«By CAROLE ANNE HAMBY A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion ...»
202 as Testimony, are not relevant to Quakers who are not enjoined to the practice outlined by Fox in the seventeenth century. 12 The Elements (3-9) of worship identified differ from the means to create the Conditions (1 and 2) of worship. The latter, Conditions, involve some degree of activity, even though it is activity that has the intention of lessening activity. These aspects of worship have been described as active, insofar as they involve a small degree of human effort. The Elements of worship are more likely to occur spontaneously rather than being generated or worked for. Therefore, once the individual has created the Conditions and given focus to the attention, a more passive involvement can be engaged. It is this which facilitates the deepening of the experience of Inwardness. In this condition, Discernment and Growth may be felt to be enmeshed as the individual waits for guidance from the ‘Inward Teacher’.
Although the process of Inwardness remains a constant in the writings of Friends across three and a half centuries, interpretations of the meanings and functions of Inwardness have changed for sections of the community of Friends over time. Indeed, in the twenty first century, questions have been raised by some members about the possibility of excluding the term ‘religious’ from the name of the Society. 13 As has been shown from the nineteenth century when Quakerism was unequivocally Christian, Quakerism has diversified.14 It is then unsurprising to find re-formulations of the meaning and function of Inwardness in the last one hundred years. It is maintained here however that, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the means of settling down and the matter of process of spiritual practice are little changed. Preparing for worship remains consistent with earlier times, but the focus of worship, including concern with the Unity that God Focusing allows, has diminished or ceased for non F-Q participants. The process
12 See: 6.3.3, Inwardness as having Consequences. 13 See chapter 5.
14 The eighteenth century went through a period of Quietism, the nineteenth became more Evangelical and the twentieth moved into modern Liberalism, within the twenty-first century Liberalism demonstrates further developments. Note also the differences around the world, African and US Quakerism are not quite as liberal as Britain and Europe, for example. See Dandelion, Introduction, chapter 6.
203 described, as initiated by George Fox, is to be distinguished from the contemporary practice of Experiment with Light constructed by Rex Ambler in recent years.
Earlier discussion has introduced Quakers who refer to themselves as mystics 15 and academics who include consideration of the mystical dimension of Quakerism in their discussion.16 It is claimed in this thesis that the process described in the analysis of Quaker Inwardness has parallels with the mystical concerns and contemplative practices of other traditions.17 It is notable, however, that analysis of Christian mysticism 18 places spiritual practice mainly within a monastic framework. In general, therefore, there is a distinction between Quaker mysticism in its worldly context, and monastic mysticism.
Nonetheless, both the practice and consequences of Inwardness demonstrate parallels.
What McGinn refers to as the ‘introspective or metapsychological dimension’ of spiritual knowing places emphasis on the contemplative process itself but also acknowledges the significance of the way of life.19 Thus analysis of the work of some mystics of different periods shows concern for process and consequence comparable to Quaker spirituality. For Quakers ‘the community’ focus is more outward turned than that of many monastics. Quaker inclusivity of loving wisdom, that invokes ways of caring for neighbours is, in part at least, an exemplar that love of God and love of neighbour are not mutually exclusive but rather mutually enhancing:20 The vertical and the horizontal axes 15 Note Stephen in 5.4.2.
16 See Eeg-Olofsson in 1.3.
17 Refer to 6.3.1.
18 McGinn, The Presence of God Vols. 1-4; Christian mysticism as largely monastic. See also, King, U. Christian Mystics: Their lives and legacies throughout the ages, (London: Routledge, 2004).
19 See McGinn, Foundations, pp. 326-343. Appendix, Theoretical Approaches, section 3, Comparativist and psychological approaches to mysticism.
20 The lives of notable Quakers of the past, as for example John Woolman, (and also contemporary Quaker Jonathan Dale and others, who are much engaged in worldly issues and concern), are important signifiers of this position.
