by Gregory James
After having read Part I and Part II of this three part series, the reader may be under the impression that I am somehow suggesting that in order to get things back on track for the world economy, politics, society, and the environment, etc., that we must return to good-old-fashioned values, like those that our forefathers so eloquently proclaimed and sacrificed to achieve. If you’ve come to that conclusion, I’d say that is to be expected. After all, we are all looking for the answer to the riddle of the times, and we are all turning to what we’ve been conditioned by societal life to admire: namely those good-old-fashioned ideals — or at least good “new” ideals that reflect our societally established values.
For instance: the ideals propounded in the US Declaration of Independence were no less than glorious! And most Americans naturally feel great pride when reminded of them. Indeed, it’s a marvelous document, complete with some of the greatest and most attractive ideals ever put to parchment. The problem isn’t the beautiful Truth expressed; the problem is that it was a lie! That’s right! You’ve been tricked, we all have, for well more than two centuries now! We were spoon-fed a fantastic truism whose exemplification was found only in the illustrious patriotism of folklore. The myth of the American Dream was predicated foremost on the promise of humankind’s natural, unalienable equality and freedom. It was a Truth never delivered, paralleled in deceit only by its utter impudence.
“America began with the invasion of a populated continent, and the genocide of its people. Once entrenched, it embraced enslavement of another race. With those pillars of State in place it declared itself an independent nation in a testament that proclaimed the equality of all mankind. In that monumental act of hypocrisy, America’s myth had its genesis.” ~Paul F. Edwards & Lanny Cotler, ClassWarFilms
“I believe that the heaviest blow ever dealt at liberty’s head will be dealt by this nation [the United States] in the ultimate failure of its example to the earth.” ~Charles Dickens, novelist and fixture of English literature (1812-1870)
“I feel that I am a citizen of the American Dream and that the revolutionary struggle of which I am a part is a struggle against the American nightmare.” ~Eldridge Cleaver, human rights activist and writer (1935-1998)
“They call it the ‘American Dream’, because you have to be asleep to believe it.” ~George Carlin, comedian/satirist, social citric, writer and actor (1937-2008)
But this series of essays isn’t really about the failure of the US to uphold it’s founding ideals, nor is it an attempt to expound the problems caused as a result, or the solutions to those problems. I know it may seem that way with just a quick read through Part I and Part II, and what you have read here so far, but if I may rouse the reader to take a closer look, to contemplate the hard ground of what I’m getting at, you will see that what I am really saying is that our problems (not just the big ones; not just the impending global nightmare we face) essentially stem from our inability to distinguish Truth from our ideas — even our very best ideas. This series is about our deeply embedded attachments to the ideas and ideals that provide comfort and solace in an otherwise uncertain, unfamiliar, and thereby, disagreeable reality — enabling us to ignore the most obvious, underlying constructs of our Reality (including, but certainly not limited to, our unalienable Right to Liberty, Equality and Happiness). It’s about peeling back the felicitous yet fundamentally untrue veil disguising who we really are. As such, I am not here to present you with “new” or “better” ideas to worship and identify with; I am here to burst your bubble, to show you why the ideas are unreliable to begin with — always have been, always will be.
The Underlying Dysfunction in Relying on Ideas
Observe that all we have to do to have peace and harmony on Earth is to agree with each other. If we can only agree, we’ll be just fine!
Now I’ve got you laughing good and hard, right? You see? We can’t agree with one another because we all have different ideas of how things should be — irrespective of how they actually are. The world is what it is; Truth IS what it IS; it’s just our ideas about the world and about Truth that are different. Unless we all have exactly the same idea, we can’t seem to coincide in thought. We can agree that up is up and down is down; that the sky is blue and the grass is green, but get anymore complex than that and worlds collide. We could fill the heavens with the breath wasted on the senseless bickering originating from differing opinions both vast and subtle. Even folks who basically believe the same thing can’t see eye to eye on grounds as trivial as rudimentary semantics or who’s interpretation ought to be considered “official”. Observe, for example, that there are roughly 38-thousand different denominations of Christianity — one idea, 38-thousand “official” ways of seeing it.
Moreover, it’s nothing short of pervasive, the degradative power of this attachment to ideas. Observe that in a conversation or debate between individuals, most often, even when one individual is correct and illustrates clear points to that effect, the other individual will continue to argue just because he doesn’t want to accept that he was incorrect. Observe that the results of “scientific” studies often vary wildly depending on the particular ideological perspective or agenda of those funding the studies. Observe that the most detrimental component to any activist movement is discontinuity of approach (often based on disinformation — another kind of ideological warfare). Observe that many people will vote for a candidate for government office based solely on the candidate’s political party, largely irrespective of the candidate’s personal views or track record. Observe that many people will forcefully defend a politician’s unsavory views or actions, even to the point of shameless lies and whitewashing, simply to defend a larger ideological stance. Observe that every single war ever fought in known history was spawned foremost in discontinuity of perspective resultant from the idea that one People are in some way superior to another.
