Right and Rong

Do we need a conscience?

truefalseThe concept of “right” and “wrong” are pretty easy to grasp. Every day physical reality involves right and wrong choices all the time. For example, how do you get to the 7/11? Left turn? Right. Right turn? Wrong. All questions about physical reality can be answered correctly or incorrectly and most are pretty easy to verify.

But what about morality? How do we verify the statement that a particular action is morally right or goodbadwrong? That’s more difficult. Some people believe right and wrong come from a supreme being who provides the “correct” guidelines and tells us what to think. That’s a pretty childlike mindset. We’ve all been told what is right or wrong by our parents. We were usually rewarded or punished based on which one we choose. No wonder so many look to “god” to give them a moral compass. It’s the first thing we learned about morality.

goodbadevilFriedrich Nietzsche made a distinction between good-bad and good-evil. The former involved competence. You can be a good or bad dancer, soccer player, writer, etc. The other duality involves morality, meaning, not how well you do something but whether you should do it at all. The underlying assumption is that one has the ability, the power to do something. But there are laws or rules that would stay one’s hand even if one is able to do whatever. Nietzsche named these two sets of opposites “master morality” and “slave morality.” The master does whatever he is able to do. The slave does what he ought to do. The reason the latter is called “slave morality” is the assumption that rules concerning what one should do are usually preached and imposed by those who aren’t able to do it. By telling those who can, not to do something, those who can’t gain power over the former.

slavemasterNietzsche preferred master morality and saw slave morality as a way inferior beings could control their betters. That ethic has been called “Might Makes Right.” Of course, there are various ways of achieving might. A large group that works together can have greater might than an individual who is just by himself. Society is more powerful than a single person. Those who buck the rules of society are penalized by that society. Everyone has a will to power regardless of whether he is a “master” or a psychocat“slave.” The slaves get power by imposing their own morality on those who could have power over them if they just resorted to their abilities being the stronger of the two. Robert Hare described it by imagining what a mouse might be thinking when a cat is coming after him, “The mouse tries to impart it’s own values on the cat. The cat has a set of values of it’s own based on it’s evolution. So we have predators and prey.” Of course, mice can’t really impart values on predators. But people are very good at that very thing.

christianityNietzsche blamed Jews for subverting the classic, pagan cultures of the Greeks and Romans by substituting “good-evil” for “good-bad” by means of Christianity. Although Christian values are used to stay the hand of the strong against the weak, stronger people have managed to insert their own will to power into Christian societies. Such societies have a complicated set of rules of right and wrong which often favor the strong over the weak. Power in such societies is hierarchical. Still, values based on empathy are recognized and can be resorted to by those who want to change the balance of power in favor of those lacking in it.

goldenruleThe Golden Rule is a powerful statement placing empathy in a position of importance in determining morality. As stated in Matthew, the rule is “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Seeing oneself in others is the key to morality derived from empathy.

crowleydowhatThe philosophy of Thelema, formulated by Aleister Crowley, is critical of Christianity and says, instead of following a list of rules, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Love is the law, love under will.” “Will” in this context refers to a certain kind of awareness called “true will” which really means alignment with the “will” of the universe. Everyone is a sovereign being (“Every man and woman is a star”) but, unless one is in touch with his “true will,” he is out of step with what might be called “divine will.” “The entire momentum of the universe” is behind those who do their “true will.” In other words, a Thelemite is still doing the will of God. However, as Robert Heinlein stated in Stranger in a Strange Land, “Thou art God.” Everyone is (or can be) the deity. The idea that everyone is God is popular in New Age thinking. Thelema is really a form of New Age philosophy. Only it is called The Age of Horus.

bookofthelawIt is commonly thought that the key to conscience is empathy. The Golden Rule makes a lot of common scense. It is fair. In a democratic society, everyone has the same rights. Or should have. Once the Divine Rights of Kings went the way of the Dodo Bird, it just made sense that everyone was equal. Every man and woman is a star. Of course, it doesn’t mean we all have the same ability. The Book of the Law has a lot of warlike pronoucements, “love is the law” notwithstanding.

