Sunday, May 24, 2009

BOOK REVIEW – “SACRED DEMISE: Walking the Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse” by Carolyn Baker, Ph.D.

by

Michael C. Ruppert

[Author: “Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil” and “A Presidential Energy Policy: Twenty-five points Addressing the Siamese Twins of Energy and Money”]

In the rare instances where I come across a book that is a feast for the mind and soul I wrestle with it as with a lover. Pages get dog-eared, the pen comes out and notes appear all over. Great passages are underlined. There are coffee and wine stains. This marks my affair with a great book. “Sacred Demise” is the first such book I have read in many years. In spite of the profoundly disturbing topic: the collapse of industrial civilization and possible extinction of the human race; it is a book which has left me feeling joyful, hopeful, humorous and deeply comforted. It has made me love more completely and – in that process – has allowed me to be more alive in this present moment.

This isn’t a mass-consumption book nor should it be. My life and experience have taught me that few humans have evolved or are aware enough to even grasp its significance. The book is like a great sacred text from antiquity that makes us love our forbears and take comfort in our connectedness to them. If intelligent life is able to find “Sacred Demise” in two or three millennia I can see it being revered as a great testament to what our potential as a species might have been… or might yet become.

“Sacred Demise” is an incredible how-to, first-aid, healing map and manual of how one can navigate an aware psyche through the emotional and spiritual challenges of collapse – to find and to give love, comfort and even great joy in the midst of pain, despair and death. It teaches and reminds us that death is not a bad word but a “parenthesis in eternity” as Joel Goldsmith wrote. I know of no one who has had the courage to address these crying needs in detail and Baker is uniquely qualified to do it. Every ounce of her heart, mind and soul were committed to this book’s writing and that is clearly evident throughout. This book is an act of love. I am no different than any human in that I respond instantly and involuntarily when I see that someone has the courage to place a naked heart in front of my eyes. It reminds me that we are never stronger than when we are most vulnerable.

The book’s genesis comes from Baker’s clear statement that, “while many individuals will be able to physically navigate collapse, some will not be able to do so emotionally”. I consider the book to be profoundly spiritual, although others may approach it as a psychological or cultural text that finally and beautifully addresses what I have seen as a crying need to deal with the emotions that collapse surfaces. Emotions ignored always return to bite us on the behind. They sap rather than enhance our strength. “Sacred Demise” is an emotional and spiritual guide for the treatment of those of us who understand what collapse means and by which we can give comfort, aid, assistance and great strength to ourselves and to those we love.

As Baker points out consistently – while fearlessly acknowledging that civilization and the species may become extinct soon – here is a pathway to choose not only which physical parts or our lives may endure, but what core values survive the transition and die-off. She reminds us that to be truly effective, “we must come to grips with our own mortality.”

I have known Baker for many years. We have worked closely together and shared many painful “initiations”. I am not at all surprised that she cites many spiritual books that I have long treasured and also delves deeply into Native-American spirituality for its close connection to a planet that “civilization” has cut us off from. Nor am I surprised that we have both arrived at exactly the same conclusions. What I am surprised at is Baker’s Herculean research, her incredible depth and her broad, multi-discipline and multi-cultural approach. She does not confuse the reader, she refreshingly reminds us that truth and knowledge based upon harmony and balance with all life are universal truths once liberated from artificial labels and knee-jerk induced intellectual door slamming..

The book’s greatest use will be in guiding and comforting those of us who are “hospice” workers for industrial civilization. Having written on the subject of collapse for almost a decade I have longed for something that would comfort me and the great many who have labored to awaken mass consciousness to the gravity of the current crisis. As on a battlefield one inevitably asks, who or what will care for the caregivers? This is that book.
***********************************************************************************
Jenna Orkin adds:


MCR and I are on the same wave length only going in opposite directions at the moment. As he was writing his review of Carolyn's book, I was writing the dyspeptic article below on the same subject.

It would appear we have different points of view on the matter of spirituality but I suspect that a glance beneath the surface would reveal a deeper convergence and harmony.

Let me also say straight out that I haven't read Carolyn's book yet. Plan to, as I greatly admire her work at FTW and on her website. From all that I know about Carolyn, she's solidly grounded in reality and is a bona fide shrink to boot so none of the comments below refer to anything like the work she does.

That said, I gotta tell you that spirituality makes me gag. Not the thing, which I wouldn't know if it fell on me, but the word. It is amorphous, vague, indulgent, meaningless and vapid. It gets us nowhere unless uttered in the company of a joint which gets some people somewhere - high, they tell me - but that's another thing that doesn't work for me although I will grant it's very real for some people.

As a word, it reeks of the West Coast.

I love the West Coast. Malibu's beautiful. Venice is a carnival. And the West Coast can't be beat for movies.

But. But. When they start waxing spiritual on you, well... climate change can't swallow up that Venice fast enough.

What is this 'spirituality' that the spiritual bandy about in their more-spiritual-than-thou tone? Is it like wealth? If you have to ask how much the yacht costs, you ain't got it?

No I ain't. I live in the real, dog-eat-dog world (a misnomer of course since dogs - faithful, good-natured creatures that they are except when nasty humans mistreat them - intuitively understand spirituality.) People do things for reasons, whether they're conscious of those reasons or not. The reasons may be telic which is to say, purposeful. Or they may be aetiological, driven by prior events. In other words reasons can lie in the past or the future or there can be a combination of both. But there are reasons and uncovering them can be helpful, if you need help.

But spirituality is a cop-out. It introduces a deus ex machina that has nothing to do with the plot. And that's cheating. Doesn't work. You can't get there from here.

Herein lies the true continental divide between LA and NY. We New Yorkers are lifelong analysands. Even when we leave therapy, it doesn't leave us. We think like pseudo-shrinks. We talk like pseudo-shrinks. This is our particular way of driving each other crazy (in addition to standing in the doorway of the subway car so no one else can get on) and getting each other out of the craziness that the other pseudo-shrinks have driven us into.

It is our local national pastime. When the emphasis is on 'pseudo' you get psychobabble which is as nauseating as any other quack remedy. But when the analysand has absorbed at least some of the lessons of therapy, you get something real.

Not Enlightenment. You don't become a Spiritual Person, one who's simply risen above the pettiness and moral squalor of this fucked up world. You get insight so that instead of levitating to the next plane, you can walk there (or at least out of your quagmire,) step by step. (It sounds as though Carolyn's book can actually help with that process.)

