My friend also wrote:
The Problem of Evil
by esotericist Mark Stavish
The problem of evil is a perennial one for students of esotericism. Various philosophies address the problem in different manners, but in synthesis, there seems to be several distinct areas of overlap and agreement.
While alchemy does not address the idea of evil directly, it speaks of purification, sublimation, and other acts that suggest that our emotions, physical matter, and thoughts can exist in an imperfect state and somehow brought to perfection, or at the very least, a more desirable condition. All matter is imperfect compared to its spiritual archetype that it incarnates, but it is not evil, that is, in active and conscious rebellion against the ‘Good.’
Gnosticism addresses evil in two ways: relative and absolute. Matter and material life are seen as undesirable, as they are prison houses of the spirit. Like various schools of yoga and Buddhism, material life is to be escaped from and is de facto ‘evil.’ Matter keeps us from being free, unhindered, and spiritual beings without temptations and passions. This is interesting in light of the idea that the early angels united ‘with the daughters of men’ and thereby created offspring of legend referred to as ‘giants’ in the Old Testament. Clearly being ‘spiritual’ or without a physical body isn’t enough when it comes to being ‘passionless,’ but this seems to escape most of the discussion in this area.
Qabala is among the most balanced of the approaches in that it sees evil as relative, and necessary. It is to be overcome without condemning the material world.
In fact, in Qabala and Alchemy material life is our life. It is where we are in the here and now. We can think of earth as a school, a prison, a blank slate, or as whatever we like. Even if we believe in life having an evolutionary purpose and the influence of astrological Signs and Ages to push humanity along, life has no meaning until we give it meaning. All the guiding and directing in the cosmos is worthless unless we commit ourselves to a cause, something greater than ourselves, and work to express it, even if we may not live to see it.
The great cathedrals of Europe, temples of the ancients, and other places of majesty and wonder were built by people who would never live to see them completed. While for many of them it was just a job same as any other, or forced labor as a slave or serf, many of the artisans and professional builders employed took great pride in their work and saw it for what it was – a monument to something greater than the limits of earthly human life. Even in anonymity, their lives had, and still do, great meaning as we worship, tour, or simply admire from a distance, their labor, centuries after it was completed.
If you see material existence as good or evil, this is a reflection of your inner life. We hear often of the power of positive thinking, and the more cynical among us, who are often the more intelligent as well, sneer and either disregard it or simply pay lip service to the idea.
In truth, “Positive Thinking” is in many ways a lie. However, the reason is not in the idea, or theory, but the language used to transmit it. When we conceptualize the idea of thinking, it is often relegated to the idea of problem solving, and as such, rational and logical processes. However, thinking is more than logic, or problem solving, it is our worldview. Our thinking is the filter we use to process the world, how it works, our place in it, and relationship to others.
The greatest power in our ‘thinking process’ is not our ability to reason and use logic, but our ability to feel. Our emotions are our greatest asset in this area. If we ‘feel’ positively about life, then life takes on a flavor, color, or experience that logic and reason cannot transmit. Emotions are the driving force, the energy of the psyche, of human consciousness. When talk of the “Power of Positive Thinking” what is really being said is the “Power of Positive Feeling.”
Studies have shown that ‘optimists’ are more successful than ‘realists.’ This fundamental fact explains why so many smart people are often so under-achieving, under-paid, and under-fulfilled with their lives.
Modern educational systems develop the rational and logical at the expense of the emotional. Cynicism is encouraged and rewarded by the media, and academia. Yet if we look closely at ‘realists’ we see that they are essentially looking for an excuse not to act. They are afraid of failure, of making a mistake, of essentially living, and also of dying.
If you come to accept your mortality, then fear drips away, and problems of success, failure, even good and evil take on a more manageable perspective. Accept this – you will die, so act, and act as if it is today, for someday it will be.
This doesn’t mean that we throw away our resources, or ignore reason and logic, but instead, that after considering them, we still pick something and dedicate ourselves to its realization.
If you would like to be successful, and find meaning in your life, you must first decide what is the single thing you want to accomplish. What do you want to dedicate your limited, and numbered human days to promoting, building, and embodying even if you do not live to see its fruition?
Second, turn off your television. Get rig of cable, satellite TV, [Katia inserts: Pokemon Go, Facebook, Cellphone addiction] or whatever it is that you plug into that drains your life force.
Third, meet and collaborate with others who are seeking to build and promote their lives, even if their projects are not esoteric or spiritual in nature, so long as they are developing, encouraging, and demonstrating the effectiveness of an ‘optimistic’ attitude.
