Celebrating St Columba’s Day, June 9, and reflecting further on the aftermath of the UK General Election results and their implications

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In this short two part talk I reflect further on the unfairness of the present electoral system which is not based on genuine proportional representation and wonder whether a new definition of government might not be: ““Government is a system whereby a minority can impose its will against the majority of a people”.

I also reflect on the fact that today, June 9,  is St Columba’s Day and that this important Celtic Saint was also loyal to the ancient Druid and Bardic wisdom traditions, and did not shirk from truth telling. Truth telling is also the duty of Christians and Buddhists and all who care about the place of wisdom in politics. I also share the story of Maronatha the great Buddhist sage and teachers of Vasubandhu whose views were shouted down in debate much as people have been who have tried to speak out in this election we have just held.

Ancient wisdom, (Christian, Buddhist, Druid or Sufi etc.)  is still relevant even in today’s political world of vigorous debate and the cut and thrust of rising and falling into and out of power, and the quintessence of this is that our actions are judged under the auspices of the spiritual kingdoms, as St Columba realized, which is why he used to go and sit on the Hill of the Angels in Iona, I suggest in this short talk that we all need to go and sit on our own personal “Hill of the Angels” and reflect on the best way forward in this eternal and ancient struggle – how to get truth telling, wisdom and love to have a hearing in the world of power-politics ? How to get Jerusalem to listen to the beauty of Galilee ?

 

 

An address to the people of the UK regarding the forthcoming general election on June 8, 2017

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In this audio talk I am giving my response to the forthcoming election on June 8 and also revealing some behind the scenes correspondence I have had with both the Prime Minister and the other leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and former Archbishops of Canterbury. Having lived in Scotland for 7 years I am convinced that the enforcement of Brexit by a new Tory government, if elected, will result in the swift break up of the UK with the exiting of Scotland from a union which has withstood the test of time since 1603. I explain my reasoning in depth in this talk and also suggest a remedy to prevent this disastrous situation from occurring. I am speaking not as a party political activist, but as a philosopher, a teacher, a political scientist, a Christian and an Archdruid. The imminent break up of the UK is an emergency situation which I am addressing directly in this talk, whereas the media, largely dominated by crass ignorance and commercial interests, are ignoring utterly this probability. This address is intended to reveal to the people of the UK the real issues at stake in this coming election. So whatever your political views, be it Conservative, or Labour, or Green, or Liberal Democrat, SNP or Plaid Cymru, or UKIP,  before you decide how to vote on June 8, please take time to listen to this two part talk. There will be a shorter presentation following shortly on You Tube on our IIPSGP1 channel – so watch this space !

 

Lecture on the Intellectual origins of the European Union

Here in France I have just finished giving a course at the European Peace Museum, which has taken place weekly this Autumn term. The theme was as follows: French And European Philosophical Thinkers And The Paths To Peace

Each week we have covered a different topic in this overall subject. It was a kind of crash course on French intellectual history, looking at the contributions made by significant French thinkers over the centuries towards the idea of peace, from different angles, different paths. It seemed to me an appropriate course to run from here, since we are establishing a new Pan European Peace Museum in this central part of France, which has already attracted visitors from across Europe, including the UK.

Totally unbeknown to me, at the same time, the Community of St Egidio was organising in Germany a gathering on on 11 September, on the exact same theme of PATHS TO PEACE in which World Council of Churches president for Europe and Archbishop emeritus Dr Anders Wejryd reflected on the times when churches have been able to make a difference by getting people to actually change politics and priorities, along with many other speakers at “Paths of Peace,” an international interreligious meeting of dialogue and prayer for peace held in the German cities of Münster and Osnabrück. The gathering explored topics such as eco-justice, terrorism, prayer, healing, children’s rights, and migration, among others. Speakers included the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr Ahmad al-Tayyeb; Rev. Dr Chris Ferguson, general secretary of the World Communion of Reformed Churches; and Angela Merkel, chancellor of the German Federal Republic. Another speaker was Dr S.L. Gandhi of the Anuvibha Jain organisation in Jaipur who was due to come and visit the European Peace Museum afterwards.

So that was an auspicious sign of synchronicity. My course started on September 25th and took place as follows.

French And European Philosophical Thinkers And The Paths To Peace

September 25th – Ancient Celtic Gaul and the Druid paths to peace

October 2nd—Bodin, Montesquieu, Saint Simon, Pierre Lerroux, Raymond Aaron and the Political thinkers’ path to peace

October 9th – Pascal, Descartes, Marie Curie and the Scientific Paths to Peace

October 16th – The French Jewish heritage and the Qabalist Path to Peace

October 23rd – Sartre, Camus, Heidegger, Hadot and Philosophical Paths to peace

October 30th – Postel, Doinel, Papus, Guenon, Faivre and the Esotericists’ Path to Peace

November 6th – Montaigne, Racine, George Sand, Proust, Victor Hugo and Literary Paths to Peace

November 13th – The Lodge of the 9 Sisters and the Freemasonic path

November 20th – Henri Corbin and the Islamic and Sufi path to Peace

November 27th – Monnet, De Rougemont and the pan-European path to Peace

December 4th – St. Bernard, Abelard,  Teilhard de Chardin, Lanza del Vasto and the Christian Theological Paths to peace

Each week was set around the idea of “paths to peace” and was offered in the spirit that peace is a complex, multidimensional and therefore multidisciplinary task to track down. There is far too much “un-peace” in the world, not least in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Palestine/Israel.. and even closer to home, in the streets of many European cities.

I did a lot of work in researching each topic, although I was also able to draw on a lifetime’s prior research in studying these subjects and writing about them for many years. Since it is very topical at the moment, I thought I would upload to my blog the talk I gave no November 27th about the intellectual history of the European Union – who were its architects, and what did they think they were doing ? Everyone who studies the matter agrees that the founders of the European Union were primarily concerned to create an international system of interlocking relationships in Europe so that a major European war would no longer be possible. It was a “functionalist” creation, inspired by David Mitrany and other intellectual giants, to prevent the violence that had bedevilled European international relations ever since the 100 years war, or Caesar’s invasion of Gaul, from recurring, or the Greek civil war of the Peloponnesian war in which Athens and Sparta fought each other with furious violence, as recounted by Thucydides the Greek historian. In the 20th century, two vast European civil wars had dragged the whole world into joining in and countless millions had been killed,

Although not perfect, and like any political organisation, in need of constant improvement and constitutional adjustment to take account of new realities, the basic ideas are sound, and the fundamental architecture has served its purpose well. It has indeed prevented a recurrence of major wars in Europe since it was created (although it has failed to prevent the wars in former Yugoslavia or in Ukraine). Instead of walking away and committing Brexit (which should really also be called BREAKUK since it would lead directly to the breakup of the UK) I have instead called for the UK to remain and to help transform the European Union’s institutions along more popular and democratic lines, that the people of Europe can see it is actually working for them, and not against them.

Among the reforms I have proposed are two of special significance:

  1. No European Union civil servant or bureaucrat should be paid more than the salary of the lowest paid Prime Minister of the member states of the European Union
  2. The European Union should create a new outreach service, separate from its Foreign Ministry, called the EUROPEAN UNION MEDIATION SERVICE, which would have legal and intellectual autonomy as an agency of the European Union, with the sole aim of bringing about peace through mediation in states neighbouring the European Union, and in member states of the European Union itself.

Both of these ideas are sound, realistic, feasible and would restore quite a lot of credibility to the European Union if adopted.