This rant is probably going to invite a slew of outraged, pseudo-calm 'reflections' in defense of spirituality along with patient explanations and kindly guidance. Some will be published because some of you enjoy this sort of thing. Then I'll gag and that'll be that.

I know. I asked for it. Take a deep breath and count to ten. One... two.... Oh fuck it.

56 comments:

Per said...

As a guy who grew up in New York and now lives in Portland, which is not quite West Coast, I share Jenna's discomfort with some notions of spirituality.

We all know our daily reality. If spirituality can't connect with that, what's it for?

Every day a million more pure souls get born into the blood and shit of the world's battlefield.

But I'm just an educated peasant trying to understand quantum physics. Trying to ask the right questions.

gerard said...

Wow,Mz. Orkin, Methinks yuse was a bit vague about your true feelings re the spiritual realm. As a born and bred Manhattanite, now living out here in the capital of "woo-woo" land (aka the Bay Area), I can attest to the validity of that which we describe as spiritual. When one recognizes the existence of a non-physical reality, whether it is viewed as Casper the Ghost stuff, the Alpha/Omega guys, the universe electric etc., etc., one can be profoundly impacted in a Copernican revolution type way. Everything changes ... and yet ... yet ... everything stays the same. Great work you guys do, btw

ericmix said...

Dear Jenna,

Thank you for your candid discussion of the term "spirituality." I agree that the word is far too easily tossed into conversation. I myself have used the word with greater frequency over the past few years, possibly for lack of more concise terminology for describing the sense of peace and connectedness that I increasingly feel with everyone and everything. Having just read the dictionary.com definition, it is apparent that I have been using the word incorrectly for some time; therefore, I will cease and desist! Maybe I'll coin my own term to describe my feeling of connection to all life as well as the drive that I feel to improve myself, not just for my own benefit, but also for the benefit of everyone with whom I have contact. I Never used the word in reference to any organized religion, and I doubt that I ever will, for what it's worth ; ) Once again, thanks for the point of contemplation. I enjoy your writing and commentary!
Kind Regards,
Eric

Sebastian Ronin said...

MCR and JO:

You two crack me up! You have set the tone for, what will likely be, very boisterous and colourful commentary.

I can relate to the "great divide" i.e. West Coast vs East Coast. I lived most of my adult life in Vancouver, however was raised in Toronto (after having been born in Vienna, which is even more east LOL). I have smoked my share of pot and had hair down to my balls, but have never been a hippie.

As such, I am leaning towards JO's take on spirituality with this one. We have devolved in many aspects to a society of touchy-feely, sensitive feelings, hand-wringing, head shit voyeurs...and arrogantly call it "spiritual values."

My own take on what constitutes "spirituality" dates back a couple of centuries. Firstly, it is nothing if it is not back by some kind of action; one must demonstrate where one stands. If not, it is all a useless and self-centered crock. Contained within those parameters are honour, courage, duty, etc., all those types of values that have become obscenities in our world of Oprah and Dr. Phil ontologies.

Lephrenic said...

What she said.

Jenna Orkin said...

evil has left a new comment on your post "BOOK REVIEW – “SACRED DEMISE: Walking the Spiritua...":

I agree with you Jenna, and will add that anything that's measured by faith and proved by dying is not going to help us on a practical level.

I don't want someone to tell me how to feel or emotionally connect with consequences of the disasters we are facing.

I want someone to help me keep the neighborhood cats from eating the sweet corn!

Maybe next time we'll start societies without money lenders. The entire concept of home "loans" which keep us slaves has always been revolting to me, and recently my lack of faith in these un-questioned social systems has been horribly confirmed......

Jenna Orkin said...

pine has left a new comment on your post "BOOK REVIEW – “SACRED DEMISE: Walking the Spiritua...":

Jenna: This is only for you, in response to what you wrote on spirituality, so there is no need to post it please unless you decide to do so for some higher reasons, unknown to me.

A Big Hug to you. Agreed. There will never be any salvation to human mind if thinking abandons itself. Mathematical logic of 20th century validated Thomistic scholastics and Aristotelian logic, even in light of tertiary ( vs binary) system, and proved that analogy is not a category of truth.

Precisely because of this:
If you happen to read German, check Rudolf Steiner (and not his followers please) - first the books which he has written himself, then his lectures may be. There are many English translations available, but none of them is scholarly, none of them has the necessary glossas, and I have not yet come across one which would not have errors. Still: if German is not an option for you, you can try translations. Especially in what he wrote himself, they are a feasible, albeit not the smoothest, possibility. You are a musician, your inner ear will guide you....

Carolyn Baker said...

Thanks for your bone marrow honesty Jenna. For me, now living in New England, there are numerous ways to approach this issue. One can become ensnared by semantics in using words like "spirituality." But for as long as the human species has been around, people, especially our indigenous ancestors, have known that there is "something more" than what their five senses reveal. I'm not picky about the words used to describe that "something more." Socrates made it his mission in life to assist people in looking more deeply into themselves and asking, "Who am I really?" Plato talked about the shadows on the wall of the cave. The list is almost endless: Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Kant, William Blake, Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson (definitely not from Venice Beach), Einstein, David Bohm, Allen Ginsberg, Karen Armstrong--all articulating something about that "something more" in their own inimitable ways.

Essentially, what I'm saying in Sacred Demise is quite simple yet very profound: That Western civilization is in the throes of collapse, that not only do we all need to hunker down and learn how to logistically navigate it, but that we also must have access to tools for the psyche and the heart for what is certain to be a journey that will take a huge toll on us emotionally and put in our faces myriad questions of meaning and purpose whether we want to contemplate them or not. In the book, I've attempted to provide some of those tools and assist the reader in creating more of her own because I believe that whether living in Manhattan or in the Amazon rainforest, an essential indigenous self within all of us possesses a "true North" of "something more" within us that civilization has almost, but not quite, succeeded in destroying. Perhaps one of the hidden treasures of collapse is that it has the potential to redirect us to that fixed point in a changing universe.

I'll be interested in hearing your thoughts and feelings after you've read it.

Athene said...

Couldn't have said it better myself, Jenna.

--From the "Land of 'Spiritual Materialism'", Crestone, Colorado.

(And with many thanks to Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche for coining that term.)

MCR said...

Since when did I ever suggest that we stop thinking? C'mon, it's me.

You guys are fighting over what you think spirituality means and loading it with your own preconceptions. Neither Carolyn or I are crystal-worhipping, airy-fairy New Agers. And Carolyn's in Vermont which I though was on the East Coast side.

In Carolyn's book I would define spirituality -- at least in part -- as a way of relating to all things living that not only includes and welcomes analysis but acknowledges connections that analysis can't fathom.

