Lectures 8 to 15 VRE #2

Lecture 8

The Divided Self, and the Process of its Unification

‘Healthy’ souls = once born (P.166)

Sick souls = twice born

Quotes Annie Besant (Theosophy) autobiography (P.168-P.169) on division of self (inconsistency); timid yet roaring on stage; giving in to impulse and whim

“Their spirit wars within their flesh, they wish for incompatibles, wayward impulses interrupt their most delicate plans, and their lives are one long drama of repentence and of effort to repair misdemeanors and mistakes.” (James, 1928, p. 169)

^Calls this the “heterogenous personality” (P.169)

“The lives of the saints are full of such blasphemous obsessions, ascribed invariably to the direct agency of Satan.” (James, 1928, p. 170)

^Link to Crowley; Satan as tempter

**Also, Wicca does not recognise a devil

Quotes St Augustine (P.172-P.173) on this ‘divided self’ and the corresponding internal battle between the ‘spiritual self’ and the ‘carnal self’

Again, quotes Henry Alline (evangelist) (P.173-P.175) who would attend a party and be inwardly tormented yet outwardly happy – kept going to parties even though they made him miserable

Through unification of the divided self comes relief, happiness, etc

“But to find religion is only one out of many ways of reaching unity,” (James, 1928, p. 175)

Noting that “…regarding inner discord is a psychological process…and need not necessarily assume the religious form.” (James, 1928, p. 175)

*The transition from one state to another can be gradual or almost instantaneous – but does the conviction incubate subconsciously for a greater period of time?

“Little by little, Tolstoy came to the settled conviction – he says it took him two years to arrive there – that his trouble had not been with life in general, but with the life of the upper, intellectual, artistic classes, the life which he had personally always led, the cerebral, the life of conventionality, artificiality, and personal ambition.” (James, 1928, p. 185)

Tolstoy and Bunyan:

“The fact of interest for us is that as a matter of fact they could and did find something welling up in the inner reaches of their consciousness [author’s indentation].” (James, 1928, p. 187)

James describes it as “…a stimulus, an excitement, a faith, a force that re-infuses the positive willingness to live, even in full presence of the evil perceptions that erewhile made life seem unbearable.” (James, 1928, p. 187)

Lecture 9


“…if the change be a religious one, we call it a conversion [author’s indentation],” (James, 1928, p. 196)

Several interviewees took issue with the term ‘conversion’ as, for many, it seemed to have associations with established religion (with many interviewees having had negative experiences within organised religious groups). For Tamara, a Western Australian practitioner of Druidcraft, which she describes as “a blend of Craft and Druidry,” (Tamara, 2018), it has never been about ‘conversion’ per se. It wasn’t about choosing a particular path and she succinctly observed that “I didn’t choose it, it chose me.” (Tamara, 2018). This was a common response from many participants, and appears to fit well with Harrington’s research on the ‘conversion’ processs – or to use the preferred phrase of Harrington’s research participants, the process of ‘coming home’ – of male Pagans (Harrington, 2006).

James quotes at length the account of Stephen H. Bradley, an “unlettered man” (James, 1928, p. 189) regarding Bradley’s conversion and coming together with the ‘Holy Spirit’. James chose Bradley’s case “…because it shows how in these inner alterations one may find one unsuspected depth below another, as if the possibilities of character lay disposed in a series of layers or shells, of whose existence we have no premonitory knowledge.” (James, 1928, p. 189).

When one set of ideas expels the others, this is a transformation (P.194)

“To say that a man is ‘converted’ means…that religious ideas, previously peripheral in his consciousness, now take a central place, and that religious aims form the habitual centre of his energy.” (James, 1928, p. 196)

Ruin was unconvinced that she has converted – though she did highlight a series of events and experiences that she felt were integral to her ‘shift’ to Celtic Pagan Witchcraft/ She recollected that

“I set up shrines to them [Manannan Mac Lir and Brigid, two deities which she felt a connection to] in my room, which is as close to a moment of conversion as I could identify. I took a few long walks before that to find suitable offerings, and made music playlists for them as a sort of other offering, and those were changing or converting experiences. But overall it was gradual.” (Ruin, 2019)

Leonora took a similar position to Ruin insofar as she did not believe that she had been converted. However, when the question was reframed to encapsulate ‘a gradual turnabout’ from a previously held point of view, she said that

“Well, in the sense of a gradual turnaround, I was in a sense converting my point of view from an older form of thinking to a newer form of thinking so in that sense, yes, it was a conversion, in the any that any instruction, teaching, or learning is a conversion of mind, a conversion of understanding from one point of view to the next. But it wasn’t in that sense of a religious conversion where I was immersed in water and baptised; I was initiated, and that did start me on the path but it wasn’t where I suddenly had a, what you might say, an epiphany where I suddenly saw the light. In some parts of the information, the penny did drop, and there was a glimmer of understanding which could be called an epiphany but it was a series of them, not just one great ‘Aha’ moment.” (Leonora, 2018).

Leonora has been quoted in full at this point, as her response is indicative of most interviewees understanding around their ‘conversion’ to Witchcraft. They rarely found the experience to be a ‘lightening flash’ of revelation, rather a series of longer or shorter experiences that convinced them of their religious path. MENTION LURMANN’S ‘INTERPRETIVE DRIFT’ THEORY HERE?

Leonora pointed out that, as a result of talking to a particular Witch, she was ‘on the path’ – and although the initial epiphany was short, the journey has taken her over 22 years (Leonora, 2018).

James recognises “…the intense individuality of the whole phenomenon.” (James, 1928, p. 197) (of conversion)

“Professor Leuba, in a valuable article on the psychology of conversion, subordinates the theological aspect of the religious life almost entirely to its moral aspect.” (James, 1928, p. 201)

“The religious sense he defines as “the feeling of unwholeness, of moral imperfection, of sin…accompanied by the yearning after the peace of unity.” (James, 1928, p. 201)

Leuba says religion is increasingly signifying “…the conglomerate of desires and emotions springing from the sense of sin and its release…” (Leuba in James, 1928, p. 201)

Leuba’s article:

Studies in the Psychology of Religious Phenomena, American Journal of Psychology, vii. 309 (1896)

James gives an example of a drunkard who converted (P.201-P.203), relieved of his ‘sin’ (drunkenness) – or rather an ‘escape’ from his sin?

James gives an example of persons incapable of conversion (P.204) under any circumstances: “They are either incapable of imagining the invisible; or else, in the language of devotion, they are life-long subjects of ‘barrenness’ and ‘dryness’.” (James, 1928, p. 204)

^The latter as atheo-pagans and humanist witches?