We all have different ideas because we — as a society — do not Know Truth! It is hidden from us on purpose via various means, the greatest of which being ideology, and society at large has become so complacent that it simply no longer cares — readily satisfied with the grand spectacle of it all. Most people, in fact, can’t seem to distinguish between an idea and Reality. This is rather bizarre actually; it’s like someone with an inability to distinguish between night and day! Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, it’s no less ridiculous to me that someone can’t tell the difference between Reality and their ideas about “reality”, and yet — by hook or by crook — our human world is entirely idea based! Beyond the practical necessity of utilizing ideas to express and communicate our insights, understandings, and truly valuable information, many people just can’t lay the ideas down to appreciate even very valid points that they may not have previously considered. Most people readily prefer political correctness to objectivity; blind patriotism to Love for Humanity; superstition to sound scientific evidence; presuppositions to actuality; ideology to the demands of a situation; popular trends to practical necessity; or simply just a deficient personal opinion to what a little awareness could offer. Even when faced with a circumstance or prospect that does not fit the scope of someone’s ideas, yet another very strange idea seeps in to “regain control” over the situation: the idea that it is somehow acceptable to ignore the reality that is staring you in the face.
“For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.” ~Niccolo Machiavelli, Renaissance philosopher, humanist, historian, and founder of modern political science (1469-1527)
And so, we remain trapped in a pervasive, archetypical control system promulgated most principally on our collective willingness to buy into it. Lack of Truth has never been the problem; it’s the lies we believe in that promote and sustain our plight. (This control system is hyper-dimensional in nature; existing through time, space, culture, consciousness, and what we can most aptly refer to as “unknown participants”. Identification with and belief in complex, orchestrated ideologies — without Knowledge — binds us to a prison for the mind.) We are conditioned by our own unbeknownst accord to identify with myths, all the while believing with fervent conviction that the myth is true. Thus we don’t Know who we truly are because we worship a false set of ideas which are neither objective nor in any way a functional approach to life in accord with Universal Law. And if we don’t truly Know who we are, then we are actually more dead than alive! Don’t get mad at me for saying so; it’s True! That’s why such a statement is offensive to most; and that’s why we ignore the obvious injustices in our world and the pathological corruption in our governments and economic systems — because we can’t accept that we are a part of, or have put our trust in, something so morbid and dejected. We — as a society — have died to Truth, desensitizing ourselves enough to accept a brazenly fake societal order that supplants objective Reality on almost every level possible. And we need this death just to cope, because if we face the fact that we have identified ourselves with something that isn’t true, and yet that identity is all we know, then what we are left with — according to this unauthentic self — is the most terrifying prospect of all: you don’t know who you are!
Unless we seriously engage the Work of Knowing Thyself, Awakening to the Reality of the True Nature, our identity is little more than a reflection of an addiction to artificial meaning. This is simply because it is much easier to deny Truth and objectivity in preference of the myth that “I am proud to be an American”; that “I am proud to be a republican”; that “I am what my religion says I am”; that “I am my occupation”; that “I am the namesake of my family”; that “I am my past accomplishments”; that “I am my past failures.” We want to be whatever “everyone else” is because that’s what’s easy; that’s what allows us to “fit in”. But it is very easy to control a people who think so narrowly, who believe that what they are is limited to an ideological status quo — especially when that status quo insists that you can be anything you want regardless of who you are or where you come from — and if you can’t, it’s only your own fault; you were given an “equal” opportunity to succeed and to be an individual!
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German philosopher, writer, poet, theoretical physicist (1749-1832)
The Prevailing Manipulation of Ideology
Our society – this very cleverly crafted and manipulated ideological control system – insists that you may be free; that you may enjoy the American Dream of equality and happiness, so long as you make a lot of money. That idea may well have been quite reassuring and appealing a couple hundred years ago for the droves of new settlers poring into the US to enjoy the fruit of their labors without having to bow before a class system or monarchy — never mind that 99% of them ended up as cheap labor and factory fodder for the industrial revolution (which just so happened to coincide thereabouts the same time as the dawning of the new “free and equal” society with wide-open boarders and a sure-fire “American Dream” to boot… interesting that). And however much that amazing yet aggrandizing idea may have emboldened the backbone of a hard-working and commendable workforce, and roused a spirit of ingenuity that would change the face of the world, that idea is now, more obviously than ever, as obsolete as it is fantastical. And it has left us with a system of gluttonously shameless consumerism with an inevitable and ever-increasing rate of inflation. The current version of the “American Dream” of prosperity becomes less and less likely to attain, requiring more and more personal sacrifice, and more and more false identification with the idea that this is the way its supposed to be. Is it not plain to see that within such a maladjusted paradigm the root of all evil — the love of money — promotes and even necessitates every kind of lying and cheating imaginable. “It’s only business”, we tell ourselves so callously. “It’s just the price of success” — and that’s presuming, of course, that “financial success” equates to “happiness”.
Did you read between the lines? It was only ever the “pursuit of happiness” that was promised, not the obtainment of it.