Fourth, do not discuss your plans with anyone who cannot directly assist you in their fruition. Avoid nay sayers and similar ‘realists’ who will tell you from their position of superiority, built upon a mountain of failure and self-imposed fears and limitations, that what ever ‘It’ is, ‘it can’t be done.’
Fifth, read biographies about the great men and women who have overcome all obstacles to achieve their dreams. Even if the books are older, and the stories slightly romanticized, read them anyhow. It is inspiration and example that you are seeking to internalize and emulate, not a ‘tell-all’ expose. A wonderful example of this kind of inspirational biographical writing is Twelve Against the Gods by William Bolitho.
Sixth, and finally, give back, here and now. Generosity is a form of confidence in the future, as well as gratitude for what you have. Give of your time, knowledge, and material wealth. All three must be given for this to work, because in doing so, you create a chain of events and habits, that will cascade back onto you and reward you with opportunities otherwise outside your reach. In your acts of generosity of time, talent, and treasure, your true inner attitude, deepest held feelings, are revealed. However, the time is now, and without concern for your ‘personal reward’ that might come as a result of your actions. Give, give generously, give wisely, give regularly, and give impersonally.
In doing this, you create a better life for yourself, and a better world for others in which evil has no place to hide or to grow.
This document may be cross-posted as long as the authorship and copyright attribution remains intact.
For more information on how to use the power of belief and emotions to create a better life for yourself and others, see [Mark Stavish’s awesome new book] :
So this poem Rudyard Kipling wrote just after losing his son in World War I, is being talked about now as prophetic regarding current events, WW3 dawning, etc. See below. I read The Gods of the Copybook Headings again to see if I agree, and whoa, this thing is obtuse. Supposedly it’s about humans constructing false gods, war being a pattern that always repeats. Copybooks. They are those composition tablets into which schoolchildren would write out stuff they were supposed to learn, memorize, etc. Fascinating how the last line has the word “terror” in it. I thought I was getting the gist of the poem until that last verse threw me back into what-the-heck status again. Aye aye aye. See for yourself…
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.
We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.
We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.
With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.
When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”
On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”
In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”
Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.
As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;
And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!
I like this idea, and in fact, find it to be the only real ‘solution’ to the problem of violence, as love and hate are ultimately about human relations and how we treat one another. Yes, there are many issues that can be dredged up, but there is no “policy” that can be set in place to “stop” violence – we already have secular and religious laws that make murder illegal, but they are ignored daily – even hourly.
I like this idea because it requires individual effort. It requires conscious decision making, and the formulation of a new habit, a new perspective on one’s self and others. Encouraging individuals to act as individuals, especially when those involved are children, and to consciously develop a compassionate attitude towards others as a living memorial to help lessen suffering in the world, those are seeds that can bear real fruit in the Tree of Life.
Please do more than Like this post, Share it, and pass it on.
The Way of Negation is of things to avoid, wherein the Way of Positive (Action) are things to do.
For this Holiday Season, the Season of Light, I am encouraging you to think about the meaning of the season, and not give war toys as gifts. Now, to be very clear, I am not talking about strategy games such as Risk, Stratego, or Axis and Allies, or even some of the simple video games such as Star Wars Lego (yes, even thought it is Lego, it is still about guns and swords, even if they are lasers), or buckets of green plastic army men.
No, what I am referring to are toys that have no moral or ethical redeeming value, whose sole purpose is to make war (and the business of war is killing) into a child’s game, and appear natural and even fun. These would be toys easily found at the big box stores, and include .50 caliber machine guns, M60 machine guns, bazookas, hand grenades, and even toy survival knives and body armor. These are not the toy guns we played with a children, nor are they meant to be.
Along with this, and I am emphatic about this, are first person shooter video games, particularly Call of Duty, Halo, and all video games that glorify and entrain the mind towards war and murder. These games have no other purpose and are the greatest form of mind control yet created.
I am not against historical or even practical items. A real rifle or even BB gun with care and instruction is a tool not a toy, and it would be far better if we encouraged respect for the tools of violence rather than be fearful on one hand, and flippant on the other.
What I am talking about is the pure psychological indoctrination of the individual and collective mind in regards to violence, in a social environment that is increasingly ‘value free’ therefore, there are few solid moral and ethical standards by which to assist youth in understanding the world and their place in it. As I have quoted often, “If you want to know the future, look at the games your children play.”
While it sounds simplistic, it is time, with this the Initiation of the Nadir as some call it, to return Christ to Christmas and remember what the Season of Peace is all about.
God is the Great Whatever. God is “un-getable” — we just can’t “get” the idea of God like we get algebra or something. Yeah.
