Friday, 21 February 2014

William Arkle on our heavenly family


I am coming to recognize that the primary Christian reality is kinship, relatedness of persons, the union of family.

This is not so much a metaphorical way of explaining other things, as the bottom line - that by which everything else is explained.

It is, I think, the key.


Edited from Letter from a Father by William Arkle - this is God speaking:

One of the most important ways I have chosen for you to learn what is vital for your understanding is to find yourself a part of a family situation on earth, for here you are able to go though the experience in one single lifetime, and with unbroken continuity, the experience of being a child, a mature individual and a parent.

In this situation, if you will only learn to pay close attention to it, are all the mysteries of the universe that matter to you.

If you take the trouble to stand apart and observe closely all the relationships that exist in your family situations, you will be able to observe as completely as you will how the problems of life arise, why they arise and how they are solved.

The family situation is a very special gift to you and one day you will be surprised that you took it so for granted.


I have not yet explained to you that you are not my only children, and that I have not brought you all up in the same way. I explained that I have gradually brought the physical universe into being by planning it and organising it at more ethereal levels of manifestation where the stuff of manifestation is more responsive and mobile. These levels are called by you more heavenly levels of being, for in them everything is more in harmony and more expressive of the intense beauty which to me is so valuable.

As these ethereal forms of manifestation were brought into existence, so did I cause other of my children [,the angels ,] to be born into them. They grew up and matured in these conditions where their attention was filled with the direct and indirect presence of your mother and myself.

We wished them to become familiar with us in this way because we were going to need them as helpers while our plan of creation grew outwards from us to more remote and unconditioned levels where our personality also became less dominant, and where other personalities, your own, would in future time be able to grow up in a slower and more difficult environment but a more independent one.


You understand that, at this very point in my description, you are face-to-face with one of the great secrets of my work, which, until now, has been kept hidden from you for the children of heaven have never had that independence that you have had.

They have been through happier times, but they have had greater need of me and my strength, for they were not weaned at the beginning on the strength and independence which you have been weaned on...

Slowly you will come to understand that the standing alone and apart in my universe, without being able to detect me directly, is a gift to your development which my other children have not had.


This gift is a painful gift for much of the time, but the depth of the understanding it produces is far greater than the understanding produced in the happy states of heaven where the qualities of my being are dominant. For joy and delight fill the days of these heavenly children, but such lessons are one-sided and do not teach them the intrinsic values of such delights because they are not valued against the experience of their opposites.

You, on the other hand, value all these opposites from the very beginning and in so doing gain an insight which is beyond my ability to explain to you at this stage, but I can say that your more detached and objective judgements will one day put you in a position where the added depth of your understanding will show you the merit of my endeavour...


Try to become clear in your own understanding how you feel towards your own children of earth. When you feel clearly the real depth of the attitudes you should properly find within yourselves towards them, then nearly all of the questions you have about my attitudes towards you will be answered.

For, if you have not yet learned to love your own children properly, then you are not yet ready to learn how I feel towards you.

If you are not aware that your responsibilities towards your loved ones are an exact analogy of my responsibilities towards you then you have not begun to understand why I have put you on earth.



Bruce Charlton said...

FROM ARAKAWA: The posts linking to William Arkle are interesting, although the question is raised as to how much of this insight you can take away at the end of the day, and carry it with you without contradicting prior doctrinal understanding. This, I'm not sure how to digest; below are just thoughts.

For example, Arkle clearly wants to see both masculine and feminine (motherly) attributes to God; his picture of a Divine Father/Mother is clear and relatable, but incredibly wooly as a logical definition. (He shifts back and forth from God as a single entity (androgynous?), to a pair of beings ("divine parents"), whichever is convenient at a given moment.)

Likewise the notion of a Son/Daughter of God is also incredibly wooly -- to the extent of not being wrong in any specific way. (From my previous comments, you can guess that I don't think androgyny is inherently a self-contradictory / unviable idea, but for something like this you would have to explain why / in what ways Christ would be a Son and in what ways he would be a Daughter -- and if it's not important at any point, why not just call Him the Son of God and be done with it, as He was clearly incarnate as a man?)

