In person gathering - Friends of the Light7th mo. 22, 2023 all day
Friends of the Light - Online worship6th mo. 4, 2023 from 7pm to 8pm
Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
The professors of politics, economics, and religion stand in the valley of human consciousness crying out for attention. They seek to capture the source of human conscious itself with their outward political, economic, and religious ideologies. They cry out "look here" and "look there." They say: "Look to and trust in my outward prescriptions and I will remedy the ills (defined by me) of this world (way of existence)"
All these professors of politics, economics, and religion seek to rule and govern the conscious and conscience of others through their agendas and the instrumentalities of their outward ideologies, saying: "Just identify with this or that outward political, economic, religious, agenda, form, and practice. That is, enter into such a relationship with my outward political, economic, and religious agenda that it anchors your very conscious and informs your conscience so that these outward forms and instrumentalities are the foundation of your identity and personality." They further say: "Anchor conscious in and let your conscience be informed by outward political, economic, and religious prescriptions and you will know the remedy.
These professors of politics, economics, and religious nurture a world (way of existence) on this earth that anchors conscious and informs conscience through outward forms. They bewitch or enchant the source of human conscious with their outward ideologies and institutions and hold it captive in a web of intellectualized and abstracted forms so that the conscience itself depends on these forms to inform action. This paradigm of the conscious anchored in and the conscience informed by various and sundry outward political, economic, and religious, outward forms, traditions, and practices, nurtures conflict through the imposition of one outward form over another upon the conscious and conscience of those who are not identified with a different outward form.
This is the normal world (way of existence) for most people on this earth today.
There is another world (way of existence) on this earth. In this way of existence, conscious is self-sustaining. Conscious is not reflected or mediated through the outward forms or instrumentalities of politics, economics, or religion and the professors or these forms. In this world of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by living in the light consciousness itself, human being experiences the breaking of the spell of the purveyors of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the instrumentalities of politics, economics, and religion.
In my current study of the early Quaker William Rogers, I've found myself reading the letters and works of other early or founding Quaker; as I'm keen to understand my own experience by immersing myself in the spectrum of founding Quaker writings. In any case, in 1663 Richard Farnsworth wrote:
"The Light itself is pure, Spiritual, soul-saving, justifying light, in its own nature and property ..."
Source: The Quakers Plea with the Bishops at their Ecclesiastical Courts, by Richard Farnsworth, 1663, page 15, London.
In various ways and through various words, the founding Quakers were larger in agreement that their experience of the Light itself was the foundation of their faith and they looked to no outward forms to anchor their conscious and inform their conscience. The Light itself was their rule and governor; not outward professors and institutions. Note: this does not mean they were in agreement over the extent to which they actually lived out this faith in their daily lives. For example, some thought it prudent to compromise a bit for the sake of their family and livelihood.
The above extract from the Farnsworth tract is relevant here as a case study in the nature of a way of existence that is anchored in and informed by the light of consciousness itself. Here Farnsworth writes that his experience in the Light is spiritual in its own nature and property. That is, in itself, this Light (consciousness) is sufficient and pure unto salvation and justification. Conscious, in its own nature and property, is soul-saving, justifying Light.
Many early Quakers came to know a world (way of existence) that rested human being or conscious directly in the active experience of conscious itself, which is eternal Presence itself. In that experience, they were lead out of a conscious anchored in outward political, economic, and religious forms. Their conscious was no longer identified with and their conscience was no longer informed by the political, economic, and religious forms of their day.
In the same way, we today can know and experience conscious, identity, and personality, unhinged from the outward instrumentalities of politics, economics, and religion and the professions of these outward forms. We can no a world (way of being) on this earth that is not mediated through the professors and institutions of Politics, economics, and religion. When we turn our conscious, attention, and conscience, from the abstract intellectualized webs of a conscious anchored in and conscience informed by the outward forms of politics, economics, and religion, we start on a journey toward a world (way of existence) wherein conscious is anchored in and conscience is informed by the active experience of conscious or Presence sustained and sufficient in itself. To experience this world ruled and governed by Presence itself just center down into the silence and wait upon the promised revelation from within.
