There is a distinct loneliness that comes from finishing a particular kind of work – like a novel – that cannot be easily shared. It’s just there. No one can know it. You had it before you began, which is why you began, and then it comes back revisited about a million times on conclusion.
You start with innocent faith, and end with full-on knowledge – how does that happen?
You are your own alembic. By looking inside the vessel, by testing its contents, mixing new components, adding pressure and heat, cooling down, inspecting the outcome, eventually you will distil whatever is left and that is it – the pure gold of knowing.
There is only one wisdom.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) first came up with the idea of empirical method, whereby you test by experiments the truth of your understanding. This leads to a particular type of knowledge, one that is quite objective and able to be analysed by others. Tests may be repeated and results compared. Truth ought to be the outcome. Certainly that is the desire. (David Hume, of course, proved that nothing could be known with certainty – not even that the sun will rise tomorrow [and, well, it doesn’t actually ‘rise’ anyway, but no matter] – and more recently dear old Karl Popper refined the scientific method by saying that all meaningful propositions must be refutable; but leaving all that aside… What empiricism did do was lead to modern science and the laws of Boyle and Kelvin and Newton and Einstein et al, to engineering and modern manufacturing procedures: the modern world, in other words.
No only this. Bacon’s method is possibly best applied to the individual and their own testing out of their own knowledge. Empiricism then becomes the best method of becoming quite certain of one’s own understanding of one’s own self.
This may seem to be an odd form of esoteric investigation and yet it invariably leads to correct results.
This is essentially a description of ‘mysticism’. I am surprised that no one else has pointed this out before. Bacon, of course, was an Imperator of the Rosicrucians.
So, this is what mysticism is about: testing one’s knowledge until faith is cast aside and certainty in the results is discovered.
There is one more very important aspect concerning mysticism, and this will be dealt with in tomorrow’s Diary posting.
Today has started out gloomy but that won’t deter me from going for a walk through the woods and getting as much fresh air and exercise as possible. Day by day, I am feeling stronger, my appetite has returned, and I can only hope that these are sure signs of recovery from a period of extended illness.
It may take years of pondering before one takes the plunge and actually engages in an active manner with esoteric thought. There appears to be a certain fear factor involved. With conventional thought structures there is pretty much no pussy-footing about wrong and right. People tend to simply go along with the dominant social structures. Esoteric thought requires something quite different from the individual.
In particular, in esoteric thought, the individual draws from a wholly different information stream in order to understand the universe for themselves. The esotericist does not simply defer to whatever the current trend is towards certain subjects. Right and wrong become an internalised assessment based on a great amount of cogitation and relying on a whole set of integrated factors. The esotericist acquires a particular set of skills which allow them to make their own judgements concerning values in the world.
Generally speaking, the world does not like esotericists and should you find yourself attempting to discover more about the universe through the power of internal knowledge do not be surprised if even those who claim to love you make attempts at distracting you from the path.
I’ll be honest, as I was being drawn along the mystic way there were times I thought I might be going crazy because most, if not all, common or garden references were denied me. In my own case, I utilised teachings which had been made available through the ages, going right back to the Vedas and I Ching, through Taoism, Buddhism and Pre-Socratic musing, and up through the neo-Platonists to the Sufi and Christian mystics of the past five hundred years.
Kirkegaard – the Danish existentialist philosopher – was great for trying to get a handle on the meaning of faith, and especially his concept concerning the ‘leap of faith’. Because, when you start out, if you have no real grounding in esoteric thought and mystical reasoning, most of your actions are based simply on inner certainty and also outward faith in your ability to puzzle things out. Neither of which are easily explained to the outside world, so that you may quite quickly become an object of ridicule; no easy thing for a neophyte, or anyone else, to bear.
In the next post I’ll try to get across how faith in yourself (and definitely not on externalities) produces inner strength and enables the individual to grow stronger and develop certainties in their own conception of the world.
Right now, it’s tipping with rain – and I’m still hoping to complete the Duolingo Russian course before flying out next week and in preparation for an extended trip being planned for next year.
In fact, the word sobiratsya and its various shades of meaning concerning ‘intentions and planning’ is the focus of my immediate studying.
NB this post is dedicated to my beautiful wife – and to my departed sister, who was an epileptic, the patron saint of epileptics and epilepsy being St Valentine, whose name day was celebrated by millions yesterday.
‘Man does not know himself
He does not know his own limitations and his own possibilities. He does not even know to how great an extent he does not know himself.
Man has invented many machines, and he knows that a complicated machine needs sometimes years of careful study before one can use it or control it. But he does not apply this knowledge to himself, although he himself is a much more complicated machine than any machine he has invented.
He has all sorts of wrong ideas about himself. First of all, he does not realise that he actually is a machine.
