LECTURE ON "ALTERNATIVE BELIEFS IN SPIRITUALITY"
Delivered to Dave Embree's Dept. of Religious Studies Alternative Spirituality Class at Missouri State University, January 7, 2011
By Peter Longley, MA (Cantab) (Hons Theology)
Is there anyone here who is not of Christian background?
First, we are going to talk a little bit about beliefs and the role of indoctrination in our faith.
What is truth? Anyone give me an answer?
Well, as soon as something is perceived as truth it becomes a belief and a belief is an indoctrination.
What do we mean by indoctrination?
It is something we have been taught, not necessarily in the classroom or by our family, possibly by nature, or even by a spiritual experience. Evolution and Creationism are both perceived by certain groups as truth, but in reality, both are indoctrination.
How are we indoctrinated?
By processing material through our brain.
Thus, everything we believe is an indoctrination as everything we conceive to believe has been processed through our brain. Our brain does not give us truth, it gives us indoctrinated belief. Our cognitive brain is often likened to a computer: it is only as good as what it is taught—what we put in it. At the beginning of our lives, it is full of only awareness, pure consciousness, but as we load it up with all we learn and perceive we make our conscious choice as to what we perceive to be truth and non-truth, and this is only through our perspective. There is nothing wrong with that in ordering our lives, but everything we believe and know has come through our brain, and the human brain has limitations. It is our greatest asset, but at the same time can be, and probably will be, the cause of our eventual extinction as a species.
It is an indoctrinational belief that we are the pinnacle of God's creation, created in God's image, and we have this conceited viewpoint because we see ourselves as superior to all other life forms within our knowledge, because of our superior ability to reason. This very reason may cause our extinction through over-population, nuclear warfare, or other destructive means. Yet, should we extinguish ourselves, or should natural causes extinguish us as a species — disease, famine or the restless life of our ever-evolving planet Earth, some form of life will go on. La Coceracha has been and will be around a lot longer than us.
Is this our planet?
Humans have not been around very long. In time, we represent the last page out of all the pages of a thick nineteenth century bible. I have recently been reading Simon Winchester's new book on the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic Ocean has existed for about 4% of this planet's life and will almost certainly not exist more than 9 % of the life of this planet. Our total globe is continuously changing in its evolution. Yet, in that mere 9% that the Atlantic Ocean may exist as a sea, mankind will only be around its shores for a tiny fraction of that time. And, even during the reign of man we are and have been of little consequence.
Imagine you are an alien visiting Planet Earth.
What will you find on landing here?
A desert, probably the water desert. Over 70% of the surface of the Earth is water and most of the sea is without life. Almost all marine species are found in the shallow fringes of our oceans. If not the water desert, an alien would almost certainly land in a perceived uninhabited area. Most of our landmass is either desert, mountains, forest, or vast areas of grassland, either natural savannah or cultivated. Most of this is teeming with life, but not human life. An alien would be pretty unlikely to land on one of mankind's cities. Our cities, despite all their problems for our atmosphere, actually cover an infinitesimal area of our globe's surface.
This is a bug's world and will probably be seen as such.
A brainless, bugs' instinct-driven world!
But the bugs will almost certainly outlive us. They are too numerous to be eliminated by the food chain.
Returning to the Atlantic Ocean for a moment. I was a cruise director for a number of years and was continually crossing the Atlantic Ocean. It was a rare event to ever see another ship, actually an event for wonder and the tooting of horns!
In the same way, consider the air space above us. You would think when you see the statistics of the number of planes in the air at any given time that we would see them above us all the time, but we don't. After you take off you truly are unlikely to see another plane until you land. Isn't that so?
So, is the planet really about us?
When we study most of our religions we would think the planet is all about us, especially in the Judeo-Christian religions that also include Islam.
It is seemingly obvious, however, that the planet is not all about us, or our salvation in any truly human form in any future hereafter.
Let us return to the brain for a moment.
Our reasoning brain gives us an indoctrinated idea of what our life is about and who we are.