But in order to reformat the EU, and to convince enough people who are dissatisfied with it to remain within and not to commit BREKUK / BREXIT, it is important that we all understand exactly where, how and why it was created. There is a woeful ignorance about the history of the EU and this is partly because the history of the EU is simply not taught in British schools. My own mother, Eileen Daffern, once worked for the  University of Sussex European Studies Department, to create a course, including an A level in European Studies, for British Schools, but the project was never completed, and to this date you cannot study the history of the European Union in the British educational system until you reach University, and then only if you are reading a degree which includes this topic.

So, to make up for this lacuna, here then is my lecture on the history of the European Union as a path to peace, which I hope listeners will find of interest.

If the European Union was intended as a path to peace, why then is the UK about to get off the path  and enter the bramble patch ? Do we really want to become the 52 state of the USA, the most heavily armed and most militaristic nation in the history of the earth, which has fought a total of at least 105 official wars since it came into being in 1776 ?  This does not include unofficial and intelligence wars in which the USA has been intervening behind the scenes, in a proxy fashion. In neither world war one nor world war two did the USA come to support the UK immediately, only after it was in their own declared self interest. France however, on both occasions, was supporting the UK from the start. in world war one the USA didn’t join until 1917, and in world war two not till December 1941, which means that for the whole of the Battle of Britain, when UK cities were being blasted by the German air force, the USA was continuing as a neutral, and continuing to trade with Germany. Even Russia has a better track record of being an ally of the UK than that, since Russia fought alongside UK in the Napoleonic Wars, in the First world war, and eventually, in world war two. If anyone wants a list of the wars the USA has fought cine coming into being you can find it here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wars_involving_the_United_States

Rather than continuing down the BREAKUK-BREXIT path, it is my earnest hope, as I have said previously in this blog, that the UK will rethink and decide to remain in the UK. The tactical politics of how that might happen are interesting, but certainly, the current cabal of right wing conservatives currently running Westminster and destroying the UK will need to be replaced with centrist, intelligent, pro-European thinking people, similar to the Clegg-Cameron coalition that governed the UK prior to current debacle. Theresa May has made the worst job of being a prime Minister for a very long time, and her inability to respond to my own letters in any coherent or intelligent form, is simply indicative of a wider listening difficulty.

The late Mark Williams, who tragically died in October 2017, would have supported this analysis 100% and were he still alive he would have been sitting in the class, listening to this lecture and taking notes. The fact that he is dead means that I dedicate this lecture to his noble memory. May he rest in peace, but may the cause he fought for in his last year of life, the reversal of Brexit-BreakUK, succeed in turning around the ship of state into less choppy waters.

FOOTNOTE:

There is another footnote to add here: after giving this talk, I was researching for the final talk in this series, about the history of Christian thinkers in France and their paths to peace, and was looking into the history of Christian idealism in France. I wondered about the French Hegelian tradition, what had happened to it ? I knew about the famous lectures given on Hegel by Kojeve, and I knew that they had gone down as something quite extraordinary in French intellectual history, to which many of the greatest French philosophers had come along to listen to. But here is what I found out about Kojeve:  Christian idealists: He was born Aleksandr Vladimirovič Koževnikov in Russia to a wealthy and influential family. His uncle was the abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky, about whose work he would write an influential essay in 1936. He was educated at the University of Berlin and Heidelberg, Germany. In Heidelberg he completed in 1926 his PhD thesis on the Russian religious philosopher Vladimir Soloviev’s views on the union of God and man in Christ under the direction of Karl Jaspers. (I also talked about Jaspers in my final talk in the series). The title of his PhD thesis was Die religiöse Philosophie Wladimir Solowjews (The Religious Philosophy of Vladimir Soloviev). Early influences included the philosopher Martin Heidegger and the historian of science Alexandre Koyré. Kojève spent most of his life in France, and it was from 1933 to 1939, that he delivered in Paris a series of lectures on Georg Hegel’s work Phenomenology of Spirit. This I knew already. Some of Kojève’s more important lectures on Hegel have also been published in English in the now classic Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit, in 1947. His interpretation of Hegel has been one of the most influential of the past century. His lectures were attended by a small but influential group of intellectuals including Raymond Queneau, Georges Bataille, Maurice Blanchot, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, André Breton, Jacques Lacan, Raymond Aron, Roger Caillois, Michel Leiris, Henry Corbin, Jean Hyppolite, and Éric Weil. His interpretation of the master–slave dialectic was an important influence on Jacques Lacan’s mirror stage theory. Other French thinkers who have acknowledged his influence on their thought include the post-structuralist philosophers Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. In addition to his lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit, Kojève’s other publications include a little noticed book on Immanuel Kant, and articles on the relationship between Hegelian and Marxist thought and Christianity. His 1943 book, Esquisse d’une phenomenologie du droit, published posthumously in 1981, contrasts the aristocratic and bourgeois views of law. Le Concept, le temps et le discours, extrapolates on the Hegelian notion that wisdom only becomes possible in the fullness of time. Kojeve also wrote a study of pagan philosophy in Esquisse d’une histoire raisonnée de la pensée païenne, which covers the pre-Socratic philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, and Neoplatonism. This is interesting because in this talk, I also explain how the forced conversion of pagan philosophical intellectuals to a form of church-state Christianity, was a result of an intellectual error, based on fear, which had profound consequences in European intellectual history. I also explain how St Augustine converted from Manicheanism to Catholic Christianity out of fear, since Manicheans had been threatened with the death penalty just before he “converted”. This is never revealed in all the voluminous studies of Augustine that praise him as the “greatest of Christian thinkers”. In fact, as I explain in this talk, he had a negative impact on the history of the European mind. This is terrain that Kojeve also explored in his own writings, although whether he knew much about Gnosticism, Pelagius, Druidry and Manicheanism, remains to be uncovered. Certainly Hegel was very familiar with such advanced esoteric studies and included them in his magnifience synthesis of philosophical ideas.

Recently, three more books have been published by Kojeve: a 1932 thesis on the physical and philosophical importance of quantum physics, an extended 1931 essay on atheism (“L’athéisme”), and a 1943 work on “The Notion of Authority.”

What I had never realised before was that after World War II, Kojève worked in the French Ministry of Economic Affairs as one of the chief planners of the European Common Market. Kojève was an extraordinarily learned man. A polyglot, he studied and used Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, Latin, and Classical Greek. He was also fluent in French, German, Russian, and English. Kojève died in Brussels in 1968, shortly after giving a talk at the European Economic Community (now the European Union) on behalf of the French government. So it means that I ought to have added Kojeve to my account of the spiritual and intellectual origins of the European Union. Here is a picture of his grave, in Brussels, which is where he was living and working when he died.

Graf van Kojève in Evere (Foto Fanzago / Wikipedia)

So the question really is – do we in the UK, and throughout Europe want to keep this extraordinary European Union in being, and transform it from a prevoyance of peace, into an actuality of international peacemaking, or are we happy to let Brexit/BreakUK go ahead,  and gradually watch as neo-nationalist movements replace the genuine cosmic internationalism that the best European minds have advocated since Plato proposed the Republic of Philosophers, the Stoics posed their idea of the Cosmopolitics of the City of the Gods or the Druids wandered far and wide from Ireland to the Balkans in peace  ? Do we want Cosmopoliticians like Kojeve and Monnet, or do we want petty nationalists running Europe ? At least once you’ve listened to this talk, you will know what’s at stake in the business of BREKUK-Brexit.

Listen, and enjoy…  The other lectures of this series, including the last one of French Christianity and philosophy, will eventually make their way onto the new Global Green University website.

