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Cliff

Cliff

Wordsworth turned from the great hills
of the north to the precipice
of his own mind, and let himself
down for the poetry stranded
on the bare ledges.

(R. S. Thomas: Later Poems – page 99)

What then?

Last time we looked at various ways in which we could be seen, not as a single unitary self, but as a composite of many selves. If we are such a community of selves – what then?

Bahá’u’lláh exhorts us to (Seven Valleys 34):

. . . . reflect upon the perfection of man’s creation, and that all these planes and states[1] are folded up and hidden away within him.

“Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form
When within thee the universe is folded?”

Rowan refers to the Buddhist concept of “mutual interpenetration,” (John Rowan, Subpersonalities page 220), and quotes Wilber as saying: “the universe is likened to a net of glittering gems, wherein each Jewel contains the reflections of all other jewels, and its reflection in turn exists in all other gems: one in all, all in one, or unity in diversity, diversity in unity.”

This suggests that the world within us is as manifold, vast and complex as the world outside us. Outside us there is, as it were, a landscape: inside us there is perhaps, to borrow Hopkins’ word, an ‘inscape.’ Rowan spells out certain implications by saying (page 220):

. . . we are back to the idea that the inner world and the outer world have the same laws and the same features and the same structures. The personal and the political are one.

The implications of this, if it is true, or even if it is merely useful, are too vast for this post or perhaps even this blogger to encompass. However, several really do stand out already.

For source of image see link

For source of image see link

Implications

Firstly that which lies within the individual becomes subject to Bahá’u’lláh’s statements that mankind needs to establish unity before other problems can be resolved and that this unity can only be created if we first of all follow His counsels.

Secondly the processes of consultation and compassion should apply with equal force within as without. In practice this might mean allowing different aspects of ourselves to communicate one with another, and ensuring that we respond even to the unprepossessing parts of our selves with loving acceptance. After all, can we expect to bring out the best in an “unsavoury” new acquaintance whom we have just met by cutting him dead and keeping him in Coventry? Why, then, should we expect the beings peopling our inner world to respond well when we treat them badly?

Thirdly, as we are within so will we create our world outside ourselves. Hence the vital importance of Bahá’u’lláh’s exhortation to free ourselves that the whole world might become free.

Fourthly, it strongly suggests that we must stop pigeon-holing others, refrain from either-or thinking and nothing-butism and eschew forcing people to behave in ways that are consistent with our expectations and prejudices. If, within them, they contain multitudes, why should we draw conclusions about them based on only a fraction of their being?

And last of all, as Bahá’ís, it may not be sufficient to deepen only our most immediately accessible selves in the Faith: we need to reach our minorities inside, our despised and outcast ones within, with the loving Message of Bahá’u’lláh, or else there is very little chance that we will reach those the world at large rejects!

Magna Carta (for source of image see link)

Magna Carta (for source of image see link)

The Gallery of Selves

It is perhaps necessary to add that this gallery of selves comprises various levels. The lowest level may correspond to the acquired character, which ‘Abdu’l-Bahá regarded as the potential source of evil and is fragmented by traumatic experience and the need to play different roles in different situations. Such selves are vivid to us but are not perhaps the most vital aspects of our being and may become potential members of the brain-robber gang I described earlier.

Perhaps at a higher level of significance are the selves that pertain to the inherited character: there is strong evidence, for example, that distinct temperaments are morally neutral and discernible in all of us from day one. Jung, who proposed the idea of archetypes such as the Anima and the Animus, also argued for such underlying tendencies as extraversion and introversion; Eysenck contended these also are inherited. Different aspects of our temperament may not always sit easily together.

At the highest level there is the innate character and the innate capacity, which come from God and are all good. This may not be a simple unity either. There are, as I have suggested, many attributes of God, not all of which appear immediately compatible. Also Bahá’u’lláh describes the Godlike in us in different ways at different times. For example, in the Arabic Hidden Word mentioned above, we are to experience Him as “mighty, powerful and self-subsisting” whereas in the Gleanings He refers to the “seas of (His) Loving Kindness”[2] moving within us. We are likely to experience those two aspects of God’s attributes very differently, it seems to me, assuming that any of us reach the point of experiencing them at all!

Nonetheless the higher aspects of what seems likely to be a single variously experienced transcendent self may be the best or only way of rising above or resolving the conflicts between the lower selves (which have to be consciously understood however if they are not to subvert all our efforts at spiritual development). Rowan’s position is (page 206):

(At) the same time, when the person gets in touch with the real self, or the greater self, the question of the subpersonalities becomes less important … They move gradually from being great feudal barons to being colourful banners brought out on appropriate occasions.