For a deeper immersion into the thing itself here are some words from another early Quaker Issac Peningtion.
In this season of outward political, economic, and religious posturing, the professors of a conscious anchored in and a conscious informed by outward forms are striving to hijack our conscious and anchor it in their outward prescriptions so that our conscience will be informed by their abstract political, economic, and religious constructs. For those who hunger for a way out of this world (way of existence), there is another way. It is the inward way available to us all and in all circumstances. Just rest in the promise of the Light itself that is sustainable in its own nature and it will be revealed and the enchanted web of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by outward political, economic, and religious, forms, traditions, and practices will fall away and the incantations of the professors of these instrumentalities will no longer enchant your conscious and rule your conscience. You will no longer look here and look there to outward professors and institutions ... your meaning, purpose, and identity will light up inward.
I'm curious about the notion of "outward ideologies" versus "inward" ones. To me, ideation of all types seems "inward" whereas many practices are indeed "outward" (such as chanting, group prayer, ritual dancing and so on).
Also, for balance, I feel we should admit that many professors are offering no remedies for our ills, as their discipline is to study the distant past, other planets, or some abstruse branch of mathematics. The so-called "real world" or "outward world" of everyday crises and cataclysms is not their chief focus.
A few professors are also Friends, just as Friends are quite often professors (more than statistically average, for a specific sect, is my understanding). Whereas you may write off all Foxians as victims of outward forms of brainwashing, I would hazard that at least a few of the more inward professors would share your admiration for William Rogers et al.
Kirby. Your questions and thoughts are fair. I will try to give a careful response. First, I use the term "professor" in the broad sense of one who professes a particular political, economic, or religious, idea, philosophy, theology tradition, or practice. Certainly, college professors are part of this group; but they are not being singled out here.
Concerning outward ideologies. All ideologies are outward relative to ordinary consciousness in the sense that they are objects which the conscious clings to the sustain. By the way, feelings, emotions, and will are also outward forms or objects that sustain ordinary conscious. They are not of the nature of conscious they are auxiliary and placed over against conscious so that ordinary conscious can "see" itself. Thoughts, ideas, feelings, will, desires, perceptions and sensations are the mirrors (objects or outward forms) through which mirrored conscious (a conscious focused upon and sustained by being that is reflected in outward forms) experiences itself. The outward nature of these forms can be illustrated by imaging self or conscious without thoughts, feelings, desires, perceptions, or sensations. Imagine being or consciousness without eyes to see, ears to hear, nose to smell, tongue to taste, nerves to touch, brain to mediate thoughts, emotions, and desires. That is, imagine the body no longer functioning. The functions of the body are mirrors through which ordinary consciousness sees and feels itself. For ordinary or mirrored consciousness the loss of these outward mirrors reflecting and sustaining consciousness is the loss of consciousness itself. The fear of death is the fear of the loss of consciousness. This dependency of conscious upon the outward forms reflected through the body is the meaning of the words"bodily or carnal nature" used in scripture. It is also the very nature of idolatry or iconography.
"Ideation" is not essentially different than practicing ritual, ceremony, similitudes, political activism, market participation, etc. The experience of thoughts as inward is a recognition that identity and consciousness is completely anchored in a way of being or conscious that is dependent upon thoughts to reflect and sustain meaning, purpose, and identity. The world of thoughts is so entangled with the conscious and so informs the conscience that consciousness itself is indistinguishable from the thoughts that overlay and inform the conscious and conscience.
A conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by outward ideas through which consciousness is mirrored and sustained is the way of what scripture calls the bodily nature. My experience is that the term "bodily nature" really doesn't mean anything to those who acknowledge a conscious anchored in and informed by outward forms. That is why I rarely use the term preferring, instead, a descriptive approach.
