I did see the odd episode here and there. Even so, and although opinions vary on the acting, production and characterisation, Hartnell remains the Doctor for the child in me.

The parting rejoinder from my son, though, did make me think. He is quite right. In spite of the many battles I’ve fought for equal rights over the years, as a worker, a woman and as senior management, I would make a lousy feminist.

While I am a firm supporter of equal rights and the continuing need to address the political, economic, personal, and social discrepancies that still exist between the sexes, I am also of the opinion that the same level playing field should be extended beyond gender to include all human beings, not just women, regardless of ethnicity, religious affiliation or any other of the false separators that currently cause the divisions and inequalities between us.

I have been refused jobs on the stated grounds that, being a young woman, they wouldn’t want to waste their time training me, only to have me go off and have babies. I have been given jobs where I earned three quarters of the salary of the men I was employed to train. I remember the bra-burning years, when women fought to be allowed to do ‘men’s jobs’ such as working on building sites… and even demanded the right to work shirtless like their co-employees. I agree with wanting the right to be able do so, but have to question the practicalities of bra-less building, if only on safety grounds.

In the same way, the morals and social mores that have been acceptable for the male of the species from time immemorial should be equally permitted for women… sauce for the goose, and all that… but there are few things more unattractive than a drunken young woman, senseless and vomiting in the gutter outside a bar. Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should… and it certainly doesn’t mean you must. Equal rights, in essence, means having the legal, political, social and economic right to make that choice for yourself.

I do not see roles as gender-defined… there are women who can hold a household together through the darkest times, wield an axe or a power drill, or reach the top of ambition’s ladder, just as there are men who are more tender mothers than their partners, and others who lead armies, in the workplace or on the battlefield.  Who we allow ourselves to be should not depend upon the body we wear, its gender, age or race. The expectations of societal norms are moulds made to be broken.

The thing is, I suppose, that I have never seen women as being inferior in the first place, except in legal and social terms, but as equal partners in the dance of life and creation. The gifts and strengths of the sexes complement each other; we are not opposites, but necessary parts of a whole.

Being male or female is not only a physical attribute, but an energetic one too. There are feminine women with a dynamic, masculine energy and as many strong men with a receptive and gentle aura… and both are as valuable in the wider world as their more stereotypical counterparts.

The moon could not illuminate the night without the existence of the sun… but the sun does not shine at night. The brilliance of the stars could not be seen without the blackness of space, but would we be aware of the darkness without the light it holds? Strength that does not know how to be gentle becomes brutality, just as emotion without discernment descends into sentimentality. Each one of us is a unique cocktail of masculine and feminine elements and, when we can accept those elements for the gifts they are, they enable both ourselves and those around us to shine.

My son is right, I am a lousy feminist, I am more egalitarian than that. The human race is a single picture made of a myriad small pieces. Subtract but one piece and the picture is incomplete. Seek to change one piece and you change the whole…and in that lies hope for the future and equality of humankind as well as possible seeds of destruction. Change your piece of the picture and you can begin changing the world for the better, but devalue any piece and you damage the whole.

It all comes down to having the right to choose…and even in the most restrictive societies, we each have the right to choose what is in our own hearts, where no legislation is needed, nor can it be imposed unless we allow it. We travel together on a journey through life and time, companions on the road. There are those upon whom we can lean when our steps falter, others to whom we extend a helping hand and yet others who make travelling a chore or a delight… but we all share the same journey in the end. Man, woman, young or old, it matters not at all… unless, of course, you happen to be playing the new Doctor Who.

Behind the scenes…

It is an odd thing to put on a workshop where ritual and drama are mixed. Odd, but old… theatre has its roots in the sacred drama of ancient times. Even the rituals of the Church have a theatrical element, blending light, song, the glamour of embroidered vestments and the fragrance of incense and oil. These things combine to capture the imagination and emotions, lifting the heart and mind above the humdrum cares of the world and turning them towards the greater Light of the spirit.

None of these dramatic elements are strictly necessary. Turning the mind and heart towards the divine, whether in prayer, adoration or meditation, needs no company. The spiritual journey is ultimately one we must take alone…and yet, we may have company along the way.

It is perfectly possible to access the spiritual realms without any help at all, just as it is perfectly possible to climb a mountain in stiletto heels, but both can be very much simpler, and more pleasurable, when we are properly equipped and in good company.

When any group of people come together with a common cause, they create a unique energy that can accomplish far more, and far more quickly, than an individual alone. When that group brings the focus of that energy to bear upon a shared intent, magic happens.

