Saturday, May 23, 2009
Talking about Spirituality
When I was growing up I learned somewhere that one wasn't supposed to talk about politics and religion. In contrast it was supposed to be okay to talk ad in finitum about cars, consumer products like tampons, and sports. As a guy you later could talk about girls until radical Feminism outlawed that but girls could talk about boys and still do even though they clearly know less about the subject than men once knew about women.
Talking about politics is really talking about relationships and power. Historically only toadies got to the top of the political food chain and the leadership was a collection of paranoid scoundrels who only wanted to be surrounded by people who agreed with them. The trick was to figure out who was going to be in charge and flatter the hell out of the little shit so he'd promote you to being his right hand boy or girl especially if you were just a wanker. If you were overheard talking about politics a little weisel scoundrel in the making would rat on you and you'd be out of a job even if you were the only person who had any actual competence or skills. Politics is all about who you know and clearly not about what you know.
In contrast spirituality was about the essence of religion. Religion was an arm of politics. When the strong man got into power some other guys wore dresses and they were allowed to dominate the women while not taking any of the women from the strong arm guy and his friends. This was celibacy in exchange for good food, wine, fancy clothes and maybe sneaking a little on the side.
Spirituality isn't about politics. Religions generally use spirituality and maybe spirituality is what gave rise to the best of religion but spirituality is to religion what perhaps idealism is to politics. Politicians laugh at idealists. Religious leaders laugh at spiritual people unless the spiritual people threaten the religion and then they kill them by crucifixion, ostracism, hanging or ridicule.
It's probably smart not to talk about spirituality because it can get you killed. Nobody cares if you talk about sports. It's a code anyway and only the spiritual men know what the code is anyway. Herman Hesse likened it to a Glass Beed Game.
Spirituality is about relationship to the highest ideals. Spirituality is about asking the central questions, what's it all about. Spirituality is about the highest good in an individual's life. Spirituality is not about war. It's about love.
The brain according to McLean is triune with the lowest part being reptilian with the functions present in the human brain essentially the same as those in snakes. The next part of the brain is the mammalian brain with the functions found there being emotional, kinship, tribal, all the things we see animals capable of, mother child love, grouping, packing, herding, caring for their own and similiar, forming bonds. The human brain is a higher function of that and as such it transcends tribalism and nationalism and gets into those nether regions of 'love your enemy'. Clearly this is something that a snake or fox or even a cow wouldn't do naturally but is a truly human trait. The human brain is Einstein and Gandhi and Jesus and Bach and all those highest developments of art, diplomacy, creativity, engineering, medicine, altruism and humor. It's not selfish in a fear driven way but rather selfish in a self actualizing way.
It's what seems to be missing from the corporation model which works as lizards and ants work but seems to have not evolved beyond that basal brain level. I've seen a lot of transnational corporations but so far none that were transcendent.
Spirituality is beyond copyright. It's about two musicians getting off making music together. It's about that moment one scientist collaborates with another and they both go 'aha'.
It's about lovers rather than fuckers though with the self aggrandisement of Hollywood most idiots would believe the best fuckers are the best lovers. The best love is the best fuck and then some in the erotic domain. C.S. Lewis has however told us clearly about 4 loves: affection, friendship, eros and agape. While fucking is about fucking, spirituality might well encompass that but it's more about what C.S. Lewis referred to a Agape. It's also inherrent in the salutation, "Namaste, which means the God (or best) in me salutes the (God) or best in you."
So Spirituality is something that is mostly about the unknown. It's that silly song , To Dream the Impossible Dream, or it's Man of La Mancha and windmills. T. S. Elliott's Hollow Men talks about it's absence. The truly spiritual is outside the reach of individual man.
It's a place of harmony with something known as God or the Collective Unconscious or Spirit , Higher Power, or Mother Earth or Father Space or another who is a stranger, really. We really only know others through our own projections. Heinlein in Stranger in a Strange Land called the spiritual kind of connecting " grokking' because there weren't really any words for this encounter with this awe inducing higher than ever before experienced, hence unknown, place of realization. It's why the old religionists when they experienced these spiritual moments which they called encounters with God 'trembled with fear' It's alien. Meeting our true self if we've been little hypocritical smucks is like an alien encounter too.
It's a recognition of you and the other. It's this realization of separateness and then the bridging of that aloneness. It's humbling. Politics and religion is full of arrogance. Spirituality is all about humility.
In the game Prisoner's Dilemna there are four outcomes, I win-you lose, I lose-you win, we lose, we win. Most people, really, almost all people, would rather make the choices that end in 'we lose' rather than forfeit or compromise so that 'we win' is the outcome. Spirituality is about the 'we win' outcome.
In religion people know what's right and will tell you because they also know what's right for you too. They know this because it's in a book or in a building or in their family heritage or in their group but it's really political more than spiritual. Spirituality is more of a question than an answer. It's a relationship with the other but it's never clear if the relationship is child parent or adult to adult. There's are alot of authority and parentalisms and even militariism in religions but in spirituality its more like a love story or a child's quest. It's a journey rather than an outcome.
Now the best of religion to my mind is founded in spirituality and maybe the best of politics is too. But politics and religion may be your business so I'd not like to talk about them but spirituality is everyone's business so maybe it's a good thing to talk about. It is beyond any business that I've known. Spirituality is about dreams really. Like Martin Luther's, "I had a dream." It's that kind of realization. It's about building up more than tearing down.
It's easy to talk about too. Just stop talking about all the other shit and be silent. Spirituality always seems to start with silence.