Friday, 29 July 2016

Wisdom - an essay from The Great Gift

Wisdom - Bill Arkle, August 1976

Wisdom has to start with our ordinary understanding of the term 'wisdom' which we know is a relative term, in the same way as we know the term 'beauty' is a relative term - relative to the attitude and the perception, as it were, within the eye of the beholder. And so wisdom also is relative to the perception and the eye of the beholder of actions and responses which are measured in terms of being more wise or less wise. But, behind the ordinary terminology of wisdom, we may suppose that there is a deep absolute form of wisdom which is in line with, and in tune with, the absolute level of our being and the absolute creative intention behind the manifestation of the universes at all their levels, from the most ethereal level, which we call the heavenly levels, down through the more and more dense levels to the most dense and concrete, which we call the earthly levels.

My understanding of this absolute form of wisdom depends on an ability I believe we have to resonate with the deep heart of our being into the deep heart of the Creator's being and feel, with that very deep sense of in-feeling, how the Creator felt towards creation before it began. In other words one can learn to feel what it was that the Creator was longing for, aspiring to, or simply desiring, from the great work and the great effort that he has engaged in in what is known to us as creation. Now, if we can feel with all our deepest understanding, our deepest intelligence and our deepest perception, what it was that the Creator looked for, above all else, in creation, then, and only then, shall we be close to the absolute point of wisdom which I believe is in the absolute point of deepest desire in the heart of the Creator's being.

As I myself attempt to do this, I come away with the understanding that the greatest longing that was in the Creator's heart before creation, and which brought about creation and brought into existence the individual beings, who each of us is in the Creator's eyes and to one another, was the desire to have real individual friends, in the deepest possible meaning of that word. Friends to share his understanding, his joy and his wisdom within the context of real friendship, which creates a vital relationship between each friend and the other friend, from which ever-renewing possibilities and responses can grow. My feeling is that the Creator first of all wished to bring into existence real and individual children, whose nature was based on a part of his own divine nature, but the characteristics of which were to be developed by each of those individual children as they grew up in the universes, or the universities, of his creation. They would develop in the nature of their own individual spirits, so that each of those children would become a unique individual child and then, hopefully, would become more than a child - would wish to grow into a mature condition which was not as a child to the Creator, but was as an individual being to the Creator. Thus all these beings could each have creative relationships of friendship and gladness with one another and with the Creator. Not with the Creator as a special 'God' individual, who was not approachable as other friends are approachable, but He himself wanted to be able to befriend us and have a creative friendship with us as we befriend one another and have a creative friendship with one another.

In the heart of the Creator's being we find all manner of wonderful things; but we find, above all, great love, great affection, great beauty, great sweetness, great gentleness and great strength. We find all the great qualities, such as courage and devotion, which to us become deeply valuable properties of our most valuable relationship. Now, the nature of wisdom as we will try to define it, is something other than the nature of love.

We can understand that the Creator's nature is, as it were, all love, but wisdom is the application of that love to the purposeful aspiration or desire which emanates from that love which, in the case we are talking about, was to bring into existence real individual children who have unique characteristics of their own and who were truly separate and autonomous beings. These would learn to live and grow amongst one another according to the specieshood of the divine nature, but within that specieshood, would develop the ability to express their own unique characteristics and express the initiative and spiritedness which emanates from any healthy spiritual being. Thus they would be able, as they gained more strength, to stand apart and upon their own feet, in a metaphorical sense, in order that each of these individuals could be a unique polarity to which other individuals could relate, and between which living polarities, new, ever growing, vortices of creative potentiality would develop.