 

 

 

 

 

THOUGHTS ON THE MASSACRE OF BEZIERS AND THE MEANING BEHIND THE (1209 – 1244) CATHAR WAR, JULY 22, 1209 FOR OUR TIMES

The following is a short talk I have prepared concerning the tragic massacre at Béziers in the South West of France, which took place on Mary Magdalene’s Day on July 22, 1209. This was the first tragic event of the long conflict known as the Cathar War, which took place from 1209 to 1244, when the Castle of Montsegur finally surrendered. Countless Cathars were massacred, their spiritual elders were burned alive and thousands of innocent victims, who happened to follow a different version of Christianity than that officially taught by the Papacy in Rome, paid with their lives for retaining a more primitive and original form of Gnostic Christianity, probably closer to that actually taught by Jesus Christ and his innermost disciples and coworkers such as Mary Magdalene, Thomas and John. in this talk I discuss the significance of the massacre at Beziers for today’s global politics, and make the links to the events following 9/11 and the tragic destruction of the World Trade centre. Yet without having any real judicial or forensic inquiry, the USA used this event, which all rational inquiry reveals as partly down to an “inside job” as an excuse to launch an illegal war against Iraq, which in turn has led to the destabilization of the entire Middle East, as the local citizens understandably have turned to acts of terrorism in revenge, being the only way they can think of to cause trouble to a super-power.

 

So it was during the Cathar War, which was also about competing theological attempts to understanding ultimate reality, different explanations for why there is evil and suffering in the world, and different interpretations of who Christ was and why he had come. Then as now, the war lords and the people in political and military power, refused to listen to mediation, or the rational discourse of holistic thinkers who could have replaced the violence of the battlefield with he dialectic of the seminar room. Then as now, Sophiaphobia continues to haunt mankind, as we turn our backs on rationality and the love of wisdom, and pursue instead rhetoric, sophistry and violence, aimed at silencing those who would speak the truth, rather than listening to them. As Giles Quispel said, however, Gnosticism is the third vital current in European intellectual history, and has a way of popping up when all else seems lost. is there an authentic Gnosticism that we can marry up with  exoteric religion ? Can the esoteric and exoteric dimensions of our being make peace, finally, or must we continue to live through life after life of Gnostic wars, as the ghosts of the past continue to battle the spirits of the future ? This short talk addresses these points from a holistic philosophical perspective, and acts as a rallying call for all who are tired of the endless “Cathar Wars” of mankind, now fought in darkness beneath covert “terrorist and counter terrorist operations”, and who instead would rather see a genuine deep peace emerge in our times.

 

Here at the European Peace Museum we held a special study day on July 22 in honour of St Mary Magdalene and will continue with an annual confernece to debate her real meaning on that day from now on, which also happens to be the anniversary of this tragic massacre at Beziers in 1209.

 

AUGUST 6, 2017, ANNIVERSARY OF THE TRANSFIGURATION – A COMMENTARY ON LUKE 9

As well as being Hiroshima Day, which was a terrible event in human history, August 6 is also the day on which the universal Church celebrates the Transfiguration. This is a strange event in the life of Jesus Christ, when he retires to a high mountain peak, possibly Mount Hermon or Mont Tabor, with several of his closest disciples, and they watch in awe as, deep in prayer, the outer form of Jesus appears to change, and he becomes surrounded with a cloud of brilliant light. Then, miraculously, there appear at least two other Saints or Prophets from the past, Moses and Elijah, whom all the disciples up there on the mountain also see. Exactly what did this even mean ? How important was it ? Can it have been real or was it merely a legend, a later myth, invented by human speculation ? In this commentary on the 9th chapter of the Gospel of Luke, I go into this question in some depth. Later on, I discovered that I had recorded this talk exactly on the anniversary of the transfiguration itself, which was such a synchronicity that I had to share this recording for the benefit of friends and students and around the world. Luke Chapter 9 also gives us other important stories, and confirms for the first time the death of John the Baptist, so I use this as an opportunity to discuss in detail the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus – were they rivals ? Why do some Gnostic schools such as the Mandaeans still believe John the Baptist was the greater teacher ? There are many mysteries associated with this tradition and I explore them in some detail. The Knights Templars seem to have regarded John the Baptist as very important, as did the Cathars before them. The Knights of St John who inherited the templar lands were dedicated to John the Baptist from the beginning. This is not your normal or average biblical commentary, but something very different, which has not been hitherto attempted (to my knowledge) in which I am combing both conventional textual based scholarship, as well as drawing on the range of apocryphal and Gnostic writings that have been discovered or rediscovered only in recent decades, and in which I am trying to explain these writings “from within” so to speak. It draws on my hypothesis of “transpersonal history” and tries to explain with as much clarity as possible, how an attempt to understand the spiritual psychology of Jesus can explain what happened in the last two thousand years of the religious life of mankind. If we are to get an interfaith peace treaty that all faiths can sign up to, then we are going to have to understand all our textual and scriptural traditions in a new way, combining scientific analysis with transpersonal understanding. This is what I am attempting in these Commentaries, but they are not for the faint hearted, for whom “faith” is not to be reasoned over, or struggled with, but simply to be accepted blindly.. Nor is it intended just for “Christians” but also for people of all other faiths, or none.. Let no one afraid to think enter here, for this Commentary is a strong medicine against Sophiaphobia.. ..

It is also fitting perhaps that this day, August 6 is also an important day to the peace movement, commemorating the tragic dropping of the first atomic bomb in human history, which killed over 150,000 people and reduced a beautiful Japanese city, a town of advanced culture, and home to many Japanese Christians, to a pile of poisonous rubble..

Just as Hiroshima represents the negative transfiguration of matter, at the hands of dark alchemists intent on using wisdom for violent ends, the transfiguration of Jesus represents the positive transmutation of matter by spirit, for the purpose of enlightenment and ushering in a new deeper wisdom about reality.

It is up to each one of us to decide: which kind of transfiguration would we like to witness in our time on earth ?

Initial response to the UK General Election Result June 9, 2017

UK Election results need close analysis, but one fact stands out as glaringly obvious: the combined Labour and Liberal Democrat, Greens and SNP and other progressive votes was 17,310,953.. But the total of combined Conservative, UKIP and DUP votes was only 14,625,348. And yet this latter grouping are about to form a new government. This is a totally weird aspect of UK politics due to a lack of genuine proportional representation. The Democratic Unionist party have 10 MP’s and a total vote of 297,316 – which means that each vote cost them 29,731 votes. Yet they are about to become a governing party, in effect, and prop up the Tory Brexiteers. Yet the Liberal Democrats got 2,368,048 votes. Yet they only got 12 MP’s. Each MP cost them 197,337. So the first reflection to muse on is the urgent need to reform our electoral system to introduce proportional representation. We are into new waters here, but if the Tories (plus Democratic Unionist Party) try to implement their Brexit plans, with such a poor base, and such a shaky majority in Parliament, it is likely to lead to widespread feelings of discontent throughout the UK. Theresa May should consider her position and step down. there should be a new election under genuine proportional representation, and the Greens, the Lib Democrats, SNP and Labour and all other progressive parties should campaign for this in Westminster. The SNP won in Scotland, even if they suffered some losses and they still have an electoral mandate to push for a second referendum for Scottish independence if Westminster does not abandon their hard Brexit plans. Labour also did well and Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party deserves congratulations for his election campaign. The above figures are based on 649 out of 650 seats declared. Here are the details for those who like to work out the mathematics for themselves. The fact that we need a truly proportional representation system to properly reflect the combined will of the people of the entire UK is glaringly obvious. The government that Theresa May and the DUP are proposing to form is demonstrably a non-representative minority who do not actually reflect the people who voted yesterday for a different kind of UK. Another absurdity of the present system is that whereas the greens won 524,604 votes nationwide, it only has one MP. So their one MP is worth  524,604 votes. yet the DUP MP’s are each worth only 29,731 votes. Yet the DUP are about to seize power with the Tories and implement their Brexit nationalism due to the vagaries of the UK un-representational electoral system. How long before it all unravels and the UK falls apart as in previous warnings ? This is a sober time to reflect on how we can genuinely update this electoral system for a modern age, and who has the political will to implement this ? It is a shame Nic Clegg lost his seat. He needs to come back and help with this important work that faces us as a nation – rebuilding our covenant with democracy, wisdom and social love. A shame also that Angus Robertson lost, as he had a good political mind – he will return. It brings to mind the need for a new definition of government for political philosophy: “Government is a system whereby a minority can impose its will against the majority of a people”

