Topic The Malignancy of Idealism
28 Apr 2012 01:50
You have yet to convince me that removing religion and thus paving way for the new philosophy that you feel Jesus taught is not another idealism. Sure, there are things that keeps the spontaneous acts of love from constantly appearing, but the moment you preach and "enlighten" people about it, like you are here and in your book (that you haven't read because I have plenty of other books that I need to read) it becomes YOUR idealism. Unless the barriers that hinders this new spontaneous philosphy are broken by time and people realising it themselves, but it needs to be taught, preached and understood then it becomes an ideal. Your saying "Why don't we do this instead?" In all fairness, this seems like a paradox to me.
I appreciate the fact that you take the time to debate these ideas with me here. While my book is short and would probably take less than two hours to read I understand if you have other calls on your time.
But I think these passages might make my approach more clear. I am not trying to preach. Rather I make my book available only on the off-chance that it may be helpful to others as the ideas contained within it have been helpful to me.
I offer these thoughts for what they may be worth. I trust that, if there is anything of truth in them, it will prosper, and if there is anything which is a mistake it will be seen as such and rightly dismissed.
So, to the extent that these ideas may be useful, it is a quality of the ideas themselves alone, and has nothing to do with the individual who gives expression to them. No doubt at this very moment many other individuals are expressing similar ideas, as any of us might if we learn to relax and be simply who we are and not who we think we should be.
A New World is Rising
If we have within us an original nature characterised by unconditional love which can be liberated when we feel secure enough to drop our armouring, then what about humanity as a whole?
Dogmas and forms of conformist social behaviour are to humanity what the inflexible character armour is to the individual.
But, just as a sudden breakdown of the armouring can be painful and destructive to the individual, the same applies to social or political structures. Racial conflict in the Balkans was kept repressed for decades by communist oppression. When communism collapsed a bloodbath ensued.
It is much better if repressive structures are gradually eroded by better understanding. But we don’t always have much control over what happens in the world. We can try to respond to the emergencies, but supporting oppression because its collapse might unleash violence probably wouldn’t be a good idea.
We can, however, see positive things happening in the world as well. The breakdown of old dogmas and conformist behaviours has allowed some of us to be more honest about aspects of our lives, such as sexuality, and has opened up a social space for the exchange of new ideas. If I had lived during the Middle Ages and tried to express some of the ideas I have here, if I was lucky I might have been able to talk to one or two people before I was executed for heresy. Today I might be dismissed as a loony by many, but at least I can reach an audience via the internet.
If dogma and social conformism and oppressive political structures are what is keeping our deeper nature as a species repressed, then, even though the collapse of some parts of that human equivalent to the earth’s tectonic plates, may release repressed hostilities that express themselves in violence, the overall direction could be towards health.
Jesus said of the last days : “You will hear of wars and rumours of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.” Matthew 24:6-8.
To me this suggests the very thing I’m describing. The wars are the death throws of the old neurotic world, and the collapse of that world is necessary for the birth of the new.
Religious individuals may assert that Jesus was describing something supernatural which would include his personal return to earthly existence, but I believe that individuals who, for whatever reason, have access to their original nature often speak as that nature using the word “I” to refer to what is perhaps more properly thought of as “us”. During psychotic breakdowns individuals very often claim to be Jesus or God. Though they may be confused and what they say may be unreliable, they are merely acknowledging that what we term “God” can speak through any of us when armouring is either non-existent or broken. So the return is the return of the voice not the vessel through which it spoke.
Jesus also said this : “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect - if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. 'So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.” Matthew 24:23-28
Here we can see that what is being referred to as “the coming of the Son of Man” is not something focused in an individual towards whom others can look for guidance. Rather the phenomenon is something which happens everywhere seemingly in a flash. This is consistent with the concept that the social space opened up by the death of dogmas, repressive regimes and social conformism allows for the decentralised improvisation of a new consciousness by those whose thinking has been thus liberated. I believe this book is a part of that, but only a part. There are many other useful ideas out there. And the internet is a key to this coming together of a new consciousness because it allows for completely decentralised communication similar to that found in the human brain. If we are to be one entity the internet will be our nervous system. The last sentence refers to the dying dogmas. A lot of people, like those vultures, will have their attention focused on those dogmas in their death throws, but the real action is happening elsewhere.