 

The Silent Eye workshops are designed to create a moment out of time where that shared intent can be made manifest. To allow mind, heart and imagination to access that moment, we use stories, light and colour, but whether or not we succeed in creating that sacred space depends entirely upon the participation and engagement of our Companions.

And each year, old friends and new attendees alike, throw themselves into the moment.

The dramatic tales that are woven serve to illustrate aspects of the human psyche that, through play, may be explored. Every year we stress that neither acting ability nor costumes are a requirement for attendance at our workshops… and yet our Companions pull out the stops to add that ‘something extra’ to the weekend. The characterisation and the costumes themselves, like the stories we weave, help set the scene and in turn direct the intent and attention towards a higher realm.

This year our characters were drawn from the Elizabethan era, and every presence was strong, embodying their character in their own unique way. The space in which we work is watched over by the tall figure of our Guardian, a strong and protective presence at the door who had come over from Europe to be with us. Another Companion from Europe played our astrologer, Lady Arabella Santiago. We had a quicksilver Marlowe, and a serene and dignified John Gerard, to whom special thanks are due to the two ladies who agreed to take on demanding masculine roles. Alienora and Dean were, as always, magnificent and unnerving in their roles as Life and Death.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, came from the States and with her came the mysterious of Dr Dee, the dashing Sir Walter Raleigh and the mystical beauty of Lady Rab’ya. The villain of the piece, and a victim of his own ambition and misunderstanding, was Lord Essex, admirably portrayed by Russell. Mistress Jane Dee, played by a mischievous Yorkshire lass who is a priestess of Avalon, was angelic… and an enigmatic Lady in White held the silence and the visions of the company. And it would be remiss not to mention our Bess of Hardwick and our Blanche Parry, who graced the chequered floor with a stately dance of their own devising, adding yet another layer of reality to the moment.

But it is not all about the drama. There are the explorations… presentations and periods of serious study where we examine and share perspectives on spiritual concepts… even if some of us choose to do so wearing rabbit masks pulled from a top hat. This year, we were privileged to have an expert speak to us on the Chain of Being… and give us a lesson in Court etiquette too. ‘Serious’ need not be tedious.

There is the dawn ritual, which I missed this year as I was holding the Temple ready to receive the symbol of Light. There is the annual Triad ritual, which reaffirms the roots of the School, and leads into the ritual for the new Initiates… which is incredibly moving and always leaves me, and others, in tears at the beauty of the moment.

And, perhaps most magical of all, there is time to talk and laugh, catch up with old friends, cement new friendships and enjoy the green of the budding spring landscape.

When Steve founded the School and drafted Stuart and I to work with him, I do not think any of us knew what to expect. It was an adventure to which we were called and one that we knew would be hard work and demand much of all of us. I am grateful beyond measure to be a part of this adventure, to have learned so much, still be learning so much… and be able to share these moments with friends and companions on the journey.

With our workshop weekends over the past six years, we have journeyed in imagination from the most ancient past to a space-age future, spanning aeons of time in the timeless space of the soul… and I would not choose to be anywhere else but here and now, and part of the Silent Eye.

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Dominions of Cnut – #Silenti

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image source CC BY-SA
Pity poor King Canute (Real name ‘Cnut’ pron: Kn-ootr). He went down in English history as the King who was so self-important that he sat in a ceremonial chair, on the beach, ordering the tide not to come in…

Only, according to many leading historians, he didn’t…

This intelligent eleventh century ruler of England, Norway and Denmark – the ‘North Sea Empire’, as it was known, had conquered the English by force of arms, but sought to rule with fairness. The gesture with the incoming tide was to illustrate that the only Will that really mattered was of a much higher nature than his own. He carried out the quoted royal act to illustrate his impotence in the face of God’s will, expressed through nature’s forces, to show that even Kings were subject to higher laws.

We could call this the art of ‘acceptance’, but there is a modern use of the word ‘allowing’ that ascribes a more potent meaning. Potency is the key, here; one will subsumed into another – a greater flow that we are all part of – one whose nature, though often unpredictable, is both to support and teach us…

Many would dispute that, believing that the hostile world of nature is one which teaches us only survival – and devil take the hindmost. It’s an attitude prevalent in some sections of modern political life, who feel that liberal values and compassion have gone too far and it’s time to look after ourselves.

