Children of Light, Frinds of the Truth (Quakers)

Discussion in 'Modern Religions' started by radarmark, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Let me introduce you to “liberal” (really, really conservative) Quakerism aka “The Religious Society of Friends”, “Children of the Light and Friends of the Truth”. In XXVIIth century England there was a Civil War (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Civil_War_) , in part brought about by the reaction of “radical” (really, really conservative) Protestants (Puritans and Baptists and Presbyterians and Congregationalists who were all mainly influenced by Calvin (see all five at wiki) . Some, called “Seekers” or “Dissenters” at the time (see both on wiki) were influenced by Free Christian and European mystic elements). One such Free Christian or Seeker or Dissenter was George Fox (1624-1691), son of a middle class weaver turned wonderer (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Fox).

    Sometime in 1647 he had the following opening (mystical experience):
    “But as I had forsaken the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those esteemed the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all that could speak to my condition. When all my hopes in them and in all men were gone, so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could I tell what to do, then, oh, then, I heard a voice which said, "There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition"; and when I heard it, my heart did leap for joy.
    Then the Lord let me see why there was none upon the earth that could speak to my condition, namely, that I might give Him all the glory. For all are concluded under sin, and shut up in unbelief, as I had been; that Jesus Christ might have the pre-eminence who enlightens, and gives grace, and faith, and power. Thus when God doth work, who shall hinder it? and this I knew experimentally.

    My desire after the Lord grew stronger, and zeal in the pure knowledge of God, and of Christ alone, without the help of any man, book, or writing. For though I read the Scriptures that spoke of Christ and of God, yet I knew Him not, but by revelation, as He who hath the key did open, and as the Father of Life drew me to His Son by His Spirit. Then the Lord gently led me along, and let me see His love, which was endless and eternal, surpassing all the knowledge that men have in the natural state, or can obtain from history or books; and that love let me see myself, as I was without Him.”

    With this quotation from the Journal of George Fox, began the Religious Society of Friends. In it are emphasized the three guiding principles (IMHO) of Quakerism: (1) Christ Jesus can speak to us directly, experimentally, by revelation, (2) revelation can come without the help of “any man, book, or writing”, and (3) we can see H!s love, “endless and eternal, surpassing all the knowledge that men have… or can obtain… and that love let me see myself… without H!m.”

    During the next two decades the “Generation of Saints” grew up around Fox, including Margaret Fell, George Whitehead, James Naylor, Francis Howgill, Edward Burrough, Isaac Pennington, William Penn, and Robert Barclay (see the wrings of any or all of these remarkable people). Ten years after its founders death the Religious Society of Friends claimed over 1% of the population of the British Isles as members. Why?

    Because the Society from the beginning had no dogma, practiced no sacraments, rejected all priests and ministers (rather believing all are priests in the Body of Christ), held to continuing revelation (the Inner Light, the Inward Light of Christ, the Seed, the Holy Spirit, tat of G!d Within).

    As Fox said "Christ has come to teach His people Himself;” or as Isaac Pennington said "[i}t is not enough to hear of Christ, or read of Christ, but this is the thing — to feel him my root, my life, my foundation..."

    It was also due to a simple, “return to the source”, practical theology based on witnessing or testifying to what these beliefs entail: truth, peace, equality, simplicity, integrity, community, stewardship, and unity (expressed in differing orders and words across the Society).

    A Radical “return to the root” Tradition of shared and discerned silent group mysticism woven from the threads of openings of individual members or attenders given in vocal ministry.
     
  2. taijasi

    taijasi Gnōthi seauton

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    Radarmark, if ours was currently a nation of Quakers ... or even semi-predominantly so, I would not worry about the upcoming election, the swift and smooth transition to a society governed by, and demonstrative of Aquarian Ideals ... or even the guaranteed well-being of other people, in other nations, including some of the most oppressed & challenged at this time.

    Given the actual situation, I personally wouldn't mind if about 75% of the American continent were suddenly submerged (taking this same % of inhabitants along with it) ... if, of course, the New Atlantis was carefully selective in just which 25% were also preserved. ;)

    Yeah, there are those who might say, "Good thing he ain't the Almighty" ... and I actually praise God every day that my will still isn't quite developed to the point where I can *make the above SO*. But you know, by God, if I could just snap my fingers ... ah well, we can at least DREAM.
     
