History of Consciousness and the Incarnation

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Part of "Spirituality in a Secular World: Poetry and Wisdom"

2. History of Consciousness and the Incarnation

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Since everybody's mind is bright and shining this morning, we can kind of try to get the general vision. So this morning will be a little more, what do you call it, a little more theoretical in a sense, but I hope it'll be simple, because what we're after is a kind of simplicity right to the center. Let's read a couple of poems first, and then we can pick them up later on if need be and comment on them a little bit, but first I'd just like to read them all. There are three by Mary Richards, The Last Sheep, or Your Sheep, with the numbers B1, B2, and B3 on them. Let's just take a look at those. Now, these exemplify participation in an intense way. She's always moving in two directions in the world. One is a kind of explosive creativity, a kind of absolute, restless ferment in dealing with images and coining new images and relating improbable things, and the other is this unitive


sense that she has, that it's all one somehow, and she's just stirring the pot, as it were, giving it a new configuration. The first two there actually are on consecutive pages, and I believe that they're meant to go together, the poet and the potter. She's got an interesting history. She was an English professor, a professor of English history, and a poet who became a potter. In other words, she wanted somehow to get more incarnate, she wanted to get in touch with the earth. But she continued writing poetry, of course, so she does poetry and she does pottery. Poet. I put on my poet's shirt and birds fly through. Birds perch in me and their throats tremble. Their high singing builds in me a whistling love. Clothes are the sheaths of my being. So many old dreams of changing dress, unable to decide, always late for the occasion, what to wear. Now the dreamer is at rest. She wears the nests, the eaves, and orchards. Wears the tall pine of the white-throated sparrow in the city walk-up, the gutters and


sills. Understanding a language she does not know, hearing is inaudible. Potter. This flat plate, this ladle and bowl, clay whirled on a wheel, raised slowly to the table. Straight and curved, our primal gestures take and give, speak out about the way we stand and breathe. Every leaf is saucer for the bread. Every falling drop prepares its cup. Always we are eating and drinking earth's body, making her dishes. Potters like sun and stars perform their art. Endowed with myth, they make the meal holy. Behold. Behold, behold, in the eyes of the sea the spell is spoken. Watery creatures we are, living on land.


How full of fire and air, fluid and crystalline, so form our lives are the dreams of the world. Each coming through the door of self, we carry rays of light reciprocal. We gather into one to make a truth. Each shining bit an offering of the sun. What inner hunger rises toward the good? What inner source unfolds the mandala we learn? Now here like artists in our search, we make a vessel for the spirit's birth. Behold. Behold, the mystery whose music is our song. Weep. Be innocent. Forgive. Press on. The song sings us. We are its tune. And a couple of things from Wallace Stevens. And this is in connection particularly with the other side of what we're talking about. Not just the participation, but the newness.


The kind of cut, the break there is between a receptive participation and a participation where you somehow have to make it new. Where somehow the gift and the responsibility is on you for new creation. So you have to somehow draw it out of the nothing. You have to draw it out from the invisible. This is another kind of faith. As if we've got two kinds of faith. One faith is that which is given to you and which at a certain point is very solid in your hands. Like the name of Jesus. Like the fact, the reality of Christ. If you saw it as a rock, then I think it's a faith. The other faith is the faith in which you have to bring forth out of nothing. The faith after that has disappeared. After that has crumbled in your hands. And you don't have that solid grip. You don't have that solid hold anymore. And somehow you have to do it. It's like when Jesus says in the Gospel, when he's about to multiply the bread, he says, well, they tell him, well, all these people are there. You need to send them away. He says, were you given something to eat? You're given something to eat.


And then he proceeds to do the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. He feeds 5,000 people out of five loaves and two fishes or something like that. He says, you're given something to eat. That's the lesson, I think. That bread is still multiplying, but we're supposed to be multiplying it. We're supposed to be breaking it. And the bread is also the images. The bread is also the familiar. The bread is what we have, which has to be broken up so that the new can come forth. And Stephens was not a religious person throughout his life. He was at the end, it seems. And so he takes this other side, the kind of resolute absoluteness, this side of making the new, of rejecting the old, even to the extent of rejecting Christianity, which he only reconciled himself with at the end. Because when he came, the Christianity he came into, he found to be dead. And he said, well, that's not where it's at. Religion is dead. Let's make a new religion. So his religion was poetry, which sounds pretty strange.