I like this lady’s use of words. And yeah also to her plan to talk about our partnerships with God, not argue about what we have decided He/She/It is like. Her new discussion sounds worth joining. — +Katia
By Martha Woodroof
April 30, 2010
I am a person of faith who is not religious. By this I mean that while I live in partnership with God, the great Whatever, I claim no knowledge of God’s relatives, nature and modus operandi. I believe that everything about God beyond the simple fact of Its existence and availability is beyond my understanding and so beyond the scope of my words. I make no claim to wisdom of any kind about God, only to experience with God.
That’s why I decided to start Faith Unboxed , which I hope will be an unconventional online conversation about living one’s faith rather than practicing (or preaching) one’s religion. I’d much rather talk about how we experience God than argue about what we have decided about God, wouldn’t you?
As I’m not a pundit, a preacher, or a scholar, deciding to host such a faith-centric conversation about the great Whatever leaves me wide open to charges of uppityness. What’s the deal here, lady? You think you get God and the rest of us don’t? Not exactly: What I think is that a) God is intrinsically un-getable; and b) most of our current conversation about God and God’s doings ignores this, conflating practicing one’s religion and living one’s faith.
God, the great Whatever, is ubiquitous in American thinking, society, politics, literature, architecture, conversation — even, through quarterback Tim Tebow’s facial paint in college football. I would wager heavily that none of us escapes growing up without a kissing concept of the great Whatever–some idea implanted in our brains by our elders about what we’re supposed to believe or not believe about God’s presence, doings, relatives, etc. As adults, we may decide to accept those ideas, modify them, rebel against them, or turn our backs on the whole confusing mishmash. But we have all most likely decided something about God.
What we don’t often do as adults — whether because we lack inclination or courage or imagination — is to acknowledge that God, in order to be God, exists completely detached from any human conception of God. The great Whatever is only what the great Whatever is, not what our parents, pundits, preachers or priests say It is. Or for that matter, what they say It isn’t.
So . . . with all due respect, it seems to me desperately wasteful, arrogant and cowardly for us humans to argue so much about religion — i.e. our human-sized conceptions of God’s aforementioned relatives, nature and modus operandi. Missing from most of these battles is any recognition that if God is, God is also beyond our comprehension. We can never know about God in the same way we know about chickens or algebra or documented history; elaborate and compelling religious stories explaining God and God’s family are still stories. Insisting that these stories are true, or even integral parts of our relationship with God, seems to me to confuse the value of accepting what humans have said about God with the value of living in partnership with God.
Arguing about God is, of course, much less troublesome and anxiety-provoking than taking on the demands and responsibilities of a partnership with the Almighty. Indeed, the challenges of any organized religion (or those other God-in-a-box concepts, atheism and agnosticism) begin to seem like effortless glides on greased grooves when compared to the challenges of living one’s faith. Perhaps that’s why there’s been a great deal of public wrangling about the fine points of religion and very little useful public exploration of what it means to live and work together — in this world at this time — as persons of faith.
I hope this online conversation starts such an exploration. I challenge you to join me in thinking beyond everything we’ve come to accept about the great Whatever through habit, upbringing, learned ritual and doctrine. I challenge us, instead, to explore afresh the meaning and responsibilities of faith, of living in active partnership with God, both as an individual and in community. And I challenge us to do this exploration fearlessly, with uncensored curiosity and open-mindedness.
To give our conversation structure, over the next 12 months, I’ll post a dozen questions (one each month) along with my own short (for the most part) answers. My hope is that you will post your own answers and then respond to each others’ posts. Civility and respect are the only criteria for participation. This means no talk of burning in hell or scholarly howls of derision.
Join me here at On Faith the first Sunday of each month for a look at the question. Join me every day at Faith Unboxed for the discussion. Is it possible to have an open, useful and civil online conversation about faith, not religion? We shall see.
Martha Woodroof freelances for NPR and writes, reports, and blogs for public radio station WMRA in Virginia.
This article below by famed female philosopher mythologist anthropologist Jean Houston, deals with the Problem of Evil indirectly as it ponders whether God exists or not; and deals with that ol’ Problem very directly, not to mention dramatically, at the very end of the article…
And here also is a video of Jean Houston talking to Deepak Chopra about the existence of Deity/Consciousness/God. Just like in the article below, in this video Jean also ends dramatically — this time with the remark, “I think suffering is Infinity playing with itself.”
THE ‘FUTURE OF GOD’ DEBATE
Dr. Jean Houston
March 15, 2010
Here are a few of the points I made or intended to make at this remarkably
rousing debate between the atheists and skeptics — Michael Shermer and Sam
Harris on one side and Deepak Chopra and myself on the other. The debate was
mostly focused on the scientific aspects for the existence or non existence
of God. My role was to provide a somewhat different perspective.
