From Extremist to Mystic
Quotations from the recent writings of David Myatt
Of Learning Humility and Tolerance
“As someone who has lived an unusual and somewhat itinerant (but far from unique) life, I have a certain practical experience, over nearly fifty years, of various living religions and spiritual Ways of Life. An experience from which I have acquired the habit of respecting all those living religions and spiritual Ways: Christianity (especially Catholicism and monasticism); Buddhism; Islam; Taoism; Hinduism; Judaism; and the paganism manifest in an empathic appreciation of and a regard for Nature.
Due to this respect, there is a sadness within me because of the ignorance, intolerance, prejudice – and often the hatred – of the apparently increasing number of people, in modern Western societies, who disparage Islam, Muslims, and the Muslim way of life, and who thus seem to me to reflect and to display that hubris, that certitude-of-knowing, that lack of appreciation of the numinous, that at least in my fallible opinion and from my experience militates against the learning, the culture, the civility, that make us more than, or can make us more than, talking beings in thrall to their instincts who happen to walk upright.
My personal practical experience of, for example, Christianity, is of being raised a Catholic, and being a Catholic monk. Of Buddhism, of spending several years meditating and striving to follow the Noble Eightfold Path, including in a Buddhist monastery and with groups of Buddhists. Of Islam, of a decade living as a Muslim, performing daily Namaz (including attending Jummah Namaz in a Mosque), fasting in Ramadan, and travelling in Muslim lands. Of Taoism, of experience – in the Far East – a Taoist Martial Art and learning from a Taoist priest. Of Hinduism, of learning – in the Far East – from a Hindu lady and of over a year on my return to England continuing my learning and undertaking daily practice of Hatha Yoga according to the Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā. Of paganism, of developing an empathic reverence and respect for Nature by time spent as a rural ‘gentleman of the road’, as a gardener, and by years doing outdoor manual labour on farms…
Following a personal tragedy which suffused me with sadness and remorse and which – via pathei-mathos – ended my life-long desire for and enjoyment of practical Faustian peregrinations, there arose a years-long period of intense interior reflexion, and which reflexion included not only discovering and knowing the moral error of my immoral extremist pasts but also questions concerning the nature of faith, of God, and our desire, in times of personal grief and tragedy and remorse, and otherwise, to seek and often to need the guidance, the catharsis, of a religion or a spiritual Way.
Importantly, as I wrote in Pathei-Mathos, Genesis of My Unknowing,
“…what exposed my hubris – what for me broke down that certitude-of-knowing which extremism breeds and re-presents – was not something I did; not something I achieved; not something related to my character, my nature, at all. Instead, it was a gift offered to me by two others – the legacy left by their tragic early dying. That it took not one but two personal tragedies – some thirteen years apart – for me to accept and appreciate the gift of their love, their living, most surely reveals my failure, the hubris that for so long suffused me, and the strength and depth of my so lamentable extremism.”
Forced by grief – by pathei-mathos – to admit my mistakes, the suffering I had because of my extremism and my selfishness caused, I discovered I did not like myself, my character, and felt I needed to reform myself. But how? Through the guidance and acceptance of a living religion or some spiritual Way of Life? By holding fast onto Islam? By returning to my Catholic roots, or to Buddhism or Taoism? Or by, and perhaps unhumbly, trying to find some solutions of my own? Suffice to say it took me over five years [2006-2011], and culminated this year in my philosophy of pathei-mathos, my fallible answers to certain questions concerning morality, expiation, reformation, the numinous, and the nature of Being and of beings.
In the process, I came to appreciate humility; to admit its importance in trying to live a moral life where there is an appreciation of the numinous, a desire to be gentle, compassionate, to value love, and where there is the feeling that one needs to avoid causing suffering. To admit that we do not have or know all or even many of the answers; that we are fallible and thus that our own answers or conclusions or opinions may be wrong, and that we need therefore to be tolerant and respect the choice, the views, of others and the religions and the spiritual ways that offer and which have offered them answers to questions regarding meaning, morality, and love, and possibly also given them catharsis, purpose, an appreciation of the numinous, and happiness.
