Monday, August 29, 2005

Higher Consciousness

What most of us want? IMO it comes to no two people in exactly the same way.

When I was a wee child, just becoming conversant with the outer world, I heard one name on people lips more than any other, Will Rogers, said to be the best loved man of his generation.

The link contains some of his sayings, but the one I remember is "I never met a person that I didn't like". Ah, how I would love to be able to say that, but it's such a long way I am.

Another man of the same type was Walt Whitman. He made many thrilling statements, but the one that haunts me is here (on page 48):
"And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and about death.)

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then, In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,

I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever."
(Song of Myself)

A famous book named Cosmic Consciousness was written by Dr. Richard M. Bucke (1837-1902). He described people he thought had achieved the higher consciousness.

It definitely has a spiritual dimension. It happens when you know you're right (special meaning to that word-- a theological meaning).

It's also closely related to mental activity. Call it getting high (in the old days we drunks would get high (happy) by anesthetizing our inhibitions, but the older you get the less effectual that will prove to be, so you just get more and more infantile).

The practicing Christian may get happy in a truer sense when they feel the presence of God. What most of us want? Certainly what I want.

I practice silence
This morning, sitting in a lazy boy, waiting for a chance to begin breakfast, afflicted somewhat by my asthma, I tried silence; it made me sleepy; that's not what I want, I want God. Well then, try some sort of encouragement, like the 23rd psalm: thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.

Hmn, what does that mean? Getting the rod is not very pleasant. Yeah! tough love. P.O. love.

You know what? I got high. I turned on my computer and began to try to share my high with you. God bless you.

What kills it? For me it's most apt to be anger, really quick tempered-- after all these years. Gotta stop that!

For a younger man it might be lust: drooling over a pretty form who goes tripping across the floor (Oliver Wendell Holmes), but it does no good, unless sex is your God, in which case it will have the same kind of diminishing returns as booze.

For us spiritual types? Maybe failure to forgive, inability to forgive. That will rob you of a higher consciousness about as quick as anything. It's called resentment. Generally speaking it's unChristian.

Higher consciousness? continuous? that's when you get to heaven, here or hereafter!


eden said...

very interesting scripture.....
you have a very nice blog!

kiznath said...

interesting post... i appreciate the honesty.

i find that what gets in the way of experiencing God closely is me. my wants, my fears, my insecurities. if only i had this, i would be able to understand God better. if only i were worshipping with different people, different music. it becomes more about me than anything else. and the more it's about me, the harder it is to be about other people - which is where i tend to find God.

Twyla said...

Interesting post. I like the free form way you skipped from one thought to another.

What most negatively affects my experience of the Divine? I've got to say, it must be apathy. Just that lazy, slothful sleepy way of aimlessly passing through the day with no awareness, no sensitivity to the Divine breathings and gifts showered and not seen. I seem to be perpetually pinching myself awake.

Larry said...

Thank you, dear friends for your warm and creative comments. I, too, have long suffered from the problems you've named, the fears and the apathy.

I do believe that it helps enormously to become aware of and 'confess' these impulses; I believe that is about half of the battle of overcoming them.

Paul said...

Whitman's poetry - at least in Leaves of Grass, I think his best known - is the best example of "extrovertive mystical experience" I know. In other words, the sense of Oneness that comes from meditation or contemplative prayer, but happening with your eyes open instead of closed.

Larry said...

Thanks, Paul. Whitman was my favorite poet until I was introduced to Blake. He was raised in a Quaker family of course, and became what I call a radical non-establishment Christian.

Jesus was certainly a mystic, and he invited all his followers to be mystics. In reality anyone who prays is a mystic.

The mature Christian experience, as I understand it, involves frequent (ideally continuous) conscious relationship to God. The goal is to 'pray without ceasing' or to 'practice the presence of God'. These are mystical experiences, admired from a distance by most of those in the 'Christian community', practiced most overtly by Blake and Whitman.

crystal said...

Hi Larry. I saw this page in my travels ... Christopher Rowland on Blake and the NT ... and I thought you might be interested in a look.

Larry said...

Thank you so much, Crystal. That is a real gift to me. I couldn't bring up your link due to "cookie" problems, but I found Christopher Rowland with google and came up with this masterpiece, a marathon reading of 'Jerusalem' (Blake) with different students reading certain characters' parts (abut 24 hours I think).

Rowland is an Oxford professor who has majored on the theology of Blake (as I did abut 20 years ago). Maybe I'll send him a copy of my book (manuscript).

Thanks again.l

crystal said...

Larry, I didn't notice the first time I looked, but you have to pay to get the pdf file of the article. Here's the little blurb about it ...

Blake and the Bible: Biblical Exegesis in the Work of William Blake

Abstract: William Blake's biblical interpretation relied on allusive, imaginative and even prophetic modes. Here this is explored through his vision of the divine in Europe: A Prophecy and by exploring his views on the relationships between the testaments. In the first part, a comparison of his vision with the book of Revelation shows similarities in imaginative attempts to subvert ingrained religious assumptions. In the second, Blake's ambiguous attitude towards the Old Testament, coloured by his sustained polemic against religion and law, is discussed. Finally, some thoughts on the continued relevance of Blake's imaginative exegesis are offered.

I only noticed it because Mark Goodacre mentioned (in his blog) the article being given at a New Testament seminar he's attending.

Mark Walter said...

Larry, a post about consciousness seems an appropriate spot to leave this link. It is the delayed answer to a question you left on my site.

M said...

i'm happy to discover your blog, happy old man. you sound like you have chosen a most appropriate moniker for yourself.

i've read "cosmic consciousness" too and i am (un)fortunate to be living with someone who says he has experienced it. a mighty difficult person to understand, love, and live with.

will be visiting here often. it is comforting to read the words of one who has lived long and (it seems to me) kindly and wisely.

peace and blessings be upon you, and upon all of us!

Larry said...