“To the end of their days they refuse to believe, their personal energy never gets to its religious centre, and the latter remains inactive in perpetuity.” (James, 1928, p. 204)


“All this may, however, turn out eventually to have been a matter of temporary inhibition. Even late in life some thaw, some release may take place, some bolt be shot back in the barrenest breast, and the man’s hard heart may soften and break into religious feeling.” (James, 1928, p. 205)

^This quote also proposes that such ‘swift’ conversion is miraculous (P.205)

Identifies two types of conversion process (as called by Starbuck); volitional and self-surrender

“In the volitional type the regenerative charge is usually gradual, and consists in the building up, piece by piece, of a new set of moral and spiritual ideas.” (James, 1928, p. 206). This form of conversion aligns with Leonora’s experience; a gradual shift in thinking.

*Compare Harrington and THE OTHER ONE (interpretive drift) theories on conversion

James quotes Starbuck’s example (volitional) of the athlete: “…the game plays itself through him,” (James, 1928, p. 206)

*Compare to Crowley’s Will – it must be automatic

Self surrender speaks for itself

C.G. Finney’s (Presbyterian Minister) memoir is used as an example. Finney decides (?) to give himself up to Christ, goes to the woods, refuses to leave until it is done – briefer version of Buddha under the bodhi tree (P.207-P.208)

James sees the self-surrender examples as more interesting than the volitional type because “…the subconscious effects are more abundant and often startling.” (James, 1928, p. 208) – though he does note that the difference between the two is not so radical (P.208)

“Even in the most voluntary built-up sort of regeneration there are passages of partial self-surrender interposed; and in the great majority of all cases, when the will has done its uttermost towards bringing one close to the complete unification aspired after, it seems that the very last step must be left to other forces and performed without the help of its activity. In other words, self-surrender becomes then indispensable.” (James, 1928, p. 208)

Ruin’s response to the idea of self-surrender was prosaic. “I’d like it to [be part of her religious experience] but that’s just not me. It sounds fantastic, sounds like exactly what I’d like from religion, a deeply meaningful and interesting experience. But I don’t know how and any attempts have ended up as just another kind of control: if I could do this, you have to do this.” (Ruin, 2019) RELATES TO HER RESPONSE TO DEFINED BEHAVIOURS

“’The personal will,’ says Dr Starbuck, ‘must be given up. In many cases relief persistently refuses to come until the person ceases to resist, or to make an effort in the direction he desires to go.’.” SEEMS CLUNKY – CHECK (James, 1928, p. 208)

James agrees with Starbuck on the reason/s why self-surrender (at the final hurdle) should be so necessary:

There is sin/wrongness in the person which s/he wishes to get away from, there is a striving towards the ideal (unity with God), while there is conscious effort there are also “…subconscious allies behind the scenes,” (James, 1928, p. 209)

^James also notes the possibility of interference from the conscious mind in these circumstances

Leonora rejected the idea of self-surrender to a god or goddess, claiming that according to her religion, she rarely had need of them. However she did agree with the attitude (but not the terminology) of self-surrender, conceding that for her “…it’s more a ‘letting go’. It’s allowing something to wash over you. It’s a deliberate event; it’s like a ‘sub’ really, in a dominant/submissive relationship where you’re not submissive because you can’t help yourself, you’re submissive because you agree to be.” (Leonora, 2018). However, unlike the above quote from James around surrendering personal will, Leonora saw even the act of submission as an act of will on the part of the Witch. “It’s a desire and a strength of mind that you say ‘OK, I’m letting go now, I’m dropping my barriers now, and I’m allowing whatever it is that’s happening in this instance to permeate through me as though I wasn’t here.” (Leonora, 2018).

Again Starbuck says “…that to exercise the personal will is still to live in the region where the imperfect self is the thing emphasized.” (James, 1928, p. 209)

Hames suggests/gives an example of the psychology of self-surrender (P.211-P.212); imagine a person full of discontent/anxiety etc (the long dark night of the soul) – tell him/her not to worry and let it all go; they cannot see the simplicity of the suggestion (they cannot see through the dark) BUT once the darkness has exhausted them “…this state of temporary exhaustion…” (James, 1928, p. 212) may allow the conversion process to slip

“In a large proportion, perhaps the majority, of reports, the writers speak as if the exhaustion of the lower and the entrance of the higher were simultaneous, yet often again they speak as if the higher actively drove the lower out.” (James, 1928, pp. 214-215)

Lecture 10

Conversion (concluded)

Gives several lengthy first-person accounts of conversion (CHECK PAGE NUMBERS)

*Worth noting all examples mention ‘the inexpressible’, ‘the light’, ‘the love’ (Not focussed on the gloomier aspects of Christianity)

On the conversion experience:

“Throughout the height of it he undoubtedly seems to himself a passive spectator or undergoer of an astounding process performed upon him from above.” (James, 1928, p. 226)

“That the conversion should be instantaneous seems called for…” (James, 1928, p. 227)

Aside from the voices heard, lights seen or visions witnessed “Moreover the sense of renovation, safety, cleanness, rightness, can be so marvellous and jubilant as well to warrant one’s belief in a radically new substantial nature.” (James, 1928, p. 228)

James observes that it seems natural/obvious that “…such a glorious transformation as this ought of necessity to be preceded by despair…” (James, 1928, p. 229)

Quotes Jonathan Edwards (Revivalist preacher), who speculates that it is not unreasonable that God should make us suffer so we might appreciate the salvation that He bestows (James, 1928, p. 229) – what the fuck?!

James asks an interesting question: “Are there two classes of human beings, even among the apparently regenerate, of which the one class really partakes of Christ’s nature while the other merely seems to do so?” (James, 1928, p. 230)

Or is it merely a case of more or less God in the teacup of religious experience?

*An opportunity to explore the idea of no-one’s spiritual experience being more/less valid than anyone else’s?

Speaking of the subconscious region:

Starts with the ‘field of consciousness’, explains these ‘mental fields’ as differing in scale: “Some fields are narrow fields and some are wide fields. Usually when we have a wide field we rejoice, for we then see masses of truth together, and often get glimpses of relations which we divine rather than see, for they shoot beyond the field into still remoter regions of objectivity, regions which we seem rather to be about to perceive than to perceive actually.” (James, 1928, p. 231)

The opposite of this is when our ‘field’ may narrow to the point where “…we find ourselves correspondingly oppressed and contracted.” (James, 1928, p. 231)

In essence: “Different individuals present constitutional differences in this matter of width of field.” (James, 1928, p. 231)

As per the width of the field “The important fact which this ‘field’ formula commemorates is the indetermination of the margin.” (James, 1928, p. 232)

“It lies around us like a ‘magnetic field’, inside of which our centre of energy turns like a compass-needle, as the present phase of consciousness alters into its successor.” (James, 1928, p. 232)


“Our whole past store of memories floats beyond this margin, ready at a touch to come in; and the entire mass of residual powers, impulses, and knowledge that constitute our empirical self stretches continuously beyond it.” (James, 1928, p. 232)

James observes these boundaries as being so vague, in fact “So vaguely drawn are the outlines between what is actual and what is only potential at any moment of our conscious life, that it is always hard to say of certain mental elements whether we are conscious of them or not.” (James, 1928, p. 232)

Sees the discovery of the subliminal as one of (in his time) the most important discoveries in psychology (P.233)

The subliminal as an addition to the conscious mind as “…an addition thereto in the shape of a set of memories, thoughts, and feelings which are extra-marginal and outside of the primary consciousness altogether, but yet must be classed as conscious facts of some sort, able to reveal their presence by unmistakable signs.” (James, 1928, p. 233)

Everyone possesses this subliminal consciousness but in different degrees (of awareness of it?); in those whom it is higher/stronger it exerts a greater influence, they are more likely to be prone to impulsive action, obsessive ideas, or even “…hallucinations of sight or hearing.” (James, 1928, p. 234)

One would think that James is alluding to religious experience as a manifestation of subliminal/subconscious impulses – but is he?

