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Eugene Halliday (1911–1987) was a British artist, philosopher and teacher. For a large part of his life he lived and taught in Manchester and Altrincham, England, giving talks, running groups and giving personal tuition to a large number of interested people. He was a gifted artist, a writer of books, plays and poetry as well as possessing a profound understanding of philosophy and religion. Much of his work centred around his interpretation of the esoteric ideas behind religion and he also practised and taught an approach to psychotherapy.
He gave the term "absolute sentient power" to what we would call God and said that sentience and thus consciousness was an inherent quality of this power and by extension of all substances and created beings. Beings, including ourselves are modalities of this power which we feel as a field of energy, from which and through which we are informed about ourselves and the world. The goal and purpose of life is to grow towards an awareness of our true nature which is not different from this field and the absolute sentient power itself. This consciousness he called "reflexive self-consciousness" (resec for short). The force which calls and drives beings to work towards resec is Love – which he defined as "a will to work for the development of the potentialities of all beings" (Halliday,Eugene: Contributions From a Potential Corpse Book 1, Melchisedec Press 1990, ISBN 1-872240-03-8, page 66). Because of his own understanding and wisdom he valued individuality and encouraged others to discover their own valid way to reveal reflexivity to themselves. His extraordinary breadth of knowledge allowed him to interpret ideas from a variety of sources and made him a true renaissance man.
International Hermeneutic Society (IHS)
The IHS was founded by Eugene Halliday and Khen Ratcliffe. It is a study and meditation centre (in Tan y Garth Hall) dedicated to the teachings of Eugene Halliday. Under the guidance of its tutors, Tan y Garth Hall offers the opportunity for students and teachers from all denominations and walks of life to come together and study the hermeneutic techniques and principles of Yoga both East and West. Eugene Halliday's books and talks are available from the IHS at Tan y Garth Hall.
What Is Hermeneutics?
Hermeneutics is the art of interpretation; the theory of the discovery and communication of the concepts and teachings of the scriptures of the world; the science of attaining clarity, by comprehending, explaining and establishing the sense of both traditional and biblical authors. It looks to the individual's own apprehension rather than the conveyance of the meaning ascertained to others, thereby enabling individuals to interpret for themselves in the light of their own experience.
Institute for the Study of Hierological Values (ISHVAL)
Eugene Halliday's work was wide ranging in scope, and he brought together into a coherent whole concepts from hierology (sacred texts), art, religion, philosophy, psychology and science. From his insight into human thought and motivation, he stated that no school of thought has access to the only truth about reality, that no one religion possesses the only true path to the divine. "Each great philosopher has been a doorway for a part of Truth" (Reflexive Self-Consciousness, p 4). In 1966 he founded the Charity ISHVAL, the Institute for the Study of Hierological Values, the objects of which are: a)The promotion and propagation of the principles of Truth in all Religions in order to achieve unity in interpretations of Sacred Writings between all denominations and mutual understanding and practice of the principles of Truth in a true spirit of ecumenism. b)The instruction and education of all persons desirous of learning in the study of hierological values in relation to religion and philosophy for the better appreciation and enjoyment of art and science and the purpose of life.
