Font Size

7pm Friday, January 12, 19, 26,

Reg Hartt Presents


The Cineforum, 463 Bathurst below College Across from The Beer Store. (Pick up a beer before coming in). 416-603-6643.

A young Christian I invited by for a beer and to see my authorized replica of The Shroud Of Turin snorted in contempt, “A beer?”

He belonged to a church that forbids drinking.

Somewhere along the way the people who founded that church forgot that Jesus did not turn wine into water but water into wine.

Sometime later I ran into the same young man. He was posting flyers for the man who has been smearing me for the last near twenty years.

He was extremely rude.

Jean Cocteau stated that the problem with people who pray is that they do not think.

That is true.

One day walking along I saw a group of men who were ministers by profession cross the road to avoid a beggar. They had come to my film program the night before.

I crossed the road to confront them. I said, “Do you mind if I speak with you?”

“Go ahead,” they said.

I said, “You know, in Jesus’ parable of The Good Samaritan it is possible that the priest when he crossed the road said a prayer asking God to help the man beaten by bandits, do you agree?”

They said, “Yes, that is possible.

I continued, “And when the scribe (lawyer) came along, it is possible that he too prayed that God would send help to the bandit’s victim. Do you agree?”

They said, “Yes, that is possible.”

I replied, “But if God answered their prayers he used hands that in the eyes of the priest and the scribe were unclean.”

They got the message.

I can not belong to any conventional community (church). Words have big meanings and small meanings. The small meaning of the word “church” is a building people gather in to worship God.

The big meaning of the word “church” is community.

The false church (community/group) is made of people who like the priest and the scribe, cross the road when they see the need to help.

The true church (community/group) is made up of people who help when they see the need. Most often, like the Samaritan in Jesus’ parable, the true church is made up of people despised by the false church.

Thus the saying, “The nearer the church/synagogue/temple the farther from Allah/the Buddha, God.”

–Reg Hartt 2018–01–11.


Luke 10:25-37Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

25 And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him, and saying, Master, what must I do to possess eternal life?

26 But he said to him: What is written in the law? how readest thou?

27 He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself.

28 And he said to him: Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.

29 But he willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbour?

30 And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him, and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead.

31 And it chanced, that a certain priest went down the same way: and seeing him, passed by.

32 In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by.

33 But a certain Samaritan being on his journey, came near him; and seeing him, was moved with compassion.

34 And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine: and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

35 And the next day he took out two pence, and gave to the host, and said: Take care of him; and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee.

36 Which of these three, in thy opinion, was neighbour to him that fell among the robbers?

37 But he said: He that shewed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him: Go, and do thou in like manner.


From THE DEVILS OF LOUDON by Aldous Huxley.

Introspection, observation and the records of human behavior in the past and at the present time, make it very clear that an urge to self-transcendence is almost as widespread and, at times, quite as powerful as the urge to self-assertion. Men desire to intensify their consciousness of being what they have come to regard as “themselves,” but they also desire—and desire, very often, with irresistible violence—the consciousness of being someone else. In a word, they long to get out of themselves, to pass beyond the limits of that tiny island universe, within which every individual finds himself confined. This wish for self-transcendence is not identical with the wish to escape from physical or mental pain. In many cases, it is true, the wish to escape from pain reinforces the desire for self-transcendence. But the latter can exist without the former. If this were not so, healthy and successful individuals, who have (in the jargon of psychiatry) “made an excellent adjustment to life,” would never feel the urge to go beyond themselves. But in fact they do. Even among those whom nature and fortune have most richly endowed, we find, and find not infrequently, a deep-seated horror of their own selfhood, a passionate yearning to get free of the repulsive little identity to which the very perfection of their “adjustment to life” has condemned them (unless they appeal to the Higher Court) without reprieve. Any man or woman, the most happy (by the world’s standards) no less than the most wretched, may come, suddenly or gradually, to what the author of The Cloud of Unknowing calls “the naked knowing and feeling of thine own being.” This immediate awareness of selfhood begets an agonizing desire to go beyond the insulated ego. “I am gall,” writes Hopkins,

I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree

Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me;

Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.

Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see

The lost are like this, and their scourge to be

As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

Complete damnation is being one’s sweating self, but worse. Being one’s sweating self, but not worse, merely no better, is partial damnation, and this partial damnation is everyday life, is our consciousness, generally dulled, but sometimes acute and “naked,” of behaving like the average sensual human beings we are. “All men have matter of sorrow,” says the author of The Cloud, “but most specially he feeleth matter of sorrow who knoweth and feeleth that he is. All other sorrows in comparison to this be but as it were game to earnest. For he may make sorrow earnestly that knoweth and feeleth not only what he is, but that he is. And who has never felt this sorrow, let him make sorrow; for he hath never yet felt perfect sorrow. This sorrow, when it is had, cleanseth the soul not only of sin, but also of the pain it hath deserved for sin; and also it maketh a soul able to receive that joy, the which reaveth from a man all knowing and feeling of his being.”