It seems the “American Dream” and it’s predication as that of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” has never really been held in any way separate from a staunch, capitalist motivation. In 1776 (again, interestingly, the exact year that the US Declaration of Independence was signed) the legendary political economist, Adam Smith — known as “the father of capitalism” — published his notorious work “The Wealth of Nations”. Therein he encouraged the highly self-serving idea that America and the modern world would come to embrace as the prime motivator and perpetuator of our socio-economic order:
“[…the individual in society] intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other eases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. […] By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it.” ~Adam Smith, “The Wealth of Nations”, 1776
So there it is: what’s best for me is what’s best for everyone! Really? That’s very convenient for driving an ideology that is not only implicitly self-serving but also sure to nurture and justify conformity to a highly warped social “norm”. After all, if all I have to do is look out for myself (that being what is best for all) then I ought to just mimic the greedy, indulgent masses, and keep acquiring and consuming whatever and however, so to ensure my rightful place as a dutiful citizen — “it’s my Right.” To be sure, what’s really best for the individual is a solid, Objective spiritual practice (observation and cultivation of True Knowledge) and through this, the discovery of and adherence to the True Nature and Universal Law; this is What We Are, and the Way to make the best of What We Are! But that’s not at all what Smith or the proponents of his ideas had in mind. They mean, what is best for you according to the status quo — that is, a highjacked, ideological control system, wherein your so-called freedom and liberty are limited strictly to how much money you make and what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to make it. Indeed that “invisible hand” that Smith based his entire model upon (purportedly, by many, an allusion to “God”, or at least some unseen and greater force) seemed quite an enlightened concept — if only that concept had been applied to a culture not imprisoned by fake ideas. There’s an “invisible hand”, alright, but it’s not God’s!
“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate.” ~Bertrand Russell, British logician and philosopher (1872-1970)
“Wall Street owns the country. It is no longer a government of the people, for the people and by the people, but a government of Wall Street, by Wall Street, and for Wall Street. The great common people of this country are slaves, and monopoly is the master.” ~Mary Elizabeth Lease, American writer, lecturer, and political activist (1853-1933)
“In the last generation, we have been taught to believe in a philosophy of what is sometimes called “free-market fundamentalism” […] This philosophy is designed not to illuminate real-world phenomena but to hide the real-world use by the rich of such man-made institutions as the corporation and the marketplace — and sometimes even our own government — to seize our properties and our liberties[…]“ ~Barry Lynn, economist, author: “Cornered – The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction“
Our governments are so rampant with corruption, and have been for so long now, that it takes a legion of specialized attorneys just to distinguish legal from illegal activities. Wall Street profiteers own everything and have fused with the government in an autocratic corporatism the likes of which could only be classified as the work of evil genius. The People are bent over a barrel by the modern banking system that has become more akin to thuggish loan sharks — who take blood for money and souls for prosperity. And the Powers That Be will do anything their pathological minds can think of to maintain the control they incessantly and maniacally crave — all in the name of more for them and less for everyone else (and always under the guise of what’s best for everyone). Nowhere nor in anything can it be observed that capitalism is working or that the founding ideals of liberty and equality are preserved in any meaningful way whatsoever. And yet, many still buy into the myth; many still will not recognize the now overt oligarchy that rules them; and strangest of all, many still elect to defend this ideological nightmare to the last dying breath. Such people are deeply afflicted; this society-wide affliction is called “ponerogenesis”.
“First Criterion of Ponerogenesis: ‘One phenomenon all ponerogenic groups and associations have in common is the fact that their members lose (or have already lost) the capacity to perceive pathological individuals as such, interpreting their behavior in fascinated, heroic, or melodramatic ways.’ (Andrew M. Lobaczewski)
“[…] The first step in the ponerization of a group often appears as a moral distortion of the group’s original ideology. The existence of simplistic concepts (e.g., whether moral or legal) blocks any ability for critical thought in relation to the existence of psychopaths or their possible influence on the initial warping of the group’s ideology. Such doctrinaire concepts are prevalent in the neoconservative ideology. For example, ‘You’re either with us or against us (in the War on Terror)’ and the completely arbitrary use of the labels ‘terrorist,’ ‘terrorist sympathizer’, and ‘suspected terrorist.’
“[…] The resulting weakness in proper reasoning and critical thinking skills leaves an opening for the activity of psychopaths and characteropaths. Their influence then results in a further decline in moral and intellectual functioning. […]“ ~The Genesis of Evil
The Insidious Nature of Ideology Worship
Again, this essay is not about the specific problems in our society, per se — although they are plentiful. This essay is about the innate corruptibility of ideology; I am simply using modern examples to make my point. Indeed, it is a difficult topic to approach since we value our ideas so completely. It is not wrong to value our ideas, of course; it is rather that we must correctly understand the difference between those ideas and Reality. Otherwise, there is little hope for any proper distinction between invalid (untrue) ideas and ideas that represent Truth and yet remain unrepresented in Reality. It is only when we can see clearly, beyond the ideas, that we can discern the correct course and use of those ideas in our fundamentally Interdependent Reality.
