[globe] The Ground of Faith
Exploring Science Mysticism and Experience together
February 2005
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Home Page

Editorial
1 William James: New discoveries & the un-classified residuum.
2 Du Wan Kang: no strict definition of science
3 Gary deMar: Behaviorism
4 Stanford ency. on Behaviorism
5 Atheist becomes theist
6 Antievolutionist becomes evolutionist

[St Stephen icon] 7 St Stephen on CHRIST
8 Commentary on Stephen
9 S. and every day life
10 Arguments for the validity of his teaching.

11 Spinoza's sub specie
12 How closely the philosophy of David Bohm, physicist, parallels that of Stephen

Features

Letters to the Editors

Resources

Issues

Contact / Subscriptions

Editors

Production Team

Authors


Letters to the Editors

Read these letters to the Editors

Dr Richard Cocks: Spiritual experience does not need science to prove it
Norman Kjome: You're wacky until you succeed.
Joakim Thoreson: I-Thou and God.
Fr David Steindl-Rast: Greetings

Features

Leo Hobbis Ph.D.:
- Science, Spirit & Reality
- Annex A survey of the field addressed by this Journal

Download Victor Zammit's The Book which gives a summary of modern research clearly demonstrating that the Afterlife is fact.

For a balanced and helpful assessment of Spiritualism, all should read:
The full text of the Archbishops' Report on Spiritualism 1937 Church of England.


Resources

(i) *Future Church:
Connecting and celebrating new forms of spiritual community,
Networker: Rosemary Neave e-mail her. (Future Church is a project of the Women's Resource Centre in Auckland with funding received from the Methodist Futures Group.)

(ii) The Metanexus Institute:
International web site; magazine and resource material

(iii) The Faith of a Physicist:
Audio, Video lectures and books from *The Polkinghorne Home Page

(iv) GreenSpirit:
Association of Creation Spirituality in the UK.
Spirituality and Science web site of Chris Clarke

(v) Science without Bounds: a synthesis of science, religion and mysticism Free download book, Arthur J.D’Adamo (280 pages)

[ more ]


Quotes

§ "My God, I left behind the whole world to search for you. But you were the whole world and I could not see it." Kwaja Abdullah Ansari.

§ "It's not just that we tend to look for God in all the wrong places, or that we overlook God where he is. It is getting over the notion that we can locate God. Or that we need to.... God is our environment. She is the air we breathe. And because we are for the most part no more conscious of God than we are of our own breath, it becomes a matter of reflection, of pausing long enough to remember: I am breathing, I am in God. God is in me."

From The Silent Hope by John Kirvan.

§ "We are not to be explainers and conquerors, but rather conscious participants in the universe." Jacob Needleman?

THE STATUS OF STEPHEN'S WORDS:

The competent scholars, philosophers, linguists, theologians, physicists, and psychologists who have studied the teaching of Stephen agree that there is nothing to suggest that it is NOT genuine. A number of them believe that it IS genuine.

Editorial

Welcome doctrines!
Forget personal experience!

The great philosopher-scientist WILLIAM JAMES has this to say:

[William James] "THE GREAT field for new discoveries," said a scientific friend to me the other day, "is always the unclassified residuum.".... Each one of our various ologies seems to offer a definite head of classification for every possible phenomenon of the sort which it professes to cover; and so far from free is most men's fancy, that, when a consistent and organized scheme of this sort has once been comprehended and assimilated, a different scheme is unimaginable. No alternative, whether to whole or parts, can any longer be conceived as possible. Phenomena unclassifiable within the system are therefore paradoxical absurdities, and must be held untrue. When, moreover, as so often happens, the reports of them are vague and indirect; when they come as mere marvels and oddities rather than as things of serious moment - one neglects or denies them with the best of scientific consciences. Only the born geniuses let themselves be worried and fascinated by these outstanding exceptions, and get no peace till they are brought within the fold. Your Galileos, Galvanis, Fresnels, Purkinjes, and Darwins are always getting confounded and troubled by insignificant things. Anyone will renovate his science who will steadily look after the irregular phenomena. And when the science is renewed, its new formulas often have more of the voice of the exceptions in them than of what were supposed to be the rules.
Read his whole article

