Monday, 28 March 2016

William Arkle´s Foreword to billarkle.co.uk

I very nearly called this web site 'The Play of William Arkle', and then I felt that it would sound rather too casual for most people and even an insult to the endeavour that is brought to the resolving of the mysteries of life.
The reason that the word 'play' suggested itself is that the journey of understanding seems to lead from the level of human survival as a personality in this world, through to a spiritual view that takes survival of our spiritual self for granted and then on again into the appreciation of the all encompassing smile of our Divine Creator.
This Divine Smile says a very simple thing, which is that the everlasting nature of its Spirit can have only two options, either it remains in its Absolute condition of Blissful non-action or it can engage in action through the creation of play grounds. This means creating theatres of time, space and lots of things from a condition of no action or time or space or things.
Our Creator felt that the first choice of no action could becoming boring because there was no adventure, surprise or growth involved. The livingness of The Spirit felt itself to be in need of such adventure as an expression of joyful love and fun. So the second choice came about purely for the exercise of joy and love and fun.
The only word I could find to cover the activity of joy and love and fun was the word play, but unless it is approached in the right way the word does not carry the correct significance. And thus the whole of this web site is a journey into the understanding of The Creators view of the word play.
You will find that my own earlier understandings moved gradually into this way of talking about our reality. It seemed to become more and more light hearted while being able to sympathise with all the conditions of growth which can feel to be the conditions of fear and anxiety. Thus the big game of life at play has conditions within it which can descend to the very opposites of its initial intention.
These opposite conditions are the result of our Creator deciding to give us the Gift of being able to become real players in our own right at this adventure which is being undertaken. This is why the picture book was called The Great Gift and why the writings in it referred to God as being our friend in this one life endeavour. Later on this was changed to the expression God, The Player Friend'.
As for me, I have kept the name William Arkle. I like the name because it implies that my will is doing its best to be a small expression of the Ark of Life, The Heart of the Creator Friend. However my close associates now find me calling myself Billy The Kid.

http://www.billarkle.co.uk/billintro.html

The above short piece was written a few months before William Arkle died at the age of  about 76. It is an extraordinarily luminous, joyous, and apparently naive piece of writing - life-affirming and without a trace of bitterness.

How many people who have lived to 76, in the twentieth century - serving in the 39-45 war - and who have worked as an obscure and almost unknown artist, philosopher, painter and a religious visionary and teacher - could write in such an uncompromising fashion at the end of their lives? I have read many biographies and autobiographies and I cannot think of any other example.

At the end of his life the commonplace word ´play´has - for Arkle - become charged with such a depth of meaning that it has become central; earlier the same thing happened for ´friend´ (becoming a friend of the creator as the ultimate goal not just of mortal life but the principle for the organization of the universe and all reality).

Arkle makes little concession to the prevalent pessimism and despair. He all but laughs in the face of horror and suffering.

We have much to learn from him.

11 comments:

  1. "We have much to learn from him."

    We most certainly do! The emphasis on love, creativity or 'play' and friendship as the highest ideal kind of relationship is a beautiful conception of the divine. People laugh at me when I tell them I believe in God. When they press me further about why he created the world I tell them that he wanted friends. They still laugh and dismiss me but they are often seem pleasantly surprised or that their hearts are softened by this idea, even if it is rapidly replaced by the habitual denial of divinity as a childishness that does not warrant serious consideration by adults. To them Christianity is about an omnipotent tribal God who assigns you to heaven or hell at his whim. They do not expect the disarming nature of a 'God who weeps' or a being who desires friendship. The concept is alien but it moves them. It moved me to belief. Kindness and love soften the heart. The offer of friendship softens the heart, but strength is required to protect and defend those we love and our friends. What a strange blend of softness and strength is the true Christian path. We need to be Christian lions but with tender hearts. Lewis' Aslan springs to mind.



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  2. Nicholas Fulford29 March 2016 at 02:46

    The reason that the word 'play' suggested itself is that the journey of understanding seems to lead from the level of human survival as a personality in this world, through to a spiritual view that takes survival of our spiritual self for granted and then on again into the appreciation of the all encompassing smile of our Divine Creator.

    This Divine Smile says a very simple thing, which is that the everlasting nature of its Spirit can have only two options, either it remains in its Absolute condition of Blissful non-action or it can engage in action through the creation of play grounds. This means creating theatres of time, space and lots of things from a condition of no action or time or space or things.


    I suppose this is not a dissimilar view - though expressed more poetically - than the idea of a virtual and unchanging entity, such as a fractal equation, and its relationship to what unfolds via its instantiation. It "contains" all of what is expressible but is itself unchanging, while the play grounds are a universe or outward expression of what is latent within it at all the different scales and paths that unfold over time.

    Our Creator felt that the first choice of no action could becoming boring because there was no adventure, surprise or growth involved. The livingness of The Spirit felt itself to be in need of such adventure as an expression of joyful love and fun. So the second choice came about purely for the exercise of joy and love and fun.

    Or, the expression allows for the virtual to fully realise and experience itself in all of the different possible modes of expression which lie latent in it. This includes such complex and sophisticated things as ecologies, species and individuals within species.

