Toward Understanding The Numinous

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David Myatt

David Myatt

Editorial Note. Republished here is an archive item by David Myatt, originally published on his blog, and dating from the early part of 2010. That is, before he refined his ‘numinous way’ into his philosophy of pathei-mathos, writing as he did in his 2012 article The Development Of The Numinous Way, that

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Given that the essence of The Numinous Way is individual empathy, an individual understanding, the development of an individual judgement, and the living of an ethical way of life where there is an appreciation of the numinous, the more I reflected upon this ‘numinous way’ between 2011 and Spring 2012, the more I not only realized my mistakes, but also that it was necessary to remove, to excise, the detritus that had accumulated around the basic insights and the personal pathei-mathos that inspired me to develope that ‘numinous way’. Mistakes and detritus because for some time, during the development of that ‘numinous way’, I was still in thrall to some abstractions, still thinking in terms of categories and opposites, and still fond of pontificating and generalizing, especially about The State. I therefore began to re-express, in a more philosophical manner, the personal, the individual, the ontological, the ethical and spiritual nature, of The Numinous Way, and thus emphasized the virtues of humility, love, and of wu-wei – of balance, of tolerance, of non-interference, of individual interior (spiritual) reformation, of non-striving, of admitting one’s own uncertitude of understanding and of knowing.

The year-long (2011-2012) process of refinement, correction, and reflexion resulted in me re-naming what remained of my ‘numinous way’ the philosophy of pathei-mathos.

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Given the topics covered by Myatt in his reply we feel it will be of interest to our readers even though it is dated and therefore probably does not represent Myatt’s current views on the topics in question.

RS,
2017


The following extracts are from my correspondence, in the Spring of 2010 CE, with a young Western gnostic residing, at the time, in India. I have slightly revised the text in order to correct typos and, in a few place, to clarify the meaning.

Toward Understanding The Numinous

I was most interested to receive your reply, since it seems that both you and I have been on somewhat similar quests among the Ways of Life of this world.

You wrote that:
“Political action without the element of the sacred seems futile to me (or at least doomed to failure).”

Something I certainly agree with – and what attracted me, at quite a young age, to NS was that I felt there was something numinous about the life, and the NS, of Adolf Hitler. Many years ago, now, I had the wonderful fortune to meet someone who knew him personally, and he – and another comrade of his (also a personal friend of The Chief) – amply confirmed my initial intuition.

But what I, in my youthful arrogance, failed to understand was that, essentially, National-Socialism was Adolf Hitler – as those two individuals told me, and it was only after several decades of fighting for NS, that I gradually came to realize my error. Which was that my [political] attempt – and all such attempts – to revive NS were doomed because they lacked the numinous, which numinous had to be, for our still unenlightened times, embodied in a living person. Hence, I suppose, my mythos of Vindex: an attempt (perhaps a vain one) to prefigure a new charismatic leader who might, by his (or her) very life presence the numinous, in the modern world, and possibly by the medium, the causal form, of politics.

Yet I have also come to understand that AH may have made some mistakes, through elevating a particular abstraction over and above the numinous, and through occasionally striving to make real his vision by using certain un-numinous – that is, dishonourable – means, such as modern impersonal warfare.

You wrote:
“do you still consider yourself to be a Muslim?”

Possibly, but only in the sense that I understand authentic Islam as an apprehension, one presencing, of the numinous, in our dishonourable times; and in the sense that being Muslim means (at least according to my rather limited understanding) acknowledging our human fallibility before, and dependence and reliance upon, The One, named Allah (as we are but mortal travellers in the realm of the causal).

This, perhaps, is veering toward a rather Sufi-esque view, where there is the understanding of how various Ways may also be, or can sometimes be, a path, a Way, toward The One.

Again, I was perhaps fortunate in having been able to spend some time in the Middle East and Iran, talking to Muslims, both Shia and Sunni, and especially during one trip in Egypt into the desert where I felt I came close to feeling and understanding the simple beauty, the numinous purity, behind the label “Islam” which as been assigned to that Way – a simple beauty, a purity, I had also felt during my time as a Christian monk.

