Posts Tagged ‘Love’

Please watch this video for this week’s session;

Rupert’s sites are: http://www.rupertspira.com / http://www.sajahapublications.com

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Ibn Arabi- I believe in the Religion of love – .wmv

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Magnetic lines of force of a bar magnet shown by iron filings on paper

Science as metaphor for the spiritual (and vice versa?) – Magnetism and Harmonization

Recently I was knocked out when a colleague mention in his presentation on physics and spirituality the use of – iron filings, paper and a magnet – to show harmony and magnetic patterning.

It was the only thing I remembered from my rather dodgy science lessons – but as a metaphor it has influenced me deeply all my life.

‘Rimstar.org’ has done a very good job at showing what I vaguely remember from many years ago –

Steven Halpern has been working on sound and healing for decades

In this video they use an (unnecessarily complicated?) machine to show the effects of his chanting in a pyramid.


I don’t actually like much of Halpern’s music – too electronic.

However this guy blows me away –


What he’s chanting here roughly means, Oh God. How I revel in you, you are the fragrance of life. Help me know wisdom. Like the fruit on the vine, eventually it will fall and rot away, and then begin anew as another vine. Like the fruit bound to the vine, such am I bound to the unnecessities of life. Help me become free of them so that my spirit can grow and become one with you again.

It is a lesson in mystical oneness and perennial philosophy, which I summarize as Awaken:Detach:Serve. However it is also a lesson in how true depth – in this case of this Dutchman’s art of chanting – can reach across cultural and religious gaps – 1.3 millions hits so far. (Astonishing!)

As a metaphor the magnet-harmonics of iron filings has greatest relevance for me to the idea of psycho-spiritual integration within – and/or ‘at-one-ment’.

But it also relates to healing – for example chanting Om or just humming causes the chest to vibrate – personally I’m hoping that is good for IPF!

Interestingly one spiritual source appears to present love as a magnetic force;

Know thou of a certainty that Love is the secret of God’s holy Dispensation, the manifestation of the All-Merciful, the fountain of spiritual outpourings. Love is heaven’s kindly light, the Holy Spirit’s eternal breath that vivifieth the human soul. Love is the cause of God’s revelation unto man, the vital bond inherent, in accordance with the divine creation, in the realities of things. Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. Love is the most great law that ruleth this mighty and heavenly cycle, the unique power that bindeth together the diverse elements of this material world, the supreme magnetic force that directeth the movements of the spheres in the celestial realms. Love revealeth with unfailing and limitless power the mysteries latent in the universe. Love is the spirit of life unto the adorned body of mankind, the establisher of true civilization in this mortal world, and the shedder of imperishable glory upon every high-aiming race and nation.1


“Ai,” the traditional Chinese character for love (愛) consists of a heart (心, middle) inside of “accept,” “feel,” or “perceive,” (受) which shows a graceful emotion. It can also be interpreted as a hand offering ones heart to another hand.


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Animated version of the above lecture



Brilliant job RSA!

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‘ONE GARDEN – Masters of Wisdom’ – Session 5 – 5th Feb 2013 Cafe Coho 10am – updated


Two juxtaposed passages today, one from Hinduism, one from Baha’i – plus links to other great sources. I consider myself a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Jew, a Christian, a Moslem and a Baha’i – and a Humanist and sometimes even an a-theist! See my One Garden videos course on a page – HERE

In Sufism, or Islam generally, or Hinduism or Buddhism – in fact in all of the great faiths there are descriptions of the stages of spiritual development. These are the way-stations on our spiritual journey. For the true, sincere & committed seeker these describe the challenges through which the seeker can achieve her or his desire to reflect the name, attributes and qualities of God.

*HINDUISM – The Bhagavad Gita is one such piece of scripture – text & chanting in English HERE My favourite passage from the Bhagavad Gita as many of you know is this;

“Like two birds of golden plumage, inseparable companions, the

individual self and the immortal Self are perched on the branches of the

self same tree. The former tastes of the sweet and bitter fruits of the

tree; the latter, tasting of neither, calmly observes.