Says these impulses may take the form of automatic speech or writing (PAGE?)

Likens the ‘state’ to a post-hypnotic suggestion (PAGE?)

Almost (but not quite) agrees with the more ‘scientific’ stance; automatism – but not prepared to assign all experiences to it (P.236-P.237)

“If the fruits of life of the state of conversion are good, we ought to idealize and venerate it, even though it be a piece of natural psychology [author’s indentation];” (James, 1928, p. 237)

James recognises that there “…ought to be some exquisite class-mark, some distinctive radiance…” (James, 1928, p. 238) that all converts possess – but also recognises that there isn’t. And even: “The believers in the non-natural character of sudden conversion have had practically to admit that there is no unmistakable class-mark distinctive of all true converts.” (James, 1928, p. 238)

Indeed: “The super-normal incidents, such as voices and visions and overpowering impressions of the meaning of suddenly presented scripture texts, the melting emotions and tumultuous affections connected with the crisis of change, mat all come by way of nature, or worse still, be counterfeited by Satan.” (James, 1928, p. 238) EEK!

“The real witness of the spirit to the second birth is to be found only in the disposition of the genuine child of God, the permanently patient heart, the love of self eradicated. And this, it has to be admitted, is also found in those who pass no crisis, and may even be found outside of Christianity altogether.” (James, 1928, pp. 238-239)

Notes ‘salvation’ as the most important thing to the individual: “A small man’s salvation will always be a great salvation and the greatest of all facts for him [author’s indentation].” (James, 1928, p. 239)

^Again, compare Crowley’s ‘man in love’

James quotes Professor George A. Coe’s The Spiritual Life (new York, 1900) who analysed 77 conversions which “…confirm the view that sudden conversion is connected with the possession of an active subliminal self.” (Coe in James, 1928, p. 240)

Coe’s conclusion:

“…if you should expose to a converting influence a subject in whom three factors unite: first, pronounced emotional sensibility; second, tendency to automatisms; and third, suggestibility of the passive type; you might then safely predict the result: there would be a sudden conversion, a transformation of the striking kind.” (Coe in James, 1928, p. 241)

Though both James and Coe agree the origin of the experience does not diminish the value (or rather, the religious values) of the conversion; not so much “how it happens [author’s indentation] but “what is attained [author’s indentation]” (James, 1928, p. 241)

“…what is attained is often an altogether new level of spiritual vitality, a relatively heroic level, in which impossible things have become possible, and new energies and endurances are shown. The personality is changed, the man is born anew [author’s indentation].” (James, 1928, p. 241)

“’Sanctification’ is the technical name of this result,” (James, 1928, p. 241)

“But if you, being Christians, ask me as a psychologist whether the reference of a phenomenon to a subliminal self does not exclude the notion of the direct presence of the Deity altogether, I have to say frankly that as a psychologist I do not see why it necessarily should.” (James, 1928, p. 242)

^Rejects purely ‘psychological’ reasons behind this conversion

“…if there be higher spiritual agencies that can directly touch us, the psychological condition of their doing so might be our possession of a subconscious region which alone should yield access to them [author’s indentation].” (James, 1928, p. 242)

“If there be higher powers able to impress us, they may get access to us only through the subliminal door.” (James, 1928, p. 243)

Moves onto “…the feelings which immediately fill the hour of the conversion experience.” (James, 1928, p. 243)

“The first one to be noted is just this sense of higher control. It is not always, but it is very often present.” (James, 1928, p. 243)

‘faith-state’/’state of assurance’ characteristics:

“The central one is the loss of all the worry, the sense that all is ultimately well with one, the peace, the harmony, the willingness to be, even though the outer conditions should remain the same [author’s indentation].” (James, 1928)

“A passion of willingness, of acquiescence, of admiration, is the glowing centre of this state of mind.” (James, 1928, p. 248)

“The second feature is the sense of perceiving truths not known before…and often, nay usually, the solution is more or less unutterable in words.” (James, 1928, p. 248)

“A third peculiarity of the assurance state is the objective change which the world often appears to undergo.” (James, 1928, p. 248)

^Seeing the whole world anew as beautiful – opposite to the melancholic state where everything is shit and blood

Gives several examples (P.248-P.250), and quotes Jonathan Edwards (P.248-P.249) who, after his conversion, saw God’s majesty in almost everything

James observes that often at revival meetings, converts lapse into ‘automatisms’, though “They undoubtedly have no essential spiritual significance,” (James, 1928, p. 251) though “…their presence makes conversion more memorable to the convert,” (James, 1928, p. 251)

*^* They ‘mark’ the division between the old new (converted) self

James summarises (though is also kind of dismisses): On the whole, unconsciousness, convulsions, visions, involuntary vocal utterances, and suffocation, must be simply ascribed to the subject’s having a large subliminal region, involving nervous instability.” (James, 1928, p. 251)

Gives attention to one particular “sensory automatism” (P.251), refers to “…hallucinatory or pseudo-hallucinatory luminous phenomena, photisms, to use the term of the psychologists [author’s indentation].” (James, 1928, p. 251)

Rather boldly speculates that “Saint Paul’s blinding heavenly vision seems to have been a phenomen of this sort; so does Constantine’s cross in the sky.” (James, 1928, pp. 251-252)

Gives examples of personal accounts (P.252-P.253)

Comments on the final example as having the characteristics of a mescal trip (P.253)

“The most characteristic of all the elements of the conversion crisis, and the last one of which I shall speak, is the ecstasy of happiness produced.” (James, 1928, p. 254)

More personal accounts (P.254-P.256)

Refutes the idea of classifying the conversion experience as “hysterics” (P.257) as “It misses the point of serious interest, which is not so much the duration as the nature and quality of the shiftings of character to higher levels.” (James, 1928, p. 257)

“So with the conversion experience: that it should for even a short time show a human being what the highwater mark of his spiritual capacity is, this is what constitutes its importance, – an importance which backsliding cannot diminish, although persistence might increase it.” (James, 1928, p. 257)

^James is saying, regardless of the means, the state exists and is experienced, like the sensations produced by ecstasy (drug); irrespective of the fact that you’re on an ‘E’, you are still feeling these things and are capable of experiencing the feels. The vehicle is irrelevant, the fact that you are feeling it is everything.

