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THE SPIRIT OF MAN, CONSCIOUSNESS AND CONSCIENCE
their scope and situation, significance and operation
We have pursued the considerations which attest in man a spiritual being.
It is fraught with powers of imagination, mental construction, emotional projection, moral intimation, ethical finesse, passion for justice, and consciousness is its screen, conscience the internality of its procedure, reason the relish of its constructions, fever the father of its mis-fashionings and a host of functions, used or misused, are associated with it, without which man would be animal, and not that wholly diverse operational agent that he is.
The powers of mind are intermingled with the thrust of purpose to the point, empirically, that they may be bent, twisted or even overthrown by the passion of the latter. Thus conscious but unconscionable purpose may prevail, and rarely a better case in secular literature than that of Macbeth, tortured, tormented, prodded, incited, directed, assuaged, encircled by the telling tongue of Lady Macbeth as you used his lust as a lord to drive him to his fateful work.
Truth often falls victim to desire, whether the lust be of the flesh, the mind or the spirit itself. In grievous cases, mind, like a swollen arm in the body, can become an object in itself, no more subservient to human purpose, design or propulsion, but asserting itself, swell in dimensions until other functions of the spirit of man become lost, unco-ordinated and lost. Thus the biblical depiction of man as lost without God, is just, whether the infection be primary in the spirit or secondary in time, but primary in dynamic, in the mind.
The substitutes for God may be in parts of one's own apparatus, as in the vanity of mind and pre-occupation with its esoteric thrusts, vanity of body, and enchantment with its various provisions, or fever of spirit, with virtual worship status for individual, group or race, and accreditation for divine seeming post, a virtual god. Thus, and not seldom, man becomes as asinine as the fleecy clouds, were they to aspire to be god, being high above the earth. Self-willed, he becomes a horror, given power, he invents a holocaust, a USSR, a Mao-ist China, murder machines not least, and still he is not sated.
The construction of mind and spirit which enables these aspects of man through the torment of desire, the propulsion of diffuse purpose or the rebellion of heart to be their own lord, is like that of some giant air liner with its millions of integrally conceived and operative parts. Spiritual terrorists in disarming manner or imposing presence delight to secure each prize, each person, each heart, spirit. They prey on those who do not pray, or pray to their own gods, or seek to construct them.
No less than the facility of the body for similar follies, capture of man's spirit has results yet more devastating than gashes to the body. Thus man's spirit and mind leave room for the wrong pilot, plan, method and mastery to be in some measure, in control in a fashion more ultimately baneful than is disruption to the finesse exhibited in his bodily powers, for construction and reconstruction, in birth and in healing. It is not only babes which may be aborted, but spiritual life, fouled at its outset.
Again, it may resemble those horrendous cases where some militant, insatiable for evil, breaks a leg of a captive, and as it heals, does so again. It is the very nature of what refuses divine nurture, when its purpose is crossed or its desire flares, to be insatiable for evil, even delighted in its ostensible power, apparent impregnability or derisible splendour.
Most appalling is the case where the captive delights in his bonds, relishes his own ruin and aspires to his own damnation, calling it blessing, rapture, mission or achievement, not malady, nor yet perceiving its deathly destiny in disorientation and demeaning dynamic. Many are the layers of pathological occupation of man, from passion to dispassion, for evil or at it, from hatred that yearns for revenge and knows no bounds to haplessness which flows with the torrent of ruthlessness, as if it did not perceive: as in Nazi Germany for many, whose eyes were selective when it came to the Jew.
Nor is this all. Evil is no mere abstraction, for its burning coals of fire may be perceived in the eye and the very personality of many, as in their unspeakable actions, and not few are those possessed not merely by disordered desire, but the dynamism of devils.
The operations of a Faust are not operatic only, nor are all sales conscious, for repression of reality is a favoured method of deception leading to disruption, corruption and entanglement.
The invisible is the very key status of man, for what gun is not used for a purpose, and what war is not fought for an aim, and what praise is not for courage, without weight, for love without dimensions or for other aspects of the invisible, in which man deals as a merchant in money!