“Therefore the kings of the earth shdoveall be Kings for ever: the slaves shall serve. There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was. Yet there are masked ones my servants: it may be that yonder beggar is a King. A King may choose his garment as he will: there is no certain test: but a beggar cannot hide his poverty.
“59. Beware therefore! Love all, lest perhance is a King concealed! Say you so? Fool! If he be a King, thou canst not hurt him.
“60. Therefore strike hard & low, and to hell with them, master!” (Book II)

charlieThe New Age is basically mystical and mysticism is solipsistic. Everything is itself and it’s opposite. Charlie Manson identified himself with Love. If everything is one, the language of duality is meaningless.


What is Conscience? do we need it?

fallonDo we know what is right or wrong? Do we care? Do we have empathy? Does empathy make people any kinder? Psychopaths are feared because we have neither empathy nor conscience. Some psychopaths have done done terrible things. Some of us have led rational and reasonable lives. Some have contributed to society, pursuing careers and taking good care of ourselves. Some of us are Christians. Many are atheists. Some are Thelemites. Some are Wiccans. No doubt, some are Muslims. On the other hand, some people with empathy and conscience have been terrible people. But it is the crimes of psychopaths that fascinate the world.

I’m Just Like You


peacedoveOnce upon a time, there was a little white dove named Sweetsie. Sweetsie wanted to go into show business. She auditioned for many parts. Unfortunately, the only parts she was ever offered were representing world peace in political plays or playing the Holy Spirit in religious melodramas. It was better than getting no work at all but it was unsatisfying. Sweetsie wasn’t really like that at all. She has a dark side. She wanted more exciting roles. But they were never offered to her. She was type-caste.

henryHenry was a crocodile who lived in a nice swamp. There was lots of water and algae all around. He had lots of crocodile friends and was pretty happy. But deep down inside, he was unsatisfied with his life. He yearned for something more delicate and gentle.

Sweetsie was flying around, exploring the world. She came upon the swamp where sweetsieinflightHenry lived. She lit upon a hollow tree that was standing there. She looked down and saw Henry wallowing in the swamp. Something about the sight of Henry opened a sweet space in her heart and she started singing. Henry looked up. He had never seen such a pretty, graceful being in his life. “Please come down and talk to me,” he called.

LaworderSweetsie swooped down to earth and the two of them had a long chat. They shared their interests. It turned out, they both liked watching Law & Order: SVU. They both found the criminals more interesting then the cops. Then the conversation moved to their lifestyles. Henry was a predator, of course. As a crocodile, he hunted the swamps for smaller creatures like fish, birds, frogs and the like. Once a man was shot by another man and left to drown. Henry had quite a feast that day. Sweetsie usually ate seeds, grass and occasionally snails. They wondered if it might be practical for them to hunt together.

swampThe next day, they decided to try it. Henry glided through the swamp, detecting by smell and sound signs of life around him. First, he caught a fish. He grabbed the fish in his teeth. While he held the fish steady, Sweetsie pecked at parts of the soft, white belly. She ate enough for her modest needs and Henry finished off the fish.

henryeatingLife was pretty idyllic for the next few months. They hung out, shared their love of the hunt and shared their treasures. But the fact of the matter was that Henry was a crocodile and Sweetsie was a dove. After a while, their routine got boring, especially for Henry. When they had a hard time finding enough prey, one day, Henry realized that Sweetsie was made of potentially delicious meat. He ate her. He was, after all, a crocodile and crocodiles eat birds.




1narcinmarriageWho is the Real Victim?

Gaslighting is usually discussed as a sinister thing Narcs and ‘Paths do to nice people. But the reality is that everyone gaslights. All it really means is trying to alter someone’s sense of reality. Not all gaslighting is destructive and done with malicious intent.