204 of spirituality are fundamentally related. Jantzen’s discussion of the social implications of the experience and concerns of certain mystics is thus particularly relevant.21 It is beyond the scope of this thesis to unravel the unfolding of Christian mysticism and its Hellenic influences in any detail or to show minutely the threads of connection with Quaker practice. However, notions of process, progress and goal intersect. McGinn considers these under three headings. 22 He discusses a) ‘mysticism as a part or element of religion’ b) ‘mysticism as a process or way of life’, and c) ‘mysticism as an attempt to express a direct consciousness of God’. The Quaker parallels are a) in its practice; b) in Friends’ living testimony in gospel order; c) in ‘unmediated or immediate revelation of God’.23 Quakers, described as F-Q Friends, who follow Fox’s injunction to turn within, continue to claim a sense of mystical unknowing24 in turning inward to the ‘Light of Christ within’. That is, they continue to practice Inwardness as a process of seeking. Their understanding is that the process is the means to the goal, but the goal does not have, for all practitioners, clearly defined characteristics. Inwardness is, nonetheless, inherently 21 Jantzen questions patristic notions of mysticism as a journey towards union with God. For Jantzen, as other feminist theologians, the significance of God’s involvement in the world is to do with engagement in all of life in a practical and palpable manner. This is visible in human relationships, but also concerns the functioning of living processes beyond the human. In terms of the interpenetration of the human and divine Jantzen’s proposition is that the world might be considered to be God’s body, and if this is so, the processes of interaction, human and other, are found within a sacred and sacramental relationship, honoured and supported by mystics. See Jantzen, G. God’s World: God’s Body (London: Darton, Longman
and Todd, 1984) and Becoming Divine: Towards a Feminist Philosophy of Religion (Manchester:
Manchester University Press, 1998).
22 McGinn, Foundations, pp. xv-xvi.
23 Hicks’ more recent consideration of mystical experience uses a different range of topics, see Hicks, P. ‘Fathoming the Unfathomable: Mysticism and Philosophy’ in Partridge, C. and Gabriel, T.
Mysticisms (pp.325-344) p. 326. Hicks discusses‘1) Mystical experience as something that is wholly subjective’, ‘2) Mystical experience as something to be explained in terms of its immediate cause’, ‘3) Mystical experience that has (or claims to have) a passive objective reality as its object’, and ‘4) Mystical experiences that claims to be two-way, or relational’. Hicks, p. 238, opts for (4) as ‘the paradigm mystical experience’ ‘while allowing for the validity of (3) as well’.
24 See The Cloud of Unknowing: In general, talk of ‘the Cloud’ is more conspicuously apophatic than the Quaker understanding, but the sense of ‘unknowing’ is, for some Friends, an appropriate explanation of experience.
205 mystical.25 General aspirations concern contact with and guidance from God. This is central to notions of union with God that embrace the understanding of Unity within the self, with others and with God, and a sense of Oneness as, potentially, the ultimate outcome. If there is a parallel with earlier mysticism, it concerns progressive stages of engagement in spiritual practice. According to McGinn, Augustine’s description of spiritual process, influenced by Plotinus, concerns a threefold explanation: a) removal from corporeal reality, b) movement within, described by Augustine as ‘movement within the soul’, and c) elevation to the divine level.26 These stages relate more to the process of growth than to the process of practice itself; and concern is both individual and corporate advance towards God. If there is a connection with Quakerism it concerns the parallel, throughout the history of Quakerism, with the corporate nature of faith and practice.
Therefore although the process of Inwardness and development of measure, described through Conditions and Elements is practised individually, for Quakers the corporate context of the practice is seen as vital.
The detailed understanding of Quaker Inwardness as process bears upon notions of ‘Mystical Itineraries’27 that refer to different accounts of processes of contemplative practice. Whilst distinct in their emphasis there are points of comparison. These relate to stages of progress on the journey to God: they are better discussed in relation to 25 Jantzen engages in serious questioning of what she considers to be patriarchal interpretations of who may be considered a mystic/visionary and what counts as mysticism. She advances a feminist perspective of engaged, socio/political spirituality and mysticism. See Jantzen, G, Power, Gender and Christian Mysticism (Cambridge, U.K:: University Press, 1995), chapter 1, pp. 1-25.