What does it mean that man is a machine?
It means that he has no independent movements, inside or outside of himself. He is a machine which is brought into motion by external influences and external impacts. All his movements, actions, words, ideas, emotions, moods, and thoughts are produced by external influences. By himself, he is just an automaton with a certain store of memories of previous experiences, and a certain amount of reserve energy.
We must understand that man can do nothing.
But he does not realise this and ascribes to himself the capacity to do. This is the first wrong thing ascribes to himself.’
– P.D Ouspensky
AND MAYBE YOU THOUGHT I WAS JOKING EARLIER!
Well, this matter will be a subject for continuing investigation.
Humanity’s problem – it seems – is not systems or particular individuals; humanity’s problem is – itself.
About forty years ago I tried to work this out for myself. Having read my Karl Marx and Adam Smith, I reckoned that politics was not the way to solve the problem; nor, having read all the major works from Plato to Popper, was philosophy.
I did join the Oxford University Philosophy Society and attended The Socialist Party of Great Britain meetings, whose concepts maybe chimed best with my own. But neither avenue really led to the place that I was seeking.
Mysticism is the link between the human individual and the vast cosmos; when the two blend the human knows everything there is to know, and the cosmos knows the individual.
These last few weeks in Mexico have been telling. At some of the historic sites and within the country’s museums we have discovered how the indigenous peoples at the time of Cortez’ arrival with his conquistadors were highly stratified in social terms, and human sacrifice was rife. The Spaniards subjugated the native groupings and stole all the gold and silver they were able to carry, but they hardly spoiled any paradise.
As for the current British people, they are grown up enough to know what they want and have opted for an elitist and racist society in their droves. Their is no point blaming the media or Jeremy Corbyn. The choices were there and the electorate, as ever, went for the conservative, semi-royalist position that appears to be their default.
I am happy to be out of it.
I have made my own peace having written and suffered greatly over the previous decades – and am not in conflict with any system or any individual.
From now on – as far as possible – I intend living life according to my own mystic lights.
And I would advise that you do the same if you are able to gain the insight and muster the strength to do so.
Humanity might yet be pulled back from the brink; but conflict will not be the solution.
Only peace and harmony can make this planet earth a better place.
By far the most indecipherable book I have ever read (except perhaps for the Old Testament, and I have also read that book from start to finish) would be ‘Being and Nothingness’ by Jean-Paul Sartre. Talk about being largely incomprehensible! I defy anyone to make full sense out of it. Some passages work, like those concerning good and bad faith, but mostly the text just snakes and winds until it disappears inside itself and loses the reader entirely. I am not even going to bother reproducing examples since they would only bore the blog-reader to distraction, suffice to say that only if you are absolutely sure concerning your ‘thing-in-itself’ and its attendant ‘facticity’ is there any chance of you taking the thousand hours or so required to follow the author’s mangled brainwork. – And this coming from the guy who has attempted to elucidate his ‘Key of Love’ theory throughout much of his work i.e. me.
Having gone to so much effort in forming his convoluted sentences, JPS reaches the conclusion: “I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating.”
You may discover the antidote for any residual twentieth century ennui below:
When I see my Levi jacket, there is simplicity. Stitched up denim with a couple of top pockets and good hand pockets lower down. Used to be left pocket for my fags and right pocket for my money and drugs. Now it’s going to be wallet on the left and phone on the right, specs in a hand pocket…
First time I wore my Levi jacket into the woods with a headful of acid in my brain there was always a new tomorrow just a’waiting round the corner.
The town of High Wycombe and the vast expanse of the Rye before us made a welcome for any kind of thing to happen – and if you were to hear of those things, I don’t know, you might be completely shocked.
We arrived in Dubrovnik yesterday, having driven the length of Bosnia-Herzegovina north to south…
After surviving the worst electrical storm in living memory inside our camper van amongst the north Croatian hills, we settled down to living in the woods alongside Ingrid’s working homestead. This included making the half-hour drive into Karlovac where we saw yet more remaining evidence of the nineties’ Balkans conflict. Communist countries of the late twentieth century had a penchant for erecting bow-shaped walls twelve-feet high and covering them with murals depicting workers in all their industrious glory accompanied by state slogans of the ‘onward to a better future’ kind. Croatia was no exception. Today the Karlovac wall is pock-marked with bullet holes and whitewashed all over, while bearing the inscription ‘Britney bitch’ in black spray. With such precise emblems has the early twenty-first century zeitgeist supplanted the intended socialist ideal.
