‘Sensing the Whole’
How many words the world contains! But all have
one meaning. When you smash the jugs,
the water is one.
Rumi quoted in Chittick (1989 p. 8)
We should not pretend to understand the world only by the intellect.
The judgement of the intellect is only part of the truth.
— Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)
A fact only becomes knowledge when it has meaning, when a student can see where it fits into the world in general.
(First line of description of the curriculum at the
Heschel-inspired Columbus Jewish Day School.)
Contents – Chapter 3
Section I – Sensing the ‘Whole’
3:1 Introduction 148
3:2 Four textual passages that helped inspire 149
the personal myth
3:3 Island, Shoreline and Ocean a personal myth 151
Section II – Restoring, and re-storying, heart-knowing
3:4 Introduction to Section II 156
3:5 Disparate voices in calling for the re-establishment 166
3:6 Conclusion to Chapter 3 189
D 3:1 – Showing correlations between the 3Cs, the 3 ‘voices’, 159
associated virtues, form of knowing and forms of truth
D 3:2 – Maximising certainty in truth-seeking and 164
knowledge-creation – a Baha’i-inspired sub-model
Section 1 – Sensing the Whole
This chapter concerns two dimensions of a personal, non faith-specific, view of the mystical ‘heart’ of religion, building on Hick’s (1981 p.423) view that the mystical is simply direct religious experience. Firstly, and briefly, it is concerned with having, and responding to, a sense of the Whole.1 Secondly, it is concerned with the importance of realizing heart-knowing. In the mystical, or transcendental relationship, and in spiritualizing pedagogy, we need, so I argue, to stay mindful of the whole. We also need to learn, and teach, from the heart (see Moore 1991), as well as the mind.
For the individual the two, internalized dimensions of the ‘Sun’, are seen as essential in a spiritualizing, holistic model of pedagogy. One reason being that all forms of knowing are all essential, and the two dimensions pertain to the ‘subjective-creative-mystical’ form of knowing. This chapter is particularly concerned with the ‘subjective-creative-mystical’ mode of knowing as a counterbalance to the strengths and weaknesses of the ‘objective-reasoning-scientific’ mode. It is a central tenet within SunWALK that both modes of knowing should be hallowed2, along with the ‘social-others-centred’ mode – all should hold sway, according to the needs of each situation, and, ideally, for balanced development of the individual.
The two dimensions are seen as being of the greatest importance for a holistic, spiritualizing model of pedagogy – as general dynamics within the mystical ‘lenses’, behind which, or associated with which, are our beliefs and values. The two are the affective and dispositional co-equivalents of beliefs and values. They are the spirit that flows from what we hold to be true and of value. Values and beliefs and the spirit of our dispositions, and affective identity, are two versions of the same reality, not just the two sides of a single coin3. Through the lenses that we have, we ‘read’ the world and others, and, ourselves. Through them we examine and limit and condition our conceptual, or propositional, concerns. Though I hold with the view that ultimately all is one, we need, given the society we have, at least in the West, to make an effort to balance heart and head, the mystical and the conceptual, the Whole and the parts – which is a matter of strengthening the non-propositional side of things, and of coming to understand more clearly the dynamics of how the different sides of ours selves interact.
Personal beliefs and values are not the only ones. Beliefs and values of a collective nature exist in every group to which we belong – from family to national group and beyond. Children and teachers work with both, at the very least. In schools to not choose, is a choice. Democracy and respect exist because choices, have been made. So do fascism and ‘irresponsible relativism’. The important thing is for the school to make clear to itself, and clear to others, especially parents, what general framework it is working within. Is God part of the whole business or not? Do we have respect for all religions or just one? What does this mean in practice? – and so on. This chapter is an attempt to show two dimensions that might or might not make sense for a particular school, at a particular time. (Not forgetting that the dictum from the Head of my first English department, when he thought I was getting too idealistic, “Roger teaching is the art of the possible,” still rings true.)
The ‘organizing element’ statement all undertaken in the light of the ‘Sun’ of chosen higher-order values and beliefs, from the first page of this thesis is the lens of beliefs and values, personal and collective, and is here seen as the counterpart to the other organizing elements, at least in so far as they are more concerned with the ‘objective-reasoning-scientific’. (Although all organizing-elements can be said to have, potentially, dimensions appropriate for all three forms of knowing.)
First I present four inspiring passages that ‘fed’ the extending of the ‘longer the shoreline’ metaphor into the writing of a personal myth. The myth was a way to present, in non-propositional story form, the views presented propositionally elsewhere. It, the four inspiring texts (along with the Heaney poem and the other creative writing) also serve as a ‘heart’, or feeling balance, and leitmotif, to what would otherwise be coldly conceptual.
3:2 Four textual passages that helped inspire the writing of the Island, Shoreline Ocean personal myth, and which contribute, for me, to making the parts into a whole
Explanation: I started extending in my mind the metaphor in Text 1 below. I then found the other texts. The four texts together are what led to the writing of my personal myth, see below, which incorporates many of the feelings and ideas in the thesis and particularly relates to how I experience the two dimensions of my model of the mystical, ‘sensing the Whole’ and ‘restoring heart-knowing’, which are the subjects of the two sections of this chapter.
Text 1 – Unknown author
‘The larger the island of knowledge, the longer
the shoreline of mystery.’
Text 2 – Heschel A. J. (1971), Man is Not Alone,
New York: Octagon Books p.8
‘The search for reason ends at the shore of the known;
on the immense expanse beyond it
only the sense of the ineffable can glide.
It alone knows the route to that
which is remote from experience and understanding.
Neither is amphibious:
reason cannot go beyond the shore,
and the sense of the ineffable
is out of place where we measure, where we weigh…….
Citizens of two realms, we must all sustain dual allegiance:
we sense the ineffable in one realm;
we name and exploit reality in another.
Between the two we set up a system of references,
but can never fill the gap.
They are as far and as close to each other
As time and calendar, as violin and melody,
as life and what lies beyond the last breath.
The tangible phenomena we scrutinize with our reason,
The sacred and indemonstrable we overhear
with the sense of the ineffable.’
Text 3 – Ni, Hua-Ching (1997), The Complete Works of Lao Tzu, Santa Monica, USA: Seven Star Communications – Tao The Ching (‘Chapter’ 1)
‘Tao, the subtle reality of the universe
cannot be described.
That which can be described in words
is merely a conception of the mind.
Although names and descriptions have been applied to it,
the subtle reality is beyond the description.
One may use the word ‘Nothingness”
to describe the Origin of the universe,
to describe the Mother of the myriad things,
but Nothingness and Beingness are merely conceptions.
From the perspective of Nothingness,
one may perceive the expansion of the universe.
From the perspective of Beingness,
one may distinguish individual things.
Both are for the conceptual convenience of the mind.
Although different concepts can be applied,
Nothingness and Beingness
and other conceptual activity of the mind
all come from, the same indescribable subtle Originalness
The Way is the unfoldment of such subtle reality.
Having reached the subtlety of the universe,
one may see the ultimate subtlety,
the Gate of All Wonders.’
Text 4 – – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 110
‘Although to acquire the sciences and arts is the greatest glory of mankind,
this is so only on condition that man’s river flow into the mighty sea,
and draw from God’s ancient source His inspiration.
When this cometh to pass, then
every teacher is as a shoreless ocean, every pupil
a prodigal fountain of knowledge.
If, then, the pursuit of knowledge lead to the beauty
of Him Who is the Object of all Knowledge,
how excellent that goal; but if not, a
mere drop will perhaps shut a man off from flooding grace, for with learning
cometh arrogance and pride, and it bringeth on error and indifference to God.
The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if then they lead not to reality,
naught remains but fruitless illusion. By the one true God! If learning be not
a means of access to Him, the Most Manifest, it is nothing but evident loss.’
The personal myth that follows was written as a ‘one-page’ (originally) way of expressing a) a sense of the relationship with the cosmos the Whole, and b) of a range of the ideas in, and behind, SunWALK. Jane is part of me, perhaps the same Jane as in Jane’s Short Story in Chapter 1.
The personal myth is an attempt at re-storying one kind of knowing. A felt need to undertake a re-storying of knowing can lie in acknowledgement of the fact that we know, and need to know, and need to express that knowing, in more ways than the empirical-reasoning mode – hence Island, Shoreline, Ocean. To admit other ways of knowing, is to admit that in our wholeness we are more than our senses and our reasoning. It is also to admit that in our knowing we are surrounded by mystery, which we encounter. We in various ways give accounts of those encounters.
3:3 Island, Shoreline and Ocean
a personal myth concerning the nature of mystical experience & its relationship to consciousness, & to knowledge creation – as such it is an attempt to include as much as possible of what I learned during the eleven year journey of the thesis – in a ‘one page’ (originally) story
The sun always woke her. Every day Jane walked through her garden, inspecting this plant and that, analysing what needed to be done. The quest was never-ending. Sometimes she sat a while on an old tree stump in order to consider the tasks and challenges, trying to work out the feelings and puzzles of what didn’t seem quite right, what didn’t feel quite right. What she couldn’t physically arrange she sometimes tried to paint or write – she had an imaginary garden as well as a real one. Sometimes she looked at her neighbours’ gardens, wondering if that would give her inspiration, but she was always left with the feeling that her most important answers came from elsewhere.
Every day beneath the practical considerations she felt a longing. Having made her review of her garden Jane walked over the fields, across the two streams that eventually made their way down to the sea, and along the cliff, and down to the shoreline. At the shoreline she breathed in her sense of the infinity of the ocean, along with the ozone-heavy, sea-weedy, sea air.
Frequently she imagined the island’s shoreline around the island’s circumference. In her mind’s eye she saw each place being shaped in some different way by the ocean – which was sometimes gentle, and was sometimes awesome in its relentless might. Sometimes the feelings that filled her were so powerful that she was overcome. Sometimes the beauty of being in the presence of the ocean was so great that she felt that neither garden nor painting nor poetry would ever fully satisfy the deepest longing.
Often after such reverie she slipped into the sea.