In response to your second paragraph. I would offer that there are legions of institutionalized professors in an educational context and otherwise, who offer any number of outward prescriptions to remedy the perceived social ills of the present day. There are political professors, economic professors, and religious professors right now, today, who offering outward prescriptions to remedy the ills of the moment. Remedies like, "black lives matter," stopping gun confiscation, gun regulation, feminism, the feminization of society, saving the environment from human-caused global warming, saving freedom and liberty from the regulatory and dictatorial environmentalists, saving the country from the imposition of a Government health-care system, helping people through government regulated and controlled health care, military action in Cyprus, helping refugees flee military conflict in the Arab world. There is no lack of outward prescritions and remedies manifested through a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by outward ideational forms. Bernie Sanders says he knows the way. Donald Trump says he knows the way. Barack Obama says he knows the way. Hillary Clinton says she knows the way. Ted Cruz says he knows the way. The Pope says he knows the way. Billy Graham's son says he knows the way. They all have their outward prescriptions and remedies; if only enough people will anchor their conscious in their particular outward prescriptions so that their conscience is informed by and reflected in their web of outward forms so as to empower these professors with the outward political, economic, and religious instrumentalities. And, being so empowered they can impose their outward ideational constructs on all people. They are all crying out for the minds and attention of those whose conscious is overlaid and anchored in and whose conscience is overlaid and informed by outward political, economic, and religious forms. If only they can capture their attention. If only they can capture their conscious so they their meaning, purpose, and directly is ruled by outward prescriptions.
As to your third paragraph. I study the founding Quakers because I share the experience of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the inward light of conscious or Presence itself. That includes most of the Foxonians. For example, George Fox nor William Penn nor John Barclay were certainly not brainwashed by outward forms. George Fox experienced a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the inward experience of Presence itself. The differences between many founding Quakers and the founding Foxonian Quakers was whether it was in accord with their shared experience to excuse the development and imposition of outward institutional constructs to rule over the Quaker gathering for the sake of outward unity and to support those who as yet were not of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the inward experience of self-sustained Light or Conscious. I happen to agree with those who do not accept that excuse. In any case, the outward constructs and traditions the founding Foxonians created were not essential to their conscious and conscience.
I hope this response serves to give further context to my original post. I wrote it out quickly to offer a timely response. You are welcome to engage me further if you wish.
I still think that bodies, thoughts, emotions, life and interactions with "other" people are features of life, not necessarily bugs... although yes, it's best not to get too caught up.
It's no disgrace
to be in this skin;
those thoughts I thunk
I can think again
or drop if they're wrong;
I don't need to win
every game I'm in.
When I feel what I've felt
I don't need to shout
or brag of things
I've done without;
I can sit quite still
or dash about.
I don't need a line
between in and out.
Forrest. Your characterizations of my words are misapplied. To experience a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the sufficiency of inward Presence itself does not translate into the shunning of interaction with other people. If it did, I would not take the time to write on quakerquaker. I interact with people every day even in the active experience of a conscious is anchored in and conscience is informed by Presence itself. These people, however, do not anchor my conscious nor inform my conscience. Presence itself, the inward Light, anchors my conscious and informs my conscience in and during my interactions with other people. The inward Light itself governs and directs my life by the illumination or lack thereof of my conscious and conscience.
I agree that thoughts, emotions etc. are features of life, especially a life or conscious anchored in and informed by outward form. However, a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the immediacy of inward Presence itself is another feature of life on this earth. It is a way of being that is different from a way of being that is anchored in and informed by the bodily nature of conscious and conscience reflected through outward thoughts, emotions, etc. A conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by the direct experience of Presence itself.
There are those of us today who are not captured or "caught up" in or enchanted by outward forms so that our conscious is not anchored in and our conscience is not informed by the professors of outward forms and the outward political, economic, and religious instrumentalities they support and construct. We do not accept your characterization that we find being "in the skin" a "disgrace." It is a false characterization. To experience conscious not anchored in and through the mediation and reflection of the body does not mean we find the body a disgrace, it means we participate in the body differently. We know liberty from the reflective nature of the body and know an intuited spiritual body of a different world (way of existence) on this earth. Presence itself is our rule and government. We do not look here and look there for outward political, economic, and religious professors and instrumentalities to anchor our conscious and inform our conscience. Again, that is not a rejection of interaction with people and the body itself. In this world of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by Presence itself we still interact with others and move about in our bodies, however, we do not participate with others and our own bodies in the same way as a world of a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by outward forms.