The above video not only makes that point and gives a few lessons on how to gaslight with the proviso that we “should play nice” and use it for good. Therapists’ jobs are to change a patient’s beliefs into something healthier for him. Informing a friend of the fact that someone else has spread gossip about him can be an act of kindness. When someone tells us things like that, it’s important to know who they can trust.

gaslightThe term, Gaslighting is almost always used in describing its negative use. The term, itself, comes from the 1940 movie, Gaslight about a husband who is trying to drive his wife crazy by making her doubt her perceptions of reality. The term became popularized by websites and blogs warning people of behavior at the hands of “predatory” narcissists and psychopaths. I have already covered the subject of such sites in A Psychopath’s Guide to Haters.

1flyingmonkeysGaslighting is closely associated with Flying Monkeys, people who are manipulated into helping a malicious person persecute someone else. A perfect example of gaslighting being used maliciously with flying monkeys is the way Republicans and other Righties have turned masses of Americans into flying monkeys against Hillary Clinton. While political “discourse” has unfortunately grown increasingly into character assassination, the slander against Hillary has been uglier than any other case. To be fair, Donald Trump has been pretty spectacularly badmouthed too but his enemies don’t have to make things up. His record since in office provides plenty of material. His (dwindling) supporters didn’t miss a beat in claiming victim-hood for Trump, saying no other president has been treated as badly as he has (although he has yet to be assassinated or called “nigger”).

1gossipAs ugly as slander, whispers in someone’s ear to the effect that she has been slandered can really cause people to question their reality. Is it true that X has said that about me? Who is repeating it? This has been done to me in an office and I have seen the same tactic used on others. Bullying can do the same, encouraging people to join in persecuting someone safely from the anonymity of the crowd.

1quarrelHowever, the term gaslighting has been most commonly invoked concerning behavior of couples toward each other during intimate relationships. “I never told you that! You’re delusional!” “Why do you always…?” “You embarrassed me at that party. Everyone was talking about your (outfit) (behavior) (weight).” “Are you bipolar?” “Have you forgotten to take your meds?” The You-Tube documentary, The Psychopath Next Door 1womenwhohas a segment in which the author of the book Women Who Love Psychopaths, Sandra Brown, played a verbal description of a woman who was a “victim” of a psychopath. Her face was never shown for her “safety.” Her story was that this charming man “love-bombed” her and she fell in love with him. After the wedding, he changed. But they stayed together long enough to have a child. Finally, she consulted a counselor who told her, “Your husband is a psychopath. He will never change.” On the strength of that, she divorced him. The story sounds very prosaic to me. Don’t all suitors put their best foot forward during courtship? Don’t relationships usually 1redridinghoodchange once they are married? It even has a name: The Honeymoon is Over. How can a “counselor” diagnose someone he has never even met? Is it just possible that the counselor was used as a flying monkey? And how about Sandra Brown? And the makers of the documentary, for that matter? Disclaimer: The documentary was pretty good for the most part. By applying the label psychopath to the man (who never gave his side), his ex-wife suddenly became his “victim.” His courtship, a predatory act. And, honestly. How is calling your husband/wife a narc any different from calling him/her “bipolar?”

Looking at the above example, isn’t one moved to re-evaluate the stories on these websites that claim to give information on people they have decided are “narcissists” and/or “psychopaths?” How many of them have been even clinically diagnosed? Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door (a different work), said sociopaths and psychopaths love to play the victim. What does one do when both sides are claiming victimhood?

Religion is Gaslighting

fascismA dear friend of mine, Lucky Otter, has a blog post criticizing Christian Dominionism called Christian Dominionism has taken over the GOP. I appreciate 99% of what she has written but there is one statement that I not only disagree with, it has inspired this blog post.

