Letters - 4 January 2019

From hope to communing with cats


Our book group has been working through God, words and us, edited by Helen Rowlands. I am somewhat unsettled by the following quote from the chapter on ‘reframing the issues’ by Beth Allen, where the question ‘How do Quakers show people who are in despair that there can be hope?’ was asked.

Beth Allen writes: ‘As the chair, I asked all there: “Do Friends have anything to say about this? Does anyone?” There was silence in our book group. At length, a non-Quaker who is a professional counsellor rose and replied from her clinical experience. We Quakers had nothing to say about hope.’

I asked Friends at Meeting on Sunday what their experience was. One Friend searched the index of Quaker faith & practice and found nothing.

I now pose the same question to readers of the Friend and await replies with interest.

Sarah Watson

Two worlds, one life

A study of prehistoric spirituality reveals that the training of initiates included awareness of the ‘Other World’. This was learnt through the practice of listening in stillness of mind and body. (Note the comparison with George Fox: ‘I sate still…’)

This would lead to the ability to pass over the threshold between the worlds – or, in William Blake’s words, ‘the doors of perception’.

Modern science is now showing us that all reality is ‘entangled’, which means that our perceptions in the non-physical world (for example, the meaning and purpose of life) are directly connected with our problems in the physical world (for example, war and climate change).

It follows that the existential dangers that humanity faces today need to be tackled in both worlds at the same time.

This is not a new concept. Eight centuries ago, the poet Rumi wrote:

‘People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep!’

Harry Underhill

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