Compassion, Empathy and Honour: The Ethics of the Numinous Way
Q: Can you explain the connection between honour, empathy and compassion, and if, and why, compassion and empathy are important for The Numinous Way?
A: The true basis for personal honour is an inward feeling of nobility: of intuitively knowing what is honourable. Honour means we respect people - we are well-mannered toward them; we treat them as we ourselves would wish to be treated, and are aware of them, as unique individuals, as fellow human beings, who feel pain, anguish; who love, and who can know joy, sorrow and happiness. That is, we have empathy toward them, and this empathy - this awareness of their humanity - should incline us toward compassion, which is an expression of our very humanity, of our ability to know, to be aware of, the feelings, the suffering, of others. In effect, compassion and empathy provide that supra-personal perspective which makes us truely human and what we may term "civilized".
Thus, honour, empathy and compassion are all related. Honour means we know, we feel, what true justice is - it is individuals being fair, being reasonable. Honour also means what we strive to do what is right, and are prepared to act, in an honourable way, if we see some injustice, some dishonour, being done.
Honour is the basis for the ethics of The Numinous Way.
Q: How, then, would you define the ethics of The Numinous Way?
A: As a modern, and conscious, expression of our humanity.
Q: Does The Numinous Way support the concept of a just war?
A: No, The Numinous Way does not support this because it is contrary to the ethic of honour and compassion which is the basis for The Numinous Way itself, which ethic means that we strive to avoid causing suffering, and strive to alleviate suffering. This in itself means that we strive not to harm, or injure, or kill, any living thing - and nothing justifies war, which is an unethical, inhuman, abstraction undertaken by some abstract "authority" or some abstract State, which "authority" and which State are dishonourable, and unethical, by their very nature because they take away the freedom, the liberty, that personal honour confers. In addition, the concept of war entails the demonization of those regarded as "the enemy" which itself is inhuman and dishonourable, just as it involves de-humanizing "armies" which seek to, and which often do, take away, or which try to take away, the responsibility each member of such an "army" has for their own actions, such as killing another human being.
The only thing which is ethically justifiable is honourable self-defence, and this is only and ever a personal and immediate response to a direct, personal, assault or attack, and should involve the minimal amount of force necessary, and always involve fighting in an honourable, warrior-like, way. It is therefore difficult to ethically justify a group, however small, using lethal force against another group, although it possible that certain exceptions could be made. For example, one might imagine, at some future time when impersonal unethical States no longer exist, a small community being attacked by some marauding band composed of dishonourable persons. These marauders might be opposed by a small trained band of warriors from such a community who would fight in an honourable way and in defence of their community, but even this must be preceded, if possible, by dialogue designed to arrive at a peaceful solution, as it most certainly must involve some personal knowledge of, or some personal contact with, the attacker or attackers.
Q: Does The Numinous Way support violence?
A: The Numinous Way supports the use of some physical force in acts of self-defence, for this is often the honourable thing to do when, for example, faced with someone trying to inflict harm upon you, or on someone near you. Violence, correctly defined, is using force sufficient to cause physical injury to someone else. But it is perhaps better to use the concept of "honourable force" in self-defence, rather than the now pejorative term violence. So, yes, The Numinous Way supports honourable force, used in self-defence.
Q: Can you explain the importance of personal love in The Numinous Way?
A: Love between two people is humanizing - one might say the quintessence of our very humanity - and therefore is important, and desirable. It has been often said, and written, that we humans are social beings, but, more correctly, it should perhaps be said and written that we are beings capable of personal love: that human love is necessary for us to function correctly, for us to be fully human. Therefore, The Numinous Way regards personal love as necessary, as one of the highest virtues.
Q: What about hunting, and the eating of meat?
A: The Numinous Way is totally opposed to hunting, as a sport, regarding it is unethical, immoral and dishonourable - against the empathy and compassion that we should have and feel for all living things - and considers that a diet without meat is preferable, since the rearing and exploitation of animals for food is inhuman, unethical, and something we should move away from since it often causes suffering for those animals and always involves them in being killed. However, if due to local conditions and circumstances, a vegetarian diet is not immediately possible then animals should be treated in a humane, a compassionate way, and plans made for future alternatives that do not involve the rearing and slaughter of animals for food.
Q: Is the concept of the evolution of one's life after one's causal, mortal, death important for the ethics of The Numinous Way, and can you expand upon this life after mortal death?
A: To answer this question, we have to understand how The Numinous Way views individuals, our mortal, causal, life - and to answer the question: what is the meaning of our lives? The Numinous Way considers that we, as beings, possess what has been termed acausal energy - that it is this which makes us "alive", and it is this which we can increase, or decrease, in our living, by what we do, or do not do.
If we increase it in certain ways, we have the possibility of transcending, after our mortal death in this causal world, to another type of existence in the acausal itself. To increase it, we must presence the numinous, in our own lives, and in the world, for the numinous is how acausal energy is or can be manifest in the causal. What presences the numinous for an individual? Primarily honour; compassion; empathy; by a personal love of a selfless type; by a striving to alleviate suffering; a striving to not cause any harm, any suffering, in other living beings, for such suffering is a loss of acausal energy. And also what presences the numinous for us as individuals is an empathic awareness of, and a striving to maintain the health, the vitality - to evolve - those acausal beings which we know and which are already presenced on this planet which is our home. These beings include Nature, to which we are connected.
