The Life Divine and a Self-generating Culture
An open-ended, innovative religion
I give here a short account of the kind of religious innovation with which we want to engage. The 'we' here refers to all those whose vision is in tune with the content of this document. To find out more about how a group of people are expressing these ideas in action, please write to the address at the end of this leaflet.
We value affiliation, abundance, challenge and inquiry
1. We value basic forms of association which bring us regularly together with friends who share our aspirations. We value affiliation and togetherness in order to do things in harmony with others, to reach out to each other, and to enjoy each other.
2. We value the expression of praise, an overflowing of the soul with a celebration of the abundance of life and the challenge of life. We seek to balance the expansive art of enjoyment with the transformative art of suffering.
3. We value shared inquiry, an exploration of the many dimensions of the life divine through sacred, imaginative and playful experiment, discriminating experience and active enterprise.
We choose a comprehensive religious hypothesis
We choose, as a working hypothesis for lived experiential inquiry, to construe the life divine in all the following ways:
1. It is inclusive of this world; there is nothing here which it does not embrace. The very texture of everyday life participates in it. The divine has imaginative, dramatic, passionate and sensuous expression in our immediate experience of this world.
2. It is deeply within this world, an immanent, ecstatic source, a well-spring that we can contact in the ground of our experience.
3. It is ineffably beyond this world. The world and our experience does not exhaust it; it forever emanates and transcends all our realities and all our categories.
4. It can, in its different aspects, have androgynous, female, and male attributions.
5. It is inclusive of, and within and beyond, subtle, higher frequency worlds behind and interpenetrating the veil of this one, with their indwelling powers and presences. We are committed to take account of these worlds and inquire into their influence on our lives in this world.
'God' is a problematic name, because of all its historical associations: male, alienated, the subject of dogmatic theologies - the being it refers to is not congenial to our religious intent.
We value a religious affirmation of personhood
We take an affirmative view of the individual human being in a religious context, and it is expressed in the following set of working hypotheses:
1. Each individual soul is a unique creation of the life divine, and is borne into this world which offers it a radical environment for personal, social and ecological development through creative endeavour, learning and inquiry.
2. The soul is a potential person and can, through the circumstances of birth, social influence and education, develop into an actual person with a distinct identity.
3. A person is someone who is learning how to be creatively autonomous, imaginatively self-directing in their life, with beliefs and values to the meaning and practice of which they are internally committed.
4. A person is someone who is learning how, in all areas of living, to co-operate in creative enterprises with other persons without colluding with them; and learning how to support and facilitate, on a reciprocal and peer basis, the development of each individual's potential for personhood.
5. A person is someone who is learning how to be self-transfiguring: how to participate in wider reaches of reality in the subtle worlds; how to manifest the divine within, and refract the divine beyond; and how to express all this in the transformation of earthly life.
6. The distinctness of personal identity is inalienable. It can be affirmed, celebrated and enhanced to an unlimited degree. It can be transfigured by the religious life; it cannot be eliminated by it. It can get woefully lost in, and confused with, egoic separateness, alienation and confusion: but it can, in principle, always be recovered and redeemed.
7. Personal identity is intensified by the change of physical death; personal learning continues in the subtle worlds, which are dramatic in the vast scope of their possibilities.
8. The communion of persons together, with each other and their divinity, is an essential need for created souls, a fundamental source of inner sustenance, growth, delight and peace. This inward and spiritual intercourse can also include, through appropriate ritual, persons in the subtle worlds.
We value a culture of collaborative inquiry
As persons who are in a process of continuous creativity, learning and development, we choose a society whose forms are consciously created and adopted, periodically reviewed, and altered in the light of experience, reflection and deeper vision. We call this a self-generating culture. This is a culture whose forms its members continually recreate through cycles of collaborative living inquiry. It has several strands. As developing persons:
1. We want to explore the use of three basic modes of decision-making - deciding autonomously by oneself, deciding co-operatively with others, and deciding hierarchically for others - so that in different sorts of association we can combine and balance them in different forms. These forms are adopted intentionally, subject to periodic review, with an accepted procedure for changing them. This same conscious learning process is equally applicable to all the points that follow.
2. We want to explore different forms of association in daily living and working, so that we can find various ways of balancing the claims of being and doing things - alone, together with others, or beside others.
3. We want to explore the where and how of housing: private dwellings in the existing urban and rural set-up; private dwellings in a communal village; co-habitation in a communal building; different forms of ownership and rights of use.
4. We want to explore new behaviours in, and beliefs about, a wide range of social roles: woman, man, parent, child, teenager, adult, aged, friend, citizen, and many more.
5. We want to explore forms of economic organization, and of job definition, in order to choose awarely different ways of distributing and combining the roles of owner, manager and worker; and different forms of income and wealth distribution.
6. We want to explore ways of caring for the planetary environment, sustaining and enhancing its dynamic eco-system: covering energy, technology, agriculture, pollution, etc. As part of this enterprise, we want to research the structure and processes in this world in the context of their interrelation with the structure and processes in subtle worlds.
7. We want to explore forms of providing for children and young people of all ages: how they are to be cared for, raised and educated, and by whom. Also forms of education and training for the personal and professional development of adults; methods for dealing with individual and social overload of emotional distress, and for deep levels of pain and suffering.
8. We want to explore ways of giving social form to spiritual, emotional and physical intimacy, to nurturance, sexuality and family. Any such form - whether it is open bonding, closed bonding, celibate bonding, serial bonding, one parent family, two parent family, multi-parent family, or any other - is chosen awarely in the presence of others, there is a support network for it, and there is an acknowledged social process for changing it.
9. We want to explore forms of conflict resolution: different ways of dealing with hostility and tension, irrational outbursts, irreconcilable opinions, broken agreements, confusion of purpose, and so on. We want to devise such forms, have them in readiness, and learn to use them when they are relevant.
10. We want to explore and improvise rituals, special events, holidays and feast-days, to celebrate, mark, or mourn the great recurring themes of individual, social and planetary life: birth, coming of age, relationships, graduations, visits, arrivals and departures, beginnings and endings, the seasons, solar and lunar cycles, death, and so on. We want to explore, receive and improvise rituals and other forms of inquiry: to foster our inward, occult and spiritual development; to interact with the subtle worlds, their powers and presences; and in communion together to attune to the life divine within and beyond, and present as, creation.
We choose a realistic starting place.
Since a self-generating culture, interweaving these many strands, cannot be achieved overnight, or indeed with any kind of improper haste, we choose to begin realistically where we are and with others who can commence in the same way.
Wherever we start, even if with only one strand, it is implicit at the outset that all the other strands are latent, and waiting their moment to come into expressive life, whether in this generation, the next, or in the generations to come.
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Except where otherwise indicated, these screens are maintained and © 1995,1996,1997,1998,1999,2000, 2002, 2003,2004 Denis Postle. All rights reserved. Last updated 30th May 2004