For one of my answers was that I felt, in common with many others, that
“…there is, to paraphrase an expression of George Fox used by The Religious Society of Friends, ‘that of the numinous’ in every person, and that answering to ‘that of the numinous’ can take and has taken various manifestations over millennia with all such manifestations deserving of respect since there is an underlying unity, a similar spiritual essence – a similar discovery and knowing and appreciation of the numinous, a similar understanding of the error of hubris – beyond those different outer manifestations and the different terms and expressions and allegories used to elucidate that of the numinous.”
In addition, I began during those five years to fully appreciate Islam, beyond the rather harsh interpretation of it which I as a Muslim had for many years accepted and followed. An appreciation which took me on further travels; involved days of discussions; much further study, personal and with others; and enabled me to place my years of living the Muslim way of life in the context of not only my life in general but also in relation to my experience of other religions and spiritual ways of living.” In Explanation Of Humility and The Need for Tolerance (November 2012)
Remorse and Expiation
“My own somewhat tempestuous, experiential, extremist, and suffering-causing, life – and my quest among various religions – seems to have made me personally aware of the ability we, as human beings, possess or possibly can acquire to change ourselves in a positive, a virtuous, way; of the ability we possess to exchange hatred for love, injustice for fairness, prejudice for tolerance, and violence and killing for peace. The ability, that is, to become compassionate, empathic, honourable, human beings, and thus cease to be the type of beings who have caused or contributed to so much suffering over so many millennia.
This ability to change ourselves, it occurs to me, is the basis for reform, for numinous change, both personal and social; that is, for change that is good, human, humanist; which betakes us away from causing or contributing to suffering, and which thus leads us to restrain ourselves and refrain from causing further pain, distress, injury, harm, grief, to other human beings and to other life.
Such numinous change, in my view, begins with shrift, and not necessarily with some confession (of some sin or sins) to some deity or some representative, howsoever appointed, of such a deity, but rather the admission, the confession, to one’s self of one’s errors, failures, mistakes. This is the self-knowledge, the self-learning, of how one’s deeds have harmed others and thus caused or contributed to suffering. There is thus a placing of one’s self into a human, into a numinous, perspective and therefore an admission of fallibility and a certain, and a necessary, personal humility. And it from such humility – founded on such self-knowledge – that there arises, or there can arise, within the reformed individual, a genuine and necessary remorse.” Pardonance, Love, Extremism, and Reform (March 2012)
” So much remorse, grief, and sorrow, within me for the unwise suffering-causing deeds of my past. Yet all I have in recompense for decades of strife, violence, selfishness, hate, are tears, the cries, alone – and words, lifeless words, such as this; words, to – perhaps, hopefully – forewarn forswear so that others, some few, hearing, reading, may possibly avoid, learn from, the errors that marked, made, and were, my hubris.” So Much Remorse (February 2012)
” I quite understand why, in the past, certain individuals disliked – even hated – me, given my decades of extremism: my advocacy of racism, fascism, holocaust denial, and National-Socialism, followed (after my conversion to Islam) by my support of bin Laden, the Taliban, and advocacy of ‘suicide attacks’.I also understand why – given my subversive agenda and my amoral willingness to use any tactic, from Occult honeytraps to terrorism, to undermine the society of the time as prelude to revolution – certain people have saught to discredit me by distributing and publishing certain allegations.
Furthermore, given my somewhat Promethean peregrinations – which included being a Catholic monk, a vagabond, a fanatical violent neo-nazi, a theoretician of terror, running a gang of thieves, studying Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism; being a nurse, a farm worker, and supporter of Jihad – I expect many or most of those interested in or curious about my ‘numinous way’ and my recent mystical writings to be naturally suspicious of or doubtful about my reformation and my rejection of extremism.
Thus I harbour no resentment against individuals, or organizations, or groups, who over the past forty or so years have publicly and/or privately made negative or derogatory comments about me or published items making claims about me. Indeed, I now find myself in the rather curious situation of not only agreeing with some of my former political opponents on many matters, but also (perhaps) of understanding (and empathizing with) their motivation; a situation which led and which leads me to appreciate even more just how lamentable my extremism was and just how arrogant, selfish, wrong, and reprehensible, I as a person was, and how in many ways many of those former opponents were and are (ex concesso) better people than I ever was or am.