“The individual self, deluded by forgetfulness of his identity with the

divine Self, bewildered by his ego, grieves and is sad. But when he

recognizes the worshipful Lord as his own true Self, and beholds his

glory, he grieves no more.”

It’s my favourite because it encapsulates a complete answer to the question that I laboured so long to answer, “What is it to be fully & positively human?” My 80,000 answer, a doctoral dissertation, is HERE (Ahhh the joys of brevity!) It also answers the question, “What is reality?” AND provides the heart of The Perennial Philosophy/the mystical core of all of the great faiths traditions.

BUDDHISM – I suspect that 8 and four etc are more the stages in Buddhism – but what joy there is in the pure forms of its teachings – see HERE on mindfulness.

JEWISH – with Abraham Joshua Heschel as the ‘gate provider’ – see HERE

SUFI – For a fascinating way into a Sufi presentation of 7 stages see HERE

CHRISTIAN – Haven’t yet found a really good co-equivalent from within Christianity – but I suggest you explore this fascinating site – HERE


1 The Valley of Search The valley of search is described as the first step that a seeker must take in his path. Bahá’u’lláh states that the seeker must cleanse his heart, and not follow the paths of his forefathers. It is explained that ardour, and patience are required to traverse this valley.

2 The Valley of Love – The next valley is the “Valley of Love” and in this valley the seeker is compared to a moth who has found a flame. Bahá’u’lláh writes that the heart of the seeker is touched, and the seeker has fallen in love with God.

3 The Valley of Knowledge – The knowledge referred to in this valley is the knowledge of God, and not one based on learning; it is explained that pride in one’s knowledge and accomplishments often disallows one to reach true understanding, which is the knowledge of God. It is explained that the seeker, when in this valley, begins to understand the mysteries contained within God’s revelation, and finds wisdom in all things including when faced with pain and hardship, which he understands to be God’s mercy and blessing. This valley is called the last limited valley.

4 The Valley of Unity

The next stage is the valley of unity, and it is explained that the seeker now sees creation not by its limitations, but sees the attributes of God in all created things. The seeker, it is written, is detached from earthly things, is not concerned with his own self and has no ego; instead he praises God for all of creation.

5 The Valley of Contentment

The next valley for the seeker is the valley of contentment, where it is explained, that the seeker becomes independent from all things, and even though he may look poor or is subjected to suffering, he will be endowed with wealth and power from the spiritual worlds and will inwardly be happy. Happiness is explained to be the attribute of the true believer, and it cannot be achieved by obtaining material things, since material things are transitory.

6 The Valley of Wonderment

In the valley of wonderment the seeker, it is written, is struck dumb by the beauty of God; the seeker becomes conscious of the vastness and glory of creation, and discovers the inner mysteries of God’s revelation. Being led from one mystery of creation to the next, it is explained that the seeker continues to be astonished by the works of God.

7 The Valley of True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness

The final valley is the valley of true poverty and absolute nothingness and it is the furthermost state that the mystic can reach. The seeker, it is explained is poor of all material things, and is rich in spiritual attributes. It is explained that it is the state of annihilation of self in God, but not an existential union: the essences of God’s self and the mystic’s self remain distinct, in contrast to what appears to be a complete union in other traditions.

The sentence underlined is the Baha’i argument – the finite cannot apprehend the infinite.This is the best overall plain language model I’ve found so far. If you find others let me know! NB The above summary is to be found on WikiPedia

FULL TEXT of THE SEVEN VALLEYS (+ The Four Valleys) –

the above is only a ‘cold’ summary – read the real thing online –

full text HERE

NB The introduction is long – I suggest you go straight down to the ‘Valley of Search’

* PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION including Fowler’s Stages of Faith

Faith is seen as a holistic orientation, and is concerned with the individual’s relatedness to the universal. Fowler defines faith as an activity of trusting, committing and relating to the world based on a set of assumptions of how one is related to others and the world.

