I don`t think any possible introduction would suffice to sum up the writing here - *ahem* - anyway a lot of words andn buried somewhere in there is, uhmm... well...
I`ve Done It - The Meaning of Life....
* Addendum *
A critiscm of what I have written has been that it would appear to place the spritual realms and dimensions within the human psyche - an overly humanist and psychological viewpoint. My use of the terms `deep in the human psyche` and `below the level of the conscious mind` probably exacerbate this. What I was attempting to do is show how man is part of something greater than himself and perhaps provide the framework of a yardstick against which our ideas of the operation of the spiritual may be judged (hmmmm......) particularly with reference to demonic and angelic activity. Especially by linking the life within man to the life within the universe as a whole I hoped to show how the spiritual is part of us and even though outside of us (since everything that exists is vastly larger than any individual) when it acts on us this can either be from outside or within through the link (which can either be an openness to or a direct connection where we are part of something more than us either for good or bad) which exists as a consequence of being alive.
For me the principle of communal consciousness shows that man is linked to something much greater than himself and this vast reserve of life that exists must be awesomely powerful for the life in all the depths of one man is great, in many greater and in the universe awesome - to me this points to God, that our life is part of some vast source of life itself that through our human frailties we are separated from. This doesn`t mean that I believe God is limited to and bound by the physical universe (in whatever ultimate form and multifarious dimensions it may exist). God is infinite and unbounded, and indeed the work of Hawking in his description of time and space interwoven (pictured as a kind of bubble) help me in visualising God as outside of space and time - but I do believe his spirit and life permeates and guides the universe, concerned not just with the motion of the stars but with the fall of one sparrow and the intimate details of our lives. I was attempting to show how Gods spirit could be present in and part of the forces that shaped the universe, the universe operates on principles that are not `determined` and immutable but have chaos and uncertainty (unpredictability) built into them - only the mind of God could understand or work within them. This would result in the creation of the universe and evolution being spirit guided at every stage as time itself unfolded.
The main emphasis of showing our connection to the spiritual realm (and my picture was topsy-turvy, starting from the human consciousness in order to show that starting from our own experience, life must be something like this) was that events that occur in the spiritual realm (a world far bigger and more real than the world in the limited way in which we percieve it) affect us in our `material` (istic!) world and vice versa, also through an exploration and expansion of our perception (for every experience whether spiritual or otherwise comes through our human senses) we can come into contact with this world - not just directly, but through each other and events in the world around us can we discern the action of the spiritual.
* end of addendum *
A while ago you included a piece on demons in together. I think you mentioned a companion demon or something like this and the way they afflicted/affected/followed individuals. The tone of the writing seemed experimental and uncertain. One thing that seems to be lacking in the church (which normally deals with spirituality in a way more grounded in truth, reality and intuitive theory than any church/teachings I have ever come across - rather than just parrotting the bible) is solid teaching on the nature and operation of demonic forces or indeed the order of spiritual forces in general.
Although I have less spiritual experience in actual warfare and encounters with the demonic/angelic in my walk (although I have had some encounters in my walk/life and intercession so far) than many I have certainly had encounters with the spiritual (and certainly the demonic!!) in my daze of drug induced spiritual seeking - this has led me to believe that although I lack detail of experience I would be able to recognize the character of the truth. I came across much hippy teaching (mainly based on monistic and shamanic codes - influenced by buddhism and modern psychology) that seemed intuitive and rooted in living experience - as opposed to the outdated bible bashing of what me and my friends had experienced of the church. (I was brought up a charismatic evanjellyfish with a very real relationship with God but was still basically a bookish loner and turned to drugs to find a social scene and then alternative religions to find a spiritual life). Monistic codes focus on mans harmony with nature and the universe and offer a root to finding God without having to believe apparently ridiculous things and restricting behaviour - this is why they are intellectually and spiritually attractive to many people. To my mind they do contain a number of spiritual truths -however one of the points monism is very weak on is that it offers no real explanation of evil - the hippies also turn to esoteric judaic legend as well when looking at spiritual hierarchies etc.
Following is some of my thinking on spiritual orders, creation etc. drawing from a superficial understanding of monism, physics, Jungs psychology etc. I hope they`re not too heretical or confusing and I am well willing to be corrected.
