Sunday 22 May 2016

Some highlights from William Arkle's A Geography of Consciousness

[Because there is no online text; I have decided to make available some of my favourite excerpts from the whole of William Arkle's A Geography of Consciousness (1974) - which is a book of great spiritual value. I will start at the beginning, and go through chapter by chapter...]

A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle 
- some selected highlights 


We like to be loved and admired but we also like to love and admire other people. When we love and admire other people, we are able to believe in the joy and merit of their nature. When we are loved and admired we are able to believe in the joy and the merit of our Self. 

When we receive and give love and adoration we are in either case gaining something wholly delightful and desirable. But we do not take the trouble to look more closely at this situation, for the situation seems to be an end in itself. 

If it is examined, however, the sensation in question reveals that it is not so much the giving and receiving of love which matters, but that the love and admiration helps to liberate an aspect of our nature which is joy and is happiness and is a sort of virtuous affectionate delight. 

The trouble with life as we ordinarily experience it is that this part of our nature is always being suppressed and not liberated. But not only do other people continually restrict it, but we find that we are restricting it ourselves. 

The problem however is not as simple as it looks. The difficulty is not simply liberating our Selves but the fact that in trying to do this we liberate our not-Selves. 

When we liberate a not-Self we are not freeing ourselves for an experience of great affection want to light, but rather for an experience of misery, frustration and disappointment.The pain of this makes us think twice about any further attempts at liberation. We are inclined to leave liberation alone for we are not sure if we are going to liberate a God or a Devil. 

The purpose of this book is therefore to help towards our understanding of these processes which are essential to life, if that life is not to remain static. The theories involved are both old and new. Those that are not new have been found in the general literature of mysticism, religion and philosophy, and no attempt has been made to identify the sources.

The attempt has been rather to integrate them into some unified structure and to re-express them in another form. Not only will there be an attempt to map out the geography of the psyche and consciousness in general, but also to describe the principles which are necessary for a journey and the best way to understand the ‘gods’ and ‘devils’ that we might meet on the way.

Chapter 1  - The Fields of Consciousness

We will consider the physical personality and body as a factory and compare our consciousness to the manager of that factory.

We know that normally the manager goes into the office of his factory to collect the latest facts about sales and production in order to control the activity of the factory. But we also know that if he is ill and cannot visit his office, he can telephone his assistant and by asking him for certain facts control the activities of the factory as though the weather himself.

And if the manager had to go on a trip to America or Australia, you could still get in touch with his office and control the factory. In other words, if he were able to possess all the information he required, the manager would never have to visit his factory at all.

He does visit the factory, however, because it enables him to communicate more easily to more people on his stuff. His connection with the factory therefore can be described in terms of communication, whether he is at the factory or at the other side of the world. 

His success as a manager depends to a very large extent on the effectiveness of the communication system he has built up between all the parts of his concern and himself. If one aspect of his business is in bad communication with him, this is the part that he would expect to cause him trouble. 

This is true of his production programs and also of his human relationships among management and workers. The manager of a factory goes to the factory himself, not to improve production, but to make sure that his channels of communication have been feeding him efficiently with accurate information. If he could rely on the effectiveness of his communication systems and the efficiency of the people involved in them, their honesty and so on, he would never have to visit the factory at all. 

The effectiveness of his management therefore would not depend upon any special relationship with the factory. It would depend upon his ability to observe all the information given him in comparison to all the information he already possessed. 

If the manager identified himself with the factory it is very likely that some aspects of production will appear out of proportion to him. This will cause him to form a distorted picture of the situation in his mind and we can then say that he has become aberrated and less efficient. 

His best position as manager, as far as we can understand, is to be in a detached position to the production activity in order to see it all objectively and see it in relation to what the rest of the commercial world is doing. 

Now we ourselves are like the manager in relation to our physical body and personality. We are in fact not connected to this personality function unless we choose to be. We can best observe and direct the function of the personality by being detached from it and by observing the situation it is in, objectively. So long as we are identified with the personality we must expect to experience its values in a distorted way. 

We will also get a distorted picture of our nature if our communication channels are inefficient or inaccurate. We will, in other words, only understand what we are and what we are trying to do, if we experience ourselves as managers and other physical personality as a factory. 

However even the manager is in a subtle sense conditioned by an inner consciousness which dictates to him how he will behave in ethical and other ways. And so with ourselves; we are detached from our physical body whether we like it or not, and we also possess an inner essential awareness within this detached consciousness which we may describe as a first order attitude or filter. The detached consciousness is thus a second order filter and the physical personality is a third order filter. The majority of people are identified with the third order filter, with occasional sensations of the second order. 

But the time has come when we can only solve the outstanding problems of our civilisation by many of us achieving a permanent second order attitude with occasional sensations of the first order.

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