Fearless Reason

Fearless reason in an age of frightened absurdity.

Category: Philosophy

Mystics of Every Religion

When religion serves as a road to connecting with the infinite creator, it serves us well. When religious identity and its finite conception of the creator becomes the object of veneration, then religion becomes a dead end, and religious identity a form of idolatry. Idolatry being the worshiping of anything less than the infinite creator manifest in finite forms. So beware the idolatry of faith, and seek instead the infinite creator.

Mystics of every religion have more in common with one another than with the average adherents of their faith. When we sit in meditation or centering prayer, we sit in the same infinite field of awareness that is the one infinite creator. By returning to that silence time after time, we attune with the infinite field of awareness, and thus purify our hearts and minds.

When religion encourages a silent mind and open heart, one inevitably comes to express the universal humanistic values of the religion’s founder. These values become inverted when religious mythology encounters one with a raucous mind possessed of fixed ideals and a closed heart. Such a one has little interest in the infinite creator, and is more concerned with protecting, promoting, and expanding tribal identity as defined by a set of religious dogmas. In this way religion becomes an idol, and a dead end for spiritual aspirants.

Love Thy Enemy

The only way to destroy one’s enemies is to have none. There is no evil, only delusion. There are no enemies, only god. Only the heart’s capacity to disintegrate the differences between self and other-self can end the cycle of fear, hatred, and ignorance. That means blinking at neither the light nor dark, and looking even at one’s enemies and saying, “We are one body. You are me as well, even though you hate me and wish to destroy me.”

Love is the radical and unconditional acceptance of another being. It is the acknowledgement of other as self, and the acceptance of that other-self, even though they hate you or wish you harm. Avoid or withdraw from those beings who seek to harm you, but never make them your enemy.

 

 

I Believe in Progress

I believe in progress. Not necessarily at the social level, but at the level of the hearts and minds of each sentient being. As a pantheist the only difference I see between the creation and god is the illusion of separateness. The former being a fragment of the whole experiencing separateness to learn, grow, and enrich the creation/creator. This perspective assumes a certain evolution of consciousness/soul from the elements, to animals, then humans, and ultimately beyond. Each stage with its own lessons learned over many incarnations, as god becomes individuated consciousness on its long path back to source.

This perspective views the human incarnative experience as the stage of self-awareness working on the lessons of love. Love being the means by which we pierce the illusion of separateness and remember that all is one. What comes next is indeed the Kingdom of God, but this perspective requires each individual to build it in their own heart and mind. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is already among us.

This perspective believes each individual is responsible for their own salvation; that salvation is the work of many lifetimes, and that all beings ultimately find their way back home. We live on a planet of incarnative humans at all different stages of their journey, and the free will of each must be respected to learn their lessons at their own pace. Unfortunately, the instrument of instruction is suffering, and when the values of souls who haven’t learned the lessons of love takes over a society suffering ensues.

While I can work towards building a more loving society through politics and other mundane means, when the majority of people in my society insist on learning the lessons of love in a different way, then that is as it must be. The question for me and my journey is do I stay and witness the suffering and alleviate it where I can, or do I find a society more in alignment with my values?

Basic Assumptions

I have gone through several stages of ideological and political evolution throughout my life. My first instincts were those of a progressive/liberal orientation, but they had little philosophical underpinning. When I turned 18 I registered as a Democrat because George W. Bush was President, and I was horrified by the wars and seemingly complete absence of reason in his administration’s policy decisions. I was a knee jerk liberal on social issues, because of an innate sense of fairness, but had few opinions on economic issues.

At college I majored in philosophy, but had a thorough liberal arts education, so I studied everything from the hard sciences, to economics and political science. Philosophy taught me to always identify and evaluate my most basic assumptions and go from there. At the time I was agnostic, which meshed well with the reductionist materialism that is a latent assumption of western academia. I spent four years as an undergraduate building a cohesive worldview based on dead matter in a mechanical universe. I was still socially progressive because that is what reason dictated, but I had the growing conviction that life was a Darwinian struggle of the survival of the fittest. Throw in a dash Ayn Rand, low empathy, and intellectual arrogance, and I was primed to be a libertarian leaning Republican. Selfishness was an inherent and immutable characteristic of humanity, whether that was a good thing was irrelevant.

That worldview served me well through law school, and may have persisted to this day but for a spiritual intervention. My metaphysical assumptions changed abruptly when I dared to consider the possibility that matter is not dead, but is awareness at the most basic quantum level. For the first time I seriously entertained the idea that the universe is a single unified field of awareness and that we only experience the illusion of separation and individuality. Seriously contemplating that idea led me to a spiritual awakening and mystical experience that utterly shattered my previous paradigm. I spent several years after the fact rebuilding my worldview around this understanding, which to the amazement of many friends led me to avidly support a socialist from Vermont for President. I now occupy the far left of the liberal/progressive spectrum, and have very strong and detailed opinions on resource distribution and social issues. All because I shifted my metaphysical assumptions, and ceased to view the pain of others as separable from myself. Love and empathy went from inconveniences, to a north star reminding me of my inherent interconnection to my fellow beings. Selfishness was no longer an inherent and immutable characteristic of humanity, but a choice every being makes.