It should be emphasised that there is nothing supernatural about Jesus’ predictions. They are descriptions of a generalised pattern of events which would be predictable by anyone with insight into the operation of the system being observed, in this case, human society. Jesus was quite fallible as he predicted that these things would happen within the lives of his own generation.
To preach a form of idealism one needs to have faith in its rightness. My writing is not an act of faith but an exploration or excavation. I write what comes to me and only then look to see whether it has usefulness. As the ideas in my book have helped me to become free from often crippling degrees of depression and anxiety, and since others have written to me to tell me that my book has helped them, and since it has 57 five star ratings on U.S. I-Tunes, I would say that there is a certain amount of evidence that it has some usefulness. But as the extracts above explain I see my writing as nothing more than one articulation for something which is happening spontaneously in many people's minds anyway. While I am reassured when people say my book has helped them, I'm equally reassured when people say that I am not saying anything they didn't already know. There is nothing wrong with being unnecessary.
There are plenty of religions that aren't monotheistic or even polytheistic(and if you only have a problem with specific religions then say which ones you're talking about). Buddishm doesn't have any god at all. There's it all about insight. Hindu's have many gods with different qualities. The different mythologies have all gods that have flaws. Have a look at Greek Mythology and you'll see there's more drama there than in Days of our Lives. Hardly the perfect infallible deity that you're talking about, is it?
Because we were talking about Christianity I listed the things which I have a problem with in that religion, or in specific varieties of that religion.
Whether Buddhism is a religion depends on which definition of religion you use.
From The Free Dictionary :
a. Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b. A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.
If we take definition 1, then Buddhism is not a religion in that sense. However it is a religion if we take definition 3. When words are used so loosely it is hard to be precise in our statements.
But some of my criticisms apply to all religions other than Buddhism I think. All others seem to have belief in the supernatural. And even though the deities of ancient Greece and Rome were hardly perfect, devotees were expected to humble themselves before them.
And the belief in the Judeo-Christian God does not automatically mean that you have to fear him. I am a Christian and I do not fear God, because I believe he loves me and don't want me to come to any harm. I don't believe in the image of the vengeful judgemental God that will strike me down. There is no way that my faith makes me feel bad about myself. It's not because it's against the ten commandments that I feel bad when I lie, it's because I lie at all. I have a conscience that dictates my feelings, not my belief. Will I apologise to God because of my sins, of course, but not in any different way than I will apologise to family and friends should I hurt them. If feeling bad is selfishness then I guess I'm as selfish as they come, and to be honest I don't have a problem with it. I'd rather feel bad about the shit I do wrong than be apathic about it. Who knows, maybe I'm just unique and none of the 3 billion people on Earth that believes in a monotheistic God feels the same as I do.
Christianity is not entirely without an element of Jesus's genuine philosophy, a large part of which was to kill the idea of the judgemental God.
But why should you feel bad? If feeling bad benefited somebody then it might have a purpose, but since it stops us from enjoying ourselves and also makes us less available to be helpful to others I see no virtue in it.
Here is what I say in my book on the issue of complacency :
The key to happiness, mental health and being the most that we can be is absolute and unconditional self-acceptance. The paradox is that many of our problems are caused by trying to improve ourselves, censor our thinking, make up for past misdeeds and struggling with our negative feelings whether of depression or aggression.
But if we consider ourselves in our entirety in this very moment, we know these things :
1. Anything we have done is in the past and cannot be changed, thus it is pointless to do anything else but accept it. No regrets or guilt.