Now wisdom, as I would understand it, is the appreciation of the value that comes out of the effort, and the means to bring about this great desire, as the means become available in terms of this created universe at all its levels. We understand that, after the universe was created and prepared, the spirits, the particles of the Creator's being, which were individual units of his own being nature, were sown into this universe as pupils are placed in a university. In it they work from the lowest level of the university up to the highest level of the university and, eventually, learn to appreciate the nature and value of the university as a whole, from the highest level to the lowest level. Wisdom begins by understanding that these potential children cannot become real, in any sense of that word, if they are prestructured or pre-programmed in such a way that their individuality and their sense of selfhood cannot be properly developed and appreciated by them.

If the Creator in any way subverts the processes which maintain the individual autonomy of each of these children as they grow and mature, then the Creator is allowing the desire and longing to slip away from the possibility that the universe contains for the bringing about of that great longing. So, from the beginning, the Creator had to work with wisdom to create processes which would allow for the potentiality of each of these Divine particles, who were individual children in a potential condition, gradually to become aware of the structure of values and relationships that it was living in with regard to nature and to other individual beings. And this had to be brought about in such a way that at no time was the individual overawed or over-dominated by the too great nearness or presence of the Creator's own personality. For, if that occurred, then the dominance of the Creator's personality would stamp itself completely upon the individuality of the individual child and prevent that individuality flourishing in its fullness; which it must do if it is to carry any real value as a real child in its own right.

So we can understand that, from the beginning, a great wisdom was needed which understood that, although the Creator was longing that each of his children should understand the value of, and the nature of, each of the Divine qualities, these children could not have an objective understanding of divine qualities if they were not able to experience them in a condition which would allow for the opposites of those qualities to be experienced at the same time. Thus to enter into the judgement of the value of the qualities which each of them must learn to apply for themselves. It would have been very beautiful and very happy for us all to have been born into a perfect and heavenly environment, perhaps close to the person and, shall we call it, the home of our Divine Creator, but this would not have produced in us the qualities which the Creator's heart most longed for; which was a longing for the quality of unique individuality which each of us longs for in a friend.

A friend is one who can stand apart from us in strength and values us in freedom as we would value them in strength and freedom. We value our friends not so much in terms of their cleverness or their special abilities, but for their profound uniqueness of characteristics which they exhibit towards us as completely separate autonomous individuals.

Now wisdom has to learn to discriminate between the lower forms of love and affection and the higher forms of love and affection. The lower forms of love are not true forms of love at all, but are the desire and the need for one another to supply the gratifications which are necessary to the outer forms of our being nature and the appetites which go along with the outer forms of our being nature. The deeper and real forms of love and affection are not based on the desire to use individuals as a source of gratification of needs, but rather we are very deeply glad about the existence of the other individual in an entirely undemanding way. The basis of the friendship is nothing other than the deep and instinctive recognition of the divine individuality in that other being, and all that divine individuality implies in terms of potentiality.

So real friendship and real love is a very creative, purposeful, ongoing situation, which desires that new things, new possibilities, new responses, should forever arise from that friendship. Wisdom is that knowledge which recognises the nature of true loving relationships and true friendships, and recognises the way that the individual children of God have to be brought in a very slow and gradual state to a condition of self awareness, through which their individuality will receive the greatest encouragement to grow and develop without being overshadowed and overruled by the potency of the Creator's own being and characteristics.

So we can see that wisdom is that understanding which realises the value of the means, and every moment that those means are striving to achieve the end, which was the initial desire for divine children and divine friends to share divine life with. We are saying that wisdom is that understanding which realises that you can only have a deep friendship with an individual who has a deep set of experiences and characteristics; who has deep awareness, which is supported by strength and integrity, of the objective significance of each of the divine qualities which are exhibited in the university, the universe, and which come to us through the activities that each of us play out for the other in the processes or life.

Wisdom will therefore be at great pains to draw out the potentialities and the benefits from the rich mixture of spontaneous responses that all of the individual children of God produce for one another. So far as those responses are unique and individual, then so far do they carry the possibility of producing some spontaneous mixture which did not exist before, and, upon which, other spontaneous mixtures and responses may be built, to produce new possibilities for new understandings and new growth, not only in creation but in terms of eternal purpose and eternal value.