Like the physical counterpart, the spirit of man can be crippled, paralysed in part, seized up in the arthritis of hate, like pistons which can no more throb in their accustomed journeyings. It can be distorted, as by curved mirrors, so that he CANNOT see the obvious. Just as the body, cramped for years with children in the Industrial Revolution, can become so misshapen as to create an alien impression of man, so the spirit, cramped in cultural vices (cf. SMR pp.422Qff.), societal squalor or personal ambitions which never release it, can become a realm unremedied, with a pathology virulent and unresting, possessing it.
Maladies of mind (cf. SMR pp. 422Eff., Ch. 3), horrors of heart can become the testimony of tortuous twistings, far from the road of truth (cf. SMR Ch. 4), as if fever were the wheel.
While some delight in their delusions, others find their very minds divided, their wits so distressed as to participate in mental disease; but not all find disorder overwhelming, or blindness the immediate cause of dysfunction. They function like land-mines which, being many, have an extended life till their death-dealing dynamic is done.
There are arrests, which might help, but often are as much ignored as low gas in the tank, in the car of an escapee.
Thus, conscience can arise like a tornado, oppressing the heart, enfeebling the spirit, devastated by the passing glimpses of lurid light emanating behind the clouds of error, removing the mask of folly and giving plain revelation to the disordered mind. Psychiatry is a passion with many, as they seek to remedy these unrealised distresses, seen without understanding and often treated without knowledge; for the knowledge of God is the basis of understanding, and the fear of God is the beginning of understanding.
Bodily disease is multitudinous in kind, health a good buffer when it is reinforced with sober habits, wise ways and counselled thought; so much more significant is disease of the spirit. The specific, particular diseases of the mind that servant of spirit, and friend, become often the projects of distressed dynamics of spirit, the very powers of thought brought into captivity to confusion and anguish, by the supervening mis-directions of spirit. Meanwhile, the sobrieties of habit and the ways of truth may in themselves, for a time, tend to arrest decline and resist the viruses of error, which on entry, love to assert themselves in sundry duplications and multiplications.
Nor is it the mind only which suffers.
Spiritual disease in its own domain obviously has commerce - like infected birds travelling to other nations - with mental disease, and may indeed cause it, in part or whole, indulging fantasies shocking to the cool breadth of the mind's conditions, or its careful methodologies; and as with other incidents uncongenial to carefully designed equipment (cf. *1, Ch. 1 above), these become accidents and then injuries.
Violation of the modes and manners, the form or function of anything is likely to have injurious results. The case is not different in mind and spirit. Even in various sub-domains, such as the moral, there is potential for injury. Thus the man who lacking courage, was faint in battle, and believed in the justice and righteousness of the cause of the battle, injures his conscience, becoming inconsistent in movement between aim and performance. Thus may conscience be chipped in its stature, infiltrated in its aims, give sop to pride, and so become infected with revisionism, and even change its aim to something it can meet.
Devious, desperate and various are the ways of man's spirit, and the infections, infractions of the peace of his mind; and in the moral realm, whatever 'system of belief' he may have opted, or imbibded, from the cultural cauldrons which the witch-doctors of humanity love to heat, error is often the father of terror, and blindness the prelude to buffering. Thus those swept away in the tides of self-will are as likely to be invaded by justified self-doubt, as hardened by the inhibition of humanity.
This in part may be realised, and that in turn may lead even to change of option, once more, to accommodate broken aim or wounded heart. Justification, rationalisation, self-reinforcement, the list of irrational devices to satisfy spiritual aims, or in one specialised aspect of spirit, moral criteria, these may work until the complexity of the spiritual disease, like double pneumonia complicated by pleurisy in lungs already afflicted with cancer and emphysema, becomes a virtually demented maze. Sometimes, as with cancers on trees, these may be contained in specific areas, sources of bitterness and enfeeblement of vitality, allowing time for the measured experience as infection awaits its final thrust.