1. The world has been rearranged, the reset button of history has been hit.
Many are called to take initiatives that before would have seemed unlikely,
if not downright impossible, including the rethinking of the reality of the
Intelligence that underlies the universe. My perspective joins that of the
poet Christopher Fry: “Thank God our time is now when wrong comes up to meet
us everywhere, never to leave us till we take the longest stride of soul men
ever took.” In this, we are present at the birth of an opportunity that
exceeds our imagination — the 13.7 billion year experiment that could
result in our lives coming to end within the century.
2. There is a radical need for a new natural philosophy based on our new
knowledge of the cosmos, the world, the cross-cultural mix of knowledge and
understanding, potential evolutionary directions, and our own emerging
realities. We have been shackled for too long by philosophies, however
noble, that have been limited by much narrower views of the world. And what
is worse, too many of us have been patterned and prepared in the alembic of
these limited views, however out of date they may be, and we find ourselves
to have been marinated in the medieval soup of the mind. Today, many feel
the need to release inadequate ideas of God so that we can all move forward.
To become atheistic and skeptical at a time of so much opportunity is one
way to respond to our dilemma, but then we forget that religion and
spirituality are also about the quest for meaning, transcendence, seeing the
interrelatedness between things, compassion, goodness, laughter, and the
great Pattern that connects all things with each other as well as ways to
live kindly with the suffering that is an inescapable part of the human
condition. Thus, faith will never go away and, in the words of Karen
Armstrong, ” To identify religion with its worst manifestations, claim that
they represent the whole, and then demolish the straw dog thus set up does
not seem a rational or useful way of conducting this important debate.”
3. In spite of the fact that there appears to be a decline in attendance in
traditional organized religions, the search for spiritual experience has
rarely been greater. In America alone, in the last 30 years, the number of
religious groups has doubled. We take new names, sit zazen, become Sufis,
Taoists, neo-pagans, devotees of Kali and Vedanta. Buddhism in all its
varieties is the fastest growing American faith. There is an eruption of
spiritual polyphony, that some might caustically see as “the Divine Deli” or
“cafeteria religion.” What this points to recalls the original Greek meaning
of enthusiasm: entheosiasmos, “being filled with the god.” As one Catholic
Brother told me, “These other traditions do not contradict my own. Rather,
they open the wells of the Waters of Life. When I meditate with His Holiness
[the Dalai Lama], I feel as if the deep rivers of our respective traditions
are meeting and becoming a mighty flood of spirit and renewal.”
4. The complexity of the present world is shattering expectations in every
arena, most especially, in the geography of the soul. Lost as we all are, we
can understand why some retreat into fundamentalisms that provide archaic
certainties, holding houses of containment before the onrush of new
realities. Others wander in a spiritual void, overwhelmed by the loss of all
pattern, looking to material accomplishments to replace the loss of essence.
Still others flee into “replacement strategies”– psychotherapy, drugs, sex,
growth seminars, travel. In each case, mind and body are at the end of their
tether, swung out into vertigo over the abyss of Being. And yet the yearning
for personal experience of the divine reality has never been greater.
5. As Martin Buber taught us, “I” attends to “Thou” much more than “I”
attends to itself. When you get beneath the surface crust of everyday
consciousness, and past the sensory, psychological and even mythic and
symbolic levels of the ecology of inner space, you discover the depths
beyond depths, and, with it, peace, serenity joy — no separations, but also
a transcendent grace and even high creativity. It is not just the mystics,
but the high creatives (some of whom are scientists) who report that in the
throes of creative experience, feel themselves aligned, guided, allied by a
power that is beyond or deep within themselves. This power is felt as
spiritual reality, a vision, an inward voice, an invisible life’s companion,
and became a formidable motivation for a quest for truth and discovery. One
cannot just reduce these experiences to brain secretions and happy neural
chemistries. There is more to us than that. We inhabit the Universe, but the
Universe, with its vast domain of intelligence and inspiration also inhabits
us! In certain states of consciousness and explorations we tap into its
6. The issue of where this is all coming from has ancient roots. St. Francis
in the 13th century defined the issue of consciousness, the brain and God
when he said “What we are looking for is Who is looking.” Meister Eckhart, a
little later, took it further when he said “The eye by which I see God is
the same eye by which God sees me.” He got into a lot of trouble with the
Pope over that one.