(This actually came out of a religious debate with a shamen and a christian on the web and a reaction to the work of William Gibson (a cyberpunk science fiction author whose dark prophesies of society`s decay coincide with his vision of intelligence coming from the web - to me his vision of cyberspace corellates strongly with the spiritual realms) - part of the point was that by examining the nature of being of spiritual orders we would be more able to understand and predict the nature of their operation and behaviour)
This takes for granted the psychological view of the mind/soul developed by Jung and Freud, the iceberg principle. This is that ones personality is shaped organically and continuously by your experience and environment - right from your earliest moments. Obviously not all of these experiences and memories are available to your conscious mind (just as we are not aware of the workings of our digestive system all the time, and to feel our own heartbeat we usually have to concentrate pretty hard) - the soul is like an iceberg - most of it below the level of our conscious mind just as an iceberg is mainly below the sea level. I also borrow heavily from Jungs idea of the collective unconscious - which for me is sufficient proof of God alone - but thats another story I guess.
Humans come in all assortments of shapes, sizes and varieties - but the fact is that they seem to come in recognizable character types. Every person is usually a mixture of several `types` reflecting different facets of their personality, but some people seem to fit stereotypes more completely than others. Recognizing these types, that we may have had experience of in the past, allows us to anticipate (to an extent - I`m hedging my bets here) how an individual will react to/cope with certain events or ideas. This is common everyday experience to most people and explains why we get on better with some people than others and sometimes form an instant bond with people we have never met before - something in their experience or personality type is the same as us (or as a corollary is of a type that reacts well to/flows well with our type).
No human exists in isolation, even if he sees no other people, a man is in constant interaction with his enviornment and surroundings. Life is a constant, changing cycle of interaction with our surroundings that changes us and it. Our subconscious mind is constantly aware of all of our past and environment as it acts on our being. In order to cope with this pressure of `information` we have built up an array of structures and filters that allow through to our conscious mind only that which we can cope with. Aldous Huxley called these The Doors of Perception (in his book of the same name, where he experiments with mescaline to artificially remove these barriers to real perception, he posits that they are a consequence of evolution - total awareness is not condusive to survival, interestingly enough this book is where the band The Doors took their name from). Spiritual communion - depth of reality - therefore occurs mainly below the level of the conscious mind - except during spiritual experiences.
A good every day example of constant interaction that occurs below the level of the conscious mind is body language. We are all familiar of becoming aware of the body language component of interaction in a conversation that has been going on for a while before we were aware of it. Because this is partly a learned response and partly intuitive our subconscious can handle it without having to refer to our conscious mind except in unusual circumstances, any common experience can become like this - for example driving. When we start learning to drive we have to concentrate on every detail (to the exclusion of being consciously aware of the road ahead of us!) and the whole process is complicated and confusing. In a short space of time we have mastered the skill to the point where we can hold a conversation, maybe read a map or watch the scenery and deal safely with the driving AND responding to conditions on the road ahead of us. Part of finding freedom/achieving mastery and skilfullness in our life skills involve becoming aware of, whilst not disrupting the flow of, these normally subconscious processes where spiritual events occur.
However we are not just in interactive flow with other humans but ALSO the universe around us - our common environment. This not only changes us but also changes our environment, in much the same way as our interaction with each other changes us (through learning or in a negative way when we oppress each other). A good basic example of how we flow with our surroundings is modern society - if you look at the landscape around you it`s fair to say that it didn`t look like that say a hundred years ago - yet we only build on land that is suitable - the landscape dictates where and even how we build. If the environment around us was dead and lifeless it would be fair to picture each human as an individual pool of depth - separate from all other humans. BUT this is very much not the case. We are surrounded by strata of living beings and organisms that react to us - more usually than not (principally because modern man is so divorced from and unaware of his natural surroundings) on a hidden level. On another level even the apparantly lifeless rock and matter that is around us (and makes up our physical being) is actually buzzing with energy - we sprang from the same forces that produced this matter and flow in harmony with the same (though subtle) energies. This is a separate issue that I will look at later but even if we only look at `living` matter - we are all in constant flow of interaction, both to and from (or more properly `with`) our common environment. The famous chaos principle (the butterfly/storm example) shows that even the smallest of our actions changes our environment and affects others - in the same way we are constantly affected by others - on the level of the subconscious mind. We are therefore in constant spirtiual communion with one another. This is the communal consciousness - the totality of all human and non-human life.
