Setting The Scene – ‘Parklands’ and ISHVAL (Prologue).

This particular period – the one immediately before going to Parklands for the first time – has been really difficult for me to put together here.

I could simply have related an account of my first visit to Parklands when I went to listen to Eugene Halliday give one of his ISHVAL talks, adding my impressions as I went along. But I don’t think that would be of much use here. So instead, I’ve divided this post into two parts.

In ‘Part 1’, I have attempted to recall what I thought about ISHVAL before I actually visited ‘Parklands’; and in ‘Part 2’ I’ve described, in part, an outline of my method, and also my perspective on, those ‘Rules of membership for ISHVAL’ written by Eugene Halliday, that I first saw as important for me at that time, and which I have worked with ever since – together with a number of subsequent ‘thoughts arising’.

Part 1.

One of the real problems I had throughout the period when I attended ISHVAL meetings (from late 1979 until early 1984) – and even later, when I began working on the archive in 2004 – was that I never really  understood what it was that ISHVAL was about!

As I knew that ISHVAL had been registered as a charity since 1966, I imagine that you might find my lack of understanding here surprising, particularly as I attended many of ISHVAL’s monthly talks, and also took part in one of its particular activities for a number of years.

So I am going to attempt to explain the ‘why and wherefore’ of this before continuing with an actual account(s) of my attendances.

I’ll begin by answering the following question, “Up until late 1979, when I first stepped foot in ‘Parklands’, what did I know about, and think of, ISHVAL?”

Well, to tell the truth, I hadn’t much thought about it at all at that time! .. I knew that the word ISHVAL was an acronym for ‘The Institute for the Study of Hierological Values’: I was a bit vague about the word ‘Hierological’; I had been told that Eugene Halliday gave regular monthly ‘talks’ there; and that ISHVAL had a membership (but I did not know, back then in 1979, how to join – and, in fact, I have never been able to find out since).

I also assumed that, as ISHVAL contained the word ‘Institute’ – and as that word enjoys a somewhat restricted legal, official use as a title – then the law relating to the use of the word ‘Institute’ would clearly apply here, as my understanding was that ISHVAL was, in fact, an ‘official body’. I made some notes on this use of the word ‘Institute’ in this context some time ago, and  I’ve included them here.

ISHVAL’S use of the title ‘INSTITUTE’

Far more significantly at that time though, I discovered that a number of Rules had been provided for the membership of ISHVAL by Eugene Halliday. Although the ‘recommendation’ after the last rule (number eight) was rather disconcerting – at least as far as I was concerned…

How did I know about these rules before I had ever been to ISHVAL? … Well, Ken Ratcliffe provided me with a copy of them before I actually went there. …. Here they are:


 1. Each member shall, according to his capacity, make clear to himself the purpose of ISHVAL, that is, the study of hierological values.

 2. Each member shall, with due regard to ISHVAL’S purpose, and according to his capacity, undertake to convert his passive vocabulary into an active one, firstly by dictionary research into the etymology of his existing vocabulary, subsequently by extending this vocabulary as far as possible.

 3. Each member shall, according to his capacity, modify his procedures of thought, feeling, will and action, in conformity with the new understanding arising from the conversion of his passive vocabulary into ever wider fields of significance.

 4. Each member shall periodically offer to his fellow members the fruits of his studies and be prepared on request of the Chief Officers to précis these studies for the general benefit of members, and to lecture upon or discuss his findings and, conclusions.

 5. Each member shall contribute, according to his capacity, to the general extension of the Institute’s work in whatever field it may find an application.

 6. Each member, according to his capacity, shall study the basic scriptures of world religions, and the major writings of philosophers and scientists and artists, and recognise the value of making précis of these.

 7. Each member shall aim to coordinate and harmonise the results of his studies with those of all other members, and to see in every other member another expression and vehicle of ISHVAL’S purpose.

 8. All members shall, according to their capacity, undertake to cooperate on special study projects which by their nature be beyond the powers of any single member of sub-group of members.