The sea had so much salt that she just floated. And, when the temperature was right, in floating, eyes closed, she lost all sense of where she ended and where the surrounding sea began. There was no separate sea, no separate self – it was just ….. being. It was always that way, just being. At such times she felt both full and empty, both powerless and at that same time she felt herself to be the very ocean that insistently carved and re-carved the island shoreline.
Mostly at that point she just wanted to stay, to be just part of this place between land and sea, like a driftwood sculpture, ocean-polished, that had been thrown up after a long journey from some river bank, high up some vaguely-remembered river. The shoreline was exquisitely the best of places. But she always took that first step. A first step on the walk back to her garden. And with the walking the experience that was ineffable started to give up insights and possibilities to both refine the garden, and to extend it into some more of the island’s familiar, wilderness, space.
In the evenings she and her friends sat beneath the moon, in whichever was the most interesting of their gardens, at that particular time, and they discussed the issues that concerned them. They all, more or less, had similar such deep experiences as Jane. The ongoing conversation was what united them, along with their respect for how they clothed so differently, in imagination and form, the experiences that were ineffable.
C. Roger Prentice, Northumberland ver July 2003
Chapter 2 gave accounts of the communities of discourse in which the epiphanic experiences occurred, and from which the concept-elements were gleaned. A three-level conceptual framework was presented – the ‘topmost’ level being the nine organizing elements in the one sentence version of the model. The conceptual framework is the form of the model but what is the spirit, or in the terms of the SunWALK model, what is the ‘Sun’?
Generally the spirit is the human spirit, the 4Cs, inspired by and fed by the source, or sources, of our spiritual nourishment and guidance – the ‘Sun’. The source/s are seen as ‘external’, in scriptures or literature for example, but it is the internalization of those sources that forms our conscience, and such spiritual sensibilities as compassion and a sense of solidarity with those in need. The concern here is not with the content of particular belief systems. It is with making a case for a generalized model of the mystical, and mystical relationship, (as direct religious experience), or at least two dimensions of such a model, and how as part of this there functions what the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain (2003) calls ‘connatural knowing’, but which I here call heart-knowing. In chapter 4 I go on to present a view on how heart-knowing and propositional knowing might be reflected upon by the teacher, to deepen her or his teaching, as part of a spiritualizing pedagogy. The first of these two, ‘sensing the whole/Whole’ or perhaps ‘mindfulness’, I have to deal with very briefly – for reasons of space.
In staying conscious of the whole (the totality of the universe) or Whole (the unknowable Godhead plus ‘His’ Creation, a panentheistic position4) there are two approaches that I wish to mention, the first is not necessarily religious, the second is. In the case of the first, Lixian Jin (personal communication 2003)5 tells me that the Chinese way, at least classically, is to start with the whole and then consider the parts, whereas the Western view is the opposite (see also Munro 1985). However this may not have always been the case if we accept the view of Wilhelm (1995 p.82) who argues that we, through decisions within the Catholic church, and later as a result of the rise of scientific method moved almost inclusively into a ‘parts-centred’ way of thinking, and correspondingly gave up our sense of the whole. As one piece of evidence she points to Greek-based words, like geology. which she says should properly be understood as the ‘the study of ‘X’ as part of the whole’. Instead in our consciousness it is simply understood as study of some part. In her words:
Current dictionaries define geology as ‘study of the earth’. This definition is misleading because it is a half-truth. Geo means earth, logy is from logos, meaning unity. Thus the full meaning of the word ‘Geology’ is the study of the unity of the earth, which returns the significance and beauty of this word’s original implicit meaning.6
Recovering the sense of wholeness is vital to understanding, sympathetically, that we are part of the whole, as the environmental movements have argued since the latter part of the 20thC. My interest is in the psycho-spiritual welfare of the individual, who can feel him/her self as part of the whole, as opposed to a powerless fragment, blown hither and thither. Of course such a healthy state of being can be the product or the cause of such a restoration of consciousness. Bohm (1980 p.3) makes the connection between health and wholeness:
It is instructive to consider that the word ‘health’ in English is based on the Anglo-Saxon word ‘hale’ meaning ‘whole: that is, to be healthy is to be whole, which is I think, roughly equivalent of the Hebrew ‘shalem’. Likewise the English ‘holy’ is based on the same root as ‘whole’. All of this indicates that man has sensed always that wholeness or integrity is an absolute necessity to make life worth living. Yet over the ages, he has generally lived in fragmentation.
Secondly there are the contemplative approaches, usually having their origins in the various world religions. More than forty forms of contemplation are to be found on a ‘tree of contemplation’ at the website of the Centre for Contemplative Mind in Society http://www.contemplativemind.org/practices/tree2.html
Whatever methods we have, spiritually or religiously, it is important that we have consciousness of, and are mindful of, the whole, or, if we are theistic, the Whole – as Creation with or without the Godhead. As with mystery it is there. As with stage lighting, darkness (not just as a symbol of evil) is as important as the lights. Our work in any pedagogy that is spiritualizing must stay aware of the whole, and of mystery for us to be whole, and for us to be in touch with reality. The unknown, mystery, or God if we are theistically religious, are, like darkness in stage lighting, as much part of reality as the known, the solved and the familiar.
I turn now to the second of my two dimensions of a generalized view of the mystical – heart-knowing.
Restoring, and re-storying, heart-knowing
Reason can answer questions, but imagination has to ask them.
3:4 Introduction – the unacknowledgement of heart-knowing
If I have a single criticism about contemporary UK education it is that it has an insufficiency of heart-knowing. In its materialism it is driven by a new form of soulless utilitarianism, the very utilitarianism that Dickens attacked in his novel Hard Times (see below in this section). The re-storation of heart-knowing I see as the single most important means for enabling the joined-up thinking, and joined-up experiencing and feeling, that can eliminate the fragmentariness that prevents education from being holistic, and for its pedagogy to be spiritualizing. To ‘restore’ here means to re-activate that which has all but atrophied, a way of knowing that used to be held to be valid and valuable, but which got lost, post-Enlightenment, as the scientific came to dominate. By ‘re-storying’ I mean the willingness, as part of heart-knowing, to put into story form encounters with the Whole, and indeed any other experiences. This is of course to mythologize, as I have tried to do in my personal myth Island, Shoreline, Ocean, placed at the head of this chapter, in which I try to include as much as possible about the beliefs that underlie this thesis, and about the mystical and cosmological in particular. Heart-knowing, then, is, along with experience of the Whole, the way I here choose to characterize the second dynamic of a generalized view of the mystical – one of the dynamics of the internalized Sun in SunWALK.
The two focuses can also be thought of as stance or attitude, with dynamic involvements, such as serving others, prayer, etc. In part they are determined by our belief system and culture – how we at first, unconsciously, see and approach a person or a thing or situation. It is the loss of such awareness and heart-knowing that has lead to the loss ‘the Whole’ in our thinking and living – and perhaps contributed to the horrors of the 20thC.
Buber’s I-THOU or I-IT distinction (1958) is relevant, although in experience of the whole there is no THOU. But the I-THOU stance is to treat each person, or thing, as God-given, indeed as an expression within the ongoing process of God’s creativity. But in the sense of panentheism, not pantheism. The stance or attitude can be one in which we are imbued with the highest of qualities, or the opposite. It conditions how we experience things or situations or people, including how we approach sequences of propositions, which is what is explored in Chapter 4.
The use of the term ‘Sun’ then, concentrates more on the relationship and dynamics of any subject (person), to her or his sources of spiritual nourishment and guidance, rather than to extensive lists of particular beliefs about this. The key is that the spiritual is seen as the source, not only of the will to act morally, but also the source of that through which we come to be, and to know. Bringing together knowing as the creative-mystical (personal revelation), and knowing as discovery, is presented in Chapter 4 as the dynamic and interactive switching between the creative-mystical and the analytical-critical. As a learning process the employment interactively of the ‘creative-mystical’ and the ‘analytical-critical’ is seen as the second and third stages in a virtuous circle that can be presented as ‘experience – insight – judgement – experience- etc’.
SunWALK is postulated on the idea that education should be dynamic and experiential as well as reflective and expressive. More deeply it is also based on the idea of the human spirit in ‘flow’, intrapersonally and person to person. Within each person the flow of spirit is seen as the constantly switching forms of engaging with reality that I call the 3Cs, which are the internal co-equivalents of the perennial virtues of Goodness, Beauty and Truth, with justice being seen as the supreme virtue. I believe justice is particularly important as a ‘self’-conditioning virtue, as implied by the second of Baha’u’llah’s Arabic Hidden Words (1932), because it is the key to a way to understanding truth and beauty and goodness. The point is that the virtues need to work together – as many as we each can muster. Each serves the other, and their common denominator, is love – or for the theistically religious ‘God’. Reflection on Baha’u’llah’s statement about justice, in relation to truth or beauty or goodness or any other virtue can be a dynamic and revealing process. Another way of putting this is to ask what does Baha’u’llah’s ‘interiority’ view of justice reveal about our approach to truth seeking and truth-telling, and to aesthetics and to ethics? Space is insufficient to follow this line, but the general point is that we need to examine virtues in the lights of other virtues to generate deeper and wider understanding of the spiritual realm.
Metaphorically I call the 3Cs the ‘primary colours’ of the human spirit. When working with children, or adults, we need to be aware that we are all ‘spirit in flow’, and that we all need development in the abilities used when we engage caringly and creatively and critically. Seeing the person as spirit-energy in flow, and intrapersonally as the three primary colours is, it is suggested, one key to developing pedagogy that is spiritualizing.
Given the idea of these three modes of engagement it seems sensible to identify forms of knowing that relate to each. I call the three forms of knowing appropriate to the 3Cs ‘social-others-centred’, the ‘subjective-creative-mystical’ and the ‘objective-reasoning-scientific’. Diagram 3:1 shows something of the relationship between the three Cs as primary colours and modes of engaging, and the associated core virtues, and the ‘voices’ that we adopt in each of the three Cs.