“Starbuck’s conclusion is that the effect of conversion is to bring with it “a changed attitude towards life, which is fairly constant and permanent, although the feelings fluctuate…In other words, the persons who have passed through conversion, having once taken a stand for the religious life, tend to feel themselves identified with it, no matter how much their religious enthusiasm declines.”” (James, 1928, p. 258)

^James quotes Starbuck from Psychology of Religion (P.360, P.357)

Lectures 11, 12, and 13



Reckons these chapters will be exceedingly pleasant “…because the best fruits of religious experience are the best things that history has to show.” (James, 1928, p. 259)

Observes in himself that reading/researching the examples “…is to feel encouraged and uplifted and washed in better moral air.” (James, 1928, p. 259)

“The highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, bravery…have been flown for religious ideals.” (James, 1928, pp. 259-260)

Quotes Sainte-Beuve who notes “…that in Christians of different epochs it is always one and the same…” (James, 1928, p. 260) (the state/experience)

*from Saint-Beuve: Port-Royal, vol.i. pp.95 and 106, abridged

^So, is this experience the same for witches?

James ponders “…a general psychological question as to what the inner conditions are which may make one human character differ so differ so extremely from another.” (James, 1928, p. 261)

He answers “…in our differing susceptibilities of emotional excitement, and in the different impulses and inhibitions…[author’s indentation]” (James, 1928, p. 261)

Goes on about the push and pull of our impulses and inhibitions: “The influence is so incessant that it becomes subconscious.” (James, 1928, p. 261)

“But proprieties and their inhibitions snap like cobwebs if any great emotional excitement supervenes.” (James, 1928, p. 261)

  • Gives numerous examples (dandy/house on fire/woman in nightgown; WHAT?!)
  • Final example of a “self-indulgent woman” (P.262) who becomes a new character after becoming a mother (selfless etc) (P.262)

Goes on to note the affectation can be high or low, it makes no difference “…so long as the excitement it brings be strong enough.” (James, 1928, p. 262)

Suggests anger (P.264) is one of the stronger ‘excitements’ – though (as per above quote) any excitement will suffice, though most folk are kept in check by their inhibitions “…only the adequate degree of inhibition-quenching fury is lacking.” (James, 1928, p. 265)

“The difference between the willing and merely wishing, between having ideals that are creative and ideals that are but pinings and regrets, thus depends solely either on the amount of steam-pressure chronically driving the character in the ideal direction, or on the amount of ideal excitement transiently acquired.” (James, 1928, p. 266)

Talks of the destruction of conventionality (the thin veneer of social niceties) (P.266) as if just being a dick is sufficient? Likens it to divine inspiration (P.267)


In the religious state, when the ‘excitement’ has broken down conventionalities, this new frame of mind allows for the ‘hardness of heart’ to fall away (P.267) – in many cases, permanently! (P.268)

The sex, the booze, the evil tobacco, all fall away (P.268-P.269)

“Such rapid abolition of ancient impulses and propensities remind us so strongly of what has been observed as the result of hypnotic suggestion that it is difficult not to believe that subliminal influences play the decisive part in these abrupt changes of heart,” (James, 1928, pp. 269-270)

Therefore James concludes “If the grace of God miraculously operates, it probably operates through the subliminal door,” (James, 1928, p. 270)

^Compare Crowley: the sub-conscious/God (Frank Bennet’s ‘conversion’ – Bennett; Australian guy (founded Sydney chapter?) on Cefalu (?!)

Characteristics of ‘universal saintliness’:

  1. A sense of a greater/larger existence, with “…a conviction, not merely intellectual, but as it were sensible, of the existence of an Ideal Power.” (James, 1928, p. 272) – with Christians “…this power is always personified as God;” (James, 1928, p. 272) – *though for Witches; Goddess?

And for others it could take the form of utopian ideals, visions of holiness, etc

  • A sense of the benevolence of the Ideal Power in the ‘saint’s’ life (and “…a willing self-surrender to its control.” (James, 1928, p. 273)
  • Elation/freedom
  • “A shifting of the emotional centre towards loving and harmonious affections,” (James, 1928, p. 273)


Amy disagreed that she ever felt ‘saintly’; instead responding that the closest that she felt to this state would be during invocations of various Gods and Goddesses. “I would describe it as like a transmitter where I would feel very light but definitely not saintly because there’s some bad shit that can come through [during the invocation].” (Amy, 2017). Amy provided an example of ‘working’ with someone that she didn’t know, and during the chakra healing exercise, things became very emotional as a result of the stranger’s life experiences ‘erupting’ out during the exercise. As Amy noted “How can you get past something if you’re not even going to acknowledge it?” (Amy, 2017)

This was reiterated by Ruin, who said that “I know that I am part of humanity as a collective entity and that I have an obligation to that, and religion reinforces that belief and pushes it to be more self-sacrificing, less smug in my own goodness, and to engage people as equals.” (Ruin, 2019)

From these four conditions there are “practical consequences” (P.273): Asceticism “…that the saint finds positive pleasure in sacrifice and asceticism,” (James, 1928, p. 273)

Strength of Soul: “Fears and anxieties go, and blissful equanimity takes their place. Come heaven, come hell, it makes no difference now!” (James, 1928, p. 273)

Purity: keeping away from the sordid (o at least remaining unaffected by it)

Charity: “The saint loves his enemies, and treats loathsome beggars as his brothers.” (James, 1928, p. 274)

Gives extensive examples of these four (P.275-P.296)

While many interviewees were not receptive to the term ‘saintliness’, Leonora has a different approach to it, noting that for her “,,,a saint is technically in direct contact with his or her god without intervention…it’s a direct, singular interaction between that person and what they consider, again I repeat, what they consider to be divine at that particular moment, and there’s no barrier to it; it’s like if you jump in water and it’s cold, you know it.” (Leonora, 2018).

“Religious rapture, moral enthusiasm, ontological wonder, cosmic emotion, are all unifying states of mind, in which the sand and grit of selfhood incline to disappear, and tenderness to rule.” (James, 1928, p. 279)

“Like love or fear, the faith-state is a natural psychic complex, and carries charity with it by organic consequence. Jubilation is an expansive affection, and all expansive affections are self-forgetful and kindly so long as they endure.” (James, 1928, p. 279)

Notes the Buddhist examples of self-sacrifice as ‘legendary’ (P.283)

“Psychologically and in principle, the precept ‘Love your enemies’ is not self-contradictory.” (James, 1928, p. 283)


“It is merely the extreme limit of a kind of magnanimity with which, in the shape of pitying tolerance of our oppressors, we are fairly familiar. Yet if radically followed, it would involve such a breach with our instinctive springs of action as a whole, and with the present world’s arrangements, that a critical point would practically be passed, and we should be born into another kingdom of being. Religious emotion makes us feel that other kingdom to be close at hand, within our reach.” (James, 1928, pp. 283-284)

“The inhibition of instinctive repugnance is proved not only by the showing of love to enemies, but by the showing of it to anyone who is personally loathsome.” (James, 1928, p. 284)

“Asceticism plays its part; and along with charity pure and simple, we find humility or the desire to disclaim distinction and to grovel on the common level before God.” (James, 1928, p. 284)

Ruin liked the idea of asceticism but suspected that if she were to follow that particular variety of religious experience, it might be for the wrong reasons.