Which is one reason why I have written what I have recently written about extremism and my extremist past: so that perchance someone or some many may understand extremism, and its causes, better and thus be able to avoid the mistakes I made, avoid causing the suffering I caused; or be able to in some way more effectively counter or prevent such extremism in the future. And one reason – only one – why I henceforward must live in reclusion and in silencio.” Pathei-Mathos – Genesis of My Unknowing (May 2012)
“There are no excuses for my extremist past, for the suffering I caused to loved ones, to family, to friends, to those many more, those far more, ‘unknown others’ who were or who became the ‘enemies’ posited by some extremist ideology. No excuses because the extremism, the intolerance, the hatred, the violence, the inhumanity, the prejudice were mine; my responsibility, born from and expressive of my character; and because the discovery of, the learning of, the need to live, to regain, my humanity arose because of and from others and not because of me.
Thus what exposed my hubris – what for me broke down that certitude-of-knowing which extremism breeds and re-presents – was not something I did; not something I achieved; not something related to my character, my nature, at all. Instead, it was a gift offered to me by two others – the legacy left by their tragic early dying. That it took not one but two personal tragedies – some thirteen years apart – for me to accept and appreciate the gift of their love, their living, most surely reveals my failure, the hubris that for so long suffused me, and the strength and depth of my so lamentable extremism.
But the stark and uneasy truth is that I have no real, no definitive, answers for anyone, including myself. All I have now is a definite uncertitude of knowing, and certain feelings, some intuitions, some reflexions, a few certainly fallible suggestions arising mostly from reflexions concerning that, my lamentable, past, and thus – perhaps – just a scent, just a scent, of some understanding concerning some-things, perfumed as this understanding is with ineffable sadness.” Pathei-Mathos – Genesis of My Unknowing (May 2012)
“For nearly four decades I placed some ideation, some ideal, some abstraction, before personal love, foolishly – inhumanly – believing that some cause, some goal, some ideology, was the most important thing and therefore that, in the interests of achieving that cause, that goal, implementing that ideology, one’s own personal life, one’s feelings, and those of others, should and must come at least second if not further down in some lifeless manufactured schemata.
My pursuit of such things – often by violent means and by incitement to violence and to disaffection – led, of course, not only to me being the cause of suffering to other human beings I did not personally know but also to being the cause of suffering to people I did know; to family, to friends, and especially to those – wives, partners, lovers – who for some reason loved me.
In effect I was selfish, obsessed, a fanatic, an extremist. Naturally, as extremists always do, I made excuses – to others, to myself – for my unfeeling, suffering-causing, intolerant, violent, behaviour and actions; always believing that ‘I could make a difference’ and always blaming some-thing else, or someone else, for the problems I alleged existed ‘in the world’ and which problems I claimed, I felt, I believed, needed to be sorted out […]
Yet the honest, the obvious, truth was that I – and people like me or those who supported, followed, or were incited, inspired, by people like me – were and are the problem. That my, that our, alleged ‘problems’ (political/religious), were phantasmagoriacal; unreal; imagined; only projections based on, caused by, invented ideas that had no basis in reality, no basis in the simple reality of human beings. For the simple reality of most human beings is the need for simple, human, things: for personal love, for friendship, for a family, for a personal freedom, a security, a stability – a home, food, playfulness, a lack of danger – and for the dignity, the self-respect, that work provides.
But instead of love we, our selfish, our obsessed, our extremist kind, engendered hate. Instead of peace, we engendered struggle, conflict, killing. Instead of tolerance we engendered intolerance. Instead fairness and equality we engendered dishonour and discrimination. Instead of security we produced, we encouraged, revolution, violence, change.
The problem, the problems, lay inside us, in our kind, not in ‘the world’, not in others. We, our kind – we the pursuers of, the inventors of, abstractions, of ideals, of ideologies; we the selfish, the arrogant, the hubriatic, the fanatics, the obsessed – were and are the main causes of hate, of conflict, of suffering, of inhumanity, of violence. Century after century, millennia after millennia.” Letter To My Undiscovered Self (February 2012)
Hitler, Politics, and Extremism
“I regard National-Socialism – of whatever variety – as an immoral set of beliefs, an example par excellence of hubris, with the Allied victory over NS Germany being a moral necessity, worthy of remembrance and celebration.
