A Numinous Future - Beyond The Abstractions of The State and The Nation
Q: You have stated several times that you regard both the State, and the nation, as obsolete. Can you explain in more detail why this is so?
A: The concepts of the State, and the nation, are relatively new, dating back only a few hundred years. For instance, what we now call Italy has only been existence for a short time, historically. Before people identified with this "Italy" - and before they called themselves Italians - they identified themselves according to what are now regions, or with a particular polis, a particular town, just as what we call the Ancient Greeks used to do.
Both the State, and the nation, are lifeless, artificial, abstractions, imposed upon us. They are ideas, imbued with causality, and as such they are not numinous. What is numinous is what connects us to Life - to the matrix of The Unity; to the unity of causal and acausal, which is the basis, the ground, of our being. That is, what is numinous are nexions, and all nexions express or manifest or presence something of the acausal. We are a nexion; a small community of those who share the same ethical standards and values is a nexion, as is the homeland, the small territory, where such a small community dwells, in harmony, in balance, with Nature and the Cosmos. Nature itself is a nexion, a manifestation of the living-being of the Cosmos.
But, one really crucial question is - how do we judge if something manifests, or presences, The Numen? Or, expressed another way - what criteria do we use to judge whether something, such as a State, is morally right or morally wrong, since The Numen is manifest, to us, and in us, through what is good? According to The Numinous Way, we use the criteria of the cessation of suffering, of empathy, of compassion and of personal honour, for these things express and presence what is good.
Judged by these criteria we can at once understand why both the State, and the nation are not-good. Both, for instance, take away the criteria of personal honour, imposing a set of State-wide, nation-wide, laws, enforced by an impersonal, State-government-appointed or national-government-appointed officials (such as the Police) which make the individual subservient to those laws, to the government, and to the officials of such a government. Indeed, one of the fundamental criteria of the State and the nation - of all governments - is the mandatory subservience of the individual to government appointed officials; the belief that the individuals must give their allegiance, direct or assumed, to such a government, or to a leader or some monarch who leads of heads such a State or nation. Furthermore, it is no coincidence that all States and all nations have outlawed the duel of honour, and the right of the individual to settle their own personal disputes in an honourable way, and have outlawed or severely restricted as the right of the individual to carry, and use, weapons in private and in public and in self-defence. For the State, the government, the officials and representatives of the nation, have now reserved to themselves the rights that once belonged to individuals, even regarding this as some kind of "progress" or as the basis of "civilized" and civic right.
Indeed, one has only to consider how the very term "public" has come
to be used, as if the State, the nation, or some government, had and
has authority over what it states and regards as "public" space, or
territory, with the individual somehow duty-bound to uphold the laws
that such governments, States, and nations, make governing how people
are expected to behave in such "public" territory. That is, they have
abrogated to themselves - to what they regard as their territory,
enclosed within their borders - what rightly and hitherto belonged to
no one. They have appropriated territory, and enforce their control by
Police forces, by armies, by Prisons - in short, by force - just as
they, to maintain themselves and their State, nation or government,
enforce the payment of taxes, with non-payment of such taxes being a
punishable, often imprisonable, offence. In this sense, they have taken
away, stolen, genuine freedom, and their taxes are, in effect, nothing
more than a large-scale protection racket.
In addition to this usurpation of honour and the freedom that goes with it, States and nations - and their governments - create and perpetuate suffering. They do this by their very nature, for their very existence depends on laws, enforced by threats of Prison, and upon defending, often expanding, their borders with armies and through war. Furthermore, and crucially, these concepts, of States, of nations, and even of government, are, as I said earlier, causal abstractions, and thus are based upon causal Time.
However, our life, our being, our existence, it is not a question of causal Time. That is, the answer must be viewed in the correct perspective. The fundamental mistake of politics - of all such attempts at causal solutions - is to take a causal, linear, approach and to posit some goal which there is or must be some kind of "progress" toward. The reality, the truth, is that we, as individuals, as human beings, as living-beings, are both causal and acausal, and that our very being has its essence in the acausal, so that this linear approach is the cause of much suffering - the perpetuation of suffering. This is so because such a causal approach ignores how we, as individuals, cause or contribute to or perpetuate suffering - we do this through ourselves, because of ourselves, because of our attachment to the causal, to causal forms, causal ideas: that is, to abstractions which we impose upon ourselves, on others, and upon the world. We then attempt to provoke or cause or bring about changes - or "progress" - in accord with these abstractions in order to try and make such abstractions real. However, they can never be made real, for they are by their very nature, lifeless, abstract and in a very important way therefore "inhuman". Our very attempt to bring about such causal changes causes and perpetuates suffering and is therefore wrong, unethical.
To be ethical, to cease to cause suffering, we must move-away from what causes suffering, which is ourselves, our attachment to the causal and our attachment to lifeless, abstract, causal forms. What manifests Truth, Reality, is the acausal (or rather the matrix, the nexions, of The Unity, the Cosmos) and what presences The Numen - which is that which is beautiful numinous, and good.
Thus, we must view the solution to such problems in an acausal way - or rather, in terms of the very nature of being, of The Unity beyond causal and acausal; in terms of ourselves, as nexions, as part of the Cosmos, and of our causal life as but a temporary presencing of the acausal in the causal.
Q: What do you advocate in place of the State, and the nation? And wouldn't their abolition cause anarchy and be a return to barbarism?