You wrote:
“I’m still very much interested in NS and Islam, however, as well as the Numinous Way”

What I have called The Numinous Way are simply my own tentative answers to questions which have perplexed me for decades, and/or which I have been seeking answers to, as well as being the result of my learning from my errors, my mistakes, my arrogance. I am quite aware that my answers, my conclusions, may be incorrect or somehow incomplete, and that they are not, nor can ever be, definitive, or even adequately describe our (and my own) apprehension of the numinous.

In a sense, I seem to have found something lacking in all the many and various Ways I have experienced and lived, over the decades; found myself in some way or other dissatisfied with the answers which seem to have accumulated around such Ways over the centuries.

Thus my Numinous Way is just my own perspective, my own view, of the numinous, and does not seem to me to necessarily contradict the essence of many other Ways, when such Ways are considered sans dogma, sans the abstractions, they have acquired over the centuries.

So, for the moment, at least, I am reasonably happy with such personal answers of mine, which answers seem to have taken me to what appears to be the essence behind many Ways, such that, in one sense, I am (and yet am not) Muslim, and Catholic, and Taoist, and pagan, and Buddhist, and so on. Such terms – such -isms – just seem to get in the way of living one’s life in a numinous, empathic, manner.

You wrote:
aspects of [life here] can be difficult for a Westerner to adjust to…

In many if not most ways your experiences there [in India] seem to be the opposite of mine in Muslim lands. When I lived for a while in the Middle East – and whenever I travelled to such lands – I found acceptance and friendship. Indeed, sometimes, I found it rather overwhelming and occasionally embarrassing – still having something of an archetypal old-fashioned English demeanour. For instance, I can remember on many occasions going into a Mosque somewhere (almost always the only White person there) and being greeted with genuine warmth and asked to sit in the front row for Namaz (a position of honour normally) and afterwards being invited into people’s homes.

You wrote:
If I’ve understood your notion of the numinous correctly, then I believe you’d agree that the problem with the Right is that it keeps trying to put abstraction in front of the Real

Certainly – and this means a rejection of all conventional politics. It seems to me that the solution is two-fold. First, that one has to go beyond the old, un-numinous, abstraction of the nation-State, and instead establish new communities based upon tribes and clans and thus upon a new, emerging, living – numinous – tradition. Second, that one has to make personal honour not only one of the foundations of one’s own life, but also the only basis for the ethics of, and law and justice in, such new communities.

My understanding of a living tradition is that it arises naturally from a small community or some collection of such small communities, with the individuals often bound together by bonds of kinship and the sharing of toil and of hardship overcome. These individuals dwell in a specific area which they have an affinity to and which provides them with sustenance and a means of living. That is, there is a direct and necessary relationship to the land, to Nature, in a specific, small, local area.

Personally, I do not believe that it is possible to resurrect, and certainly undesirable to try and resurrect, some dead tradition, even if it be of one’s ancestors, one’s own folk. Rather, one has to plant the seeds of a new numinous tradition and nurture the growth of that tradition.

Having spent a great deal of my adult life living and working in the English countryside, and having some experience of politics and religions, I am acutely aware of what native Europeans have not only lost but also need to acquire, and develope.

What has been lost – in the pursuit of materialism, through technology, and an increasing urbanization – is that numinous connexion to Nature, to a certain small area which we personally know and where we dwell, and a living in a way we are not bound by the modern abstraction of Time or swayed and manipulated by abstractions in general (and politics and all un-numinous religions are abstractions), but rather where the horizon of our daily lives and thus our concerns are set by what we know, and those whom we know, personally, directly.

What needs to be acquired and developed is, in effect, a new personality – a new type of human being.