But somehow he got somewhere with it. Somehow he broke through with it. He really got something. This is called Of Modern Poetry, and it's 239 of the Collected Poems. The poem of the mind in the act of finding what will suffice. That's what it's about for him, once you don't have the old assurances. It has not always had to find. The scene was set. It repeated what was in the script. Then the theater was changed to something else. Its past was a souvenir. It has to be living to learn the speech of the place. It has to face the men of the time and to meet the women of the time. It has to think about war, and it has to find what will suffice. It has to construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage, and like an insatiable actor, slowly and with meditation, speak words that in the ear, in the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat exactly that which it wants to hear, at the sound of which an invisible audience listens,


not to the play but to itself, expressed in an emotion as of two people, as of two emotions becoming one. The actor is a metaphysician in the dark, twanging an instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly containing the mind, below which it cannot descend, beyond which it has no will to rise. It must be the finding of a satisfaction, and maybe of a man skating, a woman dancing, a woman combing, the poem of the act of the mind, which is a new creation in theological terms. And he knows that without knowing, in a sense, where it comes from. He's got another poem, which I won't read to you, for all the sides on the oval, but it begins like this. The prologues are over. It is a question now of final belief. So say that final belief must be in a fiction. It is time for you to imagine final belief in a fiction. You see that second faith, the faith in what you have to bring forth, the faith in creation,


the faith in that which isn't given to you, except in the seed that's put into your heart. We were talking about history yesterday, in terms of participation, and this is Barfield's language, and I'm going to be depending a lot this morning on Barfield's book, Saving the Appearances. He's got several books in which he more or less gives the same vision, but this one, I think, pulls it together most completely. It's the latest of a series of three or four. Saving the Appearances, a Study in Idolatry. Idolatry for him is literalism. There was an old idolatry in which the idols were in some way representative. In other words, they were participating. But the new idolatry is like the idolatry of even a scientific literalism which allows nothing to be there beyond what you see, nothing beyond what you can measure. So this morning I want to talk sort of about the pivot


of this history of participation. And I encourage you to think about this afterwards, because I think it cuts very deep into history. If we have trouble reading ancient things, ancient texts, even in the New Testament, let us say, it's largely because it's the language of participation, and we are born in an age of non-participation. It's the language somehow of a unitive understanding in which when you talk about one thing, you talk about everything. A language which is essentially poetic, which is essentially symbolic, which is essentially resonant, so that one word resonates with a lot more, carries a lot more with it. As a very deep, as it were, invisible underwater, teal to it. And that's not the way our language is, that's not the way our thinking is. And that's why things, actually, ancient writings seem so dumb to us, really. So we want to talk about the pivot, the turning point, and we're proposing that that pivot,


that turning point of Jesus Christ is the Incarnation, the Incarnation of the created Word of God. There are several stages, as it were, of initiation we have to go through into this. To understand that the Incarnation is really the Incarnation of the Word of God, what does that mean? It means there's a wisdom, a divine wisdom, a unitive wisdom, a wisdom which is the root, not only of all understanding, but the root of all things, the root of all creation, which has appeared, which has come into the world, which has revealed itself in some way. That Logos, that Word of God. See, we've lost touch with that. We've lost touch with the participative sense of Word itself, which is what it brings with us. There's a kind of infinite resonance when it's used in the New Testament in John's book. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was God. And all things came from Him. Not one thing came into being except through Him. It's the created Word. That's the second stage in the Incarnation. It doesn't just come in sort of to be there and to be monumentalized in a static religion.


It comes in there to make the world over. He says, I make all things new. I make all things new. If we need a Christology today, and even the word Christology, it's got this ology on the end of it. It's got this kind of shadow, this heavy deal that it carries with us, this ology. We've got so many ologies. If we need a Christology today, it's the Christ of fire. The Christ which is fire. The Christ which is a creative energy. The Christ who comes to put this quantum of energy, of transforming energy into the world, so that it can really be made new. And in what way is it made new? It's made new somehow, because something has been put into the human heart. Something has been put into the human person, so that from the center of this creation, of this first creation, the human being can make it new. But what is that newness? What is that newness? The newness is like the ferment, the leaven, which is put into the dough, which is God himself or God herself.


The newness is that God is in it. God is not outside of it, but God is in it. God has always been in it. God has always been in the dough, working in the dough. But there's a quantum change, a quantum leap with the coming of Christ. I have this image of it. He brings this great photon, this great quantum of energy and of light, and plants it, sinks it right into the earth, sinks it right into the human being, into the human body, into the human heart. And from there, the creation begins to be made over again. You know, Teilhard, it's the people who have tried that difficult job of reconciling Christianity with evolution who seem to see this best. One of them is Teilhard, and the other one is Barfield, the two that I have in mind. Teilhard talks about the movement from cosmos to cosmogenesis. In other words, from a universe which has been created and which goes along, to a universe within which, and which evolves, maybe better said, to a universe within which the evolution continues through human freedom


and human creativity. In other words, within the evolving world, something happens so that its evolution begins to be determined, begins to happen from within itself rather than, as it were, from outside of itself. It's not just the momentum that it receives, as if in the Big Bang it was shot out of a cannon like a cannonball. It's not just that momentum of evolution that carries it along, but from within it, it begins to develop with a freedom, with a kind of whimsicalness, but with the characteristic of a free, spontaneous creation proceeding from within the human person. Because the human person is the point within the cosmos where it reflects upon itself. It's the point, it's the crystal at the center of the universe where the light comes back upon itself and when that light comes back upon itself it's like a nuclear reaction. It's like a chain reaction in some way in which, at the center of the universe,


the creative energy itself explodes. And so the universe begins to be transformed from within itself. And we see that when we have these issues, you know, of technology and morals, let's say, the issues of birth control and things like that. When the human person begins to be able to determine, actually, the course of nature or to interfere, to intervene in the course of nature, we have a whole new world of moral questions that open before us. Because the creation of the world is now proceeding, has broken through and is proceeding from the hearts and minds of human persons at the center of the world. This is what Adam sort of is given to do in the world. Not just to keep it clean, not just to pick up the leaves and keep it tidy and to weed it, but actually to bring it into nearness with the light, the kind of invisible light of divinity that's put within it, which in knowing nothing somehow knows all things. It's as if this gift has two sides to it.