 Thes rules were formulated and agreed upon at a meeting of members held on 29th. January 1967. The meeting decided that the rules should be accompanied by this recommendation – “These rules are not obligatory but are recommendations for preferences.”

I thought at the time that these rules of membership were reasonably clear, and as a consequence I made a number of – what I still consider to be – innocent, and reasonable, assumptions. Notably, that anyone claiming to be a member of ISHVAL would obviously be extremely familiar with these rules, and that they would also – so I also reasonably believed – be attempting to carry them out.

These rules were, I understood, composed by Eugene himself, and I have included here a copy of what I believe to be the first completed draft – together with what also appears to be an earlier copy, one that includes a number of hand-written alterations. I have also included a copy of Gerhard Noahkes’ notes taken at a talk given at ISHVAL on the 29th January 1967, which appears to have included a presentation (given, I assume, by Eugene Halliday himself) of these rules.

Rules of Ishval (scans)

During the 32 years since I first set foot in Parklands (1979), I have never heard these ‘rules’ being discussed, or even mentioned, by others … Which, I feel, is surely unusual?

Indeed, when I brought the matter of ‘The Rules of Ishval’ up at a ‘Friends of Ishval Meeting’ some time after 2004 it seemed to me that most of those present had never even seen, or heard, of them (I provided photocopies of these rules).  Although one enterprising person present at this meeting was very quick to point out the part where it states that, “These rules are not obligatory but are recommendations for preferences.” ….  …!

Presenting my impressions re the attitude of others here – that is, where it concerns recommendations made in writing by Eugene Halliday for those who attended ISHVAL – is not one of the purposes of this blog. So I will simply state here that, in my view, no amount of obsequious sycophantism can make up for actually doing some real ‘Work’ …  and I will leave it at that..

My own involvement with ISHVAL as a charity? Well, I did not in 1979, and still do not now in 2012, understand either the ‘Aims’ or ‘Purpose’ of Ishval’  … Although I did attempt some understanding here, and put together one or two notes on the subject for that purpose.

Aims and Purpose of Ishval – some notes

I would like to add that I was also particularly drawn to a paragraph in a Covenant made by Freemans Ltd to ISHVAL, and dated December 1966, which reads:

“Hierogical means pertaining to the values contained in the traditions of all peoples: in art, religion, philosophy, and science. Ishval is primarily concerned in studying the orientation of these traditions towards Christian values. (Italics mine)

You can make of that what you will!

Anyway, I simply did what I always do in situations like this. I worked with what I could use.

The rules that captured my attention?  They would be: a slightly amended rule number 2; rule number 3; and number 6.

2. Each member shall (………) according to his capacity, undertake to convert his passive vocabulary into an active one, firstly by dictionary research into the etymology of his existing vocabulary, subsequently by extending this vocabulary as far as possible.

3. Each member shall, according to his capacity, modify his procedures of thought, feeling, will and action, in conformity with the new understanding arising from the conversion of his passive vocabulary into ever wider fields of significance.

6. Each member, according to his capacity, shall study the basic scriptures of world religions, and the major writings of philosophers and scientists and artists, and recognise the value of making précis of these.

These three ‘pieces of ‘personal advice’ from Eugene Halliday’ (because this is how I soon came to view them) have proved to be immensely valuable to me, in providing a methodology for much that I have attempted to understand here since. And I cannot stress how important the concept of Working to convert one’s passive language into an active language, has become to me.

I think it is also important to point out that Eugene Halliday did give a couple of talks at ISHVAL meetings that relate to the question of what ISHVAL is. These include:

        • Hierology
        • On Ishval

You can get freely downloadable copies of these from the The Eugene Halliday Archive and freely downloadable transcripts of these two talks from Eugene Halliday – Transcripts of Talks

Part 2. (Some thoughts on ‘Active Language’)

As my purpose in writing this blog is primarily an attempt on my part to help others who are interested in working with the material contained in Eugene Halliday’s archive material, I have taken this opportunity, to provide below, some information regarding my approach to, and thoughts on, his concept of an ‘active language’.

