Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
"Hyper-individualism is the displacement of communal commitments which are replaced by individual expression. The best example I can think of in Quaker history is the replacement of the Peace Witness as a Communal Commitment with the individual conscience of members. Whereas in the past members of the Quaker Meetings could be 'written out of the Meeting' for violating the Peace Witness, or living a life that was felt to be contrary to that witness, today that Witness is left up to each individual to interpret to their own satisfaction."
"From this individualistic perspective the purpose of a Church, or Quaker Meeting, is to support my individual needs and projects, rather than the purpose being for the individual to be transformed by the Communal Commitments of the Society."
From: Jim Wilson’s post on the thread “Becoming the Community the Spirit would have us be.” page 9.
I am grateful to Jim for clarifying his use of the term hyper-individualism. I have held this in the light since the day it was written. His words have been very helpful and edifying. I see more clearly why the author has characterized me as hyper-individualistic; even though we disagree.
It is suggested the immediate experience of Presence anchoring the conscious and informing the conscience without regard to outward institutional, creedal, communal, traditional, and theological, forms is hyper-individualistic. In other words, some suggest that the witness of and testimony to the sufficiency of Presence itself without regard to outward forms “is the displacement of communal commitments which are replaced by individual expression.”
It is correct that the experience of the inward Light as sufficient unto itself does displace outward communally expired commitments. In this Light, outwardly agreed upon codified expressions by some individuals within an outward communal context become irrelevant and are replaced by the inward presence and direction of the Light itself. The inward Light itself replaces outward communal forms and guides each person directly and without the mediation of creeds, doctrines, traditions, etc.
As the inward Light illuminates and informs conscience and conscience the result is that outward communal forms lose value because they are replaced by the inward form of the Light itself. Being and consciousness in the Light is absolutely not “individual expression.” This life of which we speak and to which we point is a sufficient replacement of communal forms precisely because it is not “individual expression.” Rather this life is the redirection of the very foundation of consciousness in that the inward Form of the Light itself rules and guides rather than outward forms. The characterization of this experience or way of being, as “hyper-individual” is misplaced.
Many individuals that do not know or recognize or experience the measure of inward Light within them go about living a life guided by their own ego nature. That is, their conscious and identity is anchored in outward abstract intellectual and emotional forms and their conscience is guided by these outward forms whether they be religious, secular, political, or social, or a combination of these. These people find purpose and direction through their identity with these forms and their conscience is informed by them so that outwardly imposed communal commitments that do not match the outward constructs they identify with take the place of communal forms.
To those of us who are guided by the Light directly, the fact the there are people who selfishly go about forcing their ego world over against communal commitments is no excuse for adherence to a set of outward creeds established communally.
Those of us guided by and anchored in the Light itself slide right in between the “hyper-individualism” and “communal” assessment without notice or mention. The goodness of adherence to outward communal forms is established and those people who live by the outward ego nature alone is acknowledged but not those of us who, by our adherence to inward Presence itself, are independent of the outward ego impulse (nature) and the outward communal impulse (nature). We, by our very nature, are not of the individualistic ego nature, because our conscious and identity is not of the impulse to outward forms, whether they be communal and individual. We gathering around adherence to the inward Light itself. The Light is our rule and authority and herein is the fundamental difference. We are free from the outward ego and communal natures (they are essentially of the same outward nature). The abstract bifurcation of “individualism” and “communalism” is essentially a division of the outward impulse that finds identity, being, consciousness, meaning, in outward expired forms. In essence, “individualism” as defined is of the same nature as “communal.” The difference is merely a matter of numbers, however, whether communal or individual, each are anchored and informed by commitment to outward forms. What is meant here is a group of individuals gathered together around and in adherence to a particular set of outward forms and are transformed by their communal commitment is essentially no different than an individual or very small group of individuals who adhere to a particular set of outward forms and are transformed.
Those of us gathered in and through the inward illumination of the Light itself, sense Being in direct inward experience of Presence itself, not in outward individual or communal forms and commitments. We act, not out of adherence to a particular individual or communal form, but in the experience of presence itself so that it is not so much a question of what we may be doing but whether we are living Presence. We refrain from doing something, if, in doing it, Presence is not sustained or is lost (repentance). This is the nature of Being that is Present. In watchfulness, when we glean that a particular activity, like shooting someone, can only be accomplished by stepping outside direct experience of Presence itself (leading), we refrain from the activity; not because some outward communal creed or outward feeling or ideology from our ego nature told us to refrain, but because, to do it, means Presence fades in the activity of accomplishing the task! This way of being is not merely a distinction in numbers as that of the “individual” and “communal” abstraction; it is a completely different posture toward identity, meaning, life, being, and consciousness.
I am in agreement with the assessment that human being experientially anchored in Presence itself displaces outward communal creeds and institutions. There is no commitment to outward communal creeds, traditions, etc. because being and identity anchored in and informed inwardly by Presence itself no longer needs the things of the outward impulse to sustain and nurture meaning, purpose, identity, and consciousness. Those of us living by and gathering in the activity of the Light itself are transformed directly by the inward impulse of the presence of Christ. Outwardly expired communal commitments are displaced and replaced by inwardly inspired commitment to the Light itself anchoring our conscious and in-forming (not out-forming) our conscience. Far from being “hyper-individualistic” and reflecting individual outward forms, we are essentially reflecting that which is larger than outwardly established individual or communal forms. Our society is not anchored in outward commitments but in our shared measure and illumination of the Light itself. The former is of the first (expired) covenant the latter is of the second (inspired) covenant.
To lump a life sustained and nurtured by the inspiration of Presence itself with individuals who are sustained and nurtured by outward forms and who establish the supremacy of those forms and their realization at the expense of outward forms established by a group of people, misses the mark . The latter hyper-individualism is not essentially different than adherence to outwardly established communal forms. It is merely a difference in numbers but not in kind, that is, essential nature. Both find meaning and purpose in outward forms and commitment to those forms. Hyper-communalism is of the same nature as hyper-individualism. Both find meaning and purpose in and through adherence to outwardly expired individual or communal commitments. Being transformed by outward communal commitments of the Society is not essentially different than being transformed by individual commitments.
The Children of Light gather and find meaning and purpose in and through commitment to active inspiring Presence itself and that direct and immediate eternal inspiring is sufficient in all things and circumstances to guide and teach whether in a group of 500,000 or as an individual.