And one side is the unitive experience itself, which I would connect with baptism. What happens in baptism? If you read early Christian literature, you find that they're often obsessed with baptism because that's when it happened. Everything that they have, everything that's new, came out somehow of that immersion in the waters. An immersion in the waters, which is a new creation of the individual, in which somehow the individual realizes the divine light within itself. They talked about it as illumination. And the first day, the first moment of creation is repeated, as the light shines not from outside, but from inside the very center of one's being, so that one realizes that one is light in some way. And out of that light comes everything else. The first moment, the moment of baptism, is the moment of that realization, that experience of the divinity of one's own being. Because Christianity is deification. Christianity is the divinization of the human person,


which is very hard for institutional structures and people to handle, because it essentially is free of mediation. It really doesn't need structures. It needs them and doesn't need them. It needs them as a kind of pedagogue. It needs them as a kind of school, a kind of elementary school. It needs them as a temporary shelter and guide, and in a sense as a permanent reference. But there's something there. The essence is free of that mediation. The essence is the fact that God has become human, and therefore humanity has become divine. And part of it is that unitive experience itself. The simple experience of depth, or of inwardness, or of light, which is impossible to put into words, but which is very much related to the East. Not only to Eastern Christianity, but to the East of Hinduism and Buddhism. Related to the non-dual experience that we were talking about yesterday. That's one side of this. The other side of it, which I would relate more to the Eucharist. The reason for this is that in the Eucharist,


human hands are somehow making something. It's like a repetition, a gesture itself, of the second account of creation, when God takes the earth into his hands and breathes his spirit into it, and it becomes a human person. But it's human hands, somehow, in the Eucharist. It's a human thing, bread. It's given to us somehow. It's given to us to speak the words. It's given to us somehow to break and to communicate. And Jesus says, therefore you give me something to eat, you feed him. Now that, I think, at least I'd like to connect with this creative gift, this creative fire, that is given to the human person, that is injected into the human person, in the coming of Christ. And so, when we celebrate the Eucharist, in a sense we're returning to that center where the new creation occurs and where it remains present like a fire in the middle of us. And we're hearing that word once again. Well, you do it. You do it. You go out and make it new. Here it is.


This matter is the body of the risen Jesus. Now you go out and make it real in the world. Okay. That's a kind of picture of what I conceive to be the center of this. Let's look at Barfield's version of this, which I have a lot of respect for, as you can see. I'm going to read you something which sums up just in a paragraph what he's saying. Barfield sees the evolutionary process as moving between two poles. It goes from original participation, which is a unitive participation, but it's passive and it's purely receptive. It's like the human person is still the pupil, the learner in the world. Remember Paul? He says you were under pedagogy. You were in the hands of teachers until now. But now you've been set free in Jesus Christ.


What Barfield's talking about is the creative dimension of this freedom. Creativity is another level of freedom, which Paul doesn't talk much about, but he does it. When Paul has to take the gospel, which at that point is in a Semitic culture, a Semitic language and a biblical understanding, he has to take that and he has to translate that into Gentile terms and has to speak and write in Greek. That's an act of creation. See, he's taken this thing which is simple within himself, this gospel which has been inserted like a media or something into him, and he's translating that into a whole new world, a whole new language, into the world language of the Gentiles. That's a new creation. And so Paul is one in the New Testament who has a very special knowledge of what this new creation means. When he says you're neither Jew nor Greek, you're neither male nor female, you're neither rich, what is it, enslaved nor free, but you're all one in Jesus Christ, that's his global sense of this new creation.


It's a new ballgame because of this which has been given to you. And he translates it along the line of Jew and Greek, moving from a Jewish culture and a biblical cloister, almost, of revelation. He punches through that wall against a lot of resistance, punches through the law and goes out to the Gentiles and recreates it there. It's like a seed which is planted in the ground and comes up in a totally new form. And so he's got a kind of what we call primordial knowledge and experience of this creative act. It goes from original participation, a passive and purely receptive, somewhat dreamlike, primitive relation with nature, with the cosmos, to final participation, which is a regained, unitive relation of nature, of cosmos, but one which is free, voluntary, deliberate, and therefore creative. It somehow is able to move around within us, not something that's fixed anymore,


this relationship to the cosmos. And particularly we're free with respect to the images. You can think of an idol in ancient days as being some kind of, what would you call it, an image that you received that you really couldn't mess with. It was an inheritance which was given to you like, I don't know, almost like something physically which you inherited, and your freedom didn't really relate to it. And then Israel comes along and just smashes that flat, just wipes that out, just cleans the slate and says, forget it, God's not in that. And then something else starts, which is a relation to the images, which is now free and creative, so that they begin, if not to come out of you, at least to move in the energy and the light in which you bring to them, the light of freedom which you bring to them. This free, voluntary, deliberate, and creative relationship with the world is what he calls imagination. For Barfield, the turning point


