«By CAROLE ANNE HAMBY A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion ...»
Oneness: The entirety of Wholeness in one single Life. This is known to experience in the seventh state of consciousness (see Table 6) which is Unity consciousness Openings: Revelations as knowledge, usually personally rather than corporately, received.
Pneumatology: Reference to the study of the Holy Spirit; from two Greek words: πνευμα (pneuma, spirit) and λογος (logos, teaching about). Pneumatology normally includes study of the person of the Holy Spirit, and the works of the Holy Spirit.
Principle of Credulity: With the absence of any reason to disbelieve it, one should accept what appears to be true. (e.g. If one sees someone walking on water; one should believe it is occurring. Swinburne).
Principle of Testimony: With the absence of any reason to disbelieve then, one should accept that eyewitnesses or believers are telling the truth when they testify to religious experience.
262 Professors of Religion: During the early days of Quakerism the ministers were academic, university trained theologians, hence the term ‘professors’. Quakers were not admitted to university because of their refusal to swear oaths. They rejected the need for University training of religious leaders.
Publishers of Truth: Quakers were initially concerned to be and called themselves ‘Friends of the Truth’–thus they knew themselves as publishers of the Truth as they perceived it. The Publishers of Truth were itinerant Friends who had a gift to spread the ministry of the Quaker message.
Quakerism: The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) dates from the mid-17th Century.
Members were termed Quakers derisively because of their tendency to quake/shake during worship. The terms Quaker and Friend are interchangeable.
Quaker Essay competition (2010): See also the Manchester Conference of 1895 in relation to which the first Quaker Essay competition was initiated. In 2009 a similar exercise was organised to aid examination of the present needs of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain.
Quaker Faith and Practice (QFP): The book of discipline of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain: A compilation of writings from the present and previous generations deemed to encapsulate the Society’s faith and practice.
Quaker Testimony: Historic witness in life in, for example, Peace. Now including, Truth, Equality, Social Responsibility. In the first days of Quakerism the Witness was to God in the whole of life.
Quietism: An 18th century practice of inward-looking faith and practice. Not exclusively Quaker but the term is used to refer to a development within Quakerism in this period.
Ranters: One of the Sects to arise during the Civil War in England. Some early Quakers were originally Ranters.
Right ordering: A term that refers to the consistency of accumulated experience and insights of the Society, recorded within Quaker Faith and Practice.
Sacraments/Sacramental living: Christian life permeated and marked by the liturgy and the sacraments of the church. However, Quaker understanding is that, as all of life is holy, there is no need for separate sacraments; rather all life is to be lived as sacred.
Sects: As for example Ranters and Seekers.
Seed: A metaphor used by Quakers to indicate the inner kernel of God within, the ‘Inward Light of Christ’ that facilitates growth.
Seekers: A small group of dissenters, contemporary with the growth of Quakerism, who met in ‘silent waiting’.
Sola-Gratia Mysticism: The Five Solas are five Latin phrases that emerged during the Protestant Reformation and summarize the Reformers' basic theological beliefs in 263 contradistinction to the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. The Latin word sola means "alone" or "only" in English. The five solas articulated five fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation, pillars which the Reformers believed to be essentials of the Christian life and practice. All five implicitly rejected or countered the teachings of the then-dominant Catholic Church, which had in the reformers' mind usurped divine attributes or qualities for the Church and its hierarchy, especially its head, the pope. They are:1 Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone"), 2 Sola fide ("by faith alone"), 3 Sola gratia ("by grace alone"), 4 Solus Christus or Solo Christo ("Christ alone" or "through Christ alone"), 5 Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone").
Spiritual Religion/ Mystical Religion: Religion based on spirituality and spiritual practice rather than dogma and liturgical practice.
The Swarthmore Lecture Series, (1908–to present): An annual lecture series which ‘has a twofold purpose; first, to interpret further to members of the Society of Friends their message and mission; and, secondly, to bring before the public the spirit, the aims and fundamental principles of the Friends.’ (London: Quaker Books).
Terminus Technicus: Specialised language of the field–in this case religion and theology.