    The thing that remains perplexing from this view is the question of theodicy, or at least the question of why aspects of the expression impose terrible suffering on other sentient aspects. It seems that suffering is part and parcel of what unfolds, and hence suffering is an essential within the virtual and unchanging basis of what is expressed. It is unavoidable - every thing which lives and has some capacity to experience its life will experience death and many forms of suffering between birth and death. This God is a suffering entity and it experiences many variations on a theme of suffering and death, as well as the joyful reflections and ecstasies which sentient life experiences.

    You will find that my own earlier understandings moved gradually into this way of talking about our reality. It seemed to become more and more light hearted while being able to sympathise with all the conditions of growth which can feel to be the conditions of fear and anxiety. Thus the big game of life at play has conditions within it which can descend to the very opposites of its initial intention.

    Or, within it are qualities of opposition which necessarily unfold and reveal themselves as dark threads in the tapestry. Hence, suffering and death.

    However we label or categorize it, suffering and death are essential and part and parcel of the virtual God which is revealing in the unfolding itself over time.

    These opposite conditions are the result of our Creator deciding to give us the Gift of being able to become real players in our own right at this adventure which is being undertaken. This is why the picture book was called The Great Gift and why the writings in it referred to God as being our friend in this one life endeavour. Later on this was changed to the expression God, The Player Friend’.

    There is a problem though, as some come into being and experience horrific suffering and very little of what is light or playful. Conversely, some experience predominantly what is light and playful with a very small taste of suffering and a good death. Balance or fairness does not appear to happen.

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  3. A bit off-topic, but I've been wondering for some time: Is it for any particular reason that you always refer to the two World Wars by their dates rather than by name?

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  4. No particular reason except clarity.

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  5. @ Nicholas:

    "There is a problem though, as some come into being and experience horrific suffering and very little of what is light or playful. Conversely, some experience predominantly what is light and playful with a very small taste of suffering and a good death. Balance or fairness does not appear to happen."

    I have spent a very long time being preoccupied with exactly this kind of problem over the last 15-20 years or so. It moved me at first to explore the nature and causes of suffering and to become a Buddhist but the bottom line of Buddhism is what I would now regard as nihilistic at worst (especially when practised by westerners) and radically incomplete at best. It sets a diagnosis and treatment which attempts to escape the deep seated nature of suffering within conscious existence itself by returning to a unconditional state of Nirvana. Of course if the nature of consciousness is denied as in the west then you can't even get this far. Our western metaphysical assumptions prevent any possibility of this.

    The dead-end of Buddhism for me came when I heard a story about the Buddha imploring people to treat their quest for Nirvana with the analogy of a man wounded in battle with an arrow, who would be wiser to pull the arrow out and treat the wound without worrying so much where the arrow comes from. This focus creates a kind of myopia which I would associate with other points of view that do not factor in the fullest possible set of considerations of the things that exist in nature/reality. The Buddhists would hold that the beauty of music, nature or art or the beauty of an 'individual' persons unique identity are all ultimately illusionary and must be transcended to escape suffering. In the end, suffering can be overcome by following the 8 fold noble path. In essence I still believe Buddhism does what it says on the tin. This is a choice that is available to us should we wish to pursue it. In reality westerners are not really serious about this though. They still want sexual fantasy and actual sex, nice holidays and sensory indulgence but with the occasional Buddhist retreat to make a trendy or interesting story to discuss at dinner parties or mindfulness conferences. This is not what Buddha taught.

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  6. In contrast, Christianity seems to me now to offer a radically more complete picture of reality than any other philosophy or religion does. It incorporates everything, it is a much fuller jigsaw puzzle than stopping at removing arrows, as it includes where the arrow came from and why there is an arrow to begin with. It specifically addresses the value of the uniqueness of human souls, like beautiful one off snowflakes, and it does not try to reject this but embraces it and positively affirms the enduring value of these things and not simply transient *impermanence*.

    Christianity offers a meaningful purpose to the cosmos and existence itself which Buddhism doesn't (they are trying to not exist because, as you say, life is full of *unfair* suffering so best to be avoided, in the very long run at least after many cycles on the wheel of dharma) and which factors into its *gestalt* the existence of you and I and the rest of humanity as indivisible moral and conscious agents.

    The problem of pain or suffering does not make any sense at all unless it is approached from a different metaphysical starting point that assumes the existence of life after death, the possibilities of theosis or spiritual progression and the bottom line of agency or free will; the indivisible/eternal nature of soil that we keep and don't simply lose to suffering and extinction!

    I would argue that we came to Earth to learn and it was known to us that we risked great sorrow, both immortal perils and mortal losses, but that the spiritual classroom of this universe was designed to enable us to grow and learn as free agents without the kinds of design features which would hinder our development towards an understanding of the full nature of good and evil; the attainment of enduring wisdom or godliness with a small g. We could not learn this if suffering and agency were artificially dominated or removed by an external agent. Suffering is a condition of *potential* spiritual growth and not something to be totally rejected or avoided (although that does not mean, paradoxically that it is desirable, but it is *educational*). If, as modernity would have it, death is an extinction, then suffering is really an unfathomable tragedy without meaning or purpose; we may as well end our lives now, storing away transient memories of nice holidays and star gazing (however sublime it *feels*) is futile. If, however, Christianity is true and life after death does exist then souls stand to learn a great deal from their mortal sufferings even in the horrors of war, natural disasters or illness and death.