between these two forms of participation is the incarnation of the Word in Christ. Israel had been given the mission, he says, and this is pretty radical, of destroying original participation. Does that seem true to you? What happens in the Old Testament? You've got this astonishing fact of one nation which doesn't have any idols, doesn't have any images, and which has almost the vocation of smashing idols, and some strange relationship with God which is no longer through things in space, but through words and time. A relationship no longer through the eye, through images, but through the ear. A relationship which has become personal, and which is mediated somehow through the name of God, the revelation of the name of God, and which gradually becomes interiorized, so that that reality of God, which is conceived of behind the Word,


in the Word, through the Word, then is realized within oneself. And this is underneath the letter of the Old Testament, and comes out fully in the New Testament. Israel had been given the mission of destroying original participation. He says in another place of really interiorizing original participation. I'll read you something from Barfield on that, which is wonderful. And this job is completed in our modern western scientific consciousness, which really has, just practically speaking, bulldozed the world, much of the planet, free of original participation. And it's like it makes a parking lot there, where everything is just what it is, and you can tell what it is. It's sodium chloride, you know. However, this scientific consciousness sets up its own idolatry, which is its literalism. See, its very loss of participation means that it's emptied the universe


out of all of these resonances, out of all of this other reality. It's absolutized the poor, simple, material things, which now become the idols of humanity. So our materialism would be a kind of fruit, our American materialism would be a kind of fruit of that destroying of original participation. We've been freed from one set of idols, one set of gods, as it were, in order to have a cheaper set, in order to have a kind of ersatz, humanly, what would you say, humanly ordered set in its place. Barfield sees the great conscious outbreak of creative imagination just after the scientific revolution in the Romantic movement, which, however, failed to understand its mission or to carry it through. But for him, that was a breakthrough of creative energy in the Western world in a freer way than science could do it. Science is already an expression of creativity, and science transforms the world.


The changes that we have in the world, the fact that we live in a kind of humanized and dehumanized at the same time, that new world that we live in is due to science and technology. That's a kind of first move of recreation. But a second wave would be a recreation which is really imaginative and is once again one with the reality, the matter with which it's dealing, one with nature, one with the cosmos. Instead of sort of blasting away at it from outside and above it. For him, that is Goethe and Steiner with their disciplines of active imagination who point the way towards final participation through creative imagination. Let me read you a few texts or snatches of texts of Barfield himself. The first one doesn't come from saving the appearances, it comes from the rediscovery of meaning. He's a lawyer for one thing. That sharpness of his mind probably has something to do with that. He's also a linguist, a philologist. And so he's describing how his study of words led him to see that something must have happened


at a certain point of time. And then finally he comes around to believe that that something is the incarnation. This is the way that he describes what happens at that point in history from the study of the evolution of language. This reversal in the direction of man's relation to his environment is changed from a period in which, with the help of language, the human person is drawing his self-consciousness out of the world around him to a period in which he is again, with the help of language, in a position to give back to nature something of the treasure he once took from her. So he sees the incarnation as the reversal of the relation of the human person to the universe, to the cosmos. Up to that point, humanity has been a pupil, a learner, has been absorbing, as it were, and he even uses the language of something like absorbing spiritual energy from the world. It's been learning from the things of the world. Like a cave painting would be typical. A cave painting of some kind of animal


in which the human person somehow, through imagination at this point, is somehow learning, is the pupil almost of that animal nature and whatever presents and what's in it, the kind of fullness that's in it, mana or whatever it is, the spiritual energy that it finds, and the whole totem tradition and so on would be typical of that. He sees the incarnation as the reversal of that in which the human person now has this center, this fire of creative energy within itself and begins to come back out into the world, recreating the world. So the movement of the energy and light is no longer from the universe into the person, the person being the pupil of the world, but it's coming out from the person into the world so that now the human person is, as it were, the teacher of the world. I think we have something like this


in our Christian theology, but it's not in terms of creation. But if you think of the analogies in Paul, for instance, from the law to the spirit, you've got the same kind of thing, but he's talking in terms of a Jewish shell of law, a Jewish shell of religious structure and revelation and organization and teaching of the structure of the rabbis and the scribes and the Pharisees and the whole deal. And the human person is pupil to that absolutized shell of revelation, which also becomes a frozen, rigid shell of revelation. God's Word, which has turned, in a sense, to stone. And the human person inside that building, inside that temple, somehow learning from that, but being imprisoned inside that structure. And the way Paul sees it, what happens when Jesus comes is that Jesus comes and through his death and resurrection and baptism, the Holy Spirit is put into the heart of the human person so that a new creation begins