We can liken life to a river. We can stand on the riverbank and observe a part of the river that constantly changes as it flows past, or we can jump in and be part of the river’s life, taking our chances. In the former, we are completely passive to the great flow, and likely to have a stagnant, if safe, existence. In the latter, we can, at least, exercise our own choices about how we navigate the fluid body around us – and to recognise that we are very much made of the same stuff, with one special attribute.

We can swim – that act of staying alive is analogous to surviving to reproductive maturity. Better swimming produces the art of direction: we can choose where in the immediate flow we wish to be. But we can’t choose (unless we want to daydream) to be somewhere unrelated to where we already are; we can only get there by a series of heres. And there may have changed from our perceptions when we get to it… You can’t anticipate reality, you can only be it.

We can do nothing about that nasty fork in the river’s flow, just ahead of us; nor the rocks we narrowly avoided a minute ago. We have our dominion, and it’s largely around our intimate space. If that floating log behind us gets any closer, we have the right and the ability to fend it off, but not to choose whether it’s there or not.

The ‘Life in a River’ idea can teach us a lot, but it’s finite in its extensions. At the heart of all the world’s truly deep spiritual traditions is the idea that things are really perfect if we can only see them objectively. Nothing I know of causes more unrest in the modern intellect. We cry out that we haven’t come this far in evolution to surrender to blind and stupid forces, intent on eroding our values and way of life. We’ve climbed out of that bloody river, says the angry self, and there’s no way we’re going back – even if most of humanity are still in there…

At the heart of this tale of the riverbank is an erosion of fundamental trust. Psychologically, we come into our lives with total trust, experienced as oneness in the womb. This absolute trust is eroded shortly after birth when the harsher, separated world – even with Mother’s help – cannot satisfy all our needs. The egoic self, (used, here, in its positive connotation), develops from this, shedding trust and learning fear as it develops to fend for it-self.

Civilisations go through this kind of cycle, too, though the cycle time is very much longer. Families understand compassion, but extending that boundary into a society involves bumping into power and greed and they often have guns and want to control through trust in fear.

The parable of the Prodigal Son is a good example of a wisdom-story designed to help those ready to understand what happens if you leap into the river. The symbolic son, leaving home, has to make his/her way in the world, but eventually comes to realise what a store of providence was already on the table at home. The price of that return is his experience, bitter and wonderful, which he ‘lays’ on his Father’s table, while his uncomprehending brother looks on… from the riverbank.

In mystical terminology, the Prodigal Son flows out, at the end of the river’s course, into the sea, realising that what he/she truly is, is the water made conscious – infinitely changing and unending. The ‘forms’ of those left on the riverbank lose their vitality, eventually, and decompose to become part of the life of the soil, again. Nothing wrong with that, but we can imagine that the sparkling sea is more fun?

To even speak of such things can mark you out as crazy. To be a King and attempt to demonstrate them may always be doomed to failure. But what’s the harm in trying to be a misunderstood Cnut once in a while…

©️Copyright Stephen Tanham 2017

The Finding of Polarity (3) – #Silenti

Arrows of polarityAA

In parts one and two of this set of three posts, we have examined how the development of the individual, the ‘self’, is a different process from the development of our young bodies, and relies upon our departure from ‘oneness’ in the womb towards a reaching for individuality – a process that eventually matures into what psychology calls the ego.

From a psychological perspective, the scientific definition of the ego is in terms of a ‘self-image’, increasingly strengthened and stabilised as we grow through childhood. Various problem conditions, from aberrations to pathologies, are related to how well this ‘self-image’ takes hold and becomes the centre of our ‘me’ existence in the adult world. Narcissists, for example, often reach senior positions because of their extreme need to define themselves by projecting their self-worth onto what they do, rather than what they are. More rounded psyches are grounded in true relationship, whereas the narcissist relies upon a perceived and  constant reflection of their own worth in the world around them.

Western civilisation places enormous value on the achieving of individuality, particularly emotional and physical individuality; and glorifies financial independence above all else. Success in society is generally equated with such independence.

Here we have an increasingly agonising divergence: the world’s spiritual traditions have, for millennia, equated individual progress towards a spiritual state (one that is more real) with the diminishment, and, in some cases, the complete annihilation, of what we now know as the ego… the very centre of western culture’s mark of achievement.

We can take the view that the ancient knowledge of the inner states of our ‘selves’ is past its sell-by date and that modern thinking, based on science, is much more in tune with the truth of things. The majority of the population do just that, if they think of it at all. Many see spirituality as religion, only, and conflate the latter’s diminishing importance as mirroring its relevance – a view understandably fuelled by the constant headlines from the extremes of fundamentalism.