Threshing: A Quaker term for vigorous consideration of complex and challenging issues Universalist/Universalism: This term can be understood in three ways. a) As referring to the universal saving will of God’ (McGrath, p. 357) and or b) As a form of inclusivism in which it is acknowledged that although ‘Christianity may be regarded as the normative revelation of God, salvation is nonetheless possible for others who belong to other traditions’ and finally c) As ‘pluralism, which holds that all religious traditions … are equally valid paths to the same core religious reality’ (McGrath, p. 457).
Universal Consciousness: That consciousness, by which existence breathes life, giving everything in creation its own awareness of itself and its surroundings, allowing unbounded alertness to permeate that which lives. (Maharishi Vedic University, 1994).
Veda: Veda means knowledge; constituted by Mantras (structure) and Brahmanas (function) of the knowledge entailed in the Natural Law that organises order and promotes the processes of creation and evolution. (Maharishi Vedic University, 1994).
Wholeness: the term implies a both/and rather than an either/or relation. This is reference to Life itself implying Life as both Absolute, uncreated and unmanifest (possibly what scientists term ‘the void that is not nothing’), and the created world, relative and manifest.
Introduction Thomas Kelly was an American Friend of the liberal period, whose writings have been influential on subsequent Quaker theologians, and many ‘every-day’, practising members of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain. This appendix outlines the manner in which Kelly contributes to an understanding of Inwardness in relation to both spiritual growth and spiritual maturity.
A) Devotional theology Thomas Kelly’s own words introduce his deep knowing of what he termed the
inner ‘sanctuary of the soul’. He wrote:
Let us explore together the secret of a deeper devotion, a more subterranean sanctuary of the soul, where the Light Within never fades, but burns a perpetual Flame, where the wells of living water of divine revelation rise up continuously, day by day and hour by hour, steady and transfiguring.1 Kelly urged his readers to yield to the Inward Living Christ by means of ‘practice of inward orientation, inward worship and listening’.2 He maintained that Practice comes
first in religion, not theory or dogma’:
A practicing Christian must above all be one who practices the perpetual return of the soul into the inner sanctuary, who brings the world into its Light and rejudges it, who brings the Light into the World with all its turmoil and its fitfulness and recreates it (after the patterns seen on the Mount).3 Kelly outlined, from his experience, the means by which an individual can move through stages in initial recognition of God, into attunement with God’s will and purpose and, ultimately, become a ‘participant’ in life with God, such that he or she can ‘live in
Four aspects of Kelly’s theology disclose the depth of his spiritual knowing and its
contribution to an understanding of Inwardness. These are:
B God and reality of the spiritual world Arguments for the importance of Inwardness in spiritual practice rest, for Kelly, on a satisfactory understanding that God is real. In his discussion of this question Kelly uses arguments from analogy, authority, and causation. Also, and more important for the purpose of this thesis, he draws on evidence from experience.
Accepting all the reasons that may seem to offer plausible justification for an understanding of God and the Reality of the Spiritual World, the only convincing approach for Kelly was through ‘the vividness and vitality which some of these views develop in ourselves by an inner experience’.6 Statements concerning experience are offered by Kelly in rational manner to provide ‘evidence’ for interpreting the importance of Inwardness.
C The importance and nature of spiritual practice For Kelly ‘the springs and sources of dynamic, creative living lie not in the environmental drives and thrusts outside us but deep within us is the meeting place with God’.7 He urged the development of ‘continuous inner mental habits pursued through 4 Kelly, Testament, p. 100.
5 Kelly, Testament, 6. Kelly’s interest in Eastern Philosophy is recorded in Douglas Steere’s biographical memoir, Testament, pp. 103-127. There is an indication here that ‘the source’ to which Kelly appeals allows a universalised interpretation of spiritual reality.
In Reality, Kelly wrote about spiritual practice in terms of prayer turned inward;
this is also the case in Testimony, but in the latter text he also used the term ‘technique’.
He explained that ‘[t]here is no new technique for entrance upon this stage where the soul in its deeper levels is continuously at Home in Him. The processes of inward prayer do not grow more complex but more simple’. His recommendation, like that of the Benedictine monk, John Main, (who was like Kelly influenced by Eastern meditation and spiritual practice,10) concerns inward repetition of a single phrase or word. This may start with verbal repetition but soon sinks to a quieter level ‘as habitual divine orientation’, says Kelly11 describing this sequence in stages of practice:12
a) In the early weeks we begin with simple whispered word/s
b) Repeat it/them inwardly, over and over again
c) If you [the practitioner] wander, return and begin again
d) If you [the practitioner] find, after a time these attitudes [of humble bowing before Him, … lifting high your whole being before Him, … of amazement and marvel at His transcendent glory, … of self abandonment, …] become diffused and vague, no longer firm, then return to verbalization and thus restore their solidity.
