Thursday, 25 August 2016

True Intuition, Divination and Final Participation

Divination enables us to become aware of the subtle psychic and spiritual forces that are at work in the background of our lives, determining the events that arise. Contemporary divinatory systems [e.g. Astrology, Tarot, Runes, the I Ching] are by no means atavistic throwbacks to an age long since surpassed, but are underpinned by a new and subtle understanding of the subtle energies that are active behind the scenes of our conscious knowing...

Nevertheless, divination does need to be approached in a different way from how it was approached in antiquity, because although it may reveal to us the spiritual and archetypal condition that lie behind a given situation, our relationship to these factors cannot be the same as that of people in antiquity...

We fail to realize our true human potential to the extent that we do not act freely... If, therefore, we practice divination, we do not do so to submit ourselves to the will of the gods, but rather to gain greater insight into our situation in order to come to a freely chosen decision as to how best to act. 

From pp 180-1 of The Future of the Ancient World, by Jeremy Naydler, 2009.

Throughout my life, and including my younger days, long before I was a Christian, I intermittently tried various divinatory practices. In my mid-twenties I bought Jung's book about the I Ching and tried to use it with coins; later I tried using runes drawn from a bag, and Tarot cards. I never persisted long with any of these things and never reached any conclusion about them - indeed, it was the lack of any validating intuitive feedback which made me give up so easily.

It now seems to me that I was self-blocked from getting attached, or addicted, to divination on the basis that I was trying to use it for the wrong reasons and with the wrong underlying motivation. For me these were technologies of power and/ or evidence of underlying 'atavistic yearnings' (yearning for the past un-conscious and immersive participation in reality, characteristic of childhood and hunter gatherer states).

Rudolf Steiner provides some clarification of this in his repeated cautions and strictures against the deployment of altered states of consciousness as technologies of clairvoyance - his insistence that the modern and future mystic should be alert, awake and purposive: that the modern clairvoyant (as a general rule, although there are exceptions) would work-from the 'consciousness soul'; and not therefore from 'passive' experiences and states such as dreams, dreamlike trances, sedating or hallucinatory drugs; not characterised by visions, hallucinations, speaking in tongues or similar signs; and we should eschew automatic writing, Ouija boards, unaware channelling and so forth.

(Probably - ultimately - excluding therefore the likes of astrology, the I Ching, runes and Tarot - excluding them, that is, as routine or focal spiritual practices - although presumably these could be acceptable and valuable as occassional, educational and remedial practices.)  

As a generalisation I believe Steiner was correct and making an important point - that the destined spiritual future is not one that incorporates technologies of divination; but that regards them as at most temporary expedients: ways of moving to the next step, means to an end.

What we ought to be aiming-at is simply to know - but to know from the basis of our alert, awake, purposive real selves (our souls).

This is true intuition - not the act of 'looking within', but the act of locating, then living-from our real selves. 


AdamW said...

Yes. The oracular pronouncements of something like the I Ching are not 'answers' - at best they serve to give the mind a nudge out of its rut to see the problem correctly, to ask the correct question.

Sean Cory said...

My only experiences with these types of things has been at second hand. I sat at a ouija board once but it seemed quite phony to me and I never did again. I have a small collection of tarot cards which I put together for the art work but have never used to try and "divine" anything.

I was acquainted, through his brother who was a friend, with a man who used the I Ching constantly. At first he would carry the book with him and a bag of small sticks that he would toss and carefully examine while consulting the book. After a couple of years of this he ceased carrying the book, having virtually memorized it, and used, instead of sticks, a coin which he would toss a few times and then analyze whatever it was he saw in this. It is no exaggeration to say that he would not leave the house or walk to the corner store for milk or travel across town without first tossing that coin and pondering the results. His brother pointed out to him that his life was effectively being run by the results of tossing a coin and living this kind of other-determined life is pretty close to no life at all. It didn't take. The last time I saw him he was sitting on the sidewalk in a lotus position on Telegraph Ave. a couple of blocks south of the U.C. Berkeley campus with a begging bowl on the cement before him. He didn't have a sign or say anything. He just sat there silently, eyes closed, while people walked around him. I looked in the cup and there was maybe a dollar in change. This was over 40 years ago and I have no idea what ever became of him.

I suppose crystals or cards or whatever could be used to focus the mind. I will not be finding out if this is so. I believe the traps laid by these things, while they can be avoided if one is very cautious, are not worth risking as the promised reward is not worth the effort that would be better spent in prayer or study or fasting or service - or, for that matter, in reading the works of insightful devotees and commentators who, through years of practice of prayer, etc. have qualified themselves to publish observations based on experience and insight.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Sean - On the other hand, mortal life is not and is not meant to be risk-free - the good things are only attained through some risk. Probably most of the self-doomed souls in the West are those who are closely blinkered by materialism and assiduously avoid anything strange. There is no map.

The important thing is to take note of the 'feedback' which comes from from discernment of the heart, and expect to make errors and need to repent them.

I can see that diviniation in one of those things which some people need to avoid and which others can benefit from - but my point here (from Naydler) is that nowadays divination should not be used (as it was in so many of the great civilizations of the past (Egypt Rome) as a decision-making method to which we subordinate ourselves.

That would be to surrender our-selves - whereas in those ancient days the people did not have 'selves' to surrender in the sense that we now do. The 'selves' were mostly dispersed in their communities, and in the world. For them action was unrelective and responsive in a way it typically cannot (and should not) be for us.

Our path lies forward into new territory - holding onto the strong self consciousness and individual responsibility that has been achieved.