NO STRICT DEFINITION OF SCIENCE:

Du Won Kang, an academic member of the Chinese Falun Gong writes:

One of the reasons why there can be fundamental differences in opinion between scientists is that the basis of their opinion is largely philosophical and not entirely scientific. Of course, the things that scientists and philosophers normally do are quite different. However, although scientists have distinguished themselves from philosophy long ago, basic advances in modern science were influenced by philosophy. In turn, advances in science also influenced the development of philosophy. Much of modern science and mathematics developed along with philosophy, and the ties cannot be completely severed. Much of modern science still rest largely on a philosophical foundation although many scientists seem to have forgotten this. Read on..

All of us feel the attraction of great minds who propound theories that make sense of everything in line with our own prejudices. We follow such thinkers like sheep. Scientists William James, F.W.H. Myers, Sir William Crookes and others, believed that they had assembled incontrovertible evidence for the Afterlife. But not long afterwards the founder of Behaviorism, J.B. Watson, came along, asserting (in 1915) more as a matter of faith, than of evidence, that we are biological machines, programmed by conditioned reflexes, with consciousness a mere epiphenomenon, and that therefore an Afterlife was nonsense. J.B. Watson's philosophy attracted a huge number of academic sheep for several decades.

Gary deMar writes briefly about Behaviorism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy presents a longer and more evenhanded description, suggesting why one might or might not accept it.

Thinkers who attract a big following do sometimes change their minds: Dr Antony Flew, Professor of Philosophy, author, and debater, was well known for his atheism. Now he has become a theist.

From the impossibility of evolution to the inevitability of evolution: Anti-Evolutionist Michael Denton turns into 'Evolutionist' A review by Gert Korthof

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[Stephen icon] St STEPHEN teaches about CHRIST

(Click to study background)

He had the following to say on July 8, 1976: This is one, of nearly 200 teachings.

  § 1   TITLE [There never was a time when our Lord Jesus was not the Christ, nor any of the imaged creation of the Father not the Christ. .].

  § 2   In our way we wish to know the nature of us, why we are here, and for what purpose. All our beliefs of our religion are for this one purpose, to remind us of these things, or to help us to recall them.

  § 3   So let me attempt to answer in this way: First in the mind of the Father, we were conceived, and from that conception we were created in his image.

  § 4   Do not be confused about the “image.” We know that what we ourselves would create, firstly has to be imaged. We know that in our minds, if we image …these things, then they will in fact be created.

  § 5   Therefore we were imaged, and all that we can see, feel, and all that we can touch, were thus imaged. And all was created in that image. This may spoil some popular misconceptions, but this is so.

  § 6   The image that was created, was the perfect image, the wonderful image of the whole tapestry of creation in the mind of the Father, (in whichever way we conceive him to be). Christ is that image.

  § 7   To save us, we must first ask ourselves, From what we must be saved? Our salvation lies in our ability to receive, and conceive the truth of our own perfection, and of our own part and participation in what is the whole of the body of Christ.

  § 8   We do not have to be saved, and preserved from terrible and dire consequences that we may perceive, for all that is perfect is here, always has been and always shall be. All that we need saving from is the conception in our minds that we are separate from this perfection.

  § 9   We separate ourselves often by feeling that there is much that we must do to change ourselves, to be forgiven, to step away from sin, before we may be saved.

  § 10   Yet we are told in many diverse ways, that the path to salvation is the acceptance of Christ, or the acceptance of the perfection of all that is.

  § 11   For we must not forget that we were created in the image of the Father, and therefore must be perfect. We, all of us, have often failed in perceiving this perception,

  § 12   and for a more graphic illustration, through One who could accept this perfection perfectly, we were to recognise Christ.

  § 13   There never was a time, when our Lord Jesus was not the Christ, neither is there a time, that any of the imaged creation of the Father, is not the Christ.

  § 14   This we must understand, this is our salvation, our acceptance of what is. Once we accept the perfection of all that is, then as I have said before, there are no disasters, there are only disasters from the point of view of perfection.

  § 15   The place of men’s thoughts in the future of things, whether we call it religion or not religion, is the acceptance of what is perfect. To continually remind ourselves that all is perfect, and all is well.