With 650 out of 650 seats declared:

Conservatives: 318 seats (-13). 13,650,900 votes. 42.4% share

Labour: 262 seats (+30). 12,858,652 votes. 40% share

SNP: 35 seats (-21). 977,569 votes. 3% share

Liberal Democrats: 12 seats (+4). 2,368,048 votes. 7.4% share

DUP: 10 seats (+2). 292,316 votes. 0.9% share

Sinn Fein: 7 seats (+3). 238,915 votes. 0.7% share

Plaid Cymru: 4 seats (+1). 164,466 votes. 0.5% share

Greens: 1 seat (=). 524,604 votes. 1.6% share

UKIP: 0 seats (-1). 593,852 votes. 1.8% share

SDLP: 0 seats (-1). 95,419 votes. 0.3% share

UUP: 0 seats (-1). 83,280 votes. 0.3% share

Alliance: 0 seats (-1). 83,280 votes. 0.3% share

Yorkshire Party: 0 seats (=). 64,553 votes. 0.2% share

National Health Action: 0 seats (=). 20,958 votes. 0.1% share

Christian Peoples Alliance: 0 seats (=). 16,119 votes. 0.1% share

BNP: 0 seats (=). 5,869 votes. 0% share

Monster Raving Loony Party: 0 seats (=). 4,642 votes. 0% share

Women’s Equality Party: 0 seats (=). 3,890 votes. 0% share

 

An address to the voters of the United Kingdom who are either Freemasons themselves or who have family who are Freemasons or belong to groups founded by Freemasons

The enclosed is a short address for the voters in the UK who are either freemasons themselves or who have freemasons in the family, or who belong to a group that was founded by freemasons. The speaker was born in Canada but to English parents, his father coming from Warwickshire and his mother from Yorkshire, George and Eileen Daffern – they met in London during the blitz during world war two. (A website has been setting up giving our family history in depth – https://daffernfamily.wordpress.com/). Thomas has lived in Brighton and Sussex for many years and studied at Brighton College and Brighton Hove and Sussex Grammar School. Then he studied at Bristol University (Philosophy) and then London University (History) before completing a PhD at the University of London in modern intellectual history and the search for peace from 1945-2001. he was tasked with creating an International institute for Peace Studies at the University of London where he worked from 1989-1999. He has taught both at the Universities of London and Oxford. He has also lived on Bredon Hill in Worcestershire for 7 years and later trained as a religious studies teacher and taught in schools in Wales, at Builth Well and Llandrindod Wells, then Dorset (Poole Grammar School) and Nottinghamshire (Sherwood Hall School) as well as schools in Wiltshire and Sussex, where he has served as head of religious education. As part of his degree and other researches he has studied the history of freemasonry in depth for many years and written about this fascinating topic.

His remarks in this short address are aimed at all those voters in England faced with a momentous choice in the coming election. The speaker set up the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy in 1991 at the University of London which is now based at the European Peace Museum in Limousin, France.  He also chairs the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Britain and Ireland, which has met both in Wales, England, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland over recent years. This talk addresses the problems and challenges that will result if the UK government based in Whitehall, and run by the Conservative Party, steam ahead with its plans for a complete exit of the UK from the European Union. The voters of Northern Ireland and Scotland rejected Brexit as an option in the 2016 referendum and decided to remain as part of the European Union. There were many reasons for this, not least the voters of Northern Ireland did not want to see  a return of a hard border between the Southern and Northern part of the island. The majority of Northern Irish voters  were against Brexit, and since the negative impact of that original decision are becoming clearer by the minute, it is probable that given another referendum, the voters of Northern Ireland would now almost certainly vote to rejoin together with the Republic of Ireland as one country, to remain inside the European Union, rather than leave.  Certainly, they have the agreed legal right for the question to be put to them in a referendum of their own.  It is incredible that the decision by the Conservative government under Theresa May to implement a hard Brexit (notwithstanding that the majority of Scottish and Northern Irish voters were in favour of remaining in the European Union) is yet more proof of the way that the Westminster bubble ignore the wishes of voters in the Celtic fringe.  The result is that in all probability the voters of Scotland will also now decide, in a second referendum, to come out of the UK rather than to leave the EU, but sadly the majority of English and Welsh voters haven’t yet realised the significance of this fact. Likewise the voters of Northern Ireland will probably vote to come outside the UK for the reasons given above.   The implications of the breakup of the UK as a result of Brexit are so serious that we now need to pause and reconsider the whole situation. The Liberal Democratic Party standing in this election represents a voice of reason that wants to renegotiate the Brexit policy and to hold a second referendum eventually and to rethink the whole idea of Brexit, rather than risk breaking up the UK itself over this policy. At this coming election the voters in England have a chance to reject the party that is pushing for hard Brexit, namely the Conservatives, (ironically with the tacit support of the Labour Party) and to vote for parties that genuinely oppose Brexit and all that it stands for. This might be the last general election we have the chance to prevent the UK from breaking up forever.  Please listen in if you want to save your country from breaking up ! While some freemasonic  voters might not care if the UK breaks up, this is certainly not the view of  this speaker, as the effect of a UK break up would be infinitely worse economically, socially and culturally than any ill effects from being members of the European Union – which has in fact brought great cultural and economic advantages to the people of the UK taken as a whole. Where there is the slightest chance of a Liberal Democrat getting elected, the speaker urges colleagues to vote for them as the most serious realistic opposition to the Conservative policies that are on the table at this election, while the Labour Party have been giving tactical support to the Conservative Party for their brexit policies which are going to result in the destruction of the UK entirely in the medium term. The author draws on his many years of experience as a philosopher, historian and teacher of religious studies in making this address. Thank you for listening. Modern European society is very much working with cultural assumptions that have been bequeathed to modernity from the profound freemasonic heritage of European culture and civilisation, in France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, Greece, Holland, Scandinavia etc. At a time when these liberal values are under attack globally from extremist pseudo-religious or political ideologies, now is not the time to be breaking up the United Kingdom or the European Union, in the authors considered option. Freemasonry stands for building the temple of wisdom, a work not of a day, but of centuries, and what has taken centuries to build up, should not so lightly be knocked down again. Thank you for listening.

Thomas has done lots of specialised academic work on the history of freemasonry over the years and the enclosed gives an overview of his research on this topic.