I appreciate your response because it has challenged me to work through to a fuller experience of the nature participation in the spiritual body.
I agree I have trouble being quite fair to your statements about Presence -- because they tangle me up in 'agree-but'.
Everything from thoughts to bricks strikes me as the creative play of what you refer to as 'Presence' and I call 'Spirit'.
So it's a shame that people get trapped in material discontents, thoughts-about, or emotions
but none of those things are bad creations; they just make bad masters.
If "Eternity is in love with the productions of time", then those must have their place and their function.
So you can say that ~ All we need is Presence --
but Its intentions and purposes include our ongoing involvement with The Ten Thousand Things --
and while I don't feel 'anchored in' anything (or 'adrift', for that matter) I think we're agreed that this 'Presence' needs to be our foundation and starting point, for whatever involvement-or-uninvolvement we're Called to...
So maybe this disagreement is about words?
I think that it is, but that it also matters to let people have their sacraments & notions, so far as Spirit is at work helping people find nourishment in them. One way of putting things won't feed everyone, no matter how true they'd find it if it were digestible to us all.
Lets agree then, at least for the sake of discussion, that these two modes of being exist:
(a) reactive to outward forms to the point of being inwardly governed by them
(b) guided by an inner Presence which is not at the effect of outwardness
Given this dichotomy, of "taking the world to heart" versus "taking God to heart", it'd seem to me that religious folk of all stripes would agree that (b) sounds more attractive and any responsible human is likely on a path from (a) to (b). There's a ladder, some stairs, a way to climb higher towards God. Let's get on with it then! To the pilgrimage (the spiritual journey / adventure)!
But then maybe a number have become so imbued with (b) that we call them Enlightened with a capital E and draw halos around their heads. That's a familiar way of talking I think most Friends might relate to, even those not as tinged with Asian memes as some from us from the Left Coast .
Translating your prose into the above framework, I get something like:
Fox and Rogers were both Enlightened (God centered) however Foxonians made greater compromises to accommodate the need our Type-A people have for structure and hand-holding of all kinds. Foxonians were willing to manipulate the Outward Forms, more in the manner of Professors.
Like, some people just won't "believe" or have any chance of being convinced, without seeing the "reality" of their transformation reflected on TV or on a billboard somewhere, radio spots, yellow pages... on the web. They need confirmation and positive reinforcement or "proof" as they call it ("empirical data" also popular).
Foxonians permit themselves to pump out said outward PR, whereas the Rogers types are more willing for the Enlightened to percolate into Friends by natural osmosis and not lift a finger to jolt (transform) the A types into B types.
I'm talking like a professor, I realize, with all the type A and type B stuff. It's how I'm trained: to think like a computer scientist (I'm teaching programming every week night this week, in addition to my day job doing the same thing).
That sounds outward form-like (more Foxonian than Rogers-like). I've always enjoyed pithy communication styles and some PR (propaganda) reaches the level of great art for me, and I admire it greatly. That may mean I'm a creature of outward forms then, which brings me to my last question: how would one tell for sure? Aren't there corner cases? What filters apply?
Back to the Asian memes, the stereotype is the zen practitioner sitting on a pillow in the Great Hall, meditating with an eye towards achieving Enlightenment, and the est master is in the back room, doing interviews, applying filters.
Students go back to visit the master and say what insight's they're getting, especially around this thing called a "koan" or puzzling saying. "Switch off the lights to see the Light" might be a koan. So how does the wizened master decide with a student has disconnected from the Outward and turned to the Inward or not?
Wouldn't there be the danger of "teacher's pet(s)" and only certifying only those that fit some picture? What if said master is not really so Enlightened and is really more just racist and sexist, i.e. a creature of reflex-conditioning? Who does this master report to? What does quality control look like when it comes to HR? How does one pass one's Enlightenment interview?
In some brands of Quakerism, we have Elders and Facing Bench but many meetings have deprecated that practice. So do Quakers have any way of "certifying" that a Friend is Enlightened?