Diagram 3:1 showing correlations between the 3Cs, the 3 ‘voices’,
associated virtues, form of knowing and forms of truth
Creativity Caring Criticality
(‘right-brain’ mode) (interpersonal/social – but is (‘left-brain’ mode)
also an internalised mode)
‘Voice’ I WE IT
Associated love of love of love of
Virtue beauty goodness truth
Knowing & creative – caring (social) – critical (‘head’)
heart-knowing heart-knowing knowing
knowing as knowing as knowing as
‘personal revelation internalized form of empirical/rational discovery
– mystical or art being in relationships
Truth form subjective social (includes the moral) objective
(meditation or art) (others needs/compassion) (analysis & judgement)
Example thinking sequence
experience insight judgement
‘reading’/capturing image (gestalt) reflection
NB 1 All of the above is within the intrapersonal. However all of the three Cs, in addition to whatever is genetic or innate, are formed via ‘internalization’. That is the child as learner is involved by mother, father, family, community etc. in forms of critical, creative or caring behaviours, which, more or less, are internalized as the modes through which s/he engages – with self, others and things.
Caring in particular is clearly a social reality, but is internalized as a mode that is distinct from the modes of criticality and creativity – “Let me get you a glass of water,” is distinct from, “Do you think we should plant deciduous trees or evergreens?” and from The fog comes/ on little cat feet./ It sits looking over harbour and city/ on silent haunches/ and then moves on. (Carl Sandburg).
Caring is social-interpersonal knowing, and, inevitably culturally embedded. A remaining question is whether we should see the individual’s ‘knowing in community’ as a separate category from ‘Caring’? That is should there be forms of knowing to correspond to the Community, the fourth C in the 4Cs? I think the answer is yes – as in NB 2 below.
NB 2 The truth verification sub-model, see Diagram 3:2 below relates to this sub-model in the following way: senses and reason = criticality, inspiration = creativity, consultation/philosophical inquiry (and tradition) = community, caring = the relationships in community, and their internalization as a mode of being and engaging (If Baha’is choose to see the Baha’i Revelation and Writings as a separate category (to ‘tradition’) then I suppose them to be cultural at the interpersonal level, and faith at the individual level).
NB 3 Another version of the above triadic forms is to be found in Appendix B.
The example thinking sequence suggests that, some people, some of the time, think like this: we have some sort of experience, major or minor, via the senses or in our mind, which then presents us with some sort of image, which is then, more or less clothed in detail, and about which we then reflect, and make judgements – we move from the left-brain to the right-brain – as do accomplished musicians when they are interpreting music, as opposed to just playing scales. The perception of a Gestalt, when we are pleased, surprised or even shocked may be called an intuition. This, like the mystical, I see as part of being human, not something possessed just by a special group – but it atrophies if it is not used, e.g. if ignored in schools.
Goleman (1996 p.232) says that the massive increase in drug use, and other evils, in the US, is like the canary in the coalminer’s tunnel whose death warns of too little oxygen. Though I include the need for ‘emotional literacy’ in my model it can be, like adding Gardener’s 7 intelligences, or other good ideas, yet another case of re-arranging the furniture as the ship sinks. The basis, and the axis, of education must change, and, as this thesis tries to do, we have to go deep into what it is to be human, here in the world with others. A new ship is required from the design stage, not yet another attempt to repair a leaking, rudderless, powerless vessel that is still at sea. For the theistically religious that is a case of turning to God, for the non-theistically religious or others the call, as I see it, is for holization, humanization and spiritualization – guided by higher-order-values.
The purpose of this ‘Sun’ sub-model is to provide a view of knowing that admits, on an equal basis, the intuitive, ‘right-brain’, ‘heart side’ of knowing. Within the scope of this thesis I can’t expand on critical knowing, which is represented here via PFC, and of course includes reasoning, the empirical and scientific method generally. Nor can I expand much on caring knowing which is represented here by the ethical, acting in the world, that in part flows from the individual or group’s spiritual source and guidance. I want however to make a case for re-establishing heart-knowing, which I now see as applying to both the Caring and the Creative in my model. It is vital for knowing to be holistic. Certainly, ability in heart-knowing is seen as vital for high-level whole person functioning, in which however accomplished a person is intellectually, they don’t just ‘live in their head’ but can function via the other two modes as well. This is particularly important if you want to be loved by your family! An important side-issue is that in adult life there is no need for a person to have equal abilities in all 3Cs, just a sufficiency, as Darwin said I would have made it a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least every week (in Christian 1994 p.611).
In particular I want to respond to a view attributed to the Indian philosopher Coomaraswami, and commented on by Coleman (1991 p.1): Art is religion, religion is art, not related, but the same. I will argue that they are completely the same, and that they are completely different – contextualization makes all the difference. Understanding how this is true, and not true, depending on context, is I will suggest vital for a range of other understandings, including how to prevent or deal with fundamentalism, fundamentalism being seen as the progressive extirpation of the subjective voice, through the imposition of a ruling interpretation.
Heart-knowing in the SunWALK model is seen as functioning interactively and co-operatively with the reasoning side of knowing. Both are vital for the social-caring form of knowing. This equality of ‘complementarities’ is seen as particularly important for any pedagogy that seeks to be spiritualizing. Spiritualizing goals start with a modicum of commitment to such virtues as justice, truth, beauty and goodness. At the other end of the scale there may be no upper limit – the good deeds of the ordinary human are the sins of the saint. However developed, or not, a person might be, heart-knowing is seen as vital for real progress, and reason though absolutely necessary, is not sufficient.
Heart-knowing is part of what goes on in the heart-mind. In using the term heart-mind for the operation of the human psyche (interiority – without ‘water-tight’ (spirit-tight?) division into thought and feeling), we have a better way to recognize that experience initially is not differentiated into thought or feeling. Heart-mind, and heart-knowing, help us re-cognize knowing – we know in more ways than via the senses and reasoning. Perhaps there is a degree of choice in whether or not we make an experience a thought or feeling. When it is established, as one, or the other, the complementarity is always there, like the reverse of a coin. Our feelings can be converted into thought, and our stored thoughts are embedded in matrices of feelings.
We come to know via the heart, that is we come to know via feeling, through moral and spiritual sensibilities, through the ‘flow’ of spirit that takes place between people, and through creativity as subjective realization and expression. Heart-knowing is what provides us with intuition, (perhaps the reverse is true), which when tested against the other forms of truth verification, can be, at least, as useful a way into reality as the scientific. Perhaps as in my suggested thinking sequence, from Diagram 3:1, all experience starts with the heart and then, moves to thought, (often with frequent switching back and forth):
experience insight judgement
‘reading’/capturing image gestalt reflection
Perhaps contemplation is a hovering between the two i.e. between thought and feeling. Einstein’s view (Calaprice 2000 p.10) that imagination is more important than knowledge might also hint at the priority of ‘heart’.
My suggested definition of the mystical: ‘The mystical is positive, ineffable, unitive, experience that enhances insight or knowing – in a spiritual or religious context,’ is no guarantee of being right. The knowing that comes about in the mystical, in ordinary, fallible humans can be anything from God-given guidance, right through to the worst kind of gross self deception. The faculty can produce evil as well as good. In the Baha’i writings there are many references about the need to avoid self-deception:
This lowly one entreateth the people of the world to observe fairness, that their tender, their delicate and precious hearing which hath been created to hearken unto the words of wisdom may be freed from impediments and from such allusions, idle fancies or vain imaginings as `cannot fatten nor appease the hunger’
(Baha’u’llah:  Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p.170)
Insight is admitted in the above triad not as infallible guidance – that way lies extremism, or madness, or both, but as part of the overall process of realization and consciousness-raising in which different kinds of knowing, and different kinds of verification, are used in conjunction with each other. I therefore want to take the ‘truth verification’ model, outlined by Abdu’l-Baha, a step further and present it as a sub-model, as in Diagram 3:2.
‘Abdu’l-Baha’s model (see SAQ p. 29, PUP p. 21-22, p. 253-255, and PUP p.356) for the discovery, and verification, of knowing suggests four criteria: 1) senses, 2) reason, 3) tradition & 4) intuition that, more or less, fit into my 3Cs I suggest also consultation, or philosophical enquiry, as the way of revealing, and/or discovering, knowledge via the interpersonal.7
Diagram 3:2 – Maximising certainty in truth-seeking and
knowledge-creation – a Baha’i-inspired sub-model
Holy Spirit (in transcendent form)
‘all things, in their inmost reality, testify to the revelation of
the names and attributes of God within them.’
(Gleanings, 1949 pp. 177-179)
1 Senses +
2 Reason +
3 Tradition +
4 Inspiration +
5 Consultation +
(6 For Baha’is –
Baha’i Revelation (Zeitgeist?) +
& Baha’i Writings
(if different to ‘tradition’))
Holy Spirit (in immanent form) as in,
‘Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting’. (Baha’u’llah: AHW, p.13)
Human consciousness is shaped by the senses, by reason, by tradition (culture), and by inspiration. I suggest that a Baha’i might add one or more of ‘consultation’, and the Baha’i Revelation and writings. Someone who isn’t a Baha’i might still include one or more of 5, 6 and 7 – but in some other form – e.g. Nakagawa (2000 p. 31) suggests a five dimensional framework for holistic education that bears some resemblance to this sub-model.
The general point held is that truth is one, and that apparent conflict suggests that one, or more, methods are at fault, or are insufficiently developed. Verification ideally requires employing not just one way of knowing, since all may deceive in different ways (e.g. mirages deceive the senses). We should use as many as are available and appropriate. ‘Appropriate’ includes avoiding e.g. scientism – the inappropriate application of the principles of scientific investigation.
NB 1 ‘Abdu’l-Baha spoke several times about this subject see versions in
PUP p.21-22, p.253-255, and PUP p.356 and SAQ p.29)
NB 2 See Diagram 3:1 above to relate the truth verification sub-model to the 4Cs.