2. While our actions can harm others, our thoughts and emotions, in and of themselves, never can. So we should accept them and allow them to be and go where they will. While emotions sometimes drive actions, those who completely accept their emotions and allow themselves to feel them fully, have more choice over how they act in the light of them.
Self-criticism never made anyone a better person. Anyone who does a “good deed” under pressure from their conscience or to gain the approval of others takes out the frustration involved in some other way. The basis for loving behaviour towards others is the ability to love ourselves. And loving ourselves unconditionally, means loving ourselves exactly as we are at this moment.
This might seem to be complacency, but in fact the natural activity of the individual is healthy growth, and what holds us back from it is fighting with those things we can’t change and the free thought and emotional experience which is the very substance of that growth.
And the celebration of Jesus is partly that he died for our sins, but you exclude the most important part of it all; the ressurection. Just pulling the dying part is like going to church and have the wine but not the bread because it makes your mouth dry. You alter the concept of dying for our sins.
Here again we have the belief in the supernatural. I see no reason to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, was born of a virgin, turned water into wine, walked on the water or raised a man named Lazarus from the dead, any more than I see reason to believe that a man named Perseus slew a woman with snakes for hair or that King Arthur was handed his sword by a woman who lived in the lake. It is understandable that neurotic individuals, unable to acknowledge their own state of neurosis and thus unable to understand what made a non-neurotic man like Jesus special, should give expression of their intuitive awareness of that specialness by coming to believe magic stories about him. Which is not to say that those stories have no meaning. Jesus' ideas took on a new life after his death even if he did not. And to drink water with a loving individual like Jesus was no doubt like drinking wine with someone else. And there may have been a man named Lazarus who was returned from a state of spiritual death by Jesus insights.
I think much of what Jesus said also has been taken too literally. For instance he said : and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? John 11:26 Clearly he wasn't talking about literal physical death, because everybody who believed in him in his time did, in fact, die. I think he was talking about the spiritual death - the living death - of ego-embattlement, which makes us like zombies compared to the vital emotional creatures we were as children.
In one of the fragments of The Gospel of Thomas we find this description of the Kingdom of Heaven (or of God) :
Jesus said, "If those who attract you say, 'See, the Kingdom is
in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they
say to you, 'It is under the earth,' then the fish of the sea will
precede you. Rather, the Kingdom of God is inside of you, and it is
outside of you. become acquainted with
will find it; become acquainted with yourselves, it is you who are the sons of the living
Father. But if you will not know yourselves, you dwell in poverty
and it is you who are that poverty."
So it seems to me that Jesus was never promising an after-life in Heaven, but rather a practical path to becoming once more living expressions of God in this world.
And then there is : And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3. To me this means that the path to paradise involves rediscovering the ability to love unconditionally which we had when we were very young children. This is not something we need to learn, rather we need to unlearn the unhelpful ideas - such as idealism - which separate us from that inherent nature. When we were young children we had no expectations about ourselves, others or the world around us, beyond the expectation that our basic physical needs would be met. Any expectations that we might have about ourselves, others or the world necessarily alienate us from our capacity for unconditional love.
And saying that martyrs are nothing special is like spitting on their grave. People willing to die before changing their beliefs is admirable. You might consider it stupid, but would you call it stupid if I took a man with the exact same views as you, put a gun to his head and told him that if he didn't denounce the philosphy I'd kill him, and then shoot him as he refused? Because that's what a martyr is. You get killed because you don't wanna give up your beliefs.
I shouldn't have said that martyrdom is nothing special. I very much admire someone who has the integrity required to die for their beliefs, whether it be Jesus, Socrates, Spartacus, Joan of Arc, Giordano Bruno, or any number of Cathars, Jews and other heretics killed by the Catholic church or the women burned as "witches" by the puritans. I should have said that Jesus martyrdom is not what made him unique. There have been many more martyrs than there have been individuals with a philosophy as insightful and influential as that of Jesus.
I would have replied more, but it's 9 PM on a Friday and my brain is shutting down. Have a good weekend