What happens when we dream?
We recognize and interpret much from our reasoned world in our dreams, but order and time can be very different.
In our relaxed sleep state, somehow our brain collects its information rather differently than in our highly indoctrinated wakened state.
Our dreams are still coming through our brain, but one of the reasons we forget them so easily is that when we awake we are again in our 100% indoctrinated world.
Which world is reality? The dream state or the perceived real world?
So...What is truth?
Here we come to Quantum Physics.
I am not a mathematician, but it is a perceived fact that ever since Einstein and his theory of relativity, higher mathematics has been able to present us with a world where mathematical theory can in essence disprove the dimensional restriction within our brain of time. We are multi-dimensional beings if we can overcome the restriction of time. Without going in to the complications of string theory and all the other mathematical machinations of experts like Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University, we are at a point where our scientific knowledge might be taking us beyond the portal of what was once our brain's reasoned boundary.
If we can free ourselves from the limited indoctrinational field of our brain with its restrictions, we can become multi-dimensional beings.
Perhaps, it is only because of the restrictions that became imposed on us by the brain that we ceased to know that we are multi-dimensional beings.
Yet, religion has always been there because we have been curious to know what might be there for us beyond the portal of becoming brain dead, the condition of death.
Do we ever die?
Again, mathematically, we now see ourselves as a force, part of the magnetic force of the universe that never dies. Humans have experienced glimpses into the supernatural as long as we have been around, and now in a post-Einstein world we are beginning to understand why. We are not restricted by time. Once in a while, often if history is accurate, in the dream state, but not always; sometimes through closeness to death; or through shocked conditions brought on by illness or even paralysis; and probably experienced by most of us in our pre-memory condition as babies, as yet not indoctrinated, within and immediately without of the womb, we get a glimpse of something beyond the portal of our limited brain experience. These are timeless experiences, probably lived within the mathematical reality of Quantum Physics. Because of our human brain's limitations we have been forced to interpret these experiences in terms of a relationship between us and the unknown that we call a relationship with the supernatural, the gods, God the creator, various avatars of either, ghosts and in its most primitive, or most sophisticated form, a dialogue between our human experience and our quantum experience. We call this religion.
In essence, religion is, therefore, man-made, but the experience may be Divine.
Which is the truth?
A book that had a great influence on me in the 1960's was the famous astronomer Carl Sagan's The Dragons of Eden. In this book, in order to see evolution as part of Cosmic evolution, Carl Sagan traces the growth of the human brain, uncovering its layers in such a way as to take us back to our most primitive form where our brain is little more than locomotionary and reproductive experience. It develops in various life forms, at least on this planet, through stages of instinct that Carl Sagan terms the Reptilian brain, a part of our brains that we still have, and almost all moving life forms have. Finally, in the neo-cortex we developed as animals and mammals a cognitive part of the brain, the part that most rapidly developed in Homo Sapiens or man. When the first cells started to divide in our primeval oceans, the reproductive brain was born. When the first seaweed and plants started to reproduce their seeds through the pollination of outside sources they were using the primitive reproductive brain. In neither case did they know that they were doing this.
Both in fighting sea currents and the breezes of the atmosphere, these primitive life forms developed a locomotionary addition to the brain. As the fish and reptilian life forms developed from the primitive free moving creatures they developed an instinctive brain based on survival, primarily digestive, a part of the brain we too have inherited from them. As animals, the instincts within, developed further to accommodate fear and need—the very primitive start of a psychological brain. Species that become shapeshifters or chameleons today are an obvious example of this part of the brain in action. Many species are a lot more adept in this than we are, but we are possessed of these abilities, too, deep down in our reptilian brain. More of that later. Finally, some animals and especially mammals, started to develop the cognitive brain, giving us reason. In our eyes, this has made us the most dominant species on the planet, but as I said earlier, it could easily become our downfall.
If it becomes our downfall, will we truly be able to say that this was the quality that made us in God's image?