From a process point of view we can see that Abdu’l-Baha’s categories co-relate substantially with the 4Cs;
a) Senses and reason, in relation to Criticality, are the bedrock of the processes of science,
b) tradition (and possibly the latest Revelation and its Writings) is substantially synonymous with culture and inevitably involve all the processes in the moral sphere – the interpersonal,
c) inspiration is seen as the process of heart-knowing,
d) consultation, and philosophical inquiry, also relate to the interpersonal,
e) if it is acceptable to think of the Revelation (of Baha’u’llah) as the Zeitgeist (the Covenant?) then it probably is felt via inspiration,
f) the Writings of Baha’u’llah are, as in many other religions, seen as (the product of) Word of God, and the processes of being nourished by them include reading and chanting, reflection and action, as service.
A triadic structure, similar to the 3Cs, is pointed out by Ken Wilber
(2000 p.5) as he relates perennial philosophy to the Great Chain of Being:
The perennial core of the wisdom traditions is…the Great Chain of Being and the correlative belief in epistemological pluralism. As Huston Smith summarizes this view, “Reality is graded and with it cognition.”…there are levels of knowing and being. If we picture the Great Chain as composed of four levels (body, mind, soul and spirit), there are four correlative modes of knowing (sensory, mental, archetypal and mystical) which I usually shorten to the three eyes of knowing; the eye of flesh (empiricism), the eye of mind (rationalism) and the eye of contemplation (mysticism). (RPs underlining)
These three eyes of knowing, clearly do not relate perfectly to the three Cs of Caring, Creativity and Criticality, and there is an argument to support the Wilber view. It is that creativity is separate to his three ‘eyes’, but uses all three. The moral dimension similarly can be said, quite rightly, to draw upon all three Cs. Another very important issue is whether the moral is seen as arising from ‘within’ human interaction, as humanists might argue, or whether it flows from some ‘external’ source, as many religionists say. My personal view is that it is externally, that is culturally, sourced, in everything from family attitudes to Holy Scripture, but there is the caring sensibility, as potential, within the human spirit, which the ‘internalization process’ awakens. That internalization results in the Caring faculty, and its mode of engagement. In ‘Criticality’ I have coupled two of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s criteria, the empirical and the rational.
Ultimately, I prefer to stay with the 3Cs because they balance better the concerns of the teacher in relation to the primary task of developing all dimensions of the human spirit – the moral, the critical and the creative, the subjective, the objective and the interpersonal, etc.
The most important imbalance in contemporary education I suggest is between heart-knowing and head-knowing. The legitimacy, and therefore the use of heart-knowing has been largely lost, or considered inappropriate for education. But heart-knowing, viewed from many different angles, figures strongly in a varied group of writers that I have gradually discovered over the last eleven years.
As a duality knowing is, on the one hand, propositional knowing that draws on the empirical and on reasoning, and, on the other hand, it is heart knowing, which as we will see later in this chapter should include the basic forms of moral knowing, mystical knowing and poetic-artistic knowing. These are the two wings, one is not more important than the other, though heart-knowing might be said to take precedence, in the idea that we feel, at the perception stage, before we know that it is something to think (consciously) about.
I argue then that there is no more important challenge than restoring heart-knowing into a balanced state with propositional knowing as a way to help develop graduates who are good, and effective, friends, citizens and agents of positive change. To whom shall we here turn for further understanding in the matter of heart-knowing?
3:5 Disparate voices in calling for the re-establishment of heart-knowing:
Karen Armstrong, Abdu’l-Baha, Charles S Taylor, Jacques Maritain, Ibn Arabi, John C. Hinchcliff, Gisela Labouie-Vief, Abraham Heschel, Peter Abbs (& Susan Langer), Charles Dickens
The view of heart-knowing that I present is inspired by a range of voices from different times and different disciplines.
Karen Armstrong (heart-knowing as the complementariness of mythos and logos in making meaning)
Karen Armstrong is one such voice who argues that we have lost a form of knowing which she calls mythos. Mythos and logos I see as corresponding to heart-knowing and the conceptual. In her book The History of God (1999 p.244, see also 2000) she points out that there is a linguistic connection between the three words ‘myth’, ‘mysticism’ and ‘mystery’, all being derived from the Greek verb musteion (to close the eyes and mouth).
Armstrong points out (2000 p. xiii) that;
1we tend to assume that people of the past were (more or less) like us, but in fact their spiritual lives were very different
2In particular they evolved two ways of thinking, speaking and acquiring knowledge called mythos and logos
3Both were essential and regarded as complementary ways at arriving at truth and each had its special area of competence.
4Myth was regarded as primary, concerned with what was thought to be timeless and constant in our existence
5Myth looked back to the origins of life, to the foundations of culture and to the deepest levels of the human mind.
Myth, Armstrong points out, was not concerned with practical matters, but with meaning, presumably meaning attributed to mythologized phenomena.
The Webster dictionary gives these definitions;
MYTHOS: the pattern of meaning and valuation expressive of the basic truths and enduring apprehensions of a people’s historic experience characteristically expressed through a medium of high symbolism (as in poetry, art or drama)
1 Reason or the manifestation of reason conceived in ancient Greek philosophy as constituting the controlling principle of the universe: a moving and regulating principle in the universe, together with an element in man by which according to Heraclitus this principle is perceived:
2 the actively expressed creative revelatory thought and will of God…identified in the second person of the Trinity. (Though this might strike us as myth-laden meaning!)
In other encyclopaedias and dictionaries we get definitions like the following;
Logos (Greek, “word,” “reason,” “ratio”), in ancient and especially in medieval philosophy and theology, the divine reason that acts as the ordering principle of the universe. Encarta
Mythos 1 the complex of beliefs, values and attitudes, etc characteristic of a specific group or society. 2 another word for myth or mythology. Collins
The Catholic Encyclopaedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09328a.htm, includes a section on Logos which starts:
The word Logos is the term by which Christian theology in the Greek language designates the Word of God, or Second Person of the Blessed Trinity.
Re-understanding and restoring mythos, as well as logos, I argue is important to strengthen the vocabulary and concepts that we have with which to discuss the spiritual.
The spiritual has been debased to a pick-and-mix commodity, (especially in some New Age spirituality) (see Hull 2003). Lack of concern for the transcendent could also be seen as the atrophying of our ability to function in the mode of mythos, or vice versa, not that logos is having such a good time, in schools!. There is also clearly ‘heart-ignorance’ in some of the forms of mythos that perpetuates groups in the blood-letting of other groups.
The main point here being that mythos and logos like all of the other complementary pairs need the healthy, balanced functioning of each other (see Appendix A). The atrophying of mythos, and the importance of that which is beyond the conceptual, negates the source by which the conceptual is enriched and renewed – the mystical or direct religious experience, a process of de-sensitisation. In this I share the views of Armstrong that one half of being human, mythos (seen as largely synonymous with heart-knowing and intuition), has been, like women in history, all but lost. It is seen as how we relate to and experience the world, and especially the inner world – including the unknown, and (conceptually) unknowable, and how we give accounts of that relationship and that experience. Above all mythos, says Armstrong, is concerned not with practical matters, but with meaning, and it is a kind of knowing that does not come with the effort of ‘book learning’. It is heart-knowing.
Heart knowing in Baha’i writings (heart-knowing as ‘gifted’ intuition engendered via language and the internal dialogue called (one type of) meditation)
In Baha’i scripture heart-knowing is described like this:
Knowledge is of two kinds. One is subjective and the other objective knowledge – that is to say, an intuitive knowledge and a knowledge derived from perception.
The knowledge of things which men universally have, is gained by reflection or by evidence – that is to say, either by the power of the mind the conception of an object is formed, or from beholding an object, the form is produced in the mirror of the heart. The circle of this knowledge is very limited because it depends upon effort and attainment.
But the second sort of knowledge, which is the knowledge of being, is intuitive; it is like the cognizance and consciousness that man has of himself……………
This knowledge is not the outcome of effort and study. It is an existing thing; it is an absolute gift.
(`Abdu’l-Baha: Some Answered Questions, 1984 pp.157-159 )
It is clear that the role and importance that Abdu’l-Baha gives to heart knowing, the intuitive, is far greater than is common in our society. On the issue of developing potential Abdu’l-Baha also points, metaphorically, to the vital importance of language in engendering that which is innate:
The heart is like a box, and language is the key. Only by using the key can we open the box and observe the gems it contains.
(MARS: LoG p.340)
Abdu’l-Baha has also referred to meditation thus:
It is an axiomatic fact that while you meditate you are speaking with your own spirit. In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.
(`Abdu’l-Baha: Paris Talks p.174)
These three statements alone seem to me to support the non-cognitive side of heart-knowing whilst presenting a dialogical view of realizing the knowing that is a gift.
James S Taylor (heart-knowing as ‘poetic knowing’)
In his book Poetic Knowledge: The Recovery of Education Taylor (1997) traces what he calls ‘poetic knowledge’ from Socrates to the middle ages and beyond. He sees this as a form of knowing that relies more on the integrated powers of sensory experience and intuition, rather than on modern narrow scientific model of knowing.
Taylor rediscovers this mode of knowing and sees it as viable for today. Poetic Knowledge returns first to the freshness and importance of ‘first knowledge’, a knowledge of the senses and the passions, and thus to a re-emphasis on experientiality. However “Poetic knowledge” is not just the poetic voice, and its appreciation. Rather, he says, it is an intuitive, obscure, mysterious way of knowing reality, not always able to account for itself, but absolutely.
Taylor was inspired by the French Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain.
Jacques Maritain (heart knowing is connatural and the moral, the aesthetic and the poetic are its forms)
Maritain refers, in his book, The Range of Reason (2003 sections 1-3)8 http://www.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/range01.htm) to ‘speculative reason’, which I take as being what is here called Criticality – the knowledge peculiar to the philosopher and the scientist, but considers that a second form of knowing needs recognizing. This he says is one that is not acquired through concepts and reasoning, but through inclination, or as St. Thomas Aquinas says, through sympathy, congeniality or connaturality.
This connatural knowledge Maritain sees as the moral knowledge of the virtuous man, who may not know theoretically what justice or honour is, but who has these virtues in himself, and who has only to consult his own inner being to know whether an act is, or is not, unjust and dishonourable.