As for the indignity of racism, it is abhorrent – redolent of hubris – based as racism is on the dishonour of prejudice and the divisive abstraction of ‘race’. For now, for me, what is important – the understanding wrought via my pathei-mathos – are personal love, compassion, humility, kindness, tolerance, and wu-wei; virtues which are the essence of our humanity and virtues which are anathema to racists, to National-Socialists, and to fascists.” In Response To Some Questions Recently Asked (March 2012)
“My personal conclusion, now, in respect of Hitler therefore is not a favourable one. For it is of him as a tyrannos par excellence: someone with such an extreme hubriatic certitude of knowing that he excessively overstepped the limits, and – like Oedipus and Creon but more excessively – brought misfortune, retribution, suffering, upon himself and those around him. Someone lacking in compassion, empathy, humility and humanity, and who – both directly and indirectly – caused and sanctioned a plethora of dishonourable deeds. Someone – perhaps because of an arrogant belief in his own destiny reinforced, and made extreme, by his success for so many years – who became rotten inside […]
There is also the truth, contrary to what Hitler and National-Socialists believed, that the communal way can only and ever live, and thus be the genesis of and nurture the healthy symbiosis necessary between individual and community, when it is local, small, ancestral, and of families, and thus involves a personal knowing of others and a personal love. To try to extend it and – worse – contain and restrain it within an abstract State or nation, is to severe the connexion it is – by virtue of such personal knowing and love – to the numinous, and cause its decline, decay, and extinction. This is ὕβρις, because it upsets, and destroys, the natural balance between local dwelling (soil), individuals, extended family, locality (region and community), personal love, personal knowing, and empathy with Nature, an empathy with Nature developed through a personal, direct, years-long experience […]
National-Socialist Germany was a manifestation of the ὕβρις of a tyrannos, and thus – perhaps for others as well as for those of the Western tradition – was a cultural πάθει μάθος; an opportunity for us to learn and so avoid making that error again.” The Uncertitude of Knowing (second edition 2011)
“Extremists fail to understand, to appreciate, to know, to apprehend, what is important about human beings and human living; what the simple reality, the simple nature, the real physis, of the majority of human beings and of society is and are, and thus what innocence means and implies. That is, there is a failure to know, to appreciate, what is good, and natural and numinous and innocent, in respect of human beings and of society. A failure to know, a failure to appreciate, a failure to feel what it is that empathy and pathei-mathos provide: the wisdom of our personal nature and personal needs; of our physis as rational – as balanced – human beings possessed of certain qualities, certain virtues, or capable of developing balance, capable of developing certain qualities, certain virtues, and thus having or of developing the ability to live in a certain manner: with fairness, with love, and without hatred and prejudice.
What is good, and natural – what should thus be appreciated, and respected, and not profaned by the arrogance (the hubris) of the extremist, and what empathy and pathei-mathos reveal – are the desire for personal love and the need to be loyally loved; the need for a family and the bonds of love within a family that lead to the desire to protect, care for, work for, and if necessary defend one’s loved ones. The desire for a certain security and stability and peace, manifest in a home, in sufficiency of food, in playfulness, in friends, in tolerance, in a lack of danger. The need for the dignity, the self-respect, that work, that giving love and being loved, provide.
Our societies have evolved, painfully slowly, to try and provide such simple, such human, such natural, such ineluctably personal, things; to allow opportunities for such things; and have so evolved often because of individuals naturally gifted with empathy or who were inspired by their own pathei-mathos or that of others, and often and thus also so evolved because of the culture that such societies encouraged and sometimes developed, being as such culture was – via, for example, literature, music, memoirs, poetry, Art – the recorded/aural pathei-mathos and empathic understanding of others often combined with the recorded/aural pathei-mathos and the empathic understanding of others in other societies. A pathei-mathos and an understanding that may form or in some manner express the ethos of a society, and thence become an inspiration for certain laws intended to express, in a society, what is considered to be moral and thus provide and maintain or at least aid valued human and personal qualities such as the desire for stability, peace, a loving home, sufficiency of food, and the need for the dignity of work.” Recuyle of the Philosophy of Pathei-Mathos (2012)
“In common with many extremists, the ideology Rumpledhatevik adhered to provided him with a sense of identity and a feeling of importance, a mission, as well as an excuse for his behaviour and his actions.
