“The Meditating Scholar” – part three.
I wrote a book: “The Mystery of Evil in the Light of the Sermon on the
In the sense of “ideas”, there is a type of idea I call the necessary pair. The idea of Good has no meaning without its partner: Evil. Up needs down. Positive requires negative. As regards the elements, the lore is that fire-will and water-feeling are primary, while air-intellect and earth-consciousness are secondary.
Virtues can be the opposite of uncontrolled appetites. In Hermetics there are four (according to the elements) fundamental qualities: Knowledge (air-intellect), Daring (water-feeling), Volition (fire-will), and Silence (earth-consciousness).
The idea of good and evil is, according to Bardon, a “human” conception. “In the Universe there is neither good nor evil … “
In Step I. Magical psychic training, we are encouraged to make black and white mirrors of the soul, as the essential aid to self-knowledge and introspection. Lists of personal virtues and liabilities.
Rudolf Steiner points to the idea of the “Double”, aka: the “Doppelganger”. Native Americans speak of the two wolves, one good, one bad, and the question is which do you feed. The Koran refers to the “sneaking whisperer, from among the Djinn and Mankind”.
Steiner also remarks (in “Knowledge of Higher Worlds and How to Attain It”) that one must make three steps in character development, for each step in spiritual development.
Spiritual development involves one or another kind of training, but character development only arises from our actions in our biography. In point of fact, the human biography (where fate and fortune commune) is an individualized story. No two biographies are alike. In my view, there are two books, not written except in our lives, … the story of our life, and the story of our soul.
In a certain sense the questions of good and evil, or sin and whatnot, are only dealt with in the actions we take in the personal biography. We rise or fall according to those choices.
In a future part, I will write of the Americans, who are similar actors in the 21st Century, to what Steiner, Tomberg, and Bardon were to the 20th Century. They live today. One of them, Catherine MacCoun, in her book: “On Becoming an Alchemist – a guide for the modern magician”, writes that no one sets out to do evil, and most of us believe what we are doing is for the good, in the situation.
Problems come, according to her, when we seek for absolute facts or absolute truth. In this moment of the evolution of consciousness, each individual biography is a trial-personal … not every murder or abortion is the same, for in each case the context is different, as is the individuality. We are challenged to make choices, and in this Age, the alleged moral rules, in the social-surround, or in our personal religion, don’t speak to the complexities that vary from person to person.
We are meant, by the Mystery, to be free to make the choices we need to make, using our own insight. From Their point of view, the crux of the matter is having to make the choice, and how that effects us and the world … there being no right answer that applies to all.
Then there is Tomberg, and Letter XV: The Devil, or to the ancient Egyptians: Typhon. The basic symbol/picture for both, is of a large ugly figure, to which two much smaller human beings are chained.
When Tomberg was writing as a “anthroposophist”, in his little book on Self Development he refers to there being a Luciferic Double, and an Ahrimanic Double, and a Human Double. In Meditations, he expands this vista, writing of the Tempter, the Prosecutor, and Egregores.
The Tempter is that little voice that says, oh don’t worry, one more (whatever vice) won’t hurt. The Prosecutor is met generally in depression, when we succumb to self-loathing, which can go so far as to paralyze our will. I call the human double: self-generated wounds of soul, as a better term than the middle-ages idea of Egregores.
Addictions are of this nature. When we repeat over time a certain type of ritualized behavior – such as shooting up heroin, or munching up some oxycodone pills, we create a parasite in the soul. Steiner called them cancers of the soul, given that they have the power keep out the ego forces, and become a kind of independent entity, which is not us, not our true spirit.
Again, for the Meditating Scholar, the matter at hand, as it were, is to meditate and reflect on the “ideas”. As we are the right person in the right place at the right time, we are in that moment exactly where fate and fortune (karma) has placed us.
We cannot escape the Now (the great moment) or our Self (the spirit). Most depression, for example, arises because we face a choice, and don’t/can’t choose. The soul becomes gridlocked – paralyzed. What the Mystery taught me was that neither choice is wrong … only the not-choosing.
In Steiner’s “The Philosophy of Freedom”, we come at the “moral” through three conscious actions: moral imagination, moral intuition, and moral technique.
In moral imagination we create a picture of the dilemma – as precise and honest as possible. We formulate this as a question, which we ask ourselves (our spirit) to resolve. The heart’s mind, in response, will generate the intuition of what to do, that satisfies our personal moral sensibilities.