Maritain see this moral knowing as the same as the mystical knowledge of the contemplatives, who may never have learned philosophy or theology, but who live spiritually and morally and who know them by virtue of a love-union with God. This is (theological) support for the notion of a kind of knowing that arises from being embedded in relationships.
To the moral and mystical Maritain adds the poetic – all three being forms of connatural knowing. He says that:
the poetic knowledge of the artist, who may not know theoretically either psychology or sociology, cosmology, ethics or anything at all, but who, in order to reveal to himself his most secret being in a work that he produces, is given in his creative intuition or emotion, through the impact he receives from reality in the unconscious life of the spirit and the depths of subjectivity, a non-conceptual knowledge of the things of the world and their secrets (ibid.)
Maritain (ibid) sees the essential points concerning poetic knowledge as:
1 The activity of art is not in itself an activity of knowledge, but of creation; art aspires to creating an object in accordance with that object’s inner needs and its own good.
2 It is true that artistic activity presupposes and collects much previous knowledge; it requires, moreover, either a contemplative frame of mind, like that which the great Chinese painters stressed so much, or a kind of ceaseless rumination of everything that comes to the soul through the senses — in short, a spiritual awakening of the senses. But this amount of knowledge (in the ordinary sense of the word) is prior to the art activity itself. The art activity begins after that, and occurs in a separate, autonomous world, because it is a creative activity and because, by its very nature, it requires the mind not to be shaped by a thing to be known, but to shape a thing to be put into existence.
The question is then asked by Maritain – Given that exercising poetic knowledge is creative activity, what is its essence of the associated knowledge? How can that be explained? He says (ibid.):
An act of thought which by its very essence is creative, which shapes something in existence, instead of being shaped by things — what does such an act express and manifest when it produces the work if not the very being and substance of the one who creates?
And this is followed by (ibid):
But the substance of man is obscure to himself; it is only by receiving and suffering things, by awakening to the world, that our substance awakens to itself. The poet can only express his own substance in a work if things resound in him, and if, in him, at the same awakening, they and he emerge together from sleep. All that he discerns and divines in things is thus inseparable from himself and his emotion, and it is actually as a part of himself that he discerns and divines it, and in order to grasp obscurely his own being through a knowledge the end of which is to create. His intuition, the creative intuition or emotion, is an obscure grasping of himself and things together in a knowledge by union or connaturality, which only takes shape, bears fruit and finds expression in the work, and which, in all its vital weight, seeks to create and produce. This is a very different knowledge from what is generally called knowledge; a knowledge which cannot be expressed in notions and judgements, but which is experience rather than knowledge, and creative experience, because it wants to be expressed, and it can only be expressed in a work. This knowledge is not previous or presupposed to creative activity, but integrated in it, consubstantial with the movement toward the work, and this is precisely what I call poetic knowledge.
Maritain concludes his short section about poetic knowledge with the following (ibid):
Poetic knowledge is the intrinsic moment of contemplation from which creation emanates. From it springs the melody that every work of art implies, and which is a meaning that animates a form. For art cannot be satisfied with the object, enclosed in a given category, to which it tends as a merely productive activity. As intellectual activity, art tends in a certain way — I mean a creative way — to Being, which transcends all categories. It is therefore necessary that the object that the artist is shaping, whether it be a vase of clay or a fishing boat, be significant of something other than itself; this object must be a sign as well as an object; a meaning must animate it, and make it say more than it is.
For me, Maritain is the most useful single source in understanding heart-knowing. and its place in SunWALK as a spiritualizing pedagogy. However I prefer to use the term poetic-artistic, to just ‘poetic’, since the ‘I’, subjectivity, voice, can be served by any of the art forms.
Heart-knowing in Ibn Arabi – as presented by Jane Clark in her paper entitled Fulfilling Our Potential: Ibn ‘Arabi’s understanding of man in a contemporary context at http://www.ibnarabisociety.org/clark.html
(heart-knowing as consciousness and interiority)
The great 12th/13th mystic, philosopher, poet, and sage, Muhammad Ibn ‘Arabi is another contributor to our understanding of heart-knowing. Jane Clark (2001) in her paper says that Ibn Arabi indicates that reason alone cannot encompass the highest truth – the heart also is necessary. In fact here the case is more one of legitimizing reason rather than the opposite! In her paper, she also draws from Souad Hakim, who she quotes as saying:
… it is the heart which is the place and instrument of knowledge…[yet Ibn ‘Arabi] makes no separation between the heart and the intellect… [For] if the Sufi does not state his knowledge in intelligible form then the intellect will not accept it, and no-one will pay any attention to what he says… He will be unable to state his knowledge in intelligible form insofar as he has not brought his knowledge across from the heart to the intellect, or else receives an understanding developed in the image of reasoned theory, as did Ibn ‘Arabi… The heart is drunkenness (sukr), the intellect is lucidity (sahw) [and]… the ‘knowing’ Sufi, although he has tasted all states of knowledge, does not omit to return to the sensory in order to give a line of conduct to disciples.
Clark (ibid)says that:
In fact, when the heart is orientated invariably towards God, and its potential fully realised, then, for Ibn ‘Arabi, every one of man’s faculties can become a means and a channel for the knowledge of God – so it flows through the imagination and the senses as well as through intellect and intuition, because all the faculties are, in reality, instruments of the heart. Therefore it has been said, that Ibn ‘Arabi has ‘an all-inclusive point of view’, i.e. his exposition includes all kinds of perception and knowledge, all points of view, and he avoids the dichotomies which have bedevilled so many western attempts to discuss knowledge and perfectibility – reason versus revelation, reason versus empiricism, imagination versus science, etc. The heart is a supra-rational rather than an anti-rational faculty, and in his work, Ibn ‘Arabi gives a comprehensive account of the way in which all the different faculties – dhawq, imagination, reason and sensory perception – operate and inter-relate.
This Clark says, is perhaps especially valuable to us in the present day:
when secular rationalism has become so prevalent that it sometimes seems as if our capacity for mystical insight and creative imagination has been forgotten, or if remembered, not afforded validity. He (Ibn Arabi) gives us a map to a lost land, which is the complete human potential.
For Ibn Arabi, Clark (ibid.) says, the important thing about our knowledge of the external world, the only important thing, is that it is an indicator of something in ourselves. Ibn Arabi says:
He made you a sign (or a demonstration) (dalîl) [of your Lord]. That is, he made your knowledge of your self a ‘sign’ (dalîl) to your knowledge of Him. This is either by way of the fact that He describes you with the same essence and attributes with which he describes Himself, and He made you His vice-regent and deputy upon the earth………. the door to knowledge of Him is shut, unless it comes from Him.
Here we have the idea that if our self-knowledge is sufficient we are knowing God. This derives from the view that we are made in the image of God and that our essential true nature is therefore a reflection of His – at least in terms of names and attributes (not in Essence). Clark (ibid.) then points out:
This principle of ‘self-knowledge’ embodies an epistemology – a way of knowing – that would seem to be completely opposite to the way that we understand ‘knowledge’ in the contemporary context. Scientific methodology gives real existence to the external world and seeks ‘objective’ knowledge of it by attempting to eliminate from the investigator all subjective input and experience; and the resulting knowledge is understood to be the knowledge of the ‘external’ things, not of ourselves. As already mentioned, such an approach comes up with a view of the universe which, hardly surprisingly considering its initial premises, designates no function or coherent meaning at all to man in the universe.
Clark (ibid.) goes on to present a view of ‘signs’, as a special language for the ‘initiated’, that for me resembles William Blake’s, poem:
To See a World in a Grain of Sand
And Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the Palm of your Hand
And Eternity in an Hour.
–William Blake from “The Auguries of Innocence” lines 1-4
Both the Arabi view and Blake, in his four lines of poetry, are expressions of the process of generation, as compared to degeneration, generation that comes through the increased sensibility as consciousness is raised.
For Ibn ‘Arabi (ibid.), ….. every-day experiences, says Clark, are the very nitty-gritty of God’s constant revelation to us. She quotes him, in her paper from his Futûhât (see http://www.ibnarabisociety):
God has placed His ‘signs’ (ayât) in the cosmos as ‘habitual’ and ‘non-habitual’. Only the people who have understanding from God in a special way take the habitual [signs] into account, and the rest of the people do not know what God intends by them.
Learning to read the universe, reality, comes through developing consciousness. This is essential to the underpinning philosophy of SunWALK. But can we frame this outside of a particular belief or faith? I think so, if we return to the idea that ‘humanization’, ‘spiritualization’ and ‘holization’ are three ‘takes’ on a single development. Holization is expanded consciousness as the progressive realisation of meaning via realisation of connectedness and sameness. Spiritualization is expanded consciousness, seen e.g. as progression in the realization of the God (or good) within, indicated via the development and ‘employment’ of virtues. Humanization is expanded consciousness, seen as the realisation of abilities in caring, creating and criticality – in community, and in the light of higher-order values. None of this is seen as faith specific.
Clark’s (ibid.) conclusion is that the necessary shift is to be achieved only through re-storing heart-knowing – and not because of differences between present or past cultures:
…….. it (is) clear that the problem is not to do with culture, but with moving the organ of our perception from the intellect to the heart, so that we actually witness the revelation that is constantly given to us, and understand what it is ‘indicating’, what ‘sign’ it is making, about our own reality.
Her phrase actually witness the revelation that is constantly given to us is fascinating for two reasons. Firstly it echoes statements by Abdu’l-Baha, concerning ‘breaths’ of the Holy Spirit. For example:
Spiritual progress is through the breaths of the Holy Spirit and is
the awakening of the conscious soul of man to perceive the reality
`Abdu’l-Baha: Promulgation of Universal Peace p.142-143 MARS
How shall we attain the reality of knowledge? By the breaths and promptings of the Holy Spirit, which is light and knowledge itself. Through it the human mind is quickened and fortified into true conclusions and perfect knowledge.
`Abdu’l-Baha:  Promulgation of Universal Peace pp.22-23 MARS
Secondly Clark’s phrase, is interesting because it suggests that trying to hide in extreme logical forms, extreme left-brainness we might say, is a kind of denial, a flight from the challenges of having to experience the subjective self.
