What is Universalism

11/10/21 | By Nicholas Hagger
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Nicholas Hagger: The Message and Life Experience behind Selected Letters

Selected letters is available from Selected letters is available from www.o-books.com

Selected Letters contains 864 letters on my 55 literary works, and covers 60 years. They have been written to some of the leading figures in many disciplines and walks of life within the Elizabethan Age, and some of the eyewitness accounts may be a source for historians seeking to understand the Age in years to come.

The letters show the development of my Universalism. Universalism focuses on the unity of the universe and humankind, and the interconnectedness of all disciplines, through a new way of looking. The rational, social ego is useful for seeing differences and making distinctions, but the spiritual core, a deeper centre of consciousness known in meditation, reconciles opposites and differences within an underlying unity that includes pairs of opposites (day and night, peace and war, life and death, time and eternity).

Universalism sees everything in relation to the oneness of the universe, the One (that is the ‘O’ of O Books). Mystics have seen the One as the metaphysical Fire or Light. Shelley wrote, “The One remains, the many change and pass.” St Augustine wrote in c.400, “I entered (within myself). I saw with the eye of my soul, above or beyond my mind, the Light Unchangeable.” Hildegarde of Bingen, who died in 1179, wrote, “The Light which I see… is more brilliant than the sun.” Pascal called it the Fire, and wrote the date he saw it, Monday 23 November 1654, on parchment and sewed it into his doublet. My works record 112 experiences of the Fire or Light (all dated from diary entries at the time).

The key message in 60 years of letters about my works is that despite its many contradictions, the universe is a Oneness, that all humankind is fundamentally a oneness and that all disciplines (including literature, philosophy, history and international politics) are individually a oneness and have to be seen as a whole and are collectively interconnected within a oneness.

In these letters I write about seven disciplines: mysticism (seeing the Fire or Light as the universal mystical experience, seeing the unity of the universe); literature (seeing the fundamental theme of world literature as a quest for the One and as condemnation of follies and vices); philosophy and the sciences (seeing all humankind in relation to the One, the unity of the universe, and so challenging modern philosophy); history (seeing the underlying patterns of world history and of 25 civilisations as beginning with a mystic’s vision of the One, seeing all history as one, a whole); religion (seeing the Light as the common essence of all religions, which are therefore one); international politics and statecraft (seeing the benefits of a new democratic World State that can abolish war and solve all the world’s problems); and world cultures (seeing the underlying unity of world culture).

These seven disciplines are like the seven bands of a rainbow: each band is separate yet is part of one rainbow, and behind them all is the Oneness that everyone can experience in their lives. My trademark is the stag on my coat of arms, the two seven-branched antlers: one antler representing the seven disciplines, the other antler representing the seven branches of literature in which I have written and worked (my main discipline).

There are many letters to recipients in different disciplines that elucidate aspects of this fundamental experience of the Fire or Light that permeates the universe and can be known – experienced – behind closed eyes as the inner Light, like a puddle reflecting the sun. A Subject Index at the back of Selected Letters includes each of the seven main disciplines and allows the reader to find all the references to each discipline.


Because I have written across disciplines and have encouraged inter-disciplinary thinking I have been called a polymath and a “Renaissance man”. (Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo both worked in many disciplines.) The Light can be found in my poems, which blend Romanticism and Classicism into Baroque, in my literary Universalism. The oneness of all 25 civilisations, which all go through the same 61 stages, as I demonstrate, and start with a mystic’s vision of the One Light, can be found in my history of the rise and fall of civilisations, which rise round a metaphysical vision that becomes a religion and decline when the vision turns secular. My unified history predicted the European Union and the fall of the Soviet Union, as both the European and Russian civilisations progressed to new stages, in my historical Universalism. The experience of oneness challenges the linguistic and analytical philosophy of recent times and looks back to the origins of philosophy in the Presocratic Greeks in my philosophical Universalism. I have set out a democratic World State and its constitution in three of my works (The World Government, World State and World Constitution) to implement political Universalism.

To sum up, the message in these letters is that we need to be aware that our analytical, rational, social ego’s approach to the world and universe that identifies contradictions and differences, like breaking a pot and reducing it into bits, can be replaced by the deeper vision of our spiritual core, which can be experienced as a unifying “esemplastic power” (Coleridge’s word that comes from the Greek ‘make into One’) that pieces bits together into a whole like a restored pot. And we also need to rethink our view of philosophy, history and contemporary history, and world politics and see them as a whole and not concentrate on one bit: a current linguistic or analytical movement, one nation’s history while ignoring the history of the other 192 nation-states, and divided governments running the world rather than one united democratic world government that can abolish war, enforce disarmament, combat famine, disease and poverty with the money saved, and solve the world’s financial, environmental and virological problems.

In short, the message of these letters is that with a new way of looking we can transform the world and all the disciplines and see they are interconnected and relate to the fundamental Oneness of the universe – a way of looking that is O Books’ mission to advance.

Beach book

The topics in my letters arise naturally out of my individual works that caused the letters to be written. The recipients of these letters include leading figures in many disciplines, professions and walks of life: in literature, Christopher Ricks, Kathleen Raine and Ted Hughes; in history Asa Briggs; in physics, David Bohm (who worked with Einstein) and Roger Penrose; in international politics Presidents such as Bill Clinton and Herman Van Rompuy and various MPs. There are letters to historical figures including Field Marshal Montgomery and Stalin’s daughter. As I look through the recipients in the Contents and Index of Recipients it seems that at one time or another I have written letters to many of the key figures of the Age.

I spent the 1960s lecturing at universities in Iraq, Japan and Libya, and my letters for those formative years would make a separate volume and would be about my developing Universalist outlook, not about my works. From the 1970s to the mid-1980s I taught English Literature in London and travelled, and I have been a full-time writer since the late 1980s. Fragments of my own life can be found in most of the letters. My own life has been set out in My Double Life 1: This Dark Wood and My Double Life 2: A Rainbow over the Hills.

The letters contain many new angles within disciplines and contemporary history, too many to list here, and many anecdotes along with and ‘new takes’. There is something new on every page, and as bedtime reading (months of dipping) or a focus for reading groups there is much to absorb within the new way of looking at the universe, humankind, philosophy, history and world politics.

There is a long-established tradition of letters going back to Roman times. The poet Alexander Pope edited his own letters – these letters are in his tradition – and was followed by Wordsworth, Keats, T.E. Lawrence, Ezra Pound and Ted Hughes (one of my correspondents). My letters, besides throwing light on all aspects of my 55 books to date, throw much light on Universalism, its genesis and development, a way of looking and experiencing that can benefit the life-experience of many diligent readers and widen their grasp of what is happening in the world – and the universe.

Selected letters is available from www.o-books.com and from wherever books are sold.





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