“I like the idea of asceticism. I think it is interesting and valuable and probably a great way of connecting to the divine and finding meaning and expressing religious passion. It is something I would love to seek out. Unfortunately, I think asceticism appeals to me because it seems like a route to pleasure. Even seemingly ascetic religious acts like fasting or drinking poison ends up hedonistic when I do them. So I work with what I have.” (Ruin, 2019).

^ Tantric-esque behaviour? Transgression as a means to spiritual enlightenment?

*Crowley eating shit to transmute ordinary substances and experiences

**Alchemy; transmuting base substances into gold?

Francis of Assisi/Ignatius Loyola swapping their clothes for the rags of dirty beggars (P.284)

“Margaret Mary Alacoque, Francis Xavier, St John of God, and others are said to have cleansed the sores and ulcers of their patients with their respective tongues;” (James, 1928, p. 284)

Dirty, evil bastards!

Contrasts the religious peace of mind with the merely sombre and/or cheerful (P.285-P.290)

James’ tone seems almost amazed at the act of ‘giving up’ – “This abandonment of self-responsibility seems to be the fundamental act in specifically religious, as distinguished from moral practice.” (James, 1928, p. 289)

Speculates on the presence of mind (eg – living wholly in the moment/mindfulness) (P.289) as a factor of the deeply religious

“Hinduism, mind-cure, and theosophy all lay great emphasis upon this concentration upon the moment in hand.” (James, 1928, p. 290)

Purity of Life

“Whatever is unspiritual taints the pure water of the soul and is repugnant.” (James, 1928, p. 290)

^Obviously not a case of Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense!

“When the craving for moral consistency and purity is developed…the subject may well find the outer world too full of shocks to dwell in, and can unify his life and keep his soul unspotted only by withdrawing from it.” (James, 1928, p. 296)

Ruin saw purity, in the James-ian sense of looking away from it, as wrong, stating that

“Purity is as near a dirty word as I can think of. Purity is looking away from the problem and pretending you’re better for it. Charity is nearly the opposite, and a much better virtue. Charity is talking to prisoners and the dying and to idiots, even when it makes you uncomfortable, because people are not to be cast aside. I think I have a religious, as well as a purely ethical, obligation to engage with problems if I think I can help, and to do so with the least judgement I can manage.” (Ruin, 2019).

Purpose of monasteries – a form of asceticism

Lists six types of asceticism (P.296-P.297) *Elaborate on these?

Amy saw a definite benefit to periods of asceticism, and explained a recent event where she went into the Australian bush and sat naked in a sacred circle for three days with nothing but a bottle of water. “It was probably one of the best things that I’ve ever done. I would recommend [doing] it once a year…” (Amy, 2017) – though she did stress the importance of going through such ordeals under the guidance of qualified instructors, and ensuring a clean bill of health was received prior to undertaking such work. INSERT REFERENCE TO SUCH ORGS/PEOPLE?

It was clear that she saw the value of asceticism in such an extreme form but also counselled that “Even just get connected with nature; go for a bush walk and leave the phone in the car. Look at what’s around you…and just connect with nature without any distractions.” (Amy, 2017)

James notes nowadays there is less ‘mortification’

“A believer who flagellates or ‘macerates’ himself to-day arouses more wonder and fear than emulation.” (James, 1928, p. 298)

“Nevertheless, in moderate degrees it is natural and even usual to human nature to court the arduous.” (James, 1928, p. 298)

Suggests there is a need for a bit of roughness/hardship – a challenge (P.299)

Quotes examples of mild asceticism through to more extreme examples (P.300-P.325)

From getting out of bed on a cold night, putting pebbles in shoes, and fasting (P.300) to never sitting down, or bizarrely, never smelling a flower (P.302)

^ Not dissimilar to yogic practices of the sadhu *compare*

“…the sacrifices made are to purge out sin, and to buy safety. The hopelessness of Christian theology in respect of the flesh and the natural man generally has, in systematizing fear, made of it one tremendous incentive to self-mortification.” (James, 1928, p. 302)

^Reflects the Christian notion of fallen man

James recognises these practices as universal:

“Some authors think that the impulse to sacrifice is the main religious phenomenon. It is a prominent, a universal phenomenon certainly.” (James, 1928, p. 303)

More examples of asceticism:

No longer visiting wife on death-bed (P.303)

Saint John of the Cross, Spanish mystic (16th century) aspired to the lowest, the most distasteful etc – CHECK DETAILS/PAGE NUMBER

*Transgression as a means to God (again, saddhus)

Sin as a result of pride, sensuality “…and the loves of the worldly excitement and possession. All these sources of sin must be resisted; and discipline and austerities are a most effacious mode of meeting them.” (James, 1928, p. 304)

St John of the Cross (P.306) revelling in the ‘contradiction below the abyss is unity above the abyss’ – REVISIT

James notes that his (St John’s) “…later verses play with that vertigo of self-contradiction which is so dear to mysticism.” (James, 1928, p. 306)

Quotes Suso, German mystic (14th century) autobiography (though written in the third person); Suso wore a hair shirt and iron chains (P.307) and a specially designed device of leather straps and nails which constantly tore his flesh (P.307)

Suso would bind his hands to his neck (P.307-P.308)

*Must have worked because after 16 years he received a vision; a messenger from heaven told him that God no longer required him to do these things (P.308) – so instead he made a replica cross with nails poking out which he carried on his bare back. Suso’s numerous other acts of self-mortification are noted. Fortunately around his 40th year, God said ‘enough’

“…three minor branches of self-mortification have been recognized as indispensable pathways to perfection.” (James, 1928)

Obedience. Poverty. Chastity.