The severity of the psycho-sociological entropy resultant from ideology worship is difficult to explain, or even to recognize in its total scope. Ideas themselves — presuming they represent Truth (unadulterated, un-manipulated, and un-institutionalized) — are certainly an auspicious contribution to the applicability of human thought and even to the proper function of a community. However, once ideology (whether political, sociological, or religious) takes root at the forefront of the affairs of that community — which is perhaps inevitable — the potential for its misuse thrives like weeds in an unkempt garden. Suddenly, a clandestine sociological weapon is available; a veiled mechanism through which to dominate the majority opinion and yet, at the same time — perhaps most ironically — oppress the masses. The ideas that spawned the ideology are no longer applicable to that end, but rather to enforce a vehicle for conformity and submission; a vehicle so well integrated the People don’t even know they are being taken for a ride (if you’ll excuse the pun). In fact, they’ll heartedly agree with it!
“That’s how the political system works, twisting reality in such a way to make people believe they have choice and freedom within the system, when in fact they have none. The best way to control a People is to make them believe they are free, while controlling their choices, behavior, desires, opinions and options through conditioning of official culture, the control of education, media, religion, science, history and economy. Control through force in the past became Mind Control as the People police each other and are not aware of the prison they’re in.” ~Bernhard Guenther, “National Pride and the Bogeyman“
It is this kind of ideological myth-mongering (spun-up political and religious influences blended with modified or ignored “history” and topped with some cooked “science” for “credibility”) that is effectually the greatest model for the dehumanization of society. Such myth worship rips the Truth away from the People, and replaces it with a quixotic fantasy that most anyone in their right mind would readily reject if it weren’t the status quo. But the inviolability of Universal Law naturally mandates that only entropy can be the result of this social modality. The ideological development of any false system must eventually become so corrupt and corrosive that it brings about its own degeneration and societal schism. This is what we are witnessing now in our world; a great division of those who honor Truth and those who either work to veil it or complacently believe in the lies. It is this entropic principle that ultimately defiles the establishment’s cohesion; it falls apart from the inside out, like a victim of leprosy.
“[…] macro-social disease, i.e. social hysterization, is the opening through which pathocracy manifests. Such a period of societal spiritual crisis is associated with the exhausting of the ideational, moral, and religious values heretofore nourishing the society in question. Individuals and groups grow increasingly self-serving, and the links of moral duty and social networks loosen. People become concerned with trifling things, ignoring more important issues such as commitment to the future, or involvement in public matters.” ~The Genesis of Evil
So don’t be fooled; just because the establishment is beginning to crumble — economically and in overall public opinion — this does not mean that the People are free! Indeed, they are more blind than ever before — despite the overall appearance that people are “waking up” and becoming vaguely aware of the pervasive corruption of our global system. With the People’s ability to Know Truth now latent and squelched like a species gone extinct, disinformation will (and does) easily replace the ideas the People loath with fresh ideas they admire, even ideas that “show promise” — just like those of the US Declaration of Independence. But if the People can’t objectively recognize actual Truth from the ideas about it, those ideas will be highjacked all the same — if not by design. The same old nonsense will just get rearranged and presented by a different face until the fickle masses are satisfied — which doesn’t take much more than another staged Presidential “election” or a good-old-fashioned propaganda campaign. The establishment is now clenching its failing grip in an effort to manage the shattering (rearranging) control system, and many of the People will stand powerless, either unwilling to tear down their allegiance to the falsehood or having deluded themselves to contrasting “new-age” or neoconservative ideas that are wholly inapplicable! All who do not get on board, or who rock the politically-correct boat, are made to walk the plank — in no uncertain terms.
Take, for instance, this secular worship of capitalism; its ideology commands the very same crazed devotion as any corrupt theocracy — wars are fought in its interests, lies are told, the People are oppressed, and if you don’t play ball you are (at the very least) marginalized as an extremist, or a communist, a crazed conspiracy theorist, an anarchist, a loser, a terrorist, a revolutionary, an anti-American, etc. And who can count the ways in which the ideology of democracy has been twisted and manhandled to serve an agenda of an aristocratic minority? Any sanctity of the idea’s original impetus as been betrayed and trampled underfoot as worthless. With the signing of the Patriot Act and the NDAA — as just a couple more prominent examples — the US Government can now do as it pleases to erase anyone it wants (you and me included) with the simple flick of a mass-media spin.
“Whatever occurs under the aegis of Washington decision-making is, by definition, noble, beyond the reach of ethical or legal condemnation. Mistakes are made, but the ends themselves simply cannot be questioned. Some opinion-makers insist that the U.S. represents an entirely new kind of empire, more benign and less exploitative than previous empires. It follows that the actions of a benevolent empire demand more flexible criteria for judgment… Those standing in the way of U.S. power often find themselves depicted as impediments to human progress, as enemies of democracy and Western civilization, perhaps even as the reincarnation of Hitler and the Nazis.” ~Carl Boggs, ”The Crimes of Empire – Rogue Superpower and World Domination“
Let me be clear; I am not just out to get capitalism; I am not “anti-American”; and despite the immediate conclusions to which some of my hasty commentators leap, just because I am pointing out the obvious faults in the current establishment, this does not by implication make me a “socialist”. I Know Better than to align “my identity” to any ideology. To be sure, I do tend to agree more with the socialist model than that of capitalism — in general — however socialism too is not perfect, nor could it ever be applied perfectly because it will never matter whose words we decree as policy or whose face is printed on the money so long as the People refuse to look at the madman behind the curtain! Capitalism, democracy, socialism, anti-Americanism, liberalism, or any other “ism” — these are just ideas. They are ideas we live by, and so they constitute the “reality” of our ponerized society and thus the pathocrats who control it, but the ideas themselves are not actually Real. Observe, as an example, that while you may love an idea, an idea will never love you back!