He explained that ‘the conscious cooperation of the surface level [of consciousness] is needed at first, before prayer sinks to the second level as habitual divine orientation’. Then
it is possible:
e) [By] longer discipline … [to] establish … unworded orientation of all oneself (?) about Him who is the Focus.
For Kelly, this was the spiritual practice that facilitates a move from outwardly-turned, multi-focused attention (see Figure 1) to inwardly-turned single focused attention (see Figure 2). What Kelly terms ‘infused prayer’13 develops over time and the human initiative acquiesces.
The significance of Kelly’s analysis is that he provides a relatively unique account (within Quakerism) of the personal experience of spiritual practice and development. The
13 Kelly Testament, p. 18, Reality, p. 41-43. Also Ericjohn, T. The Point of Origin: The evolution of Religious Consciousness (Xlibris Corp), p.100-101 on Augustine ‘infused contemplation 267 usefulness of this account to understanding Quaker practice is not that he generalises from the particular (his own experience) to the general (a possibility for all Friends), but rather that he confirms the results of a known technique from his experience within practical Quakerism.
D The awakening and development of spiritual consciousness Kelly14 does not go into detail about how the technique of mental repetition facilitates the movement to silent awareness in personally known transcendental consciousness. 15
Finkelstein however, referring to the practice of Transcendental Meditation, explains that:
The process of turning the mind within to experience the transcendental, absolute Being takes place by learning how to naturally experience increasingly subtle states of thought until even the subtlest state of mental activity is transcended and our consciousness arrives at the ‘source of thought’, which is the absolute state of Being.16 He continues: ‘The way to contact the Divine is for the human mind to effortlessly transcend the space-time boundaries of creation and experience the transcendental light of God within’.17 Even without providing this detail of explanation regarding technique of spiritual practice using mental repetition Kelly, like Main, assumes and assents to the understanding that this technique is as a means to knowing ‘the silence which is the source of sound’ (Kelly). It is a ‘door to silence’ (Main). Main suggests that this offers ‘access 14 John Main also neglects any full explanation.
15 For fuller explanation see Hamby, C. ‘When the mind descends to the heart: formulaic prayer and mantra meditation’ in Faith Initiative 19, (2008), pp. 41-45.
16 Finkelstein, E. Universal Principles of Life (Unpublished Ph. D thesis, Maharishi University of Management 2005). See Section 4 on the Technology of Transcending and the fine mechanics of experiencing Divinity.
17 See also section 6, unanimity thesis of Barnes (section 6.4.3.i) and Chatterjee, p. 171.
268 to the universal source in the oneness of spirit’.18 Similar to the process of mantra
meditation the mind simply lets go of distractions.19 Vernon Katz explains that:
Through regular repetition of the process of transcending [attaining pure silence and stillness of consciousness], the awareness becomes accustomed to maintaining itself in its ‘pure’ state as the subject, or Self, so that, even when confronted with the objects of experience, it is able to register them without being overshadowed and limited by them. The dignity of the knower is not overthrown by what he knows; the unbounded awareness of the perceiver is not lost in the boundaries of perception; silence is not lost in the midst of activity. 20 As Kelly expresses it two levels of consciousness are experienced simultaneously rather than successively. In Fox’s terms the practice described above is a means to;
Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit from thy own thoughts [such that] thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord God, whereby thou will feel his strength and power from whence life comes, to allay all tempests, against blustering and storms. That is it which mounds up into patience, into innocency, into soberness, into stayedness, into quietness, up to God, with his power. 21 This is an example of Fox’s straightforward descriptions of mystical consciousness.
Of importance is the development of an ongoing state of experiencing, to be distinguished from ‘having experiences’.
Mark McIntosh utilises and endorses Bernard McGinn’s distinction between ‘having experiences’ however intense and exalted and a process of growth in which mystical consciousness is an important part of all experiencing. He argues that the use of the term ‘mystical experience’ is unhelpful in placing emphasis in the wrong place such as in altered states, visions, raptures etc.
rather than in a broader cognitional context of ‘mind-fullness’ and ‘meaning-fullness’.22 He claims that:
Mystical consciousness is the impression in human existence of infinite coherence, expressivity and meaning, namely the trinitarian life of God. Mysticism bears this 18 Main, Door, p. 6.