REVIEW OF IIPSGP DIRECTOR’S ACADEMIC KNOWLEDGE, TEACHING AND RESEARCH EXPERIENCE N FREEMASONIC PHILOSOPHICAL AND RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS

STUDY AND WRITING:
Commenced study of Freemasonic tradition and history as part of history degree at University of London 1985-1988; wrote detailed extended essay on “Towards a History of the Inter-relations of Esotericism and Marxism: the Freemasonic Dimension”; made detailed study of history of Freemasonry in the period of the enlightenment in European history and the contributions of enlightened Freemasons to advancement of political liberalism, toleration and human rights (Locke, Voltaire, Jefferson etc.) First inspired by the work of James Billington Librarian of Congress to consider the role of freemasonry in French and European society.  Discovered work of Nicholas Hans (Prof of Comparative Education at Institute of Education and his paper on “UNESCO of the 18th century: the Lodge of the 9 Sisters”; made detailed study of the history of freemasonry in Early modern European, including  Russian and East European intellectual history and the contribution of freemasonry to educational history; explored history of contributions of Freemasonry to American and French revolutions and to the history of Scotland and the Jacobite revolts; detailed studies made of the persecution of Freemasons by Nazi and Fascist regimes (Franco, Mussolini, Hitler in 20th century history); and also the closure of Masonic lodges by the Leninist Bolshevik regimes and by other intolerant theocratic states (Khomeini’s post revolutionary Iran, Taliban run Afghanistan, Iraq after the downfall of the monarchy etc.); detailed study of the contribution of Freemasonry to the history of esoteric religious ideas and religious reform (all traditions); study of the inevitable corruptions which have entered into some Masonic groups and circles and the whole question of “conspiracy theories” (which sometimes tend to have an anti-Masonic thrust) and their study as a pseudo-religious phenomenon; undertaken considerable research into theories of the origins of freemasonry, including: Templar theory, Rosicrucian theory, Gnostic and Cathar theories, theory of origin as continuation of ancient mystery schools of classical antiquity, or theory of Phoenician, Solomonic or Egyptian origin; consider their contribution to religious and intellectual history important; paper submitted to International Congress of the History of Freemasonry, Edinburgh, 2013. Have worked extensively on links between Druidry and other pagan traditions and freemasonry, including influence of classical paganism (Dionysian artificers) on the origins of freemasonry. Set up the Pagan Academic and Educational Network to examine in depth the history of paganism including the pagan origins of freemasonry in European history. Have also worked on the history of freemasonic contributions to teh history of education, building on the work of Nicholas Hans and the pansophic traditions of the 17th century enlightenment onwards. Included in PhD thesis on the search for peace 1945-2001 the question of freemasonic contributions to peace efforts globally and the way that anti-freemasonry has played a role in terrorist ideologies such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots. Have also studied extensively the history of the linkages between anti Semitism and anti-freemasonry, and diagnosed their common origins in Sophiaphobia (teh fear of wisdom). Authored Sophiaphobia to help counter this problem. Discussed anti freemasonry in two lectures launching the study of Comparative Diabology in 2015 in Oxford and London. As chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Middle East have chaired discussions aimed at easing ideological conflicts between freemasonic and anti freemasonic activists in a variety of different cultural contexts. Have written specialised research on the history of freemasonry in the Near and Middle East including the Balkans, Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Israel, Palestine etc. Have also written about the suppression of freemasonry by the Bolshevik government from 1917 onwards and the anti-Masonic propaganda of both Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany and their period of rapprochement during  the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939-1941. Currently writing a historical study of 9/11 and its consequences and will be considering the possibility of pseudo-Masonic involvement in the operation as a false flag excuse to invade Iraq, an extremely anti-Masonic regime, along with other historical explanatory hypotheses. Also currently (2017) researching a historical study of French freemasonic, occult and esoteric groups active since the 18th century onwards and their role in French politics and society behind the scenes including during the French revolution and contemporary French and European political and cultural life.

Towards A History Of The Interrelations Of Marxism And Esotericism Unique study of 18th and 19th century radical freemasonry and its influence. The book takes a detailed look at the rise of freemasonry in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and examines the strange ambivalence of Marx and Engels’ attitude to freemasonry and related secret societies such as the carbonari. The work argues that the secret organisation of communist cells in fact owed a great deal to the earlier conspiratorial milieu of freemasonry and also finds considerable overlaps in their ideological orientations. The work attempts to chart a course which is neither anti-masonry nor pro-masonry, nor anti-Marxism nor pro-Marxism, and instead it is an early essay in transpersonal history, which seeks to uncover the deeper patterns behind history from both a spiritual and scientific perspective alike.
Druidry And Transpersonal History The aim of this Mt Haemus research is to examine Druid history in the light of developments in 20th century transpersonal psychology, including Jung, Maslow, Wilber and Grof and to assess their potential for contributing to the development of transpersonal history, which in turn can be used to re-examine Druid history. The paper builds on from the author’s doctoral thesis, which argued for the need for a new genre of historiography (like feminist history, or economic history) namely transpersonal history, arguing that we need an objective, scientific way of doing historical research, that can take cognizance of the subjective and spiritual dimensions of people’s lives, and the immense implications such inner experiences can have for outer events and circumstances
Towards The  Intellectual,  Educational And Cultural History Of The Search For Peace During The Post World War Two Era 1945-2001: The potential contribution of transpersonal theory to peace historiography and multifaith and multicultural conflict resolution and education A contribution to  historical scholarship, philosophy of history and the specifics of conflict resolution dynamics, seen through the lenses of philosophy, theology, religious studies, psychology, proposing a new field “transpersonal history” – PhD thesis, University of London, awarded 2008. The thesis also explores the esoteric dimensions of modern history and the extent to which Masonic and anti-masonic cultures have been clashing behind the scenes in recent conflicts and to what extent these varying cultures can be reconciled and peace can be restored among them.
Towards a comparative Diabology (part one) Talk given at the University of Oxford in Feb 2015, calling for the establishment of a new discipline, “Comparative Diabology” which would study objectively, historically,  scientifically and psychologically, the ideas and teaching of the various thinkers and faith traditions on the nature of the Devil, or Devils (Lucifer, Satan, Mara, Ahriman, Angra Mainyu etc.)  and how they have arisen in the first place and what we can do about them, arguing that these ideas negatively impact on the possibility of solving and healing the current conflicts blighting the planet which are inter-faith and inter-religious in nature with each side accusing the other of being “diabolic”. The talk includes discussion of the extent to which Masonic and anti-Masonic rhetoric has contributed to the demonisation of the freemason in popular modern culture, and to what extent this was a throw back from mediaeval attitudes towards the Templars as diabolic, or Cathars and other victims of crusading mentality.
Towards a comparative Diabology (part two) Talk given at the University of London – part two of the above (available as an audio recording, not yet transcribed)
INTERFAITH PEACE TREATY The Interfaith Peace Treaty is a comprehensive attempt to create a lasting solution to the ongoing religious and ideological conflicts raging on planet earth. Different tribes, factions, elements and parties are jostling each other for supremacy, and the vast array of modern weaponry means that it is all too easy to inflict major casualties on rival armies and armed gangs. Whole countries are racked with civil wars and chaotic ongoing conflicts, either in the whole country or in substantial parts of them. Often these conflicts have an element of religious identity as one faction fights another for hegemony. The proposal for this INTERFAITH PEACE TREATY therefore is that the world’s various religious and philosophical traditions can and should sign up to a lasting peace treaty, whereby they pledge to sublimate their ideological wars for hegemony into academic and scientific debate, dialogue, research and intellectual discourse. The Treaty proposes among other things that Freemasons and other religious and spiritual and ethical groups sign this Interfaith Peace treaty and thus commit to not attacking, denigrating, belittling or demonizing one another.