If we experience an urge to self-transcendence, it is because, in some obscure way and in spite of our conscious ignorance, we know who we really are. We know (or, to be more accurate, something within us knows) that the ground of our individual knowing is identical with the Ground of all knowing and all being; that Atman (Mind in the act of choosing to take the temporal point of view) is the same as Brahman (Mind in its eternal essence). We know all this, even though we may never have heard of the doctrines in which the primordial Fact has been described, even though, if we happen to be familiar with them, we may regard these doctrines as so much moonshine. And we also know their practical corollary, which is that the final end, purpose and point of our existence is to make room in the “thou” for the “That,” is to step aside so that the Ground can come to the surface of our consciousness, is to “die” so completely that we can say, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” When the phenomenal ego transcends itself, the essential Self is free to realize, in terms of a finite consciousness, the fact of its own eternity, together with the correlative fact that every particular in the world of experience partakes of the timeless and the infinite. This is liberation, this is enlightenment, this is the beatific vision, in which all things are perceived as they are “in themselves” and not in relation to a craving and abhorring ego.

The primordial Fact that That art thou is a fact of individual consciousness. For the purposes of religion, this fact of consciousness has to be externalized and objectified by the projection of an infinite deity, standing apart from the finite. At the same time the primordial Duty of getting out of the way, so that the Ground can come to the surface of the finite consciousness, is projected outward as the duty to win salvation within the framework of the Faith. From these two original projections religions have derived their dogmas, their theories of mediation, their symbols, their rites, their rules and precepts. Those who conform to the rules, who worship the mediators, who perform the rites, who believe in the dogmas and adore a God “out there,” beyond the finite, may expect, with the aid of divine grace, to achieve salvation. Whether or not they achieve the enlightenment, which accompanies the realization of the primordial Fact, depends on something other than the faithful practice of religion. Insofar as it helps the individual to forget himself and his ready-made opinions about the universe, religion will prepare the way for realization. Insofar as it arouses and justifies such passions as fear, scrupulosity, righteous indignation, institutional patriotism and crusading hate, insofar as it harps on the saving virtues of certain theological notions, certain hallowed arrangements of words, religion is an obstacle in the way of realization.

The primordial Fact and the primordial Duty can be formulated, more or less adequately, in the vocabulary of all the major religions. In the terms employed by Christian theology we may define realization as the soul’s union with God as a Trinity, a three in one. It is simultaneously union with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost—union with the source and Ground of all being, union with the manifestation of that Ground in a human consciousness and union with the spirit which links the Unknowable to the known.

Union with any single person of the Trinity, to the exclusion of the other two, is not realization. Thus, union exclusively with the Father is a knowledge, by ecstatic participation, of the Ground in its eternal essence and not, at the same time, in its manifestation in the finite. The completely liberating and enlightening experience is that of the eternal in time, the non-dual in multiplicity. For the Bodhisattva, according to the Mahayanist tradition, the world-obliterating ecstasies of the Hinayanist Sravaka are not realization, but barriers to realization. In the West the assault on Quietism was motivated by ecclesiastical considerations and resulted in persecution. In the East the Sravaka was not punished; he was merely told that he was on the wrong track. “The Sravaka,” says Ma-tsu, “is enlightened, and yet going astray. The ordinary man is off the right path, and yet in a way enlightened. The Sravaka fails to perceive that Mind as it is in itself knows no stages, no causation, no imagination. Disciplining himself in the cause, he has attained the result and abides in the Samadhi of Emptiness for ever so many aeons. However enlightened in this way, the Sravaka is not at all on the right track. From the point of view of the Bodhisattva this (the abiding in the Samadhi of Emptiness) is like suffering the tortures of hell. The Sravaka has buried himself in emptiness and does not know how to get out of his quiet contemplation, for he has no insight into the Buddha-nature.”

Unitive knowledge of the Father alone excludes a knowledge of the world as it is “in itself”—a multiplicity manifesting the non-dual Infinite, a temporal order participating in the eternal. If the world is to be known as it is “in itself,” there must be union not only with the Father, but with the Son and Holy Spirit as well.

