Friday, June 8, 2018
2:50 a.m. If I keep sleeping so much of the day, I’ll be entirely turned around and will be getting up at midnight. But in any case, I’m ready to go. Prayer and the vast impersonal forces?
3:30 p.m. (After an interval to finish the Sandford I was reading.) So –?
We realize that it is common in your society to think that religion is only a cynical con-game, or a business, or superstition. It can be any of these, but the same could be said of any human activity. Let us look at it in its purest and most useful form. The image of American and British churches being filled on D-Day entered your mind recently; let’s center on that.
We said we would present a view of prayer different from religious assumptions or secular ones. Let us look at prayer as ritual designed to align the individual with the group and the group with – well, with what can only be called personal / impersonal forces, but that will require explanation. It may not be easy, because we – even more than you – are well aware of your society’s prejudices in this matter. You are all still in reaction against your idea of what religion was or is. That strong bias makes it difficult to get a new slant across. At the same time, that pervasive bias creates by reaction a form of religion that is law- and group-think-bound, relatively impervious to argument.
Our effort will try to describe these forces, these relationships, without recourse to traditional words like God that are so loaded. In a situation such as your time is in – the culmination of social forces centuries in the making – the very words mislead because they are emotionally tied to streams of logic and of conviction and of emotional investment that have nothing to do with logic but are nonetheless (or perhaps we should say, therefore) unarguable.
Remember what we are doing: We are explaining the link between the individual and the external world, and that external world is in the All-D, not merely the 3D, no less than you as individuals. Nothing can be in the 3D alone, as we have pointed out. You must be in all dimensions if you are in any. Therefore, do not imagine that “the world” however you conceive it, can be merely material. It must, will, does extend into the non-3D if it exists at all. To us this is as obvious as height width and depth are to you as the 3D, but for some reason people keep losing sight of the fact: Everything is “spiritual” as well as “material.” You – and we – live in one world, not two. If you lose sight of this fact, any way you make sense of the world is going to be wrong.
There is no Heaven (nor Hell) elsewhere. There is no God, no Devil, elsewhere. There are no “spiritual” forces, no angels, demons, genii, elsewhere.
But – and here is the gist – the fact that there is no “elsewhere” is not to say there are no such beings or conditions. It is to say that in separating them in your mind, you distort relationships.
“God’s in his Heaven, all’s right with the world,” people say. even though all could scarcely be less right with the world.
Only, concentrating on how other people are wrong is not a good way to triangulate on what is right. Better to correct the concepts and look at the result.
Now, in the first place, nobody really knows what they mean when they say “God.” There are so many definitions, so many attributes, so many associated ideas, they really literally do not know what each other means by the word itself, let alone what the word is supposed to stand for. And, we say “they” but we might as well say “we,” and “you.” This is why we rarely use the word. How much good does it do to use a word when no two people have an idea what it means?
In practical terms, people do, or think they do. Those people in churches praying for Allied soldiers on D-Day couldn’t have defined God, maybe, but they knew who they were praying to.
That’s a matter of definition. If you mean, “They had a common emotion which they aimed at the deity as they were used to thinking of him” (scarcely as “it”), yes, but that doesn’t say much. Catholics, Protestants, Jews might have had a hard time agreeing on who they were praying to, only the emotion of the moment overcame such differences and focused them on their common awareness of their reliance upon a higher power.
But none of this gets to it.
No, I agree. The words don’t convey your sense of it.
If it were easy to convey the sense of it, it would have been done definitively long ago, even despite the difficulties of prejudice.
Let’s try this, sticking to the image of the filled churches on D-Day (and on VE-Day for that matter, though the nature of prayer then was of thanksgiving rather than supplication) – and on Dion Fortune’s group wielding magic to defend their island home.
I see your strategy, I think: By beginning with images rather than definitions we can perhaps escape the tyranny of sequential description even though we have only words to employ.
It may work, it may not. Let’s see.
The church image shows one way that people connect with the vast impersonal forces that shape their lives – forces that are experienced as personal forces when approached that way. Is this much clear?
I wouldn’t have thought of it that way, but yes, clear. Without a sense of God, without an over-arching force that can be approached and perhaps influenced, there would only be an impersonal world of indifferent forces.
That’s right, and that is the world inhabited by those who have rejected organized religion but have been unable to see the reality the religion was created to deal with. This is the world of your “hard-headed realist,” your materialist who, as someone said, “believes in No God, and worships him.”
Contrast the image of the churches filled with congregations united in prayer to a personal God with the image of Dion Fortune’s group – physically separated by distance, but meditating by arrangement at the same hour of one day of the week. Those groups meditated on an image. They weren’t petitioning a divine force to come to their assistance; they were aligning themselves with an image of a desired result and seeking to pull the result into being.
Not sure that’s how they would have described it, and they certainly used vivid images such as someone – was it St. Michael? – patrolling England’s shores, guarding it from harm. I should re-read The Magical Battle of Britain, that describes the practice. Gareth Knight, if I remember rightly.
Here’s the thing. Both approaches were attempts to channel the currents of the times, to use human magical powers to effect external results. In both cases, prayer gave leverage.
I remember reading that Roosevelt prayed for our soldiers and sailors in a radio address, something that probably couldn’t be done today in our desacralized climate.
In effect, Roosevelt was acting as high priest, leading his people in united prayer, and on that Tuesday in 1944, probably few if any held themselves aloof from the emotion, regardless what they may have thought of him or of the idea of a God or of prayer as an activity. Those whose belief (or whose disbelief, perhaps we should say) rendered them unable to pray, hoped, and perhaps that wasn’t so different. [“Yearned, I think, would be a better word than hoped.]
What we are trying in all these many words to give a sense of is that praying is a magical ritual that does not depend upon one’s definition nor upon one’s moral character. Hitler, in effect, prayed. More than any politician of his time, he used magic to channel emotion and thus transform reality. If he had been able to use those same forces to channel good rather than evil, he would have gone down in history as a great man who did good things. Like Caesar, perhaps, or like certain aspects of Napoleon. But you must be careful what you pray for: If you invoke hatred and channel your resentments and seek to destroy your enemies –
The saying is, “If you go to take revenge, dig two graves.”
Precisely. Churchill, by contrast, though a man of many failings and blind spots, aligned himself with good and not evil. That did not prevent him from countenancing evil deeds, but it did preserve his alignment.
Our hour is up, but I get the sense that you haven’t really been able to say anything yet of what you want to say.
It’s the same old story: Little by little gets it done.
Well, we thank you for continuing to make the effort, and we’ll see you next time.