As just an example of what I'm talking about -- the Old Testament personage of Divine Wisdom is traditionally identified as either a poetic epithet for Christ or God the Son, or just a fictional personification -- but this is in the course of a passage describing a feminine being who was "set up from everlasting":

The mystical school following from Solovyov, based on this, tried to spin Sophia off as a separate being or person of the Trinity (the heresy of Sophiology); whereas one other opinion I found states that, then, at face value, Christ would be a feminine or androgynous being in the dis-incarnate aspect described in that Old Testament passage, and male in the context of His incarnation on Earth. Whatever you may think of these notions, they are at least specific enough to discuss using specific arguments.

Bruce Charlton said...


If Arkle was a Christian, it was only-just - Christ was not, it seems, near the centre of his thought.

The way I regard him is that he was (presumably) raised as a Christian, rejected it, then began to rebuild it from his own mystical, revelatory knowledge derived from meditation and creative work (writing, painting, music). He didn't read many other mystical writers, apparently, and he does not use Scripture.

Arkle went briefly to art college and had, I think, been a naval officer and trained as an engineer. He had an upper class accent, was strikingly handsome, and married (second time) what we English call a 'horsey' upper class wife. They made a living from buying and renovating houses, and (when I knew of them) he lived in a big house on a hill (which has been a small monastery and had a chapel) with his family (the children were home schooled, didn't mix much with the village kids) and built a kind of spiritual bubble around this house - he was visited there by various disciples who had somehow heard of him.

What seems to me to be going on is that Arkle had some very clearly genuine visions or insights into fundamental reality - which he then expressed in a very personalized and idiosyncratic style - and linked up using metaphors from his own training as a engineer and in ways which seemed systemize them.

So there is some material of extraordinary value in there - but the bulk of what surrounds it I would regard as a failed-attempt to make overall sense of what he knew - these marvellous and clear but isolated insights.

Coming to read Arkle now, some thirtyfive years after the first encounter, I find that his few but deep revelatory insights speak very directly to what I seem to need. The rest of it I just skim across.

I don't think his stuff is dangerous (to Christians) because there isn't much spiritual pride in evidence - he wasn't trying to make a new religion, he was a 'guru' rather than a leader - although he has the self-confidence of the genuine mystic.

But I am of course reading from a Mormon theological perspective or bias - with its great emphasis and focus on family, relationships, and process - and it may well be that Arkle's general set-up is just too alien to be of value to a more Catholic or Protestant perspective.

But from my perspective, it seems as if Arkle glimpsed for himself, and fully understood and felt, and faithfully reported - a few core aspects of the reality described in (Mormon) Christianity - and these reports are just what is most needed (by me, now) to understand and grasp a few of those things which I most struggle with, but most need to know - to know them by feeling.

George said...

I don't think the idea of a heavenly mother is foreign at all to Christianity. It is embraced within Catholicism by the spirituality surrounding Mary. She is the Heavenly Mother! The Mother of God! She is the Queen of Heaven!

It is only the protestants who seem to reject this influence of feminine, as far as I can tell? It seems this was wrong to do - and Joseph Smith fixed the missing piece. While the Mormons separated the idea of heavenly mother from Mary's personage, but embrace the idea in theology.

George said...

This is a beautiful and mystical piece of art:ázquez_012.jpg

Mary as our Heavenly Mother, being crowned as Queen. The angels are shown as children too - His first children!

Arakawa said...

Arkle strikes me as sort of intermediate between pure New Age and Christianity. i.e. he certainly gives more value to Christ than a typical New Age thinker (who might even acknowledge Christ, but in a way that makes Him entirely unimportant).

Arkle's idea of friendship as the highest and not lowest state of affairs is well supported by how earthly relationships work -- flourishing relations of parent/child, teacher/student, elder-brother/younger-brother must converge to friendship in eternity. The hierarchical aspects of parenthood / instruction / (debatably, marriage) are time-limited: children eventually grow up, students eventually learn their lesson, at which point either the relation transitions into more of a friendship of equals, or it withers away entirely.