TEACHING:
Teaching classes on History of Freemasonry on panel of London region WEA from 1992-2000
Teaching classes on History of Freemasonry for Birkbeck College, University of London 1993-1999
Teaching classes on History of Freemasonry for University of Oxford 1997-2000
Invited to present paper on “Towards a History of the Inter-relations of Esotericism and Marxism: the Freemasonic Dimension” at the London School of Economics (graduate studies seminar on Religious Studies) under Prof. Eileen Barker, Dean of Social Sciences, LSE (University of London)

Teaching adult classes on contemporary and historical aspects of freemasonry in Wales, Sussex and Scotland under auspices of IIPSGP, 2001-2017.

Teaching adult education classes on aspects of the history of freemasonry in France 2017-

VISITS: Visit to Headquarters of Grand Orient Mother Lodge of French Freemasons, Paris (1993) Several visits to United Grand Lodge of England, Queen Street, London, including the museum and a visit accompanying students from the religious studies graduate course at London School of Economics with Eileen Barker, Dean of Undergraduate Studies (1992-9). Visited Headquarters of Freemasons of Scotland, Edinburgh including the historical Museum and other sites associated with Scottish freemasonry such as Roslyn Chapel, and Dunfermline Abbey. Visited Dunoon Lodge in Argyll and Marquess of Bute’s Mount Stuart, replete with Masonic significances.

ACQUAINTANCE WITH THE LITERATURE: Accrued library of Freemasonic texts and scholarly works, covering all  schools; user of several libraries with Masonic collections including: Theosophical Society, British Library, London Library, United Grand Lodge of England Library; inherited personal library of Masonic works from relative  (senior Mason of Scottish origin and Grand Master of University Lodge in Newcastle).

COMMUNITY AND FAITH PARTICIPATION AND ACTIVITY: Made deliberate decision not to join a specific lodge of freemasons so as to retain academic freedom of investigation concerning their history, rituals, and contribution to intellectual life and religious and political work in world affairs.

COLLEAGUES, CONTACTS, FRIENDS; know several friends and colleagues who are freemasons  and have intervened on occasion when they have been subject to abuse, attack or persecution from non-freemasons; much inspired by many past freemasons with their contributions to world culture, literature, philosophy, science, education etc. (Goethe, Pestallozi, Jefferson, Bentham, Mozart, Beethoven, Priestley et al). Also dealt with inter-faith mediation cases involving allegations against misuse of power by freemasons. Known many English, Welsh and Scottish freemasons over the years as friends.

 

 

 

An Address to the people of England regarding the forthcoming election on June 8 2017

The enclosed is a short address for the voters of England regarding the coming election. The speaker was born in Canada but to English parents, his father coming from Warwickshire and his mother from Yorkshire, George and Eileen Daffern – they met in London during the blitz during world war two. (A website has been setting up giving our family history in depth – https://daffernfamily.wordpress.com/). Thomas has lived in Brighton and Sussex for many years and studied at Brighton College and Brighton Hove and Sussex Grammar School. Then he studied at Bristol University (Philosophy) and then London University (History) before completing a PhD at the University of London in modern intellectual history and the search for peace from 1945-2001. he was tasked with creating an International institute for Peace Studies at the University of London where he worked from 1989-1999. He has taught both at the Universities of London and Oxford. He has also lived on Bredon Hill in Worcestershire for 7 years and later trained as a religious studies teacher and taught in schools in Wales, at Builth Well and Llandrindod Wells, then Dorset (Poole Grammar School) and Nottinghamshire (Sherwood Hall School) as well as schools in Wiltshire and Sussex, where he has served as head of religious education. His remarks in this short address are aimed at all those voters in England faced with a momentous choice in the coming election. The speaker set up the International Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy in 1991 at the University of London which is now based at the European Peace Museum in Limousin, France.  He also chairs the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Britain and Ireland, which has met both in Wales, England, Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland over recent years. This talk addresses the problems and challenges that will result if the UK government based in Whitehall, and run by the Conservative Party, steam ahead with its plans for a complete exit of the UK from the European Union. The voters of Northern Ireland and Scotland rejected Brexit as an option in the 2016 referendum and decided to remain as part of the European Union. There were many reasons for this, not least the voters of Northern Ireland did not want to see  a return of a hard border between the Southern and Northern part of the island. The majority of Northern Irish voters  were against Brexit, and since the negative impact of that original decision are becoming clearer by the minute, it is probable that given another referendum, the voters of Northern Ireland would now almost certainly vote to rejoin together with the Republic of Ireland as one country, to remain inside the European Union, rather than leave.  Certainly, they have the agreed legal right for the question to be put to them in a referendum of their own.  It is incredible that the decision by the Conservative government under Theresa May to implement a hard Brexit (notwithstanding that the majority of Scottish and Northern Irish voters were in favour of remaining in the European Union) is yet more proof of the way that the Westminster bubble ignore the wishes of voters in the Celtic fringe.  The result is that in all probability the voters of Scotland will also now decide, in a second referendum, to come out of the UK rather than to leave the EU, but sadly the majority of English and Welsh voters haven’t yet realised the significance of this fact. Likewise the voters of Northern Ireland will probably vote to come outside the UK for the reasons given above.   The implications of the breakup of the UK as a result of Brexit are so serious that we now need to pause and reconsider the whole situation. The Liberal Democratic Party standing in this election represents a voice of reason that wants to renegotiate the Brexit policy and to hold a second referendum eventually and to rethink the whole idea of Brexit, rather than risk breaking up the UK itself over this policy. At this coming election the voters in England have a chance to reject the party that is pushing for hard Brexit, namely the Conservatives, (ironically with the tacit support of the Labour Party) and to vote for parties that genuinely oppose Brexit and all that it stands for. This might be the last general election we have the chance to prevent the UK from breaking up forever.  Please listen in if you want to save your country from breaking up ! While some English voters might not care if the UK breaks up, this is certainly not the view of  this speaker, as the effect of a UK break up would be infinitely worse economically, socially and culturally than any ill effects from being members of the European Union – which has in fact brought great cultural and economic advantages to the people of the UK taken as a whole. Other English voters might think that a vote for the Labour party is the best way to stop the conservative government. However, where there is the slightest chance of a Liberal Democrat getting elected, the speaker urges colleagues to vote for them as the most serious realistic opposition to the Conservative policies that are on the table at this election, while the Labour Party have been giving tactical support to the Conservative Party for their brexit policies which are going to result in the destruction of the UK entirely in the medium term. the author draws on his many years of experience as a philosopher, historian and teacher of religious studies in making this address. Thank you for listening.