My success in life is because I analyze, but also because I see a wholeness that western, industrial thought misses.

It's the belief in pure anaylsis and mastery of facts that has placed our leaders and economic paradigm in the position of thinking that they can keep everything growing if only they think harder. Without spirituality, as some see it, man is still in the arrogant position of thinking he's better than God, all the animals, and all life.

I recall a line from Herbert Spencer which I'll paraphrase, "Nothing bars man from learning, undertsnading and growth more than contempt prior to investigation."

Guess you might want to actually read the book before saddling Carolyn and me with loaded definitions of spirituality which might not be hers or mine.

Go ahead everybody, blow off some steam. It's good for us. But please don't flood me out yet Jenna. Rags and I are still living here. Thank you.

Smooch to everybody.

MCR

KimB said...

Well Jenna ( and I very much hope this gets published, and not censored yet again), that would explain your complete rejection of the point I was trying to make about the deep significance of "The Tower" card in the Tarot, in relation to our collective turning point - not literally of course, but allegorically. From the writings of both MCR and Carolyn Baker, I very much think they would see my point. Further, there is much more in heaven and earth than we shall ever know - and believe me, I've had personal experience of it (and without particularly searching in that direction either). Neither am I the least bit "Flaky," I'm a Registered Nurse, mum of three, married to the same great guy for over 30 years, and a local peak oil activist (just ask Andrew McNamara, ex-Queensland MP about that, I initiated/arranged his presentation to my local council, after first coming across his speeches to the Qld Parliament on the FTW site). I suggest a reading of "The Tao Physics" by Frijof Capra (a leading physicist). He explores how ancient wisdom connects with new discoveries in Quantum Physics. Further, energy cannot be destroyed, only transformed. That's a basic physical law, which brings very neatly to the mortality (or otherwise), of human consciousness. And on that subject, I was very pleased to read MCR's extensive reference to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in his new book, who I guess must be completely beyond the pale for yourself (especially her later work). BTW, read the new book in a couple of days. Brilliant stuff. Reminded me of the searing honesty in some AA meetings I've been to (worked in a hospital detox unit for over 10 years).

kimspages.org

KimB said...

PS - "Spirituality" for me is NOT about "Rising above" the "Mire." It's about experiencing in the sacred in the mundane and practical (and the downright hedonistic). And think about it, all ancient indigenous cultures(including the so called "Witches"), held the natural World as sacred. Only since we've emptied nature of her sacredness, transformed her into some dead, inanimate "Thing," has our current dilemma become possible. Methinks those ancient sages knew a thing or two . . .

Sharon in Mississippi said...

First off, I think BOTH of you (MCR and Jenna) are LOVE-ly people.

Jenna, if you had a 4 year old son (maybe you do?) and were trying to introduce the concept of "sex-uality" to him, his reaction might be somewhat similar to yours:

"Ugh! Ya mean I'm supposed to like GIRLS? Girls make me gag!!!!!"

(ROFL)

Jenna Orkin said...

Heruka wrote in part: (Heruka, please forgive me for the edit. I assume you will understand why)

I would also caution against the one-eyed American exceptionalism that seems to be aflame in this thread - the world 'out there' en masse has far more truck with and time for 'spirituality' in its felt sense, than some of you east coast rationalists or west coast hedonism addicts appear to allow for. Remember that 80%+ of humans alive on the planet believe in reincarnation, for example.

Spirituality does not equate with monotheistic power structures or the capacity to speak English - it inheres in the 'heart-mind', the organ of contact and see-feeling, the place from which empathy and compassion arise. Forget that at your peril.

Carolyn Baker said...

Hi Jenna--Carolyn here. I posted a very thoughtful comment about three hours ago, but apparently I didn't do it correctly because it isn't here now.

First, thank you for your comments. I agree that spirituality has become quite vague and has been bandied about to absurdity by the New Age Nausea crowd, some of whom live on the West Coast.

I'd like to reply as someone who now lives in New England. First, I like to distinguish between the term "spirit" and "soul", and even though the word "spiritual" is in the subtitle of my book, I am actually more comfortable with "soul" which of course Motown did not invent. The term "spirit" tends to convey the notion of that which is higher, more ethereal, and non-human, whereas "soul" is actually the English translation of the Greek word "psyche." It refers to that which is visceral, emotional, and earth-connected. I suppose that if I had it to do over again, I probably would have used "soul" in the title of my book, rather than "spiritual."

That said, from the moments that humans began scribbling stuff on cave walls, they have expressed notions about "something greater" than the human world perceivable with the five senses. Socrates made it his mission in life to get in the face of the Greeks and demand that they ask themselves who they really were on a "soul" level. Plato wrote about that which is behind the shadows on the walls of caves. A long line of brilliant individuals since the ancient Greeks who criticized or wanted nothing to do with organized religion have continued to ask questions about soul and the greater than human world.

Examples include: Rumi, Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhart, Da Vinci, Marsilio Ficino, William Blake, Oscar Wilde, Emily Dickinson (who was certainly not from Venice Beach), Rilke, Jung, Einstein, David Bohm, Allen Ginsberg, Karen Armstrong--to name just a few.

In Sacred Demise, I have done what no one so far has done, namely offer the one perspective that no one has yet discussed. We have myriad books on preparing for the collapse of Western civilization on a logistic level, but no one has yet delved into the emotional aspects of collapse and how our psyches process the end of the world as we have known it.

Collapse will bring forth nothing if not questions of meaning and purpose. Sacred Demise attempts to offer a roadmap for the emotional journey as well as address issues of meaning and purpose in the collapse process. Hopefully, all of that will assist the reader in delving deeply into her/his own "soul of collapse" to find ever new tools for navigating unprecedented loss and change.

Sacred Demise was born out of my gut and my frustration with people who refuse to look at collapse because they can see it only as a negative phenomenon. Growing weary as we all are of the denial factor, I wanted to do what I have done all my life which is to go deeper. So utilizing the tools of indigenous and symbol-aware peoples throughout history, I explored in the book the notion of collapse on the soul/psyche level.

"Sacred" has nothing to do with religion or even spirituality but with the ancient concept of reverence--noticing that some events like birth, death, and yes, collapse, are unique. "Sacred" is also related to the word "sacrifice" which collapse is bringing about on many levels. "Sacrifice" forces people to make choices about what is important and what isn't, and a certain "reverence" must be held as really, really tough and unprecedented choices are made.

OK, anonymous comments are not accepted here, so just to be clear, this is Carolyn Baker, author of Sacred Demise. I look forward to ongoing dialog.