The extremist ideology he believed in – and which a lot of people in the lands of the West now seem to believe in – is one founded on the following notions or beliefs, and many of which notions and beliefs derive from prejudice, intolerance, ignorance, and/or a dislike/fear of difference:
1) That what is termed multiculturalism ‘does not work’ and is detrimental to ‘native European cultures/Western civilization/European people’.
2) That Muslims in Western lands are a problem, partly or mostly because it is believed ‘they (or most of them) do want to integrate’ and want to establish Shariah.
3) That Islam and/or Shariah ‘is/are barbaric, backward and dangerous’, and ‘a threat’.
4) That most if not all Western politicians and governments (and their supporters) are ‘traitors’ for encouraging and allowing immigration (especially of Muslims), and tolerating and encouraging diversity.
5) That these ‘traitors’ need to be dealt with, for if ‘something is not done soon’ then Europe and America will ‘suffer the dire consequences of immigration’ and there will be ‘an Islamification of Europe/America’.
6) That ‘defending my country’ from Islamification/immigration/multiculturalism is the most important thing.
7) That what prevents Islamification/immigration/multiculturalism ‘is good’; and what aids or encourages Islamification/immigration/multiculturalism ‘is bad’.
In essence, this is fascism. Where some abstract, some idealized, some mythical, national and cultural identity is revered; where ‘defending this identity/one’s country’ is a priority; where there are identifiable (and dangerous) enemies who are disliked/hated and who must be countered and fought; where direct action and/or revolution (involving or inciting violence) are called for; where there is intolerance of same-sex relationships; where there is a masculine bias; where ‘foreign influences’ (and foreigners) need to be tackled and removed; where ‘strong leadership’ is needed to remedy the situation; and where liberalism and liberal democracy are regarded as part of the problem.
This new fascist ideology – where ‘non-White’ immigrants, and especially Muslims and Islam itself, are regarded as perhaps the main threat – is one founded on the-separation-of-otherness, a lack of empathy, and thus on the immorality of prejudgement of individuals. An ideology which thus does not regarded perceived enemies as innocent and which therefore encourages, and incites, hatred, intolerance, and violence against perceived enemies and even allows for if not encourages the killing of such enemies. And it is this inhuman disregard of, this lack of understanding of, the true meaning of innocence – or the lack of the capacity to feel innocence in others – that runs through all extremist ideology and which are the raison d’etre of so many extremists, whether they know it or not, and mostly they do not know it, given how they always seem to attempt to excuse their barbarism by appeals to their ideologies.” Concerning the 2011 Massacre in Norway
“Ideologies such as National-Socialism – new or old – and radical Islam are predicated on identity, a pride in that identity, and on the need to affirm that identity through practical deeds. In the case of National-Socialism, there is a personal identification with one’s assumed race, a pride in what is believed to be the achievements and the potential of this race, and a desire to aid one’s race and its ‘destiny’ by opposing ‘race-mixing’. In the case of radical Islam, there is the sense of belonging to the Ummah, a ‘comradeship’, a certain pride in Islam and its superiority; a feeling of the need to undertake or at least support Jihad, and a desire to counter the kuffar in practical ways, all deriving from the belief that this is what Allah has commanded we do.
The identity so assumed or presumed produces or can produce resentment, anger – caused by a perceived or a felt disparity between the now and the assumed ideal, past or future.
