Many Quakers mistakenly assume that the modern liberal Quaker movement is not akin to the movement first began by the very earliest Quakers from the 1640’s into the 1670’s. Yet, three characteristics of these very earliest Quakers remain essential characteristics of liberal Quakers in modern times: Spiritual freedom, egalitarianism, and mysticism.

As with many spiritual movements at their beginning, Quakerism began as a free-flowing spiritual society. Highly influenced by Jesus’ own spiritual experience and nature, the earliest Quakers’ spiritual experience included what we would term in modern times a “mystical experience within”. This experience was abundantly more spiritually fulfilling than what they had previously encountered from the established Church of England or the Puritan churches of the day. This mystical experience was so sufficient on its own that these very earliest Quakers eagerly cast off any religious outward forms, viewing them as unnecessary. Further, they began worshipping just as Jesus had done - surrounded by quiet so they could more easily go inward to experience individually and together the same Light experienced by Christ. This form of worship required no hierarchy of human leadership as was typical with the more established churches.

However, a free-flowing spiritual movement such as that did not bode well for its practitioners in the mid-1600’s. An atmosphere of intolerance resulted for the fledgling Quakers; causing persecution, imprisonment, and a general misunderstanding by others. For example, Quakers’ intense mystical experience of oneness with Christ was viewed as blasphemous by others outside of the Quaker movement. In modern times, such a blurring into oneness is well understood to be typical for spiritual mystics, as it is actually a fulfillment of Jesus’ own words about his hopes for his followers, as recorded in the Bible: “I am praying that they may all be One – just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they too may be in us.” Unfortunately for those first Quakers, Quakerism started in the mid-1600’s at a time before that “oneness” concept regarding themselves and the divine was understood and tolerated.

All of this backdrop created an eventual rift among Quakers by 1670. The struggle was between a number of well-known Quakers in the countryside and an emerging London Quaker hierarchy led by George Fox to create religious order through the use of prescribed outward forms; no doubt to gain respectability for the Quaker movement and thereby ensure its survival. By the late 1670’s much of the original egalitarian nature of the Religious Society of Friends had begun to subside at the instigation of George Fox. However, the introduction of outward forms was viewed by many Quakers as a wedge between themselves and their mystical relationship with the divine. They were opposed to the imposition of set worship times, prescribed forms of attire, acceptable speech patterns, membership rolls, a Yearly Meeting hierarchical structure to control all Quaker meetings, an implied hierarchy in the local meetings, and other rules of conduct that appear petty by modern standards. Many Quakers voiced that these London elders were now acting as the churches they had left years ago.

Still, as the Quaker movement entered the 1700’s, the presence of outward forms to solidify Quakers into a uniform religious society had been well established by isolating and ostracizing those prominent Quakers who resisted the changes. But something had been lost in the transition. Quakers could no longer be identified as an organic group of seekers distinguished by spiritual freedom, egalitarianism, and mysticism - as they once were. No longer did their unity lie simply in the same spirit of love and Light that was manifested within Jesus. Instead, Quakers now became viewed by others as guided by uniform peculiar outward forms – just another church of sorts, but burdened with a different set of rules and beholden to a different set of religious leaders. It wasn’t until 1828, when liberal Quakerism began to emerge, that a centuries’ long return began back to that more egalitarian and mystical experience within the Religious Society of Friends.

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Hi Howard --

Yes, I'm likely confused regarding your meaning for "outward form" as earlier you wrote:

I guess the question a liberal meeting might ask themselves regarding an outward form before implementing it is, "Is this outward form being implemented to 'control' Friends, or is it being implemented to facilitate the free action of the Spirit among Friends?"

That seemed to leave the door open to outward forms which amplify the work of the Spirit among Friends.

Only later did you put your thumb so firmly on the scales, to make "outward form" something negative by definition.

"The connotation of an outward form as we are using it is an implemented mechanism to unnecessarily control others.

So then of course they're just manifestations of human egos.

But then I think human egos are meant to be controlled.  Either one controls one's own ego, or others will control it for you.  Usually a combination of both.  Checks and balances.  That's precisely why Quakerism introduces rotating positions and discourages any entrenched priesthood from asserting primacy, including any self proclaimed mystics.

Uncontrolled egos descend into narcissism and other pathologies.  Every religion and/or psychology has recipes for controlling egos.  It's true that Quakerism is in many respects similar to other faiths and many Quaker practices are recognizably reflected in other traditions.  We all work with the same humanity.

