I have come into contact with a most interesting gentleman by the name of Peter Rhodes-Dimmer. Some years ago, he bought the Chateau de Bambecq in French Flanders, near St Omer, and began to build up an ambitious humanist and humanitarian programme involving the use of modern technology for helping the starving and homeless and working for environmental sustainability. Peter Rhodes-Dimmer also has a second Chateau de Bambecq site, on WordPress.
The extreme diversity of thought and projects will be quite difficult to unpack, but I have already had a long conversation with him via Skype, and I hope soon to be able to visit the chateau and the community that both pays for the upkeep of the chateau by hosting various corporate initiatives, and works towards this ambitious humanist project.
My previous posting mentioned subjects like theosophy and extraordinary philosophers and scientists in the Enlightenment era, and the term New Age comes out. Like many words and labels, it hits up against prejudice and rigid beliefs that many Christian folk hold. Also, the turn of the century passed eighteen years ago, and we see many more evils and dangers in this word than in the 1990’s. So, where is this famous Age of Aquarius? Optimism peels away, leaving the rusty metal panels of cynicism and foreboding. Like Romanticism two hundred years ago, the world was not changed one whit in terms of human sin and evil. The Industrial Revolution and the inhuman exploitation of workers ground on.
However, the difference was made at another level by profound and inspired souls. Most people, when they die, are forgotten within thirty years and no one bats an eyelid when their remains are put into the charnel house and space for new graved is freed up. The outstanding men and women remain in our consciousness, and their memory even in our world is eternal. Doubtlessly, a new age will enter human consciousness at a more subtle and humble level, as Christianity in the first century AD did. We need to keep an open mind. The Redemption itself made no visible difference in this world, but it does on another level of existence – a parallel universe, a state of consciousness, something mysterious made accessible through symbolism and by aspects of consciousness other than the sensorial / rationalistic faculties.
It occurs to me that the New Age movement, at its most honest and integral, is about education, helping people to understand what philosophy took centuries to cogitate and refine. I think of the transition of the theory of knowledge and the notion of foundational truth from the Enlightenment to early Romanticism. Certitude obtained by scientific deduction from first and intermediate principles becomes impossible in questions of what escapes our sensorial perception, so the alternative is belief or a new openness of mind to search and yearn for that Absolute that we cannot grasp in this life. The problem of belief is often one of naively accepting what someone else tells us is true, but things really need to be much more subtle. New Age isn’t, or shouldn’t be, the things fundamentalist Christians accuse it of being, but a frame of mind, a refusal to believe in a bleak, inanimate and deterministic universe where man and his world are alone. Perhaps we should relativise the term and rather seek understand the content rather than the packaging. The same goes for orthodox Christianity. We have to be fair.
Peter Rhodes-Dimmer wrote The Layman’s Guide to the New Age in 1992, which arrived in the post today. When I see the diversity of cultures to which he is addressing this message, I realise that my own level of existence is quite narrow. Indeed, we all have progress to make. Is Christianity a prison or a vision and mystery that set us free? If we are free, we can then admit of the possibility of every human aspiration, culture and philosophical vision. Nothing is immutable truth. Everything is possibility. Isn’t that an idea we also find in quantum theory? During our Skype conversation last week, Peter spoke of Possibility Consciousness, and immediately I thought of the anti-foundationalism of the German Romantics. We are just talking about the same subject using different words, comparing the culture of eighteenth-century Saxony with contemporary London! Everything converges. I have never experienced anything of the like in my whole life!
What is this Possibility Consciousness? He defines it in his book as
‘Possibility Consciousness’ allows you to hold together in your mind all the unproven spiritual and supernatural phenomena which you experience, or which interests you. in a way that accepts them as a possibility. Treat it as a separate storage area in the mind. In this area of your consciousness you can build up material you wish to work with, while not having to judge it. You simply hold it as being possible.
You will then find that a surprising number of spiritual and paranormal issues begin to link together to form strong patterns and synergies in your mind. You will also start to remember….
We don’t have to believe in anything new and hold it as a conviction and be afraid of betraying our past and present. We just accept the possibility and keep a sufficiently open mind to explore further. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. – Shakespeare, Hamlet (1.5.167-8). There are more frequencies of light than what our eyes can see. A radio set can only play one frequency of electro-magnetic waves at a time without unintelligible interference and jamming. Our experience is narrower that what we could ever imagine.
Perhaps my own opening paradigm is an infinitesimal beginning of a change. Maybe some change in the universe at a general level is predestined. Perhaps to an extent, it depends on us, our consciousness, our will to be positive and put aside our gloom and cynicism (knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing). These themes have always in my mind, but I have not always lived where it was safe to “come out” in public about them. Berdyaev has inspired me, as has René Guénon, Jean Faure who lived in Paris and wrote Le Cycle de l’Humanité Adamique on traditional cyclic notions of history as found in the Hindu scriptures. I have Paul le Cour’s book L’Ere du Verseau with a more astrological emphasis and a constant reference to French Romantics like Chateaubriand. Finally I see a new perspective on Berdyaev’s notion of a New Middle Age, not returning to the historical medieval period but the romanticised ideal like Hardenberg’s Die Christenheit oder Europa. I met Jean Phaure in Paris in 1992 and was invited to dinner at the Vietnamese restaurant where he almost lived.
New Age came into being over a very long period of time and used different words and descriptions. I see it as a part of human consciousness expressing itself in Christianity in the western world, the kind of Christianity that has always been offered to the Gentiles most of us are, but also in other religions in different parts of the world. One constant notion in Romanticism, often labelled as syncretism by some conservative Christians, is that of a primaeval revelation from which different religions and cultures evolved. The Mystery Schools are forgotten to all but scholars and avid readers, but they contained the same ideas that have filtered down to our own time. We ignore or deny this at our own peril and at the cost of our very freedom, freedom of perfection, freedom to seek the Absolute and the transcendent.
The term Possibility Consciousness is simple to grasp, perhaps a simplified way to understand what the philosophers worked so hard to find as a satisfying theory. It seems a wonderful way to break the spell of “realism” and materialism, to allow a relationship between philosophy and science whilst respecting the “otherness” of each. Giving humanity its freedom, not for gain or influence, but purely altruistically, is one of the greatest inspirations I will find in this world, already a sign of that change for which we all yearn with all our being.
Already, if our prayers and thoughts are pure, I believe we will avert World War III and all the things that terrify us like “Frankenstein science” and Big Brother, knowing that the enemy is among ourselves, under our own keel. I do follow the news, and I lament the constant “bullshit” and smokescreens of our elected politicians and the archons of the darkness of this world. We must do better by learning, thinking, praying and doing good around ourselves. Then that age, so desired, will arrive and console us in the heart of God.