  § 16   There is no sin too great that would continually separate you from the Father, if you would not have that sin separate you.

  § 17   To help us, we have had a demonstration of forgiveness, a sacrifice that is easy for us to remember, that is easy in our minds, to conceive as an intermediary, the intermediary that turns our minds into our hearts, so that we can see the truth.

Look well and you will.

Dr Richard Cocks comments:
Quietism. The best of all possible worlds, and the meaning of acceptance

The thought that Stephen seems to express is that the world is perfect just as it is. And so are you. This implies acceptance of the world, just as it is. What we would like to do, we think, is to pick and choose. We want the loving moments with our children, when we are all smiling and enjoying ourselves, and not the time when we have to be authority figures insisting that our child does his/her homework. The later, however, is love too, even if it doesn’t make us feel very warm and cosy. In fact, not insisting on the homework is not loving at all, but a cop out. We think we would like to refashion our lives; to take out all the difficult, unpleasant bits; the boredom, frustration, cold sores and ulcers, bad-hair days and rude people. We want to be good pianists, and forget the practice. We want to be good parents, and never have to redirect, or insist. We want the good without the bad.

Acceptance sounds passive. A bad version of acceptance would be. What are we accepting? We are accepting, for instance, that intimacy requires vulnerability; not in theory, but in practice. If you want intimacy, be prepared to be hurt over and over again. How much love would you be demonstrating without being prepared to be hurt? I love you, just so long as loving you is never painful? Doesn’t sound much like love to me.

Would we value playing the piano so much if it didn’t take hard work? We marvel at good pianists because we know that we wouldn’t have the dedication, or patience to practice long enough or thoroughly enough.

Would it mean anything to be a good pianist if it didn’t take a lot of work? Maybe the dedication and the patience are as important things to acquire as the actual piano playing. What if at some point, in order to improve, some really hard obstacle had to be overcome? If we could wish that obstacle away would we have gained so much as actually overcoming it?

Acceptance means knuckling down and doing what needs to be done and not trying to fudge our way of it. It means we wouldn’t be good without the bad. You only get to demonstrate that you are morally good when being good is not in your self-interest. If coming to work on time and working hard is the secret to success, then being good is indistinguishable from the most ruthless narcissism. You only get to demonstrate goodness and integrity when you do the right thing regardless of the consequences to yourself.

Seeing the perfection in everything is not necessarily to think everything is blandly ‘good.’ It means to stop whining about difficulties and trying to wish them away. It means to take risks and accept failure and pain.

I’m a teacher (lecturer). The consequences of wishing difficulties and struggle away leads to what Ken Wilber calls idiot compassion. It means that in the name of not making anyone’s life difficult, we won’t challenge them or require them to grow. But challenging students and requiring them to grow (that’s what learning is), is to be genuinely, truly compassionate. It means you care. Letting people who you are charged with looking after, teaching, or raising (I’m thinking of children here), rot is not compassionate. To try to be someone that no child or student ever resents is not being good, but its opposite. Stephen says the only sin is stagnation. Growth is what is beautiful. Achievement can’t be guaranteed, and shouldn’t be demanded – but you can try to insist and encourage trying – and THAT is the beautiful thing.

My tai chi instructor has actually grown to dislike talented students because things come easily to them, so they need to make little effort, which means they do not learn to overcome difficulties, or learn persistence. Tai chi, like novel writing, is not something you simply master, but something that you spend your life trying to perfect. For the talented, trying, persisting, with no goal visible in sight is not something they have learnt to do, and they often fail.

So maybe we should pray – God save me from being talented; from things simply falling into my lap with no effort; and keep my nose to the grindstone that I may fashion of myself a being that reflects the beauty of existence – hardships and all.