Let me say right away that the the concept of an ‘active’ and ‘passive’ form of language includes a (admittedly, rather obvious) dynamic, in that, when being used by two people in a discussion involving any one particular subject, your ‘active language’ here, may be ‘passive’ to my ‘active language’ here. Or – to put it another way – if this is the case. then I know more (or appear to know more) about the particular subject under discussion than you do. Although this might not always, in and of itself, be what others would consider the ‘correct’ outcome here, as there might be a number of other important factors at work. Including, for example, the fact that I may hold a superior social position to you, or that I might simply be your boss at work. In which case it might appear to others, on the surface at least, that my vocabulary is more ‘active’ than yours’- or, to put it another way,  my utterances might ‘carry more (cultural or social) weight’ than yours here, and so ‘win the day’.

It might also be useful to you here, to also consider expletives from the point of view of ‘active’ and ‘passive’ language use. Because these are used, by and large. to add ‘power’ to what is being said. I would also add here, that as most expletives are sexual in nature, I am sure you can work out for yourselves how this aspect of power can be appropriated through the medium of the sign or symbol (in this case language), and put to other uses ‘elsewhere’.

I fully appreciate that obtaining consensus as to the definition(s) of any word(s) is obviously important. This, after all, is why we have the OED. This consensus demonstrates, not only that it is possible for words to possess such universally agreed upon definitions, but it also demonstrates ‘the arbitrariness of the sign’ (a concept in Semiotics that is well worth investigating here). The etymology of a word on the other hand, is also of importance, in that it provides a historical trajectory of a particular word’s usage, and also how that word’s collective and cultural meaning can morph, evolve, and sometimes (more alarmingly) devolve, over time.

Work on familiarizing yourself with Eugene Halliday’s approach to the formulation of his various ideas and concepts, by listening to his talks, and focussing – not only on the subject of any particular talk – but also on trying to develop a feel for his particular use of language.

This approach, I believe, will eventually give you a real understanding of what he means by ‘active language’ – which, contrary to what others here might tell you, is not acquired simply by looking up the definition of various words in a dictionary, and doing some research into their etymology.

When you feel that Eugene Halliday is ‘speaking’ to you, even though he is talking to a number of people at the time, you are experiencing his ‘active language’. Try to focus on this experience of yours simply as an experience, and try to figure out what it is that is going on ‘in you’, rather than in what the words ‘mean out there’.

You can obviously research what these words ‘mean out there’, by simply looking into their definitions and etymology yourself. And I would imagine that you might be prompted to do this by saying something to yourself along the lines of, “What did he say there? I don’t know what that word means.” (which is the usual way of saying, “I don’t know what the dictionary definition of this word is.”).

But begin to appreciate that this ‘looking up’ of words is, by and large, just a form of intellectual activity – and represents only one component in any understanding here.

I should also mention that the experience of hearing anyone making use of their particular ‘active language’ is essentially the same for all listeners. And I would describe this experience as an overwhelming sense of ‘truthfulness’ in what is being said. However, be warned that this ‘truthfulness’ is by no means guaranteed!

I have also observed what I believe are a number of stereotypical responses by a variety of people (who I will now refer to as ‘listeners’, or ‘the listener’, here) when coming into contact with someone who makes deliberate use of an ‘active language’, and I will now attempt to describe one or two of these responses below.

Unfortunately, a quite common result here is that the listener becomes addicted to the ‘active language’ of one particular person, with the result that this person can assume some sort of ‘supreme authority’ over the listener’s life, and, as a consequence, it becomes possible that this person will also be viewed by the listener as possessing extraordinary (or even magical) powers. Eventually this person may even assume almost total control, or, willing or not – be made responsible for the manner in which the listener functions, particularly the way in which the listener now believes that they ‘think’ – although, interestingly enough, the listener may be completely unaware that this has happened!

‘Special’ these people might well be – and the listener might well find themselves to be truly inspired by them, and that’s OK.