But absolutely none of this makes us happy… or even fulfilled. Something is missing if a person living a simple life in humble conditions can get more from life than those with an array of possessions and achievements.

The conventional response by those believing themselves on a spiritual path has been to attack our way of life. Only radical philosophers like Gurdjieff dared to consider that we might actually be on a perfectly valid spiritual path of our own.

The egoic nature of the western world has not stopped people from being caring individuals. Political societies might cycle through a lack compassion, but there is always a great degree of kindness in the family units that comprise them. The hunger for the personal truth and meaning that drives us may well be of a different nature. What if the ego’s development were necessary as a ‘fuel-tank’ for another journey? Suppose that the seeming negatives of the egoic self, with its anger, selfishness, avarice, pride, lust and the rest of the well-categorised deadly ‘sins’, were really signposts to what was missing – in effect the way home…

We’d have to want to be ‘home’, as in somewhere else, inside ourselves, of course. But if we are truly at the point where increasing our store of what society views as the stuff of happiness was simply producing more angst, then where else is there to go?

The key is not to find someone else’s truth; it is to find our own. The value of what psychology has given us lies, ultimately, not in the production of stable egos – though that is an important goal for anyone in whom that vital stage has not crystallised; the value of it lies in the clarity it has provided for the inner meaning of those ancient traditions and their relevance to those who would find their own spiritual path, today.

The founders of the Silent Eye gained their experience within a varied and mixed background of mystical traditions ranging from Rosicrucian, to Qabalistic to Fourth Way. We had all experienced the real power of people working together in a group aimed at ‘raising the consciousness’ of each individual, without drugs, so that we could begin to perceive deeper realities. We established the Silent Eye School using a core set of teachings that combined everything we knew to work, including mystical drama, and based it around a symbolic variant of the enneagram – a nine-sided kind of star that has evolved to describe and illustrate how ‘nature’ works the world and, latterly, how psychology’s map of the inner human maps into the heart of this. Only our synthesis of this is new; all the components were there before, though not in the form we gave them for our symbolic and inner three-year guided journey which is at the heart of the correspondence course.

The Silent Eye’s version of the enneagram

Our journey begins with this quest: to find and understand the ‘gap’ between the western self as described by psychology and the ancient wisdom of the ‘no-self’. Our goal as been to show that the value of the egoic nature can be preserved, but that its nature has to be healed rather than polished. Instead of retaining its desperate role as the ‘captain of the ship it must keep creating’, it can now relax into knowing that it is really only a picture – an image of our outer reactiveness, useful in terms of its skills, but redundant in terms of its knowing the answers about our real coming-into-being.

Those answers lie in a personal journey which unzips the ego, carefully and with love, using its restlessness (and suffering) to point to how those elements of unease are generated, in each part of its psychic anatomy, by a lack of something else. That something else eventually takes shape, and that is where the enneagram has its unique value – it acts as a map of the homeward journey, a journey in which the real characteristics of a true Self become apparent, requiring no validation from the material world. This newly discovered entity, which many call the Soul, is perfect in its individuality; is supported in its vivid feeling of being truly alive; and is secure in knowing, beyond question, that it is already a child of those formless realms spoken of so long ago…

Other posts in this series:

Part One, Part Two.

©️Copyright Stephen Tanham 2017

The Finding of Polarity (2) – #Silenti

Arrows of polarityAA

 

‘As I begin to understand how ‘I’ am made I begin to see that infinity can largely be equated with what is formless and not with some mathematically and useless hugeness’

I wrote that down some time ago. From one perspective, it describes the beginning of the real search for what uncovers the heart of polarity – rendering it useful, at last.

We live in a world of what mystics call ‘form’. Form gives us separate ‘things’. Without separate things the mind cannot function in the way it has been taught. Without things, mind begins to panic – though it need not; but our training in perception (in how to see) is received and deep, and conditions the self and the society in which that self grows.

Self is the continuity of thought. Self clings desperately to that continuity, thinking that this massively heavy baggage is its life. Unless I keep this picture of ‘me’ vividly alive, I will lose my life, it says… Even in writing it down we can sense the frailty of the mechanism. Thought is a continuous narrative around the supposed centre of the self – the picture, the emotional and physical image of a ‘me’ at the heart of things; and it’s made of memory. This construct generates all the problems that life contains: It separates an assumed ‘me’ from the rest of experience. That experience is real, but the packaging of duality we divide it into is not.