John C Hinchcliff The Apollonian and Dionysian mindsets – the dangers of un-balanced being and doing (heart-knowing and the mythic)
Hinchcliff (1996), argues that to know where we want to go, we need to know which myths prevail in our society and which alternative ideals and values we need in order to achieve a metanoia, a new mindset. With him I would argue that something as major as a new mind set is a matter of ideals and values, and these are conscious creations of both our intuitive and intellectual activities – not simply a matter of facts and knowledge. He takes the view that if we do not have a mythic point of view we cannot actually orient ourselves to existence. He points to statements by Collingwood and Popper. Collingwood, a philosopher of history, said:
unless the historian has a point of view (s)he can see nothing at all’. The philosopher Karl Popper argues that all knowledge requires a point of view and the naive attempt to avoid it can only lead to self deception and to the uncritical application of an unconscious point of view.
Hinchcliff (ibid.) stretches the definition of ‘myth’ but in doing so makes an interesting point. Points of view, or myths, says Hinchcliff, order our perceptions, govern out attitudes and guide our actions. (A point of view is what we see, as a consequence of where we choose to stand.) This of course is a valuable but extremely narrowed reading of ‘myth’ – a viewpoint, is not necessarily mythologization. It is however a valuable idea, providing we bear in mind that myth provides more. The more includes, for me, a storying of what is known, and what is mystery, what is seen objectively and what is imagined subjectively. These are brought together to be meaningful – in narrative form. It is necessary because knowledge is always incomplete – but as I argue metaphor bridges the gap between the objective and the subjective. However we should also bear in mind as Morgan points out (1983 p.13) metaphor produces a ‘one-sided insight’ since it, pushes back other truths about a person or object by fore-fronting the qualities conveyed via the metaphor. My ‘answer’ to this is that we shouldn’t ever lose sight of the fact that the meaning made via metaphor is deeply personal, on the subject side, but that there is wide agreement on the objective side – fish are rarely mistaken for trees, the terms ‘islands’, ‘oceans’, and ‘shoreline’ are also objective, and are unlikely to be misunderstood. However Heaney’s phrase to set the darkness echoing can, for the most part only be filled with deeply personal meaning, derived from an individual’s own lifetime of experience.
Hinchcliff’s paper is valuable, highly valuable, because it is a name that he is in effect giving to that whole that exists when we make any statement. It is the totality of assumptions that we make, or that exist, above and below the ‘surface’, whenever we make any statement. Sometimes we try to articulate something about that whole, and that inevitable failure is best attempted via metaphor in poetry9 and sometimes it remains tacit. Perhaps ‘total mind-set is better’ – but what is the product of an effort by a total mind-set? – truth and mystery together i.e. a myth, a narrative about an encounter.
Equally fascinating is Hinchcliff’s view that suggests that wisdom is a point of view had from a distance, after having travelled a long way through one’s life, as in the Proustian statement:
We do not receive wisdom we discover it for ourselves,
after a journey through a wilderness,
which no one else can make for us,
for our wisdom is the point of view
from which we come at last to view the world. Marcel Proust
Myths, as-points-of-view, are, Hinchcliff says, especially important in our current society’s situation of ‘information overload’. He ought also to say that they can lull us into false sense of security unless we have the motivation to strive for self-understanding as well as for staying aware of underlying assumptions in the stories to which we subscribe. In the model developed in this work they are viewed as ways of embodying desirable values, including such social virtues as harmony in diversity, as well as individual virtues such as courage – as well as reinforcing prejudice in conflicts such as between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The solution is to choose or create myths that can help transcend the limitations of existing myths. In addition myth can be seen as accounts given of encounters with Mystery, as illustrated in my Island Shoreline and Ocean.
Hinchcliff says we tend to dismiss another society’s myths as superstitious fantasies, but it is important to look at our own mythic catalogue. His list from a negative perspective is:
The ‘technical fix’ that technical expertise can solve any problem.
Instant information is the most valuable information.
More information is necessarily good information.
Might makes right.
Invention is the ‘mother of necessity’, or whatever can be done should be done.
Personal wants are elastic and economic growth is essential to satisfy them.
Humans are primarily pleasure seekers.
Self-seeking behaviour will lead to social good through the operation of the invisible hand.
It is more difficult to change human nature than to develop technical solutions to solve social problems.
Knowledge is power.
There is nothing we cannot know.
Technology and science are neutral, value free and objective.
Western civilization is supreme.
Success depends upon being competitive.
Order, control, structure, logic and reason are the key management values.
‘Freedom’ of the press exists in a democratic country.
In living by such ‘’myths we are geared, Hinchcliff says, to Promethean attempts to; add more and more complex technical solutions, with fragmentary specialist analyses, aimed at solving fundamentally human problems. (We also, of course, invest in positive myths with healthy effects.)
For the SunWALK model, this comment goes to the heart of the matter – we need a holistic, human-based education system, and a ‘human-family-based’ society, not in order to eliminate the technical, but in order to achieve consensually-created positive human contexts in which the technical is developed and used wisely. Most of the myths in Hinchcliff’s list are de-humanizing and mitigate against such values as personal responsibility, ‘team-work’ or harmony in diversity. His myths are very much an old paradigm of untested assumptions. The solution to the negative effects of such old-paradigm ‘myths’ is critical examination, plus more elevated ‘myth’-making.
I accept most of Hinchcliff’s list of myths, and I see them operating in our society. However there are others. For example:
We live in a democracy.
Teachers will only work hard if you de-stabilize them through constant change and take more and more control, and treat them as automatons.
The future success of the country rests on a higher set of narrow academic and technical skills.
Quality of life is positively correlated with level of consumption.
Hinchcliff says that ‘the reverence for quantification’ leads him back to T S Eliot’s questions:
‘Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?’
I recall that somewhere I heard a wag add, “Where is the information we have lost in data?” And Hinchcliff asks, ‘Where is the vitality and innovation we have lost in accountability?” These famous lines by Eliot indicate a simpler and more convincing model of the levels of knowing c.f. the model by Hart (2001) mentioned above.
Hinchcliff (1996) seeks a philosophical justification for the following set of values – diversity, innovation, empowerment, creativity, quality, and enterprise – ordered within tightly controlled and controlling structures. He looks to do so by contrasting ‘Apollonian’ and ‘Dionysian’ mindsets. The Apollonian model, after the god Apollo, he argues (ibid.), has always been attractive to the Western mind:
It is a philosophical mind based on order, control, structure, logic and reason. Gaps are not left to enable mistakes to happen. Weaknesses are not permitted. There is no respect for subjectivity, inwardness, mystery, paradox or perplexity. Tight logical systems are crucial. There must always be a QED.
The Dionysian approach of the Greek dramatists is substantially different. Dionysus was the god of passion, energy, vitality and creativity. This, for me, also implies encouraging, empowering, stimulating, inspiring, enthusing11.
Hinchcliff (ibid.) sees challenges to the Apollonian mindset as having come from European existentialism, chaos theory and quantum theory. Such challenges have confronted the old Cartesian and Newtonian views of existence which presented reality as objective, inert, and separate from the Mind which speculates about, uncovers, examines, analyses, catalogues and defines truth about bedrock reality. This reality is seen as an observable unity with determined patterns which are predictable according to the laws of cause and effect. Nature in the old view sees reality as machine-like, in the new paradigm it is a set of interlocking systems, of which we are part.
Hinchcliff’s (ibid.) inclusion of the Apollonian and Dionysian mindsets echoes one of the aims of this work which is to argue for a re-balancing of a range of dualities (see Appendix A). This includes intrapersonal dualities as well as interpersonal ones – e.g. the cognitive-meditative as well as controlling versus empowering. The mythical characters, Dionysus and Apollo represent, perennially, two sides of human character. Resolving their opposition, via processes of integration, is not only a matter of individual, intrapersonal, happiness but also I would argue the pre-requisite for a happy, just and developing society. It can also be viewed as a balancing of such dualities as Logos and Mythos, or Yin and Yang.
Hinchcliff considers that we still have a stand-off between the two great ontological myths and that tragedy can occur when the two myths conflict. I take the view that the need is to find forms and ways forward that integrate these two primal forces.
Hinchcliff (ibid.) then shifts to an integrative perspective. In a splendid
statement he says:
As an inseparable participant in a dynamic process of partial perspectives we need humility to be a learner whether teacher or student, to see the value of subjectivity as well as objectivity, intuition as well as reason, praxis as well as theoria, the process as well as the product, synthesis as well as analysis, the interdisciplinary as well as the disciplinary, integration as well as dissensus, reconstruction as well as review in discrete sections, ends as well as means, ethics as well as facts and creativity as well as organizational control.
With such an integrating viewpoint-myth, he considers that we are encouraged to build a synthesis:
to see things in a multi-modal way where in a system everything relates to everything else, where problems are contextualized, visions are accepted as partial but nonetheless as absolutely crucial, and where fads that may work short term must relate to the demands of the whole. Instead of the Newtonian scientist methodically examining the smallest part, perhaps incrementally moving to construct a portion of the whole, the systemic thinker begins within the context as a whole and explores the relationships between parts within the whole.
Hinchcliff says he prefers in education the university, where everything is related, and where there are meaningful connections, and synergistic thinking, as opposed to a multiversity where everything is separated out, reduced and decontextualized. In our families and in our societies, and in our global community, this mindset suggests we should look first to the well-being of the whole and then to the discrete parts. Interestingly this is seen as the core ethical principle within Baha’i teachings:
among the teachings of Baha’u’llah is voluntary sharing of one’s property with others among mankind. This voluntary sharing is greater than equality, and consists in this, that man should not prefer himself to others, but rather should sacrifice his life and property for others. But this should not be introduced by coercion so that it becomes a law and man is compelled to follow it. Nay, rather, man should voluntarily and of his own choice sacrifice his property and life for others, and spend willingly for the poor, just as is done in Persia among the Baha’is.