I think our depending on committees, minutes, Business Meeting, brought about more transparency and enabled more trust in some Quaker institutions.  These innovations account for the success of liberal Quakerism (and other forms which adhere to such practices). 

The Spirit works through all institutions (including prisons, especially prisons) as spirituality permeates every aspect of life.

Hello Kirby,

I appreciate your response and have given it careful consideration.

My first thought upon reading the first paragraph was to wonder how it was that you perceive I am promoting and professing a philosophy. I was curious how it was you perceive (and have suggested the same in past conversations) that I am engaged in the process of promoting a set of intellectual constructs, theories, principles, practices, or prescriptions, (philosophy) to guide and inform my behavior and interactions with others? I committed to reading further and may have discovered an answer in the whole of the text.

I have no wish to debate your converging of sin with mental illness. I except it at face value as your stated sense. Your sane vs. insane paradigm is curious too.

I understand your apology is based upon your sense that we are all “catatonic, mentally ill, insane.” You wrote earlier:

Today, in Prison Nation (formerly the USA), some Quakers have not forgotten their illustrious past, how they starred in industry, in banking, in insurance. They had a moment in the sun to maybe usher in a New Kingdom.

That Qs ultimately failed and that Spaceship Earth became Nuthouse Earth should not end our eagerness to perform God’s Will. Quakers have long sought to improve the living standards of mental patients. That has been our calling.

Retreating into our private selves to assume some kind of fetal position, or call it spiritual catatonia, may still prove the most attractive option for some Qs, but I’m not closing the door on future industrialists and engineers who might want to draw upon Quakerism when wrestling with the world of Outward Forms. Some are called to “go in to go out”.

And you ended with a quotation from William Penn’s, No Cross, No Crown …:

True godliness does not turn men out of the world, but enables them to live better in it and excites their endeavors to mend it. (pg. 65 1771 Edition).

Your words do not strike me as making a general statement about the the sinful nature of people, rather, the sense of it seems is to suggest that there are some people in a spiritual catatonia which renders them incapable or unwilling to engage in the outward World. That is, they are in a catatonic state or mentally ill. And to further add, based on your most resent comment to me, sinful. Kirby, you were talking a specific group of people in the Q-gathering who find it attractive to (as you characterize) retreat into their private selves assuming a fetal position that you equate with spiritual catatonia. This did not strike me as a general statement about the sinful nature of all people. However, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and concede it was not your intention to criticize a testimony to a specific spiritual experience (not philosophy) or witness.

As I considered your words, it slowly became more and more clear that the words mentally ill, insane, sinful, and insanity may discover to me why it is you perceive a testimony to a spiritual experience or witness of being led out of participation in and identification with outward forms to guide and inform human relationships through the appearance of the inshining Light in the conscience as a philosophic construct that is part of the general condition of mental illness of human beings.

If we understand mental illness, insanity, sinfulness, catatonia to be a behavioral disorder and a condition of non-sense, then it is understandable why some people who (by their own admission) are guided and informed by participation in and identification with outward political, religious, economic, and social forms and institutions, would reflect on those, who testify to the witness of coming out of outward (sensual or bodily) intellectual forms to guide and rule their relationships, as engaged in the process of promoting a set of outward intellectual constructs, theories, principles, or prescription (philosophy) to guide and inform their behavior and interactions. It is understandable that those who are guided and informed by outward intellectual and institutional forms would consider those who testify to the direct inshining Witness of being led out of being guided and informed by outward forms as disordered or nonsensical. There is no other way open to those who are in outward intellectual constructs, again, for those in forms there is no other way. If I am somewhat approaching your reflection on those in the Q-gathering who are out of form, then I take ownership of your sense. Truly, it is not that we are disordered it is that we are ordered in a different way. We are ordered by the inshining Light itself in itself and are come (relatively speaking) out of the process of participation in and identification with outward forms to manage, rule, govern, or administer, our relationships. This does not mean we do not act in the outward world. Truly, we are come into a different way of conscience and consciousness that makes no sense to those who (by their own admission) participation in and identify with the process of being guided and informed by outward political, religious, social, and economic forms, institutions, and leaders.