  3. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Ah, the Friendly way would be persuasion. Go out and canvass and talk to potential voters who agree with you.

    Or, do what I do, go to Birther and Truther and Tea Party Meetings and put out the falsehoods and problems plaguing them.

    Some of my Meeting spent years in jail working on the Vietnam Era Underground Railroad or chaining themselves to the School of the Americas. Personally, I did not even have the guts to say no to the judge who "highly recommended" I leave the room with the tan guy in shiny wingtips, too-narrow tie, and mirrored sunglasses (who sent me to Takhli outside of Nkhon Sawan Thailand). So my confrontational stance is partially to make up in my own mind for straying from what I knew was the path.
     
  4. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    'truth, peace, equality, simplicity, integrity, community, stewardship, and unity' -
    fine beliefs to have as guides, Radar. :)
     
  5. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Snoopy--we think of them as more than that. They are our "witnessing". We discuss, ponder, yes. More importantly is to live them. Ours is I guess an applied theology. Seventh Generation means we recycle, go green--that is our stewardship. Unity is that we welcome all (from evangelical Quaker to atheistic and wiccan Quaker, note not all RSF groups are this broad).

    Think of these beliefs not as beliefs but "principles made manifest in life".

    Very non-authoritarian and anachistic for all that. But those 8 (or some subset), knowledge in "The Light Within" (Divine guru, kinda), belief in "That of G!d Within" (each person and thing is Divine in some sense), and that experimental-experiencial group mysticism is pretty much all there is. The first 8 are things we "make manifest" the latter three are our core experience. Make sense?
     
  6. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Mostly. :)

    When you say 'the latter three' are you referring to ~

    (1) Christ Jesus can speak to us directly, experimentally, by revelation, (2) revelation can come without the help of “any man, book, or writing”, and (3) we can see H!s love, “endless and eternal, surpassing all the knowledge that men have… or can obtain… and that love let me see myself… without H!m.”
     
  7. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Yep. Those are the hard core beliefs, but verified by a shared experience (we think).
     
  8. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    I'm not sure I really understand 'and that love let me see myself… without H!m'

    Could you clarify a little for me please?
     
  9. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    “endless and eternal, surpassing all the knowledge that men have… or can obtain… and that love let me see myself… without H!m.”

    G!d's love is H!s main context (what we experience). This loves surpasseth everything, all knowledge mankind will ever have. Looking back from within that love we see our frailty (myself.. without H!m). Overcoming this frailty ("seeking to Redeem ourselves" or "the world") is what powers us to testimaony and witness (those 8 or so "good things" we must, having seen ourselves with H!s eyes, do).

    Better?
     
  10. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    As still water :)
     
  11. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Okay, let me go on to the "core experience" of George Fox. Realize that the RSF (Quakers) are a radically individualistic lot (at least in the "Waiting Worship" or silent tradition--whether convervative or liberal) and what you will read is my interpretation, not doctrine (since we have none).

    And please realize that the words do not communicate some formal operational reality, but a metaphysical, mythical, mystical, and spritiual one.

    The only sacrament is the Holy Baptism in the Blood and Fire--another way of saying direct contact with Christ Within. We wait in silence and center-down (look within for the Inner Light). Some center-down in meditation, some in prayer, and some (a gifted few) in direct contact with the Divine. We remain in silence until the Spirit moves one to minister (sometimes whole meetings are in silence, that is with no words spoken).

    The words often trigger a deeper understanding or prayer or meditation when the Truth shines on it. That illumination may, in turn, trigger another to open and minister. Sometimes there may be many ministries, one after another (with a respectful time in between to reflect upon the previous ministry).

    One's own walks with the H!ly Sp!r!t are thus shared with Friends and offered up to the Body of Christ for digestion. Unfriendly thoughts and strayings can thus be made known.

    Sometimes I am perfectly silent throughout, concentrating on providing sustenance for the Meeting. Sometimes I fly out and beyond and must almost be woken at the end of Meeting. Sometimes (not often) I center-down quickly and provide a leading ministry. Sometimes I take what if offered and return with a triggered ministry. Just depends on the Meeting.

