Archive for March 2009

Questions About Race, The Folk, and The Numinous Way

Q: Is it correct that The Numinous Way now rejects as unethical the concept of even “the folk”?

A: Yes. Both the concept of race – and that of the folk – are regarded as un-numinous and unethical. They are examples of abstractions, which abstractions – as explained elsewhere (for instance in The Immorality of Abstraction) – obscure, or undermine, empathy; and it is empathy which is the fundamental ethical basis of The Numinous Way itself.

As mentioned in An Overview of The Numinous Way:

“Empathy leads us away from the artificial, lifeless and thus un-numinous abstractions we have constructed and manufactured and which we impose, or project, upon other human beings, upon other life, and upon ourselves, often in an attempt to “understand” such beings and ourselves. And it is abstractions which are or which can be the genesis of prejudice, intolerance, and inhumanity. In addition, abstractions are one of the main causes of suffering: one of the main reasons we human beings have caused or contributed to the suffering of other human beings…”

Race, the concept of the folk – and all that derives from such things (such as racism, racialism, racial prejudice, and nationalism) – have no place in The Numinous Way. Such things – such abstractions – are the genesis of suffering, and thus contradict the very essence of The Numinous Way.

Historically, The Numinous Way was developed over a period of some ten years, and in the early stages of its development was even called The Numinous Way of Folk Culture, and prior to that, just “Folk Culture”. There was thus some emphasis in those early days on “the folk” as a living-being, which living, changing, being was taken to be a natural part of Nature and was initially regarded as not the same as the abstract concept of “race”. This, however, was an error, based upon not taking the ethic of empathy to its logical, and human, conclusion.

As the development of The Numinous Way continued based on the cosmic ethic deriving from empathy and compassion, the emphasis had to be, ethically, removed from both the concept of the race and that of “the folk” to be upon the individual in relation to values of empathy and compassion, and upon the individual developing such ethical virtues and faculties. This change resulted from the fundamental premise that all human abstractions – all theoretical forms, ideals, and causal constructs – were a move-away from, or detrimental to, empathy and thus a contradiction of not only honour but also of our very humanity. Thus were such human “things” – such human manufactured abstractions – considered to be, at worst, unethical and, at best, detrimental to honour and thus to empathy and compassion, for such “things” either tend toward prejudice, or they are manifestations of prejudice: of that unnecessary and unethical and often irrational and instinctive pre-judgement which we human beings are and have been prone to, but which we can, through empathy, move away from.

Thus, the faculty of empathy – and its cultivation and development via compassion and the ethic of honour – is totally independent of the concept of “the folk”, which concept of the folk is not now, and should not be taken or assumed to be, the foundation of, or part of, The Numinous Way itself. Rather, the foundation of The Numinous Way is empathy: empathy with all life, on this planet, and in The Cosmos. Thus, the fundamental aim of The Numinous Way is to place the individual – regardless of what folk or race or culture they are said to belong to, or they might consider themselves to belong to – in the correct context with Life, with Nature, and with The Cosmos. Expressed another way, the aim is for us, as individuals, to develope empathy, compassion and reason – and to strive to live in an honourable and compassionate manner – so that we can naturally feel and access and be part of the numinous, and evolve our humanity without causing or contributing to suffering.

Thus, The Numinous way is profoundly a-political, regarding all politics, all ideology, all dogma, as detrimental to empathy and the development of empathy, and as a cause of, or a potential cause of, suffering.

Q: But isn’t there a danger of even this Numinous Way, as you call it, becoming a dogma, developing a theology, and thus causing dissent and strife among its adherents?

A: Every Way has some potential to become an abstraction, a dogma. What stops them from doing so is the application of their basal ethics. If the ethics of the Numinous Way are lived, applied, it cannot become so. What might become dogmatic or abstract would not by definition therefore be The Numinous Way, but something else. Thus, so long as the ethics are applied, and lived – so long as there is personal empathy as the basis of living – this cannot or should not occur. The Numinous Way does not claim to be divinely-inspired, as it does not set itself up as the authoritative guide to living, or as some perfect representative, as the sole representative, of what is true and right. It does not claim to have some monopoly on understanding. It is just one answer among many answers – to be considered, or not, to be accepted or not, according to the judgement, the empathy, of each individual.

Q: Are you then saying that the answers of other Ways, of religions such as Christianity, are important and relevant?

A:  I can only repeat what I have said and written before, which is that such ethical answers, all such ethical Ways and religions, have, had, or may have their place in presencing The Numen, or presencing aspects of The Numen: in bringing some people to some understanding of ourselves, of the Cosmos, of Life. In providing some people with an ethical guide to living and so aiding the cessation of suffering and the presencing of what is good.

Yet, The Numinous Way is quite simple – positing a simple ethical cause-and-effect, and not requiring a complicated theology, scriptures, or some deity or God. Thus, for The Numinous Way, there is no problem of evil, because there is no supreme, perfect, Being, no abstract moral dichotomy, no sin – only that simple cause-and-effect, that simple understanding of balance, of aiding, or harming, Life; of causing suffering, or ceasing to cause suffering. Of ourselves as being responsible for our actions, our thoughts, with these actions, these thoughts, affecting others, affecting Life, affecting the Cosmos, in a good (not-suffering), or a bad (causing-suffering) way, with what is good aiding that change, that evolution, which is implicit in Life, with such change, such evolution, being toward empathy, understanding, consciousness.

DW Myatt