This recognition of common personality types (or threads of being!) is a recognition of archetypes - life, spiritual force/energy/beings greater or wider than any indiviual. They are elements of or facets (reflections) of the greater life. Since evil also exists and acts as a destructive force in the universe, negative archetpes also exist. Before I examine further their nature I will attempt to demonstrate the validity of seeing them as independent of the individual. Where you communicate with someone else on the level of a shared feeling or experience there exists a connection between you and a flow of life and energy (information! - information as energy flow has interesting consequences when looking at communication over the web and spiritual parallels!). Where this is between an element of your soul that is the same as someone elses this becomes a shared experience element, where you are able to feel truly one with someone that shared element exists in neither you nor your companion but in both of you as `one thing`. Where this part of you forms part of your soul it is part of your life, and as truly part of you it is therefore alive. These archetypes are buried deep in our psyche, separated from the conscious mind by our structures and defense mechanisms that we have built up to protect ourselves from too much `reality`, and form our hidden desires, motivations and driving forces that comprise our character and thereby forge our destiny. In groups of people this goes some way to explaining group dynamics (although on this level social conventions - mechanistic structures governing our behaviour are often more prominent) but also cultural shifts and movements - as similar upbringings and cultures mean similar archetypes in operation in our souls we have shared desires and this link of life means whole groups of people have similar desires and are motivated in similar ways..
These archetypes are the gods of old (c.f. greek mythology where the gods and heroes correspond to modernly recognised psychological traits/phenomena) and the connection of cosmic forces to the human soul/destiny can be shown in the efficacy (limited) of the arts of astrology etc. That our connection to the universe goes beyond our immediate environment is undoubted - the light and gravity from the stars are constantly working forces that reach out across the galaxy and beyond. These archetypes, present not just within us but within the life of the universe as a whole (which I will look at more later) interact with each other (within the collective unconscious and through our daily interactions and subject (to a greater or lesser extent) to the action of our wills) and form the events and evolving mythos in the spiritual realms.
Any social group represents the whole mish mash of archetypes, but will be dominated by those predominant in the character of those that make up the group. In our case this is relevant when looking at the ruling angel of the Jesus Army. This would be a factor in explaining why some people seem better able to make it in community - those closest to the heart of the ruling angel who is present in (and as part of) but real and separate from the deep psyche of the committed members. This fits in with Johns letters to the angels of the churches at the start of revalation. At its extreme this could be applied to the beautiful woman mother Zion and in its negative the whore of babylon that is the spirit of the world.
These archetypes however are facets of the ultimate energy of the universe - the divine, eternal, unfathomable spirit that is God. In the same way as we have life independent of God so do these spiritual beings/orders have life independent of us. They have an objective existence but as our spirit extends out in the spiritual realm they can move through us and form part of the life that affects us - how far the roots of our life stretch down through the strata of soil that make up our soul and stretch out to become the rocks and shifting tectonic plates of the spiritual realms is how aware of this life we are. As we see universal symbols and shades of life in ourselves and those around us we are looking at reflections of this spiritual activity that forms the life of God himself and the lower spiritual orders (and he said `let us make man in our image`).
Therefore, events in the spiritual realms mirror and are affected by events amongst humans and the cosmos as a whole and vice versa (c.f. binding and loosing). Another consequence of this is that of heirarchies of spiritual orders. Perhaps archetypes present within the myriad lower orders of spiritual beings (demons and angels of assorted types and nature) would be indicative of higher, more powerful, ruling beings. (Closer to the ultimate energy) and would govern their relationship and operation - `within their spirit`.
Although those who look to the stars to determine their destiny would appear to be looking at matter following fixed and unchanging paths and laws - (which would point us toward a determinist view of life) they are in fact part of a complex web of effect (the chains of gravity) that is still constantly (albeit slowly and deeply) evolving - glaxies fall into each other, stars explode, new stars condense from nebulae etc. (in fact this last example is perhaps the best as the hot gasses that form heavy droplets of matter on a massive scale (new stars) are subject to quantum laws that have the principle of uncertainty built into them). The forces (very non-human and definetely pre-human) that flung them into existence are still being worked out.
These forces, as they have been worked out, produced the universe and galaxies as we see them now. The earth and all its matter was once hot gas in a vast nebulae (part of a fusion reaction turning simple elements into the more complex ones that make life possible). This particular configuration of matter (and even to a certain extent the very physical laws we are subject to) came from a process of organic evolution - the nature of which WAS SEEDED IN THE START CONDITIONS. This is a vast (and arguably more interesting topic which I will cover only briefly here). There is an interesting correlation here with DNA - the growth of a fantastically complex organism with many parts existing and functioning in harmony is seeded from a much simpler start condition - the DNA code. There is also an interesting example in the abstract and then back into nature itself with fractals. Here a simple repeating formula, seeded with a start number,can produce intricate and beautiful patterns - present in nature in e.g. trees, coastlines, mountains flowers etc.