“Obedience may spring from the general religious phenomenon of inner softening and self-surrender and throwing one’s self on higher powers.” (James, 1928, p. 311)

“Add self-despair and the passion of self-crucifixion to this, and obedience becomes an ascetic sacrifice,” (James, 1928, p. 311)

Monastic life, obeying the superior officer; not dissimilar to following the instructions of the guru – no matter how vile or ridiculous the order

  • Giving up of Will
  • Almost an act of absolving responsibility; and that is the lure of religions with structures, the fear of deciding (taking ownership?) for one’s life

Quotes the Jesuit Rodriguez (P.315-P.317) on the merits of poverty – only what is necessary is acceptable

“Since Hindu fakirs, Buddhist monks, and Mohammedan dervishes unite with Jesuits and Franciscans in idealizing poverty as the loftiest individual state, it is worth while to examine into the spiritual grounds for such seemingly unnatural opinion.” (James, 1928, p. 317)

Compares the poverty state to the landed gentry; the lord of the manor is not his lands and possessions but is his “…personal superiorities; the courage, generosity, and pride supposed to be his birthright.” (James, 1928, p. 317)

^Previous quote seems clunky – CHECK

“This ideal of the well-born man…was embodied in knight-errantry and templardom; and, hideously corrupted as it has always been, it still dominates sentimentally, if not practically, the military and aristocratic view of life.” (James, 1928, p. 318)

“In short, lives based on having are less free than lives based either on doing or on being, and in the interest of action people subject to spiritual excitement throw away possessions as so many clogs.” (James, 1928, p. 319)

Aside from the perspective of ‘not having’, there is also “…the satisfaction found in absolute surrender to the larger power.” (James, 1928, p. 320)

^Thus poverty ties back to obedience

Having no material objects such as wealth demonstrates a complete faith in God to provide *Joke about priest in flood, helicopter, boat etc (The Lord will provide)

“Really to give up anything on which we have relied, to give it up definitively, ‘for good and all’ and forever, signifies one of those radical alterations of character which came under our notice in the lectures on conversion.” (James, 1928, p. 321)

“Fling yourself upon God’s providence without making any reserve whatever, – take no thought for the morrow, – sell all you have and give it to the poor, – only when the sacrifice is ruthless and reckless will the higher safety really arrive.” (James, 1928, p. 321)

Quotes the biography of Antoinette Bourignon, who heard from God – told her to go to ‘the desert’ – ran away from home with but a penny for bread. God said ‘get rid of the penny’ – she did, and was very happy thereafter (P.321-P.323)

“The penny was a small financial safeguard, but an effective spiritual obstacle. Not till it was thrown away could the character settle into the new equilibrium completely.” (James, 1928, p. 323)

“But in all these matters of sentiment one must have ‘been there’ one’s self in order to understand them.” (James, 1928, p. 325)

^And here is the thorn; no-one can ‘truly’ understand/see through another’s eyes (unless the ego is put aside)

“One can never fathom an emotion or divine its dictates by standing outside of it.” (James, 1928, p. 325)

^The need to be a witch/partake in its rituals

Lectures 14 and 15

The Value of Saintliness

The value of religion in life (P.326)

If applying Catholic dogma, it would be “Man’s perfection would be the fulfilment of his end; and his end would be union with his Maker.” (James, 1928, p. 326)

This union could be achieved via three paths; active, purgative, and/or contemplative

Alas! Not so simple because “We cannot divide man sharply into an animal and a rational part. We cannot distinguish natural from supernatural effects; nor among the latter know which are favors of God, and which are counterfeit operations of the demon [author’s indentation].” (James, 1928, p. 327)

Goes on to provide further explanation of his empiricist principles

“Abstractly, it would seem illogical to try to measure the worth of a religion’s fruits in merely human terms of value. How can you measure their worth without considering whether the God really exists who is supposed to inspire them? If he really exists then all the conduct instituted by men meet his needs must necessarily be a reasonable fruit of his religion – it would be unreasonable only in case he did not exist [author’s indentation].” (James, 1928, pp. 327-328)

^But surely ‘God’ is beyond reason?

Goes on:

“If, for instance, you were to condemn a religion of human or animal sacrifices by virtue of your subjective sentiments, and if all the while the deity were really there demanding such sacrifices, you would be making a theoretical mistake by tacitly assuming that the deity must be non-existent; you would be setting up a theology of your own as much as if you were a scholastic philosopher.” (James, 1928, p. 328)

Argues that as man becomes more civilised, certain aspects of worship become unpalatable or unnecessary (P.328)

“After an interval of a few generations the mental climate proves unfavourable to notions of the deity which at an earlier date were perfectly satisfactory: the older gods have fallen below the common secular level, and can no longer be believed in.” (James, 1928, p. 328)

^Or perhaps still believed in but the modes of worship change/evolve?

“The deity to whom the prophets, seers, and devotees who founded the particular cult bore witness was worth something to them personally. They could use him. He guided their imagination, warranted their hopes, and controlled their will, – or else they required him as a safeguard against the demon and a curber of other people’s crimes.” (James, 1928, p. 329)

James suggests that once the deity ceased to be useful (eg – when the society developed to a level of sophistication that, for instance, identified the uselessness of blood sacrifice), the deity ceased to be worshipped (P.329)

“It was in this way that the Greek and Roman gods ceased to be believed in by educated pagans;” (James, 1928, p. 329)

*Interesting that ‘modern pagans’ (and often eclectic Witches) have returned to worshipping these Greek and Roman deities*

“When we cease to admire or approve what the definition of a deity implies, we end by deeming that deity incredible.” (James, 1928, p. 329) <and not in a good way!

Reflects on the ‘old gods’ and how they were required to be cruel (P.329); this was identified with strength and sovereignty

Goes on to suggest “The gods we stand by are the gods we need and can use, the gods whose demands on us are reinforcements of our demands on ourselves and on one another.” (James, 1928, p. 331)

Proposes “…to test saintliness by common sense, to use human standards to help us decide how far the religious life commends itself as an ideal kind of human activity.” (James, 1928, p. 331)

“Religions have approved themselves; they have ministered to sundry vital needs which they found reigning. When they violated other needs too strongly, or when other faiths came which served the same needs better, the first religions were supplanted [author’s indentation].” (James, 1928, p. 331)

“Skepticism cannot…be ruled out by any set of thinkers as a possibility against which their conclusions are secure; and no empiricist ought to claim exemption from this universal liability.” (James, 1928, p. 332)

“He who acknowledges the imperfectness of his instrument, and makes allowance for it in discussing his observations, is in a much better position for gaining truth than if he claimed his instrument to be infallible.” (James, 1928, p. 332)

^Mind as a faulty instrument

“If we claim only reasonable probability, it will be as much as men who love the truth can ever at any moment hope to have within their grasp [author’s indentation].” (James, 1928, p. 332)

“…the safe thing is surely to recognize that all the insights of creatures of a day like ourselves must be provisional.” (James, 1928, p. 333)

Asks if all men (people) should have the same religion? Is it a case that “…exactly the same religious incentives are required?” (James, 1928, p. 333)

James asks if it might not be the case that “…some may really be the better for a religion of consolation and reassurance, whilst others are better for one of terror and reproof?” (James, 1928, p. 333)

“And if it be so, how can any possible judge or critic help being biased in favour of the religion by which his own needs are best met?” (James, 1928, p. 333)

*Reflective practice

“I do indeed believe that we or any other mortal man can attain on a given day to absolute incorrigible and unimprovable truth about such matters of fact as those which religions deal.” (James, 1928, p. 334)

“In critically judging the value of religious phenomena, it is very important to insist on the distinction between religion as an individual personal function, and religion as an institutional, corporate, or tribal product.” (James, 1928, p. 334)

Recaps Lecture #2:

  • Religious genius attracts followers
  • Group gets bigger/stronger and ‘organises’
  • Becomes an institution


“The spirit of politics and the lust of dogmatic rule are then apt to enter and contaminate the originally innocent thing;” (James, 1928, p. 335)