So we can see then that wisdom is that ability in us that can stand back and, through its knowledge that you can only have a thin relationship with a thin personality, can appreciate the thickening of the characteristics of individuality which occur in a very rich and spontaneous and uninhibited form of existence, which is full of initiative and spontaneity. This is the spontaneity which makes mistakes and realises, through its own sense of responsibility, the fact that it has made mistakes, and, through its own sense of responsibility, wishes to put those mistakes right again and correct them. Now this sort of richness can only come to those individual children in a level of the university in which mistakes can occur. My own feeling is that these mistakes can only occur at the lower end of the university, and, as our nature gravitates to a more and more ethereal level of experience in the university, so does the possibility of creative spontaneity and endeavour become less and less.

Whereas, at the higher levels, the enjoyment and adoration of the beautiful divine qualities, that are not only in the Creator's being but present as potentialities in our own being, absorb our whole attention, the desire to use our initiative and the desire to enter into creative and exploratory forms of life, disappear. We can understand that if our educational processes at the lower end of the university were perfect as they are in the higher and more heavenly level of the university, then the initiative to make mistakes and correct them again may be lacking. We would be unable to experience the opposite of all the values of the divine nature, such as love being experienced against the quality of hatred, and kindness being experienced against the quality of cruelty, and weakness being experienced against the quality of strength, and beauty being experienced against the quality of ugliness.

Now this ability for us not only to see and feel and experience the qualities which we come to value most deeply in terms of their opposites, but our ability to get into situations, through the use of our own initiative, which have to be corrected and thoroughly understood before we become clear of those situations again, does not occur at any other level than that of the most concrete and separate forms of creation, which the physical level of creation represents. It represents the most crystallised form of the Creator's spirit in action and therefore, at this level as in no other, are we able to define the specific significance of all the divine potential qualities which exist in our nature and in the Creator's nature; through perceiving them and understanding them, being involved with them, having to use them, having to use them correctly, and correct them when we use them incorrectly.

This sort of experience produces true wisdom and true understanding, and produces in us a deep awareness of the significance of the Creator's great work on our behalf. This attitude towards the significance of wisdom helps us to understand why it was, in the allegorical sense, that the Creator allowed us to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and yet, at the same time, warned us that it would be a thing which would cause us pain. The Creator knew that in order to fulfil the great longing in his heart to produce craggy, leathery, strong individuals, who had deep characteristics of individuality in them, we would have to enter into a level of experimental living in which mistakes occurred and which pain would be felt as a result of those mistakes occurring. As the source of love and affection, the Creator himself could not force us into that situation; he could not place us in that place in which pain must come to us. But on the other hand, he could Go straight to large imagetake us close to the door which led into this field of experiment and pain, and hopefully wait for our initiative to become strong enough to take us through that door. So that we, from our initiative, entered into the realm of pain and suffering through the spiritedness of our spirit and the desire to know all things; to register the true value of ourselves in a deep sense and to register a sense, which is very strong in us, of being the arbiter of our own actions and the carrier of responsibility for those actions.

In other words, it was the deep, instinctive sense of the godlike creative experimental and responsible individuality which led us through that door into the world of the knowledge of good and evil, and caused us to be engaged with good and evil in a way which we were not engaged with them before. Because, before we entered that door and experimented unwisely with the forces of our own being, we were not engaged with the processes and the qualities of evil, we were only engaged with the processes and the qualities of good.

Although we may have chosen to remain on the good side of that door and not pass through it, if we had done so we would have lost the potentiality of growth and development which can only come to us through the deep, tragic, heroic and painful experience which comes to us through the misuse of our godlike abilities, but which also registers in us the godlike remorse and the godlike desire to correct the mistakes we make as we make them.