The forces (and process of) evolution that (arguably!!) produced human life on earth follows a similar pattern. Life does not change willy nilly, although individual changes may well be randomn, famously only those changes making survival of an organism more likely will be perpetuated in the long run. Under certain conditions this will make some changes favourable and others not. The environmental conditions an organism is subject to therfeore puts certain evolutionary pressures on it. As you will see this means that the start conditions with a gradually changing environment (earth cooling, climatic change, disasters etc. - which are affected by bigger outside forces - the start conditions of the universe as looked at just a second ago) coupled with a gradually evolving lifeform means that life will follow a certain path. (This idea is explored by Conway-Morriss with reference to the Burgess Shale, a particularly vivid fossil record). For example, as the earth cooled, the rise of warm blooded creatures would become more likely. This however is an interactive feedback loop within the living organism that is the earth as a whole - life affects the earth and the environment (now on a disastrous scale as hell bent man determines to trash the place, but on an earlier level plant life changed carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to oxygen which again changed the evolutionary pressures). Therefore the path of evolution was set, programmed if you like, within the start conditions seeded in the big bang (or huge gooey space kablooie as Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) more descriptively names it). (This seems to relate to the glorious understament `And God said let there be light, and there was light`)
We can therefore see that human life is part of and springs from the forces that shape the whole universe - the forces that formed our nature, being and therefore our desires and motivations are part of the forces that the great sculptor used to fashion his fabulous work called everything. We do have an evident spiritual life that seems to be different from the material world around us but I posit some sort of link. The universe is comprised of physical matter and energy governed by physical laws. All of life is energy, not just physical matter and chemical reactions but living energy. The physical matter we see as dead and inert is in fact buzzing with energy. Even the most lifeless lump of rock is comprised of atoms with electrons whizzing round at great pace (and what we see as still and immovable is in fact hurtling through space in the grasp of forces reaching across the solar system) on an even deeper level still the very atoms that form us and everything around us are themselves energy (this is the real conclusion of the famous e=mc squared). The quantum rules that govern the behaviour of matter and energy on the sub-microscopic scale allow not only for an element of uncertainty (and therefore and opportunity for the spiritual) but have it built into them as a fundamental priciple. These rules even seem to allow for small particles to pop in and out of existence for a fleeting moment of time - these virtual particles produce testable physical phenomena such as an attraction between metal plates in a vacuum and the posited Hawking radiation that causes black holes to glow, and thus shrink with time. These quantum rules, particularly if one goes further into such theories as the ten-dimensional superstring theory, show matter as energy (all particles have a waveform - light behaves as a particle etc.) and even suggest the universe as a huge linked grid of moving undulating energy. It is this subtle energy (which is all we essentially can be) that we are linked to and harmonise with - this is one way in which the material universe can impinge upon the spiritual realms.
This has application in that it provides for a greater explanation of geographical and cultural influences of spiritual powers. The nature of an area of land obviously shapes and influences the people who live there, the abundance of food or mineral deposits, the harshness of the climate, vulnerability to attack from hostile neighbours etc. etc. will all tend to breed a certain charcter into the inhabitants. These days however, with a mobile population inhabiting the global village some further explanation seems necessary for the durability of cultural factors. If you travel through a town these days you tend to see a mish mash of old and new buildings. We have glazed over our history with a veneer of disney, Mcdonalds, plastic, chrome, tarmac and concrete. But the old is still there to see, the location of our roads (especially the windy ones that follow ancient tracks) the old buildings and traditions etc. (I won`t go on too much because I`m sure you know what I mean). If you see some of the fields they appear to be divided into a set of ridges - a relic of the ancient feudal system of strip farming - even our form of governement and rule of law is rooted in history (just go to a communist or post-communist country to see the importance of that in terms of affecting the people). History is all around us, the blood of the people that formed our country, that formed us and made us who we are - for we are only a product of our past and not our own invention - is all around us. Needless to say, our cultural psyche has evolved. What our fathers believed and held onto was passed onto us, changed, and from their fathers before them. This deep heritage, needless to say, stems from the primal depths of time and to the primal depths of who we are. The land has formed us and this is in past explanation for the ruling spirits that occupy cities and geographic locations.
The fact that we have glossed over our past and inhabit worlds made of steel and concrete boxes, cables and soundbites means we have in part divorced ourselves from ourselves. In order to understand ourselves and find healing for this cultural rift, not only must we simplify our lives but live connected to the source of deeper life itself - God.
Congratulations for reaching the end, comments welcome!