Modern Quakers in Britain Alex Thomson

Modern Quakers in Britain

There is a great diversity within Quakers today. Quakers have their roots in Christianity, but as they are open to new light that is continuous and progressive, there are Buddhist Quakers, Jewish Quakers, Pagan Quakers, humanist Quakers, and so on. This doesn’t mean anything goes. Below are some of the words from George Fox, the first Quaker, put into modern English. These are some of the things that are important to Quakers, words and forms may change but the message and principles are still the same.
We believe that we all have an inward teacher. This inward teacher can be found in the still silence. This inward teacher is “that of God” (or whatever name you wish to call that which is beyond all names, I like the term True Self). This still silence is not just about sitting quietly. You can be quiet but lost in the future or the past. This still silence is about being aware. Letting the light of awareness shine on whatever arises in that still silence. This involves gently letting go of all the thoughts that continually arise, that take you away from the silence. It’s not about trying to stop thinking, it’s about letting there be a space for that inward teacher to be heard.
This means you can have the direct experience of being in touch with that inward teacher. There’s no need to follow anyone else, because within you the truth is already there. Just as life takes many forms so does the outward expression of Quakers. We come together to share our experience of that inward teacher and what is a personal experience becomes a community experience. There will be things that “speak to your condition” and you can explore what these are with freedom, even encouragement from the community.
An American Friend, Patricia Loring, described Quakerism as a “listening spirituality”. What matters most is the discipline of listening, the shared commitment to a process of self-forgetting and service to others, that is at the heart of all spiritual practice. This manifests into a Quaker commitment to social justice, peace, equality, simplicity, integrity, community, and sustainability. We should live in a way that reflects our beliefs.
To help in this, Quakers have “Advices and Queries” which is updated once a generation. You may not agree with all the words, but look deeper. What is true for you? For me, it can be summarised as “do what Love requires of you”.
A very short summary of some of the words of George Fox Based on the book Truth of the Heart by Rex Ambler
If only you would stop and think what you have been doing with your time, and what you are doing with it now, and observe who it is in all this that you’re working for.
Your teacher is inside you, don’t look outside. It will teach you wherever you are.
Now you have the time value it, this is your day of opportunity.
Everyone must get to know “the voice crying out in the wilderness” in their hearts.
Be still and cool in your own mind and spirit, free from your own thoughts, and you will then feel the divine source of your life in you. And in doing this you will receive strength and life-giving power to quieten every storm and gale that blows against you. Therefore, be still for a while from your own thoughts, your own searching, desiring, imagining, and rest in the divine source of life within you.
Stay with the experience of life within you and this will free you from a dependence on words.
People have much conflict and foolishness in their minds that they fail to experience the quiet and stillness in the pure spirit where things are revealed.
The light is what enables you to see. This light enlightens you, it shows you when you do something wrong. (For me, this is the light of awareness, mindfulness)
Accepting the light, you find you can no longer accept the ego with its pretension to always being right.
When you see in the light stand still. Don’t turn away, this is where you will see beyond your ego. The first step to peace is to stand still in the light, submit to it, and your mind will quieten down.
When the light discloses and reveals things to you, don’t go on looking at them, but look at the light that has made you aware of them. With this light you will feel yourself rising above what has been revealed, you will find grace and strength.
Enter that state of mind which transcends all worldly concerns, and in that state you will be able to see where other people are and be able to reach that part in everyone.
In whatever you do, speak the truth, act on the truth, do what is just and right in all your actions and words. Let the truth be your first concern and put it into practice.
Live your daily life in the reality you speak about and profess to believe in.
Be passionate and faithful in the cause of truth, but also be careful and cautious, and be known for your consideration of others, your moderation and restraint.
Living with reality you find you live with love and you live in unity.
Identify with others, whatever their condition spiritually, and become whatever others need you to be for their spiritual welfare. Then no one need get hurt in their spiritual life, the blind won’t be left to wander, but will be guided in the right direction, and all of you, like tender plants, will then grow together.
Selfless love never fails, but keeps the mind detached from outward things and strife about outward things. It’s love that overcomes suffering and banishes fear.
Treat one another kindly and gently, don’t be aggressive because that attitude only encourages people to look after themselves and despise others.
Beware of a lust for anything mortal, because you only become a slave to it, but rather connect with the life inside you. Here you are kept to your True Self.
The light enables you to see what the world is doing, and it draws you away from the world’s religious practices and keeps you in tune with your True Self.
Keep your testimony against the world’s vain ways.
We reject all principles and practices of violence for any purpose or under any pretence whatever.
We are not opposed to anyone. We only desire that everyone may experience the blessings of one’s True Nature, and that what brings misery to their lives may be brought to an end. We wait with patience for that to happen, and we fight for it too, with spiritual weapons, but we won’t fight against anyone’s person.