Ecumenism and the principles of truth in all religions
Halliday's ecumenism was of the most universal variety. While at the core of his teaching was the concept of the primacy of Jesus Christ, it came from an inner understanding of the nature of Love, and transcended the bounds of any religious orthodoxy. He had an integrated view of the development of world religions. "India's religion (Hinduism) is non-historical, concerns itself with the Eternal Recurrence, the Great Cycle, Days and Nights of Brahma that endlessly follow each other: Yoga is aimed to break the cycle by releasing the individual from Manvantara into eternal Nirvana." In Judaism, a select group of people were separated from the mass of animal-men and subjected to pressures which led to the attainment of group consciousness; their commandments were negative "Thou shalt not". Jesus Christ "presents the first true individuated person able to stand against the elect group". The commandments of Christianity were positive, "Thou shalt love". Having taught his disciples, he left them "so that they too may find themselves and become authors of their own being". "In Islam is no barrier of race or colour or class. The goal was not the individual as such, but the individual-able-to-relate-to-all-beings without self-loss or regression". "The one Eternal Religion which Hindu thought intuited appears in its historical aspect in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as Law (Father), Love (Son) and Illuminative Knowledge (Holy Ghost). The Fourth Revelation (Maitreya) will but put these three together as of equal validity in the cosmic plan." (The Halliday Review, Spring 2006, 'Religion – Eternity and Time', see external link for Ishval, below)
Central concepts in the work of Eugene Halliday
Advaita, or non-dualism
Halliday's philosophy is non-dualist, as in the Hindu concept of advaita, expounded by Adi Shankara and other advaitin philosophers. Advaita is sometimes described as a monistic philosophy, but Halliday is careful to distinguish it both from monism and pluralism, as a description of the nature of the universe, and our relationship to 'God' or 'absolute sentient power' (see above) (A.S.P.). "Infinity is not comprehensible in a monistic concept, for monism implies circumscription, which is encapsulation or finitisation [making finite]. Non-dualism and Non-pluralism refer to the Infinity of the Absolute Sentient Power (A.S.P.), the infinite modalising activities of which generate all noumena and phenomena. Monism is an attempt to grasp in a knowable concept that which is of itself unknowable, for to know is to finite form within the A.S.P." (Contributions from a Potential Corpse, Book II, p 101)
According to Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta, Brahman (God, or the Supreme Cosmic Spirit) is the only reality; Maya is the illusionary power of Brahman "which causes the Brahman to be seen as the illusory world"; the Atman (soul or self) is not different from Brahman (see Wikipedia article Advaita Vedanta).
Halliday's concept of 'A.S.P.' is related to the Hindu concept of Brahman, and to the Greek philosopher Anaximander's apeiron, the 'limitless or boundless' source of the world. "The Absolute is an infinite sentient power, an eternal continuum of motion. Because it is sentient it feels its own motion. Its motion is the content of its sentiency. It is from this fact that is derived the principle that says that a being knows only the modifications of its own substance; or consciousness is aware only of its own modalities" (Reflexive Self-Consciousness, p 10). Individual beings are rotatory motions, or modalities, within the A.S.P., and are not-different from It. And not only individual beings but all phenomena: "Ultimately we have to say that all things we know, all the ideas we think, and all the feeling states we experience, the totality of phenomena of all worlds, are merely modalities of the motion initiated and sustained by the Infinite Sentient Power we call God" (Halliday,Eugene: Contributions From a Potential Corpse Book 1, Melchisedec Press 1990, ISBN 1-872240-03-8, p 25).
All Published by Melchisedec Press, edited by David Mahlowe
- Eugene Halliday's books and talks are available at the IHS - IHS
- Defence of the Devil – ISBN 1-872240-00-3
- Reflexive Self-Consciousness – ISBN 1-872240-01-1
- The Tacit Conspiracy – ISBN 1-872240-02-X
- Contributions from a Potential Corpse (in four volumes) – ISBN 1-872240-03-8, ISBN 1-872240-04-6, ISBN 1-872240-06-2, ISBN 1-872240-07-0
- The Conquest of Anxiety – ISBN 1-872240-09-7
- Essays on God – ISBN 1-872240-08-9
- Through the Bible (in four volumes) – ISBN 1-872240-10-0, ISBN 1-872240-13-5, ISBN 1-872240-14-3, ISBN 1-872240-15-1
- Christian Philosophy (in two volumes) – ISBN 1-872240-16-X, ISBN 1-872240-17-8
- IHS - Study and Meditation Centre dedicated to the teachings of Eugene Halliday - founded by Eugene Halliday and Khen Ratcliffe
- IHS - Events
- Eugene Halliday Society
- Eugene Halliday Archive
- International Hermeneutic Society