About the Ardue Web Site
Ardue is the Anglicised version of Ard Dhubh (Black Point), a tiny hamlet on a small promontory attached to the much larger peninsula of Applecross in Wester Ross, Scotland. I chose it as the name for my Web site both for sentimental reasons and because I could be reasonably sure there would be little or no competition to have it registered as a recognised domain name!
The Ardue Weaver
I, Duncan Macdonald, the "Weaver" of this Web site, was born in Ardue and thought of it as 'home' for the first two decades of my life. Now that my space-time horizons have expanded, I currently view Planet Earth as my temporary home.
|A corner of Ardue. The family home
is on the right, in shadow.
Photo by Mŕiri Macdonald
The Original Impulse
These pages were originally compiled to promote my chief interests which could more freely and pleasantly be pursued in the naturally self-regulated subsistence economy that prevailed in the Ardue of my youth than in the regimented totalitarian state that now extends its interfering tentacles into every nook and cranny of British life. These interests are:
- Freedom of thought and expression, especially in speech, writing, and voluntary personal interaction for social, welfare, business, or educational purposes.
- Mutual help through community. As the world is now everyone's oyster, it no longer makes sense to define community merely in terms of locality. Although neighbourliness is as important as ever despite nationalised 'social' (i.e. fundamentally antisocial) services, many modern communities may appropriately be defined as interspersed networks of people with common interests.
- Scientific mysticism. The scientific method of study is applicable not only to the limited material or "physical" world but also to the infinite spiritual world. By exploring this world of living intelligent Spirit (which pervades all space, including the interiors of all physical bodies) we gain knowledge which enables us to discover for ourselves verifiable truths about the attributes of Spirit as well as the derived properties of matter.
- Holistic Education. Present-day Western materialist culture and schooling exaggerate the importance of the physical at the expense of the spiritual and thus tend to suffocate individual initiative and personal responsibility in favour of uncritical acceptance of commercial pressures and docile compliance with external authority vested in ever-larger political bureaucracies and large corporations both national and multinational. This de-humanising trend can be reversed only by the voluntary combination of well-balanced individuals who have taken the trouble to explore their personal potential and are ready to live freely in harmony with natural law rather than as slaves to a commercially-motivated politico-economic system.
- Applications of Computers as mental amplifiers.
- Through-Life Education. Childhood schooling, formal or informal, is seldom a sufficient foundation for later development and only a small minority have access to an expensive "higher" education. The compilation on this CD costs nothing but sustained student effort to constitute a significant contribution to the spiritual development which is the mainspring of all genuine education and which enables the individual student, regardless of age or circumstance, to become self-educating and self-evolving without limit.
- Informed Debate. The material herein was originally presented on the Internet in the hope that it might provide a focus for informed debate and a conduit for inspiration. I do not pretend to be an authority on anything. Hence, nothing you read here is to be taken as dogma or 'received truth'. All who read what I (or anyone else) has written, here or elsewhere, are encouraged to challenge every assertion and submit every suggestion to examination in the light of personal experience.
The Ardue Mailing List
This facility was set up so that readers of the Web site might correspond with me and with each other by means of a free private mailing list. It is still extant and will remain open to readers of this site (and of site copies on CD) until someone other than myself decides to close it. Membership of the List is restricted, meaning that the moderator approves all requests to join. To apply for membership of the list, send a blank e-mail to [email protected]
Applying to join a restricted group sends a message to the moderator who will approve your application. You will then be able to post messages to the list and receive messages posted by other members.
Once you have become a member, address your e-mails to [email protected]. Only members will be able to read your messages, and there is little likelihood that participation will make you a target for unwanted SPAM.
After the commencement of The Ardue "University" in October, 2004, I hoped that readers of the Web site would use the mailing List as a means of conducting informal "Internet seminars" based on the questions to be published in connection with the Masonic "degree lectures". Experience elsewhere has shown that this can be a very effective method of stimulating discussion and enabling students to learn from each other.