Some live with this sort of pathology, and become abrupt, secretive, reclusive, or selectively ambitious in order to forget the turmoil within, and to be able to relax (in theory) into shallow success. Others frequent the society of psychiatry with compulsive desire, and spiritual aspiration ready to be anaesthetised with numbing devices, merely misusing equipment to contain the uncontrolled sallies of spirit. In order to remove what afflicts it from within, its power of application is inhibited in the directions to which it is thrust. This is like binding the hands of the suicide, leaving intact the desire.
Further complexities of form and function may thus be added, until extraordinary religious results, as in al Qaeda's murderous musts, may occur. These may even use a religion for relief or vainglory, and commandeer it, or else find in it what was already there, depending on the case, Romanism providing in the Inquisition an example of the alternative situation, the former. Yet in either case, religion then becomes a stalking horse for a furious rider, looking for outlet, for glory with vainglory, dashing goodness with evil designs, based on illusion (cf. More Marvels ... Ch. 4, Lord of Life Ch. 8, *1, Ancient Words and Modern Events Ch. 14).
Resentment, based on fact or not, the case may be comparatively indifferent, reinforced with pride and desire, may be mixed with the pageantry of man-made gods until you have a species of death-march, eye filled with glory, hand with gore.
Survival of the fittest becomes a most useful sedative, so that morality being bypassed in which man matters, or the purposes of creation are taken into account, the self, whether civil, political, personal or industrial, becomes the centre, the operational headquarters, autonomy the drive and tireless thrust a necessity. Then all personal evils may be excused on the ground of slaughtering for success, and success for advance, and advance for civilisation and civilisation for wonders unknown, and these for the race, and that for no known reason; but it is not normally traced so far, people becoming hoodwinked with subsidiary aims on the way.
That this idol of survival of the fittest is folly has been shown elsewhere (in TMR Ch. 6); but it is enough for now that we recall that the self in view is in fact not the centre, in principle or importance, of the universe, and to push its ways past all law, all life, all concern for other creations, is mere madness, funding itself on folly, and immersing itself in imagination. To use as basis for action what is a result of action, without further regard, is in itself a meaningless meander: what made the thing what it is, that it might do what it does is a question left unanswered. If it were 'chance', that name for a system made without reason and acting without intervention, a default for causality (cf. Causes), then there is of necessity neither justice nor grace nor truth in it; and truth being non-existent on such a program, it could not be true.
If however law and reason require a basis other than the unsystematic irregularity of what is non-ordered, and indeed the nothingness of what exists naked of ground has no progeny, nor place in reasoned discourse or actual fabrication, what then ?
Then the survival of the fittest is an inflation of a unit at the expense
1) of its ground
2) of its creation
3) of its Creator
4) of its laws, and those of others;
being arbitrary, ignorant and exploitative.
It is a presumption outrageous in nature, unworkable in practice, not merely subjective in inspiration but based on nothing. Its operations can wreak havoc on greatness by studying ruin, not production, and its ways are deceit, which as in all departure from truth, ultimately brings collision with reality.
That information in the first place, can pour into new products from no source is like saying that diamonds can be made by stirring mud. Conceptual source is required for conceptual force, and commands do not issue from slave-driven objectives of program. Scientifically, it is found that information tends to decrease, not 'naturally' increase, a fact which is not less than obvious when you consider its source and the treatment to which it is subjected. Thus surviving as an aim can be at the expense both of the means and the point of survival, as power abused, becomes devastation in instalments. Nor is this all.
Fit ? Fit to murder what has more intelligence, more knowledge, better understanding, more power and more potential, because you pick up a gun and fire ? Is this fitness ? It can mean survival in the delinquencies of the departed. This, it is progress ? It creates!
Fit for what ? Is survival then the survival of the survivors ? And what is that, but tautology instead of truth. It is but a moral-less excursion into lawless misuse of what is bound by law, invented in form and order, and subject to organisation in order to exist! Survival of the fittest is not what it is deemed to be, a measure for removing what is less for the sake of what is more, so that what is more advanced can arrive from nowhere! Moreover, even that is absurd; but the 'less' is a mere slide. Less in what ? Less in self-preoccupation ? in pride ? in cunning misuse of GIVEN equipment in order to delete what one has not made and does not understand ?