You wrote:
you always write something original, rather than just developing a new synthesis of other men’s words

Well, during my second term of imprisonment I decided that I would henceforward write only about what I personally felt, had experienced, or concluded as the result of my own thinking – mostly because I then perhaps rather arrogantly believed that no one hitherto had fully understood the problem or conceived of a viable solution (relating to the problems of the West) or even answered in a way I found satisfying the fundamental questions about our own existence as human beings.

Prior to this, I had spent almost a decade in reading the views, and answers, the writings, of others – ranging from Homer to TS Eliot, from Aristotle to Nietzsche and Heidegger; from Norse myths to Buddhism to Savitri Devi; and so on.

My early NS writings were mainly derived from my own youthful idealistic vision and my passion to remake my own land into a better, more noble, place, and to counter what then I understood as the machinations, the “social engineering” of the Magian, and others. My writings about Islam were often inspired by what I felt was a certain insidious Western influence so that for example the simple submission and guidance that was Al-Islam came be viewed and understood and re-interpreted through certain Western abstractions, philosophical and political, for even the use and acceptance of the term “religion” by Muslims in relation to their own Way of Life was such an error.

But it took me several decades, in the case of NS and such things as Christianity and Buddhism, and almost a decade in the case of Islam, to acquire the practical experience, the theoretical (academic) knowledge, and thence the direct personal understanding, that led me to form certain conclusions about such forms, ideas, and Ways, and which drew from within me my own, individual, refined and complete, answers to the fundamental questions about our human existence.

In respect of NS, I came to understand that the problem was not the simple “us and them” concept that the biological notion of the folk, the concentration on the machinations of the Jews, and the concept of eternal struggle, created. That is, the belief that we had been somehow led astray, and needed to return to some idealized notion of some past we have lost, to re-connect ourselves with “our true identity” and “purify” our land and folk.

Instead, I concluded that we ourselves – native Europeans – were an integral part of the problem; that it was necessary for us to fundamentally change ourselves, and that this change had to arise from within each one of us, directly, numinously, and could not be achieved by the imposition of or the striving for some political, some social, ideology or by adherence to some pre-existing religious world-view. It certainly could not be achieved by trying to resurrect some dead – and often some idealized – past tradition.

Thus, as you wrote:
the fixation on the biological view of race is one such symptom

In respect of Islam, I came to understand that for all its benefits, for all its intimations of the numinous in this materialistic modern world of ours, it was – had become – an abstraction, which individuals imposed upon themselves and mightily strove to follow and adhere to in the hope of Jannah, and that, and unfortunately, even a desire to return to the perceived, the original, fundamentals – as manifest for instance in the modern awakening that was Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah – was not and never could be the numinous, the evolutionary, the ethical, the correct philosophical, answer, just as what one might described as the more natural, the less abstract, the less dogmatic, perhaps the more human, approach of Sufism was not, ultimately, the answer either.

Which answer, for me, is the simple one of empathy, compassion, personal honour, and of ourselves as one nexion, one fragile connexion to all Life, with there being no need for the abstraction of some biological folk, no need for some suffering-caused concept of struggle and dominance, no need to project blame on others for our own failings, no need for assumptions such as Jannah, no need to strive to adhere to some rigid principles or rules laid down by someone else in some past. Instead, there is a being-human in a natural way – a knowing of each moment of life in its immediate personal reality (sans abstractions), and a gentle acceptance of just living empathically, honourably, within that immediate and personal reality.

Philosophically, this is the knowledge that our life – our conscious human life which we possess the ability, the faculties, to change – is no longer and of necessity bound to what Heraclitus described as polemos; to some interminable dialectic of conflict and thence to some abstraction, some ideal, some linear concept, named “progress”. The knowledge that one of the most common causes of suffering – and of the loss of the numinous, in our lives – is the assumption of linearity, of causal Time (linear cause-and-effect), implicit in all our human manufactured abstractions, and which abstractions we impose upon ourselves, which we project onto and impose on other human beings, and on the life with which we share this planet.

David Myatt
May 2010


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