Jenna Orkin said...

To clarify, particularly to Carolyn and Mike:

As indicated in the beginning of the article, I started writing it with no thought of or reference to Carolyn's book which they tell me is on its way here. But then Mike wrote his review which I endorse 1000% and I appended my related thoughts which as I took pains to underline, AREN'T about Carolyn's book. How could they be? I haven't read it. Or about Mike's reaction. I wrote my diatribe ignorant of both.

Carolyn picked that up when she said she's not particular about semantics and used the word 'spiritual' to describe the intangible in life, the "something more."

That's all I was doing, was railing about the word and the way it's misused.

For not all religion or spirituality is a crock. But since it is by definition unknowable and certainly unprovable then like psychotherapy, it lends itself to quackery.

It would be perhaps even easier to take potshots at psychobabble which is far more pervasive than pseudo-spirituality. But that's been done ad nauseam.

And MCR is certainly spot on when he says he's gotten where he is via analysis. Dere ain't no one who's done more unflinching bull's eye analysis about more important issues nowhere.

All these apparent divergences are reconcilable. They appear opposed because we use shorthand words and phrases and don't spell out the details. But there's no conflict here. Thesis and apparent antithesis fuse smoothely to synthesis.

Sebastian Ronin said...

Something that entertains me to no end is the degree of humility that accompanies any discussion of spirituality. The double-bind/paradox clamps shut. Any discussion of spirituality ensures that it is not.

Palooka's Revenge said...

MCR and Jenna... well, i must say both your comments are some of the most poignent words i've ever read from each of you. and thats saying something!! and in my view a reflection of exactly where we are along the path of whatever. the point of baring the soul of U and all that it is. the heart. the mind. the emotions. the body. the shadow. to the core. to examine. to choose.

spiritual jenna? no offense darlin but what you wrote, from my perspective, IS spirituality! and yes, when... "You get insight so that instead of levitating to the next plane, you can walk there (or at least out of your quagmire,) step by step."... you are walking in spirituality. in reason for being. as the dog.

me? if i can't take all of myself with me then i don't wanna go!

death? death is anti-life. period! a highly misunderstood dynamic. we've bought into the flim-flam idea we must die to have life. duh!!! what if that were only an idea in the original dream? an idea in the U of infinite ideas presented for examination? to choose if it feels right place? or not? what was it RFK used to say... some dream of things that are and ask why. i dream of things that never were and ask why not?


spiritual? i can think of no word in any language that has been so bastardized, so rationalized, so twisted, so demonized by the various interpretations of it by people who insist they walk in it with god on their side.

John said...

Your post has made for a mirthful day! The idea of spirituality in your readers is obviously as subjective, confused and muddy as you say it is. Even you are confused :-) You say you don't get it, and wouldn't know it if it fell on you, but you know that your dog knows it. How do you know this, and why is your idea of spirituality suddenly so clear?

Just playing with you!

p.s.

The Greek distinguishes "spirit" (pneuma) from the mental (psyche). The mental includes the mind as an idea producer, as capable of imagination, and as comprising emotional states. All that pertains to "psyche." Most moderns seem to confuse the two spheres, and have no clear notions of "pneuma."

Douglas R. Page said...

Berkeley is my mecca and I became a functioning human because of 5 years on the couch and 5 more years of group therapy. However, it is my our dna to need something more. In my view the 12 step progams provide an answer. When the athiest alcoholic shows up for a meeting,and says that he does not believe in God, someone will tell him to "fake it until you make it." Spirituality can mean simply the fixed assumption or "acting as if" there is a loving energy presence in the Universe who loves each of us and wants each of us to love each other. It is on this foundation that the wisdom tradition is built. E. F. Schumacher in his book, A Guide for the Perplexed, stated in objective non-spiritual terms the 4 great questions that make up the Wisdom Tradition. This fixed assumption is for the three other fields of human wisdom, other than the fourth field which is science. Science can tell us why some things work, and how to make things, but it cannot tell us WHETHER they should be made. Science enabled Robert Oppenheimer to make the atom bomb, but it cannot provide the answer to whether or not wise humans should make it. I am as unhappy with "religion" and spirituality as anybody, but there is something there for the few who seek wisdom, beyond facts.

wxdude714 said...

BLS site for unemployment by county. It's pretty cool, you can pick a state and see where the hardest hit counties are unemployment wise.


http://data.bls.gov/map/servlet/map.servlet.MapToolServlet?state=24&datatype=unemployment&year=2009&period=M03&survey=la&map=county&seasonal=u

RanD said...

After revisiting the last sentence of RanD's most recent FTW comment (Mar 18, 2009: "Wake up brothers and sisters, the only way into the future is via spiritual-mental -- not physical -- means."), it's absolutely wonderful to see the sudden return of a spiritual-mental thread wherewith the FTW family can perhaps attempt establishing and sustaining optimal focus on our potential for revealing a world beyond where we've been since the advent our most recent attempt to find what we're looking for.

Thanks Carol! Thanks Michael! Thanks Jenna! And thanks to all FTW commenters with the chutzpah sufficient to engage these ultimately trepidatious, ultimately socio-psychologically self-rewarding world!

I see it as time to begin freeing the horse from our past's worn out old cart... time to rid ourselves of all the progressively useless developmental baggage we were dragging along with us! Time to get into the fun & adventure of it all! Gloom & doom?! Ha! That's bullshit!

paris19 said...

Jenna et al.,
Perhaps this group could understand the perspective of a Nietzsche/Plato reader.

Philology! The art of slow reading.

Texts, to be properly "read", must be approached with a certain method. It is assumed that the text is corrupted or modified. The author(s) have an agenda that they are not completely aware of and it is our task as readers to find it. The "text" is surface, AND depth (Henry James is an excellent modern illustration). Each word has a meaning that is unique for the author(s) (has anyone here ever read Hegel?). The first habit to overcome is to assume you understand the text because the ideas or language are "familiar". This is the readers principle error, incapacity to apprehend the "new". Nietzsche used the term "thought schemata" to describe this phenomenon.

So, what does this have to do with Jena's comments? The idea of "spirituality" is a text fragment! Like a pixel in a digital image, once separated from the image, it is incomplete, detached from the "text" that gives it meaning or "body". If one is interested in the phenomenon of human consciousness and/or the nature of it "all", there are many traditions that have explored it in depth: Tao, Bön, Sufi, Buddhist, Western philosophy and/or science to name a few... Each delves into the "high country of the mind" in its way. Can any of these traditions be called "spiritual"? Sure, why not? You create the meaning within your text. Do all of these traditions use the concept of "spirituality", of course, but each in a very specific and unique way.