This is no system for improvement, and is irrelevant to it. It is as productive as riot, as useful as force in sensitive system and as much to be desired by wisdom as curses in a chamber of torture.
Anything further from the construction of the magnificent order, system and delicate mutual attunements in the human body, it is difficult to imagine; and in type, it is not unlike the dreaming imagination of heavenly bliss as a reward for the reckless ruin of children by terrorists, whose hands have helped years of anguish and pain in those not yet fully grown.
In practice, this does not happen, this improvement, nor does it visit the eyes of observation with any categorical action. In fact, man is merely accumulating knowledge as he aspires into the realms of ruin deemed autonomous advance, for the use of it. Using a knife to cut wood is no advance, but mere application. As the chips fall, you accumulate results, but the knife is the same, unless blunted, and the wood was there in the first place.
Ironic is non-survival of the race, as terrorism is tending to underline, when any drunken fool, sick in mind, starved in spirit, can seek the fulfilment of vanity in the extinction of a city, built with self-discipline, elaborated with aesthetics, secured with understanding, only to be removed in a drunken spree. Fittest ? Fittest for hell.
That of course is what the intimidatory tactics of contemporary militant Islam*1, like those of the other force-modules which preceded it (cf. Divine Agenda Ch. 6), Nazism and Communism, tend to produce; and it is indeed a fitness in some sense, exhibiting an aptitude for residence in that site, hell itself, where arrogance finds its kin and presumption its place. Indeed, conceptions of fitness by force are equipped with disorder, selective in morality, inane with power lust, insanitary with spiritual hedonism or secured by the appetite for glory, which is vainglory, since its foundations are psychic, its methods are murderous and its sense of justice is inoculated against reason.
This, then, is merely one of the sedations for spiritual pathology, this intemperate treading on the human race for the sake of unverified religion, unvalidated thrust, discriminatory dealings and self-willed intimations in which even deity may at times be added, like fuel in a Molotov cocktail, in name but not in glory.
Such is the nature of the spirit of man that this construction, this creation, with its moral, its rational, its imaginative, its ethical, its methodological basis, and its fleering, flaming, aspiring, incandescent potentials into realms of thought and desire, dream and direction, whether into sanity or drab dreams, into delight or depravity, wisdom or folly, with its consciousness and its conscience, is like tide and tsunami. It can move with order and peace, or arising in turmoil, smash. Thus does the physical in this fallen world give exhibit of the spiritual, and teach man what most often he seem unwilling to hear.
It is necessary to stress that hese affairs of the spirit of man appear as far more important than his body. After all, a gun may matter; but far more significant is what directs it and where; and more than this, is the purpose, plan, ground and desire for its use, and more important even than this, is the God who made the hand which holds it, the spirit which seeks to direct it and the liberty for man to divorce his hand and mind and spirit from the Maker, and act as if to remake the universe: with disastrous results predictable, as always where arrogance and presumption vie with blindness and self-belief.
That ? It is merely a pre-occupation to use the language of faith for a fateful substitute for its object.
How destructive is this misalignment in man, this enchantment with chains, and this adventurism into domains as glorious in kind, as devastating to the mere thrust of desire.
It is rather like an insane infant, given toy guns, mistakenly, using actual ones. What happens has nothing to do with fitness, but much with unfitness: it is simply not fitting to give what has such power to what has no understanding. While, however, a child may be given such a gun, may snatches at it.
It is not different when the understanding is marred, the pathology like a viral infection, replicating with the spirit's own force, the seditious substitutes for acknowledgement of God, in reversion to unrealism, delight in dynamic and wild ideas an incantation.
The spirit of man, where consciousness is its monitor, conscience its admonition and a body its opportunity, where mind is the connection with knowledge and the fear of God its access to reality, is not only more obvious than the body, since one must desire to see the body and use it to become cognisant of it: it is more immediate. The desire and purpose for the action, these are spiritual. The means are subservient, and though indeed they may rebel, such is scarcely surprising after millenia of misuse by many.