 

A short address to voters in the coming UK General Election June 8 2017 who regard themselves as Socialists, Communists or Marxists or on the “Broad Left”

In this short talk Thomas Daffern addresses all of us in the UK who regard themselves as socialists, communists, Marxists or social democrats and who are now faced with a choice about the forthcoming general election. Who to vote for ? Which party ? Which MP’s ? The overall fact of the situation is that we are faced with the looming threat of Brexit and the almost certain breakup of the UK if that poorly taken decision is imposed on all parts of this country. In spite of the fact that neither Northern Ireland nor Scotland voted for Brexit, they are possibly going to have it imposed on them regardless of their own democratic views. The strong likelihood therefore is that both those parts of the UK will leave rather than accept this. In my view it is time therefore to rethink this whole plan, and rather than accepting Brexit, we should be voting for parties and politicians who do not accept Brexit at the forthcoming General Election, in the authors opinion. In the case of Brexit, with hindsight, and rational thought, to oppose the EU now seems like an act of political miscalculation and runs the danger of releasing the genie of rampant ethnic-nationalism once again out of the bottle, and which has caused so much mischief in European history in the past. For example, the fact is that neither Northern Ireland nor Scotland voted for Brexit, and they are therefore 99% certain to leave the UK as a result of having Brexit imposed against their wills. This outcome cannot be what the Brexit referendum result was intended to cause, but it will happen by default. If the question had read “Do you hate the EU so much you would like to see the UK break up and England and Wales leave the EU alone, with Scotland and Northern Ireland remaining inside” how many voters would have ticked the box saying “YES” to this ? Yet that is the imminent result hanging on this coming election on June 8. Now, if we can see imminent self-destruction looking as a nation, we should surely take remedial action. A pilot flying a plane when confronted by an imminent air disaster, swerves to avoid impact. To not do so, because the flight path has been “pre-set” would be the worst folly from an atheist or agnostic stand  or any other ethical  perspective. We have the right, indeed the duty, to change our minds mid-flight. Socialism  is premised on the capacity of the human mind to think rationally about complex ethical dilemmas. Many Brexit voters are resorting to foul mouthed abuse and say “Brexit means Brexit” with a sneer as if to question what that actually means, or what its implications are, is somehow a crime. But to break up the UK without rhyme or reason seems to this author at least a far worse crime, and one which any rational socialist would surely wish to be dissociated from. The United Kingdom by definition is a peaceful state in the highest sense which unity stands for, and therefore to break it up knowingly and to vote for a party (Conservative or UKIP or even Labour)  that has policies which will lead to its breaking up, is contrary to right reason and common sense.  But if we reject Brexit and also therefore reject the breakup of the United Kingdom, what are we voting for positively ? Which party can provide some kind of positive vision for the future ?  In this talk, Thomas Daffern gives a detailed overview of these complex issues from a socialist perspective and draws on his years of study and research. The author is also Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Middle East and hopes that by keeping the UK together and staving off its imminent self-destruction, we can preserve it to play a more positive future role in peace-making in the Middle East, by drawing on our influential roles within the United Nations, the Commonwealth and also the European Union, By keeping the UK inside the European Union, the author also hopes that the UK can encourage our European colleagues not to build a European army, but rather to manifest a fully irenic function for the EU by establishing a European Union Mediation Service.

 

A short address to voters in the coming UK General Election June 8 2017 who regard themselves as atheists, agnostics or humanists

In this short talk Thomas Daffern addresses all of us in the UK who regard themselves as atheists or agnostics or humanists and who are now faced with a choice about the forthcoming general election. Who to vote for ? Which party ? Which MP’s ? The overall fact of the situation is that we are faced with the looming threat of Brexit and the almost certain breakup of the UK if that poorly taken decision is imposed on all parts of this country. In spite of the fact that neither Northern Ireland nor Scotland voted for Brexit, they are possibly going to have it imposed on them regardless of their own democratic views. The strong likelihood therefore is that both those parts of the UK will leave rather than accept this. In my view it is time therefore to rethink this whole plan, and rather than accepting Brexit, we should be voting for parties and politicians who do not accept Brexit at the forthcoming General Election, in the authors opinion. In the case of Brexit, with hindsight, and rational thought, to oppose the EU now seems like an act of political miscalculation and runs the danger of releasing the genie of rampant ethnic-nationalism once again out of the bottle, and which has caused so much mischief in European history in the past. For example, the fact is that neither Northern Ireland nor Scotland voted for Brexit, and they are therefore 99% certain to leave the UK as a result of having Brexit imposed against their wills. This outcome cannot be what the Brexit referendum result was intended to cause, but it will happen by default. If the question had read “Do you hate the EU so much you would like to see the UK break up and England and Wales leave the EU alone, with Scotland and Northern Ireland remaining inside” how many voters would have ticked the box saying “YES” to this ? Yet that is the imminent result hanging on this coming election on June 8. Now, if we can see imminent self-destruction looking as a nation, we should surely take remedial action. A pilot flying a plane when confronted by an imminent air disaster, swerves to avoid impact. To not do so, because the flight path has been “pre-set” would be the worst folly from an atheist or agnostic stand  or any other ethical  perspective. We have the right, indeed the duty, to change our minds mid-flight. Humanism (another word for agnosticism or atheism in some circles) is premised on the capacity of the human mind to think rationally about complex ethical dilemmas. Many Brexit voters are resorting to foul mouthed abuse and say “Brexit means Brexit” with a sneer as if to question what that actually means, or what its implications are, is somehow a crime. But to break up the UK without rhyme or reason seems to this author at least a far worse crime, and one which any rational humanist would surely wish to be dissociated from. The United Kingdom by definition is a peaceful state in the highest sense which unity stands for, and therefore to break it up knowingly and to vote for a party (Conservative or UKIP or even Labour)  that has policies which will lead to its breaking up, is contrary to right reason and common sense.  But if we reject Brexit and also therefore reject the breakup of the United Kingdom, what are we voting for positively ? Which party can provide some kind of positive vision for the future ?  In this talk, Thomas Daffern gives a detailed overview of these complex issues from a humanist perspective and draws on his years of study and research. The author is also Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Middle East and hopes that by keeping the UK together and staving off its imminent self-destruction, we can preserve it to play a more positive future role in peace-making in the Middle East, by drawing on our influential roles within the United Nations, the Commonwealth and also the European Union, By keeping the UK inside the European Union, the author also hopes that the UK can encourage our European colleagues not to build a European army, but rather to manifest a fully irenic function for the EU by establishing a European Union Mediation Service.

 

An Address to Jain practitioners in the UK regarding the June 8 2017 General Election

