Saturday 22 August 2020

Against bullet-point thinking: our Ahrimanic habits

If we use Ahrimanic as a shorthand term for that kind of bureaucratic, abstract materialism that has grown (over the past couple of hundred years) to dominate The West and The World - and acknowledge that this is an intrinsically evil mode of thinking; then we can begin to see how deeply this has invaded our lives. ...How Ahrimanic habits have become so ingrained that we reach for them even as we try to combat them.

This began with the man who invented this (broad) usage of Ahrimanic: Rudolf Steiner. Having described the terrible consequences to be expected for Man if he continued down the Ahrimanic path; Steiner himself created an Ahrimanic system of spiritual development! - with checklists, methods, training. He made an international, hierarchical bureaucracy to guard and administer his legacy. He preached individualistic Heart Thinking and intuition; but constructed an enormous quasi-factual archive of materialistic information on history and prehistory, the structure of the universe, spiritual techniques, politics and society, education, medicine, agriculture...

The form of the message refuted its content.

The pattern is common, almost universal - especially as the world converges into a single mega-bureaucracy; and clearly most of us find it very difficult to avoid falling into the Ahrimanic trap.

Consider Romantic Christianity. Our first, habitual, response on learning about the fact that it is necessary for each individual person to practise intuitive discernment, to live from his true (divine) self etc - is to ask for a canonical reading list, a course of study, a directory of approved authorities, an organisation to join, a set of bullet points about what to do.

Such advice can only be general - hence the form must work-against the content...

Even on a daily basis; (unless we catch our-selves first) too often we pay primary attention and expend great energy on looking for external guidance and structure - a curriculum to follow; and simply forget to attend to our actually-present intuitions of the heart.

At the bottom line, if we each are individuals (from eternity), and each are experiencing a bespoke (tailored to the individual) mortal life (that God is creating for our benefit, for us to learn-from); then our case is unique, and generic advice can never take us very far, especially not in a positive direction.

(We can reliably be told some generic things Not to do - to avoid; but almost never what we personally ought to be doing, here-and-now.)

I think the Ahrimanic problem arises from our tendency to put-off, to procrastinate, to plan instead of do.

Yet we will never be closer to God than we are Now. The Only time to begin to live from our Heart Thinking is Now. The lessons of mortal life that we need to learn (for our own eternal Good) are all around us - Now.

If this Intuition-Now perspective can perhaps become a counter-habit; maybe we can (starting Now!) begin to roll-back those pervasive Ahrimanic reflexes that have been socially-inculcated, and which work towards our eternal detriment.


Gary said...

In relation to the Birdemic and how to navigate it successfully as a head of household, I prayed to the Lord yesterday for helps, as I was feeling a certain degree of apprehension, which I knew was wrong. Broadly speaking (without going into full detail and ommitting much), my written record of His response went along very similar lines to what you have written here.

"Do not spend too much time trying to predict the future using your own wits, in order to build a plan of success around said prediction. Your ability to do this is almost uselessly limited, for practical purposes. Rather, your path to victory and conquest will come through numerous, mostly very small, decisions, all of which must be guided to you by the Holy Spirit. You will not get to see the reason behind a lot of this inspiration at the time it is happening, however at one point you will be able to look back and see how it all worked out for the best.
A corollary of the above: if you try and feel you have everything figured out with a lot of certainty before you act, you will never act, or will act reactively and without pleasure when it is too late and you end up acting forced by circumstances. This is because you will never be in a position to “figure everything out”, because the situation is much too complex for your understanding."

And regarding your final point, yes, the Ahrimanic type thinking is a habit, and can be counteracted by CONSCIOUSLY using the Holy Ghost as guidance, and cultivating the courage to follow through, and the consistency to do this often throughout the day, and through the days.

I will say, as a final note, that of all the very best things to have come about in my life... none were planned, in the Ahrimanic sense, but came about after a series of unexpected events ended up weaving together for the good, and yielding good fruit. And most of the events weaved together in highly convoluted but extremely effective way, the sort of thing which would´ve been utterly impossible for a human intelligence to have planned and executed consciously over the any timeframe.

However, this was not conscious on my behalf, I suppose it was a remnant of Original Participatory mode of thinking still operating in my Adult self.

David Earle said...

I am in my mid 30's and when I feel like I'm not using my time effectively, I often think about if my deceased grand parents were given a chance to return to Earth, perhaps through me, what they would do differently. Now that they've already experienced Heaven, how exactly would they live their life differently than what I'm doing.

I'm constantly wondering how best to use my time. Should I read and write more? Should I spend more time with friends and family? In the past few weeks I feel a suddenly urgency to grow spiritually, as if I'm preparing for something that's coming very soon and I want to be ready.

I kind of feel like the closer I get to God, the quicker things will come to a point and the better things will turn out overall. however, if I neglect this urge, the world will just continue to deteriorate slowly over the course of my lifetime.

There isn't much holding me back from basically doing whatever I want. But I'm not exactly sure what it is I should be doing. Reading, writing, meditating, thinking, dream journaling, exercising, fasting, building relationships are things I juggle around in my mind.

Gary said...

Islanti, this may seem like a daft question, but... Have you asked the Lord, in faith and with sincere intent, for help in what to do?