Unfortunately, when we consider God's image, we have been forced throughout most of our history to see this in human terms. Hence, the image that most religions have held of gods in the sky mirroring humans on Earth, and in reverse, our hope that when we die and go through that unknown portal, we will continue in a human experience of life with our gods.
I asked at the beginning, whom among you may not be of Christian, or Jewish, or Islamic background. Most of you are. As such you, and I can include myself, so we, are from the monotheistic, one-God tradition. We have seen this one God over a mere four thousand-plus years of human life, as a supernatural human being with whom we have formed a partnership and a dialogue. We can talk to him in our own language. He, she or it, presumably has a brain and can reason for us and give us human-like answers. He, she or it, seems to be very concerned that we should live according to a certain moral code, basically the ten commandments, and at times this God has told us through dialogue with men we believed to be his messengers, that if we do not abide by his rules we may not experience a heavenly experience through the portal of death, but might be condemned to a Divine but hellish judgment, meted out by one of his fallen angels—The Devil. Thus our Judeo-Christian based religions have become a fight in this life between good and evil, God and the Devil, and in order to create a better world both here and through the portal of death, it has become our task to renounce evil.
This was fine as a human brain-constructed concept, until the Nineteenth Century when science started to undermine some of its precepts. First, it was geology. Our world was obviously a great deal older than the 6,014 years that can be mathematically worked out from our Holy Book—the Bible. Many of us in the Nineteenth Century, and today, had and have been conditioned to believe in the Bible as the Word of God. This is not truth, however, if it becomes a belief. It is indoctrination. The second great challenge was Darwin and his theory of evolution.
Are we made in the image of God?
We can't physically be so if we have evolved. Darwin was certainly not scientifically correct in everything he deduced, but some theory of evolution is widely accepted by a majority of scientists in our world today. However, you do not have to believe in a theory of evolution, for it too, is indoctrination. You can choose to believe in Creationism, and still uphold that we were created after everything else in the physical image of that God with whom we can hold a spiritual dialogue. But, remember that Creationism, too, is indoctrination.
A small book was published in 1960 by a New Testament Theologian from Cambridge University who became the Episcopal Bishop of Woolwich in England. It was titled Honest to God. It tore the Anglican church apart, because it was the first time a Bishop of the Church actually dared to say that God was possibly not a god in the sky as a being with whom we could communicate in human terms, but an experience deep within us, possibly the first cause of creation, not just going back to the division of those first cellular forms of life in planet Earth's primeval seas, but back to the creation of all that is, the inanimate as well as the animate, the creator of every vibrating atom of our evolving universe. Until then, most of us looked at God and the Divine through a telescope creating an ever-larger understanding of the superhuman divine in our own image. After that, many have chosen to see God and the Divine through a microscope, going further and further within to our most primitive cellular make up—God the first creator of pre-universal energy.
What is the purpose of Religion?
If we believe it is for the ordering of our human lives both here, and hopefully for a hereafter, there is no reason not to live by the tenets of our Judaic, Christian or Islamic backgrounds. If we live in the spirit of these faiths, we should create a better, more just society in this life that will give us hope for something as good, if not better, through the portal.
But is this truth?
The quest to find the truth broadens as our world shrinks.
For two thousand years Western civilization has largely been Judaic, Christian or Islamic.
In the last three hundred years, however, it has steadily rubbed shoulders with other belief systems around our planet, mainly in the East and Far East, but with links, too, to spiritual beliefs of native Americans.
First there was primitive animism—A belief that we are one with nature and the natural order. This can be found in elements of Native American religious or Spiritual beliefs, and is the backbone of Aboriginal belief, and the way of the Tao in ancient Chinese and Japanese belief. The irony is that primitive though this thought was three hundred years ago, it is now in a post-Darwin and post-Einstein world coming to the forefront of spiritual thinking, spurring alternatives to traditional religion.