None of this should be misunderstood to be an aspersion against those who are in outward forms. It is not my intent to reflect negatively on such. Just to work in the world in such a way that suggests a different way that opens human being to direct experience of Grace itself in itself. It is a simple truth that their are those in the world who do not share the same spiritual experience. However, we can share our experience without aspersion and contention.

By the way, what about a science fiction story wherein a group of people come to know a way of being wherein they come into an experience that carries them out of identification with all outward forms and institutions and they no longer participation in those forms. Then it happens that there numbers become so large that there not engaging in outward forms impacts the ability of outward political, religious, economic, and social forms. These people no longer enter the outward order , and, as a result, the process of outward institutional construct one their power. for example, those who are out fo form no longer vote in the outward political process, which, because of their numbers, undermines the authority of the outward powers. So the outward political authorities force people to vote by law and persecute those who do not. Imagine the written tapestry that could be woven? So many interesting threads. The fascinating thing it has already happen opening up all sort of mystical realism possibilities. Not to mention time travel.

Greetings Keith --

I hope you're not finding our back-and-forth too onerous. I think we're contributing.

I'll respond in two parts.  First, about sin = mental illness:

My belief is humanity made great strides when medical science asserted its provenance versus the theologically minded, and removed the sufferings and travails of the metaphysically tortured into the annals of psychology. Here, in theory anyway, people were treated with respect, empathy, in essence good will. They were not viciously set upon by those high horse moralists who like to think themselves higher on God's totem pole in some "good versus evil" dimension (axis).  On the contrary, lovely people die of mental illness, through no fault of their own, and go to Heaven.

Quakers made a difference in this respect, as early Insane Asylums were anything but institutions giving patients their dignity. Even today, stereotypes ala One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest prevail.  Here I will insert an autobiographical note:  I live in a place called Asylum District, north and south of Asylum Avenue, since renamed to Hawthorne Blvd, in honor of the first chief doctor of Oregon's original mental hospital.  The District also goes by Sunnyside-Richmond.

Anyway, you may know how my guru, RBF, invented "Spaceship Earth" because of how that changed our way of looking at humanity.  Just a tiny blue dot of a planet, an institution if you like, a Spaceship, meaning we're crew.  However, unlike most spaceships, we're not going anywhere, as we're already moored, sun-side, at our final destination.  Other metaphors might apply, namely:  University Earth (we're a giant spherical university); or Asylum Earth ("Nuthouse" is less polite).

When I'm filled with compassion and empathy for my fellow inmates, it's along the lines of how we're metaphysically tortured, and it's an illness not a "moral bad" in that more immature theological sense that bedeviled many generations before ours.  I'm glad we've grown up, at least a little, and moralize less.  Thank you Nietzsche.

The second part of my answer has to do with whether  there's any difference between your outlook and mine. I'm not claiming to be led by outward forms.  I'd cop to being deeply mystical and led by the inshining Light, just like you are. My relationship with people is transformed.  I'm one of the illumined, thanks in part to Quaker roots, thanks in part to other philosophies.  So what though? That's just me.

Presumably one may be led by the inshining Light and feel moved to operate as an effective change agent.  I didn't say by voting (Quakerism doesn't use voting either).  I didn't specify any one particular row to hoe.  I'm just imagining you and I are the same, but whereas you're happy enough to sit on your front porch and watch the world go by, I was blessed with a weird upbringing, which took me to many nations and exposed me to many ethnicities.  So I reach out to Sufis and hope they'll join the Quaker schools in promoting American Transcendentalism.  Gulenist schools are welcome to 3D print A & B modules (plastic shapes we use to assemble other shapes, what any 3rd grader should know -- if steeped in American heritage to that extent (most aren't)).

In linking Quakerism to American Transcendentalism, I am not conceding that I'm led by the nose by outward forms.  That's traducetory thinking vis-a-vis this Living Dharma branch of Quakerism. :-D

Kirby

Hello Kirby,

Not onerous at all. I have enjoyed our correspondence in the past. And this one is refreshing. I have been in serious consideration of your last message. Thank you for sharing that you are not guided by outward forms and are led by the inshining Light. We are in fellowship and I trust our shared experience of the inshining Light as our guide will lead and inform our correspondence.

In that context, I’m curious about your words that you are a institution builder, and your writing about Q’s past influence upon business and business and industrial (Outward Forms) practices. I am at a pause here (before going further) because I want to make sure I understand. Would you explain how there is value in building institutions (outward forms) and not being led by them?