from within the center of the person which simply dismantles that shell, which simply blasts it open. And instead of relating to a kind of building, a kind of structure of stone, you're relating to the earth. You're relating to the planet, to the world, to the universe. And that planet, that world is beginning to be recreated from within you. He doesn't develop this a lot, but he talks about it in certain points, like where he says, the God who said, let light shine out of darkness, remember the first moment of creation, is shown in our hearts. He's identifying the moment of his illumination or the moment of baptism with the moment of the first creation of the world. And he's been talking about a penetration of scripture from the outside into the center and then from the center, the creative energy moves forth into the world. So the new creation starts within the heart of man. Well, we're going through some pretty awful things. But the Holy Spirit, meanwhile,


is groaning in our hearts. And the Holy Spirit is groaning in the heart of the world because the whole world is being created. So what I'm experiencing within me, and especially the pressure of the creative spirit within me, is the same experience that the whole world is having. The whole cosmos is experiencing that childbirth, which is new creation. So my pain is a pain of new creation. Fundamentally, it's the pain of divine life trying to bring itself out into the world, trying to permeate the world. Here's another expression of Barfield. This was the moment at which the flow of the spiritual tide into the individual self was exhausted and the possibility of an outward flow began. The moment in which his true selfhood, his spiritual selfhood, entered into the body of man.


He sees it, actually, as the birth of the person, the birth of the soul, the birth of the human person as a subject, as a free, autonomous being within the world. I'm sure that would be contested. You can also take the Incarnation in a large sense and think of it as, in terms of that axial, what they call an axial age of the Aspers, where around the whole world something like this has happened, also in the Far East, also in Asia. Because we're talking about not just hundreds or thousands of years, but the whole scale here in the evolution of the universe is a question of hundreds of thousands of years and millions of years, isn't it? So this is only a moment in the whole thing. So we don't have to be too, what do you call it, too finicky about differences in space and time at this, close to this center. Part of the reason why I like this scheme of Barfield's is that it's so clear and so dramatic


and, in a sense, so verifiable. The fact that we find ourselves at the thin point, the fine point, the needle's eye, where there's very little or no participation between the original participation and the final participation. All the unity, he says, and coherence of nature depends on participation in one kind or other. If, therefore, man succeeds in eliminating all original participation without substituting any other, he will have done nothing less than to eliminate all meaning and all coherence from the cosmos. Well, there are certain schools of literary criticism which I think are doing just that right now. By that I don't mean to sound like the Inquisition or something. The deconstruction movement, as it chews itself to bits, is precisely doing that, in the sense it's seceded in eliminating all meaning from the world by an absolute relativizing of everything, an absolute kind of the interpretation of interpretation until there's nothing left. There's no possibility


of a root of truth, of a central axis of truth. There's no possibility of a center for everything. You spun off into space and just out there. Isn't the absolute position there that everything is relative? Yeah, I think so. That's it. That's it. And that idea of relativity is a very liberating perspective, you know. It's wonderful. But if you absolutize that, then that, in a sense, becomes an idol, which drives you into insanity, I think, somewhat. Drives us into observity and into a kind of terrible internal rage. Because we need meaning. We need a center. Thank you. He talks about the risk of returning to original participation, too. Of trying to go back.


And there's a lot of that. There's a lot of kind of over-simple return to relationship with nature, in which the uniqueness or the mission, the kind of vocation, the mandate of the human person has been forgotten in some way. Sometimes there's a subordinating, there's an attempt to, what do you call it, a kind of shame about being human, in which the place of the human person in the universe is put on the same level with everybody else, with the squirrels. Which is noble in a sense and virtuous, but also crazy, because we've got this central vocation in the world and we just can't get out of it. We can't renounce it. We can't abdicate it. And also we can't be happy, we can't be fulfilled unless somewhere we're in touch with it. So the more extreme versions of the ecological viewpoint


tend to do that. Deep ecology sometimes. Also some Christians take it that far. We're just another species which has gotten out of line. The systematic use of imagination then will be requisite in the future not only for the increase of knowledge but also for saving the appearances from chaos and inanity. Nor need it involve any relinquishment of the ability which we are born to experience and love nature as objective and independent of ourselves. That's something that we've won with this relinquishment of participation. We can stand at nature and look at it as... stand before it and look at it as other. This is obvious in the scientific thing, but it's also...


it's got a value of its own too. We can let the creatures be themselves without carrying that load of participation, without carrying that load of significance. Also we can look at other people and let them be themselves. We can value the concrete particular. And that's something that's very strong in contemporary poetry. Think especially of William Carlos Williams, but not only he. For any such relinquishment, that is, of that ability to recognize otherness, would mean that what was taking place was not an approach towards final participation, which is the proper goal of imagination, but an attempt to revert to original participation, which is the goal of pantheism, of mediumism, of much so-called occultism. To be able to experience the representations as idols, and then to be able to perform the act of figuration consciously so as to experience them as participated,