26 McGinn, Foundations, p. 237. Development of the Trinitarian position requires Augustine to reinterpret contemplative experience and to move beyond the neo-platonic explanation. McGinn indicates that ‘Augustine is led to suggest that the search for some understanding of the trinity must begin on a [more] modest level of the nature of the human mind’. Further Augustine explains this in terms of the intimate link between love and knowledge. Note McGinn, B. (ed) The Essential Writings, Section 5 on ‘Mystical Itineraries’concerning different mystical accounts, for example, the threefold way, four degrees of love, the mind’s journey.
27 McGinn, B. (ed.) The Essential Writings, section 5.
6.3.2 Inwardness as developmental The examination of texts from the three hundred and sixty year history of Quakerism has given rise to the proposal detailed in Table 6.29 This shows how the expansion of consciousness may be described as leading, via the experience of multiplicity, to intimations of Eternal Being, and thence to life lived in the Unity of Eternal Being. 30 Seven states of development, are indicated giving rise to growth of measure in Quaker terms, 1) as delineated directly or indirectly within Quaker texts 31 and 2) as given full explanation in the teaching of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. These are outlined in Table 6.
28 See section 6.3.2, which examine some specific concerns and characteristics of mysticism and mystics in relation to Quakerism.
29 See also Finkelstein, E. ‘Universal Principles of Life expressed in Maharishi Vedic Science and in writings of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Doctoral thesis completed, 2005, Maharishi University of Management, Fairfield, Iowa.
30 Different explanations termed ‘higher levels of knowing’ describe the ascent of the structure in which this development occurs. Note, for example, the Victorine understanding of different kinds of contemplation. See section 6.4.2iii.
1 Appropriation and transposition of insights from the teaching of the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is acknowledged. I am indebted to the Maharishi for ideas, as developed in Table 6, with amendments as necessary for discussion in terms of Quaker worship and spiritual growth in Quaker faith and practice.
3 This state of consciousness may bear comparison with the state of ‘spiritual freedom’ described in the principles of Ignatian spirituality. The 5th state of consciousness, indicated above, is one in which pure consciousness in the Silence of God is established in the individual allowing constant freedom from the claims of the relative and freedom for the Absolute fulfilment of God’s will. In Ignatian terms ‘Spiritual freedom always entails interior deliverance and includes some kind of external liberation’. ‘Ignatius recognized that spiritual freedom is the characteristic of the human as imago Dei, as one made in God’s image’; see Burke, K.F. and Burke-Sullivan, E.
The Ignatian Tradition (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press) pp. xxxiii–xxxiv.
4 Understanding of consciousness in deep sleep, as distinct from in dreaming may be comparable to ‘wakeful sleep’ discussed by Carmody and Carmody, Mysticisms, p. 200. However, the state is better described as having awareness within deep sleep, since the sleep state and the waking state of consciousness are mutually exclusive.
4 See analogous description relating to Vedanta Hinduism by Chatterjee, S.K. ‘Quantification of Human Development –A Holistic Approach’ in the Indian Journal of Statistics (Vol. 70-B, Part 2, 2008), pp. 157-229. The article concerns ‘unitive consciousness’ in relation to the individual and the cosmic levels of life.
210 It has been indicated that in Fox’s writings there is an indication of progression in the process of spiritual practice and development towards spiritual maturity. 35 However, Fox’s thought is not systematically expressed throughout his teaching, and academic researchers have selected and emphasised different aspects of his work. No scholars have previously analysed the potentiality of growth of measure in detail, in order to fathom Quaker understandings of spiritual development, either of the past or the present. However, Rufus
Jones proposed three stages in practice to promote ‘the ‘progress of the soul’: