Sunday 16 June 2019

Effort and forcing are inappropriate, counterproductive, in the spiritual life

On the one hand, if we do nothing - then nothing will happen.

But it is abundantly clear that to make the spiritual life and act of 'will power' is ineffective at best or disaster and self-damnation at worst - essentially because (absent the proper spirit, whose absence makes the spiritual quest necessary in the first place...) that entity which wills-with-power, can only be a false personality, and not the real self. Will power can only dig us deeper into our delusions.

In his booklet The Hologram and Mind, from about 1990, William Arkle wrote (this is edited from the full account at the link):

We can imagine that the synthesis of question and reply happens through a method which is as subtly as the genius of mind is subtle. And yet, the two processes of question and answer are clear and distinct. 

The ability to pose a good problem or ask a good question is as much a part of the genius as that which is liable to bring forth a good response. 

The attitude of trust on the part of the questioner is also an integral part of the value of the reply. The fact that effort and force is alien to the correct working of this creative synthesis is apparent in the realisation that the' reference beam' of the hologram of mind (which corresponds to the nature of God) is only too glad to give of its best to the 'working beam' (which corresponds to our our true self). 

God does not need to be either forced or even coaxed. Pressure of this sort is almost equivalent to rape, and simply shows that the individual has not reached the level of evolution of consciousness which knows how to behave with proper respect. 

Such an immature person has not realised that force is distorting the question being asked, and preconditioning the answer.

My interpretation:  This is about as strong language as Arkle ever uses, when he compares to attempted-rape the use of effort, force, coaxing in relation to asking God (our Heavenly Parents) for answers. Since God loves us, since we are God's children - there is no good reason for such an attitude.

God is only too glad to give of his best to each of his children; and to strive and strain to compel God's help can only come from a misunderstanding, a false understanding, an inversion of God's relation to us.

So we ought not to strive and strain - what then? I would say to 'remember' - as when William Wildblood, in his recent book, reminds us to Remember the Creator. The spiritual life is mostly a matter of remembering.


Otto said...

Interesting that the physicist David Bohm also conceived of the Universe as being a Hologram; and I read that Bohm had a close relationship with Owen Barfield. Was Arkle familiar with the work of Bohm, perhaps via Barfield?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Otto - I asked William Arkle's son if his father knew Barfield, but Nick didn't think so (which was a shame!). I don't know about a Bohm connection - but I don't recall Arkle mentioning him. In this particular work (Hologram and Mind) Arkle mentioned Tesla several times, as someone with the kind of qualitatively superior mental ability that the hologram analogy implied waas possible.

AnteB said...

Interesting that you posted this at the time you did since I have been thinking much about these question lately.

I´m reading Religion and the Rebel, after having read the Outsider, and both are fascinating and inspiring reads. Especially the first book. But I´m struggling with Wilson´s emphasis on effort, on self-discipline as paths to a higher life. I also have some doubts about the "Vitalist" creed, if you can call it that, that he promotes.I think that the characters that Wilson writes about in his books, real and in literature, demonstrate the tension between effort and grace/passivity/receptivity but not always in the manner Wilson himself intend.

And then I found another perspective in your post!


Bruce Charlton said...

@AB - At times Colin Wilson (later in his writing career) fell into thinking that raising consciousness was a matter of learning and practising a technique (eg 'the pencil trick'). And indeed this is a common error with authors - (such as Steiner) who I suppose have to teach their followers something they can *do* - but I think we have seen enough over the many decades to know that it doesn't work, and a lot of people have wasted a lot of time on trying out techniques of meditation and mental control. Whatever advances they may claim for themselves, observation of the resulting people tells us that sad story that it isn't working. One of Arkle's great strengths is that the resists any technical solution, refuses to say it will be easy, and insists that we each must quarry out our own unique destiny by trial and error.