For an essential part of such ideologies is that it is believed that in the past some posited ideal community or society or people or way of life existed and that the present is a deviation from or a loss of the ‘perfection’ that then existed; a deviation or a loss that the ideology explains by the assumption of a simple cause and effect, or several simple causes and effects, a simple linearity between the now and the goal (future) and/or the idealized past. Thus the problems or the conditions of the present are assumed to have certain identifiable supra-personal causes, just as the path to the goal is regarded as requiring that those causes be dealt with. In addition, these causes are often or mostly the work of ‘others’; not our fault, but instead the result of ‘our enemies’, and/or of some opposing ideology. That is, someone, or some many, or some ‘thing’, is or are to blame.
Hence in order to return to this past perfection – or in order to create a new form of this past perfection, this past ideal, or in order to create a new perfection inspired by some past ideal – our enemies, and/or opposing ideologies and those adhering to them, must be dealt with. There must therefore be struggle; the notion of future victory; and at the very least political activity and propaganda directed toward political goals – a moving toward regaining the authority, the power, the influence which supporters of an ideology believe or assume they and their kind have lost and which they almost invariably believe are now ‘in the hands of their enemies’ and/or of traitors and ‘heretics’.
In effect, perceived enemies, those having authority/power, and those perceived as adhering to opposing or detrimental ideologies/beliefs or living in a manner seen as detrimental, become dehumanized, are judged en masse in a prejudiced manner, and become disliked, with this dislike naturally – because of the struggle for ‘victory’ – becoming intolerance, harshness, and thence, almost invariably at some time, turning to anger thence to hatred with such hatred often resulting in violence against individual ‘enemies’.
Such hatred and intolerance are the natural, the inevitable, consequence of all ideologies founded on notions of identity which glorify past glories or past perfections, which posit some abstract goal or some future ideal and which involve a struggle against enemies to achieve such a goal or such an ideal.
For there is symbiosis, an empowering of the individual, with the very notion of identity and meaning being dependant on notions about past glories, on inclusion/exclusion, on notions of superiority/inferiority, on posited enemies, on obstacles, and of a striving, a struggle, for an ideal, for some posited goal. And vice versa. This is the intoxicating elixir of extremism, a symbiosis born of, which engenders and which flourishes on division, divide, intolerance, pride, struggle, goals, and hate; a division, divide, an intolerance, a hatred, that possibly are at their worst, their most vitriolic, when based on ethnicity, or involve religions, or involve perceived or assumed ‘heretical’ divisions within a religion.” Notes on The Politics and Ideology of Hate (2012)
“It is my belief [that] extremism, prejudice and ignorance, should be rejected and exposed; that the ways of Western societies and the Muslim way of life are both – when understood and appreciated – a force for good, and that both ways of living, that of West and that of the Muslims, can profitably learn from the other, because reasoned dialogue, an acceptance, celebration, and tolerance, of diversity, is the moral, the virtuous, thing to do. From Islam we in the societies of the West might, for instance, re-learn the virtue of a personal humility, dignity, and respect for the sacred over and above the material and the profane, things which the way of Jesus of Nazareth, and the prophets before him, taught us – or saught to teach us – but which many of us somehow and for some reason seem to have forgotten.
I am thus reminded of words such as the following:
“For what purpose then was [the scroll of Ruth] written? To teach how great is the reward of those who do deeds of kindness.” Midrash Ruth Rabbah 2, 13
“Let us then try what love can do.” (William Penn).
A Personal View Concerning Islam, The West, Prejudice, and Islamophobia (2012)
Law and the Police
“I have some forty years experience of interaction with the police, from ordinary constables and detectives, to custody sergeants, to officers from specialist branches such as SO12, SO13, and crime squads. During that time, I have known far more good police officers than bad – corrupt – ones. Furthermore, I realized that most of those I came into contact with were good individuals, motivated by the best of intentions, who were trying to do their best, often under difficult circumstances, and often to help victims of dishonourable deeds, catch those responsible for such deeds, and/or prevent such deeds […]
In truth they, those officers, as one of them once said to me, were guided by what ‘was laid down’ and did not presume to or tried hard not to overstep their authority; guided as they were by the law, that accumulated received wisdom of what was and is good in society; a law which (at least in Britain and so far as I know) saught to embody a respect for what was fair and which concept of fairness was and always has been (again, at least in Britain and so far as I know) untainted, uncorrupted, by any political ideology.