In Plato's table of the Ideas one of the difficulties was the use of the "one" and the "many" as applicable through "participation" in our realm. How can water BE "one" AND "many"? Doesn't this lead to a contradiction? No, because the Ideas are articulated by the Idea of "Other". The concept of 'water' is "one" as it has a unified meaning, which is "other" than our experience of water in its "many" particular states. can the same be said of "spirituality"? There are dictionary definitions, general and conceptual, that separate the word from others and give it a certain ambiguous "unity". Then there are the "many" textual unique meanings created within the diverse traditions noted above.

So, it depends! If I read Nietzsche and he uses the word "spirit" its nothing like Lopon Tenzin Namdak. So, the question is, for the benefit of all, in just what text do you find "spirituality" such a crock?

Lucidity and probity are what I have always appreciated at FTW, I hope this adds a bit...

soggybottom said...

Hi Jenna,
What a hornets nest you have stirred. Had to laugh when I saw how many commentaries there were. But whether it was your intention or not, maybe we do need to look a little further than the 'downfall' of life as we know it, and ask ourselves what sort of world we would like to inhabit in the future. Knowing what you want at least starts you off on the journey.
When I was teaching I explained to my students (I live in a Western/Christian country) the seven social laws of the ten commandments, on which our society is based. Namely:
Don't Kill
Don't Lie
Don't steal
Don't cheat
Respect those elders worthy of respect.
Take one day a week for rest and reflection (R & R)
But the seventh is harder to translate, Don't covet.
Maybe it is the most important because it seems to me we are in the mess we are in because of our collective covetousness.
I guess those seven laws will hold good for me in the future.
Keeping in touch with FTW regularly assures me I'm not insane to see what is happening to our world, whilst all around me are busy burying their heads.
Don't ever give up the lifeline you hold out to all of us

Rice Farmer said...

Look, way up there, on that rock outcropping high up on the mountain. See him? That’s the meditator. He’s there in the winter snows, the summer rains. He subsists on mist and ferns. He has seen the Eye of God. He knows he’s one with the cosmos.

Now look way down there, in the valley. Can you see them? It’s the peasants mucking about in their fields with their animals. They live in rude handmade homes. They have their planting and harvest festivals. Their every action is governed by natural cycles.

The meditator pities the peasants, who in turn think the meditator is out of his mind. But they are all enlightened in their own way.

MCR said...

I am so fucking loving this!

David said...

Been back and forth on whether I was going to stick my nose into this one or not. For surely, with each round of posts, there's the pathetic babble of...well, pathetic babblers. But then, by some twist of circumstance, the blog has managed to back itself into the most fundamental conversation, or consideration, that faces us. That being simply why, beyond the demands of eating and sleeping and reproducing and procuring some measure of security to fulfill those needs, do we do anything whatsoever that we do in life? Once we're fed, sheltered and screwed, what is it that informs the entire rest of life's actions? What is it that has one person determine that they're going to do everything they can to help, support and assist the victims of the 9/11 attack and another decide to join Blackwater Security and kill for a living and another decide to go to school to become an astronomer?

Every parent, in this culture at least, has faced their child innumerable times and had to answer the question "Why?". Why to I have to go to bed, do my homework, stop torturing the dog, wear clothes in public?

Conscious life begins with "why". Why is it this way and not that way? Who says so? What if I don't? What happens if I push this button, or say that? Kind of like MCR's remainders--what do I make of all that? Once we're fed sheltered and screwed, how do we navigate the rest? on what basis? according to what rules, considerations or consequences. How, once we're fed sheltered and screwed, do we decide what the fuck to do? Or for that matter what we're willing to do in order to be fed, sheltered or screwed?

Beyond my moods, biological drives, financial considerations, the opinions and judgments of my friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, peer groups, editorials, lobbying groups, various political and/or religious exhortations, to name a few, how do I chart a course?

Caroline Baker needn't have backed off from a perfectly useful expression for one possible means of sourcing one's actions--spirituality...of the spirit...of something larger than oneself and larger than all the other small and narrow and ignorant and selfish ways of determining what the fuck should I do.

You don't like the way the term is used, make up another one, or fight for that one. You know, Gandhi and MLK and Dick Cheney and General McChrystal and Genghis Khan and myself are/were all for "peace". Sooner or later, you've got to fight for the language or quit, because any new language will be coopted and corrupted as well.

Not surprising at all that the consideration of authentic spirituality goes in a pretty direct line to the understanding and perceptions of primitive cultures, which sourced their understanding, their wisdom, their spirituality, from nature, which was to them transparantly something bigger than themselves. Not surprising either that these were the last genuinely sustainable societies to live on earth.

And wouldn't you just know it, here we are on the precipice of utterly catastrophic climate change to reiterate the wisdom of those cultures we arrogantly crushed on the path to our material ascendancy.

You really don't have to be a genius or some kind of spiritual guru to figure all this out. All you have to do is come up with a reasonable answer to 2 pretty simple questions. 1) if your mother was hungry, you'd feed her, wouldn't you? 2) if your mother was sick, you'd care for her wouldn't you?

Your mother is very hungry and very sick. You don't have to worry a bit about saving your sorry ass. If you take care of your mother, she'll certainly, as any mother would, take care of you. And if you don't, you deserve the death of any despicable thug who would sacrifice their mother to their avarice. Either course is a profoundly spiritual choice.

Per said...

And then the meditator realizes that the purpose of life on earth is to turn the world's battlefield into a paradise for all. Which the peasants try to do without being told.

Alex said...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090525/ap_on_re_us/us_economic_survivalists

Crisis spurs spike in 'suburban survivalists'

Sebastian Ronin said...

A new day. The thread lives!

A biz perspective from the contrarian and jaded fringe: MCR owed Carolyn a review. Her review of APEP was picked up from her blog by several others, including The Energy Bulletin. That's pretty good coverage. There's nothing wrong with reciprocity, scratching each other's backs, etc.

JO throws in some contention...always a good marketing hook. Everyone jumps on board. Book sales increase, if not necessarily spike.

The sound of know hands clapping.

Michiel said...

Someone seems to be preparing...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/5379148/Swedish-HandM-boss-Stefan-Persson-to-buy-entire-Hampshire-village.html

Weird, isn't it?

Sebastian Ronin said...