But, whatever else it is that the listener believes this person can do, what this person certainly cannot do is initiate some sort of ‘magical transfer of understanding’ from them to the listener, without any expenditure of  effort on the listener’s part.

This burst of ‘inspiration’ that the listener feels, and which I believe can be very real and extremely valuable, will, regrettably, certainly fade – and sooner rather than later! Which can result in the listener now requiring another ‘fix’ here.

This habit of ‘listening’ can become so important to the listeners life, that they may now attempt to move from being reasonably satisfied with listening to recordings, or from hearing the person speak ‘live’, to attempting to manufacture a situation where they can gain ‘private access’ to that person, usually by presenting themselves as ‘having specific problems, or really pertinent questions’ that require ‘special answers and/or individual consideration’. And if the person ‘in charge’ encourages this kind of behavior?  Then let the listener here be wary!

This is my (short-hand) take on the essential dynamics here, “A person with an ‘active language’ has done some ‘Work’ – a person with a ‘passive language hasn’t.”

This situation will not change, no matter what the person with the ‘active language’ does. It will only ever change when the listener decides, by an act of free will, that it is going to change. Unfortunately, this will involve the listener in a monumental amount of painstaking ‘Work’ – a requirement from them that they will have often already intuited is required, and that, as a consequence, now leads them to construct various scenarios in which they ‘decide’ that the situation as it now stands is, for the moment at least, fine – and that they will ‘really’ get round to ‘doing something positive here’ at a later date.

Tragically though, it is quite often only after a great deal of time has elapsed (sometimes even decades) that the penny might really drop. Usually though, in this case, there is now so much inertia present in the situation that there is no longer enough free energy available to affect any release here. It feels to the listener, that doing so will somehow negate the whole meaning of their lives. This is not true, but real help will now be needed here if anything positive is going to be done.

If the listener is not very careful here then, not only will they find themselves going one step forward, quickly followed by two steps back, but they will also find it increasingly difficult to extradite themselves from this situation, because they now believe that they have invested  so much of their ‘valuable’ time, and what they imagine is ‘real’ effort here….and this serves to keep them endlessly ‘in the loop’.

But, lets face it, if it is the case that they haven’t done any ‘Work’ here, then they can’t really claim to have ‘invested’ anything, can they? What has really been happening to them is that they have been superbly entertained, and as a consequence of this they became addicted to the ‘program’, and are merely ardant ‘fan'(-atic)s.

It might be prudent here to bear in mind another piece of excellent advice that Eugene Halliday was very fond of  – “Nothing for nothing, and very little for a half-penny.”

You might like get some further background on this phenomena by doing some research into  ‘Transference’ and ‘Counter-Transference’ – an extremely common, and well understood, part of the psychotherapeutic process.

Tragically, my experience in talking to others who have ‘fallen under the influence’ of Eugene Halliday’s ‘active language’ is that, although they seem to me to clearly understand very little of what he said, they somehow believe that, even if they don’t, that this is all somehow fine! … And as long as they were able to ‘bask in the sunshine’ of his presence, this was ‘surely’ sufficient, and so they seemed to be content! … I would like to make it very clear here, that I view this sort of relationship as distinctly unwholesome, and also extremely dangerous!

My own understanding, which has come from a great deal of study and reflection on what Eugene Halliday has to say about language and its use, is that it is personal meaning, and personal meaning alone, that constitutes the active component of any word you use. If you do not know what you mean by a word (although you might have memorized its definition, and researched its etymology), then that word is merely a passive component of your speech – that is, it carries little, or no power, or conviction. So, it is essential that you, first of all, know what it is that you mean when using a particular word – and it is not at all essential, at this stage at least, to know what Eugene Halliday means when he uses the same word.

I also maintain that it is futile to attempt to ‘learn’ Eugene Halliday’s ‘active language’, which I believe constitutes part of his ‘essential self’ and is something that he ‘Worked’ on to refine, continuously, throughout his life. And i firmly believe that it cannot, in principle, be somehow appropriated, such that it could become your ‘active language’ too.