(`Abdu’l-Baha: SWAB p.302 MARS 1997)
Needless to say this is a goal for many, as opposed to a fully realized quality of all Baha’is! The alternative, integrative, mindset to which Hinchcliff moves, stressing as it does interrelationship and interconnectedness, suggests a restatement of the myth implicit in all great wisdom literature; respect for people as in the ‘Golden Rule’, but the Baha’is see that the challenge now is to go beyond reciprocity to ‘other-centredness’.12
In concluding my review of this vital paper by Hinchcliff I give a brief account of a desire that he has to see certain old myths re-stated and of the integrative conclusion that he applauds. In doing this he echoes the spirit of the work of Bushrui (1994) who in his inaugural lecture as professor of peace studies, argues for the need to ‘retrieve’, and reinstate, the spiritual heritages of the peoples of the world.
As ‘old’ myths to be re-asserted Hinchcliff lists, in addition to re-asserting the Golden Rule (more a principle than a myth), respect for the harmonies of nature, respect for the whole context, respect for personal autonomous decision – making, respect for personal responsibility, and respect for the community – a series of some of the very elements that underpin the model being presented here. The weakness of Hinchcliff’s paper is his stretching of ‘myth’ to a breaking point – when he really means a paradigm of untested assumptions, or simply a principle. However the many powerful ideas for contributing to a new paradigm make the paper important.
I join with Hinchcliff (1996) in believing that the kind of, and degree of, change that is necessary, can happen. Aspects of it are already happening. Hinchcliff recalls a wonderful quotation from Lewis Mumford that the ‘trend is not the destiny’. Metanoias, Hinchcliff says do happen. New myths have caused historical mindset changes and altered history. Jesus Christ, the Buddha, Mohammed, Copernicus, Newton, Freud, Darwin, Marx, have purposely altered the mythological status quo of societies, impacting significantly on the lives and actions of so many. Hinchcliff (1996) in his conclusion moves closer to my position. He says:
I must emphasize that our alternative paradigm allows for and encourages the integration of order within process. It accepts that the Apollonian does have a place within the vitality of the Dionysian, unlike the restrictive Apollonian myth which cannot abide the Dionysian. So the methods of careful stewardship, rigour, the disciplined and focused effort and research can all be embraced while valuing the integrative myths of the alternative.
My equivalent to seeing the Apollonian and the Dionysian as complementaries is balance between the three forms of knowing – ‘social-others-centred’, the ‘subjective-creative-mystical’ and the ‘objective-reasoning-scientific’ – in utilization of the principles of SunWALK and the 4Cs.
Gisela Labouvie-Vief – (Heart-knowing and Mythos and logos within the notion of ‘Wisdom as Integrated Thought’)
Labouvie-Vief (1990 p.54) connects wisdom with mythos, in the mythos and logos duality. She points out that many recent writings suggest that theories of cognition and intelligence are based on the assumption of the primacy of objective forms of knowing, but feels that they provide an incomplete and possibly distorted picture of the human mind.
Labouvie-Vief (1990 p. 54/55) points to a history of seeing two modes of thought, which Bruner (1986) recast as ‘narrative’ and ‘paradigmatic’. The narrative mode’s orientation to reality can best be exemplified by a story in which a ‘truthful account’ (i.e. poignant, gripping or believable) account is based on figurative language and a psychological causality of human intentionality. In contrast, the paradigmatic mode relies on explicit rules and deductive principles – there are echoes here of the Dionysian and Apollonian duality.
In her work she began to refer to these two modes by the Greek terms mythos and logos. She says that although in some sense the connative sphere of these words is so wide as to be almost embarrassing for scientific discourse, in another sense the etymological roots of these words delineate rather precise meanings. Both of them are terms for ‘word’ but in two different senses (see Klein, 1967 Liddell 1958). She reads Mythos as meaning speech, narrative, plot, or dialogue.
She continues by saying that in the mythos mode experience is holistic and based on a bond of close identification between the self and the object of thought. Thought and thinker, known and knower, are one single, indivisible unit, and it is from this bond that we derive the meaning of an experience. The object of thought is not articulated separately from the motivational and organismic states of the thinker; rather the thinker’s whole organism partakes in the articulation of the object and animates it with its own motives and intentions. Cassirer has eloquently characterized this feature of mythos in his essay, Language and Myth:
Mythical thinking…. does not dispose freely over the data of intuition, in order to relate and compare them to each other, but is captivated and enthralled by the intuition which suddenly confronts it. It comes to rest in the immediate experience; the sensible present is so great that everything else dwindles before it. For a person whose apprehension is under the spell of this … attitude, it is as though the whole world were simply annihilated; the immediate content, whatever it be, commands his … interest so completely that nothing can exist beside and apart from it. The ego is spending all its energy in this single object, lives in it, loses itself in it. (Cassirer 1946, pp. 32-33- in Labouvie-Vief)
Logos, Labouvie-Vief, points out also means ‘word’, but the term refers to the more conceptual aspects of words and, more generally, of states of the world. Logos derives from gather, read, and came to connote counting, reckoning, explanation, rule or principle and finally, reason. In contrast to mythos, it refers to that part of knowledge that is arguable and can be demonstrated and defined with precision and agreement. In logos thinking, meaning is disembodied from a reality of flux and change and related to stable systems of categorization. The complexity of mythos is reduced, canalised into single modalities, contained in fixed meanings. Ideally logos implies that knowledge can be rendered neatly systematic, computable, and deductively certain.
Labouvie-Vief (1990 p.56) also points out that even though the romantic thinkers critiqued the rationalist position, they remained embedded in the dualism that had come to construe the mind in terms of two opposing rather than co-operating forms of thought. This epistemic structure of dualism has shown signs of breaking down, however, and we are witnessing the rise of a new structure in which the mind is viewed more integratively as encompassing the two modes as irreducible and complementary poles. This inclusive, and integralist, approach is vital in SunWALK.
Abraham Joshua Heschel (sustaining allegiance to two realms)
I think Heschel (1971 p.8) is also addressing heart-knowing in many places, including where he says:
Citizens of two realms, we must all sustain dual allegiance: we sense the ineffable in one realm; we name and exploit reality in another. Between the two we set up a system of references, but can never fill the gap. They are as far and as close to each other as time & calendar, as violin & melody, as life & what lies beyond the last breath.
But Heschel, rather than focusing on how we function in the two modes is pointing to two ‘realms’ that actually correspond to dimensions of head knowing, and heart-knowing. Our being is dual in these two realms and we have to maintain an allegiance to both. In sensing the Whole we are sensing the ineffable. When we ‘return’ from this state we seek to clothe the experience in words or paint or dance, or simply in silence – knowing that our art, subjective expression, can never fully match the experience.
Peter Abbs and Susanne Langer – (‘Wherever a symbol operates there is meaning’ and art leads onto the conceptual)
Peter Abbs (1994 p 224), great defender of the arts in education and of Socratic education, turns to another’s articulation concerning there being more than one kind of knowing. He says that Susanne Langer’s work has been particularly eloquent in establishing the pluralistic nature of knowledge. In all symbolism, she argued, there is an act of intellection, an import of meaning. ‘Wherever a symbol operates there is meaning’ she claimed and went on to declare that she was after ‘a theory of mind whose key note is the symbolic function…. whose problem is the morphology of significance’. The symbolism of the artist is not merely about the expression of an emotion but about its conception. In Feeling and Form, (1953 Chap. 3) her seminal book, on the arts, Langer put her position as follows:
How can we capture, hold and handle feelings so that their content may be made conceivable and presented to our consciousness in universal form, without being understood in the strict sense, i.e. by means of concepts. The answer is: we can do it by creating objects wherein the feelings we seek to hold are so definitely embodied that any subject confronted with those objects and emphatically disposed toward them cannot but experience a non-sensuous apperception of the feelings in question. Such objects are called works of art and by art we designate the activity that produces them.
Art, Abbs goes on to say(1994 p 226), embodies the invisible logic of the life of feeling and sentience and, in so doing, brings it to conception and consciousness. Once this is clearly recognized the common educational distinctions between cognition and affect, between meaning and expression, between objective and subjective, between public and private break down and give way to what would seem a more valid differentiation between kinds of symbolic forms, between kinds of public language.
Charles Dickens (heart knowing as anti-utilitarianism)
Dickens plea for heart-knowing is implicit in his attack on utilitarianism in his novel Hard Times (1854/1994 p. 1) which opens with the splendid lines:
NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!
(A plot outline can be read at http://www.pinkmonkey.com/booknotes/barrons/hardtimes03.asp)
In Hard Times we can see that there is no doubt that it is the young woman character Sissy Jupe, before she was placed in the hands of the dreadful Gradgrind, who was the product of a matrix of loving relationships that like the symbol of the circus ring were ultimately un-measurable and mysterious. Not only was she a product of such loving relationships but her knowing was infinitely superior to the wretched foil Bitzer (a name that embodies the very essence of anti-holism). Bitzer could, blinkingly, parrot the definition of a horse (ibid.p. 4):
Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in the mouth.’ Thus (and much more) Bitzer… (Chap 1. Section 2 – Murdering the Innocents)
but we are left in no doubt that it is Sissy who knew the spirit of a horse, and
new how to work with horses, and that poor Bitzer would not know which end to
start with! It is in the idea of knowledge being situated in, and arising from,
‘relational matrices’ through which Dickens, so I feel, presages the work of
Gilligan. As such, it is what I mean by social knowing – knowing that arises
from loving relationships and the experience of embeddedness in those
relationships. But the magic O of the circus ring, and the fact that what
Dickens has created for us is itself one wonderful extended metaphor about
the logic-chopping barrenness of materialism’s chief instrument, utilitarianism,
is a reminder that we are still capable of experiencing the creativity and
spirituality of heart-knowing. Moral development theory, like society in Hard
Times, needs heart-knowing as well as the voice of reason.
In SunWALK the relationship between head and heart is seen as dynamic and mutually beneficial. Utilitarianism, as presented by Dickens, is of course a grotesque distortion of healthy forms of reasoning. The issue is how, the two are to be set up in healthily, dynamic complementarity relationship. This brings us to the point as to whether head-knowing and heart-knowing have, or should have, a common basis.