that is imagination. So, there's a little of his own jargon there which may not be clear. He's using the term imagination a couple of times when he's also referred to as the Romantic movement. Is he using it in the same way? No, he uses it in his own way, which is very close to the way the Romantic, it's understood in the general Romantic movement, but he would be closest to Steiner, probably, Rudolf Steiner. There are a couple of lines that seem to break out parallel in the time of the Romantic movement. One of them is Coleridge on one side in England, the other one is Goethe in Germany, and Steiner is a student of Goethe, and Barfield is a student of Steiner, and Mary Richards is a student of Barfield and Steiner. So, it's quite linear in a sense, you know, this particular kind of insult


about Christianity and about creativity. Coleridge is parallel but not the same in his understanding of imagination. Barfield connects it with this notion of final participation, and especially with the disciplines of active imagination, which Steiner has developed, I guess. I always get a little bit leery when Steiner gets into the act too much. I haven't been very successful reading Steiner, but I've got a lot out of Barfield. Here's something that leads to what happens in Israel if you wanted not to forget. What in fact happened, according to the record, at this turning point of time where he says the incarnation must have happened. In the heart of that nation, whose whole impulse it had been to eliminate original participation,


a man was born who simultaneously identified himself with, and carefully distinguished himself from, the creator of the world, whom he called the Father. On the one hand, I am not alone, but I am the Father that sent me. That's in John, of course. On the other, I and the Father are one, and so on. In one man, the inwardness of the divine name had been fully realized. The final participation whereby man's creator speaks from within man, the human person himself had been accomplished. The Word had been made flesh. I want to give you something about that interiorizing of the name, which is magnificent in the book. Now, he sees the name as the I Am, as the Yahweh revealed to Moses in Exodus, remember, at the burning bush. We could expand on that a lot. This ingathering withdrawal from participation, to which the Old Testament points,


was clearly then a very different matter from that ousting or suppression of participation, which has subsequently happened in the Western world through purely rational thinking. Indeed, it might be, with equal truth, be described as a concentration or centripetal deepening of participation. When God reveals himself as the I Am, after the earth, in a sense, has been wiped clean of participation through the created things, no images, just relating to God through the Word, just relating to God in this very human-seeming way, and then the revelation of the Word, the name of God as I Am. The name is very much connected with Word, remember, and Jesus is Word. What's happening there, as he sees it, is not the elimination of participation, but its concentration into this center, which is the human self. Because the resonance of that I Am is the I Am in yourself, your own being, your own


identity. So the new participation, the central participation here for him, is that resonance of the divine I Am, the divine self-identification, the divine being in your own being. And we can identify that with a baptismal experience. You see what I mean? The participation is the participation right through the bottom of your own self, the invisible, empty center of your being, into the invisible God, into the Father, as it were. I Am. That's why that moment in Exodus 3 is so important in the Old Testament. And that's why that image of the bush on fire is so significant, because the revelation of the name of God and the image of the bush are the same thing. That image of the bush with the fire in it, that's the fire that's burned the earth free of all other participation. It's the fire that burned out all the images, burned out all the idols, burned out every other mediation of the divine name, except the one from within that image of the bush,


which is nothing, a bush which is not even a tree, a bush which is not respectable, is not impressive, is not suitable to be an image, to be an idol. The bush, of course, represents humanity. But it's not just, say, the humanity of Jesus, it's our own humanity. The divinity which is able to dwell within us, without consuming us. But the other aspect of fire is that it's creative. Fire is energy, that's a transforming energy. So Jesus says, I came to bring fire to the earth. And I think that's what it is. He connects that revelation to Moses then with the revelation to Elijah, remember, in the cave, which is similar because they're both out in the same area, both identified as Sinai, something like that, where you have all these tremendous meteorological things and earthquakes and all that stuff happening, and the flame and everything. But God is not in any of that. God is finally in that still, small voice. It's going in the same direction. And here it continues in


images. The still, small voice, which is one with the I Am, which came to Moses. I Am, what kind of identification is that? What kind of name is that, you know? It's the name that burns up all names. It's the name that burns up all meaning. And leaves you with nothing but empty faith, or empty contemplation, or whatever you want to call it. But whatever it is, it's rooted in the center of our being, the invisible center of our being, which corresponds to the depths of God, which corresponds to the Father. So Jesus comes into the world and he says, I Am, doesn't he? He looks at us with human eyes. He speaks to us out of a human body, just like our own. And he says, I Am. And then he goes away. He goes away. He breaks the bread and he goes away and he leaves us with that. Leaves us with that I Am to discover within ourselves. And then out of that fire to


recreate everything else in some way. Which first we have to do simply by finding our own freedom before we try to transform the world. We may have to do all this in a very humble way. But it's given to us. Okay, I think I should stop at this point for a bit and see if there are some reactions and just give you a little rest from listening. We are talking about the fact that in Eucharist there is kind of a universal participation. But when I hear the prayer, I really protect us, our unity, God protect our unity. There is no unity in the church. A lot of division with others with the same thing. And also certainly the women are not allowed to


share what they should have. And so it seems to me like hypocritical. Well, I think the hypocrisy is supposed to be brought out by, for instance, the liturgy. By the scriptures and by what we do. It's supposed to bring out the hypocrisy. So if it does, that's good. But I've heard people say, well, we shouldn't celebrate the Eucharist, for instance, until we get it together. But I'm not sure that's true. It's like cutting off our nose, you know, plucking out our eyes in order to see better, until we can see better. Those are not good images, but there's a way of strangling ourselves out of indignation, or cutting off our source of nourishment, in a sense, you know, in order to correct the thing. It's supposed to make us restless, but it's not supposed to make us self-destructive in that way. It seems like the cleric may well say, I am and you're not.