At the time of writing, this objective had been realised only partially and spasmodically but if you are reading this, your time has not yet come to an end....
One day (in, I think, 1953) in the Students' Common Room in the Old College of Edinburgh University, I heard one of my fellow students give a reasoned opinion that ran counter to nearly all the current popular opinion or 'received wisdom' on the topic under discussion. I can no longer remember what the topic was and it is no longer important even if it seemed so then. What is still important for me is that, on hearing this opinion and being impressed by its cogency and 'rightness', I realised for the first time the extent to which I unthinkingly took my own opinions 'ready-made' and 'second-hand' from a complex of opinion-formers so amorphous as to escape recognition and, therefore, objective criticism.
I determined that from then on I should adopt a more wide-awake attitude to life. I should question everything that was not immediately obvious to me. I should place less trust in 'recognised authority' and rely to a greater extent on my own innate ability to recognise contradictions or inconsistencies in what I was told. I should seek descriptions, resolutions and explanations that accorded with my own experience. This led me to be much more outgoing in my search for experience than I might otherwise have been and consequently enabled me to learn much more from the experience of others whose accounts stood up to examination in the light of my own experience and whom I therefore felt I could trust.
The adoption of this attitude on my part has contributed to a spiritually rich old age. Of course, there have down the years been conflicts with 'recognised authority' from which I have usually emerged with honour and self-respect rather than plaudits or material status symbols. But I have few regrets, and such as I have arise chiefly from failure to live fully up to my own ideals.
Pursuit of the personal interests listed above, while intermittently giving rise to periods of frustration, have ultimately afforded me much enjoyment and satisfaction. It occurred to me that perhaps the best way in which I could spend whatever remains of this life would be to share some of my enjoyment with other people who may be searching for more fulfilment in their own lives. I could think of no more exciting or enjoyable method of doing this than by soliciting the co-operation of willing workers in building a site on the Internet as a contribution to holistic education.
The Internet is by far the most powerful (and the most far-reaching and the cheapest) educational medium in recorded history. It is also, paradoxically, one of the most personal. My main reason for putting this on the 'net' is to encourage as many people as possible to stand a little aside from the crowd and become their own authorities in their own right.
After over two decades, this compilation on the Internet of thoughts and writings whose overall theme might be summarised as "human nature in a universal context" is, I think, practically complete.
As the compilation grew, I increasingly came to realise it as a coherent educational project that could help others, as its compilation was helping me, to live a truly satisfying and healthy life into a ripe old age. I have therefore tried to present the "treasures" I have gathered into what might be described as a melange of parallel, but intimately inter-connected, syllabi suitable for use in a "Home School" for free-thinking adults and informal groups similar to those organised in the UK through The University of the Third Age (U3A).
If I were asked to select one essay in the compilation which best encapsulates the overall tenor of the site, I would choose In Search of Justice 10, the result of my personal reflection on Book X of Plato's Republic.
Although a few essays on specific topics may be added if I live long enough, the project is now essentially complete and I have decided to "crystallise" it in the form of a CD that may freely be copied and distributed within study groups or passed around informally from person to person.
The first decade of the twenty-first century has generally been an unhappy one. Civilisation has been eroded by strife, both ideological and physical. Fear has nearly everywhere predominated over love. Distortion by corporate and political interests has triumphed over natural distribution of goods and wealth. Technological progress has increasingly been harnessed for war rather than peace. The human population of Planet Earth has grown far beyond sustainable levels and is bound to collapse before the end of the century as the Earth's stock of fossil fuels runs down and local shortages of food and water become widespread and increase in severity.
At Christmas, 2009, my elder daughter, Isobel, presented me with a copy of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. It is a harrowing tale of a father and son traversing a ruined world in a southward direction in search of warmth. They have to endure many hardships and dangers as they press on buoyed up by nothing but a few fortuitous findings and a hope which seems increasingly forlorn. The author does not specify the precise nature of the catastrophe which destroyed all but a few remnants of the human population of Earth, but we can readily empathise with the predicament of one sick man and his son. How will the boy survive when his father dies? Will he encounter any female with whom he may help to ensure the perpetuation of the human race? Or has humanity collectively forfeited any right to survive after having carelessly denuded the Earth of nearly all forms of life?