  • Stage 0“Primal or Undifferentiated” faith (birth to 2 years), is characterized by an early learning of the safety of their environment (i.e. warm, safe and secure vs. hurt, neglect and abuse). If consistent nurture is experienced, one will develop a sense of trust and safety about the universe and the divine. Conversely, negative experiences will cause one to develop distrust with the universe and the divine. Transition to the next stage begins with integration of thought and languages which facilitates the use of symbols in speech and play.
  • Stage 1“Intuitive-Projective” faith (ages of three to seven), is characterized by the psyche’s unprotected exposure to the Unconscious.
  • Stage 2“Mythic-Literal” faith (mostly in school children), stage two persons have a strong belief in the justice and reciprocity of the universe, and their deities are almost always anthropomorphic.
  • Stage 3“Synthetic-Conventional” faith (arising in adolescence; aged 12 to adulthood) characterized by conformity to religious authority and the development of a personal identity. Any conflicts with one’s beliefs are ignored at this stage due to the fear of threat from inconsistencies.
  • Stage 4“Individuative-Reflective” faith (usually mid-twenties to late thirties) a stage of angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for his or her beliefs and feelings. As one is able to reflect on one’s own beliefs, there is an openness to a new complexity of faith, but this also increases the awareness of conflicts in one’s belief.
  • Stage 5“Conjunctive” faith (mid-life crisis) acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems. The individual resolves conflicts from previous stages by a complex understanding of a multidimensional, interdependent “truth” that cannot be explained by any particular statement.
  • Stage 6“Universalizing” faith, or what some might call “enlightenment“. The individual would treat any person with compassion as he or she views people as from a universal community, and should be treated with universal principles of love and justice.

CONCLUSION: Whether the stages are 7 or 8, or any number, the stages go through Awakening: Detachment from ego & Service – & the final stage is always ‘no-self’. There are many paths to the top of the mountain but reality at the summit is One.


Have you found what you are looking for?

How do you know? – what are your criteria to know that you have found what you are looking for?

Do you recognise any stages in your journey so far?

Do you recognize your journey in any of the models you have so far seen?

How far and it what ways do you need to a) have a satisfactory notion of what it is to be human, b)

Please add any other questions you feel the group should discuss?

Namaste – Roger

TABS: spirit, spiritual, spiritual progress, personal development, Sufi, sufism, Islam, Baha’i, perennial philosophy, search, love, knowledge, unity, contentment, wonderment, true, poverty, absolute nothingness, no-self, the void, spirit and form, formlessness, mysticism, mystical oneness, oneness, One Garden, One summit, reality, ultimate reality, awe, wonder, wonderment, happiness, joy, God, truth, beauty, goodness, service, attachment, detachment, awaken, awake, awakening, awakened, heart, journey, seeking, changeless faith of God, the mystic, mystical bond, infinite, finite, infinite God, Bible, Koran, Bhagavad Gita, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Sufi (Islam),

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When the mote turns in the light: A 10 STEP ‘Barthesian’ course on Street Photography




When the mote turns in the light: A 10 STEP Barthesian course on Street Photography




inspired by the annotation by Kasia Houlihan (University of Chicago)

Roger Prentice Ph.D., MA (ACE), B. Ed. (Hons)

1st draft 4th Dec 2011


Although my practice of photography is still at a beginning stage I want to keep up an old habit – that of theorizing my practice and practicing my theory. On the theory side as a starting point I have gone for ‘the big one’ Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida.


Barthes’ book Camera Lucida: reflections on photography is more like literature than an academic text.  Indeed its very purpose is to get us to function in a ‘heart-centred’ way, instead of via left-brain classification and logic-chopping.  It is even more like a Zen master’s pointings or teachings. It is profoundly intuitive and insightful about photography in relation to the inner life of being human. It is not in any conventional sense subjective – it is about the very opposite the state of transcending the ego and ironically, given its arguments, it is about living transcendentally in the now.

Camera Lucida provides answers for an enormous range of problems, not just to understanding the true nature of photography.  In particular it is staggeringly insightful about what it is to be human, in the world with others (and the memories of them) and the exquisite place the art of photography can play in deepening our realization of our true selves.