The spirit of man is also more potent. In our illustration, it is like the hand, the body the gun. To be sure, it may be that the hand - that is the purpose and drive and understanding leading to action, is for good, for beauty and truth and goodness. The potential is dual, so that the realities invoked by the spirit of man being present, much and wonderful may be the result. It is indeed when what IS present is addressed, that what has power is obtained; and what was the dynamic of creation becomes the resource of creativeness.
At this moment, however, we are considering the negative side since sometimes, it is not a piece of art work which is needed to activate a student's spirit, incite his mind to good, but his hitting the corner of a building, while he dreams and does not perceive the coming impact!
The world is that student. It is beginning to wake up; but in accord with the variabilities available to a creation equipped with a spirit made in the image of the Creator, he is able to have some degree of self-determination. This does not create him, but is application leading to its own consummation.
It is not ultimate, but it is intimate; it is not eternal, but it is temporary, and in the temporal it can be in its day, devastating. Such is the way of the world (cf. James 4:4, I Corinthians 7:31, I John 2:15-17), and such its impending destiny, as death does not only stalk, but walks, marches and shouts its own glory (cf. Revelation 6), martyrs of intimidatory militancy and terrorism, shouting its praise as they tread on it, and it on them.
Thus the anodyne of religious invention, with or without acknowledgement of the status of the dream, becomes necessary for more as more refusing reality in the Creator, create new dreams to cover new wounds, and continue blindly to hit more corners as they wander to the road outside, where the matter can be cleared up until the next time, with an ambulance, as the dreamer hits a car.
Yet on the other side, where the spirit of man finds the author of this invention, and the person whose spirit it is, embracing mind, body and spirit and projecting life into interaction, ascertains by divine grace the place of pardon and peace, meaning and significance, then there is a result greater than bliss. It is that of truth with its temper of peace and its plateau of blessed power in line with the Creator and in keeping with the measures of creation.
Then consciousness is not an unworkable anomaly of materialism, but a phase of the spirit which animates the body and deploys it; then conscience is no more an inexplicable residue of reductionism, but a corrigible consequence, often itself wandering, of creation: and now there is layer upon layer of meaning.
It is in one sense like sedimentary rock, layer upon layer, but all with a meaning such as is found when an entire rootless tree is found through many layers. We do not see the deposition of ages, but the results of vast thrust. The meaning in such rock is deluge, and the meaning in man is design. Thus, while the elements are co-ordinate, the results may be inordinate when their nature being ignored, their misuse grows beyond all bounds.
The physical flood is both an illustration of spiritual wreckage and a result of it: as in Genesis 6 (cf. News 1). It is foretold, just as the flood itself was foretold (Genesis 6:13ff.). Indeed, the work of Noah must have occasioned no little mirth, as there was no apparent usage for so magnificent a construction as the ark, this being a work of faith.
Faith however, being a matter of trusting the God of creation and salvation, naturally appears unnatural to those whose trust in 'Nature' is mere idolatry, and who thus realise neither the power of God nor His purpose.
What then was the prediction, itself in II Peter 2*2 It was in essence that its realities of judgment, of the flood in particular, will so grate on the spirit of man at last, that he will be disposed to deny even this, that universal and catastrophic flood, the litter of which all but shrouds the globe!
In rebellion or realism may man operate. The one desecrates in corruption to man's will, and the other consecrates creation to the will and work of God.
To beauty this design is attuned; and whereas warped and wandering designs, ex-Designer, find desire in what ignores or reviles design, and hence have unaesthetic designs even in art upon design, so that you even get a plain orange tablet of several feet each way, as if it were art: yet now no less, in the saving presence of the Designer, does beauty have peace with reality, and find its topic amplified by the personal Being who is man's source, and the basis of his functions of spirit. Whether these this way or that, into the aesthetic, the metaphysical, the logical, the imaginative, the moral, the ethical, the peaceable or the courageous, there is one meaning, spirit and perspective, firing the understanding, salving the mind and rejoicing the heart.