Examine your most basic assumptions about yourself, reality, and your relationship with your fellow beings. Then live the conclusions as fearlessly and consistently as possible. If I have any advice worth giving, that is it.

Morning Meditation

Human civilization will only survive with great love or great control. As the instruments of self destruction multiply with each passing day, we are confronted with a future where right action will emanate from the open heart of every citizen, or wrong action will be monitored, rooted out, and controlled. We have both the seeds of a new human consciousness with an expanded sense of self, community, and empathy along with a surveillance/police state about to fall into the hands of the most dangerous organization on Earth. I choose love.

Be Spacious

When the mind lacks spaciousness, one is completely identified with thoughts, emotions, and roles. This state of being leads to deep unconsciousness, where the illuminated states of being that consist of love, peace, and joy are rarely experienced. A person lost in thoughts does not enjoy life, but endures it. Love quickly turns to disappointment and jealousy, and peacefulness is replaced by discomfort and anxiety. A lack of spaciousness creates a claustrophobic life, full of limitation, dissatisfaction, and angst.

Creating spaciousness in ones mind is the simple act of creating a layer of awareness around your thoughts, emotions, and roles that recognizes itself as separate from mind activity. It may start with the abstract idea that you are the experiencer of your thoughts and emotions, and have an existence independent of them. This abstraction, when grokked and applied throughout the day as thoughts, emotions, and roles are played out, begins the process of creating a layer of awareness unidentified with transient mental activity. It creates space enough to experience a thing without being consumed by it, and thus creates the opportunity to return to your natural states of love, peace, and joy.

A Western Heretic

I am a western heretic; having lost faith in the religion of my people, that constant technological progress is necessary and universally good.  Our creations reflect our inner nature, and we cannot escape spiritual infancy with technological maturity.

We built a world on the foundation of the ego’s never ending want. A world premised, on the externalization of identity and a rejection of the present moment. We built a world to divert our anxious minds, and give comfort to our decaying flesh. Abandoning inward seeking for outward buying, selling, and coveting.

The seeker became the consumer, and from cradle to grave remained an infant all his days.

We got lost in time; mourning the traumas of the past, and intermittently dreading and hoping for a non-existent future. Abdicating the present moment, which upon inspection, is never lacking.

We built a world that produces misery, in all its varied and sundry forms. Vainly hoping that one form will be better than the last, and will satisfy for a time the ego’s endless craving.

We are ugly inside; filled with envy, greed, fear, and hate. So we built an ugly world, that reflects our inner nature, in amplified and varying forms.

Crucified

Perhaps another meaning of the crucifix is that each of us does not merely bear a cross, but that each of us is crucified in the process of living. Life is suffering, and if it has a purpose, perhaps it is to release our own indwelling Christ consciousness. The only constant of life is the impermanence of form. All happiness fades, just as all sorrow comes to pass. Our suffering causes us to have more compassion for those who suffer. Our losses, as inevitable as they are senseless, force us to search for the constant within.

Practice Notes on Authenticity: Little White Lies

The next time a little white lie comes to your lips, pause and look at it. Question it. Who are you protecting; your ego, or that of another? Is your integrity worth protecting the lies we tell about ourselves? Is a relationship with yourself or another built on illusions worth protecting? Perhaps you will conclude it is better in this situation to cultivate humility instead of vanity, and honesty instead of deceit.

Foregoing one little white lie at a time, you will find humility and honesty are preferable to vanity and deceit. When you stop protecting illusions, you make room for authenticity, and authenticity is the foundation of open hearted communication and understanding.  Just as vanity and deceit are the foundation of all conflict.

Don’t Be Clever

“So, whenever there is a negativity in you, if you can be aware at that moment that there is something in you that takes pleasure in it or believes it has a useful purpose, you are becoming aware of the ego directly. The moment this happens, your identity has shifted from ego to awareness. This means the ego is shrinking and awareness is growing. Having realized: “At this moment I am creating suffering for myself”, it will be enough to raise one above the limitations of conditioned egoic states and reactions. It will open up infinite possibilities which come to you when there is awareness—-other vastly more intelligent ways of dealing with any situation. You will be free to let go of your unhappiness the moment you recognize it as unintelligent. Negativity is not intelligent. It is always of the ego. The ego may be clever, but it is not intelligent. Cleverness pursues its own little aims. Intelligence sees the larger whole in which all things are connected. Cleverness is motivated by self-interest, and it is extremely short-sighted. Whatever is attained through cleverness is short-lived and always turns out to be eventually self-defeating. Cleverness divides; intelligence includes.” – Eckhart Tolle, “A New Earth”