My suggestion to you is to do this before anything else, and if you seem to get no response, then all the more reason to keep at it, praying faithfully to God in the name of Jesus Christ for what you most need.
I promise that if you do this you will receive your answer. It is then up to you to acknowledge it and act upon it promptly.

BTW don't feel obliged to respond to this post, the initial question is for you to answer to yourself, naturally.

Moonsphere said...

Steiner himself created an Ahrimanic system of spiritual development! - with checklists, methods, training.

Bruce, if you will allow a somewhat tongue-in-cheek reply...

If I put all of my Steiner books on a single shelf it would be well over ten feet long. The wonderful book "How to Know Higher Worlds (a Modern Path of Initiation)" occupies 3/4 of an inch of that space.

As you know, we have debated on this topic before, but I'm still at a loss to understand your antipathy towards Dr Steiner. I believe there is some underlying common ground between Mormonism and Anthroposophy? Unfortunately I don't know enough about Mormonism to get to the bottom of it.

[He] constructed an enormous quasi-factual archive of materialistic information on history and prehistory, the structure of the universe, spiritual techniques, politics and society, education, medicine, agriculture...

He certainly covered that terrain. It has been said that there are only three Western Cosmogonies - "Genesis", "The Secret Doctrine" and Steiner's "Occult Science". Are we really in a position to reject wholesale from such a short list, the one that is most understandable to the Western mind? Not only that but entirely Christ-centred. It might not be your cup of tea, but again I truly don't understand the depths of your opposition.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Gary - Nice comment.

"cultivating the courage to follow through" - In practice, I find I need to manufacture a half-truthful public rationale for such decisions, since it simply doesn't work if you tell most that the real reason for doing/ not-doing X is that one has a strong but purely internal conviction that this must be.

@Islati - I have wasted (or at least it feels wasted, maybe it was necessary?) uncountable hours on such brooding about what I 'should' be doing; trying to work-out the answer 'rationally'. Whenever I have followed through on this kind of rational analysis I have either lost motivation oand given up, or it led to somethng bad - and I have had to extricate myself at whatever cost.

Gary said...

@Dr Charlton - That is true, that most people, especially in England to-day, which culturally encourages people to be openly and vocally scrutinising and critical of all decisions, using materialistic atheistic assumptions as their framework, would not accept that as a valid reason, especially if given as a bottom-line.

Here in Brazil, that is certainly not a part of the cultural tonic, and more often than not, people are content to accept your decisions without much question, as long as you don´t offend them or flaunt the rules too brazenly.

As you said in your post, each life is unique, as is the culture within which each life transpires. Sometimes I miss the cutthroat culture of the UK, because it really was a intense training ground where I was forced to sharpen my wit and grew my knowledge greatly - other times, I am grateful that I am in a place with different priorites.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Moons - I don't have antipathy towards Steiner - neither shallow nor deep! I regard him as one of the great geniuses and have spent many hundreds (thousands?) of hours reading, listening to, studying his works.

But more importantly, he is one of a handful of major influences on my own personal metaphysics and theology (and Romantic Christianity): others would include Mormon theology (mostly Joseph Smith, but also several others and the body of CJCLDS tradition), William Arkle and Owen Barfield - another Anthroposophist. Among very few major thinkers alive today whom I acknowledge; are Jeremy Naydler and Terry Boardman - both Steiner followers. A pretty strange 'antipathy'!

On the other hand - I believe that Steiner had many and serious personal flaws, biases and limitations; that he made significant mistakes in his life and became corrupted by power; and that quantitatively most of what he wrote and said was wrong.

I also recommend that anyone who wishes to 'tackle' Steiner (and more would benefit from trying) ought to adopt the kind of attitude that Steiner himself advocated - which is to test everything intuitively.

...And Not to take the Anthroposophical Society attitude of regarding Steiner's total oeuvre as a body of necessarily factual, necessarily true 'spiritual science' written by a saintly individual.

Avro G said...

“Yet we will never be closer to God than we are Now. The Only time to begin to live from our Heart Thinking is Now.” Nor is any one person who is earnestly seeks him closer to God than any other. Hence the collapse of institutional religion. The institution is a shell susceptible to takeover by evil as all our time institutions have been. Only those who seek the truth for themselves will find it.

Moonsphere said...

Thanks Bruce, I suppose that I do (over)react to some of your statements regarding Steiner. I am well used to reading out-and-out critics, even enemies of Anthroposophy. So it is unusual to encounter someone who combines both a deep regard and also some fairly caustic criticism! Perhaps this is only possible where a "rival" worldview is also present.

It might be said that my own relationship with Steiner's teachings arose in an almost perfect form. I encountered his work in my mid-30s, in solitude and without recommendation. Beyond a somewhat precocious fondness for Greek mythology in childhood, and excepting a short dalliance with Theosophy, I had little reason to know the extent of my dormant interest in the esoteric. And so you may well imagine the impact that Anthroposophy had on me!

Only much later did I look into such things as the legacy organisations, the Society, etc - in which I do share many of your concerns. I would however say that Steiner himself played less of a role in the Ahrimanisation of those structures than you credit him with.