So that great wisdom, whereas it will not force people into situations which it knows are incorrect and painful, at the same time will learn to wait for the individual to work out the results of such wrong engagement in life. Because wisdom knows that it is only through the wrong engagement in life that some greater value than obedient perfection can arise, which is not an ability to be in perfect harmony with all the beautiful qualities of the divine nature, but is, in fact, the ability to know on its own account, to know for itself, to know objectively within its own experience, why the divine values are divinely valuable, and what the values are which detract from and destroy those divine values.

From that type of knowledge arises a great strength and a great wisdom and a great love, which cannot arise if that spirit has not passed through the gate into the world of knowledge of good and evil. It is only on the other side of that gate that great strength will be required to recover from mistakes, and it's only on the other side of that gate that great mistakes will be made and great understanding developed in order to recover from those mistakes.

So we can see that great wisdom is not engaged in interfering with the processes of life in order to tidy them up, in order to do away with disharmony, in order to do away with the crosscurrents of life which stir the pot of experience and produce a rich soup of opposing currents and values and desires and attitudes. Yet, at the same time, wisdom is certainly not indifferent to suffering, and it is not indifferent to the fact that continually the experiences produce a stumbling and a faltering, and mankind has to be rescued and brought back to a reasonable level of buoyancy again from which further movements and further experiments can be made.

In a sense, although wisdom does not interfere, wisdom is always on the lookout for a situation which has gone too far, and become so negative that nothing of value can arise from the situation anymore. Then wisdom will try and suggest to an individual who is stuck in such a situation that there is a way out which that individual hasn't yet seen.

Thus, the way out will produce a form of recovery which will lead to the individual realising why he has fallen, why he has got stuck in a situation which has stopped life happening to that individual, stopped experience growing and developing, stopped understanding and awareness growing in the individual.

Wisdom, while it will stand back and allow people and individuals to make mistakes, will equally engage in rescuing people from mistakes and from over-stressed situations, from which those individuals cannot rescue themselves. We can see that wisdom is a very deep awareness which is continually balancing out all the processes engaged in building deeper and deeper characteristics into the individuality which exists in each of the divine children of the Creator.

Wisdom is encouraging each of those divine children to grow into a level beyond childhood, which is more mature than childhood is, which is a level of growth in which divine friendship can occur between the individuals and their Creator.

Wisdom will forever be observing the balance occurring in experience, particularly at a physical level, in order that this absolute value can be extracted and made use of in every situation. So that wisdom is not so much engaged in easing the burden of life, as it is engaged in the harvesting of the fruits of the burdens of life. Wisdom develops an ability to see that the harvest in life is not at the level of ease, happiness, bliss and joy, but exists in a level of beingness in our nature which is at a very deep level of strength and integrity and selfhood which, while it is being autonomous and highly individual, is also becoming aware of its unity and loving relationship with all other forms of selfhood.

So we are saying that the deep wisdom which exists in the Creator's nature, and which we can learn to understand, is a deep wisdom which values not only the individual who is a friend to each other individual, but values the depth of character and strength and integrity, the leathery, craggy, strong, warrior-like toughness and individual responsiveness that each individual can develop in their own right. And wisdom recognises that individuality which doesn't have strength and doesn't have deep experience, is less valuable.

Although all the divine qualities of heaven are something we must have an experience of, and a taste of, wisdom recognises that, if these qualities are not understood arid lived at this outermost physical level of the universe, they are not fully appreciated in terms of their opposites, and therefore do not produce the deep understanding, the objective valuation, and the deep strength which can support them and which is needed in any true individual.

Wisdom recognises that there are three things that we need to achieve. First of all our unique separate beingness, then the objective understanding of values, which produces the ability to understand the real quality and value of all things, and then the strength and integrity which is necessary to support the being and the understanding; and it is on earth that these experiences have been made available for us, to a degree which they may not be available for us in any other form of experience. That is why there is a wisdom that is able to grow from the earth which is so valuable.