My own take on this is that we are the players in a great game called
Paradox. And what is the paradox? It is that we are both Infinite and finite
beings: As finite beings we are Godstuff incorporated in space and time; as
Infinite being, we are the Living Universe in an eternal yet spirited form
of itself. As this Infinite self expressing aspects of God, and as a form of
the Living Universe, we find ourselves capable of creating and sustaining an
individual finite self. That is you — the human being that is the microcosm
or, if you will, the fractal of the Infinite self. The human Selfing game
may be what Infinity does for fun. Not realizing this, we live in a state of
galloping ambiguity, caught in a limited time vehicle
and yearning for our greater self. Then when we make the rare excursion into
our Greater being, becoming our cosmic selves, we suddenly yearn like
Dorothy in Oz to get back home to the farm in Kansas. Why is this? To
continue the metaphor, to live in Kansas however joyous and rewarding it is
to chronically confront our limitations of body, mind and the others.
Whereas to enter into infinite life is rather difficult to navigate and
transcends all understanding.
I believe that to live in a state of both/and is to become who and what we
were patterned to be. We cannot contract the infinite to fit into the
finite, because if we do so we just end up with a fundamentalist God.
However, we can extend — through conscious work on ourselves — the
capacity to expand and thus to enter into partnership with the infinite.
Then, and this may be the goal of the Paradox game, we do indeed discover
that we are an infinity of selves creating and sustaining our individual
human self. Do you see the stupendous import of this statement? To me, it is
a mind cracking, soul buffeting, life enlargening realization. Once
understood and internalized, it adds tremendous power to our freedom to be,
our enormous capacity to grow, evolve and recreate ourselves, and our
ability to live simultaneously as finite and infinite beings. The Infinite
self has some part in directing the development and unfolding of the finite
self, and the finite self offering joy, entertainment and knowledge to the
Infinite self. This is the Paradox of partnership resolved. The game is to
overcome the illusion of separation.
Now we know that many of the great spiritual traditions, Buddhist, Hindu,
Taoist, the Christian mystical tradition declare that the finite and the
infinite are on a continuum with each other. Even recent scientific
speculation is saying the same. Modern physics of the quantum variety as
Deepak Chopra so brilliantly illustrates, increasingly extends into the
paradoxical and mystical in is pursuit of a unified theory of the
fundamental forces of the living universe.
Finally, we are that crossroads between biology and cosmology. We are called
to explore the mystery itself as an interface between engagement with
external realities and embrace of the inner journey. This brings us to a
place of contemplative practice, and the vital synergy between inner and
outer realities necessary to transform self, institutions, paths of
possibility, as well as visionary endeavors. And in so doing, unleash the
human spirit of those who compose the institution or endeavor and of those
who are served by this. It is an activity of extraordinary balance, a
tension in repose. It is about a zone in which paradox occurs. It is a space
where the sacred emerges and the local self disappears. It is a space of
exquisite silence and of extraordinary service. It is a space wherein there
is a fusing and blending of silence and service. In such a state one has
access to the creative, world making place where one’s unique entelechy (the
essential self) meets the Entelechy of a potential new time, one that gives
the details of an evolution in person and society.
There is a wonderful Sufi story of a man broken hearted by all the suffering
and sorrow he saw in the world. He sat by the roadside and began to beat the
earth. He looks up and yells at God. “Look at this mess. Look at all this
pain. Look at all this killing and hatred. God, Oh God, why don’t you DO
And God said, “I did do something. I sent you.”
Oh wow, this letter from Satan to Pat Robertson (below) is really a hoot. I was just reading (in Myth and Ritual of Christianity by Alan Watts) about the arena Lucifer aka Satan really works in. According to Watts, Satan doesn’t even engage in lesser forms of evil like violence and war, he is far too clever and subtle for that and commits the purest forms of evil. Lucifer-Satan is extraordinarily gifted as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, an expert on human nature, and moves with the light-workers, the peace-makers, the smiling do-gooders. Satan moves and works among the beautiful ones, fooling everyone, says famous author Alan Watts (back in the late 60s when he wrote this book).
Anyway, here’s the Screwtape Letters style note to Pat Robertson after Pat said the Haiti earthquake was caused by a deal Haiti made with the Devil.
SATAN TO PAT ROBERTSON: YOU’RE DOING GREAT WORK, PAT, BUT…
Dear Pat Robertson,
I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the
shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when
they are down, so I’m all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has
made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but
I’m no welcher.
The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and
impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with
people, they first get something here on earth — glamour, beauty, talent,
wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I
mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven’t you seen
“Crossroads”? Or “Damn Yankees”? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there’d
be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox — that
kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing
against it — I’m just saying: Not how I roll.
You’re doing great work, Pat, and I don’t want to clip your wings — just,
come on, you’re making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep
blaming God. That’s working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need
to renegotiate your own contract.