My personal hope is that return to savagery will not be so abrupt as to prevent any possibility of salvaging at least some remnants of the best mental fruits of human development, and I believe that what you are now reading, whether on the Internet or on the CD in your disk drive, encapsulates seeds of some of the most significant of these fruits.
I have little confidence that the Internet as we have come to know it is capable of surviving a global cataclysm. However, in the spirit of the principle underlying The Royal Arch Degree of the Ancient and Accepted (Scottish) Rite of Freemasonry, I hope that small groups of men and women of good will shall here and there preserve the technological means of reading a CD and the mental ability to use its contents as educational "seeds" when the shells of once-great universities are crumbling to dust.
The optimist not only hopes for the best but knows from experience that pessimism can only be destructive, hopeless, and powerless. The principal aim of this compilation is to encourage its possessors to study the nature of the Universe in such a way as to reach a deep understanding of its underlying principles and so become committed pragmatic optimists.
One such principle is that the human spirit is immortal; that the individual spiritual essence survives the death of the body; and that a spiritually healthy individuality will in some form continue to advance the evolution of the human species.
You will have seen that the Ardue Site Plan is a simple three-by-four matrix and that what you are now reading is the first entry in the third row.
The first two rows contain links to the six main sections of the compilation. Each section has its own index, as does each essay, book, chapter, or article listed therein.
Individual articles will usually contain links to other articles, normally listed under "See also:" but sometimes also embedded in the text. This reflects the compiler's conviction that what we call "knowledge" increases in proportion to the number and significance of the mental links we make between one subject or topic and another.
Arrangement of Contents
Please refer to the Ardue Site Plan.
- It is strongly recommended that the Cyber-Temple section be visited first. Reading from left to right, the columns headed "Design" and "Fabric" are indices to essays which introduce, and attempt to explain, the fundamental philosophical approach taken by the compiler. The topics listed in these two columns should be taken in order from left to right and reading from top to bottom of each column. Please try to persevere at least as far as the essay on Personal Responsibility.
- The Ardue University "campus" consists of four columns:
- The column headed "General" is, I hope, self-explanatory.
- The next column is an index to the Lectures for the Fourth to the Thirty-second Degrees of the Ancient and Accepted (Scottish) Rite of Freemasonry as given in the 1857 edition of the Magnum Opus or Great Work of Albert Pike.
- The third column is an index of "Question Sets" intended to encourage readers to read the Masonic Lectures with care and to form their own ideas about them.
- The fourth column (headed "Hermetic Philosophy") is an index to "Lectures" compiled by the Editor from the works of P D Ouspensky and C G Jung, or written by the Editor himself. Although the "Masonic" and "Hermetic" lectures complement one another, students may find it easier to treat them as two separate courses.
World Views is an index to essays written by the Editor to suggest practical applications of his basic philosophy to matters of topical political/economic concern.
- The Ardue Library is an index to complete books which have contributed to the formation of, and/or provide compelling intellectual support for, the philosophy pervading the whole compilation. Book 8, The Kybalion, and Book 25, The Master Key, will be of particular value to the scientific mystic. The main needs of many potential students may well be satisfied by studying other works, notably those by Plato, Thomas Troward, and Reginald O Kapp.
- The Perpetual Meditation Calendar directs readers to quotations that may serve as "seeds" for daily meditations.
- The Garden of Verses is an index to poems relevant to the overall theme.
If you wish to enjoy the utmost practical benefit from this CD, go slowly.
I earnestly advise readers to make the most of their opportunity to acquire the wisdom contained here, not only by careful reading and meditation upon the contents of the individual articles but also by using the links provided to other sources which will usually afford further illumination on the topic in question.