For example, Saint Augustine was celebrating today. He says, holy man, I'm reflecting the image of God, not women. So I'm not going to celebrate Saint Augustine today. It's my way to say my prayers. But it's I can see that it's inevitable that there will be there is, I thought, good luck. Accelerating good luck. And please give me your offer. Yeah. The essential thing, I think, is to hold it together, is to be able to keep both sides together and let it work together. Contain the tension, to contain the violence and keep it together until it is transformed, until it comes out right. That's the difficult part. It's difficult on both sides. I'm going to talk more about the feminine thing I think in the last talk about Sophia and so on. Because what I'm giving you now is


a lawyer's version of this whole process. If we take it from a feminine perspective and talk about the feminine divine wisdom, it's a whole other way of looking at it, which I think is complementary to this. But let me give you this first. Some of the things you're talking about are that shell which is still being maintained. It's the church refusing to be a cosmic church. The church identifying itself as a male hierarchy, as basically an Old Testament structure, and refusing to become the transformation of the world. But it ain't easy. It's like trying to take one of those ancient churches and put a new foundation on it. Trying to go back to the beginning and start all over. Jesus talks about the stone that was rejected by the builders. That's said all the time. That stone is always asking to be recognized. Asking to be put at the beginning. But how do you put something


at the beginning without being born again? You talked about Jesus identifying himself as a father, and yet at some point also making it clear that he is somewhat distinct from the father. I think it's the intention, I think, of the fact that he said the scribes and Pharisees sitting in the seat of Moses, practice and observe all that they teach you. Do not follow their example. And the thing about you heard it said that you should not do this, but I tell you. So is that actually almost a deepening or a more in a sense, a more restrictive sense of the law that he's actually increasing that pressure? He makes the law more severe. It's terrifying because the law of just kind of doing a good, putting on a good show and helping giving something to the poor, you know, basically keeping your own security and so on and this and that.


That's fairly comfortable, at least if you're on top. But he comes along and he says no, you've got to love, you know. And you've got to love without restraint, without limit. And that's terrifying. Who wants to do that? Who wants to really live this amount of time? Yeah, I mean, you know, it's fairly easy for people even based on their disposition to not commit adultery. Sure. With their eyes. That's something. Or maybe they go for power. Maybe they just go the other way. They kind of get the same satisfaction in another direction. Jesus really, we tend to think of Christ as coming, especially in the Catholic Church, and setting up a beautiful structure of security for us, you know, creating the Rock of Gibraltar, or creating that insurance company which puts the Rock of Gibraltar on a station. Which one was it? Prudential. Prudential, yeah. But he ain't prudential, you know. He's something else. He comes into the world and he takes that apart. He comes into a Jewish situation which is just like that, you know, which is


the Bank of America. And he comes in and he just very deftly underlines the whole thing, you know, with his words, with his language. And sometimes very savagely, too. He says, you hypocrites, you know. Why get so hypocritical? And sometimes, very gently, just by teaching this other principle, and by putting that kind of fire in the hearts of people. So for 2,000 years, much of Christian churches have been able to identify itself with power, and with the rich, you know, and with those who are on top, and just ignore the murdering and torturing and oppression of the people, for instance, which is still going on in Latin America. I mean, wholesale, you know, like in Guatemala. Just ignore it, you know. The hierarchy goes along hand-in-hand with the powerful, and with the landowners, and so on. And the bishops, which is twin brothers with the rich. But we're beginning to hear that word of the Gospel, and it's really exactly the opposite. Exactly the opposite. But that ain't the Church at all, in some way, you know. It doesn't have anything to do with the Gospel. It's exactly


in the contrary direction. You can see what a painful and violent transition it has to be, from going along complacently in that conventional Christianity, to really hearing the message of Jesus, really hearing the Gospel, and beginning to live it. I mean, it's terrifying, really. What have you got left? You haven't got anything left but faith, and whatever courage comes out from inside. Other than the four things that are in the sense that as you were going through and talking about the first, or at least I was associating the sense would be like business would be violent, you know, and perceived. I mean, the second one, the rational, where the Old Testament revelation of the law, you know, that comes through. And even the prophets, I think, have a rational word to speak. Or Jesus, you know, with his prophetic word where he says, well, look, you swallow the camel and you strain out the gnat. Or he says, you pull your cow out of the hole


and you wouldn't have me heal this woman on the Sabbath. That kind of thing. That's the rational, prophetic blade that cuts right through. As well as the whole scientific thing, you know. Yes. So then the third one, the participation, is when the Incarnation and so then the change from within and out. Well, that could be either old participation or new participation. It could be what Barthold calls original participation, which also involves the idols and everything, you know, the images and all. But a kind of unfree way. A kind of almost like you're subjected to a myth of some kind, and you don't have any mobility at all under that. Or it could be the final participation. It's built into it, so those are the ways that we... it's in our human structure, you know. It can go either way. Okay. The final family is the fourth one. If this progression continues, would the unit of then and the fourth progression be like a new heaven and a new earth? Like all of the creativeness is completely


