Pickin' Up Bad Vibrations
Over the years, I have had the opportunity to conduct psychological evaluations of a number of people from formerly communist countries, mainly the USSR. Uniformly, what has been so striking about them is a certain palpable absence of soul, which was one of the most damaging consequences of communist totalitarianism. For the ban on religion also amounted to a ban on the deepest and most vital regions of Being itself. After a few generations of malign neglect, the damage becomes incalculable and sometimes irreversible in this life. These people are alive, but somewhat like a palm tree that manages to survive in Alaska or a pine tree at the equator. They are surviving, but in an environment not fit for, or worthy of, humans.
Admittedly, it’s a somewhat small sample--perhaps a dozen or so--but not only were these people not religious, but they were literally incapable of being so. It was not that they were hostile toward religion, as is the American left, which represents another type of soul deviancy. Rather, it was just meaningless to them--like someone who didn’t care for opera but allowed that other people might.
But it also left them very empty and devoid of meaning. There was a depression about them, but it had a rather different feel than a psychological or biochemical depression. It was actually a little spooky, as if they had been the victims of “body snatching.” Like Vulcans, it was as if they could operate in the realm of logic, but something vital at their core was missing. They were hollow--in a way, not even like animals (which have an animal soul), for they were more like soulless machines. It also made them very comfort-seeking, very hedonistic--not in the grandiose and narcissistic American way, but in a petty way, as if life consisted solely in stealing whatever small pleasures were available.
Obviously, Europe is well down this bright and shiny secular path, as is half of America. Western Europe is getting to the point that it no longer comprehends religion, as is true of secular America (which is why they are so allied in their contempt for American values). If we do not reverse this trend, we’re going to lose something so critical to our psychic substance, and yet, not even know what hit us. Secular Americans are genuinely clueless in their ignorance of how much they benefit from the thoroughly Judeo-Christian milieu in which they were raised. Like those atheistic Soviets, they really don’t get it, and are largely incapable of doing so.
My point is that the human mind is a religious mind. If you like, you can say that this is simply because of the way we’re built biologically, although I don’t believe that. That is simply a theory advanced by scientific Vulcans trying to understand human beings in terms of their own limited metaphysical framework.
So when I talk about “hostile forces,” I’m talking about something that you know exist, even if you don’t know that you know. I could also affirm with equal certainty that you believe in attachment theory, even if you’ve never heard of it, for infant and childhood attachment is the axis of human psychological development.
But just as you generally cannot “see” the effects of your own attachment history until you undertake some form of psychotherapy and systematically uncover it, you will not really get a sense of the hostile forces until you undertake a serious spiritual practice. This is really an area in which all traditions agree. Some sort of resistance is provoked when we try to advance spiritually. This is not speculation but empirical observation. “Hostile forces” is simply a term used--it is Sri Aurobindo’s term--to give a name to a well-known phenomenon.
You can think of the human soul as a sort of ground station for a whole host of collective, individual, personal and impersonal psychic influences from various levels. In other words, there are degrees as well as modes, the former a measure of verticality, the latter its horizontal manifestation. You may think of it as analogous to radio transmission, which has both variety (i.e., modes) and hierarchical degrees (ranging from the sublime to the infrahuman, as in the case of most rap, say, or Air America).
Different traditions have developed different maps to describe the vertical realm, and those from the East are generally more complicated and detailed than those of the West. This is primarily due to our more externalized consciousness. If you like, you can visualize a “global brain” with a right side and a left side that split in two and took divergent paths some 3,000 years ago. In the West, we came to regard matter as ultimately real, whereas in the East, consciousness was regarded as ultimate.
But let us not forget that Christianity was originally an Eastern religion that only later became westernized by the Latin church--not an altogether bad development by any stretch, the reason being that truth is One, and ultimate or integral Truth must subsume both the interior and exterior of the cosmos.
Material development was delayed for hundreds of years in the East because of the overemphasis on the interior dimension and a misunderstanding of the nature of maya, for it is true that the material world is “illusion,” but it is not only illusion. It is only ultimately illusory in comparison with the Absolute, with Brahman itself. The relative is obviously quite real, only in a relative way.
As a matter of fact, this is one of the main innovations of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, which to my mind represents a reunification of those two streams that split apart some 3,000 years ago. It is the historical task of Eastern religions to become more exterior, while it is the task of Western religions to become more interior. Interestingly, if one travels all the way back to the origins of Christianity, to the Eastern Orthodox tradition, one will find that it is already quite interior, easily the equal of any yogic tradition.
This is why a fair number of modern people are pushing into the future by building a bridge to the first century--by embracing the earliest forms of Christianity, as opposed to modern deviations such as fundamentalism which are in fact extremely exteriorized. There is really nothing “fundamental” in fundamentalism. Certainly early church fathers such as Origen or Denys the Areopagite wouldn’t recognize it.
Not to go all summer-of-love on you, but whether you are a scientist or a religionist, in the final analysis, reality consists of vibrations, some good, some bad. Have you ever picked up good vibrations in a religious service? Or how about after one of my posts, or reading my book? In so far as it was possible for me to do so, I quite consciously endeavored to fill my book with good vibrations that would literally resonate in the sensitive reader. Just so you don’t think I’m being a completely silly ass, a number of readers have informed me that, at least in their case, I succeeded. But it wasn’t really me. Rather, at each step along the way, I was simply attempting to retransmit things that had been transmitted to me and which had awakened some sort of “soul response” in me. Everything was personally tried and tested.
The point is that human beings are open systems, both on the horizontal and the vertical planes, and this is how to begin to understand the hostile forces, those bad vibrations.
This is beginning to run a bit long, isn’t it? We’ll have to continue with this nonsense tomorrow. Same time, same station, same frequency. Oh--and don’t try to understand what I’m writing about while wearing a tin beanie--the vibrations will bounce off.