Now, this is not to say that Eastern civilizations and Meso-American civilizations did not try to impose their human, brain-generated systems onto animistic beliefs. The results were Meso-American appeasement faiths culminating in the Maya and Aztec interpretations, and in the Eastern Hemisphere the growth of Zen, Confucianism and more notably, Hinduism and Buddhism. Leaving the Americas apart, the Far Eastern faiths developed by mankind, have one major difference to our western faiths. They do not specifically believe in the Devil as a fallen angel. This does not mean there are not devils or bad spirits in their belief systems, but there is no fundamental black and white good or evil in their systems. This is because of their original animistic belief in that eternal harmony of all nature of which we as man are just a part. Here, we come more to a philosophy than a religion—the philosophy of Yin and Yang.
Who can explain Yin and Yang to me?
It is all about balance. Yin is not evil and Yang is not good. To the Eastern sage everything is composed of both Yin and Yang. When in balance, the result will always be good, but if unbalanced the result will become bad. I sometimes describe these two qualities as the plus and minus currents of a battery. You must have both in equal distribution for the magnetic electrical flow to work. This is the eternal harmony. In the case of the battery, if the plus or the minus has run down, the battery will not work. The magnetic forces must be equal. This neatly removes the problem of evil. We create our own evil if we allow ourselves, or our world, to get out of the eternal balance of Yin and Yang.
An example: Fire is a balance of Yin and Yang when controlled. The Yin is the cool carbon of the wood or fossil fuel. Yang is the heat and brightness of the flame. In balance, fire protects us, heats us, cooks our food, and can even soothe us in candlelight or mesmerized meditation. If Yin gets greater than Yang it goes out, becomes cold, smells of decaying gasses etc. and the result is bad. If Yang is greater, it can catch our house on fire, cause harmful explosion, burn our flesh, blind us, and its extra gasses can asphyxiate us.
As the purpose of Eastern Religions springs out of this basic animist philosophy, these religions are not about a war between good and evil that leads to a judgment through the portal of death. In fact, death within these religions is only a stepping stone in an eternal journey back to the source. Hence their beliefs in reincarnation. The energy of God that is the motor of all life to the eastern sage can never be destroyed. It was in the beginning, is now, and evermore shall be. They do believe it can be perfected through a continuous wheel of life until the balance of Yin and Yang is perfect and we become one with the Divine—the creator of all that is. Because of the limitations of the brain, within Hinduism and Buddhism there is a tendency to see mankind as the pinnacle of the creation in terms of those reincarnations that does tend to explain our progression to eternal Divinity in somewhat human terms, often looking like a form of religious bribery. Hindi Temples and Buddhist shrines are full of ceremonies of appeasement mostly concerned with feeding and clothing the Divine gods and ultimately the Divine source of the gods—the Creator of all that is. At first it seems that these faiths are polytheistic in the extreme, there being a spirit and god for almost everything. But in reality, these are all simple divisions, mostly based in nature from animist origins, of a one, whole and complete source of eternal Divinity. This is very different to the Egyptian, Roman and Greek pantheons of semi-human gods and supergods that are only mirrors of ourselves.
So, what is this mysterious life-giving force of Divinity found in Eastern philosophy and faith?
We call it the Chi. If we look at God through that microscope and everything gets smaller and smaller we will go from cells, to molecules, to atoms, to atomic particles, until eventually, still at this time beyond our knowledge, we will reach the source of all that is—the pure energy of God. This is the Chi, and it flows through absolutely everything, whether it be an inanimate gas or rock to all animate life. It is the energy of the stuff of the entire universe. Some might call it stardust. The Chi is beyond time. It was the same before we were, it is the same within who and what we are, and it will be the same beyond the portal wherever or whatever we are.
