Tuesday 21 May 2024

Final Participation needs to aim at participation in Divine Creation, not "The World"

It has often been recognized that modern Man is alienated from life, feels cut-off by his consciousness from both the divine and from the "Spirit World". 

A desire to alleviate this alienation is behind a lot of spiritual activity, and many of the spiritual "movements" of the past couple of centuries. 

The problem was incisively analysed by Rudolf Steiner and Owen Barfield: both were clear that we should not, and indeed could not effectively, "go back" to earlier modes of unalienated consciousness.

Instead we need (and must, unless we are not to suffer spiritual death and self-chosen damnation) to move forward to a new kind of integration with the divine and the spirit world: this desired state Barfield termed Final Participation

(Named on the basis that participation-in the world is the opposite of alienation-from it.) 

Steiner believed (or, at least, asserted) that Final Participation could be attained by spiritual exercises in a new kind of meditative practice, and made schemes of such training - but after a century of near-total failure, it is reasonable to conclude that such techniques/ methods/ training don't work - or don't work well enough to make a significant difference.

I think the reason that Final Participation cannot be achieved by such procedures is partly that FP must be part of a Christian life and operate in that context. Christianity is necessary, and must come first.

(A fact sometimes apparently denied, and often backgrounded or down-played by Steiner and Barfield - certainly it was not clearly explained in terms of God's motivations.) 

And also that this kind of participating consciousness requires to be motivated by Love. And Love cannot be attained by techniques, nor can it be had simply by deciding. 

It is false to try and make ourselves love this or that (or everything). 

Therefore, Final Participation needs to begin from actual Love; and build from that.

I now strikes me that this also makes sense from the perspective of what exactly is is that Final Participation should desire to participate-in.   

We should not - as Christians - desire to participate in The World, not the entirety of reality - because this includes evil. The attempt to participate in "everything" is not Christian, but part of oneness spirituality - which has a very different aim than salvation*. 

Instead; we should aim to participate in Divine Creation. That is, we should aim to participate in that of this world (and only that) which is a "product" of Love. 

Not try to participate in the whole world, but to align myself with Divine Creation... I find this insight to be clarifying! 

(Whether the insight will lead to greater success in my seeking of Final Participation remains to be seen.)

*Note added. To clarify - those who wish to participate in the world, the whole world; do so on the basis that all is one - and the distinction between good and evil is illusory because this mortal world is illusory. I would have thought it fairly obvious that this is not what Christians believe; despite that many who call themselves Christian espouse it. Christians should (surely?) believe that evil is real, not illusory. Although - in this mortal life - we cannot help but be involved in evil, this ought to be discerned, and repented. So it does not make sense to have an an ideal participating in everything that goes on in this world. Our hope is to be resurrected to eternal life in Heaven, where everything may be participated, because all derives from love.   


Thomas said...

@Bruce I am generally on board with the concepts you write about, but I am curious to hear your opinion on something. If we have these beliefs, how should that translate to what we do in our day to day? Most of us have to earn a living, and then in free time there's family, hobbies etc. I set aside time for my spiritual life, and I do feel like these concepts have changed my internal dialoge in the background of my mind. My life feels more "meaningful", but is living an otherwise ordinary life right in light of this? What advice do you have in this regard?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Thomas - I believe we are all much more individual (by nature, by destiny) than nearly always assumed - so any kind of external rules, general plan or blueprint for everyday life is almost certain to be harmful.

That's where all the stuff I have written about honesty, discernment, intuition, primary thinking, living-from-Love, and guidance of the Holy Ghost is supposed to suggest a perhaps-unique individual pathway.

For which we ought to take personal responsibility (and not trouble seriously about justification to others, or arguing for others to do as we do).

So, it's easy to be categorically negative and say what ought to be avoided and would be harmful; but positive advice can only be non-specific and related to very general attitudes, approaches, principles and the like.

Life as a quest - that's the basic idea. But not a hero's quest, because heroes are public figures. What is needed is underwritten and known inwardly, primarily - although the ideas might comes from many sources - many places and other people.

Thomas said...

@Bruce Thanks, this gives me some things to think about.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Thomas - It was a good question, and helped me clarify my thinking on the subject.