More spiritual stuff:

Rachel Maddow takes a serious shot at President Obama's proposed "prolonged detention."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uuWVHT1WUY

The collapse of "lefties" is proving to be more intransigent than "righties." Patience is a virtue. Spiritual meme full circle.

Pandabonium said...

Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
~Denis Diderot

tim said...

true "spirituality" is very simple: are you mature enough to accept criticism of your egoity or do you defend it?

Paul Davis said...

The best amalgamation of spiritualism and real world pragmatism I've ever read can be found in the texts of The Seth Material by Jane Roberts.

kiki said...

I'm not sure it matters how one defines spirituality but it's certainly an interesting intellectual exercise to discuss it.

Here are some thoughts the blog entry from Mike and Jenna triggered in me when I read them: how will we, each of us, use 'it' as all the misery continues to unfold ? What seems to be on my mind lately is trying to figure out what the parameters are between my ideals vs what reality tells me and how each may impact future decisions I make; you know, the tough ones like who do I help and who may I have to kill; I've never had to even think about those things seriously before I took a 4 day seminar where I learned it wouldn't be a bad idea to at least think about those possibilities ahead of time. For instance, in the past I might 'wound' someone and wait for the police to come and handle the rest. When might that 'safety net' be unavailable ? So if someone is trying to hurt and/or possibly kill me then if I decide to fight, I'd better be prepared to do more than wound. It was never necessary for me to think about that before, in 'real' terms. Or, here's another one: is it desired, possible, necessary to know what weather or 'enemies' may be coming ? Is tapping into some level of molecular matter activity feasible to find an answer that the 'tribe' have a better chance of survival ? Someone mentioned the Tao of Physics; one of the best books I've ever read. I don't pretend to understand physics, but the way it was written allowed a broad understanding which enabled me to perceive myself as more than the dynamic tension that defines my planet space as me.

I think it is possible to 'know' beyond what reality shows us, what to prepare for; in that place where thoughts don't have words. Precognition to me is nothing more than physics in an applied fashion. And more than anything else, it is a decision one makes to participate in the world of particle dynamics; using the infinite 'empty' space in the universe as an information highway on the vehicles of particle science.

So whatever it means to each of us, how will we use it ? How can it be a tool for us ? Does it need to be mystical to be effective ?

And in some ways I think the duality will be the toughest ie. giving our best to the community in which we live (how we interact♠ with one another) and the tough choices we may have to make in protecting ourselves and our community.

I could write a lengthy paper on this subject but I have a Drs. appt and I'm sure this is not the place to 'publish' it, nor have I any desire to do so (though if I get the urge I might fill in the gaps of this missive on my blog ! ;-)

Looking forward to reading all the bloggers input on this subject. It's fascinating; the wide range of opines.

Todd said...

Spirituality...

Why get so hung up on a word - a human word!

Either you believe, feel or know a part of you is more than physical or you don't.

For those that DO believe, feel or know - revel in perfection and stop trying to get in the way of other people's journey... your job is not to save humanity, but only to serve it!

For those that DON'T believe, feel or know - find some courage and enjoy the journey (or the moment)!

Happiness

Todd

moment_in_passing said...

There is not "something more". Take the next step beyond accepting your mortality and accept that there is nothing more. Things just are.

Beyond the evolved carrot and stick perceptual plane of seeking and avoidance, there is a reality we can barely begin to observe let alone understand. Yearning for "something more" is simply an evolved desire that helps temper suffering with false purpose. There is no evidence whatsoever of "something more". The only evidence unclouded by our projections is of self-organized matter and energy over vast spans of space and time. There is no satisfying, reassuring explanation that alleviates the immense suffering of so many sentient beings. You feel or want it therefor it must be true? That's a thinking error called emotional reasoning. You can go in circles all you want, but proving that there is "something more" is as impossible as explaining that a God loves children he allows to be raped, or that genuine choice exists. Meaning? Another projection of our desire to matter.

Things just are.

Shorebreak said...

I once heard a guy on stage holler at a conference audience full of Catholics - including a lot of priests and nuns: "Stop turning Him back into words; inflesh Him!"

He preceded that statement by poking fun at people who think they're spiritual because they pray, meditate, and read scripture, and surround themselves with people who do the same.

The message? Spirituality is living a belief system - not simply knowing it. For example, you can never truly understand the teacher without first living like the teacher. It's not magic and there's no secret formula.

A peon said...

Hey Mike,

Just finished reading APEP last night,and loved it.Especially the part which asks the question "How did we get so screwed up?"

For you Hubbert's words answered that question.I've heard it answered another way in a work of fiction "The Shawshank Redemption" and in part of that story an old man is released from prison after an extensive sentence in which he became "institutionalized".His incarceration occured before the mass production of the automobile,and one of his first observations upon his return to civilization is "The world got itself in a big damn hurry." That for me answers the question "How did we get so screwed up?"

Now I am going to hit the showers,and go on a tour of bookstores and libraries to suggest they order multiple copies of your book.When they get it in,I think I will purchase one to give to the mayor here.Keep up the great work Mike and Jenna!

Peace+<3
Chris
P.S. There hasn't been any new Mikesongs,or any music in here for awhile.I thought someone might enjoy these songs while they're making their next post.WARNING!The following songs may cause drummer envy.Chad Sexton and Jimmy Chamberlain are amazing.:

311-Life's Not A Race
SP-BodiesSP-The Scared and Profane

agape wins said...

For those who have noted posts/links about Native peoples, third world lifestyles, or the lack of;
the place of women in our/human past, & how it relates to our future!!
Notice the one "modern thing" that they have valued enough to allow to"corrupt" their "Ancient" lifestyle!

http://www.rollingstone.com/photos/gallery/23497413/ethiopias_nomad_warriors_photogr/photo/4

Comment on Spirituality tomorrow!
Amae.

KimB said...

Great thread going here. And thanks Jenna for publishing my previous comments. And by way of synchronicity (re spirituality), just heard my great friend Diane Watson (Aboriginal/Yugambeh elder, Aunty Ruby Rose), is moving back to my region (and hers), from Canberra (after a long absence). And by way of explanation, here's our region:

http://www.yugambeh.com/wp-gallery2.php?g2_itemId=79

(I'm near Jimboomba on that map), and I think this 2007 magazine interview Diane Watson has something to add:

http://www.goldcoast-thismonth.com/articles/AprMay07.htm

ecosutra said...

