Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Present-Time Christianity

Saying that you are sure of anything, when there is a conflict in your mind about it, is being untruthful. But some Christian leaders preach that we ought to be sure in our opinions on certain subjects -- that it is a requirement of being a good Christian, and possibly of salvation.

It is a misunderstanding of God to believe that God might ever want you to be untruthful to yourself, much less that God might require it for salvation. It is one of the telltale signs that the believer is attributing a single perspective to the Omniscient One. A single perspective of consciousness is the attribute of a human ego. While human consciousness, and God's consciousness are the same in fundamental nature, a human ego is not a characteristic of God's consciousness. God "owns" all the egos of all the humans there are. But God does not have one human ego, unless we are talking about Jesus' ego (if He truly had an ego.)

The kind of salvation hoped for by a person who confuses God with someone having an ego, is perpetuation of the ego. The ego is not the source of happiness or fulfillment, so eventually, all people will understand that the ego is not what needs to be (and is) preserved. The ego definitely dies, wholly and completely. But that is only scary if you believe that the consciousness you know as yourself will die.

It is utterly critical, in order to get out of the basic fear of death that religion addresses, to:
1.) Acknowledge and accept that every experience and memory you have may be lost to you at some point.
2.) Come to know your own consciousness as a real, existing something, that is not just equal to all the experiences and memory that may be lost.

These might also be stated:
1.) Surrender.
2.) Faith or belief.

When you have those two, you become aware of the gift of eternal life that you already have. The fact of that gift, and the fact that it can never be taken away from you -- because it is eternal, and it IS you -- are the Good News, that seems so hard for people to get.

To say it with chutzpah, if you don't understand this, you don't understand what Jesus said.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Buzz Is a Buzz

A buzz is a buzz, right? On the abstract level, ANYTHING that feels good will attract you. Bliss and gratitude attract mightily. To the extent we have tasted them, we are repeating the behaviors that produced them, automatically and without effort. It is a function of the body-mind.

Not having REALLY experienced bliss and gratitude is the prime cause of slow spiritual growth. Only a few people in our society have experienced enough bliss to have started the virtuous circle of spiritual seeking in a healthy way. Even fewer have gotten to the point that negative experiences are as valuable to them as positive.

Reality and self-interest call us to intend positive experiences for other people, so that they can grow in faith, in turn benefitting others, including us. That would be one kind of definition of Love.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cheer Up! We're Done For

We are done for as a species. We are going into a period of climate change so dramatic, that our brains will have to get bigger or more powerful, just like the times our hominid ancestors' brains did. The people who come out the other side of that will be a different species, in a few thousand years.

The traits to be selected for this time will be brains with the ability to think ever more abstractly. As we abstract useful generalizations, from a larger and larger pool of information, we will be better able to deal with the changing environment. We are evolving away from fear and violence, toward cooperation and love.

Unfortunately, I can't see how this evolution is going to happen without a massive die-off first. The captains of industry who have so mightily resisted the chance that science could allay man-made effects on the environment, have ensured it. I hope this prediction does not come true. But we will know very well if it does. Our communication and epidemiological surveillance systems will probably be intact long enough to register the first absolute decline in human population of the historical era. If we stop being able to maintain those systems, you can be sure the masses in the cities will not be fed.

The die-off might not be the cause of much evolution to begin with. The real rapid period of evolution might not start until the current social structures disappear. Maybe it will happen in Africa, as all the previous periods of rapid human evolution did. Africa still has the highest level of human genetic diversity. Who will survive, as that continent becomes less and less hospitable to life? Our prior experience shows the possibility that the most fearful and violent will kill each other off, along with the weaker, slower non-violent types. Those who are able to find extremely sophisticated ways of cooperation, will be the ancestors of the new species. At the end of one of the last periods of severe climate change, it is estimated that only about 600 breeding individuals of our ancestry were alive. Even if a much larger remnant survive, they could be heavily selected for wisdom, love, compassion, and self-sacrifice.

If past hominid migration patterns hold true in the future, the burgeoning populations of the next climatically-favorable period are likely to spread from Africa in all directions, and wipe out the less-evolved post-homo sapiens they meet. They will eventually capture them all, put them in zoos, and institute a careful breeding program to keep their population levels up. But it may not work, because those old-style people will be so in love with their post-human captors, that they won't be able to stand each other. They will refuse to mate. The post-humans will not consider forcibly inseminating them, so most will die out, after happy lives.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Adhering to Standards

The problem is not with adhering to standards; it is adhering to them slavishly.

"Slavish" adherence is recognized by the lack of joy in it. Generally, it will be accompanied by pain and resistance. It is adherence out of fear of the consequences, rather than adherence because one understands the underlying principle that makes adherence profitable.

If adherence to a standard is not profitable to those of whom it is required, then it literally is a form of slavery. Our parents teach us to adhere to standards, and in so doing claim that the standards themselves will eventually be profitable to us. We are taught to persevere, when the standard is painful, because we will eventually learn the value of the standard; or at least, we will learn the value of perseverance.

But how much pain and suffering should one endure, before deciding that to change course might be more profitable than perseverance? Abandoning a standard, or adopting a different one, is changing course. If we misjudge the value of perseverance in a given case, our adherence to the standard was slavish. It is much better to achieve mastery of the art form, such that adherence to any standard is based on perfect understanding of how that standard affects the quality of an outcome. Then, adherence or non-adherence will be undertaken in joy – the joy of creative power.

Recipe for Peace

Here is a recipe for peace that seems workable to me now:

1. Always hold the intention to behave in as loving a way as you know how.
2. As long as you know #1 is in place, behave according to your leading, without thinking about it.
3. ACCEPT the consequences of your actions. Don't explain or justify, to yourself or others. Accept others' reactions. Don't start planning your behavior in expectation of others' known reactions. Respond to them with love, regardless of how they interact with you. Demand nothing of them. If you must plan your behavior, plan it according to what gifts you may offer lovingly to others, that they will want. The best such gifts are those of physical and emotional comfort. To the poor or afflicted, give food and useful items. To the rich, give affirmation.
4. The very luckiest of the rich might then come to want challenges from you. Give these reluctantly, if the receiver insists.
5. People can and do go from "poor or afflicted" to "rich" and back multiple times in one conversation.

#4 is certainly still theoretical for me. I put it in because it doesn't seem moral to give only affirmation to the rich, without the possibility of giving them challenges.

For now, though, I can, without moral compunction, give them only affirmations. They have plenty of challenges that they don't ask for. They will only benefit from receiving a challenge they really, really want.