Now I know, I understand, I appreciate, that for that reason – of so being mindful of the limits of their authority, of being guided by what had been laid down over decades – those people, those police officers, were far better individuals than the arrogant, the hubriatic, extremist I was; an arrogant extremist who by and for himself presumed ‘to know’ what was right, who presumed to understand, who presumed he possessed the ability, the authority, and the right to judge everyone and everything, and who because of such arrogance, such hubris, most certainly continued to contribute to the cycle of suffering, ignoring thus for so long as he in his unbalance did the wisdom that Aeschylus gave to us in The Oresteia.” Notes on The Politics and Ideology of Hate (2012)
“An honourable Police officer doing their honourable duty in, for example, England or the United States, is certainly (in my fallible opinion) a good example of someone acting in an honourable way who also has the ability, by so acting in accord with the official duty they have sworn to do, to both alleviate at least some suffering and to guide individuals to do what is honourable […] The Police force in England (or the United States) does [embody] personal honour and does manifest honour in a consistent and practical manner and thus alleviates some suffering and guides some individuals to do what is honourable. Therefore, I give all of them, and have given all of them, the benefit of the doubt and respectfully interact with them on the basis of mutual honour, as I admire them for the work that they do and have done just as I appreciate that they do and have, as a society, as an extended family, presenced something of the numinous.” The Uncertitude of Knowing (second edition 2011)
“The simple truth of the present and so evident to me now – in respect of the societies of the West, and especially of societies such as those currently existing in America and Britain – is that for all their problems and all their flaws they seem to be much better than those elsewhere, and certainly better than what existed in the past. That is, that there is, within them, a certain tolerance; a certain respect for the individual; a certain duty of care; and certainly still a freedom of life, of expression, as well as a standard of living which, for perhaps the majority, is better than elsewhere in the world and most certainly better than existed there and elsewhere in the past.
In addition, there are within their structures – such as their police forces, their governments, their social and governmental institutions – people of good will, of humanity, of fairness, who strive to do what is good, right. Indeed, far more good people in such places than bad people, so that a certain balance, the balance of goodness, is maintained even though occasionally (but not for long) that balance may seem to waver somewhat.
Furthermore, many or most of the flaws, the problems, within such societies are recognized and openly discussed, with a multitude of people of good will, of humanity, of fairness, dedicating themselves to helping those affected by such flaws, such problems. In addition, there are many others trying to improve those societies, and to trying find or implement solutions to such problems, in tolerant ways which do not cause conflict or involve the harshness, the violence, the hatred, of extremism.” Notes on The Politics and Ideology of Hate (2012)
Humility and Spirituality
“Empathy inclines us – by its revealing of others, its revealing of ourselves as we really are, its revealing of us as an affective and effecting connexion to other human beings and other life – toward humility. Thus we are moved away from prejudices and prejudgement and hate toward gentleness, kindness, love, compassion, and fairness; that is, toward the virtues that express our humanity and thus toward the cessation of suffering.
Empathy by its personal, immediate, nature manifests a new type of authority; that of the individual whose concern is not power over others but rather over themselves through the development and exercise of those virtues that express our humanity.
Empathy also inclines us toward wu-wei; toward interior reflexion, toward neither acting with haste nor on the basis of abstractions and unbalanced feelings. It moves us instead toward a knowing that real change is interior, personal, change – of character, of behaviour, of feelings, of thought, of intent; of removing prejudice and intolerance.” Race and Individuality in The Philosophy of The Numinous Way (2011)
“The more I reflect on religion – and on my experience of various religions and those who believe in them – the more I incline toward the view that most if not all of what have sometimes been referred to as ‘the major religions’ – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism – manifest (each in their own particular way) and enhance (or can enhance) our humanity, and thus enshrine a means for us to be compassionate and tolerant and receptive to humility. For it seems to me there is, to paraphrase an expression of George Fox used by The Religious Society of Friends, ‘that of the numinous’ in every person, and that answering to ‘that of the numinous’ can take and has taken various manifestations over millennia with all such manifestations deserving of respect since there is an underlying unity, a similar spiritual essence – a similar discovery and knowing and appreciation of the numinous, a similar understanding of the error of hubris – beyond those different outer manifestations and the different terms and expressions and allegories used to elucidate ‘that of the numinous.” Pathei-Mathos – A Path To Humility (2012)
“In the garden, heard through the large open window, the birds having sensed the onset of Spring sing as they sing at this most glorious time of year. And I, I overwhelmed again by the sadness emanating even here from my knowing of the suffering-causing personal deeds of my past. So many, so many I had not thought to count so many – until now. So many how could I while buoyed by hubris have hurt that many? So much deception, so many lies, while they – the friends, family, wives, lovers – trusted with that goodness born of heavenly-human hope.