I have taken as a starting point Kasia Houlihan’s excellent summary/annotation to be found HERE   The four sections relate to the 4 paragraphs in Kasia’s original summary/annotation.  To Kasia I will be eternally grateful because it enabled me to stop wandering around in a desert of unmanageable responses to Camera Lucida  – and it saved me from the temptation to dive in to the very large pools of academic writing about Camera Lucida – where I would probably have developed unbearable head-hurt and eventually drowned. Including the 10 Step course this is a framework for further development.

The area of photography that grips me currently is Street Photography.  I discovered the truth in Camera Lucida  two ways a) by doing street photography, however modest my achievements to date and b) through all the work that went into my doctorate – see HERE .

For serious students therefore I suggest the following 10 steps;


1) start taking photographs and keep up the practice between every one of the other steps listed here – & get as much feedback as possible.
2) look at photographs a lot – yours, your family’s and those of great photographers,
3) read Camera Lucida, don’t worry about understanding
4) read Kasia Houlihan’s original summary/annotation to be found HERE and this piece (in development) which was inspired by it.
5) read or re-read this listing of 31 major ideas,
6) read articles about street photography – there are a range of starting points – HERE
7) read at least the summaries of my doctorate HERE or work out your own understanding of the human spirit
8) do even more photography
9) read every poem and other literature you can find about photos & photography, look at every painting & dance about light etc. Link photography to transcendent spirituality if you will – there’s a ‘course-on-a-page HERE
10) then and only then read the academic literature on Camera Lucida and Barthes!
Whatever is true here about photography is also true about street photography – in fact I would say it is especially true about street photography.  I intend to write other articles about how this incisive, manageable way into Camera Lucida relates to street photography, to art generally, to spirituality and so on.


1 The book Camera Lucida sets out to determine a new way of looking at photography.

2 Camera Lucida is about a new consciousness – by way of photography.

3 Barthes seeks a new way of reading and valuing photographs – an altogether customized framework.

4 Barthes’ framework is to be distinct from all existing accounts of classifying photographs.

5 He wants to deal with photographs so as to get at the essence or noeme of photography.

6 Barthes says that he wants, ‘a History of Looking’.   (RP don’t know what is meant but 26e below might be the answer)

7a In his search Barthes attempts to account for the fundamental roles of emotion and subjectivity

7b in i) the experience of and ii) accounting for Photography.

8 Subjective experience of photography (I would say creating as well as reading) has an essential nature—or eidos

9 The essential nature of a photograph is as an index indicating, ‘that-has-been.’


10 Photography is set apart from all other forms of representation.

11 Previously established ways of classification etc are ‘disordered’ (because they fail to work with the essential nature of photography.)

12 Consequently it is unclassifiable (I suppose compared to say genre classification in film).

13 We need to hold to the fact that ‘the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially’.

14 The essence is the event,

15 The event is ‘that which is never transcended for the sake of something else.’

16 In other words, the photograph is never distinguished from its referent—that which it represents;

17 ‘it simply is what it is’ (I, RP, wonder if this means, “It is what it is because it is indissolubly linked to that which it represents?)”

18 This is illustrated by the fact that one says ‘this is me’ when showing someone a photographic image of oneself, as opposed to ‘this is a picture of me.’

19 When we look at a photograph, it is not the actual photo that we see, for the photograph itself is rendered invisible; (presumably because we see what the photo is a referent of – or see what we are)

20 Consequently the photograph is unclassifiable,

21 Why? – because it resists language, as it is without signs or marks—it simply is. (This is comparable to Lacan’s version of the Real.)

22 Furthermore, the subject that is photographed is rendered object, dispossessed of itself.

23 Consequently it becomes ‘Death in person.’


24 In his personal—subjective—examination of multiple photographs, Barthes proceeded to note a duality that was characteristic of certain photographs: a ‘co-presence of two discontinuous elements’—what he terms, the studium and the punctum.

25a The studium refers to the range of meanings available and obvious to everyone (RP because we are taught by the culture and society of which we are part).

25b The studium part of these photographs is unary and coded, – the former term implying that the image is a unified and self-contained whole

25c The unary meaning of the studium can be taken in at a glance (without effort, or ‘thinking’).