sort of between everybody and God? I hesitate to put it in a sequence like that. To go one, two, three, four in history. I think sometimes people do that. For instance, Ken Wilber wrote a book called Up from Eden, in which he takes a structural thing and puts it on a timeline, as if because there is a hierarchy, let us say, of states, that we have to have a movement that goes up through those things. But I don't think it works that way. The number four has been there in a sense from the start. It's been there in the Old Testament. It explodes in the New Testament. It explodes in the original Christian experience of baptism. What Jesus brings is just centered in that. But it's not like we leave the others behind and go towards that. But I think that we become more and more centered in that, so that that shines out through the other levels. Something like that. And in a sense, you can put that number four in the center of the circle, because it is the center of everything. It's the ultimate center. But normally we experience it


through some kind of mediation, and that's what the other three are about. But we're incarnate beings. We have bodies, and therefore we have to have those others. I wanted to say something about the levels. Chris? I just had one question. I wanted to ask about that turning from unique peoples of the world and peoples of nature as far as they're concerned, and turning the teacher of the world and that part is the people. And then the whole ecology question of the human position and all of that. It seems to me that the note that we are recreating the world, we clearly have been recreating the world, and it's so much a question of how we do it and how to have the humility and discernment and the purity


of heart to ensure how individually or collectively we're able to do that. It seems like that's just the cutting, the two edges of human consciousness that are. So it seems to me that the process must be also like recreating the construct of what and kind of, it couldn't possibly be an altogether like leaving nature's teacher. That's right. It's got to be a dialogue in some way. It's got to be a dialogue. And so this new participation would be a listening and there's a dialogue in that sense. And the way that new participation relates to the old is the continuity of that receiving, I think. So I think that maybe Barfield as he presents it maybe is too dualized. As if the receiving were turned off at the central point and then you just give. But I think if you asked him he'd probably say, no, that continues. So original participation really in some way continues.


But continues now in continual dialogue with this other movement, the outward movement. Which would only, that would be the only thing participation could be. I mean, it was one-sided in any way. That's right. That's right, exactly. No, it wouldn't be participation at all. But in our history, what do we see? We see domination. It's like the bulldozer comes first. The rude sort of macho, masculine version of creation comes along first, of new creation. The power side, okay? And only after that has done its old dirty job and good job and deconstructed itself can the other arrive. As it were, the feminine which is the real sensitivity and real harmonious dialogue, kind of walking together with nature and bringing that about. I think so often of the lives of St. Francis, of his own writing


and maybe really early texts in which he seems so receptive to nature. For me, someone like Bonaventure just takes him and says, look how everybody obeys him if you don't sow. And it seems to me that in that he loses that rhythm that he must have had his continual openness and vulnerability to the other thing. Yeah, I think what happens immediately, of course, is you've got an individual like that who has realized what Jesus brought, which is the fire of new creation within the individual heart. And what happens in an institutional church is that immediately he becomes made into a cookie mold so that of course you're going to have an order. But it turns into an institution which is a permanent order of people who are supposed to be other Francis's. But you can't do that. Because that fire is exactly at the center of your individuality. That's what you have to find yourself or what you have to be given yourself. It can't be transmitted in some way like that.


So I'm not saying it's wrong, but you just see how it doesn't work. You can't make another Francis. And it would be wrong to do so because that wouldn't be you. That wouldn't be the other guy. The other guy's got to be different. So the religious order has got a shadow to it in that sense. It tends to impose the shadow of the great example on the others and in that way diminish, suppress their own gift. It can be transmitted but not replicated. Yeah, yeah. Transmitted in the sense that when it's transmitted it's like a father generating a son, you know. That son is a new individual and that son's got to be free. He's got to grow according to the law of his own being. I can't tell him to be like me. Yeah, yeah. That's the wonderful thing about it. Rothfield uses the parable of the sower in a totally new way, you know, because he's the sower and the seed. The seed goes out there and that seed is new creation. I'd like to expand on it when we don't have time. But the seed is a new beginning. From a new center the whole


thing starts all over again. The sower as it were turns the seed loose and lets it become a new creation. And each individual somehow has that quality of being a new center in the world or somehow creating the world over. But we do it, first of all, probably in very simple ways. I want to say something about the different levels of this new creation. One level, obviously, the most obvious one is the transformation of the surface of the world through technology. Just the fact that it's a different planet now than it was. For better or for worse, it's different. And that comes from this quantum of light and energy. Another obvious one is in what Laufield talks about, poetry, the Romantic movement, the expression of imagination through language and through art. Another one, which is really only breaking through in a significant way in our time, is the transformation of human society and the structures of society. How can slavery have gone along for a couple thousand years


in Christian countries and the Christian milieu? And then finally it begins to be broken down and to be thought of as ... ... ...