Nathaniel on guidance and conscience

Nathaniel on guidance and conscience

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

6:50 a.m. I’m tired this morning. But – faith hope and charity? Or, something else?

Remember, there isn’t any “must” about this. When you don’t feel like doing it, you need not.

I haven’t had enough experience of long-term responsibility to be able to say confidently that what I want at any given moment is the best thing, for me, for anything larger than myself. A lack of external rules means leaning on nothing.

Still, it is an option. Any way of living is an option, and it is for you to judge how it suits you. Only – things like delineating seven prime errors are designed to help you avoid pitfalls that living has made obvious to your predecessors. They can save you from traveling many a wrong road, like street signs saying this road leads to here, not there.

Which is all well and good if you trust the authority that put up the signs, and if anybody ever takes the time to explain to you why this road brings you here and that one, there. Instead we get, “Don’t go down that road, because it’s wrong. And it’s wrong because we (or some others) say so.” It becomes a matter of feeling pushed around, especially when a part of us very much wants to see what’s down that road. Maybe feels a need to go down that road.

Understand that here you are talking about yourself in particular, because not everybody is puzzled or at sea until the “why” of things is explained to them. But, that said, neither are you the only one.

I take it, then, that some personalities or psychological structures, call them what you will, benefit from, prefer, hard and fast rules on an understood (i.e. taken for granted) absolute authority. And of course, writing that, I see I do [know]. My own fundamentalist son gives me the example.

What suits some is hell for others. But rules tend to be made by those who benefit from rules (that is, by those who require that rules exist to guide them; we don’t mean “benefit from rules” in any corrupt or dictatorial sense, though that can enter into it, as well).

I have long known that churches may be founded by mystics, but they are carried on by organizers. It’s the same process that may be seen in business, I suppose: The traits that lead to initiating a thing are not those required to maintain it. Nevil Shute Norway, who had the experience of it, wrote as much.

Well, you see, that is one of the things we are doing here, building bridges of understanding between two ways of seeing. Your mystics (though that isn’t really the right word here) want to know “why” before they follow rules. Your organizers want to know “on whose authority.” At first this is not a sharp conflict, because at the onset of any new understanding, the non-3D source of the understanding will be felt rather than only heard about. It is only later that it may become a matter of experience or submission to authority, which quickly becomes submission to authorities – that is, to human representatives of an institution organized around those original experiences and understandings that are no longer universally shared by those who are nevertheless willing to believe.

Yes. I’ve understood that for some while now. Inspiration translated into social action seems to have a limited shelf-life.

That’s no way to look at it. That is saying, “My way of apprehending reality is the only solid way,” which it certainly is not. What would you do with the great mass of people to whom these understandings [being given here] are impossible to grasp? You can give them rules of thumb, knowing that their natures will lead them to codify and calcify them, or you can give them nothing at all, knowing that what you will not provide, others with different measures and visions will. It really isn’t as simple as saying, “My way is right and theirs is wrong,” and it never is. Your way will be right for you – best case! And it will be no way at all, or will be a dangerous or even harmful way, for others.

Don’t they have their own non-3D guidance to lead them?

What do you think is leading them to be so certain they must follow rules?

You are saying, those of a certain nature will be so because their guidance leads them to be that way, not despite their own guidance.

Why should you expect it to be any different? People tend to downplay or even fear the tendencies opposite their own, but it is only prejudice, or, to be charitable, it is only preference. You who walk in places without paths may scorn those who stay carefully to whatever path they find, and vice-versa. You’re both acting naturally and you’re neither acting your best selves, in your scorn. It isn’t necessary, in order to follow your own bent, to condemn those whose bent lies in another direction, even a contradictory direction. It isn’t necessary; it is a great perpetual temptation.

All right, I see all that. The difficulty, though, is that believers in rigid rules always want the rest of us to adhere to them, and would enforce our consciences if they could, for our own good.

And there you have the Protestant position as it evolved five centuries ago. You in your loyalty to your [Catholic] heritage under assault from mistaken directions have tended to underestimate the degree to which right was on the side of those who rebelled in the name of freedom of conscience.

I suppose that’s so. Most of the Protestant criticisms of the Catholic church that I have seen in my time don’t –

Oh, that’s interesting! Of course! They aren’t well aimed because they are aimed against a church that relies on temporal power to enforce its views – and that view of the church is centuries out of date.

But when it was not out of date, it was not inaccurate, and if you in your present configuration had been involved in religious struggles then, you would have been firmly on the side of individual guidance –conscience – and hence would have been either a Protestant or at least an Erasmian. [That is, a follower of Erasmus. I had to look him up. Try]

Very interesting! Of course I would have been. And the reason I am not, today, is because the flaws in the argument are so obvious to me. The need for an institution to avoid the wild excesses caused by individual eccentricity is evident to me, as is the need for individual freedom from such institutions. It’s a balance – an impossible tension of opposites – and I don’t like fanatics who take only one side and refuse to see the merits and necessities of the other.

So maybe you have learned something.

Maybe so. Though, I knew all this. I hadn’t put it together in just this way.