The funny thing is, once you are really dedicated to something, practice and hardwork, not being your kid’s or your students’ buddy, is just fine. It’s perfect just as it is. To reject that, means to eat the cake and frown on baking them. And if you burn a few cakes a long the way, that’s fine too! If you can see the beauty in what is right in front of you, then boiled rice can be a delicious meal. If you compare and judge, reject and banish, run away from the difficult, the hard and the painful you are not overcoming your current limitations, but condemning yourself to a fatal failure to grow. To give up preferences makes it hard to lose. To respond to crucifixion with love and acceptance, instead of hatred and rejection, makes it pretty hard for anyone to make of your life a misery. To accept the hard and the difficult, means to accept the rude and the oblivious, the abrasive and the aggressive. Of course, loving those people may involve calling the police, evicting them or calling attention to their rude behavior. Acceptance is not being an idiot. That would be too high a price to pay!

COMPARISONS and THOUGHTS:

We can compare the faith of Stephen to that of Paul:
"Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8.38,39

Or this faith:
"The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Deut. 33.27

---

This summary of an aspect of Spinoza's thinking also parallels the teaching of Stephen:

[Spinoza] (C) It is in the nature of reason to perceive things under a certain aspect of eternity (sub quadam aeternitatis specie).
Spinoza, The Ethics, 1677 (R.H.M. Elwes translation, 1883)

By way of advice about living in a world in which nothing much is up to us, Spinoza said that we must try to look at life sub specie aeternitatis -- from the aspect of the eternal.

This is the way God sees things. God exists outside space and time -- indeed time and space exist in Him. He can, so to speak, take the great film of history and hold it up to the light and look at any frames He chooses. He can look at the end of your life and then at the beginning and then at the middle, He can see the end of time and then the beginning and anything in between. All of history, past, present, and future, is known to Him already. You and I, however, are caught within time. We cannot see the next frame from the one we are in at present. Although to God, everything that will happen has already happened, to us, our viewpoint is mired in the "now." We worry and wonder what will happen next, and we think it is all up to us ,. but it isn't, of course. So the proper mental attitude is acceptance of whatever happens and to try to understand life and events sub specie aeternitatis. We can't do much about events, we have no real freedom, except in our minds. In our minds we can try not to be worried and upset about what happens or what is going to happen.

[David Bohm] Beatrix Morrell summarises the "gnosis" of physicist David Bohm. It is interesting how much his philosophy, arising from QM physics, parallels, but neither proves nor disproves important aspects of Stephen's spiritual teaching, which however relates to love, and our living relationship in every way to the Source of all that is. Science and what we might term worship are of two orders: just as physics may describe the patterns of sounds produced by a piano, whereas Spirit is seen in the creation of the Composer, the interpretation of the artist, and the receiving into the heart of the listener.

Bearing this in mind, Bohm's thoughts are summarised:

1. Any individual element [of totality] could reveal “detailed information about every other element in the universe”

2. “The unbroken wholeness of the totality of existence as an undivided flowing movement without borders”

3. Two subatomic particles that have once interacted can instantaneously “respond to each other’s motions thousands of years later when they are light years apart.” (Stephen: “The furthest sun is closer to you than your tongue.”§46.)

4. Space and time might actually be derived from an even deeper level of objective reality. This reality he calls the Implicate Order.

5. Within the Implicate Order everything is connected, and, in theory, any individual element could reveal information about every other element in the universe.

6. The Hologram is Bohm’s favourite metaphor for conveying the structure of the Implicate Order. “Everything is enfolded into everything”. The totality of the movement of enfoldment and unfoldment may go immensely beyond what has revealed itself to our observations. We call this totality by the name “holomovement”. This is the “fundamental ground of all matter” The holomovement is ground for both life and matter. [Stephen said, two years before Bohm´s work was published, “True life is all movement. The whole of life must be the whole of movement” (§158)]

7. “What is is always a totality of ensembles, all present together, in an orderly series of stages of enfoldment and unfoldment, which intermingle and interpenetrate each other in principle throughout the whole of space.”

8. The individual is in total contact with the Implicate Order, individuals are part of the whole of humanity, and they are the “focus for something beyond humanity”

9. It is this collective consciousness of humanity that is truly significant for Bohm. It is this collective consciousness that is truly one and indivisible, and it is the responsibility of each human person to contribute towards this consciousness of humanity, this noosphere.

10. Bohm also believes that the individual will eventually be fulfilled upon the completion of cosmic noogenesis.

11. intelligence has always been at the very core of the Implicate Order.

