Friday, 11 December 2015

We are not alone when we have formulated and embraced the task of spiritual progression (despite appearances)

Hope and courage may be sapped when an individual has worked-out what is going on in this world, has recognised God's plan for our salvation and progression towards divinity and begun to work toward it... and then finds himself (apparently) alone, isolated, without any visible means of support.

Yet, the difficulties of raising our level of consciousness, the obstacles in ourselves and from the world about us, are so great that the task is impossible to achieve alone.

So, the seeker and striver cries in his heart: where is my Fellowship of the Ring?

The answer is that although we are seldom part of any recognisable physical group of any significant size, strength and cohesion; we are indeed part of groups, indeed hierarchies of groups, at a spiritual and psychological level - can we but become aware of them.

Because help and guidance are necessary, they are provided; but (as always) they can only be given if they are accepted, and they will only be given on condition of our own voluntary efforts - otherwise help and guidance would prevent, rather than assist, our education and growth.

Thus, we will be put in touch with the most suitable group for our needs and our situation; and we will be shown the next step - and enabled to take it.

This help on condition of acceptance and effort can be termed Passive Help - and it is the main way that we are helped. Active Help is rare since it is only truly helpful when we lack responsibility or are unprepared and unable.

We are never alone, never without supervision, never without fellowship - however, we are not prevented from making mistakes (from 'burning our fingers'), nor from experiencing their consequences; especially with respect to pride. Pride is the major problem, so pride must recurrently be humbled - pride must again and again be brought to self-awareness with the possibility of repentance.

Only when we get past the false interpretations of pride can we see through to our real selves in our true relation to God.

How may we recognise the main group to which we belong? Not by a common vocation nor by proximity or frequency of meeting; but by a particular Quality of Attitude - it is by this that we stimulate and inform each other by indirect, even roundabout, means - often through what may seem to be coincidences but are in fact communications. This we mutually recognise.

It is not easy it is not meant to be easy - but the potential to discover and work in these psycho-spiritual groups is always possible and unobviously pervasive.

Paraphrased from the chapter The Problems - in A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle (1974)
See also:


Geraint Apted said...


“A rigid definition is hardly possible, but still a single conception is actually present in almost every case where “grace” is found [in the New Testament] — the conception that all a Christian has or is, is centred exclusively in God and Christ, and depends utterly on God through Christ. The kingdom of heaven is reserved for those who become as little children, for those who look to their Father in loving confidence for every benefit, whether it be for the pardon so freely given, or for the strength that comes from Him who works in them both to will and to do.”

Burton Scott Easton (1877–1950)

An Episcopalian seminary professor and NT scholar

Anonymous said...

Stephen C said - Speaking as one of your readers who is old enough or unhealthy enough to feel as if the rest of my life will possibly be spent as a very humble mortal uncomfortably, at best, standing on or near the shores of the divine ocean of eternity, I can only say this is one of your posts that have spoken most to me. But I really think and hope that I will one day in the future understand that, when all is said and done, it had been, as a matter of fact, easy to follow Christ, and it was meant to be easy. If I will - God forbid - have chosen not to do that, it was not because I rejected something difficult.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Stephen - Thank you.

My own perspective is not so different from that which you describe, since I have multiple chronic illnesses/ symptoms that impair functionality.

For me, the subject of this post is about following the implications that God is our loving Father, and understanding what that *primary fact* means for our basic situation.

Understanding the implications of that basic Christian assumption was something that William Arkle spent an intense lifetime exploring, and attempting (not always very successfully) to communicate.