Having learned previously how with satellite technology a straightforward forty-five minute drive could become a six-hour odyssey of near-despair along country roads, we used our atlas map to take us out to the border at Dvor. Departing Croatia was easy enough, entering Bosnia predictably awkward. “Green card,” asks the officious border guard. “Don’t need one.” “Huh? Documents!” Yes, documents, always bloody documents in these little tinpot bureau-states. He takes our passports to the guard-hut, shows them to another official, scratches his head, walks back, hands them over, tells us to be on our way. What a palaver! There is confusion about where we can park in the border town without paying so while I stand guard Anne goes off to spend any leftover kuna on food and drink. Now we are hopeful the Prijedo-Banja Luka road will offer up plenty of camping opportunities. Ur, no. Soviet-hangovers and sinister conflict associations are about all we see. Thankfully, someone at a petrol station points us in the direction of the gorge at Krupa na Vrbasu so we follow the river south and fetch up on a disused camping ground there. In that odd manner some out-of-the-way communities have of quickly exchanging information, within ten minutes a car pulls up, the washhouse is partly-opened, and our passports are requested; money changes hands, and we are permitted to stay overnight. Best of all, we have access to a small supermarket and the Cric Cric bar – where my last post concluded…
At that point, we were headed easterly for Sarajevo, but now refreshed and learning from our mistakes about which roads to take, we make the decision to drop more directly south on the gorge road towards Mostar. With the help of an internet connection we have pinpointed a little campsite not far from the famed Islamic town. That afternoon, we pull into the site alongside the fast-flowing river Buna, say hello to the half-dozen Hungarian bikers relaxing in the shade from the hot sun, and set up in the furthest corner snugly beside the river.
Bosnia-Herzegovina does not fill with me joy. Everywhere are reminders of the most recent conflict and tensions existing between the various communities, most notably the Islamic and Christian. How I would love to see the end of all established religions. They breed so much hatred. In Mostar we see the replacement for the old bridge so infamously destroyed by the Croatians in full view of the TV cameras, then head to the war museum where a series of displays, artifacts and photographs aid us in re-living the terrible torments meted out and undergone under the guise of achieving freedom and independence, but which in actuality had the sole purpose of gaining perceived lost territories and the settling of old scores. Names of places cropped up: Prijedor, Banja Luka, Visegrad… The book I brought with me, Ivo Andric’s 1945 novel ‘The Bridge over the Drina’, tells of the bridge built by an Ottoman vezir – himself a kidnapped blood sacrifice as a ten year old from a Christian Serbian village – and the years of pain and toil it cost to erect over the Drina…and now in the Mostar museum five centuries later I am reading on the walls how Christians and Muslims have continued to torture and murder one another on that same bridge , before throwing the dead and mutilated bodies into the flowing Drina below. Heraclitus says you cannot stand in the same river twice – well, these guys seem able to stand in the self-same place thousands and thousands of times over. So who is telling it like it is, who is enacting out reality: the Hellenic philosopher or the brutal murderers..? You can judge. That is why this country does not fill me with joy, but anguish and dismay. Travelling is troublesome, as much as anything.
Coupled with the above, is the seemingly obsessively remaining sense of state control. Driving through country roads you are prepared around every corner to be pulled over by some hillbilly, dolled-up police officer, who waves you down with his little fluorescent paddle and asks to see your documents, always with that dour expression and the threat of some unpleasant outcome should he feel so inclined.
No, I have had enough of over-zealous guardians of authority pulling me over and demanding to know who I am, what do I have upon my person, where am I going and where have I been. In future, maybe I can refer them to this weblog. This familiar scenario – and I mean familiar even from teenage years in the UK (see in particular DEATH AND THE DEAD – is theatrically enacted four times over during the final two hours of our drive out from BIH: by the policjia, Republika Srpska cross-country patrol and then again at the southern border back into Croatia.
“We don’t need one.”
Life is NOT all about pretending to be reckless under pre-prepared, paid-for, controlled conditions. That is the very opposite of life if you believe life ought not to provide any safety net in order to be fully experienced.
As a matter of fact, connecting a rope to your ankle and jumping from a perilous height is all about death – or, rather, the threat of death. The same can be said for all manner of purchased and only apparently dangerous activities. Crossing the road is far more likely to be injurious.
People say, ‘You only get one life,’ – which is demonstrably untrue since reincarnation is a matter of fact about which numerous proofs exist, of a personal and more general nature.
People say, ‘Life is not a dress rehearsal,’ – and again, sorry to say, they are utterly wrong. Life is precisely that, undeniably it IS a dress rehearsal, a trying on of new clothes, of looking in the mirror, and practising one’s lines. That’s just what life is!
People most often use these sayings when they simply want an excuse to be frivolous with their time and energy. Well, be frivolous – it’s great fun! – but don’t use LIFE as any kind of vindication.
“That’s all, Folks!”