There seems to be two types of people along my journey, ones who are moved by the spiritual energy in things. And I most importantly have to confess that the synergy and serendipity in the discovery, from gaining the tools and networking professionals, so that some might come together to create the first power park model that produces energy and creates an eco village from waste or other energy designs I have discovered, this synergy has been amazing. Off the charts. I cant explain it. I am not that spiritual. I am a witness to some force. Its like trying to tell someone you saw a UFO.
The other types of people are practical thinkers, engineers, "show me the plan". That is the stronger force I bear. I see it more than the spiritual,as do all of us in here.

I think some people in here are trying to create a barometer of spirituality when they are really trying to determine where the compassion in managing Britney Spears back to natural patterns is going to come from.:)

Well, I get by with one quote from Geoff Lawton, "The earth will still slide if you take humans off the planet. We made that much of a mess of things. The earth needs people"

We have much work to do.

Tim Fuller said...

There's some serious shit coming down the pike for us all, and you're getting hung up on the word 'spiritual'? Get a grip.

Spiritual is just seeing the bigger picture, whatever that might be.

About to go night surfing here in Santa Cruz. Now that's spiritual!

RanD said...

From my perspective we're gaining to ourselves more paramount value via this recent burst of so-called 'spiritual' dialogue than can come to us by any other means.

I see us as fundamentally spirit beings which are directly manifested to be what we are as extensions of a fundamentally spiritual existential reality. Indeed, there is evidently also a full blown genuine actualized physical component to our experience(s) of reality, and we indeed possess a capacity for conscious recognition of this state of existence which we are experiencing, whereby we are able to, as a generally social species of life-form, consciously-meaningfully share the actuality of our egoised potentially self-socializing selves born of an inherently-naturally self-egoised existential source -- if that is what we choose to do.

I also see our Earthbound uniquely 'human' species to be one which has been long experiencing a multiple generationally protracted process of growing ourselves into a general consciousness of our state of being and purpose for existing in direct relationship with the the fully existential scope of Existence, itself. My seeing things this way tells me that Existence, itself, is therefore my 'God'.

And, having had the good fortune and fateful intention of being able to see and understand things this way has made it possible for me to know exactly "how" -- and why -- for instance, "we" got "so screwed up", which we're actually not. We're just in the inevitably and naturally and essentially correspondingly complex process of figuring out what we are and why we exist -- and that's all. From my perspective, of course.

Fun and adventure; and we're free to check out any time one wants to, by the usual means. And yes, it's worthwhile to give it all some careful thought before doing anything silly -- all of this at least from my perspective, that is.

And, for what it's worth, that's basically RanD's... uh... 'spiritual' take on life in general.

Loveandlight said...

Well, I'll just say that there was a period during which I gave being a "Conversations With God", airy-fairy, crystal-worshiping New-Ager a try. Even though it helped me grow up quite a bit and not be such a prisoner of the dysfunctional ego that living in a screwed-up world motivated me to develop as a teenager, I ended up ultimately feeling rather let down by it.

The orthodox New Age movement teaches, among many other howlers, that you are 100% responsible for 100% of the reality you experience 100% of the time through the exclusive agency of your thoughts and feelings, and consequently there is no such thing as a victim in this life. I have a chronically ill online friend to whom those ignorant New-Age California pricks have been very nasty and blaming because of her crippling health problems. And don't even get me started on how New-Agers hang on the every word of supposed "channellers" whose messages often contain flagrant and irreconcilable contradictions of previous messages!

I could go on and on, but I think everybody who has an awareness of the situation towards which civilization is heading knows that the autistic solipsism of the orthodox New Age Movement isn't the answer anymore than snake-fondling, tongue-speaking hillbilly fundamentalism is.

mrs p said...

Wow! Now,(after reading both of your reviews), this sounds like a winner! I'm in the middle of "Presidential Energy" and so impressed I'm ordering more for neighbors & friends. I think now I should include C.Baker's new book. P.S. Had a great laugh reading your thoughts! (both MCR & Jena) mrsp (the animals are much closer than we are).

agape wins said...

Some people make this harder than it is, or should be!
This has nothing to do with GOD, or Atheism; have you ever driven into Fog so heavy that you could not see the front of your car, hearing crashing, your hair rising, conflicted as to go or stop?!? That is Spirituality, something you can't see or touch, as opposed to things that have form and substance; the wall you know you will run into, the smiling friend, or snarling enemy!
Spirituality is what you know, without having been taught, that knowledge may be correct, or NOT! That is what makes
"Preaching" so dangerous, "Spirit" is what makes each one of us different & valuable, not only as people but essentially as part of the Universe, or Existence.
which came first Existence, or the
Universe?

Everyone writing here has a bit of truth but it is more basic; the "Bits" ,1 or 0, on or off; the unseen/unknown which is more important than the "Body" we know. Think Quantum Physics, as explained in the movie "What the Bleep do we Know",

http://www.whatthebleep.com/

For more depth, "programming the Universe"

>From the back cover:
"But every computer needs a program, the set of instructions that tell it what patterns to create. Where did the bits come
from that tell the universe to create its magnificent complexity? Who-or what- is programming the universe?"

http://physics.about.com/od/physicsbooks/gr/proguniverse.htm

The book starts drawing the map, will we live long enough to decide if WE are the programmer/"Spirit", or just another "bit"
driving us to "Entropy"? Look forward constructively, not back with/to the old religious paradigm!


"For Aristotle, the word "soul" names the form to be found in the substance of all living matter. A living organism, as opposed to an inanimate substance, is "besouled" -- which is to say "alive." These two words are interchangeable.

As for Plato so for Descartes, the human being is an almost inexplicable union of two separate substance -- body and mind. Since Descartes, the mind-body problem has obsessed modern philosophy. As stated by Descartes, that problem is insoluble."
Repeat--" that problem is insoluble", why argue, or even get hot about about this "BIT"


http://www.thegreatideas.org/apd-soul.html

Todd almost got it, Per also is on the path, we do not need any more box's to put each other in; Amae.

Paula said...

IMO, on the subject of spirituality, it's hard to do better than Philip Kindred Dick.

One of Dick's overriding themes is, "what is real?" This is the most pertinent question at this moment in history -- the whole issue of collapse is a matter of fantasy colliding with reality, once and for all time. Dick's novels are studies in the psycho-spiritual process characters go through when reality turns out to be fantasy and gives way to chaos.