No prayers, no supplication, to wash away, remove, the manifold stains. If only, if only I (as once, those several times) believed, so that penance, absolution – embraced – might bring the chance to dream, to-be, to see, to love again. But no apologies possible nor by they desired, for they are gone – deceased, or lost those many years ago; no words sufficient, of meaning, to redeem a memory of such a scarring pain.
No mechanism, manufactured, to return before the time of such hurtful hurting with such knowing as so bends me now, down, down and kneeling sans any means of prayer. Only emotion falling, fallen, keeping such memories as some music makes numinously plaintive the joy the pain, century folding folded to century while they the multitudinous I’s made the good the trusting suffer. No past of expiations. No Spring of goodness to burgeon forth to herald they through pathei-mathos changed.
Which is why, perhaps, so many still need desire – to trust in – God. For there is this only this: to write to rest to sleep to dream to cease to feel. And the world will still be there when I am gone.” Four Emanations (2012)
“There is now for me a quite simple, solitary, almost reclusive life, almost ended; as if the Cosmos – Wyrd – has contrived to place me exactly where I need to be: in, with, such a situation and surroundings as makes me remember the unwise deeds of those my pasts, and which placement offers more opportunities for one fallible human being to learn, especially about how people are not as, for many decades, I with my arrogance and abstractive purpose assumed.
For now I of the aged poor have no purpose, no ideation, to guide; no assumptions founded on, extrapolated from, some causal lifeless abstraction. No politics; no religion; not even any faith. There is instead only the living of moments, one fluxing as it fluxes to, within, the next. No dreams of Destiny; no supra-personal goals; no desires of self to break the calm of day and night. Only walks, and a being, alone to mingle with weather, Life, Nature as one so mingles when happiness is there inside unsupported by some outer cause or expectation of or from another […]
There has come upon me these past few years, of this so simple living, a certain understanding. Of how I am never, was never, ever, totally alone, being only one briefly born connexion. Of just how easy it is to be content, breeding happiness in oneself and others, and how even easier it is to lapse, to fail, to fall; to let feelings, abstractions, guide, control, as when in the past I would breed discontent within myself, with loved ones and others, never satisfied with this or that. For happiness, I presumed, lay in better things – a better home some better place; better food clothes holidays finer wine; that other woman, there; and, perhaps far worse, lay with better way of life for those unknown, a way wrought by deeds done, by pursuit of lifeless ideation as if I, that temporary self, might have made some difference and that those causal shells had or might be given meaning or even by violence, blood, become somehow gifted with the breath of life.
So little self-control. So much love, hopes, lives destroyed; and how much suffering I by hubris caused. So much – for what? Some selfish passing pleasure; no external change that lasted; that ever could, would, last. Since real change, discovered, is only and ever within ourselves, alone – there, interior, ready to gently touch another, one gift of one person personally known so that only now perhaps I am with, of, the numen living.
Thus I am returned to sometimes where I so briefly was, my purpose altered, far beyond the goals I in arrogance so vainly figured. For I am nothing special, unique; only some half-remembered vague aspirations of this age, whose words, life – as so many – perhaps uncovers divinity as the divine but whose past concerned creating illusion, illusions, in expiation of a humanity then so lost […]
Now, I am only someone living – a simple living – with a certain fallible inner understanding, born of suffering, deaths, distress, despair. So there is so aptly now only slow quiescent walks alone and such memories, such memories, as I hope I hope have made a better man.” And What You Thought You Came For Is... (August 2011)
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