Here is their meaning: not as if it were a be all and end all to have soft beauty and quiet music, for wars have to be won, at the spiritual level against aggressive invasion of spiritual reality, which freedom permits and lust desires. Yet beyond this, is the beauty of pathos, as in many a painting of war, where the sadness of victory and the restraint on war alike is felt, and the irresponsibility of war for gain or land, as distinct from safety and honour, is sensed from the very pores of the canvas.
So too thought is given meaning, not for erratic, erotic, despotic dynamics of self-contradictory mis-splendour, vainglorious and unvictorious in all touched: but for the reasonable, the cogent, the wise and the sure-footed paths which lead to God, and then with His word secure, from Him to applications and deployments, services and mercies innumerable, lustrous with undivided light.
In Chapter 1 above (*2A), we considered the methods of discovery and the domains of discovery, all features of spirit's overview and phases of its labour, and available essays in application by which its work is done. It is simply dysfunctional to disregard what does the labour, performs the function, achieves the result in a multiply structured, intimately inter-related fashion,
Empirically these realities have been available for thousands of years, have populated literature and intruded themselves, now in this, now in that approach, over the turbulent centuries, even in millenia past. It is easy to be so intent on measuring trees that you forget they are there, have long been there, and that your pre-occupation with quantity is merely an almost hypnotic phase, valuable perhaps in some ways, but grossly inflated.
Conscience, recharged beyond sin, and through salvation, now re-finds the will and the word, the law and the lessons of God, and becomes not a changeable will-o'-the-wisp, with much atmosphere but unreliable light, but a morally mandated mission, to help correct man's waywardness and guide his journeyings. It needs, to be sure, not a little re-calibration as truth detects its distortions over the years; but its operation is now not only meaningful but as useful as brakes, respecting the need to be valiant for the truth.
Majesty, felt in the spirit of man as an almost elemental thing, instead of being visited on often disgraceful kings and queens (and Charles Dickens excoriates many of them! in his work for the young on the history of England), as if by divine right, becomes a lustre of light, given meaning in God whose it is. Meanwhile, it is given meek responsibility in man, definitively expressed in Christ*3 , who having all power, suffered crucifixion to secure redemption. Now for man, justice and equity, love and grace, vision and victory within are chief attributes of majesty. Better have control over your own spirit, says Proverbs, than take a city!
Praise becomes not an implement of competition, and self-advancement through its judicious bestowal, the better to survive and bring deceit, vanity or desire to perfection, but rather a response to what is near to the elemental wonders of God, and finds grace from these, so that men should rejoice in the attainments of ANY ONE, whose flight of spirit, use of mind and action of body bring together something of the aura of light, the depth of love and the manifestation of wisdom, drawn from God Himself.
In short, when the spirit of man is where it belongs, and is not trying to find bits and pieces, all through illicit reductionism, itself really an example of anti-empirical passion, with here some inexplicable consciousness, here some erratic morality, there some mutable range for the beautiful, there some delirious misrepresented guise for the dutiful, if by any means man's sense of right might be misdirected into doing wrong dutifully: then*4 reality abounds and reason is rewarded, then righteousness flourishes and wisdom rejoices.
Then there is meaning in all things, integration of all the aspects and understanding for that functionality, the spirit of man, in its ontological reality.
Force is always irrelevant to faith per se.
See on this and Islam in this
regard: Beauty for Ashes, Ch. 7, Ch. 4,
SMR pp. 60ff., 65ff., and Divine Agenda Ch. 6.
See Joyful Jottings 8.
See Zechariah 9:9 and compare this with Matthew 21, not only in form, but in spirit and in result, a result not only well known (cf. Matthew 16-17), but predicted by John the Baptist long before (cf. John 1:29), and by Isaiah centuries before that (cf. Isaiah 49:7, 53-53).
See SMR Chs, 5, 3, The Meaning of Liberty and the Message of Remedy Ch. 9.