In this short talk Thomas Daffern addresses all of us in the UK who are members of the Jain community and who are now faced with a choice about the forthcoming general election. Who to vote for ? Which party ? Which MP’s ? The overall fact of the situation is that we are faced with the looming threat of Brexit and the almost certain breakup of the UK if that poorly taken decision is imposed on all parts of this country. In spite of the fact that neither Northern Ireland nor Scotland voted for Brexit, they are possibly going to have it imposed on them regardless of their own democratic views. The strong likelihood therefore is that both those parts of the UK will leave rather than accept this. In my view it is time therefore to rethink this whole plan, and rather than accepting Brexit, we should be voting for parties and politicians who do not accept Brexit at the forthcoming General Election, in the authors opinion. Jains are now an established and vibrant part of British society, with many Jains living in different parts of the UK. Since many have come to the UK from India, it might have been thought appropriate to vote to leave the EU so we can focus more on Commonwealth matters. But in fact this is a false distinction, since it is not an “either Commonwealth or EU” but rather a both / and decision that works best for everyone. Furthermore, although somewhat exotic as a philosophy, in fact Jainism came to Europe many centuries ago with the teachings of Pyrrho of Elis, the philosopher who travelled to India with Alexander the great, and who met Jain philosophers in India in the 4th century BC. His teachings of scepticism were strongly influenced by Jain ideas. Since then scepticism entered mainstream European philosophical thought through Cicero and the late academic school, and revived int eh time of the renaissance before becoming  mainstream in modern academia. Contemporary British is perhaps one of the most “sceptical” of all European societies. Yet for Jains, it is also known that mere scepticism alone is not enough, one must also have a living commitment to non-violence. And non-violence means choosing the path that is less likely to cause war, violence and suffering, through intelligence. In the case of Brexit, with hindsight, and rational thought, to oppose the EU now seems like an act of political miscalculation and runs the danger of releasing the genie of rampant ethnic-nationalism once again out of the bottle, and which has caused so much mischief in European history in the past. For example, the fact is that neither Northern Ireland nor Scotland voted for Brexit, and they are therefore 99% certain to leave the UK as a result of having Brexit imposed against their wills. This outcome cannot be what the Brexit referendum result was intended to cause, but it will happen by default. If the question had read “Do you hate the EU so much you would like to see the UK break up and England and Wales leave the EU alone, with Scotland and Northern Ireland remaining inside” how many voters would have ticked the box saying “YES” to this ? Yet that is the imminent result hanging on this coming election on June 8. Now, if we can see imminent self-destruction looking as a nation, we should surely take remedial action. A pilot flying a plane when confronted by an imminent air disaster, swerves to avoid impact. To not do so, because the flight path has been “pre-set” would be the worst folly from a Jewish or any other ethical  perspective. We have the right, indeed the duty, to change our minds mid-flight. Jainism is premised on the capacity of the human mind to think rationally about complex ethical dilemmas. Many Brexit voters are resorting to foul mouthed abuse and say “Brexit means Brexit” with a sneer as if to question what that actually means, or what its implications are, is somehow a crime. But to break up the UK without rhyme or reason seems to this author at least a far worse crime, and one which any rational Jain would surely wish to be dissociated from. The United Kingdom by definition is a peaceful state in the highest mystical sense which unity stands for, and therefore to break it up knowingly and to vote for a party (Conservative or UKIP or even Labour)  that has policies which will lead to its breaking up, is contrary to right reason and common sense.  But if we reject Brexit and also therefore reject the breakup of the United Kingdom, what are we voting for positively ? Which party can provide some kind of positive vision for the future ?  In this talk, Thomas Daffern gives a detailed overview of these complex issues from a Jain perspective and draws on his years of study and research into its  teachings. The author is also Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Middle East and hopes that by keeping the UK together and staving off its imminent self-destruction, we can preserve it to play a more positive future role in peace-making in the Middle East, by drawing on our influential roles within the United Nations, the Commonwealth and also the European Union, By keeping the UK inside the European Union, the author also hopes that the UK can encourage our European colleagues not to build a European army, but rather to manifest a fully irenic function for the EU by establishing a European Union Mediation Service. These actions would be fully commensurate with the spiritual laws of all the ancient faiths and philosophies of the UK and European civilisation.

REVIEW OF IIPSGP DIRECTOR’S ACADEMIC  KNOWLEDGE, TEACHING AND RESEARCH EXPERIENCE IN JAIN RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS

STUDY AND WRITING:
Commenced study of Jain philosophy whilst an undergraduate philosophy student at Bristol University (1976/7); detailed study of Jain  scriptures, texts, philosophy (all schools) in Canada 1977-1981; continued study of contribution of Jain thought to history of global philosophy (especially through the transmission of idea of epoche and suspension of judgement to core Western academic tradition via Pyrhho of Elis, Carneades, Cicero etc. Continuing study of Jain philosophy as part of teaching work in religious studies 1993-2001. Published several essays in Jain journals on ahimsa and philosophy.

Ladnun Declaration, India  – December 1995 A proposal on linking global ecology,  peace and spirituality by 500 educators assembled in India
40 Questions Instead Of A Paper, 3rd International Conference on Peace and Nonviolence, Ladnun, 17-21 December 1995 40 key questions to a global educators in India
Questions instead of a paper for the 5th International Conference on Peace and Nonviolence, Rajasthan, 2003 A further set of philosophical questions presented to a conference in Rajasthan at the Jain University, Ladnun
The Jaipur Declaration: The 9 Petalled Flower of Peace A declaration written following a conference in Jaipur, Rajasthan, in 2014
“The 9 Petalled Flower Of Peace” Footnotes To The Jaipur Declaration This declaration has arisen out the conference of January 2014, in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India, hosted by the Anuvrat Vishva Bharati (Anuvibha) Jain organisation, in which eminent educators and peace activists from across the world, and from India, were invited to come together and discuss models for a peaceful, nonviolent and sustainable world society. After several days of discussion, the following Declaration is an attempt to sum up the fruits of our deliberations, and is couched in the form of the Anuvrat concept of small vows (anuvrat), to be undertaken by non-specialist religious practitioners or householders, who want to help mankind advance to a more peaceful path
2014.8. Some Reflections On Ahimsa In The Spiritual And Intellectual Spheres Of Being: The Periodic Table Of The World’s Religious And Philosophical Traditions As A Tool For Advancing  Non-Violence Between Religious And Philosophical Traditions” Talk in Delhi at Acharya Tulsi Memorial, September 26, 2014:  (Talk recorded and available on youtube IIPSGP1)
2014.9a. “In Memoriam for Acharya Tulsi: Further Experiments With Truth” Paper for Acharya Tulsi Memorial Conference, September 26-28, 2014:  (Published and available onm www.lulu.com/iipsgp as In Memoriam for Acharya Tulsi)
2014.9b.. A Vision Of Peace, Nonviolence And Sustainability Further contribution for Acharya Tulsi Memorial Conference Delhi, September 26-28, 2014;

 

TEACHING:
Teaching classes on Jainism on panel of London region WEA from 1992-2000
Teaching classes on Jainism for Birkbeck College, University of London 1993-1999
Teaching classes on Jainism for University of Oxford 1997-2000

Teaching adult classes on contemporary and historical aspects of Jainism in Wales,  Sussex and Scotland under auspices of IIPSGP, 2001-2012

RECENT EXPERIENCE:
Contributed paper in absentia to Jain Conference on Ecology and Peace and non-violence in Delhi December 2005 on The Economics of Peace (publication 2006); have taught aspects of Jain philosophy, especially non-violence in secondary schools and adult education in Powys, Shropshire, Coventry, Nottinghamshire and Dorset,  Wiltshire and Sussex.

VISITS:
Visited Jain temples in Rajasthan and campus of Jain University of Ladnun, only formally accredited Jain University in the world, where I was invited to address a large international conference of peace educators in 1995; and subsequently invited to write up the document which became the Conference Manifesto comprising “Ladnun Declaration on a Peaceful World Living in harmony with the environment”; visited Jain Exhibition at Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Returned to revisit Jain educational centres in Rajasthan in 1998, 2007, 2008. Invited again to India to receive the Anuvrat Ahimsa Award for International Peace in May 2011 in Jaipur, meeting with senior Jains. Visited Delhi to give lecture to Jain conference in honour of Acharya Tulsi, visited Jain University of Ladnun in Rajasthan, took part in Symposium on Natural Sciences and the Jain Tradition in Delhi (2014)

ACQUAINTANCE WITH THE LITERATURE:
Accrued library of Jain texts, translations, scholarly works, covering all schools; User of libraries with Jain collections including  SOAS, India Office, Theosophical Society, British Library etc. As Trustee, International Sacred Literature Trust, helped publish class Jain text, Tattvartha Sutra: That Which Is.

COMMUNITY AND FAITH PARTICIPATION AND ACTIVITY
Participated in several Jain religious rituals and ceremonies in India and the UK

COLLEAGUES, CONTACTS, FRIENDS: Numerous colleagues and friends from the Jain community including: especially Acharya Tulsi, Ganadipathi Mahapragya, Bawa Jain, the monks and nuns (samanis) of Ladnun and the former monk, Satish Kumar; Dr. L Gandhi of Jaipur (serving as Indian coordinator for the Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy)