It is with this in mind that we shall attempt to build up a philosophy in which we can consider our whole reality in the universe, not only from our own point of view, but also from the position of a creative source; which may be either personal, like the Christian God, or impersonal, in the form of the One Absolute Life. And yet, which ever way it goes, the philosophy has to regard this creative source as being very aware and responsive. We shall find that we have to avoid allowing ourselves to think of it as being something like a ‘biological computer’, or sophisticated machine.
Because the word philosophy has been used, this must not be taken to mean we are going to engage in a dry intellectual discussion. Rather, we are going to need a philosophy which will allow all our best and most immediate responses to life their proper place. As philosophers, we are about to endeavour to stand fully in our human condition at one instant, and fully our of it, as detached observers, at the next instant.
We know very well that it is very difficult to take a detached view of things. We know that it is difficult enough to keep a balanced attitude towards our physical life, let alone discover a balanced view of the more intangible content of our inner reality. To expect ourselves to be able to add to this a view which begins to take in the possible views and attitudes of other peoples inner and outer worlds is to ask a great deal of ourselves. It does not seem that there is any hope of success in this endeavour unless we can use a way of discussion amongst ourselves which is both simple and profound. We need the simplicity in order to avoid confusion, and we need the profundity in order to cover the whole ground..
It will be necessary, therefore, to talk about ourselves and our understanding in direct and penetrating terms. We will not be able to afford one another the politeness we show in our social meetings, where we continually feel for one another’s ‘walls of resistance’ and respectfully retreat from them as they are discovered. To be of any help, we must step right through these polite attitudes of our social selves to the timid and uncertain person that, in nearly every case, is hiding behind them. But we are going to show that this person in hiding should not be so timid or so uncertain. In fact the burden of our effort will be to enhance and bolster-up the true individual that exist on the perimeter of life in a condition of apology for which it is always trying to compensate.
In saying this we are also required to face up to the fact that we are going to disturb and subdue the compensating personality which stands in the way of the true individual. We are going to draw attention to the difference between the two natures which live in the same physical body, and make sure that the correct nature is left in charge and that a fruitful synthesis replaces a running battle.
There is nothing weird about this way of expressing the position. We are not about to face up to some other person in ourselves who will come out of the blue like a thief and a stranger. Rather we are going to try and get on the same good terms with ourselves that we often enjoyed in our childhood.
We are going to become childish, but we are required to become more child-like if we are ever to achieve the directness about which we have been talking. The quality of this child-like nature is one which has not been too overlaid with the structure of limitation placed on it, mostly quite unconsciously, by the attitudes of our parents, friends and teachers. But we are to blame too, for we have allowed the ways of other people to sway us away from our inner sense of fitness and purpose. We have all been weak at times, and these are the occasions in which we have allowed second-rate values to replace the values in our life which we need to maintain if we are to look about us in open-eyed wonder. For not only do we need to have this open attitude to our external experiences, we also need it in our inner life. If we have allowed it to become clouded, then we have allowed ourselves to become cripples. For if a large part of our true nature is denied its value, then this is equivalent to living our life with only one arm or one leg. In fact it is far worse, it is more like having a leg which is back to front, since it causes a division in our nature which allows it to try to follow two opposite directions at the same time. One is the successful conformity to the ways of our man-made society, and the other is to the ways of our most real self, whose values are in many ways at odds with those of society.
And this is how the running battle between two different aspects of our self comes about. One part of ourself is trying to survive in the world as a worldly personality. The other part is trying to survive as a spiritual being according to the values which belong to it’s spirituality. It is towards the significance of this spirituality that we discover we have an ambivalent attitude. If someone denies to us that we are a person of spiritual standards we feel grossly insulted. Yet, if someone openly refers to us as a spiritual or religious person, our first impulse is often to deny it, not out of modesty so much as out of fear. This fear is of ridicule from those who do not have spiritual attitudes, and of what might be expected of us in the future by those who do have spiritual attitudes.
It would therefore be of help to us if we could build up an understanding of creation and the purpose behind creation, which would allow us to accept both parts of our nature in terms of being an inevitable result of that which creation was designed to accomplish. At present, we in the western world are more often than not confronted with religious ideas which give us the feeling that we have committed some terrible sin which has caused sufferings and difficulties to arise as a form of punishment for not being obedient to the commands of the Great Cause, the source of life. Yet if we approach this source in the right way, we may well discover that our religious understanding is often quite wrong and that we have misconstrued the meaning of our difficulties and the rebelliousness that seems to have caused them.
There is a consensus among responsible people in the world which adds together the good, the true and the beautiful and arrives at an image of the perfect being who is able to express all that is held to be most valuable. However we look at this fact it leads us to the realisation that such thoughtful and responsible people are truly carrying around with them an image in their deepest consciousness which is both a Creator and a God and also an ideal towards which they themselves are trying to grow. Whether these people ever put their instinctive understanding of this situation into words or not, or whether they admit the situation to themselves or not, the reality is that they are living a purposeful spiritual life which is governed by the love they bear towards these higher values. The fact that the higher values may be seen by them in terms of their love and respect for human beings, animals or the environment, or that it may be understood in terms of a religious teaching and a Saviour or a Divine Person does not make any difference to the heart of the matter. For the hear of the matter is that they are trying to grow more like the things which they love. In loving mankind, the humanist is becoming godlike. In loving God the religious person is becoming a person who loves all life and all its human forms. Now if we can set up a series of propositions which lead our understanding towards a situation which can account for all these attitudes and can accept them equally, then we shall have a philosophy which will be a real help in every aspect of our everyday life.
Those people who do not have a love for the good, true and beautiful will not be reading this book anyway, so we will continue our discussions without trying to argue why we should love these ideals. Let us be satisfied that we do appreciate these values and that we do wish to be associated with them rather than their opposites. Those people who are sitting on the fence between those two attitudes will have to come along with us as far as they can. Those of us who ‘mean business’ towards the good are the salt of the earth and it is among these that we wish our discussions to develop so that their nature may become more salty and that they dip into it more often.
What I wish to do is to become very bold and suggest that we put ourselves in the position of this Creative Source, the God of what we love, and begin to see things from the position we would be in if we were about to design the plans for this scheme of manifestation of which our worlds are a part. This means that we must feel for the godlike image we have in our consciousness and clarify it to the extent that we can begin to understand at least something of the attitude that would be brought to bear on this creative endeavour. Our Source will have many attributes which we can agree about. Our love for the ideals which we carry in our nature in common will know that such a Creator will have to be, first of all, love itself. We know that we would resist any other Being however many qualities of power, knowledge and talent He had. We know, therefore, that what we refer to as love, in its most profound sense, is also a simple but unmistakable beginning we require and respond to. When we reach a certain stage of growth within our spirit we know this to a degree that we would never argue about it. It is the simple but profound basis to our understanding which is the only one that can remain in harmony with our good sense. And yet there are many things to be drawn out of this love knowledge which as yet we are still hazy about.
Now, when we put ourselves in the position of this Creator, it is then that we have to look more closely at the nature of love and try to understand the principles which it contains. Unless we can do this we cannot begin our designing for we will not be clear about what we are trying to achieve. We could, for instance, design a scheme, as many of us would, which would be like a continuous, perfect, summer holiday situation. We would all begin our designs with the idea of ease and happiness in mind. We would all find that our schemes did not contain responsibility or difficulty. I think we would find that our plans would take for granted that it was easy to include other people in our perfect world. I think we would find that we would make up a perfect and easy world where everyone was like ourselves and where all the things that really mattered to us were simply put into the picture, ready made, as though the reality of them could be programmed into them. All our schemes would contain other people, for none of us would want to be lonely, and all of us would soon begin to realise that other people were an integral part of all that we enjoyed about ourselves. We would discover that a sort of mythical ‘deckchair on golden deserted sands’ situation was a trap that we all fell into. A little would be pleasant, but only because it is what we are most short of in our experience of life as it is on Earth. Even if we allowed ourselves a companion, or even a family, we would find that there was still a lot wrong. The family who sat about with us would get restless as we would.
So we would want to explore a bit, go for a walk, see something new. We may go for a swim. Swimming and short walks, on a perfect beach in perfect weather, with all our loved ones about us; such might be a beginning. But the walks would have to get longer and the swimming would have to include diving. The diving would lead to exploring the seabed and the walks would become voyages of discovery. We would wish to feel that the family or friends were on the sands for us to come back to, but we would want to feel free to explore, we would want to feel free to experiment with different sorts of walking and swimming, different combinations of walking, swimming and sitting in the sun. We would wish to talk to our companions, we would wish to enjoy their company. We would wish to laugh and have a bit of fun. We would wish for them to be real in their own right so that the laughter and fun was real and full of surprise and the unexpected. If we had programmed the other people to be like ourselves we would find it very difficult to keep up the pretence of enjoying their company, their fun and their affection. For pretence it would have to be, since we were really entertaining ourself in other guises.
We are only touching on the problems of designing a scheme of creation that we would consider to be an ideal one. But if we look into the matter further we will come upon the main factors that confront us, even if we are physical persons in physical bodies. What we discover, if we play with this problem, is that whatever form we take and whatever environment we take it in there are certain basic requirements which stem from the nature of love itself. We discover that our sense of love to explore and experiment is as real as our love to bask in sunny happiness. Our sense of love needs other people to do these things with. Our sense of love requires fun and delight with other peoples company, and it requires these other people to be real as we are; we require them to be real in their own right. A big problem we come up against is that any idea of existence requires us to people our world with beings who are different from ourselves, who most certainly must not have been programmed or brainwashed by us in any way. In fact we find that other people who are as real and independent as we are, are something we cannot do without. So we face this situation when we come to design our scheme of manifestation. Our spirit needs freedom to explore, experiment and grow, and it needs to feel that it has companions to share such a life with, and these companions have to be real and independent in their own right. It means that if we start the scheme off, we have to accept that they might wish to do things that did not appeal to us. We would have to learn to accept one another’s different approaches and the fact that although we may have designed the scheme, we had to give to them the same rights as we had. We would have to accept that although we started the scheme off, if it was to be any good to us, if it was to be true and beautiful, then we would have to hand over the control and outcome to them as much as to ourselves.
Against this argument is the realisation that a creative scheme has to ensure that the freedom which is allowed to the other individuals who live in it is handed to them gradually as their responsibility grows and is able to bear it safely. For if we give to our friends, who we wish to live with in our designed creation, the freedom and independence which makes them real to us and therefore makes the experience of their company completely valid, we do not wish to reach a stage at which we ourselves are over-ruled by them.
When we begin to imagine ways of bringing our companions into our creative scheme in such a way that we can give to them their own reality, and give it to them in such a way that we do not dominate them, we realise what a subtle thing this process will have to be. Such companions will have to be given the same creative reality as ourself, the creator, but they will begin their life in a condition of great potentiality which will be entirely unrealised by them. So our scheme of creation will have to be largely educational to start with before our friends will have grown up enough to enter into its delightful creative purpose with their own unique individual ways of looking at things and doing things, and with the responsibility which will ensure that their desire is to enhance all things and not to destroy or diminish.
The other points we will have to observe are concerned with how we will help our friends to come to themselves gradually and take the gift of their own reality upon themselves deliberately. We will have to discover ways of showing them why the good and the beautiful qualities are considered by us, the creator, to be good and beautiful. The only way we can do this is by giving them a taste of the opposite qualities in order that they can knowingly say to themselves ‘I have experienced beautiful and good attitudes which seek to enhance all things; and I have experienced ugly and evil attitudes which seek to diminish and enslave all things, and I chose the good and the beautiful and will always resist the opposite’.
If we find a way of helping our friends into their own reality in this responsible way, then we can enjoy their company in the next level of our creative purpose, which is to have them with us to explore and experiment with our potentiality, which we would consider to be unlimited. The unique character of each of our friends would mean that we were each a continual delight to one another both in terms of our meeting together in our home’ and in our explorations together into the unknown potential of our spirits.
This is then an introduction to the spiritual philosophy which follows. It is by trying to put ourselves in the position of the Creator whose nature is love and spiritedness, that we may be able to draw conclusions which help us to understand and accept the situation on Earth as we find it at the present time. We may realise that the difficulties, while often painful, are also extremely valuable if we can view them as a part of the process of making us into real and responsible individual spirits who can become companions of the endless life in which the Creative Source wishes us to meet Him.
It is most important that we consider if we would prefer to be given a very full and thorough education, in which difficulties acted upon us to strengthen all our characteristics which we feel to be valuable. Or would we prefer an easy form of education in which we could obtain a token reality for ourselves in circumstances which required little effort on our part? Or, again, would we prefer to be created with all our individuality ready made and programmed into us? In which case we would not need education for we would simply respond with the conditioning already at work in our nature, effortless and automatic and not within our power to change. In the long run we would all realise that the difficult and thorough way was the only thing we wanted, for above all, we wish to be real. We want to be valuably real, but we do not want to be artificially valuable.
There must be no misunderstanding over the substance of this philosophy. Nowhere is it ever suggested that we should undertake evil experience in order to become wise. It would be very easy to read into these arguments some excuse for the gratification of degenerate appetites of the flesh and of consciousness. Some might even excuse such behaviour on the grounds that it indicates maturity of spirit, and that purity is only for children and the childlike level of our growth. Those who attempt to think in this way have subverted the whole sense of value that we are trying to reach. If evil occurs as the result of error which is not deliberate, this philosophy shows us how we can make up for it and turn it with responsibility into something of long term value. This is a very different thing to any form of deliberate and irresponsible behaviour undertaken in the name of careless high spirits or the excitement of the cruder forms of our physical sense. Those who choose to become the means of diminishment to others or themselves will pay a price and that price is built into their own nature and the nature of the Creators environments.