Some of my personal favorite Phil Dick novels include:

- "Martian Time Slip"
- "Radio Free Albemuth" (a very intense book for me personally)
- "Ubik"
- "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch"

I highly recommend How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days LaterA couple excerpts. These are more profound to our situation than they may seem at first blush:

So I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudo-realities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. I do not distrust their motives; I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing. It is my job to create universes, as the basis of one novel after another. And I have to build them in such a way that they do not fall apart two days later. Or at least that is what my editors hope. However, I will reveal a secret to you: I like to build universes which do fall apart. I like to see them come unglued, and I like to see how the characters in the novels cope with this problem. I have a secret love of chaos. There should be more of it. Do not believe — and I am dead serious when I say this — do not assume that order and stability are always good, in a society or in a universe. The old, the ossified, must always give way to new life and the birth of new things. Before the new things can be born the old must perish. This is a dangerous realization, because it tells us that we must eventually part with much of what is familiar to us. And that hurts. But that is part of the script of life. Unless we can psychologically accommodate change, we ourselves begin to die, inwardly. What I am saying is that objects, customs, habits, and ways of life must perish so that the authentic human being can live. And it is the authentic human being who matters most, the viable, elastic organism which can bounce back, absorb, and deal with the new.---

In my writing I got so Interested in fakes that I finally came up with the concept of fake fakes. For example, in Disneyland there are fake birds worked by electric motors which emit caws and shrieks as you pass by them. Suppose some night all of us sneaked into the park with real birds and substituted them for the artificial ones. Imagine the horror the Disneyland officials would feet when they discovered the cruel hoax. Real birds! And perhaps someday even real hippos and lions. Consternation. The park being cunningly transmuted from the unreal to the real, by sinister forces. For instance, suppose the Matterhom turned into a genuine snow-covered mountain? What if the entire place, by a miracle of God’s power and wisdom, was changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, into something incorruptible? They would have to close down.

agape wins said...

5,28,09
Right on Paula!

Except that Philip Dick misstated a fact,possibly intentionally (think)!

"Before the new things can be born the old must perish."
So true--but which takes place first, or is it possible they both exist at the same time, only we can perceive only one at a time--Chaos!

Why is this coming down in this order?
First I read APEP, with Mike's naming the 2 laws of Physics, the next day I purchase "Programming The Universe", then Mike & Jenna "odd man" about Spirituality which brings on a downpour for a spell (clears the air).
Now things are dead again!

Are my posts constructive/meaningful? When I was in the 4th grade I would talk about Einstein, Atoms, & Relativity; the teacher took me
aside and said "stop it, you are scaring the other children", instead of advancing a Welfare kid, they put me in a "Ungraded" class (true learning in "Chaos"), for 3 years. Am I still Scaring people?

Solidarity said...

For a new angle on die-off and collapse please google:

Our Lady of Akita

Our Lady of La Salette

Our Lady of Good Success

mrs p said...

O gee I dunno...we humans have a hard time hanging out without our egos but I have always believed that there is a "divine energy" that flows through everything and everyone. Even Rocks have vibrations. Call it what you will,...Lorraine, Aunt Betty, the Holy spirit, Jah, whatever...it's always there vibrating ever so meekly. But it's sad when any collective group tries to cram their ideology down your throat or make outrageous claims, ( I think that's their ego), not anything from the soul.

I ran home screaming once, (when I was 5), because my Catholic neighbor friend who was 4, told me I was going to hell and my cat too.

If something is great it will glow on its own and attract on it's own without ever having been trumpeted or worn out on one's sleeve.<---that gets nauseating. Don't let the Holy Rollers separate you from nature and it's connection to you. We all have great power, light and energy within us, if only we all knew it and knew how to use it for the good. Many people do great things with that energy. I believe MCR & Jenna are an example of that. mrsp

Olwe said...

I've written a book somewhat along these lines. You can get it at darkgreen.org/folleneck.pdf

I'm using the popular "fantasy" genre, but "Folleneck" has some talk you've never seen before, that I guarantee. I'm reduced to hawking it like this because nobody has shown even the slightest interest in it. If you want a quick chapter or two to peruse, look at Chapter 7, which leads into Chapter 8.

The basic idea behind "Folleneck" is that after 6,000 years of the trumpets of progress blaring in our ears, we're now faced with serious Regress issues. "Folleneck" talks like no other book about turning and walking back out of the endless cheap resources "progress" Lemmingfest and into something totally uncharted. Again, Chapter 8 if you don't have much time.

Palooka's Revenge said...

pretty hard to have a discussion about spirituality without god or, at least, interpretations of god entering.

to ego or not to ego? is that mankind's nemesis? the curse? anathema? the more one embraces it the more grandiose one becomes? selfish? the more one sheds it the more selfless one becomes? the more spiritual one becomes? god-like? does god have ego?

ego. where would one be without it? un-differentiated? where does denial of the self lead? toward spirituality? or away from it?

duality! dammed if ya do, dammed if ya don't!

words! we're so lost without them. and so limited by them. or so confused. i could say... your face could stop a clock... or... when i look at you, time stands still!!

Kai said...

Jenna: No, the rant was pretty good. And I'm a native of San Francisco/Berkeley. I kind of liked Bill Moyer's explorations of spirituality, but the amorphous type to which you refer is definitely not appealing. Try Peace Pilgrim, she's the best.

Xaphius said...

I love both of the views, Mike and Jenna. I find myself like Horselover Fat, of PK Dick's Valis; my life has been forever altered by a spontaneous, earth shattering experience I had, involving sentient balls of light, and a sudden miraculous healing of my legs. I dedicated years of my life to understanding it, and things like meditation, gurus, native ceremony, etc. For me, the purpose of it all is still a mystery, after 13 years. It was the most beautiful experience of my life, and I often wish it never happened. And as I age, I wonder if it was anything but madness.

I'm an acupuncturist. In school, I was surrounded by New Age types. And they made me want to puke, daily. I'm not sure what it is they think they know. My experience, has had the net lesson of reminding me that what I think I know and see, could be entirely illusiory. It inspires the opposite of assuredness. It keeps me always questioning, and looking for better explanations. It keeps me humble, though impatient.

I think the material benefit it gives me, is seeing other people as vehicles of those balls of light. In that experience, I saw that, such is what we are. And it becomes impossible to see others as enemies, even when I hate them. I am stuck realizing our common fate.

And that presents a daunting earthly task, and adjustment. The 'message' it gave me, aside from our common nature, is that LIFE CAN BE SO MUCH BETTER.

I could go for hours with this. But the point is, I didn't choose to have a 'spiritual' perspective - it just happened. But I also relate to Jenna's perspective, and passionate discontent. I fought every idea I encountered in acupuncture school, even as I saw that it could do good things. I just wanted to know the REAL 'why', not the superstitious mumbo jumbo that passes there for truth. (I also did behavioral therapy for a few years - a very data driven process - and saw the power of science to help)