Hi Keith --

Howard may have diagnosed our divergence in vocabulary with some precision, earlier in this discussion, when he wrote:

Based on your words, I think perhaps you misunderstand.  You are confusing physical, material things with our use of the term "outward forms".

That may indeed be the nub of the issue: to me "institution-building" is coterminal with "implementing a survival strategy" i.e. what's the day-to-day logistics of keeping ourselves going, both food-wise and spirit-wise.

Outward forms = life on Earth such as we're able to sense it outwardly. 

I'm not saying having an "inward" doesn't matter; just that having both doesn't negate either. 

Neither of us is less on-board the spaceship / planet than the other, in terms of burning approximately at the rate of a 1oo watt bulb.  We have our respective footprints.  I don't begrudge people their simply being here.  The UN Declaration of Human Rights makes a lot of sense to me.

When the earliest human in Africa first deliberately chipped a stone to make it sharper, for multiple uses, she was making use of outward forms. 

It scales from there (our practices, our tool-using -- language being more tools, as is this pixelated illumined surface on which you read these words -- more outward forms).

In the case of Jesus, he got fed to a nasty bureaucracy of local religious leaders in an imperial outpost (Pilate et al), with ugly results. Christians in general have suffered at the hands of institutions.  I can see why we'd see a flood of refugees away from the totalitarian slave conditions of some New Egypt, towards some new Promised Land where we're free at last.  I'm all for freedom. 

I'll be the first to admit that human institutions have been truly ugly.  I don't blame God for wanting to off us a couple times (first kicked from Eden, next flooded, then that Babel thing... a necessary adjustment, fine tuning, not a punishment [1]). 

I don't blame the Gnostics for blaming a lesser more amateur wannabe for our twisted world. Like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, kinda.  Sorcerer's Apprentice.  And now we're outside the established narratives of Christendom, I acknowledge (Disney is pagan).

But freedom doesn't mean we get to just sit on the couch and watch the world go by while we swell up on Diet Pepsi and potato chips.  Where did that Pepsi stuff come from, not to mention those Quaker oats?

I know, I know, a lot of us hate junk food and the health crises brought upon us by rampant consumption thereof (thanks to advertising), however my point is merely to bring attention to our ongoing Industrial Age context. 

What the Quakers helped start in the 1700s, never ended. Here we be, as dependent on factories and factory farms as ever.  Look around you sometime, at the city skyline, and say "thank you Quakers" (as an exercise, even if you're not thankful).

It may not be your job, nor mine, at least not directly, to make sure those trainloads of grain get to China on time (a proverbial picture), but it's an important job nonetheless.  AFSC was averse to blockading food to Germany, intra the two World Wars.  Human Smoke is a good book on that chapter.  Quakers got a Nobel Peace Prize for a reason.

We can't afford to have everyone abandon their posts in the harbors, on the trains.  I'm all about truckers myself (global route swapping exchange, for the adventurous and the enterprising). 

What if these hard working institution builders wanna become Quaker, even as they ply the freeways of One Band One Road (OBOR?) -- or of Oleg for that matter (joke).

What if we see a revival of Quakerism among skyscraper types, e.g. the architects thereof?  My dad was a city and regional planner, drawing fifty year plans for the deserts of Africa.  He wasn't led by outward forms either, in that our world is without precedent in so many dimensions.  There's not enough there, in what's outward, to lead.  I'd say those claiming to be led purely by outward form are way more confined than average (or more average in a Prison State -- another way of saying it).

What I'm saying:  there's a treasure trove of good business sense and wise practice advices bound up in this sect, potentially (I'm getting that impression), so why not put it to good use? 

We have a planet of some billions.  Call it a Meeting for Business if you wish.  Lets get some Committees going, roll up our sleeves and get on with it, right?

====

[1]  After the Flood, all the humans were descendents of Mr. and Mrs. Noah, meaning they were highly prone to groupthink.  Rather than spread out and around the Planet, as humans were meant to, they all agreed on a stupid hopeless strategy for getting closer to God:  just build a tall tower.  God figured out a way to disabuse these sons and daughters of Noah of their monomaniacal fixation on some tower project.  Brilliant.