— Lily Coyle, Minneapolis – via the Star Tribune
Forget God (for awhile), survival of Consciousness after death and outside the brain is the thing to investigate first, says the blogger below. If you prove consciousness has a mind of its own, a life of its own, then the other question of whether God/Goddess exists or not will simply answer itself. The atheists-and-scientists vs. mystics-and-believers method is not getting us the answers we need, we crave. We must look at whether consciousness survives after we die, examine the evidence that our brains do not create consciousness, they merely tap into it, like your car radio picks up on a broadcast of huge FM radio waves.
Very thought-provoking cogent ponderings… I also saw the PBS show portraying Freud debating CS Lewis, the blogger mentions. The program was also thought provoking and deep, yet fell short of answering the ultimate questions… This article/blog below and the comment that follows seem to point right at such ultimate answers. — +Katia
The November 13, 2006 issue of TIME Magazine featured a debate between scientists Richard Dawkins and Francis Collins on the existence of God, the origin of the universe, faith vs. science, etc. As might be expected, they went around in circles and got nowhere. That’s because they are assuming that one has to find God before he or she gets answers to anything else of a spiritual nature. At no point do these intelligent men get to the real issue — whether consciousness survives physical death. If God does exist, but consciousness does not survive physical death, so what? We are still marching toward “nothingness,” i.e., total extinction.
Not long ago before I read the TIME article, I watched a two-hour television program titled The Question of God on PBS. The program, moderated by Dr. Armand Nicholi, a Harvard professor and practicing psychiatrist, featured a theoretical debate between Sigmund Freud, the atheist, and C. S. Lewis, the believer, on the existence of God. After the views of Freud and Lewis were presented by actors portraying the two men, a panel made up of educated believers, agnostics, and atheists gave their thoughts. As you might expect, the discussions went also went around in circles and ended up at the starting point.
As with Dawkins and Collins, the panel members never got past the issue of whether God exists. They discussed such things as whether order can exist in the universe without a higher intelligence, whether God is a product of the need to believe in something greater, and how there can be a God when there is so much evil in the world. As I see it, the issue there also should have been whether consciousness survives physical death. Knowing that there is a Higher Intelligence, Creator, Divinity, Cosmic force, God, whatever name we choose to attach to Him, Her, or It, doesn’t in itself help us understand the purpose of our lives or give real meaning to them.
The “believers,” including a Buddhist journalist and a Jungian analyst, talked about a “sense of connection” to the Divine and an intuitive feeling that there is something greater, to which a skeptical lawyer expressed my thoughts, “Where does that get you?”
Perhaps the viewer was supposed to assume that a belief in God meant a belief in survival of consciousness and, concomitantly, a purpose to life, but the discussions never went that far. It was as if the mere mention of survival or an afterlife was a bit too religious and rudimentary for such educated people. When the afterlife was alluded to on a couple of occasions, even the “believers” weren’t prepared to discuss the subject. In fact, it appeared that none of the believers had any concept of the afterlife beyond what is espoused by orthodox religions.
It was mentioned that Dr. Nicholi has used the Freud vs. Lewis debate in all of his Harvard classes for more than 30 years. I am not qualified to argue with such an esteemed educator, but it does seem to me that Dr. Nicholi and others are missing the boat in approaching the question of God and immortality of the soul deductively, i.e., finding God before we accept the survival of consciousness. Since God apparently is beyond human comprehension, so many people stop there and are left with nothing more than orthodoxy’s humdrum heaven and horrific hell, a scenario that does not invite rational people to believe. Unable to get a handle on God, those taking the deductive approach require a large leap of faith, something more and more people are reluctant to do in this scientific and materialistic age.
The inductive approach, that of psychical research, makes much more sense. That is, explore and examine the evidence for survival of consciousness in such things as near-death experiences, out-of-body travel, deathbed visions, spirit communication through various types of mediums, past-life regressions, and other forms of psychical research. Then, assuming we are satisfied with the evidence, look for an Intelligence behind it all, even though we can’t comprehend that Intelligence. In the light of evidence for survival, the “question of God” really becomes academic. Perhaps that is the problem: Academia often has a hard time dealing with the practical.
C. S. Lewis seems to have based his belief in God simply on emotion, including a “longing to believe.” Although it wasn’t mentioned in the PBS program, Lewis, as I understand his writing, rejected spirit communication and other psychical research as so much humbug. He would certainly not be my choice as an advocate or defender for a belief in the spiritual. I would have selected Sir Oliver Lodge, the esteemed British physicist and educator of yesteryear, or Dr. Gary Schwartz, currently of the University of Arizona, as my advocate or defender. Of course, Sir Oliver would have to be brought up to date on research taking place since his death in 1940, although I suspect he is very much aware of it and may even be inspiring much of it.