I'd say among Liberal Friends not. We don't certify to that effect. There's no degree program.
But we do have our Clearness Committees which Friends are free to formally convene, or just conjure informally (as on QuakerQuaker) to test one's leadings.
I see a lot of that going on here, and think it's healthy, spiritually speaking.
 Left Coast depicted / portrayed as one of Eleven Nations of North America:http://www.tufts.edu/alumni/magazine/fall2013/features/up-in-arms.html
1) A "professor" in G. Fox's day == "someone who professes Christianity" -- which Fox disapproved of, so far as this was 'just words & no power.'
2) The Zen notion of 'Enlightenment' is something that affects somebody's 'inside' but which works to obliterate boundaries between in & out, ala Thomas': "when you make the inside like the outside (etc)." I'd say it's different terminology for what we're talking about, except that in Eastern traditions there's more emphasis on people seeking that condition -- in which case 'certifying' "Who has Got It and who has not" serves a function for anybody wanting to know, Who can I learn this from? While the Quaker emphasis has always been, God is here to teach us...
Saved for possible use in class; fixes typo:
Response number one to the sixth post on this thread by Kirby.
Hello, Kirby. Our discussion is cordial to my mind and much appreciated. I look to working through this with you. There is much to respond to in your last post and I do not have large chunks of time to respond in whole; so I will respond in smaller chunks.
First. I'm not comfortable with how you define the modes of being. I'll explain my discomfort and offer alternatives with the hope that, in the course of the discussion, we may enter into agreement, as to usage and meaning, that furthers our discussion.
You delineate these modes of existence in this way:
(a) reactive to outward forms to the point of being inwardly governed by them.
(b) guided by an inner Presence which is not at the effect of outwardness.
These explanations of leave out the essential elements of conscious and conscience.
(A) type conscious is not inwardly governed by outward forms. Conscious "IS" because of outward forms. Conscious is anchored in outward forms, it is outwardly governed and conscience is outwardly informed by and through the reflections or mirrors of outward thoughts, feelings, desires, emotions, perceptions, and sensations. (A) experiences these outward forms as inner or related to the body because the body is the instrumentality that mirrors outward forms so that (a) is conscious and (a)'s conscience is informed. In (b), conscious is anchored in and conscience is informed by inward (not "inner") Presence or Light. This experience is not inside or of the physical body. The experience of inward Light is the illumination of conscious without reference to the physical body. It is inward in the sense that when the Light's intensity becomes such that it pours or breaks into the reflected conscious (your "a" type), illuminating and transforming it, this new conscious is experienced as happening from a source outside of the body. It truth, the conscious illuminated by and the conscience informed by direct and unmediated inward Light, experiences a way of being (world) that is neither "inner" or outer. It is extra bodily and therefore not of the bodily dichotomy.
I suggest we render these ways of existence in this manner:
(A) a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by outward forms through the mediation of the body.
(B) a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by Presence or Conscious itself without bodily mediation.
"Fox and Rogers were both Enlightened (God centered) however Foxonians made greater compromises to accommodate the need our Type-A people have for structure and hand-holding of all kinds."
Generally, I can agree, with this significant caveat. The Foxonians were not satisfied with merely offering outward institutional forms for the benefit of those who may find them helpful. The Foxonians went much further than that; they imposed strict conformity to their centralized institutional outward constructs over against those who did not share their conscience concerning the establishment of outward institutions. The Foxonians were so demanding of conformity that the sought to alienate and excommunicate those who, for conscience sake, would not conform to their outward structures. Also, and very noteworthy, those who did not support the Fox's establishment of outward forms were tolerant of others who embraced the establishment of institutional forms. They merely sought the liberty to follow their own conscience in the Quaker gathering.
Kirby, while considering your distinctions between:
1. a conscious anchored in and a conscience informed by outward forms and
2. a conscious anchored in and a conscience inform by the inward unmediated Presence itself ...