The conflicts between aspects of the higher self may well be more apparent than real.

I have skated over many difficulties but have sought to convey as simply as I could a possibly underestimated aspect of our inner reality. If what I have described is true or useful, it will be extremely important to remember for Bahá’u’lláh counsels us in the first Taraz[3] to know ourselves and that within us which leads to loftiness or lowliness.

Perhaps a good place to stop would be the moving words of a clergyman poet:

The best journey to make
is inward. It is the interior that calls

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . For some
it is all darkness; for me, too,
it is dark. But there are hands
there I can take, voices to hear
solider than the echoes without.
And sometimes a strange light
shines, purer than the moon,
casting no shadow, that is
the halo upon the bones
of the pioneers who died for truth.

(Thomas, Later Poems, page 99)

Notes

  1. E.g. the dream.
  2. Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings page 327.
  3. Bahá’u’lláh, Tablets page 35.
Ashley M

Ashley Menatta. Photograph: Facebook

This is a fascinating Guardian article about a rare but devastating mental health problem. Below is a short extract: for the full post see link.

She was missing but police knew where she was. She could not remember her name, her family or her childhood. She knew that she was dying, but only that. Interpol released a missing persons report: 1.7m, 91kg, brown eyes, chip on front tooth, right-handed, Caucasian, appears to be in her 50s, piercing on each ear, shoe size 39. Languages: English, French.

She called herself “Sam” and spoke to the media this month, explaining that she had been found semi-conscious by police outside a church in Carlsbad, California, five months ago. She had stage three ovarian cancer, she said. A Facebook campaign earned 200,000 shares and ignited worldwide media interest. Then Sam’s scattered recollections started to emerge: “… swimming in a salt water pool in Perth, then icebergs in New South Wales and in Cairns in Queensland and Byron Bay”.

San Diego TV station reported that her family, who had lost touch with Sam in 2013, identified her after seeing a news report. Her real name was Ashley Menatta: born in Pennsylvania, lived in Arizona and moved to southern California. Menatta described the subsequent reunion (no family members have appeared in media reports). “It was extremely emotional,” Menatta said. “We were all sobbing. They’re so sorry I had to go through what I did during this time without them.”

She is no longer missing, but the concept of her identity remains challenging. Is she who she thinks she is, or who other people say she is? Special Agent Darrell Foxworth spoke to reporters after Sam became Ashley: “The FBI is not identifying this individual as by the name of Ashley. This is something she is self-identifying herself as based on conversations she had with people that represent themselves as family members.”

In The Bourne Identity, assassin Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) loses his life history in mysterious circumstances. Italian fishermen discover his body floating in the Mediterranean. There are two bullets in his back and a bank code embedded in his hip. He does not know who he is or was, though his combat abilities and foreign language skills are retained. Bourne is eventually diagnosed with psychogenic amnesia.

Away from the big screen, psychogenic amnesia is a condition in which the showreel of personal life malfunctions. Traumatic personal events disappear and fall to the cutting-room floor. Narrative gaps infiltrate your story. White noise drowns out your past.

Given my recent preoccupation with finding a way of connecting with my deepest self and the deepest reality, it seemed a good time to republish some poems with a similar theme.

Thief in the Night

Given my recent preoccupation with finding a way of connecting with my deepest self and the deepest reality, it seemed a good time to republish some poems with a similar theme.
Beneath the Debris

Pete Hulme:

This is the latest inspiring development in Nick’s story. Determination, courage and the support of others, not least Sue, his mum, have been crucial to his progress. I just had to share it!

Originally posted on Daily Echo:

nick-trike-park-birds-flowers-trees-009

You may know my son’s story. For once, I have no problem repeating it for those who do not. I have a very good reason for it that I have been bursting to share!

In 2009 my son was 25… a good looking, successful young man with a fast car, nice apartment near the coast and a very promising career. That ended on July 4th when he was left for dead in a Bournemouth alley, stabbed through the brain in an unprovoked attack.

2009 before the attack 2009 before the attack

I have written before of the terror of the next days as he underwent brain surgery to remove the shards of shattered bone from the left hemisphere of his brain. I have told of the weeks of heartache as we waited to see if he would live or die, while his brain bled and swelled, causing further damage to the brain stem itself…

View original 623 more words

Given my recent preoccupation with finding a way of connecting with my deepest self and the deepest reality, it seemed a good time to republish some poems with a similar theme.

Unreasonable Mystery

For source of image see link

Given my recent preoccupation with finding a way of connecting with my deepest self and the deepest reality, it seemed a good time to republish some poems with a similar theme.

Fragrance in the Dust

For source of image see link

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