But neither Lodge nor Schwartz would be able to sway the fundamentalists of religion and science – those whose minds are made up and closed to further enlightenment. The absolute proof they require seems neither possible nor desirable. However, the results of credible psychical research can significantly influence those who are open minded and truly searching for real meaning and purpose in life.
As I see it, the Freud approach involves a fatal leap into a darkened chasm, while the Lewis approach requires a giant leap of faith over that chasm. The Lodge and Schwartz approach, on the other hand, do not involve much more than a short hop over a babbling brook. Forget whether God exists or not and look at the evidence for survival. There is a preponderance of such evidence out there. Examine it, discern it, dissect it, and let God emerge from what you discover.
Tagged with: God, afterlife, spirituality, Richard Dawkins, science, religion
8 days later, Water Carrier wrote:
Hi Mike, You wrote, Forget whether God exists or not and look at the evidence for survival. There is a preponderance of such evidence out there. Examine it, discern it, dissect it, and let God emerge from what you discover. I agree. Ultimately, those who argue against the existence of God are arguing against the existence of consciousness. They believe consciousness is secreted by the brain the way the adrenal glands secrete adrenaline. Consciousness is an epiphenomenon, or emergent phenomenon, but it in itself doesn’t exist. It’s just a quality of something that does exist, just as “sharp” is a quality of a knife but “sharp” doesn’t itself exist. And so, to talk with them about God is pointless. That’s not where their ignorance lies. They don’t know that consciousness exists outside of and aside from the brain, or rather, that the brain is an epiphenomenon of consciousness. That ignorance is a remarkable state of affairs in the twenty-first century when so much research shows that neurons firing don’t account for the moment of a conscious experience. Neurons certainly don’t account for the fact that I can sit in my office, close my eyes, and “see” images of objects on people’s tables thousands of miles away . I’m not using a retina; I’m not using my optic nerve; and I’m not using the optical cortex because no electrical signals are coming into it to create neurotransmitters. In other words, it seems pretty clear that I “see” without the brain. Then I remember what I see, so my memories aren’t in the brain either. My seeing objects in this way happens with none of the electrical signals the optical cortex needs to produce the neurotransmitters. Electromagnetism doesn’t travel over the earth’s curvature, and besides, experiments done in Faraday cages show that this psychic activity doesn’t involve electromagnetism. But the images are there, in my consciousness. In other words, my consciousness is seeing things my brain can’t possibly “see,” without photons, a retina, an optic nerve, or an optical cortex. My brain is just protein and fat tightly enclosed in the darkness of my skull. My consciousness is what’s out there seeing something thousands of miles away. So obviously, consciousness isn’t in the brain. And that means when the brain dies, consciousness doesn’t die. It’s still wherever it was when the brain was producing brainwaves and firing neurons. That’s what the direct-voice medium recordings tell us http://adcguides.com/ . People who die find themselves just as they were the moment before death. Some don’t even know they’re dead and wander around the Earth for weeks, months, or years. The skeptics won’t look at the real issue of the nature of consciousness. It’s too scary for them. They would have to rethink everything they know if they learned that consciousness isn’t in the brain. It’s easier to avoid looking at the vast amount of evidence that consciousness exists aside from the brain and consciousness survives death. It’s easier for them to focus on an easy target: the unprovable, inaccessible nature of God. That’s avidya, ignorance. But if they did just accept the obvious fact that consciousness is outside of the brain (or the brain is inside consciousness), then they could understand that consciousness is fundamental. From everything we know, consciousness is the ground of all being. Knowing that consciousness is eternal, is located outside of the body, and is the ground of all being, there must be an architect with a greater consciousness. Materialism and evolution break down in the face of consciousness. It couldn’t have evolved naturally; it could only evolve purposefully, and that requires a conscious architect. As you suggest, if the skeptics will look at consciousness and the survival of consciousness, they will find God. — Craig
Here’s the link to Jehovah Unmasked: The True Identity of the Bible-God Revealed. Such an eye-opener: describes the Key of Gnosis that Jesus came to give us, solves the Problem of Evil, shows the role of women in the early church as priests and bishops, Magdalene as Yeshua’s spouse and teaching partner, Sophia in the Old Testament, is a primer on REAL gnosticism, not that world-loathing flesh-hating gnosticism you have read about.