We are to be the author of what is moral in the exact circumstances we face. “In self trust all virtues are comprehended”, said Emerson. An important clue, that we are on the right track for our own spirit’s actions, is the difficulty, and sometimes the danger, either physical or social or both. Waking our own capacity for moral creativity – in the beginning – will take time, and experimentation. Self trust, when all around have other views, grows with practice.
Moral technique involves the how we actually incarnate the self-created moral idea, into the situation. The classic dilemma is do we tell someone we care about that their lover is cheating on them. Again, there is no “right” answer, just a riddle to be solved by our own “I”/spirit.
Steiner published his work around 1894 or so, and around that same time (1896) a young Christian pastor in Kansas – Charles Sheldon – wrote a book of fiction: “In His Steps”. In that book he tells the tale of a pastor who asks his flock – when faced with a moral dilemma – to ask themselves: What Would Jesus Do? And, to do this practice for a year.
This question is not much different from Steiner’s idea of creating a moral imagination, and allowing our spirit to answer, via its own intuitive capacity. The book sold over 50,000,000 copies. In the l970’s, it became popular again, albeit a bit revised, giving birth to the WWJD movement.
Where Steiner was something of an idealist, Sheldon was a typical pragmatic American. It is what works that counts. My view is that both works were inspired by the same Source, each adapted to a particular cultural milieu.
In America, in 1933, we find the birth of Alcoholics Anonymous. Individual moral responsibility is fostered in this work. There are details here: http://ipwebdev.com/hermit/TwelveSteps.html
This shift away, from externally imposed moral riddles, has been noticed by those who practice various dramatic arts. For example, Clint Eastwood’s films: “Million Dollar Baby” and “Gran Torino” both explore this mystery.
In these films Eastwood plays an older man, who was raised Catholic, yet is confronted by moral dilemmas in life with which his priests’ advice are unable to help. In Million Dollar Baby the priest is an older man, and has known the character for some time. In Gran Torino the priest is young, and immature, and equally useless. The Eastwood characters have no choice but to seek their own guidance.
In Gran Torino Eastwood is in his kitchen, leaning against a counter. At the nearby table sits a youth, who wonders why Eastwood has not acted, and is just standing there quietly. Eastwood says: “I’m thinking”, giving an artistic presentation of the inner work of “inventing” what will be his own moral response.
Modern dramatic arts, and music, are full of this sense of the right/rite of personal responsibility. This is because that need dominates all biographies, and our artists know and celebrate this in their own lives.
In Steiner’s book: “Theosophy”, he names this present stage of the evolution of consciousness for all of humanity: “the consciousness soul”, and defines it this way: “By causing the self-existent true and good to come to life in his inner being, the human being raises himself above the mere sentient-soul. A light is kindled in her which is imperishable. In so far as the soul lives in this light, she is a participant in the eternal. With the eternal she unites her own existence. What the soul carries within herself of the true and the good is immortal in her. Let us call that which shines forth in the soul as eternal, the consciousness-soul.”
This Age has figured in prophecy. The Hopi speak of a coming “Day of Purification”. According to the Gospels, John the Baptist says that the One coming after him will Baptize us in Fire and Holy Breath.
Fire is the dire circumstances of life that force choice. Holy Breath is what happens when we choose, where whatever we choose is inwardly supported by a warm wind in the soul. Love does not judge us. Love just loves us, however we turn out to be, or choose to be.
When we look at, and accept it, the Pandemic is in part a generator of personal moral riddles. It is not an accident. Our struggles with addictions … Our problems at work and in marriages … political issues … name an aspect of life, and there exist moral dilemmas.
Again, as MacCoun points out: seeking absolute truth or absolute facts is itself a kind of imbalance. Let us look a little more closely at the Pandemic.
To trust the Official Narrative is a choice. To mistrust it, another moral choice. Neither is wrong, but rather it is the dilemma of having to choose that is the true
mystery. To jab, or not to jab. To decide the unvaccinated are a danger is another choice. To lock down or not is a choice. To go out and party anyway is a choice.
To accept the Official Narrative as the absolute truth, based on absolute facts, is a choice. To fire people who refuse to get vaccinated is a choice. To make kids in classrooms wear masks is a choice. To resist and accept the consequences is a choice.
The Moody Blues, in “One Step into the Light”, have this phrase at the end: “The Truth will set us Free, we cannot lose. We cannot lose, we just have to Choose.
In “The Meditating Scholar” part four, we will consider the social future, and the role of “Climate Change” in that “becoming”.