This is the heart of the twin concepts of duality and polarity. These concepts are the true, mystical endeavour. The separation of ‘me’ from my experience distorts the reception of my experience, for which ‘I’ as an unique point of perception in the universe, am beautifully equipped – we all are. Over a lifetime, the nature of that experience becomes entirely conditioned by the layers of this assumed ‘me’. Only careful unwinding of this dirty bandage will reveal where we – Life – really live.

Life grows through a gradient of awareness. We, the humans species, are said to be the pinnacle of that awareness. Through evolution, primitive awareness of the survival of a separated centre becomes, eventually, the accretion of a self, as like and dislikes come to define who ‘we’ are. To evolve intelligence, we have to be capable of manipulating the external. We examine it and need to separate its components, because we can’t ‘eat the whole elephant’. To do this, the mind takes a giant leap and names things… And, of course, one of the things it names, or is given a name for, is itself. The naming, praising or denigration of this self becomes the ego.

The way our minds work mirrors, and derives from, the survival instincts that protect our animal – and there can be no escape from the fact that a considerable part of us is animal in its nature. I like warmth, I hate cold, though I have to learn that there are degrees of things, and that too much warmth can hurt me – probably a lot more than cold, so paradoxes become frequent and the complex logic of mental words accommodates them. This duality of like and dislike, pain and pleasure, expands into a spectrum of preference in the adult -and preference brings with it an implication of dissatisfaction with what is.

These are all the product of the animal part of us. We have, by then, developed a strong sense of self-image, and the assertion of this is the key to our success in the world. That has to be based upon agreed advantage, so we quickly learn that to be successful we have to fit in.

And then, one day, we might wake up and realise that something very deep is, increasingly, being lost. That vividness of experience and honest feeling we had as a child has been clouded over, like a blue sky gone grey and without its sun. At that point we see that we have made a world for ourselves; that the egoic self-image has become the centre of our lives rather than the reality of undivided experience all around us. This world, seen as it is, in Reality – was not and cannot be created by use in this constant anxiety of the success-mind and so the estrangement grows and grows.

It’s quite a moment – in the Silent Eye we call it the ‘turning point’. Many people register it but do not act on it. Over time, it can be numbed by the usual diversions of the sensual world. For the small number who choose to act on it, a path awaits that will challenge everything they think they know – to paraphrase the Sufi mystics.

Firstly, we have to recognise that our lives are filled with duality: me and it. ‘It’ is the world, ‘me’ is the self-image. This duality robs our experience of its true life (Reality) and that dirty bandage must be carefully unwrapped, without destabilising the animal or losing the hard-won skills that give us power of action. Secondly, we come to realise that what gives us the most real excitement is not the self-image but the power of the experience of being alive. When we shut down our inner judge we begin to let reality flow in us, again. The original shutting off of that flow is the cause of most of our sadness, dissatisfaction and illness.

One very good way of sampling this for ourselves is to look at a familiar object – a tree is good subject – and say its name (eg ‘Oak’) over and over again until the world – the agent of thought- becomes meaningless. At that point of no-longer-knowing-anything about the tree, go closer to it and be with it. Walk around and touch it, smell it, see it from deliberately different angles, use all your senses and try to suppress anything that smacks of the past. Most of all, shut of like and dislike and any inner dialogue based on previous experience of trees.. This exercise will bring you into contact, however fractionally, with the Being of the Tree. There’s nothing ‘new-age’ about this, its the science of experience, though we should feel free to hug the tree if  we like! It will also show us that, once we turn off the habitual mechanism of the ‘word’,  the substance of thought, we begin to see that the duality of ‘me and it’ is entirely false, and that our real life is in the harmonisation of experience and the diminishing of the false self.

We have spoken here, mainly of duality; so what is polarity? Are they the same? Mystics speak of a subtle difference. Polarity is seen as a deeper understanding of the construction of form – objects with purpose being grouped together. We did not create such purposes in our own minds, we discover them through knowledge – the real purpose of science. With new eyes, we build new relationships with the natural world, seeing a much bigger will than ours at work.

There comes a moment when we see that the subtle difference between duality and polarity lies in the latter’s possession of an intelligence of reconciliation, and a realisation – like discovering a natural spring in the landscape – that this polar intelligence is there to take us home…

What, then, is the usefulness of a ‘self’? Has Nature spent billions of years evolving us from star-stuff to find that the self is not fit for purpose? The answer is an intriguing paradox that we will consider in the concluding post, next week.

