Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Freedom, Reality, and the Power of Stupidity

All false religions -- and true religions falsely understood -- aspire to power rather than truth. The worship of power is, according to Unknown Friend, the source of all idolatry. We transparently see this in the new age movement, but also in traditional religious circles whenever God's absolute omnipotence eclipses man's freedom, and therefore, real existence. For reality and freedom are directly related, in the sense that if something isn't free, it is just a part of something that is; or, the whole is always more free than the part.

New agers basically co-opt religion for the purposes of exalting themselves and bolstering their own narcissism. As UF puts it, they want to "develop their own greatness without the rival grandeur of the Divine to discomfort them." This exercise is "fundamentally infantile," and atheists are certainly right to reject it.

Consider the titles of some of Deepak Chopra's books: The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Pocketbook Guide to Fulfilling Your Dreams. The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence. Creating Affluence: The A-to-Z Steps to a Richer Life. Perfect Weight. Perfect Health. The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents: Guiding Your Children to Success and Fulfillment. The Way of the Wizard: Twenty Spiritual Lessons for Creating the Life You Want. Grow Younger, Live Longer.

This is all about the bad kind of gnosis, about some "secret" known only to the elect. Just splash some cash Chopra's way, and you will be blessed with financial success, spontaneous fulfillment of your every desire, perfect health, a long life, and even successful and fulfilled children! (As if one has the magical power to revoke a child's God-given free will, except perhaps by abusing them.)

In all of these books, you will notice that they have nothing to do with knowing God, but with being God. They prey on the rampant narcissism of our age, as if the answer to selfishness, dysfunction, and depression is more of what causes it. It doesn't just fly in the face of the Christian message, but of the central message of all legitimate spirituality, e.g., "If you want to become full / let yourself be empty / If you want to be given everything / give everything up" (Tao Te Ching).

It is no wonder that Chopra is also such a diehard supporter of Obama. He takes quite literally the childish idea that Obama represents a "quantum leap" in consciousness.

But if Chopra's kooky ideas are true, one naturally wonders: why do we need politicians, let alone illiberal statists, at all? In other words, if Deepak has the magical secrets which will fulfill our every desire, why would we care about some silly politician? Don't politicians simply become unnecessary middlemen between us and our desires?

Here again, we see how the anti-religious person cannot help being religious. He can deny truth, but it simply returns in some twisted form. Why would Chopra, of all people, believe in the coercive ideology of leftism, which specifically maintains that people have no power to change their lives for the better without a huge and intrusive state?

For Chopra, the state is the Father, Obama the Son, and high taxes the Ghastly Heist. If he actually believed a word of his books, he wouldn't only be a conservative, but a radical libertarian: just unleash the people and let magic take care of the rest!

UF also discusses the other extreme. I am not -- nor could I ever be -- one of those people who don't worry because "God is in charge." Free will is an irrevocable gift. It cannot be regifted, or revert back to its original owner. In the words of Schuon, we are condemned to freedom, and are always free to fall into the abyss, if that is what we choose. Indeed, this is the source of our dignity.

I am reminded of something a wise Supreme Court justice once said -- something to the effect that if the citizenry wishes to go to hell in a handbag, my job is to help them do so. In other words, this idea that the liberal elites of the Supreme Court are here to rescue the moronic populace through judicial tyranny is a modern innovation.

The purpose of the Supreme Court is not to deny our freedom just because one or two of them don't like what we did with it. I remember when the Supreme Court overturned some obscure sodomy law in Texas. Justice Thomas agreed that the law was "uncommonly silly," but this is utterly beside the point. For if the Supreme Court had the constitutional power to abolish silly laws, Democrats would be out of business overnight. Stupid laws are their raison d'être.

UF makes the critical point that the Christian lives with "the paradox of almighty God reduced to a state of extreme powerlessness." This seemingly counter-intuitive image is said to be "the most perfect revelation of the God of love."

This is quite radically different from the new age belief in a God who would leap down from the cross and, for a paltry $1995.00, sell you the magical secrets of fulfilling your every desire and deepaking your sleeping chopra at a weekend seminar in beautiful Sedona, Arizona, with one of Time Magazines top 100 heroes and icons of the 20th century!