Kirby,

These words are helpful to me in the context of my question,

”institution-building” is coterminal with “implementing a survival strategy

In other words, the creation of outward forms is instrumental in planning, managing, or organizing a plan of existence. I asked myself, “Okay, so what is the fixed axis or position these terminal sides exist in relation to? It strikes me that the fixed point is the process of participation in, identification with, and creation of outward forms. In light of your response I was still struggling with your testimony that you are not guided by outward forms. Not that I was doubting your words, just that I did not understand how you also referred to yourself as an institution builder. Then you shared those words quoted above. It came together. You are not so much guided by a set of outward forms, as you are guided by the process of participation in, identification with, and the creation of outward forms. It is not so much the outward forms, (they have value to the extent that they serve the purpose of establishing or implementing a plan or strategy * of existence or survival); It is holding to the process that has value. So when I asked: how there is value in building institutions (outward forms) and not being led by them? The value is the process of creation, identification, and participation … that is the fixed point of the two angles wherein the terminal sides become coterminal. It seems to me, if I were to say that you do not value outward forms, I would be misrepresenting you. It is clear you do value outward forms in the context of the process of the creation of outward forms (institution building) and its coterminal the establishment and implementation of a plan of existence. In this context, it is understandable why you would call for the establishment of outward committees. It is also understandable why you find value in or treasure outward Quaker advice concerning good business sense and wise practice. Being in the activity of the process participation in, identification with and the creation of, outward forms is your fixed x-axis. Outward form (institution building) is not so much the problem as is whether they serve the purpose establishing a plan of existence that is good or wise*.

And here is the rub in my words. I am come out of the process of the creation of, participation in, and identification with outward political, religious, and social forms. Through the appearance of the inshining Light in my conscience and consciousness, that process is not my fixed point. Therefore institution building is not coterminal with existence or survival. There is no fixed axis wherein the terminals become coterminal … the axis and terminals are shattered; because the outward angles no longer overlay the plane of existence. The direct experience of the inshining Light itself in itself is, and is becoming, sole and sufficient guide relative to existence or survival. There is no need for an the establishment of outward forms (institution building) and an outward plan of survival or existence. My life, relationships, and interactions are not guided solely in and through the motion and impulse of the inshining Light itself in itself without regard for outward institutions.

I would suggest that being led into the sufficiency of the inshining Light itself in itself is no equal to sitting on the porch, eating bonbons, and watching the world go by. For me, it has led to sharing with people a different way of existence. I have found there are many people who are being led into that way and who are struggling with it. It is mine to give them encouragement to hold to their leading, for the sake of the world and eternity.

Any further thoughts would be welcome.



Kirby Urner said:

Hi Keith --

Howard may have diagnosed our divergence in vocabulary with some precision, earlier in this discussion, when he wrote:

Based on your words, I think perhaps you misunderstand.  You are confusing physical, material things with our use of the term "outward forms".

That may indeed be the nub of the issue: to me "institution-building" is coterminal with "implementing a survival strategy" i.e. what's the day-to-day logistics of keeping ourselves going, both food-wise and spirit-wise.

Outward forms = life on Earth such as we're able to sense it outwardly. 

I'm not saying having an "inward" doesn't matter; just that having both doesn't negate either. 

Neither of us is less on-board the spaceship / planet than the other, in terms of burning approximately at the rate of a 1oo watt bulb.  We have our respective footprints.  I don't begrudge people their simply being here.  The UN Declaration of Human Rights makes a lot of sense to me.

When the earliest human in Africa first deliberately chipped a stone to make it sharper, for multiple uses, she was making use of outward forms. 

It scales from there (our practices, our tool-using -- language being more tools, as is this pixelated illumined surface on which you read these words -- more outward forms).

In the case of Jesus, he got fed to a nasty bureaucracy of local religious leaders in an imperial outpost (Pilate et al), with ugly results. Christians in general have suffered at the hands of institutions.  I can see why we'd see a flood of refugees away from the totalitarian slave conditions of some New Egypt, towards some new Promised Land where we're free at last.  I'm all for freedom. 

I'll be the first to admit that human institutions have been truly ugly.  I don't blame God for wanting to off us a couple times (first kicked from Eden, next flooded, then that Babel thing... a necessary adjustment, fine tuning, not a punishment [1]). 

I don't blame the Gnostics for blaming a lesser more amateur wannabe for our twisted world. Like Mickey Mouse in Fantasia, kinda.  Sorcerer's Apprentice.  And now we're outside the established narratives of Christendom, I acknowledge (Disney is pagan).