©️Copyright Stephen Tanham 2017

The Finding of Polarity (1) – #Silenti

Arrows of polarityAA

We can speak of mysticism, of magic, of meditation, of psychodynamics and many other labels, but all these refer to the attempt by the human consciousness to become aware of a deeper level of existence than our normal day-world.

In dreams, we experience another ‘world’ but it is often confusing and seldom follows the laws of cause and effect with which we try to control what happens to us in our day-world.

A more accurate word to describe this quest is that we seek to enter the world of metaphysics. Meta, in this sense, implies a greater or underlying understanding. Physics speaks for itself, but only since the age of ‘rational science’ has it excluded the aspect of consciousness. Meta-physics, then, is the search for laws that involve the whole human in a deeper understanding of action, reaction and possible reconciliation.

Today, more than ever before, these concepts and experiences are important. We live in an age where the citizens of some of the most developed nations on earth are polarised against each other, not by physical harm being done – in the sense that a tribal feud would bring – but by an antithesis of idea…

Person ‘A’ sees that what is happening is against the very core values of their being, and turns the collective clock back for the county, in terms of its part in the world. Person ‘B’ see that ‘A’ is soft, susceptible to external persuasion and that things can be only be solved by self-based firm action and unity of purpose – and if there are casualties, well, they had it coming. Both sets of people are sincere in their beliefs. There are no laws of physics to describe such divergence of heated opinion; they are a complex mixture of logic, emotion, culture, and the invocation of ancient survival traits in the lower parts of our brain-stems.

Physics speaks of action and reaction. These have psychological equivalents as well, but the same laws are not followed. My beliefs may change tomorrow, but the angle at which a ray of light will be refracted through the same piece of glass will not.

Is there a science of how and why things happen? At a physical level the answer is a definite yes. Considered from the perspective of the whole of Life on Earth, the answer is not so simple. Metaphysics begins with a set of core principles – technically an ‘ontology’ or study of Being. Being is what is. Its attributes are to be rather than to do. If you believe in a human soul, an inner, deeper part of our being, then that soul may be said to live in world of Being, though we may pass the whole of our life without knowing of its presence.

Being does not need reason – it knows itself to be the child of a perfect universe.

Being underpins Doing. Doing is the unwinding of potential to do. Intelligence ‘aims’ that potential where it knows the most good can be done. In physics the ‘most good’ is the desired result – the football in the back of the opposition net, for example. In metaphysics, the idea of doing cannot be separated from the experience of moral good – as seen at the highest level of that person’s consciousness. Psychology sees ‘good’ in a similar way to physics, in that it is a relative quality. In metaphysics, good is a real thing and pervades the universe, waiting for its children of consciousness to wake up to its guiding presence.

We need not speak of God, here. But we can if we wish. We must, though, speak of Life. The Good is that which serves all Life as equitably as the distribution of potential for action will allow, looking after the developing consciousness as much as the physical vehicle which houses it.

The inner core of many of the mystical or magical traditions is the idea of polarity. Something is polarised when it exhibits an extreme of a certain quality. The ‘poles’ of such qualities might be easy to understand, like life and death or black and white, or hot and cold, or wet and dry. Many of these qualities are relative to the observer, in other words relative to the way we are affected by them. We are reactive to such things – they originate elsewhere and with a greater cause.

The word ‘spiritual’ simply means something that affects all the levels of our Being. The idea of spiritual polarity begins with the Will, or, in physics, the set of laws, that comes into existence at the birth of the ‘world’. We can define the ‘world’ as we wish. It can refer to the arising of life on Earth or to the Big Bang of the whole universe, depending how far back in time we wish to go. Time is, of course, not what it was. Einstein re-wrote the laws of classical physics with his proven theories of space-time within relativity.

The laws of consciousness describe increasing levels of awareness – from the simplest single-celled organisms, whose main property is to continue to exist as something separate, to the complexity of the human being, with the history of its entire evolution written in the increasingly sophisticated levels of its nervous system and brain. The story of Life on Earth is written along the human spine…

When Life is examined in this way, we begin to see the evolving climb of consciousness; and the importance of the polarities which drove its evolution. Something with increasingly powerful ‘eyes’ is being produced in the biosphere of the Earth. That original ‘Will’ of the universe, as seen on this planet, has resulted in the consciousness of mankind.

In the next post, we will ‘Look back along the telescope’ at the core polarities of how things happen, relating these principles to what is revealed in the depths of the human consciousness.

©️Copyright Stephen Tanham 2017