(cont. of 10) 12. It will be ultimately misleading and indeed wrong to suppose.. that each human being is an independent actuality who interacts with other human beings and with nature. Rather, all these are projections of a single totality.

(B) St Stephen's assertion that the creation of God is not only 'good' but 'perfect'.

Voltaire's satire about the "best of all possible worlds" in Candide may come to mind. Stephen does not deny the blatant evil that we see around us.

Those familiar with Teilhard de Chardin's Phenomenon of Man will recognise parallels with the "Noogenesis". Stephen's Millennium can be compared to Teilhard's "Omega point", but leaving our individual minds both one and separate, depending on the point of view.

The word of God, for Stephen, is heard loud and clear in each succeeding Present Moment. We hear the word, and each time God addresses us, the question at issue is, our answer.

We are also reminded of Process Theology founded by philosopher A.N. Whitehead, which suggests much the same thing.

(D) "All the world´s a stage, And all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and entrances..." Shakespeare As you like it II vii 139 Our deepest Self, Spirit, is the observer and experiencer of the play.

(E) We see so much evil in the world. Can we possibly accept Stephen's teaching?

Can we imagine a world entirely without evil, entirely without sickness, without accidents, without hunger, without striving, without the effort of learning, where nothing untoward happens, and all our physical needs are supplied without the slightest effort on our part. Would this world be perfect for the purposes of making great and loving souls?

(F) Very many of Stephen's teaching elaborate on this theme.


[counter]

Issues
[Carnyx]

Jun. '03: One and the Many
Aug. '03: The Holy Spirit
Oct. '03: Meaningful Coincidence
Dec. '03: After Damascus
Feb. '04: The Afterlife
Apr. '04: What's so Amazing about Grace?
Jun. '04: Thin Ice?
Aug. '04: The Anatomy of Joy
Oct. '04: Scepticism
Dec. '04: A Complex Web


Contact

To subscribe/unsubscribe or to write to the editors, email:
thegroundoffaith@ihug.co.nz


Editors

[Rev Michael Cocks]
Rev Michael Cocks

[Rev Victor MacGill]
Rev Victor MacGill


Production Team

Editors

*The Rev. Michael Cocks, M.A. NZ Philosophy, M.A. Oxon. Theology

The Rev. Victor MacGill B.A. (Canterbury), Dip. Social & Community Work (Otago), M.A. Complexity, Chaos and Creativity (Uni. Western Sydney)

Consultants

*The Rev. Dr David.S. Bell, BD MTh Ph.D. Ed. Methodist Theological Review

*Dr. Leo C.W. Hobbis MSc (Physics) Ph.D., CPhys., F.Inst.P

Webmaster
James Gasson BSc

Writers and contributors to this journal will largely be in sympathy with those producing the resources in the left hand column, with the Templeton Foundation, and with the Scientific and Medical Network, the academic members of which combine Holism with Reductionism. Those with a '*' in front of their names are members of this network.

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COMMENTARY ON THESE WORDS OF STEPHEN.

(Stephen communicated on almost 200 occasions)

§1 TITLE: All creation is imaged by the Father, and Christ is that image. "Father" is apt poetry, is in all through all and above all.

§2 Since we are all imaged, and in the image of the Father, our deepest self knows our origin. The beliefs of our religion are to help us remember our origin. (We recall the words of Carl Jung: that we are like the dream of a to us unknowable consciousness.

§4 cf "God said" Gen. 1 "The Word"="Logos", John 1

§5 "this may spoil some popular misconceptions" (probably) that some of what is, is "good" and some is "evil".

§7 perfect for the purposes of the Father. Cf the words of Keats, "Call the world if you please, ´the vale of Soul- making´." The world as it is, is imaged by the Father, and Christ is that image. "Our salvation lies in our ability to receive, and conceive the truth of our own perfection" The perfection lies in the events that happen to us, in the positive and active re-action to these events, or the learning from the failure to respond positively. There is indeed "so-called" evil. But as a "vale of soul-making" what is imaged is perfect.

§12 "One who could accept this perfection, perfectly" Jesus, who said "not my will, but thine, be done" , "and was obedient unto death", who forgave and continued to love.