Jehovah Unmasked’s main premise is that the nasty, vengeful people-killing god in the Old Testament, “Jehovah” is not the loving God-the-Father Jesus came from. He is really Satan and/or the Demiurge especially when he sends “lying spirits of God to deceive the people” thru his prophets, and so forth. Half the time the Old Testament god is really Satan or Ialdobaoth, not the benevolent non-violent God who is All-Mother Sophia’s other half. Jesus himself told us this world is ruled by the Prince of Darkness and remember that’s why Satan had the “authority” to test Jesus and try to break him down — because Jesus had come to Satan’s turf to try to rescue (“save”) us. More about the good god and bad god all confused with one another at the link above. (Yes, it IS dualism, but it’s a good read and I like it, so there).
A verse the author quotes about everything making sense when we realize which I like:
“I am now at Home, spiritually, though I remain a pilgrim and a stranger in this world.” (Hebrews 11:13)
The author points out the fact that so many Westerners leave Christianity for reconstructed pagan religions, Eastern religions like Buddhism, Zen or Meditation / Vedanta from India. He says: “There is no reason to jettison your culture and embrace foreign religions to find spiritual Reality. Gnostic Christianity is the inward, esoteric, mystical spirituality that so many Westerners are seeking in Far Eastern religions. You can find spiritual Reality in the midst of Christianity.”
Here is a short excerpt from the chapter entitled, GOD THE MOTHER
The Gnostic Christians took both God the Mother and God the Father into their hearts, and knew the fullness of Health or “Soteria,” and so should you. Translating “Soteria” as “salvation” usually obscures the real meaning, which is Health. See Strong’s Greek Lexicon #4991. “For the Jerusalem Above is free, and She is our Mother.” Galations 4:26.
Its quite plain these “church fathers” were full of themselves and … had real power and used it to suppress all feminine descriptions of the Divine as well as to suppress women in general. … This quote from the so-called “father of the Latin Church,” Tertullian (155-230 A.D.), serves as an example: “These heretical females! How uppity they are! Lacking any modesty they’re audacious enough to heal the sick, debate, catechize, exorcize and possibly even baptize!” (From “On Prescription Against Heretics“)
There is a lot of info in this book like that and all so nicely presented, easy to read, I flew thru the book and I am a very busy woman. Hah. Jehovah Unmasked is only $15.24 at Amazon here and you can read inside the book. The Table of Contents with its chapter titles is interesting in itself.
…Just call me one of those audacious heretic females. Sheesh.
Are evil people born without souls? One of our long-time Seminarians, a smart fella, played Anne Frank’s father in a dramatic production recently. He wrote me today with a theory that maybe Hitler was born without a soul.
Rev. Randy wrote:
As to the Holocaust, I truly believe there are those out there who are born without a soul. My Priest always said “even Hitler could be forgiven since all our tickets were already punched,” (spoken like a true Episcopalian). But I don’t buy it, I think the SOB was born without a soul. It’s the only explanation how anyone could be that unfeeling. Of course there are those who would say I could say the same things of slave owners, but to me it’s still different. Charles Manson falls in that category also. How’s that for Esoterica LOL. Yeah, I know your Right Reverendness is cringing.
I wrote back:
Oh, not cringing at all! I spend a lot of time pondering what as you know, philosophy and theology dub, “The Problem of Evil”. See earlier blog posts like this one for such ponderings and gripings. Well. The theory that some are born without souls does speak to the Problem of Evil. Hmmmm. Will have to ponder that… I already chew on the way people get souls in the first place. Are they reincarnated? Or are they newly stirred clumps of drops of soul-stuff — like everytime you pour a glass of water you get drops that may not have yet been together in the same place before. So much water has been thru the atoms-created-in-stars, evaporation/rain back down system. Maybe souls are made of soul-stuff and we are a hodgepodge of a bunch of other people, I sometimes wonder, not the same exact soul passed down. Maybe reincarnation doesn’t happen, but we have ancestral memories in our DNA and therefore we have all kinds of “flashes” of DNA memory of people in “past lives”. Okay, so if a person is born without a soul…. how does that happen, how does he live, etc. Wow. Food for thought.
Eckhart Tolle, whose work we are now requiring for our most advanced Seminarians (those in the Holy Orders program) says evil people are buried in layers and layers of dark unconscious ego. Their false mind-made self (the ego) is running their body and resorts to violence and perversion to keep its control. When such a one gets in power like Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin, heads roll. Unconsciousness, complete lack of awareness, complete lack of sensing the Presence, causes this crap. I am currently designing a study course of his book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. This book is chock full of our type of alternative, esoteric “Zen” Christianity. Love it, love it.
Tolle’s earlier book is The Power of Now, but I recommend reading A New Earth first and then The Power of Now. The goal of a Seminary student is to become a spiritual teacher, A New Earth is truly a manual for spiritual teachers.