"I don't think his stuff is dangerous (to Christians) because there isn't much spiritual pride in evidence - he wasn't trying to make a new religion, he was a 'guru' rather than a leader - although he has the self-confidence of the genuine mystic. "

That's an interesting criterion to gauge it, I suppose. Distinction of spirits is obviously approached differently in New Age ("whatever makes you feel good") than in the more pessimistic views as advocated in Orthodoxy (someone like Seraphim Rose, on my reading, would very likely regard someone like Arkle as demonically inspired or, at best, merely engaging in a play of imagination). This is neither of the two.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Ara - The reason I eventually moved away from Seraphim Rose was that the situation depicted seemed to be impossible - once the Orthodox societies had gone, once the last Tsar had been killed, once the spiritual lineage had been broken.

Because of original sin, humans are regarded as fundamentally rotten; because of the mortal situation demons are more powerful and pervasive than the workings of the Holy Ghost - thus we are in a situation where we are incapable of helping ourselves because the combination of sin, pride and demonic deception utterly overwhelm our feeble intrinsic powers of discernment; yet we have nobody to help us (or, more exactly, there *may* be helpers - human or spiritual - but we *cannot* know who is a genuine helper and who a demonic deceiver).

In the end, I cannot believe that a loving father would leave his children in such a situation - and the situation almost irresistibly leads to the sin of despair (hope-less-ness) which again cannot be right.

So I conclude that Orthodoxy worked in Orthodox societies - but does not work any more (or rather, Orthodoxy does not work according to a traditional Orthodox analysis).

Mormonism, on the other hand, regards original sin as an erroneous misreading of scripture, and Man as of the same kind as God - therefore we do have innate power to discern good; and we can work *with* the Holy Ghost.

This might sound superficially Pelagian (or merely wishful thinking) - but this is refuted by the history of Mormons and Mormonism.

Arkle's doctrines I regard as a kind of garbled Mormonism - like somebody who has perhaps 'seen' some of the same kind of things as Joseph Smith - but Arkle had an incomplete (hence distorted) vision - albeit with greater specific detail in some of its parts.

Therefore, in principle, Arkle's mystical visions could be valuable to Mormons, on the basis of the last words in the Articles of Faith: "We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

Bruce Charlton said...


"or, more exactly, there *may* be helpers - human or spiritual - but we *cannot* know who is a genuine helper and who a demonic deceiver"

I think the issue here is whether there is such a thing as partial, or garbled, or particular revelation. If one's expectation on this point is binary -- that either something is communicated from God, is unmistakeable and precisely dictated, so you may as well write it up as Scripture, or it's an elaborate demonic deception no matter how many good fruits you may appear to be able to extract from it....

Orthodoxy seems to have been sliding towards this binary in psychological terms, even though the way the tradition is constituted doesn't really support it. Either -- effectively -- nothing is left that can nourish a sense of living in a spiritual as well as earthly reality, or there is a Petri dish of partial revelations that are mistakenly elevated to dogma. For instance, something like the tollhouse visions are clearly an imperfect metaphor at best, and at worst downright wrong, but it was retained in the tradition as something with pedagogical value, but not reliable enough to teach as dogma. Even that is an implicit recognition that there can be 'spiritual experiences' which have some truthful content or value in spite of being inaccurate or unreliable.

I think the problem here is that spiritual experiences which occur without any contribution from the human imagination are incredibly rare, whereas spiritual experiences which consist in content being contributed from outside into an imaginative picture that a person sets up are rather common. The Orthodox tendency is to treat all of the latter as demonic, because the Orthodox monastic path can be accomplished entirely without the use of imagination, and therefore the extensive monastic literature treats on it exclusively as a negative phenomenon (how demons can use the imagination to lead someone astray). However, this is not a full answer to the questions of day-to-day existence outside a monastery.

For instance, an author who wants to write stories in accord with Heaven has to not only use the imagination, but rely on it as a medium of inspiration, and therefore being able to distinguish spirits that act through the imagination -- and eventually to form some basis on which to trust a particular source. If such a skill is impossible, then all fiction writing whatsoever becomes questionable; if such a skill can be readily practiced, then it can be practiced by other people besides writers, which allows for the possibility of personal inspiration/revelation on a large number of occasions.