In my experience, you must only attempt any understanding of beings like Eugene Halliday through your own understanding, otherwise you are in real danger of becoming swamped. There is absolutely no substitute for ‘Working’ to generate your own ‘active language’.

It was Eugene Halliday’s command of an ‘active’ language that, in my view, was the reason why so many people felt – even when they didn’t really understand what it was that he was saying – that he was speaking directly to them ‘from the heart’…. …  And, you know, you really need to think about that.

To be continued ………..

Bob  Hardy

June, 2012

  4 Responses to “4. Setting the Scene – Parklands and Ishval (Prologue)”

  1. Hi Bob et al.,

    I think that, “Part 2 ( Some thoughts on ‘Active Language’)” is your most valuable contribution on this blog to date. This cuts right to the chase and is a very positive and a useful contribution in its own right. If there was a place on any of the Halliday archives for advice on approaching Halliday’s body of work this should be up there.

    For my part, I believe that without a personal active vocabulary one is likely to be incapable of giving an appropriate response but only knee jerk reactive one . To put this another way, unless you can describe your moods, motivations, intentions and essentially the nature of their arising etc., one just reacts from habit not in terms of what would in this case be appropriate.

    Thanks for this Bob. More like this.


    Oh, if anyone read the previous months piece about the guy who used to go to Tan Y Garth and fall asleep, that was me. I used to feel embarrassed about this at the time. Interestingly, over the years I have been involved in quite a bit of meditation and I don’t remember ever falling asleep elsewhere. Mind you, If I was reading this I’d say this guys just making excuses.

    Thanks again Bob,


  2. Hi Bob (et al),

    Just a couple of questions is your book available yet I would very much like to buy a copy it looks great.

    Also is there any record of Eugene having had a cosmic concious experience (transformational type), from what he has written etc I would say that he did (and based on the one that I had seven years ago), but would like to know if he ever mentioned it or when he may have had it.

    thanks Nick

    • Hi Nick
      Thanks for asking about ‘Fieldnotes’ and also for your encouraging comment.. I’m afraid the book is not available yet. In fact I haven’t yet decided exactly what I will eventually do with this material. At the moment I’m sifting through the massive number of notes I’ve managed to accumulated that are connected which this ‘Field notes’ project of mine (which began in the late 1980’s would you believe) … I’m also attempting to take advantage of the strict time-table I’ve put in place on the blog (one post a month) to force myself to ‘clean up’ this material…. At the moment it’s going quite well, and the response has been encouraging … So, hopefully, I might at least get it up to the stage where some actors I know will give me a ‘read through’… And I do have an ending- which is always useful! But there’s masses of editing and re-writing to do yet ..

      As to Eugene’s experience that you’ve asked my opinion about. This whole area is (for me at least) an extremely complex one, and I would have to know more about what you see as this kind of experience, before I could begin to reply.

      What I have decided to do therefore is organize the inclusion of a ‘Forum’ with this blog. so that material that is of interest to people who decide to comment (like yourself) can be ‘enlarged upon’ (if I can put it that way) in a separate area here. This Forum will hopefully be in place by the end of September, and when it is I would be very happy to discuss this subject with you (and anyone else that’s interested).

      Hope that’s OK for you
      Best regards

  3. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for your reply. If you want any help or additional encouragement I am very happy to give both. I love your use of both comedy and analogy to convey ideas it is definitely the way forward it seems to get through to everyone (benefits driven), I use it a lot. Yes I know what you mean about all the notes, you jot everything down over the years and end up with hundreds of pages, and you end up with a mass of organising at the end to try and collate it, where do you start, especially hard when it all comes in from different directions and contexts. Please be assured it will be worth it.

    Like also the way you have disciplined yourself to do regular updates, sounds like you are a manger in real life of some sort (always hard living by your own management rules and methodology).

    I was pointed to the archive via a video interview by Dr Alan Roberts who talked about Cosmic conciousness so just assumed he would be on this forum.

    thanks Nick

    ps Keep up the good work

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