25d The latter (THE CODING) implies that the pictorial space is ordered in a universal, comprehensible way.

25e The studium speaks of the interest which we show in a photograph,

25f  the desire to study and understand what the meanings are in a photograph,

25g to explore the relationship between the meanings and our own subjectivities.

26a The punctum (a Latin word derived from the Greek word for trauma) on the other hand inspires an intensely private meaning,

26b one that is suddenly, unexpectedly recognized and consequently remembered

26c It “shoots out of [the photograph] like an arrow and pierces me”.

26d It ‘escapes’ language (like Lacan’s real); it is not easily communicable through/with language.

26e The punctum is ‘historical’ as an experience of the irrefutable indexicality of the photograph (its contingency upon a referent).

26f The punctum is a detail or “partial object” that attracts and holds the viewer’s (the Spectator’s) gaze;

26g it pricks or wounds the observer.


27a The ambiguity of the book’s title lends itself to the many levels on which the text addresses media theory.

27b This ranges from the very materiality of the photographic medium itself

27c to its grander implications for human consciousness in the pursuit of truth.

28a In his efforts to divorce photography from realms of analysis that deny or obscure its essence, Barthes ultimately formulates a new science of photography

28b It is an original framework in which photography steps beyond the shackles of classification and such terms as ‘art,’ ‘technique,’ etc. and, thus,

29a It draws upon an ‘absolute subjectivity’

29b This absolute subjectivity exceeds the normal boundaries of the everyday by moving the activity of viewing from a transparent relationship of meaning and expression to a level in which meaning seems to be there without the presence of subjectivity.

29c It is as if the photograph brings out the unconscious;

29d it also represents the unconscious, while at the same time, it denies all of these relations of meaning.

29e The photograph allows for the sight of self,

29f not as a mirror but as an access point into a definition of identity—

29g but identity associated with consciousness,

29h thus housing a whole;

30a  it is in the photograph ‘where being coincides with self,’ (109)

30b  It is ‘true being, not resemblance.’

31a The photographer, (is) a mediator,

31b S/he is one who (RP potentially & for themselves) supplies the transparent soul its clear shadow,

31c S/he reveals the soul’s value and not its mere identity (110);

31d the photographer, ‘makes permanent the truth.’


Camera Lucida is more like a revelation, a spiritual text, than a piece of academic writing. I have no no doubt that it’s a work of intuitive, soul-searching genius.  It tells us nothing about the mechanics and technique of photography.  It tells us everything about the nature of being human, in which photographs are a gateway to reading our soul.
We (should) read photographs as we are asked to read the text of the self – with the whole of our consciousness and with truth, beauty, goodness and justice. 


As Barthes shows himself, and us, the defining characteristic of photographs (at least the personally affecting ones) is that they show us ‘that which has been’.  They are embodiments of memories. As such they elicit powerful emotions and as such they tell us who we are, which is why when that part of the brain which enables memories is damaged people no longer know who they are, or who people close to them are. In normal health however we can only have a healthy life-supporting relationship with memories, and photographs, if we live reasonably successfully in the now. Living in the now is the only way we can healthily experience ‘that which has been’.

All photographs are self-portraits. In all creating of, and viewing of, photographs we are searching.  For ourselves, for our love, for that mysterious Whole of which we each are an infinitesimally small part.  

We, and our photographs, are each the mote that the ray of light makes visible.  Through them we enter the lucidly lit room.

For me in our ‘plucking from the flow’ the photographs that come to us it is not so much the ‘collecting of souls’, as Thomas Leuthard suggests, but is the embodiment of spirit caught when the mote turns in the light.  That for me is my street, and its flow of (human) spirit, in that genre we call street photography.


Photo: Roger Prentice


1 WikiPedia Indexicality
an indexical behaviour or utterance points to (or indicates) some state of affairs……..
Social indexicality in the human realm has been regarded as including any sign (clothing, speech variety, table manners) that points to, and helps create, social identity.




Photography, street photography, rogerprentice, roger prentice street photography, photography course, Henri Cartier-Bresson, p

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“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi


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