§16 In all his teaching about the Atonement, Redemption and all, it is to Jesus' simple teaching about the Prodigal or Lost Son, that Stephen returns. Repenting and returning to the Father, are required. All else is interpreted in terms of this parable.

§17 Jesus is the intermediary.

We are all conceived in the mind of the Father, and learn and experience in the physical body and not. That a two year old child should suffer unjustly and die, is not the whole story. There are many actions, many experiences before the soul has depth of awareness and love, and is truly fitted to be the loving extension of the Father.

Stephen has summarised his teaching in Jesus' words:
You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and you neighbour as yourself.

---

The Anglican scientist

*Sir John Polkinghorne
Dr. Polkinghorne is an Anglican priest, the President of Queens' College, Cambridge University, and former Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge. Polkinghorne resigned his chair in physics to study for the Anglican priesthood. After completing his theological studies and serving at parishes, he returned to Cambridge. During the same time period, he wrote a series of books on the compatibility of religion and science. These include Science and Creation, and most recently, Science and Providence, and his Gifford Lectures, The Faith of a Physicist. Dr. Polkinghorne was the recipient of the 2002 Templeton Prize.

Catholic

Diarmuid O’Murchu is a member of the Sacred Heart Missionaries, and works as counselor and social psychologist in London, England. He is widely sought after internationally as a speaker and lecturer and has written extensively on spiritual issues of our time. Amongst the books that he has authored are Quantum Theology, Our World in Transition, Reclaiming Spirituality, Religion in Exile.

Other well known writers

Paul Davies, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Newcastle on Tyne: God and the New Physics

Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, an overview of the new physics.


Authors

The authors supporting The Ground of Faith are trained observers, and include accounts of their personal experiences of the other-dimensional. They are doubtless trustworthy, their interpretations are their own, and as is always the case, readers will have their own opinions.

Michael Cocks
offers the Teachings of St. Stephen the Martyr, received in trance. Stephen provides strong evidence that it is authentically he who speaks. The view of reality presented by his mysticism, is plainly similar to that of some of the theoretical QM physicists, and of the great human being we study in the June issue. Email us to request The Stephen Experience as a Word document, or pdf file.

Victor MacGill
says of his book
"Welcome to a journey through an enchanted land of dragons and princesses, warriors and wise people.
You will find that they exist as a part of our inner world. When we face the dragon, we face our inner fears. When we are the warrior, we find our courage and when we find the wise person, we meet our inner wisdom that lead us on a journey to heal our wounded lives."
On his home page
"We journey through enchanted lands of Chaos Theory Complexity Theory, Spiral Dynamics and much more."

Phil Dyer
in his book, offers us the treasures of ancient and modern wisdom about Christian contemplative prayer in a compact, accessible and comprehensive resource. This resource introduces us simply and clearly to the hospitality of Abraham, St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Francis and Christ Pantocrator, as well as most of the well trodden paths of interior Christian spirituality. The reader is invited to be aware of the theology of body prayer because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

Dr. John Moss
author of
What do You Think of Christ?
This fundamental question, pondered in 1 Cor 12.3 and 1 John 4.2 has been rigorously applied to some of the best of modern largely twentieth spirit and mystic sources. Thus Stainton Moses and Silver Birch, Rudolf Steiner and Wellesley Tudor Pole, St. Stephen and St. Francis have all been drawn into Dr. Moss's masterly treatise as he enquires into their attitudes to Christ.

Roberta Tatom
author of The Last Taboo 600 case histories of life after death. Tatom, a psychologist, was part of a Rescue group, compiled the case histories, and writes a critical review.

George E. Moss
A Smudge in Time (416pp.)
A well-written book addressed to the general reader, by a careful and responsible British writer. It has a large and impressive bibliography, which Moss summarises as dealing with
"history, prehistory, anthropology, palaeontology, science, religion, spiritualism, mysticism, new age, crop circles, psychiatry, aural field energy, healing, philosophy, prophecy, art, travel, poetry, and include a number of biographies."
He quotes Gerard Manley Hopkins:
The world is charged with the grandeur of God... And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; and wears man's smudge, and shares man's smell...

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