But freedom doesn't mean we get to just sit on the couch and watch the world go by while we swell up on Diet Pepsi and potato chips.  Where did that Pepsi stuff come from, not to mention those Quaker oats?

I know, I know, a lot of us hate junk food and the health crises brought upon us by rampant consumption thereof (thanks to advertising), however my point is merely to bring attention to our ongoing Industrial Age context. 

What the Quakers helped start in the 1700s, never ended. Here we be, as dependent on factories and factory farms as ever.  Look around you sometime, at the city skyline, and say "thank you Quakers" (as an exercise, even if you're not thankful).

It may not be your job, nor mine, at least not directly, to make sure those trainloads of grain get to China on time (a proverbial picture), but it's an important job nonetheless.  AFSC was averse to blockading food to Germany, intra the two World Wars.  Human Smoke is a good book on that chapter.  Quakers got a Nobel Peace Prize for a reason.

We can't afford to have everyone abandon their posts in the harbors, on the trains.  I'm all about truckers myself (global route swapping exchange, for the adventurous and the enterprising). 

What if these hard working institution builders wanna become Quaker, even as they ply the freeways of One Band One Road (OBOR?) -- or of Oleg for that matter (joke).

What if we see a revival of Quakerism among skyscraper types, e.g. the architects thereof?  My dad was a city and regional planner, drawing fifty year plans for the deserts of Africa.  He wasn't led by outward forms either, in that our world is without precedent in so many dimensions.  There's not enough there, in what's outward, to lead.  I'd say those claiming to be led purely by outward form are way more confined than average (or more average in a Prison State -- another way of saying it).

What I'm saying:  there's a treasure trove of good business sense and wise practice advices bound up in this sect, potentially (I'm getting that impression), so why not put it to good use? 

We have a planet of some billions.  Call it a Meeting for Business if you wish.  Lets get some Committees going, roll up our sleeves and get on with it, right?

====

[1]  After the Flood, all the humans were descendents of Mr. and Mrs. Noah, meaning they were highly prone to groupthink.  Rather than spread out and around the Planet, as humans were meant to, they all agreed on a stupid hopeless strategy for getting closer to God:  just build a tall tower.  God figured out a way to disabuse these sons and daughters of Noah of their monomaniacal fixation on some tower project.  Brilliant.

It's not a matter of "inner forms good, outer forms baad!"

God lives and creates and works in both sides of this world. The Sabbath was created for human beings, became a burden only when people started treating it as more important than us.

Greetings Keith --

Thanks for filling in some more blanks regarding your freedom from outwardness, and how your work is to serve as a guidepost for those similarly emerging from an outward forms dominated mindset, perhaps with a history of being over-busied, never stopping to smell the roses, perhaps over-identified with the job title and/or military rank. Those mired in outward forms may take themselves very seriously, until they learn to lighten up.

These imprisoned souls seek asylum, a sanctuary wherein those burdensome and perhaps chafing concerns just melt away, and a direct experience of the divine, an in-shining Light, becomes accessible. 

Someone free from such mental chains is in a perfect space to create and/or manage pre-existing institutions, so maybe you'll want to join us down the road, lend a hand.

In the meantime, I agree on the need for such guidepost individuals as yourself, and in different stages of life.  Your acolytes (if you'll permit me that word, I'll use it for myself too in a sec) are inherently multi-generational. 

I would expect people in hospice might be especially attracted to a "coming out of identification with outward forms" type of meditation and medication, whereas those with jobs, raising kids, have outward forms to deal with.  We have Quakerisms for that too, whole communities aiming to decrease their carbon footprint even while expanding in joy (more with less). 

Some Quaker Villages (QVs) literally vanish without a trace in my science fiction, as we use portable equipment that's purposely low impact.  A QV might last for under five years on average, in any one location.  Do the research, catalog the results, and move on.  Antarctica is a big place.

I'm more a Friend for the long haul trucker listening to audio-tapes in her cab (personal workspace) and at some critical moment she's convinced of Quakerism as the suggesting an optimal way to run a truck company (democratic, consensus based, lots of rotation, opportunities to round out skills), and she resolves to search her networks for what Quaker truck companies might be out there, if any. 

Lets say she finds some, or founds some, and joins the crew, and then, in some late night reading, she stumbles across this Kirby guy writing way back in 2018 (early century), and already brainstorming about "truckers as citizen diplomats" who help knit the world together by swapping routes more.