A: I suggest small, rural, communities, which co-operate with, and which trade with, other local communities for their own mutual benefit. That is, a return to what is human; to the human-scale-of-things, and a moving-forward to a simple, ethical, letting-be based upon personal honour. This letting-be means that we concern ourselves with ourselves, and our immediate family and community - that we do not embark upon some abstract "crusade" in some foreign land where we desire to impose ourselves, our ways, upon others, and upon other cultures, and that we do not seek to expand at the expense of others, causing thus suffering to others. It means that we are reasonably content, and view our lives as a nexion, a connexion to Nature, to the Cosmos, and to that acausal existence which we may possibly achieve if we live, in this causal existence, in the right, in an ethical, way.
The abolition of the State and the nation - of impersonal, remote, governments, of tyrants, of impersonal laws and of the taxes imposed by these - would be a liberation, a return to genuine freedom and honour. It would be an evolutionary step - not a retrograde one. Of course, there would be problems, in such a change, but the most important thing is for us, as individuals, to begin the process, the personal change, that is necessary. From this, the social change will follow in its own way, in its own "Time": gently, without causing any more suffering, and without individuals acting in a dishonourable way.
Q: To achieve this abolition, do you advocate revolution, the overthrow of States, and governments?
A: I advocate nothing, I only suggest some answers, and give some of my own, personal, conclusions that have resulted from my thinking. People are free to agree with these answers, these suggestions, or reject them; or use them as some beginning of their own. In respect of change, what is required, by the ethics of The Numinous Way, is a self-transformation, an inner change - a living according to the ethics of The Numinous Way. That is, compassion, empathy, honour, reason - the cessation of suffering, and the gradual evolution, development, of the individual: a move toward, a return to, an evolution of, empathy.
This is a personal change, and a slow, social change. The social change arises, for example, when groups of people who follow such a Way freely decide to live in a certain manner through, for example, being part of, or creating, a small rural community. The social change also arises when others are inspired by the ethical example of others.
All this takes us very far away from political or violent revolution - very far away from politics at all. So no, a violent revolution, the overthrow of some State or some government, is not the answer; instead, inner personal development and ethical social change are answers. To quote from my dialogue A Personal Learning:
"The great change toward the cessation of suffering - toward a better world - begins with this reformation of ourselves, this evolution of ourselves, this inner development. This is the essence of the social change, the social process, that is necessary."
Q: But didn't you once advocate the violent overthrow of what you called "The System"?
Yes, years ago, in that foolish period which for me lasted for
several decades. Before I fully understood the nature of suffering and
the causes of suffering; before I fully understood honour and empathy
and all their
implications. Before I fully developed The Numinous Way as a result of
my experiences and my thinking. Before, that is, I placed empathy and
compassion at the centre of my own personal life.
Q: Turning now to the future, how do you see the future of the world over the next one to two hundred years, particularly in regard to problems such as the growth of the human population, and global warming? Is there a catastrophe ahead?
A: There may well be problems as a result of the increase in population, as a result of climate change, as a result of the migrations that are just beginning, as a result of the starvation that is now rife in certain parts of the world, and as a result of the hubris, the arrogance, the misuse of natural resources, of many governments, and nations, especially in and by what has been called "the developed world".
But, from the viewpoint of The Numinous Way, the solution to current and future problems is simple - to view ourselves, and this planet, the life on this planet, as nexions; as part of the matrix of the life of the Cosmos. To understand the nature of being - the nature of suffering - and to reform ourselves, as individuals. That is, to have a Cosmic perspective - to view our life in context, as a possibility to transcend, to become another type of being.
The solution does not involve more of the same - more attempts to implement causal solutions, based on, for example, some political or economic, idea, or continuing with the outmoded concepts of nation, and State, or the quest for material prosperity. The solution simply involves each individual taking responsibility for themselves, changing themselves in an ethical way, and trying to aid the nexions of life which exist. Part of this is in accepting that materialism, that possessions, that wealth, individually and collectively - that attachment to causal forms - cause and perpetuate suffering.
Q: A lot of what you say sounds very Buddhist like. Can you therefore expand upon your recent answer elsewhere regarding the differences between Buddhism and The Numinous Way? Could The Numinous Way be called a new type of Buddhism?
A: There are many fundamental differences. For example, the concept of personal honour is important for The Numinous Way, whereas it has no place in Buddhism. Furthermore, there is no concept, or notion, of karma, of nirvana, in The Numinous Way - rather, there is an understanding of the Cosmos in terms of causal and acausal, of ourselves as nexions, of this causal existence of ours as one opportunity, never to come again, to evolve toward, into, the acausal, becoming thus the changing, evolving consciousness of the Cosmos itself.
There is also, as briefly mentioned in the essay Presencing The Numen in The Moment, no emphasis on, or practice of, such techniques as meditation. However, there are some common insights, which is not unexpected, for, as I wrote in the aforementioned essay:
"The Numinous Way is but one answer to the questions about existence, it does not have some monopoly on truth, nor does it claim any prominence, accepting that all the diverse manifestations of the Numen, all the diverse answers, of the various numinous Ways and religions, have or may have their place, and all perhaps may serve the same ultimate purpose - that of bringing us closer to the ineffable beauty, the ineffable goodness, of life; that of transforming us, reminding us; that of giving us as individuals the chance to be cease to cause suffering, to presence the good, to be part of the Numen itself."