*Mention Crowley’s idea on the inner/outer function of religious organisation

James isn’t too concerned with ecclesiastical institutions – rather “The religious experience which we are studying is that which lives itself out within the private breast.” (James, 1928, p. 335)

^Hence not overly concerned with the organisational structures within Wicca etc

Goes on: “First-hand individual experience of this kind has always appeared as a heretical sort of innovation to those who witnessed its birth.” (James, 1928, p. 335)

And: “Naked come it into the world and lonely; and it has always; for a time at least, driven him who had it into the wilderness, often into the literal wilderness out of doors, where the Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, St Francis, George Fox, and so many others had to go.” (James, 1928, p. 335)

There follows an extensive quote from George Fox (P.335-P.336) on his need to quit his home and wander alone (with his God?), away from people

James observes “A genuine first-hand religious experience like this is bound to be heterodoxy to its witnesses, the prophet appearing as a mere lonely madman.” (James, 1928, p. 337)

*The holy Fool


“If his doctrine prove contagious enough to spread to any others, it becomes a definite and labeled heresy. But if it then still prove contagious enough to triumph over persecution, it becomes itself an orthodoxy; and when a religion has become an orthodoxy, its day of inwardness is over; the faithful live at second hand exclusively and stone the prophets in their turn.” (James, 1928, p. 337)

^ha ha…nice…

Any visionary with the smallest amount of good sense would keep their revelation personal/private!

“The new church, in spite of whatever human goodness it may foster, can be henceforth counted on as a staunch ally in every attempt to stifle the spontaneous religious spirit, and to stop all later bubblings of the fountain from which in purer days it drew its own supply of inspiration.” (James, 1928, p. 337)

“Unless, indeed, by adopting new movements of the spirit it can make capital out of them and use them for its selfish corporate designs!” (James, 1928, p. 337)

James observes that religious organisations are not “religion proper” (P.337) i.e; the divine inspiration/actual experience – contain “…the spirit of corporate dominion.” (James, 1928, p. 337)

And the bigotries of these organisations can, in turn, be “…chargeable to religion’s wicked intellectual partner, the spirit of dogmatic dominion, the passion for laying down the law in the form of an absolutely closed-in theoretical system.” (James, 1928, p. 337)

“The baiting of Jews, the hunting of Albigenses, and Waldenses, the stoning of Quakers and ducking of Methodists, the murdering of Mormons and the massacring of Armenians, express much rather that aboriginal human neophobia, that pugnacity of which we all share the vestiges, and that inborn hatred of the alien and of eccentric and non-conforming men as aliens, than they express the positive piety of the various perpetrators.” (James, 1928, p. 338)

*Can add witch-burning to that list…

“The fruits of religion…are, like all human products, liable to corruption by excess.” (James, 1928, p. 339)

^But is the experience a ‘human product’? Is it not more true to say that the experience is ‘pure’ (for want of a better word) but the excesses and extravagances (the ‘shit’) are a result of what is done with the experience? (“I think what God meant to say…”)

“Excess, in human faculties, means usually one-sidedness or want of balance.” (James, 1928, p. 340)

^Mention Crowley on Samadhi and the unbalanced mind

“Strong affections need a strong will; strong active powers need a strong intellect; strong intellect needs strong sympathies, to keep life steady.” (James, 1928, p. 340)

He then adds:

“If the balance exist, no one faculty can possibly be too strong – we only get the stronger all-round character.” (James, 1928, p. 340)

“Spiritual excitement takes pathological forms whenever other interests are too few and the intellect too narrow.” (James, 1928, p. 340)

On devoutness:

“When unbalanced, one of its vices is called Fanaticism. Fanaticism (when not a mere expression of ecclesiastical ambition) is only loyalty carried to a convulsive extreme.” (James, 1928, p. 340)

“An immediate consequence of this condition of mind is jealousy for the deity’s honor.” (James, 1928, p. 242)

“The slightest affront or neglect must be resented, the deity’s enemies must be put to shame.” (James, 1928, p. 342) OR DEATH?

James speaks of the violent nature of fanaticism (P.342) and compares to the other side of fanaticism: “the love of God” (P.343)

“When the love of God takes possession of such a mind, it expels all human loves and human uses. There is no English name for such a sweet excess of devotion, so I will refer to it as a theopathic condition [author’s indentation].” (James, 1928, p. 343)

Quotes Margaret Mary Alocoque’s biographer (P.343-P.345) – swooning examples of her love of God. She had a vision (hallucination?) that Christ took out her heart, put it inside his own heart, and then replaced it in her chest, choosing her to spread his message.

“She became increasingly useless about the convent,” (James, 1928, p. 344)

*Unable to function in daily life – see interview with Sandra?

Again, gives examples of Saint Gertrude “…a Benedictine nun of the thirteenth century,” (P.345)


“In theopathic characters…the love of God must not be mixed with any other love. Fathers and mothers, sisters, brothers, and friends are felt as interfering distraction;” (James, 1928, p. 348)

Opposite to “…the church militant with its prisons, dragonades, and inquisition methods,” (James, 1928, p. 349)

“…we have the church fugient, as one might call it, with its hermitages, monasteries, and sectarian organizations {author’s indentation],” (James, 1928, p. 349)

Active and passive aspects of the same thing ^Are the previous two quotes opposites or a continuation?

“The lives of saints are a history of successive renunciations of complication, one form of contact with the outer life being dropped after another, to save the purity of the inner tone.” (James, 1928, p. 349)

“Embosomed in this monotony, the zealot for purity feels clean and free once more.” (James, 1928, p. 350)

*Act of ritual taken to the extreme *compare with OCD; the ritual of keeping the ‘unclean’ at bay

Gives Saint Louis of Gonzaga as an example of excessive ‘purity’; at the age of ten, he took a vow of perpetual chastity, offering his virginity to God (P.350)

Shunned all female company and (to the extreme) did not like to be left alone with his own mother (P.351) – which is pretty fucked up, if you think about it…

“Never was he seen to hold in his hand a flower or anything perfumed, that he might take pleasure in it. On the contrary, in the hospital, he used to seek for whatever was most disgusting, and eagerly snatch the bandages of ulcers, etc, from the hands of his companions.” (James, 1928, p. 354)

Excesses of Tenderness and Charity:

Turning the other cheek etc, while most people would retaliate, lock up the thieves etc – WHAT WAS THIS NOTE?!

“…were the world confined to these hard-headed, hard-hearted, and hard-fisted methods exclusively, were there no one prompt to help a brother first, and find out afterwards whether he were worthy; no one willing to drown his private wrongs in pity for the wronger’s person; no one ready to be duped many a time rather than live always on suspicion; no one glad to treat individuals passionately and impulsively rather than by general rules of prudence; the world would be an infinitely worse place than it is now to live in.” (James, 1928, p. 356)

“The saints, existing in this way, may, with their extravagances of human tenderness, be prophetic.” (James, 1928, p. 357)

^An attempt to bring about a better world by being the change they want to see

Human charity as a ‘genuinely creative social force’ (P.357)

*Fabienne (?) serving as an act of worship?