The essay Wisdom, published in The Great Gift, by William Arkle - 1977

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Hand of God - a prose-poem vision from c1960

The Hand of God

By William Arkle (self-published as a pamphlet in 1960)

I came to the point of love at my inmost heart, and I was glad and at rest, like unto the end of things. But the point was not a point, it was a doorway opening both inwards and outwards. Though I had thought to rest there for ever, I could not do so for long, since my deepest feelings pulled me. So pushing gently inwards I passed through the doorway and went in.

Then it was if I had walked onto the palm of the hand of my God, who had now become my great friend. The palm of His hand was as the most sensitive place in his heart might be. It was tenderly aware and responsive, so that I stopped still in case I should hurt it.

In some strange way the hand was the heart and it extended beyond my understanding in all directions unto the fingers. While the palm of this great hand was content to be at rest, as I was, the fingers had a longing in them to express the nature that was the heart of the hand. The place that had been a doorway had now become like a whole country opened from within.

As I stood in the sun of that moment, I was gathered into the song of a bird and I was with the substance of that song in a way which I had always longed to be. The sound rained on me and touched my spirit with a quickening, like a silver dart, which sent it shimmering outwards to all spaces that lay about me.

Each phrase of the song of that bird became like a book whose pages I could have written and drawn on for ever. For I overflowed with the means to say so much that had only been partly said. I, myself had only been partly said. But now I was among the saying and the understanding that was a fullness of my love and the delight of my God, and such gladness was between us both.

With a voice that needed no sound, my friend spoke through the whole of the vast country. His hand and His fingers were full of the expression of each word. The fingers not only held fast the treasure of the hand, but they were also the means of discovery. The spirit of this discovery was in need of companions, and I could be such a companion. For that which remained to be discovered lay out beyond the finger-tips of God's person in a larger reality of being.

Although I had not moved, my understanding had now grown beyond the bird song, out into the hills and meadows of this land; which land is only a way of saying the person and quality of this great friend. So, all about me lay qualities that cannot be said and at last I could be with them and more truly know myself. I realised how like my friend I had grown in ways which were yet real to me alone and to Him alone. And there, as I came abreast a hill, I saw in the distance the camp of His companions and, as I approached, they were all my companions and were remembered.

Here was a place where our God met with us and we also met with one another. Some were concerned with the harvesting of friends from among God's children, while some were enjoying the fruits of our Being nature, which we all shared and exchanged with ease. Others spoke of questing out into the potency of Divine nature, seeking for the refinement of greatness and beauty. Some went alone, others together and with them went the person of God in loving company. Such songs went up of sweetness and such chords were struck of gentleness, matched with burning love and endeavour, that they continually mingled about the sun. Now and then this caused a great leap in the heart of the whole hand and the sun flashed outwards to us all, and the peace, in which all was dressed, became more hushed and more deeply still, lengthening recognition and kissing the inmost heart of things.

Those who went out to the harvest passed through the doorway of the point of love where I had come in. There they met and discussed their work with those who lived about that point. Such did not see the door, as I had not seen it at first. When they were ready, down and outward each team would go. Some to tend the seed beds, others the garden and others again the fields that lay about the garden. So the harvest of friends was brought in, through patience and toil and pain. But it was their work which they longed to do; seeing in each friend an endless book of pages, filled and unfilled, to be read and to call forth response with freshness and difference; to be a delight upon the everlasting hand and to all who know it. Such who did this work became strong against the darkness of distance in which the seedlings root, away from the smile direct whose eyes would burn and hinder their growing and bending, unlike another's as it should become.

For the affection of the smile and the blue understanding which spreads from the eyes of God will seal the bond and comes after the growth which can support it, otherwise the bond is slavery not required. So first that smile begins to grow within each plant as goodly wholesome care, conceived by each to please itself alone. Then the foundation is sure and the growing and bending of the journey builds sure the friend who has no like. None other can we love aloft towards the doorway of the hand of the great heart.