Now, you might see we have come full circle. The Chi fits in nicely with the mathematics of Quantum Physics. It is eternity; it is mathematically infinity. Here, we come to one of the most interesting aspects of Quantum Physics conclusions. If there is no past, present, or future, outside our personal perception through the limited boundaries of our human brain, could everything just be one—the perfect hologram? Could you only exist because I choose through my brain to allow you to exist? If I were one with the source, the Chi, everything would be my creation and there would be no miracles as everything would be the one miracle. We do not know beyond the portal of death, but as multi-dimensional beings, once freed of the brain's boundaries we might experience, even if not know, the reality of the oneness of Divinity.
Within the Judaic-Christian tradition our more avant-garde theologians like to refer to this possible future experience as our union with the Cosmic Christ. The Christ, is of course, not Jesus' name. It is the Greek 'Christos' that in turn is a translation from the Aramaic 'Messiah' meaning 'Anointed One'. If we are all possessed of the Chi we are in that sense all Divine or 'Anointed Ones'. If we are living in a total hologram, likewise we are the 'Anointed One', the total sum of all that is. If, as I have somewhat suggested in my series of novels, The Magdala Trilogy, Jesus' real message was that we are all possessed of his Divinity, it is not hard to come to an understanding of a Cosmic Christ. Nor is it difficult to translate much of our Christian lifestyle into terms of Christ Consciousness in our daily manifestation of the Christ in our lives. Philo, the Jewish philosopher of Alexandria and a near contemporary of Jesus, saw God somewhat in this light, as does the Johannine literature in the New Testament. In the beginning was the Logos (the Greek for wise word, or the rational principle that governs and develops the universe) and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. St. John 1:1-5
These definitions do allow us to go beyond indoctrination through the limitations of our brain logic, allowing us a Cosmic multi-Dimensional understanding of God, but still using the Christian story of our indoctrination. Perhaps this is where Christianity is going, but not without a fight from those who want belief to be the only truth, and faith to be its only manifestation.
Quantum Physics is here to stay. It is now a mathematical proof.
Where do we encounter it in our daily lives?
The Medical field is today opening up to Quantum Physics. Medicine has taken a turn from killing the symptoms to preventing the disease. Much that at one time was considered the work of shamans, witch doctors, magicians, sorcerers and assorted prophets, saints, gurus and Holy men, is now seen to be an area where we travel through the portal from what is scientifically proven fact to what is supernaturally known. As mentioned earlier, certain animals shapeshift. Who is to say that at some time humans might develop that instinct, too. Shamans in the Philippines and other areas of the Far East can physically perform internal surgery with their hands alone. The body is not cut, but organs are removed with little loss of blood because healing is instant. If we are not indoctrinated into believing that the body has been opened up by the cut of a knife, why should we not see that just by rearranging the tight molecular structure of our skin we can enter into the molecular structure of our bodies. Everything is only different vibrations of atoms in molecular structure, whether it be in skin, flesh, organ, or bone. Likewise, if we are conditioned to believing in pain we will experience pain, but in reality why should we experience pain. The Chinese art of medical acupuncture achieves just this. Whole operations are performed in China without anesthesia, relying on acupuncture alone. I have personally witnessed open heart and thyroid surgeries being performed in a Shanghai hospital with the patient wide awake and watching the procedure with a smiling face not stressed with pain. Chiropractors are today, as much conscious of the movement of Chi energy for healing as the maneuvering of bones. The body, in network chiropractic experience, heals itself through the direction of the Chi. We call this the body's innate intelligence. The Chi, the first energy, the Divine energy, realigns the atoms and molecular structures through its own eternal force—a Quantum force. Practices like Yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates, are also all about placing the body in such a state that the Divine Chi deep within us can work its magic.
Life is about the alignment of atoms, whether it be the explosive creative force of an astronomical birthing of new stars in an ever-expanding universe, or the fluttering of the wings of a butterfly that in turn changes the position of every atom within the atmosphere of our planet—The Buttefly Effect (An article of mine about this was in the News-Leader only last week). When a drop of rain falls in the ocean, every atom of the ocean is realigned. When we go through the portal surely our energy will also be realigned. It is forever; it is Divine. Is that beyond indoctrination?
Is that truth?
January 7, 2011