“When you go into ritual, you go into ritual silence, and then within the circle we only talk about the workings within that [space] because we don’t want how bad someone’s day was coming into a magical working. So in that space we ‘hold space’ for other people. When we did a past-life regression one, where it was cutting the cords from past lives, we had a couple of coven members who were an absolute mess on the ground, and you’ve really got to hold that space for allowing them to let it go, and I think within the coven, everybody is responsible to hold that space; you don’t want one person being the pillar and everyone else being the ones leaning up against it.” (Amy, 2017) REDUCE/REFINE?

When faced with the ‘tenderness’ of saints:

“It is not possible to be quite as mean as we naturally are, when they have passed before us. One fire kindles another; and without that over-trust in human worth which they show, the rest of us would live in spiritual stagnancy.” (James, 1928, p. 358)

“If things are ever to move upward, some one must be ready to take the first step, and assume the risk of it.” (James, 1928, p. 358)

^Can equally be applied to the individual regarding initiation? Or the first step on the path to self-knowledge (eg – sensing something is ‘wrong’ and seeking to correct it?)

The ‘weight’ of the saint’s belief: Gives example of unarmed Christian missionaries going to Melanesian cannibals village to preach, spears were thrown but the power of Jehovah and Jesus protects – the heathens are converted (P.359)

*the weight of conviction

** Recent event with the Sentinalese (?) tribe and the American preacher, didn’t work out so well…

Compares “…the Utopian dreams of social justice of “contemporary socialists and anarchists” as “analogous to the saint’s belief in an existent kingdom of heaven.” (James, 1928, p. 360)


Quotes Saint Theresa on Saint Peter of Alcantara:

  • Never slept for more than one and a half hours
  • Never wore shoes
  • Never wore a hood despite the rain/sun (P.360-P.361)

Quite justifiably, James asks “If the inner dispositions are right, we ask, what need of all this torment, this violation of the outer nature?” (James, 1928, p. 361)

One of the rare occasions James quotes an ‘other’:

“As the Bhagavad-Gita says, only those need renounce worldly actions who are still inwardly attached thereto.” (James, 1928, p. 361)

Backs this up with Saint Augustine, Ramakrishna, and the Buddha (but doesn’t specify which incarnation of Buddha he is referring to) (P.361)

On Asceticism:

“It symbolizes, lamely enough no doubt, but sincerely, the belief that there is an element of real wrongness in this world…which must be squarely met and overcome by an appeal to the soul’s heroic resources, and neutralized and cleansed away by suffering.” (James, 1928, p. 362)

“For in its spiritual meaning asceticism stands for nothing less than for the essence of the twice-born philosophy.” (James, 1928, p. 362)

^Interestingly, James proposes that (perhaps) the optimist – or indeed anyone who does not see the extent/prevalence of ‘tragic death’ in this world “…my lack the great initiation,” (James, 1928, p. 363)

*Compare to concepts of chaos/death etc usually introduced in initiation

“Well, this is exactly what asceticism thinks; and it voluntarily takes the initiation.” (James, 1928, p. 363)

“Phrases of neatness, cosiness, and comfort can never be an answer to the sphinx’s riddle.” (James, 1928, p. 364)

^Embrace the lessons of asceticism but once learnt, there is no need to repeat

*Speculate on ‘transgression’ – possibly mention Angela Edwards (name?) Artist; continually shoving rose thorns up her yoni, never learning…

“The metaphysical mystery, thus recognized by common sense, that he who feeds on death that feeds on men possesses life supereminently and excellently, and meets best the secret demands of the universe, is the truth of which asceticism has been the faithful champion. The folly of the cross, so inexplicable by the intellect, has yet its indestructible vital meaning.” (James, 1928, p. 364)

^One thing to confront death but another to get out of bed on a cold, cold night or lick pus-ridden bandages…

^^The average Witch would not agree with the above quote because to them life is not a sombre or flawed thing – it is inherently joyous (as an immanent spiritual path/religion)

“The practical course of action for us, as religious men, would therefore, it seems to me, not be simply to turn our backs upon the ascetic impulse, as most of us today turn them, but rather to discover some outlet for it of which the fruits in the way of privation and hardship might be objectively useful.” (James, 1928, pp. 364-365)

Quotes Ramakrishna in a footnote (regarding the vanity that besieges the saint is far greater than that which assails the layman). *Drop in something from Kripal’s Kali’s Child – interestingly the actions of Ramakrishna would quite possibly horrify the pious Christian yet RK is considered a saint in his own cultural tunnel – though the average Hindu does not want to hear Kripal’s ponderings…

James links greed and corruption to fear of poverty, observing “…it is certain that the prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.” (James, 1928, p. 369)

^And now, in present times?

“Single attributes of saintliness may, it is true, be temperamental endowments, found in non-religious individuals. But the whole group of them forms a combination which, as such, is religious, for it seems to flow from the sense of the divine as its psychological centre.” (James, 1928, p. 369)

“Whoever possesses strongly this sense comes naturally to think that the smallest details of this world derive infinite significance from their relation to an unseen divine order.” (James, 1928, p. 369)

^Ipsissimus (or Master of the Temple?); to accept each event as a dealing of God with the soul (or some such equivalent) *find exact quote

**Belief in an unseen world becomes belief in a divine order

“Felicity, purity, charity, patience, self-severity, – these are splendid excellencies, and the saint of all men shows them in the completest possible measure.” (James, 1928, p. 370)


“…all these things together do not make saints infallible. When their intellectual outlook is narrow, they fall into all sorts of holy excesses, fanaticism or theosophic absorption, self-torment, prudery, scrupulosity, gullibility, and morbid inability to meet the world.” (James, 1928, p. 370)

Quotes Nietzsche’s hatred of the weak (P.372 to P.373) as an equally valid assault against the saint

^Counters this point with an exploration of the ‘ideal man’ and ‘ideal conduct’, observing “A society where all were invariably aggressive would destroy itself by inner friction, and in a society where some are aggressive, others must be non-resistant, if there is to be any kind of order. This is the present constitution of society,” (James, 1928, pp. 374-375)

“But the aggressive members of society are always tending to become bullies, robbers, and swindlers;” (James, 1928, p. 375)

^And now, in our current times?

James proposes an imaginary society – no aggression, only fairness and sympathy (a society of saints) (P.375)

“The saint is therefore abstractly a higher type of man than the ‘strong man’ because he is adapted to the highest society conceivable, whether that society ever be concretely possible or not.” (James, 1928, p. 375)

“Economically, the saintly group of qualities is indispensable to the world’s welfare.” (James, 1928, p. 377)

“Let us be saints, then,” (James, 1928, p. 377)

“Religious persons have often, though not uniformly, professed to see truth in a special manner. That manner is mysticism.” (James, 1928, p. 378)