How does the gladness grow among those who stay upon the palm of this hand, living among the hills and streams that cannot be said, who have the bird and song always and who thrill with the sunflash and the eyes. Long does the spirit drink such things and far does the loveliness spread when companionship rejoices unhindered in opal light and gentle ways. For the softness that becomes us here is strength and the sweetness is understanding, clear and unconfused; power only serves and is not sought by those who reach this place. Though beyond and beyond goes His spirit, to be uncovered, to be disclosed to those who search it out, or deep in their own well find it.

Then go up to this house. He will ask you in and She will greet you there. Father and Mother of us all, dwelling in a valley of the hills that are not, but are the hand that is the heart always. From this place their spirit never moves and in this place is the measure of all things kept safely. But you may go in and touch direct the uttermost. Then you will have the foundation about you you did not know to need. It remains in the smile there and all things are borne up by it. This is what is served to every friend who comes.

The light of Their eyes is to you and outward through the window is the view that goes to them that search and find and make and make again. Exploration and refinement bring back to the table in the hall the subjects of our gathering there. Here may all experience be added for the furthering; newly found and ancient, every value is potent to the plan that grows towards another day, when this day is complete.

So shall the harvest live on about the uttermost and the persons whose one life is for all and for friendship, whether They be seen or not, whether They be understood or not. They look upon their children to see who will stand and bear this friendship everlasting; or if, sadly, too much modesty or too much virtue may cause them to melt from this. Knowing no friend but Holiness, there can be no room in their ungathered love for such a self, it was somehow shamed away. Yet I see upon the table in the hall a project offering hands again to each such essence unfulfilled to friendship. We will come to it again another day.

Long would be the telling of this aching hand whose heart shall hold friends and teach the art to many in that country that cannot be said, between whose spirits the potency of difference so gladly spreads to uncover and display a growth to all things new.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Potential and pitfalls of religious rituals and worship - from A Geography of Consciousness

Edited from the chapter 'Levels of Consciousness' in William Arkle's  A Geography of Consciousness (1974) pp 122-3.
Ritual can evolve when individuals are trying hard to keep their consciousness tuned to the intuitive and ideal levels of awareness in the face of low-level attitudes which are prevalent in the world about them.

Ritualistic behaviour prevents the attention of the individual wandering onto other things such as the hundred-and-one practical issues that arise in physical level existence. The physical action of the ritual enforces the desired focus upon high ideals and does not leave room for other physical perceptions to intrude.

But that repetition of the ritual is also dangerous, for the reason that it enables the mind’s automatic systems to take over that process which lends itself perfectly to the task for which these automatic systems developed, namely, to do standard repetitive tasks. So while the adherent to ritual is closing his consciousness to outside interference, he is also prone to numb it all together; since there will be nothing for consciousness to do when the automatic systems have once got hold of the ritual.

This would all be fine if we belonged to the angelic form of evolution, because angels are meant to enjoy such repetitive behaviour; and no doubt this aspect draws them to the ritual.

But this is a complete disservice to human evolution unless it is on a very small scale, for while ritual may enable something of the angelic attitude and presence to be sensed; it does at the same time invalidate the main purpose which is to achieve self-conscious understanding of divine nature and aspiration.

A few sincerely felt moments of deep concern for this divine aspiration are therefore of far more value in the end than hours and years of partly-felt and partly-mechanical requests for help, forgiveness, undeserved benefits and ultimate safety. Thus religious ritual often degenerates into a sort of spiritual insurance scheme.

We can also see that even worship, when it is not a high and natural form of love, creates a dichotomy. For how can we consider ourselves in our own divine right while we are worshipping that right? The very basis of worship is to keep the object of our worship at a respectable distance in deference to its untouchable qualities.

We cannot therefore be expected to enter into these qualities and at the same time worship them. We can only enter into them if we self-consciously and simply love them. 

(by William Arkle)