Any sensible ideology may function correctly in its purest form, but ideologies evolve — or devolve, as it were — and are ultimately manipulated into serving those most adept to the powers of influence and who are predisposed to dominate others — a pathology. While those afflicted are perhaps quite cunning, they are also unambiguously incapable of empathy or compassion, and interested foremost in feeding an insatiable lust for acquisition — generally at virtually any cost. No matter how much wealth or power this type of person acquires, they will always want more — using an ideological Trojan horse to get it. These power-hungry “elite” and their constituents will endeavor to influence as many people as possible, and by any means. Whatever the ideology — whether it be religious or secular, political or social, economic or environmental, philosophical or governmental — it carries with it the potential, indeed the practical certainty, of being corrupted. In all of human history, but one battle cry sounds consistently: ideology! Whosoever controls the ideas of the People, control the People. And some still think Mind Control is the stuff of science-fiction.
Enabling a Culture of Escapism and Apathy
We have come to depend on ideas so completely that we accept anything so long as it goes along with the other ideas we identify with. We seldom stop to think critically. This is true with any idea, and therefore, the modern religious, pseudo-scientific, and new-age ideas floating around most often offer another kind of ideological escapism — countering (perhaps) the secular status quo, however still only idea-based with no practical applicability. More often than not, nothing — or far too little — is done to really change oneself or the faulty establishment. From the idea that someone is coming to Save us (when things finally get bad enough, and which, according to the same people, is usually right around the corner) to the ideas that “everything is perfect”, “we are all One”, “it’s all an illusion”, “you create your own reality”, and the like, none of it really means anything beyond just an idea unless we actually Work to Realize Truth. Then, we quickly find out how challenging it is to truly Understand what such ideas really mean, and how impractical they are as only ideas. Without the earnest Work of Knowing Thyself and applying that Knowledge to life in a methodical, meticulous, and objective way, such ideas are actually more dangerous than helpful!
So many compelling books, videos, and seminars are presented these days that preach a good deal of “Truth”, in theory. However, what they most often do not present is what to do to Realize that Truth — or they tell you that you’re already “perfect” or “chosen”; or that at some long-predetermined date in the very near future we’ll all be Saved or Enlightened and our problems will just melt away; that all you have to do is this or that simple little exercise or repeat these few peaceful words a few times a day, etc. But most do not outline any real method at all, or they just tell you to “meditate” and you’ll magically become a better person. They tell you to avoid anything that causes a negative reaction and to ignore anyone or anything that says otherwise.
Now, to anyone capable of (or not dogmatically bound from) reason, this idea is obviously quite dubious. That’s why, most often, what these groups really condemn is thinking! “Feel”, but whatever you do, don’t think! Thinking is the enemy, thinking is too distracting; it takes you away from the moment; it’s the work of the “dark forces”; you’re not smart enough to know what’s best for you, anyway. Just make sure to keep feeling — which I would agree with, except that the kind of “feelings” most of these new-age “systems” mean is the touchy-feely/good tidings/wishful thinking/”Love and Light” sorts of “positive” emotional feelings (not intense, vigilant Feeling Awareness of the Mind, Body, Energy, and their respective and interacting processes). Of course, we all prefer being happy (as discussed in Part II) but ignoring Truth in preference of wishful thinking and so-called “good tidings” is to engage in a pretense. Therefore any “happiness” achieved via this manner is also a pretense — a temporarily satisfying yet precarious hypocrisy; in every sense, a bourgeois luxury.
And the best most of these types of “systems” can offer in the way of a “method” is to ignore or “purge the negative” feelings with swinging crystals, herbal potions, or pseudo-psychological group “therapy”. Some groups even present “methods” of impromptu roll-playing, acting out your frustrations against the world or your parents, etc., and simply scream, shout, curse and basically throw a tantrum (the more dramatic and primal the better), so to “purge the negativity”. I tell you, you need to do better than just twirl a crystal or throw a manufactured tantrum to sort your issues and reconnect with the True Nature. If anything, I’d say that if these are the kinds of practices that appeal to you, you likely need to address a lot more than you think (presuming you are not against thinking, that is).
An introspective process of objective thinking is a vital part of any viable spiritual practice! Of course, there are accompanying methods for ensuring that the type of thinking the practitioner is doing is of the proper quality and direction. And yes, it is vital to be able to Still the Mind and simply BE, and you must understand how to manage your thoughts, but I assure you, in any kind of spiritual practice that could ever make a quality change: thinking is encouraged, not discouraged!