Union with the Son is the assimilation of the personality to a model of loving selflessness. Union with the Holy Spirit is at once the means to, and the fruit of the individual’s self-transcendence into loving selflessness. Together they make possible the awareness of what, unconsciously, we enjoy at every moment—union with the Father. In cases where union with the Son is pursued too exclusively—where attention is centered upon the humanity of the historical mediator—religion tends to become an affair, outwardly, of “works” and inwardly of imaginings, visions and self-induced emotions. But in themselves neither works, nor visions, nor emotions directed toward a remembered or imagined person, are enough. Their value, so far as liberation and enlightenment are concerned, is purely instrumental. They are means to selflessness (or to be more precise, they may be means to selflessness) and thus make it possible for the individual, who does the works, or sees the visions and feels the emotions, to become conscious of the divine Ground in which, without knowing it, he has always had his being. The complement of works, imaginings and emotions is faith—not faith in the sense of belief in a set of theological and historical affirmations, nor in the sense of a passionate conviction of being saved by someone else’s merits, but faith as confidence in the order of things, faith as a theory about human and divine nature, as a working hypothesis resolutely acted upon in the expectation that what began as an assumption will come to be transformed, sooner or later, into an actual experience, by participation, of a reality which, for the insulated self, is unknowable.

Unknowableness, we may remark, is normally an attribute not only of the divine Ground of our being, but also of much else that lies, so to speak, between this Ground and our everyday consciousness. To those, for example, who undergo tests for ESP, or prevision, there is no perceptible distinction between success and failure. The process of guessing feels exactly the same, whether the result be a score attributable to mere chance, or markedly above or below that figure. This is consistently true of test situations in the laboratory. But it is not always true of situations of a more significant kind. From the many well-authenticated cases on record it is clear that ESP and prevision sometimes take place spontaneously, and that the persons in whom they occur are aware of the event and strongly convinced of the truth of the information which is being conveyed. In the spiritual field we find analogous records of spontaneous theophanies. By a grace of sudden intuition, the normally unknowable makes itself known, and the knowledge is self-validating beyond the possibility of doubt. In men and women who have achieved a high degree of selflessness, these insights, from being rare and brief, may become habitual. Union with the Son through works and union with the Holy Spirit, through docility to inspiration, make possible a conscious and transfiguring union with the Father. In this state of union objects are no longer perceived as related to an insulated ego, but are known “as they are in themselves”—in other words, as they are in relation to, in ultimate identity with, the divine Ground of all being.

For the purposes of enlightenment and liberation, a too exclusive union with the Spirit is no less unsatisfactory than a too exclusive union with the Father in world-obliterating ecstasy, or with the Son in outward works and inward imaginings and emotions. Where union with Spirit is sought to the exclusion of the other unions, we find the thought-patterns of occultism, the behavior-patterns of psychics and sensitives. Sensitives are persons who have been born with, or have acquired, the knack of being conscious of events taking place on those subliminal levels, where the embodied mind loses its individuality and there is a merging with the psychic medium (to use a physical metaphor), out of which the personal self has been crystallized. Within this medium are many other crystallizations, each one with its blurred edges, its melting and interpenetrating boundaries. Some of these crystallizations are the minds of other embodied beings; others, the “psychic factors” which survive bodily death. Some, no doubt, are the idea-patterns, created by suffering, enjoying and reflecting individuals and persisting, as objects of possible experience, “out there” in the psychic medium. And, finally, yet others of these crystallizations may be nonhuman entities, beneficent, malicious or merely alien. Foredoomed to failure are all those who aim exclusively at union with the Spirit. If they ignore the call to union with the Son through works, if they forget that the final end of human life is the liberating and transfiguring knowledge of the Father, in whom we have our being, they will never reach their goal. For them, there will be no union with the Spirit; there will be a mere merging with spirit, with every Tom, Dick and Harry of a psychic world, most of whose inhabitants are no nearer to enlightenment than we are, while some may actually be more impenetrable to the Light than the most opaque of incarnate beings.

Obscurely, we know who we really are. Hence our grief at having to seem to be what we are not, and hence the passionate desire to overstep the limits of this imprisoning ego. The only liberating self-transcendence is through selflessness and docility to inspiration (in other words, union with the Son and the Holy Spirit) into the consciousness of that union with the Father in which, without knowing it, we have always lived. But liberating self-transcendence is easier to describe than to achieve. For those who are deterred by the difficulties of the ascending road, there are other, less arduous alternatives. Self-transcendence is by no means invariably upward. Indeed, in most cases, it is an escape either downward into a state below that of personality, or else horizontally into something wider than the ego, but not higher, not essentially other. We are forever trying to mitigate the effects of the collective Fall into insulated selfhood by another, strictly private fall into animality and mental derangement, or by some more or less creditable self-dispersion into art or science, into politics, a hobby or a job. Needless to say, these substitutes for upward self-transcendence, these escapes into subhuman or merely human surrogates for Grace, are unsatisfactory at the best and, at the worst, disastrous.

« »