It seems that many religious people, instead of overtly adopting the Chopraesque narcissistic grandiosity, simply project it onto the deity. It's the same infantile process, only externalized. As UF writes,

"their faith in God depends only on the power of God; if God was powerless, they would not believe in him. It is they who teach that God has created souls predestined to eternal damnation and others predestined to salvation; it is they who make God responsible for the entire history of the human race, including all its atrocities.... God is almighty, therefore all that happens is only able to happen through his action and his consent."

In short, "The idol of power has such a hold on some human minds that they prefer a God who is a mixture of good and evil, provided that he is powerful, to a God of love who governs only by intrinsic authority of the Divine -- by truth, beauty, and goodness -- i.e., they prefer a God who is actually almighty to the crucified God."

What is the point of asking that "thy will be done" on earth as it is in heaven? This implies that in the upper vertical -- the celestial world, so to speak -- God's will is done "automatically," so to speak. But down here in the fog and haze of the lower pneumatosphere -- the terrestrial world, with its messy web of psychic crosscurrents -- this is not necessarily the case.

For there are many vertical degrees of being -- and therefore relatively autonomous horizontal planes -- between the top and bottom. Although God may intervene in this or that plane, he could not abolish the planes altogether -- i.e., the hierarchy -- without canceling out manifest existence entirely. Doing so would be analogous to, say, abolishing cells in order to prevent the possibility of cancer in the body.

Either human existence is real or illusory. If real, then so too is our freedom real. In fact, as UF writes, freedom "is none other than the real and complete existence of a being created by God." In other words, to be "free" and "real" are synonymous terms from the spiritual point of view. For if one is not free, then one is determined by something else -- or just an extension of some other entity that is real, whether genes or God, it doesn't matter.

But what is freedom? Freedom implies a kind of (relatively) absolute wholeness, or center, which is a mirror of the Creator, who is the "Center of centrality" or "Interior of interiority," so to speak.

Therefore, to illegitimately constrain or eliminate freedom is to do away with God. Again, no wonder that the religiously irreligious zealots of the left who reject our natural liberties -- and God -- imagine that government can somehow create freedom when it can only protect or oppose it.

Again: to be free is to exist. For the average OWS leftist who feels "unfree" as a result of some nebulous cabal of bankers, this is merely a projection of his own subjective absence of psychic freedom. To feel controlled by the "1%" is as crazy as a billion Muslims feeling controlled by 15 million Jews.

For the leftist, the state exists, and we become its extensions. Think of it. The average American already works for the state until what, mid-April? How will we be more free if Obama succeeds in moving it forward to mid-May or June, when government expenditures are 50% of GDP?

To the extent that one's mind is inhabited by quasi-autonomous parasites, these intrinsically limit one's freedom. And there's not a thing Obama can do about it. No one else can deliver us from hell or send us to heaven: "Love existence, and you have chosen heaven; hate it, and there you have chosen hell."

Likewise, "God is all-powerful in history in as much as there is faith; and he is crucified in so far as one turns away from him." And the Emperor, or legitimate ruler, reigns by intrinsic authority over free beings. Paradoxically, God must be a kind of "absent presence" at this center of freedom, otherwise we would not really exist.

21 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Before even reading the post, may I just say thank you - for switching from the rabid honeybadger. It was hard to read while being stared at by something that looked like it wanted to eat someone's liver...

10/19/2011 08:54:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

I am going to have to read that all again, but nothing is truer than to say that the worship of power is just bubbling over in "true religions falsely understood".

You cannot slide a dollar bill between the new-agers and vast numbers of folks who think they are fundamentalist Christians. The shelves of any Christian bookstore are lined with titles almost identical in attitude if not wording to Deepak's. Sad.

10/19/2011 09:32:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

"The idol of power has such a hold on some human minds that they prefer a God who is a mixture of good and evil, provided that he is powerful, to a God of love who governs only by intrinsic authority of the Divine -- by truth, beauty, and goodness...

The irony there is that in truth, that Love that God is really is the most powerful thing that is.

For the average OWS leftist who feels "unfree" as a result of some nebulous cabal of bankers, this is merely a projection of his own subjective absence of psychic freedom.