Thinking, reasoning, contemplating, and observing the processes of the intellect are all vital to the discernment of Reality and Right Living. It’s all about the quality and direction of your thinking that determines the quality and direction of the ideas you believe in. You can only move toward Truth or away from it — that’s it. It is what makes sense to you that defines you or defiles you; nothing more, nothing less. Do you face Truth, or do you keep lots of ideas about what “truth” must be? Either you move toward Truth by honoring it above all else, or you worship ideas with no critical thinking into their meaning or implications, with no (or much too little) objectivity as to the reasonability of these ideas. If you don’t truly Know Thyself and deeply Understand the ideas to which you subscribe, you are not honoring Truth. Even if those ideas represent True Principles, if the ideas are not being applied toward those Principles, then you are lying to yourself.
People seem to be very confused by Truth; “what does it mean?” It isn’t complicated; just get your head straight! By “Truth”, I mean simply the most clear and definite, objective recognition of Reality possible. And if you really don’t know, if certainty isn’t possible, then simply admit it! That’s Truth! And it is the Way to deepen and extend Truth — through you, from you, and in our world. While there will always be people at different levels of this recognition, we — as individuals and as a society — can continue to reach for ever-deeper objectivity and understanding of Truth. This involves being clear enough to abandon even our dearest beliefs in light of new realizations; to stop clinging to fairy tales and hero myths; and to stop turning a blind eye to the facts just because it doesn’t fit our preferred ideas. Truth is not a goal, it is the Path. So long as we continue to move toward Truth, in every manner possible, we are complete in our surrender unto Divine Virtue and the Natural Grace of it’s Way.
But you won’t do it, will you? You won’t because others won’t, and so if you do, you won’t survive, right? It can certainly feel that way because we now live in a society where “success” and “happiness” (or at least basic comfort and health) means having lots of money (relatively). And that means either shameless lying and cheating, or working your life away in meaningless, soul-sucking missions of acquisition for liars and cheaters — just to keep your head above water. Even if you are blessed enough to follow your passion, it still comes down to the bottom line — and more and more of us are finding that line way too high and the mountain we must climb to reach it way too steep. Either way (most will have already decided) you don’t have time for critical thinking, much less making changes to your life in accord with the realizations born from such honest, objective thinking, right? Or perhaps you’re afraid of being the odd man out? Perhaps you feel you’ll be letting too many people down? Guess what… you have to do it anyway!
And the new-age “gurus” know this. They are falling all over themselves to invent the next great idea-in-a-can — that spirituality-that-won’t-interfere-with-your-life kind of thing. Unfortunately, there are all-too-many fluffy, pop ideas out there that sweep in to give us that quick-fix of satisfaction — feeding the ego, tricking you into imagining that you already know Truth; how could you not, after all? It’s simple, right? Sure, the Truth is simple enough, fundamentally, but aren’t we forgetting something rather important? Namely, how complicated we are!
New-age videos, seminars and books rake in billions a year under the guise of “self-help” and the “way to liberation”. The problem is, most are actually a part of the problem. Let’s consider some of the more basic ideas presented: “we are all One”, “everything is perfect”, “it’s all an illusion”, “you create your own reality”. Now, Ultimately, these are all True on some level. For instance, It almost goes without saying that we cannot be anything other than One with everyone and everything; we all breath the same air, share the same resources, and live in the same universe; in which, at the foundational levels of the most innate physics everything must be in perfect harmony; in order to keep our very convincing illusion together; wherein we, collectively, and mostly to our horror and disfavor, create our abject collective reality that perpetuates and enables poverty, starvation, war, corporatism, pathocracy, environmental abuse, service-to-self as a “virtue”, and the brazen worship of a culture of superficial glamor, excess, and material gratification. Nevertheless, even where these lovely, albeit oversimplified ideas hold the potential for becoming a practical Realization, we must understand one thing: we do not suddenly jump to that Realization just by being told something we prefer to feel is True! You may hype yourself up into believing that such ideas are True, but that still doesn’t mean you’ve Realized it.
There Are No New & Better Ideas – Just New Spin
Hoards of very compelling, hope-toting, cash-guzzling, totally baseless, new-age IDEAS, while appearing to be the answer to all our problems, are actually just stealing from the playbook of the old religions: give ‘em lovely ideas to cling to and tell ‘em everything is gonna be all right (so long as you chip in when the collection plate comes round). Oh, this idea worship has been around a long, long time. And no better example exist than a particular idea inherent to modern Christianity. It was theologian Martin Luther (1483-1546), principal architect of the Protestant Reformation who said: “Whoever wants to be a Christian should tear the eyes out of his reason,” and, “Reason should be destroyed in all Christians.” He more to say, too, including a rather pointed rant referring to reason as “the Devil’s greatest whore […] eaten by scab and leprosy.” (Erlangen Edition v. 16, pp. 142-148). A real class act, that Luther!