    Certain sufferings are man made and can be transcended by wisdom and spiritual maturity, but others are inevitable constraints of the designs of the physical classroom we find ourselves existing within e.g. natural disasters and perhaps many illnesses (particularly those related to senescence or ageing) or diseases.

    Most of these discoveries are not my own of course. As perhaps with Bruce I have gained an immense amount from the teachings of the LDS church and William Arkle's writings. My understanding of the *value* of suffering and it's educational role (still limited but growing every day) comes from these sources. I hope this helps you as it has helped me.

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  7. "Dark matter is a hypothetical substance that is believed by most astronomers to account for around five-sixths of the matter in the universe."

    "Dark matter is a hypothetical substance that is believed by most astronomers to account for around five-sixths of the matter in the universe. Although it has not been directly observed, its existence and properties are inferred from its various gravitational effects" Taken from wikipedia.

    Another angle which may be of *value* to understanding suffering is the perspective of considering the balance of opposites. Matter and dark matter. Love and hate. Suffering and joy. One cannot exist without the other.

    A child is shielded from suffering by parental guidance but when that child is old enough to leave home and enter the world they are no longer protected or shielded from suffering in the way they had been within the parental home under the close and obvious guidance (within easily identifiable proximity between parent and child) that a child will experience quite viscerally in nurturing way to begin with but then a stifling way when they become of sufficient age and the natural impulses to seek independence and self-autonomy emerge. In pre-mortal life we were with our creator and now we have left home. If we took our parents with us we would never grow up. How do we know this? Well, for me, being of a scientific bent I feel some level of inferential reasoning can be employed but it is partial. A bit like the inference of the existence of dark matter. As the jigsaw puzzle of the understanding of physical reality is completed by physicists a space or whole for another missing piece is discerned. The hypothesis posited to fill the hole: dark matter. Similarly as we complete the spiritual jig-saw puzzle of the *geography of consciousness* there are pieces missing that give rise to hypothetical inferences. These inferences usually require disparate sources and fundamental alterations to the metaphysical assumptions necessary to complete the puzzle (The puzzle cannot even be begun in any meaningful way until the scope of the jigsaws frame includes life after death and the rest of the key fundamental assumptions cited in earlier comment - you can't play lego without lego blocks). We cannot fully understand joy without suffering or a direct full experience of both. We can however infer that even though we cannot confirm certain aspects of reality empirically they are still real and of central importance to the meaning of reality. Love is like dark matter (perhaps eternal 'light-matter' would be a better name): we cannot see it, touch it, smell it, eat it, find it in the gaps between thoughts but we all *know* at the deepest experiential level of our being that it is real and it uniquely imbues all of reality and creation with a *value* that uniquely makes existence *worth it*.

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  8. Nb: To use another physics analogy, when 'light-matter' is refracted or separated through the lens of life we get all the other derivatives of love - natural beauty, virtue, truth, friendship, hope, compassion, strength (perhaps magnification not refraction for this one), etc. All of these things, the only things that make life living, have no intrinsic reality or ultimate explanation according to the modern scientific paradigm except perhaps 'oxytocin' or weakly contingent upon explanations of neurotransmitters interacting in little biological blobs of water and soft tissue called brains. Isn't the absurdity and deficiency of this explanatory schema compared to spiritual ones radically deficient? A better *null-hypothesis* until something better is found? And yet that view is flatly rejected by almost everyone in modern civilisation (not even the countless that have gone before and may yet come to pass). Why is it rejected or even any view that has a similar scope of meaning or purpose? We don't know but almost everyone is absolutely *certain* that what I have just written is complete rubbish! They won't even get past an initial minute or so hard thought about what 'free will' is or if they have it, what this has to say about their ideas about what a brain is and how such a strictly mechanical thing can give rise to a transcendental quality such as *agency*? how can it possibly be that a mechanical, totally conditional physical and material device can produce these things? But if we turn this piece of the jigsaw around (a paradigm/metaphysical shift) well...then we can have fun playing with jigsaw together can't we? We can actually make *progress* :-)

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  9. @ Bruce - sorry for the extended posting here but I am feeling agile enough to kick the ball up field today! I feel quite lucid within the bounds of my own limited understanding. I promise this is the last today. It is just boisterous high - spirits :-)

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  10. Nicholas Fulford30 March 2016 at 02:53

    Thanks David for your passionate and eloquently presented observations. It is always a joy to me when something I write elicits so much good thinking in someone.

    I will reread it tomorrow when I am less tired. Thank-you for the time spent and the quality of your thoughts.

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  11. @ Nicholas - You're welcome. I hope I don't come across as too dogmatic or lecturing but it is my conviction that the above generally makes much more sense of reality than the deeper confusion I found before I allowed for the possibilities of altered metaphysical assumptions. This made all the difference and I can see why Bruce is always harping on about it. Metaphysics is crucial :-)

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