It occurred to me yesterday, after hearing more of the sob stories about how tough it is right out of college, that what they're protesting - the fact that a college degree doesn't guarantee a job - isn't a new and unique problem of their generation. Back in the mid-90s, DH spent an unemployable year between undergrad and law school, where he discovered that he was overqualified for minimum wage and under qualified for anything more than that. Even after graduating law school with record grades, he sent out about a hundred job applications, landed two or three interviews, and just one job that he was initially very disappointed about. And of course student loans were right there to take a big chunk out of his paycheck. I don't think it ever occurred to either of us that any of those hardships meant that we deserved some kind of a bailout; we understood that all of that was a necessary step toward a better future, eventually, and even then there were no guarantees. Still aren't for that matter, nor ever will be.

These OWS kids, for the most part, seem as though they would do almost anything to have guarantees. Even the ones who have legitimate frustrations. It's as though they can't see that this, too shall pass; worse, they can't see that their proposed solutions - more government handouts - will mean fewer jobs and worse prospects not only in the short term, but in the long as well.

10/19/2011 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

"Prosperity gospel," and all that. Makes Rev. Ike seem orthodox.

Get Ready to Become...
A Master of Happiness...
A Master of Money...
A Master of Your Life!

Do you want to discover how to harness the God-given power of YOUR OWN MIND to achieve...

...good health, happiness, success, prosperity and Money?

Are you ready to 'wash out' doubt, fear and worry...

.... and IMPLANT self-esteem, success and love into your subconscious?

As Rev. Ike said, “Thought has power to stop your money, or to start your money, or to maintain your money."

10/19/2011 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"This is all about the bad kind of gnosis, about some "secret" known only to the elect. Just splash some cash Chopra's way, and you will be blessed with financial success, spontaneous fulfillment of your every desire, perfect health, a long life, and even successful and fulfilled children! (As if one has the magical power to revoke a child's God-given free will, except perhaps by abusing them.)"

Yep, all about getting, and using power... which is all about rejecting what IS and what is True, for the image you'd like to remake it in - yours.

10/19/2011 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Yep, those folks who want special powers over their lives through religion have it backwards.

The proper approach reminds me of this lovely hymm by the Who.

10/19/2011 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

One and one makes One.

Those guys were the best.

10/19/2011 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

Another goodie, though I stand by the contention that the political stuff detracts from the whole.

Could you explain what this means:
"Therefore, to illegitimately constrain or eliminate freedom is to do away with God."

Finally, it should be stated that God IS omnipotent, that He could tear this whole show down, He chooses not to, and His reasons for not doing so are quite mysterious to us, though we trust Him and look forward to the day when all will be revealed with hope.

10/19/2011 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Gabe - the politics matters because those who would wield power would prefer very much to control who, what and how you worship.

Again, see here for current examples.

Or for that matter, see the state of religious freedom in any leftist-controlled country.

"Therefore, to illegitimately constrain or eliminate freedom is to do away with God."

This is precisely why politics matters. To enslave another is to put oneself illegitimately in God's place, is it not? And the fruit of leftism is slavery, no matter what one may call it.

10/19/2011 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gabe said "Could you explain what this means: "Therefore, to illegitimately constrain or eliminate freedom is to do away with God."

What it means is that your contention that the political stuff detracts from the whole, means that you haven't given the political stuff enough thought.

The place where you 'touch God' is the one place where God, in Christianity anyway, doesn't interfere in the world, the place where you have full power to manifest yourself - in your act of choosing - Free Will.

For someone to impose their choices upon another, is to assume the power to do what not even God attempts - to force another's choice to conform to their will, the ultimate expression of raw, dark, power. Essentially, to impose your will on another, is to shove them out of their own life, to shove them from the one place which God prepared for them - their ability to choose.

It's in that way that Politics matters very, very much.

10/19/2011 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

... or... what Julie said.

10/19/2011 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"For if the Supreme Court had the constitutional power to abolish silly laws, Democrats would be out of business overnight. Stupid laws are their raison d'être."

... and then of course there's the other prime directive of politics - provide material for humor.

10/19/2011 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

So not to do away with Him, but become a temporary usurper. I'm not sure why I am so annoying about phrasing sometimes, but it's not always a bad thing.

I guess my objection to the political asides is feeling disillusioned with any political option. I am starting to really believe it's all a distraction. There is no force in existence capable of making what has to happen politically feasible, besides financial reality. What happens next will be wrenching, and if it is not violent we will be blessed beyond belief.