She becomes another one of my acolytes. She'll maybe see my citations to Friend Kenneth Boulding as another big picture planner, and to my dad, etc. (dad worked on Barbara Marx Hubbard's US vice presidential campaign one season -- she would've loved to have served with a US president John Glenn).

Jim Hauser, transportation engineer, was another one of my gurus, though we only met a few times, in coffee shops (plus at a strategy meeting at PSU, where his software tracked enrollments in post graduate enrichment courses -- not unlike the ones I'm currently teaching, for Californians, in Python). 

He, like me, used a programming language called FoxPro (I'd say "no relation" but how would I know -- and besides, maybe George Fox would have gladly used FoxPro to code some meeting procedures, had he lived as long as Methuselah son of Enoch did).

To my way of thinking, the first institution we're given to deal with is a physical body and controlling its functions. There's walking, talking, excreting (two ways), eating... later reading, running, arithmetic.  Just breathing is to participate in outward forms. 

We don't always identify with our breathing, as nature kindly makes that "unconscious" unless we want to take over.  The driverless car begets a driver on occasion, especially when we do yoga and such, and focus on breath.  Welcome to the institution of yoga, one of the oldest and grandest and laced all through Quakerism, if you scratch the surface.

I participate in current conversation with peers by doing my anthropology and discovering what vocabulary is making sense to them today, in a fast-moving culture.  How might I engage them in dialog? 

Kirby

For further reading on Medium:

Explaining Globalism
Truckers Without Borders
Bridging the Chasm: New England Transcendentalism in the 1900s
A Trucker Exchange Program (Part One)

Forrest,

Your comment has helped me to crystalize my own thoughts a bit.

I certainly believe that the end goal over eons is to create a spiritually oriented world where outward forms do become less and less significant.  Perhaps this was Jesus' ultimate vision; the kingdom of God on Earth.  And if you have ever read A Course in Miracles, it would appear that is the goal it projects for humankind.

Yet, we can not all just jump there instantly as a global community.  We must take steps as the hearts  of individuals change across the planet over centuries. This is where I do grasp what Kirby is proposing. And certainly the motive is to help the Kingdom of God to become manifest through the outward forms this world is so invested in. Isn't this a valid first step to be led into? With the knowledge it is not our end game.

The danger we must avoid is making outward forms the end goal for the world's evolution, rather than a temporary means to end suffering; such as disease, starvation, ignorance, hatred, etc. until humankind is spiritually evolved enough that outward forms are no longer needed in order to bring an end to suffering.

I can imagine a time in the future when the "dream" of this world is a happy dream instead of a nightmare, And this happy dream would be a precursor to waking up to our spiritual reality en masse.  Yet there are individuals who are waking up to that spiritual reality NOW, just as Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu, and many others have. And we should be happy they are walking among us.

Still, I do think a Quaker meeting (or any group dedicated to bringing about spiritual enlightenment) should not be in the habit of worshiping outward forms.  Wasn't that part of the earliest Quakers' message? By worshiping, I mean enforcing controls (outward forms) on Friends - instead of simply nurturing spiritual enlightenment and oneness with the divine.  As Kirby has said, human beings are in a state of mental illness to varying degrees.  Our unhealthy minds will tend to grasp outward forms as a substitute for having a fully loving relationship with the divine and each other in Oneness.  Our mental state as humans tends to lead us to desire separation, and has put our egos in charge of ensuring that separation is maintained.  So, the value of a Quaker meeting (or group) that minimizes the power of outward forms upon the group, is that it maximizes the outpouring of the Light from within; thereby ensuring our world can reach the day (in eons) when outward forms (institutions) are not even needed to heal, educate. One day far in the future (in the time world) the beings on this planet will have an awareness of our true spiritual nature, which is in reality fully sufficient (most of us just don't know that yet).

Think of a square dance. It's not a better square dance if you get rid of the formal structure; it isn't a better square dance if you obey the forms too rigidly.

It's a crude art form, but it's an art form; & art forms involve a tension between whatever form comes to mind and recalcitrant material constraints. 

Art forms can be more or less challenging; they aren't better art forms for being either.

Beauty is a spiritual thing, not susceptible to definition -- but we tend to find it best near edges between simplicity & complexity, order and randomness. God creates us a fertile marriage of form and chaos, which so far seems to suit us.

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