This is very convenient since Luther built his ideas on the predication that Christ already atoned for the sins of all (“official”) Christians so that they may be “beyond morality”. In this idea, Christians never needing to worry about their past sins, nor their future ones, because the Big Cheese has got your back — enabling you to be as wretched as you like, so long as we’ve dunked your head in a pool of water. Nice idea! The most ironical thing about all this is that the one thing that could never be tolerated — the one sin that would surely condemn you to Hell, despite the apparently flimsy notion that you are “free from sin in Jesus Christ” — is doing anything to logically reconcile your lack of True Understanding or Realize Truth! And the more extreme proponents of Christian dogma are quite fervent in their rejection of methods of exploration into the deeper nature of Reality: no science; no meditation; no critical thinking; no deep Self-Work; no consideration whatsoever of the ideas you are expected to blinding believe and honor instead of your God-given reason and capacity for objective rationale! That would be “doubting the validity of your Salvation”. Now, does that make any sense at all? That’s OK! Remember, it is your “duty as a Christian to rid yourself of reason”. (By the way, I am making an assertive distinction between the “Teachings of Jesus” and modern Christianity).
And that’s not to say that Faith is wrong, just that Real Faith means having the Faith that an earnest exploration of what you believe is mandated in the acknowledgment that the idea is good enough to have Faith in. If we are so threatened by fact-facing and critical thinking about our ideas, they must be pretty flimsy ideas to begin with. And if those ideas actually represent Truth, then surely an objective endeavor into True Understanding cannot thwart them. Who has considered that?
Old and “new”, what all these ideas have in common is that they don’t tell you the one thing that really matters — that the “Truth” they’re selling is just an idea unless you do something with it! Sincere WORK is needed. Otherwise, the same basic ideas, leading to the same basic outcomes, will forever be relabeled and repackaged, yet unrecognized as inherently dysfunctional AS ideas.
If we continue wasting this Precious Life on ideas, even the very BEST ones, not realizing that the idea is not the Truth itself, but only the pointing finger, then no Clarity can be achieved. We foolishly continue to accept the latest spin on the same old ideas and then go about our lives in the same way, living under the same pretense that we “understand” something – and that we’re so “good” and “right” because of it. This pretense – and the validation of it that the ego feed’s on – actually blocks us from any Real Understanding that we could have if we weren’t so convinced we “already know”. Without a qualitative and integrative change to the consciousness via Work, this pretense only aids in the propagation of a host of distortions, because a false sense of importance and identification is required to seemingly validate the ideas, along with the many little (and ever-less reliable) ideas we must uphold in order to support and defend our illusion of understanding.
Even the outstanding ideas, “we are all One”, “everything is perfect”, “it’s all an illusion”, “you create your own reality”, are perfectly meaningless as only ideas! These ideas are merely concepts, IMPRESSIONS of the Realizations that Masters have had for ages – Masters who have devoted their lives to Understanding Truth, experientially, via effort. No one can give us Truth; one must Realize it oneself. Simply hearing about it, reading about it, or interpreting it through some contrived context, won’t supply but a rendition of Truth that isn’t actually Truth at all – only a concept of it. Without DIRECT, EXPERIENTIAL awareness of the Truth to which a concept points, it can only be a hint to follow. But to truly follow it, we must do the Work to find for ourselves. This IS Universal Law! It’s Essentially why we’re here – to DO what we’re here to do,and BECOME what we’re here to BE. This means something a bit different to each of us, respectively, but it remains that the choices and efforts we make have an influence on what we find.
We can’t, of course, truly Know what we are looking for before we Realize WHAT IT IS and what it IS NOT, which is precisely WHY it is so very tempting to cling to a false sense of understanding through ideas – it keeps the ego gratified and in denial about its failure to accept Reality. Yet however compelling the idea, however good it feels, whatever hope or preference it validates for us, it’s still only an idea; a theory, not experience. Even our loveliest and seemingly obvious ideas, such as, “we are all One”, or “everything is illusion”, etc., are merely places to start – something to consider, and if we choose, to contemplate and Work with. However, an assumption that one can truly Understand based only on a preference to believe in an idea is like expecting a physics professor just saying to his students, “splitting the atom produces a nuclear reaction”, to be sufficient information to graduate nuclear physicists. Reality is a bit deeper than that!
Additionally, if a person is here to say, “we are all One”, or, “everything is illusion”, then that person is paradoxically saying this to someone who, within that “illusion”, is separate from him/her. In fact, even saying “everything is illusion” is an illusion, and thus, to the sayer and to the hearer, it is “reality“, and only “true” conceptually — and not in any applicable way (except perhaps to get a few illusory bucks out of some poor sucker’s illusory bank account). And wouldn’t the message that “everything is perfect”, or “you create your own reality” be totally unnecessary if it were actually viable in any way that could possibly be represented in our “perfect, self-generated reality”? Therefore, such ideas — because they are only ideas at that level — actually take both parties, the sayer and the hearer, further from Truth, allowing them to escape into a hallow concept that they prefer to our collective, objective world that is actually quite a bit uglier (which is not to say that beauty is not found within it, just that we must face True Reality if we are to Truly Find Beauty).
The great irony is thus that these and other such platitudes actually allow us to turn away from Truth rather than toward it. It is in facing the ugly reality of our world and of ourselves that provides a workable platform from which to Realize any Truth that really matters. Just saying it or just hearing it does not achieve it. Ideas — if the Real Truth to which the idea points is to be Realized — must be accompanied by methodical practice. This involves seeing things as they really are, which involves an open heart and critical thinking. Again, saying “everything is perfect”, while True Foundatioanlly, does nothing except possibly present a concept for consideration. The problem however is that most people, without a practical method and guidance, will grasp at the idea — simply because it sounds “true” or because they prefer it to their disagreeable reality — and thus it becomes a subjective escape, a self-serving excuse to ignore that which is ostensibly not perfect.