When we access the acausal, we are accessing the Cosmic Being - who, or which, is within us, by virtue of us having life - and when we strengthen our acausal energies, we strengthen, give more life to, this Being, to the very Cosmos itself. To feel this, to know this, requires a certain letting-be: a certain type of awareness, of consciousness, within us, born as this is from empathy and compassion.
Thus, this possible evolution of ourselves, after our causal death, is of great importance, for us, for The Numinous Way - but it is not a given thing; not a gift of some supreme Being. Rather, it is the result of our own efforts, in this our mortal life - which is thus an opportunity, never to arise again. Furthermore, it is not our causal self which transcends to the acausal: we become another type of being which we can, at this moment in our conscious evolution, not fully explicate in words.
All these things follow logically, rationally, from the basic postulates concerning the nature of the acausal and the causal.
Q: What is the nature of the acausal?
A: As briefly outlined in the essay Acausal Science: Life and The Nature of the Acausal (which was a re-write of the older essay The Question of Time: Toward the New Acausal Science of Life) the acausal is that aspect of the Cosmos defined by acausal Time and acausal Space where acausal energy (or acausal matter) exists. That is, the Cosmos is both causal, and acausal, each having their own type of beings (or their own type of "life"/existence) and each having their own physical laws. The laws of the causal are those currently best described by Physics.
We, as living beings, exist in the causal - in the causal universe of causal Space and causal Time. However, because we are living, we possess certain acausal energies - which energies are a manifestation of our life; which are our life - and it is these acausal energies which differentiate living, organic, causal matter from inert, non-living causal matter.
Q: Is the concept of a numinous culture, and Nature, as living beings, central to the Numinous Way, and what is the nature of these beings?
A: The concept of such types of living beings is
The Numinous Way, and their nature is explained by their fundamental
acausality. That is, they are nexions for acausal energy: where acausal
energy is presenced in this phenomenal, causal world of ours. As such,
they possess life - they are life. Thus, a culture is a presencing of
Nature - a living being which, to be healthy, to thrive and evolve,
should live within its own small homeland. As such, it is itself a
nexion, a manifestation of the Cosmic Being - of the evolution of the
Cosmos, as is Nature. A numinous cultre coming into-being when a small
group of individuals freely decide to live in a ethical and numinous
way, and, over causal time, a particular community developes with its
own character and ethos and way of living. From this community, other
communities develope, and thus a particular type of society arises, and
such communities and such a society is and remains numinous - a
particular living-being - so long as there is a presnecing of the numen
within it via a numinous ethos and by individuals living in a balanced,
The Numinous Way is a means to aid such beings - to
make us aware of how we relate to such beings, it explains how we, as
individuals, are nexions, part of the causal-acausal matrix, The Unity,
The Essence, and that what we do, or do not do, affects these beings
and thus the Cosmos itself whose life, whose awareness, is manifest in
the Cosmic Being.
However, the most important thing - vis-a-vis the
actions of the individual - is to strive not to cause any suffering to
any living being; to strive to alleviate suffering; to live in an
ethical, honourable, tolerant, way; and to have and develope a natural
empathy with all life.
Q: Are there any rituals, or prayers, or meditations, which can presence the numinous for an individual and which makes us aware of ourselves as a nexion, as an evolving being?
A: No, there are no rituals, or prayers, since we presence the numinous by our honourable deeds, by and through a deep, selfless personal love, and by that mode of being which includes empathy, and compassion. This mode of being may be said to be a type of letting-be: a quiet contemplation, which we can especially find in unspoilt Nature, in places where the numinosity of Nature, its sacred character, can be felt.
However, there is no reason why a certain poem, said in quiet way in quiet, numinous, surroundings - or a certain peace of numinous music - cannot be used to aid us in feeling the numinous within us and external to us, to aid us to recall the possibility of evolving, and to enable us to remember the Cosmic Being.
Q: Why should anyone take anything you write seriously since you seem to have changed your views so many times over the years, and have certainly changed, or developed, The Numinous Way over the past few years?
A: I am just trying to present some of the answers I have found to those difficult and sometimes perplexing questions about life, answers arising from my own experiences, and often from my own mistakes: from striving to be honest with myself about my errors, my failings. My answers are my answers, and they may, or may not, be of some interest to someone, somewhere, sometime - but I am no longer interested in converting others, or preaching to them. If others do not find them of interest, they do not. Thus, The Numinous Way, as presenced in my most recent writings, is my very own personal answer.
To express these answers, though, is in some ways cathartic - and a reminder, to myself; part of the journey itself and, especially recently, one means to try and present something worthwhile, and hopefully, human, so that something good may arise from one person's recent tragic death.
In addition, I am acutely aware, as I have written elsewhere, that I may be mistaken; that I could be wrong. So I am now genuinely tolerant of the views of others; tolerant of other Ways of Life, of other religions - of everything, everyway, every person, which and who strives to alleviate suffering and strives to presence the numen and our humanity. In the past, of course, I was quite often not tolerant; or not tolerant enough, so here again there has been a learning, by me, from the sorrow of experience: a knowing of the humanizing value of humility, something so sadly lacking, it seems, in each and every political ideology or view, and something I myself lacked, for many years.