    That is what I experience as "Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition".
     
  12. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Thank you for this. I have seen a Quaker's gathering on TV. Could you expand on the following a little? -

    -  in direct contact with the Divine. 

    - Unfriendly thoughts and strayings can thus be made known.

    - Sometimes I fly out and beyond and must almost be woken at the end of Meeting. 

    Thank you again for your indulgence.
     
  13. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    "In direct contact with the Divine" kinda means what it says. In the old-fashioned hard-core conservative Quaker way it means becoming one with G!d thru the direct light of Christ Jesus. In the new, liberal view it is going beyond mere physical and mental experience thru the Inner Light. To my way of thinking (having done it), it is both--I can look you straight in the eye and say Christ H!mself teaches me how to reach at-one-ment with the F!ther; or I can say I have gone beyond with the guidance of an expert in the sudden school. Is there much difference? I do not think so.

    "Unfriendly thoughts and strayings". If "openings" are when the Divine reaches into us (or vice versa), then "closings" are when we ignore the Divine. If "The Inner Light" guides us to the Divine, then "The Shadow" (because we do not feel.... or at least I do not, that pure evil or darkness exists, it is merely the absence of the Divine, hence Shadow, like where the Light is not allowed to shine) leads us astray. Unfriendly means something not of the Religious Society of Friends (unquakerly, hence not divinely inspired, a little egotistical, I know... but it applies to all human beings at all times). So unfriendly thoughts are thoughts not of the Divine (like the Hasidim we try to always be at-one-ment), and strayings are a literal translation of sin (which we have a very Prodigal Son attitude towards).

    "Sometimes I fly out and beyond and must almost be woken at the end of Meeting". First, the Quaker Meeting is in one sense the First Day (Sunday) service (in one sence because we strive to always be at meeting with the Divine). I admit, and this is hard for a scientist to put into words (William James never could, nor could Guenon or Schuon, really, they remain describers of mysticism), that I have what I call (because it meets all the criteria I have learned) mystical-mythical-spiritual experiences. I am no longer conscious of my body or mind ("fly out") and walk with the H!ly Sp!rit ("and beyond"). It is experiential, experimental, existential, not suited for worldly or wordy expression. While not asleep (I experiece sleep as something else altogether), I sometimes must be welcomed back into non-dreamtime (to borrow a metaphor). Our First Day Meetings last about an hour, and my "openings" are one reason why the Clerk (who rises to end the Meeting with a shaking of hands) usually shakes my hand first (to make sure I am back).

    Okay, I said it. Please do not ask me to tell the how or what, I have not the capability and "the dao that can be said is not the tao".

    Do you wish for me to continue a brief background on this "Fourth Way" (stipulating RSF is a Chistian Way different from Orthodoxy, Catholicism, or Protestantism)?
     
  14. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    If you so wish :)

    I suppose my interest stems from wondering why quakers would sit zazen with godless buddhists...
     
  15. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    "Every particular Thou is a glimpse thru to Eternal Thou," Buber says it well. As does "as thou art in chruch or cell, that same frame of mind carry out into the world" (Eckhardt).

    Or as George Fox put it:

    "I declared Truth amongst them, and directed them to the light of Christ in them; testifying unto them that God was come to teach His people Himself, whether they would hear or forbear.

    I told them the gospel was the power of God, which was preached before Matthew, Mark, Luke and John or any of them were printed or written; and it was preached to every creature (of which a great part might never see or hear of those four books), so that every creature was to obey the power of God; for Christ, the spiritual Man, would judge the world according to the gospel, that is, according to His invisible power.

    This is the word of the Lord God to you all, a charge to you all in the presence of the living God; be patterns, be examples, in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one; whereby in them ye may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you: then to the Lord God you will be a sweet savor, and a blessing.

    Therefore be still awhile from thy own thoughts, searching, seeking, desires, and imaginations, and be staid in the principle of God in thee, that it may raise thy mind up to God, and stay it upon God, and thou wilt find strength from him, and find him to be a God at hand, a present help in time of trouble, and of need."

    No where is there a claim of exclusivity.
     
  16. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    OK thanks.
     

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