And this is no “criticism” of others, just the objective Reality of the Way the Universe IS, and what it demands for Self-Mastery and Enlightenment. Earnest Self-Work must be emphasized. All too often, it is not. And all these proclaimed “Enlightened Teachers” speaking from an Enlightened perspective on the topic, ought to mention that, foremost, an Enlightened person does not lie to himself — therefore nor may the spiritual practitioner if he really wishes to make progress.
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be [objective], thy whole being shall be full of light. But if thine eye be [in error], thy whole being shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great that darkness is!”
Blind belief in ideas has permeated our entire culture. We accept whatever the TV or the newspapers tell us; whatever “they say” must be the case. We mark our calendar with invented holidays, never mind that they exist only in our preference to have a “reason” to celebrate. (What would be wrong with simply celebrating the sanctity of Truth and Life, anytime?) We teach our kids in school to memorize ideas as “truth” so they can pass a test and advance to the “next level of life”. We proceed along the very same path through university and our careers, seldom challenging the standard, accepted ideas — lest we be ostracized. We worship the monetary system — an idea — like it was the Holy Grail. We buy ideas like they were products — like purchasing a high-dollar T-shirt just because it bares our favorite brand-name, never mind the oddity that we have somehow been convinced to pay major corporations to be their walking billboards. We live within a society where it is acceptable and commonplace to believe that just disagreeing with someone is sufficient to make you “right”. We live within a society where it is considered politically incorrect to rightfully reject the ideas and actions of certain groups of people of prevailing social standing, even though, within that same society, we are virtually mandated to national patriotism, which, by every implication, denies the validity of other nations and groups, and is the premier justification for all wars. We live by proxy to True Virtue via man-made moral doctrines, which differ depending on where you’re from or what religion you prefer. We follow fashionable trends as if they mattered — most often sacrificing function for form. We readily accept the speculations and gossip of our peers as fact. We replace our humanity with policies and regulations which become social dogma.
Our ideas are fake; and we worship this fake-ness, building up our ideas and their applications in ever-increasing complexity and variation — fake on top of fake, on top of fake, on top of fake! Overall, in our national and global society, we act like silly, hormonal teenagers playing silly teenager games; our shameless pageantry and worship of pop idols, our arrogant abuses of humanity and the environment, our bickering over the most senseless and vacuous matters — all the while appealing most of all to the lowest common denominator of an ever-more-easily placated society. Are we still now really so superficial and flippant?
“[…] already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, [we] the People have failed to fulfill our duties […] everything now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.” ~Juvenal, Satire [of Roman Culture] 10.77–81, 100 CE
Again, I will not say that it is wrong to have ideas, I will however freely say that whosoever is ruled by them is not a Free Being, as he is equal not but to a manufactured status quo upheld by hypocrites. So now you may — if “thine eye be objective” — see the point of this series. In Part I: Remembering Universal Law, I discussed where we have gone wrong by our most valued ideals. In Part II: Applying Universal Law, I disclosed the basic Truth of what we are made of and the Ultimate inviolability of that fundamental, underlying Reality. And in this segment I have remarked on the (very basic yet enormously complex) reasons why we can’t see these Truths. The point that I am making is not that we may cling to a new and hopeful idea, or that the solution to our global problems is easy to understand and implement, but rather that we are totally lost, without hope. Now I know that isn’t the kind of uplifting message you were “hoping” for, but that is precisely my point! We are all looking for the answers where we will never find them: in ideas — not even in True ideas, and especially not in subjectively appealing “uplifting” ideas. Only facing the utter hopelessness and Truth of our plight and accepting our humble unworthiness to the sheer, unimaginable magnitude of Divine Virtue, do we thereby begin to see Clearly; to see Truth; and to become at last, paradoxically, Worthy of It. Only in this surrender to our utter incompleteness do we become Humble enough, Simple enough, Clear enough, Strong Enough, and Empty enough to Receive the only thing that can Complete anything: “the Truth will set you Free.” And only Herein do we begin to break Free from the archetypical control system, experientially, no longer feeding it, and thus no longer sustaining it (at least to the degree of our commitment to the Work). And only Herein can we continue our Greater Work of becoming an Evolved Society.
And so the solution — setting aside our blinding complexity — is Ultimately simple and absolute: Buying into the myth will not make you free; it will not solve the problem. Voting for the right candidate will not make you free. Devoting yourself to the right religion or social club will not make you free. Protesting, in and of itself — without Knowledge — will not make you free. Writing a letter to your congressman or local representative will not make you free. Supporting wars with the bogyman will not make you free. Giving money to charity to feel good about yourself will not make you free. Responsible investing will not make you free. Identifying yourself with a handy concept will not make you free. Hiding from the hard reality will not make you free. Only doing the Work and Awakening to the Love of Truth will make you Free.
“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole Soul.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
”…if [injustice] is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine.” ~Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
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