19 The term mantra is used in Vedic, and other Eastern, spiritual practices; the term formula was used in early Christianity by Cassian; ‘arrow prayers’ by Augustine and the term prayer word is used by the John Main’s School of Meditation. All serve a similar function in spiritual practice.
20 Katz, V,. Conversations with Maharishi (Fairfield, Iowa: MUM Press, 2011), p. 21.
For all Quakers, and especially modern-day Quakers, the God talk employed is often framed outside the known categories of classical, systematic theology.
It takes time, according to Kelly, to learn that the life of outward affairs can and will become subordinated to the inner life. It is the individual’s choice and discipline that can bring about spiritual growth, growth of measure in Quaker terms, and ultimately spiritual maturity.
E Growth into spiritual maturity
Implicit in Kelly’s writing is reference to the relationship between the spiritual integrity of experiential religion and, in turn, theology. McIntosh considers the related debate concerning ‘the intrinsic connection between proper theological vision and spiritual healing and maturation.’24 He (McIntosh) indicates fluctuations, in different historical periods, of the relative priority of spirituality over theology and the reverse. However, he
reminds us that:
Even for thinkers sympathetic to the role of spiritual conversion in theology, this privileging of the ‘interior’ has made it difficult to recover an authentic sense of the genuinely divine Other when interpreting Christian spirituality … development[s] in late modernity … have reopened the modern self to a relational interpretation of its constitution that need not threaten to reduce every theological insight to an application of anthropology.25 Kelly did not fall into the trap of divorcing the spiritual transformation of the seeker from the traditions of interpretation in which it occurs, nor did he reduce his theological expressions solely to anthropological ones. His perspective was Christian in general and
For Kelly the experience of mature spirituality in which the Reality of God is ever present is found in the experience of ‘infused prayer’; his powerful experience is situated within his Quaker theology i.e. experiential theology. Yet comprehensive knowing in spiritual maturity is not merely a type or mode of prayer. According to Kelly, on the one hand there is no longer alternating experience between the transcendental experience of reality within and beyond everyday living, and engagement with the relatively changing aspects of life. Thus mature spirituality is a state of being and of living, in which all things are freshly known, seen anew and lived differently.
For Kelly, it seems as though all experiencing becomes suffused with the reality of ‘hidden unity’ or Oneness. This is known as profoundly different from merely having an intimation of Oneness through religious faith, hope or belief, or of adhering to a life that follows a ‘pattern’. The result is a new way of being and of living, according to Kelly.
When there is porosity between time and Eternity, between human life and the Divine
We know increasingly that, whether elation or depression fills the upper levels of our conscious life, down deep within is real bondedness of our life with God’s life that is an essential situation, that does not come and go with fluctuating states of consciousness, that God is a persuading goodness moving us home to Himself. 26 Kelly intimates that ‘spiritual maturity is not tested by the frequency of our mystical moments of exaltation’.27 He does not dismiss the significance of mystical knowing, but he emphasises that mature spirituality is to be lived in the world of action and deeds for the benefit of all humankind. It is for this reason that his exemplars, of ‘God-possessed channels28 includes John Woolman.29 It is also worthy of note that this understanding is compatible with the Victorine mapping of an integrated life. ‘Victorine maps of the spiritual journey lead the awakened soul through the created world, into the self, beyond
If Kelly’s description of different levels of awareness as alternating experience is accurate and shareable among others of similar experience then, there is an interesting feature of Quaker theology to be re-visited and potentially revised.31 This relates to the selection of language within the evolving tradition of modern day Quakers. Kelly’s suggestion that the individual’s awareness can position itself in two different modes, or states: one, silent, and the other, active, demands a further examination of what spiritual growth and spiritual maturity might encompass, and of the modes of describing and refiguring developments in experiential knowledge.
Thomas Kelly’s thinking is inspiring and enlivening, it fulfils the promise of religious practice acknowledging that, ‘Religion as a dull habit is not that for which Christ lived and died’.32 He shows how Quakerism can be spiritually exciting.