Remember, you are a long way from living in a civilization with a common, coherent, accommodative point of view. You will never see it. Your job – all of you alive now and for some time to come – is to explore possibilities, to find truths and not “the truth.”

I got the strongest impression – very nearly a visual image – of someone in ecclesiastical robes, and thought of Bishop Sheen, who used to teach on network television in the 1950s. What’s that about?

Although he was teaching doctrine, was he not attempting to explain, to set out, to reach individual minds that he could never meet, let alone have any authority over? That is the proper procedure for this period of history, only with the emphasis on the provisional nature of knowledge (even of conscience) rather than emphasis on the reliable nature of the source. It is always going to be a tension of opposites – the message as its own authority, the message as endorsed by someone or some body of persons conferring that authority.

You may choose to (or your own psychological makeup may all but force you to) choose one or the other of the two, but best if you can preserve the knowing that both halves of any duality have legitimacy. You’ll be less of a fanatic, less unbalanced, the more you remember that.

Well, I’ve always said that the reason The Monroe Institute suited me was that you didn’t have to profess any belief – even a tentative belief – to get in the door and proceed to have experience. Clearly the trainers knew things, but there was no attempted indoctrination. In fact, there was an on-going resistance to people generalizing from their experience to form rules. It suited my disposition.

Yes, very Protestant of you.

All right, I’m smiling too. Well, we never got to faith hope and charity, but very interesting as usual. Till next time.


7 thoughts on “Nathaniel on guidance and conscience

  1. LOL to that ending (e.g., I grew up Protestant).

    This was very good, Frank. I appreciate you holding forth your own position or perspective throughout the conversation today. That resulting tension brought forth many clarifications for me. Thanks!

    Present day obviously has its newer versions of Catholics vs. Protestants (whatever you want to label those comparisons). Balance applies to these differences too. Really good!

    At the beginning today, I was reminded of how I grew up with the strong corrective message that “the more you do, the more you are worth”. This message seemed to be everywhere growing up. Eventually I discovered later in the life (it was clarified for me) that the Universe appears to operate much differently (e.g., being not doing). It is more akin to “the better I feel (e.g., being), the more I allow”.

    This material from Nathaniel continues to feel good. It requires some wrestling, but it feels good (it resonates).

  2. Frank,
    “ … you are a long way from living in a civilization with a common, coherent, accommodative point of view.” Again, why did I pick this time to be human? 

    This post is seminal for me, with the ‘sparks’ causing massive flow from guidance. The individual points aren’t new, but as you say “I hadn’t put it together in just this way.” … and that context/’putting it together’ makes all the difference!

    1. The answer, of course, is because we’re stupid! 🙂 Or, gluttons for punishment. Or, just possibly, we came here to help out.

      As always, Jim (and others) it is tremendously reinforcing to know that these posts help others.

  3. Hello Frank.

    Watching a BBC documentary(filmed in the U.S.)about The Scientology “Church” on A Danish TV-Channel yesterday evening. I have seen it once before upon The National Geographic Channel — The BBC-journalist Louis Theroux is extremingly GOOD at doing the interviews.
    In fact, the “brainwashing” is more widespread amongst us than we are aware of….

    And thank you as always for all the splendid EDUCATIONAL information.
    In Denmark Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-55) works became influential in the nordic countries. A well –
    known religious philosopher. I know Calvinism is still practized in the Netherlands, while Lutheranism became practized in Scandinavia. They were “A State-Religion.” And all other “religions” practized outside of The State-Religion was done in secrecy more or less. “The Secrecy” lasted not for long as the population were few- and soon “the rumours” flourished….Therefore all those small religious and private groups moving over the Atlantic to America to practize their own religions.

    BTW: I have read two of the books by Nevil Shute, in my youth. The books are translated into Norwegian. Nevil Shute was a well-known author, also in Scandinavia.
    Wonder if I still to have the books somewhere ?

    1. Nevil Shute Norway’s books are wonderful, even disregarding his surname. 🙂 I’ve read all but one which I have been unable to find yet, and his biographical memoir, Slide Rule.
      Kierkegaard is considered one of the fathers of the existentialism movement, if I remember rightly. Haven’t read him.

      1. — Frank? I haven`t thought about Nevil Shute in MANY YEARS. But I have read SEVERAL of his books when to remember back in time. I have called my sister, and she inherited the Nevil Shute books from our parents(they had lots of books). But my sister told me to never reading them – well, my sister and I am NOT of the same interrests but good friends anyway. She is doing the sports activities all her life and no time for to read.

        But my sister did find 6 old books by Nevil Shute in her book-shelves: Pastoral(1944), An old captivity(1940), Stephen Morris-Pilotage I – II(written 1924, published 1961), Vinland the good(filmscript 1946) and A Town called Alice.

        When it comes to one of the last names such as “Norway”— if not to recall it all wrong, but to have heard it is a small place in Ireland called “Norway.” The ancient meaning of the word “Norway” is of course “the way North.”

        P.S. I have only read the biography and some lectures about Kierkegaard as we were forced to do it at the college….As a teenager it felt very boring…and laughing when thinking about it…. Surfing the college at large.
        LOL, Inger Lise

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