Ernst von Glasersfeld in an article entitled The Incommensurability of Scientific and Poetic Knowledge, (2003 http://www.oikos.org/vGknowl.htm) takes issue with Bertrand Russell’s statement that:
Metaphysics, or the attempt to conceive the world as a whole by means of thought, has been developed, from the first, by the union and conflict of two very different human impulses, the one urging men towards mysticism, the other urging them towards science. Some men have achieved greatness through one of these impulses alone, others through the other alone: in Hume, for example, the scientific impulse reigns quite unchecked, while in Blake a strong hostility to science coexists with profound mystic insight. But the greatest men who have been philosophers have felt the need both of science and of mysticism: the attempt to harmonise the two was what made their life, and what always must, for all its arduous uncertainty, make philosophy, to some minds, a greater thing than either science or religion.
(Russell, 1917/1986; p.20)
Glaserfeld’s (ibid.) objection is that Russell, and other philosophers, have made the mistake of holding back epistemology through preoccupation with mysticism. He describes the mistake as:
The attempt to analyze the mystic’s wisdom with the tools of reason invariably leads to a twofold failure: on the one hand it destroys the mystic’s vision of unity because it segments experience into separate, specifiable parts; on the other, it compromises the rules of rational thought because it admits terms whose definition remains questionable because it is based on private experience.
In SunWALK the two are seen in service as, mutually enriching, not totally separate spheres.
Healthy, dynamic opposition, in the dialectical and dialogical sense, requires, that the forms of objectivity and subjectivity be themselves healthy, not extreme – as in utilitarianism, or extreme post modernism. Practically, for me, in teaching, the use of creativity (as in English, and/or other arts), plus PFC work dynamically. Heart-knowing as the creative-meditative is not in opposition to the critical knowing represented by PFC – it is, at least as seen in SunWALK, the perfect ‘dancing partner’ within the view of consciousness as heart-mind. Heart-mind itself is a restoration, as seen in ancient Chinese thought.
A Chinese perspective
I am grateful to Martin Cortazzi for pointing out that a unitive presentation of heart- mind has a long history. He tells me that heart-mind corresponds to ‘xin’ in Chinese, (sometimes transcribed as ‘hsin’). (Peter Harvey also points out that ‘citta’ in Sanskrit, as used in Indian Buddhism, has the same meaning)
Hansen (1989 p. 97) explains that ‘We use ‘heart-mind’ to translate xin. This is because the philosophical psychology of ancient China did not use a cognitive/affective contrast in their talk of well-honed human performance…’
He also points out (1992 p. 20) that ‘The common translation of xin as heart-mind reflects the blending of belief and desire (thought and feeling, ideas and emotions) into a single complex dispositional potential.’
Tu ( 1985 p. 32) provides further evidence in saying:
…the Confucian hsin [xin] must be glossed as ‘heart-mind’ because it involves both cognitive and affective dimensions of human relations. This ‘fruitful ambiguity’ is perhaps the result of a deliberate refusal rather than an unintended failure to make a sharp distinction between conscience and consciousness. To Yang-Ming [Wang Yang-Ming, neo-Confucian philosopher 1477-1529] consciousness as cognition and conscience as affection are not two separable functions of the mind. Rather, they are integral aspects of a dynamic process whereby man becomes aware of himself as a moral being. Indeed, the source of morality depends on their inseparability in a pre-reflective faculty.
3:6 Conclusion to Chapter 3
In making my argument for the restoration of heart-knowing I am saying that the two kinds of knowing, are complementary but need to be looked at separately because of the long-term neglect of heart-knowing. However the two are ultimately one in the singleness of consciousness or heart-mind. Given that they are ‘dynamic process’ they must have some separate identity even if they are yoked together. It is interesting to note that at the level of singleness morality is seen as pre-reflective, if we accept heart-knowing as connatural. This I take as some support for my view that at this level we are talking, for example, of moral ‘sensibility’, rather than morality per se. It also supports the Maritain view that the moral, like the mystical and the poetic-artistic, are connatural, or innate. To have a loving upbringing, and to grow in sympathy and compassion are the vital pre-requisites for establishing the foundation sensibilities and early forms of all three kinds of knowing.
For the SunWALK model these are amongst the most vital insights that I draw from my survey of different ‘voices’ calling for heart-knowing. From the various voices, the major characteristics include the ideas that heart-knowing is:
A normal part of being human,
Recognized in various cultures and/or at various historical periods,
Suppressed by sexist or political forces,
The innate ability to be moral (the ‘WE’ voice), to have mystical
experience (the ‘I’, subjective, voice – spiritual as ‘Divine’), and
to ‘sing your song’ with the poetic voice (the ‘I’, subjective, voice
– spiritual as artistic),
Something which can be intensified by the other forms of knowing, if they
are brought in sensitively,
Functions in virtually everyone, even if in vestigial or atrophied ways,
Low status, because of high status of (male-driven) reasoning &
Relates to many of the dualities and triadic forms of self e.g. mythos
and logos, ‘I’, ‘WE’ and ‘IT’ `(see Appendices A and B)
Allied to Mythos as a complementary of logos in making meaning
A matter of gaining insight via intuition
Capable of genius, and prone to serious error (something which
underlines the importance of the other forms of knowing
Knowing that does not (necessarily) come with academic effort (‘book-
Relates wisdom, as a state of being, rather than knowing as ‘information
Unitive experience, as described in Section I of this chapter is also seen as naturally human and amoral (non-moral) – contextualization being what makes it spiritual or religious. It is also seen as one of the key kinds of experience upon which the empirical-rational mind, i.e. Criticality, can be brought to bear to strengthen knowing overall.
Heart-knowing in SunWALK is seen as ‘cutting across’ creativity and caring, because all three modes are seen as vital for the individual to know in a rounded and balanced way. Caring is seen as the locus of the moral in the sense that socialization, for the individual, (at least those lucky enough to grow up in a loving family ) engenders positive development from that which is innate – providing the empathy, compassion and sense of solidarity upon which caring, for example, rests. But Caring also needs Creativity and Criticality. The former, for example, to imagine, and the latter to evaluate.
Heart–knowing in the Creative is, I suggest, as initial upsurge of feeling, and indistinguishable between the poetic-artistic and the mystical. These two are seen as the same, as Coomaraswami argues (see Coleman (1991 p.1)), but only, so I argue, at the point of initial experience – context and subsequent stages determine whether or not it is spiritual and/or religious. Of course all such experience is spiritual in terms of the human spirit. Contextualization determines whether or not the experience is seen by the experiencer as spiritual/religious, in the Divine sense. It is how the experiencer subsequently works with the experience that determines whether or not it is spiritual or artistic-aesthetic – or both.13
In SunWALK, the moral (as moral sensibility) and the mystical and the artistic as initial experience – are what enlarge the scope for development of the propositional knowing of ‘head knowing’. The artistic-mystical lead to the conceptual, and if we take up the right stance, vice versa. This is, I now realize, what I was trying to grope towards in my earlier essay ‘Spirit Forms’ (presented at the Roehampton Education, Spirituality and the Whole Child conference in 1996) I also have now come to believe that it is a better way to understand the statement attributed to Einstein that imagination is much more important than knowledge (Calaprice 2000 p.10) The heart, and right-brain functioning, needs to be developed since it is what precedes, and, perhaps, what supra-cedes, the propositional. Heart-knowing seems to be what creates ‘space’, and ‘insights, and impetus, for development in some aspect of propositional knowing. Without the development of the three forms of heart-knowing propositional knowing is ultimately arid, and alienating: moral sensibility, the mystical (personal religious/spiritual experience) and the artistic (subjective expression via an artistic medium) are the ‘growth medium’ for the propositional. Without them there is deprivation. Bowlby (1959) showed that maternal deprivation has a damaging effect on development, including the ‘left-brain’ side of intellectuality. When we have the two sides of knowing, the ‘heart’ and the ‘head’ (plus the spiritual), in appropriate balance, we have what I believe Jack Miller is writing about in his book The Soul of Education (2000) in which he is concerned to describe soul-full education, versus soul-less education.
There is then an overlap between the mystical and the creative. I also suggest that the mystical and the creative, especially in their initial ‘impulse’ stage are non-moral – again it is contextualization that will determine what moral import the ‘product’ will have, if any. Both the creative and the mystical arise from initial feeling, which may, or may not, take on some specific form, before being subjected to propositional examination. Creativity is also the expression of having ‘born witness’ – ‘this is what I saw, this is what it is like’. They also are the reports of the traveller, accounts brought back about reality as seen in the mystical-poetic state.
Compared to Maritain, I see heart-knowing, in its initial experiencing, not as moral ability in a full sense, but moral sensibility – it needs propositional knowing as well, and context, the will to act, and action, to bring it to mature expression.
In Chapter 3 I have presented the ‘Sun’ of SunWALK as the contemplative stance, through ‘Sensing the Whole’, along with an argument for the ‘re-storing’ of heart-knowing. These two are seen as key dynamics in how we treat that which we teach, as well as those who we teach, and as a view on the idea that we teach who we are. These are seen, from my perspective, as important dynamics within a general model of the mystical, with which to approach the business of teaching, with a spiritualizing model of pedagogy. From my perspective as a believer, the Divine enters, or should enter, into subjectivity, as well as objectivity – into the process of the individual’s ‘revelation’ as well as her or his discovery via reason.
In closing this chapter, I should address one final point and that is the issue of the teacher’s beliefs, in relation to the beliefs of the home and school. This thesis is written on the basis that such matters should be negotiated and contractual. However I am suggesting the general ethic of the ‘golden rule’ and the general model of perennial philosophy as a means for helping unite those who come from different religious backgrounds. Using the core higher-order values of justice, truth, beauty and goodness might help as a way into generalized, non faith-specific, forms of bringing spiritualization into pedagogy.
In Chapter 4 I present, under the title of ‘Engaging Connections’, some explorations of how heart-knowing, and knowing via criticality, are brought together – as dancing partners.