I really don't keep up with pope news as much as I should. That hopeful note he sounds is one I've felt for a few years now. It's important not to be glib about it, and know that if a trial is easy it's not really a trial. But I am also comforted by these developments. Steadfastness in the face of persecution also serves as a reassurance to those that fear Vatican II was an error, who I have read with consternation in the past.

10/19/2011 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Speaking of humor: men barely edged out women in a test of humorous caption writing. The stereotype is that men are funnier than women, and the evolutionary theory is that humor helps men out with women. But the study found men were the ones who found men's humor funnier.

It's funny that they needed a study for this. And I don't think caption writing is a good test of funny. It is more witty, which I am pretty sure women do at least as well as men.

Lucy or the Three Stooges?

10/19/2011 01:21:00 PM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Though we "wrestle not against flesh and blood", we can sometimes get a sense of how the fight is going.

10/19/2011 01:30:00 PM  
Blogger Open Trench said...

A cursory review of Chopra's work reveals that he believes in God.

Much of his screed is based on the Vedanta.

Sure he massages things to cater to Western desires, but it sells books and he wants the money. Capitalism is good and all routes to a buck are fair game. You know it, and I know it.

Deepak ain't all that bad.

Mr. Godwin's dislike for Chopra's work makes sense in many ways but is overblown and unbalanced.

Google "Does Deepak believe in God?" and read the Larry King interview. Despite the snake oil smell, he is a God person.

Dwyer, Tolle, Brown, and all the rest of the New Age Apostles are good eggs.

Read and then decide. The New Age deserves some snaps. They work at getting people into the trenches for the raw experiences.

Sure, they try to tell you it'll get you laid or whatever, but never mind all that. That's just the glitter used to get people to open the box.

10/19/2011 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Hi OpTr,

I would like to respectfully disagree with you on a couple of points:

"Capitalism is good and all routes to a buck are fair game. You know it, and I know it."

Well that's not true. You have to make your bucks with moral behavior.

Which brings me to my next point of disagreement:

"Sure, they try to tell you it'll get you laid or whatever, but never mind all that. That's just the glitter used to get people to open the box."

If you have to entice followers through deception you are doing it wrong.

10/19/2011 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

I was eye-to-eye, in terms of understanding, with the post until I got to the end statement, which eluded me.

"Paradoxically, God must be a kind of "absent presence" at this center of freedom, otherwise we would not really exist."

I think the word "paradoxically" is what put the spin on me into ambiguity because that is the word Calvinists use to usher in their determinism. I think the quoted statement is saying that the only real things relate back to God because He is the Really Real, the ground of reality, etc. But I couldn't reconcile how that could be a paradox without falling into the ditch of (my own) misattached meaning due to some Reformed exposure lately. (I sense the paradox but don't want to think of it the wrong way.)

10/19/2011 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Oh, and I am eye-to-eye with the post, including the end statement in terms otherwise, such as concurring.

10/19/2011 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

"Either human existence is real or illusory. If real, then so too is our freedom real... Therefore, to illegitimately constrain or eliminate freedom is to do away with God. "

Hmmm... reminds me of what a stuffed animal once said:

-------

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/williams/rabbit/rabbit.html

----------

Its so easy, even a stuffed animal can see it. :)

10/19/2011 11:31:00 PM  
Blogger Cond0010 said...

"All false religions -- and true religions falsely understood -- aspire to power rather than truth. The worship of power is, according to Unknown Friend, the source of all idolatry. "

'Religion', or should I say 'your tool/framework for understanding the workings of the qualifiable' (which is synomymous to mathematics - of which there are many numeral systems ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numeral_system ) - being a tool/framework to aid you in understanding the workings of the quantifiable world) is merely a navigational tool on the spiritual plane as you travel through life. The more acturate it is, the more often do you get to whatever your destination is.

But it is a _Tool_ of the mind, nevertheless, and can be corrupted by the human that weilds it. That is where 'power over others' and 'wealth accumaltion' creeps in where it does not belong (spiritual needs vs
physical/emotional needs/desires).

God is out there. God is real. He is dimly perceived by your heart and with the aid of the spectacles of religion, you may see him even more clearly. But be careful - the misuse or improper use of the construct of, or tool of, religion can easily block, distort or even blind you to perceiving the creator.

So, if in doubt, listen to your heart (and pray that your love for others will guide you properly).

10/20/2011 12:30:00 AM  

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