... I found myself re-turning over and over again to a string of statements within your response. They have become roadblocks for me because I need for you and I to more fully digest them so that I better understand you and perhaps you better understand me. Here are the statements I'm referring to:
1. "... some people just won't "believe" or have any chance of being convinced, without seeing the "reality" of their transformation reflected on TV or on a billboard somewhere, radio spots, yellow pages... on the web. They need confirmation and positive reinforcement or "proof" as they call it ("empirical data" also popular)."
2. "That sounds outward form-like (more Foxonian than Rogers-like). I've always enjoyed pithy communication styles and some PR (propaganda) reaches the level of great art for me, and I admire it greatly. That may mean I'm a creature of outward forms then, which brings me to my last question: how would one tell for sure? Aren't there corner cases? What filters apply?"
3. "So do Quakers have any way of "certifying" that a Friend is Enlightened?"
To further condense you ask what is the empirical proof? and "how would one tell for sure?" and what is the "certification" for "enlightenment." You also ask "What filters apply?"
SIDENOTE: Would you define what you mean by "corner cases"?
When you write that you "may" be "a creature of outward forms" and ask "how would one tell for sure?" It seems you are not sure whether you are of the world (way of existence) wherein conscious is anchored in and conscience is informed by outward forms; that you are not sure whether your identity, meaning, and purpose is anchored in and informed by outward forms. It is my experience that normally people are sure of whether their world (way of existence) is founded upon outward forms and most people readily admit it. At one time, I was one of those people and then I had an experience that cracked that world and I became a person between worlds (ways of existence). It seems that is what you may mean by "corner cases." There are many people, especially at this moment in time, that are experiencing cracked or broken worlds (ways of existence) as a result of the interpenetration of the upon their conscious and conscience and are on a path toward stepping fully into the a new world or heaven (way of existence).
Being that is anchored in and informed by outward forms is a reality of Life for many people. Being that is anchored in and informed by unmediated Presence itself is also a reality of Life for many people. There are also many, many, many, people struggling and enjoying Being that is somewhere in between.
Life or conscious that is sustained by the interpenetration of Presence itself is not certifiable or justifiable by any outward document, professors, or institutional or communal embracement. This Life or conscious is certified by Presence itself. Presence itself is the "filter." There are no outward guidelines, rules, or "programs" (computer rendered or otherwise) to certify this world (way of existence). In this world, the conscious itself exists without regard to outward traditions, rules, ideologies, or institutions. This life or conscious does not existence in the reflections or mirrors of the bodily nature. In this world, conscious lives in regard to and is sustained by the thing itself.
It is a reality of life that there are people who are sustained and anchored in outward forms. It is a reality of life that there are people who are not. It is also a reality of life that there are people somewhere along the line between the two. It is also true that some come to know the interpenetration of Presence itself upon the conscious and conscience and reject it immediately or at some point.
Are you able to clarify whether you are of the world (way of existence) anchored in outward political, economic, and religious outward forms? I will share with you that, generally speaking, I am not of that world (way of existence). Although, when not watchful, I do step into it sometimes.
I must also share with you that, as the Light itself has more and more moved upon my conscious and informed my conscience, I have become insouciant (I use this term with intention) with regard to the worlds (ways of existence) people embrace. That is, my identity, purpose, and meaning, on this earth is less and less conditioned upon people embracing the world (way of existence) that is upon me. Mine is to share a world that is not of the world of outward forms and which is open to all people on this earth and in this moment. Mine is to support and encourage (and for me to be supported and be encouraged by them) those who's world (way of existence) in the mirrors of outward forms has been cracked or broken by the interpenetration of the Divine itself so that they are no longer established in and sustained by (relatively speaking or according to their measure) outward forms. My posture toward the world (way of existence) of outward forms on this earth is "breezy;" my calm is not disturbed by this other world on this earth. I am not judging the way of outward forms. I am speaking to a different world for those who are open to it. Mine is to speak Presence itself and, for the sake of people's conscience, not expect that any will embrace the message. It is not mine to impose upon the conscience of others.
I am thankful that you are willing to carry on a expanded and deep discussion with me. I look forward to your response and that my response so far is helpful in moving the conversation follow. Please feel free to take you time.