Now, the old Testament has much to recommend it, and of course the Ten Commandments are just plain old common sense. Personally, I have no objection to the Commandments being displayed in courthouses or “In God We Trust” being printed on the dollar bill, because these things don’t necessarily favor only Christians and they’re simply good advice for anyone. They don’t repress, oppress, or marginalize anyone. They don’t hurt people or the environment. They don’t undermine the Constitution or our freedoms. People who object to these things really ought to turn their minds to more important issues that actually affect their lives.

atheismAs an atheist, I do feel “marginalized” and downright discounted by public displays of religion funded by taxpayers like me. As far as I’m concerned, “god” is the imaginary playmate of many people. I have had to deal with believers all my life. They are so sure of their righteousness, so entitled to preach their beliefs, anyone who thinks otherwise is atheistautomatically put on the defensive. While they demand “respect” for their delusional systems of thought, they never seem to think dissenting opinions deserve their respect. Well, many do agree to show respect for other religions but not for lack of religion. Frankly, I am sick of these self-assured entitled people demanding the upper hand for their delusions over my rationality.

What gives religion its power, is pure emotion. Since when can reason stand up to emotion? In the market place of ideas, emotion is like a big bully who hits everyone who disagrees over the head with a big club.

gaslightThe 1940 film called Gaslight brought into the English language the term gaslighting as an expression for manipulating someone into doubting his/her own sense of reality and adopting the lie the gas lighter wants him/her to believe. The villain in the movie alters the environment while pretending he doesn’t see the changes he brought about. His victim, his wife, comes to think her very perceptions must be false. She trusts her husband so she believes him when he says he doesn’t notice the change in the lighting and other things she has observed. She comes to think she is losing her mind.

funny-demotivational-posters-76-16Gaslighting has come to be sited as one of the common ways in which people can be victimized in an abusive relationship. Stephanie Starkis, Ph.D., wrote 11 Signs of Gaslighting in a Relationship published in Psychology Today. In her article, Dr. Starkis says that gaslighting “is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders.” It is considered rude to apply this term to religion, at least a major religion. Any religion that has little enough recognition by society can be called a “cult.” It is difficult to define the difference between a “religion” and a “cult.” Before the phenomenon of secular society, it was considered unthinkable to have a society that wasn’t defined by a particular religion. As people began questioning the established religion and developing alternatives which, in turn, gained adherents, societies were challenged by the cognitive dissonance that occurred when their society adopted a religion that they didn’t believe in. Only one religion can be The Truth so it was very important that one’s religion be The religion obeyed by their society. This led to religious wars which are well documented by historians.

coexistThe need for religious warfare was resolved by the advent of secular societies which embraced pluralism. Mankind discovered that adherents of different faiths could coexist in one society if that society didn’t officially endorse one faith at the exclusion of others. Still, upstart religions which didn’t have enough clout could still be denied status and could be devalued as “cults” instead of religions. It was even possible to kidnap a member of a cult and brainwash (excuse me, deprogram him/her) to make him/her drop all that “nonsense” and accept a more mainstream view of reality.

socratesEpistomology is the most important branch of philosophy because it is all about how we know what is real. For years, most people believed science was the key to rational knowledge. But today even science is challenged, mainly by religious folk whose fundamentalist insistence on the creationist myths of the Bible clashed with Darwin’s theory of evolution. Another scientific theory, embraced by most scientists, is being challenged by a group of well-financed people who don’t choose to believe there is such a thing as global warming. Another example of dispute in science is with vaccinations. This goes to show that there is no way mankind can come to consensus about truth. In most cases, the best solution seems to be let everyone think what he wants to think. In some situations, the need for consensus seems really urgent such as the case of global warming. The wrong answer to that question can even lead to the destruction of our very planet.

pontius“What is truth?” asked Pontius Pilate as he washed his hands. Truth is as much a disputed territory today as it was when he asked the question (allegedly asked because the Bible doesn’t measure up to the criteria for established historical evidence).

The bloodthirsty insistence on consensus seems to be confined to the Western nations, those formed out of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Religions of the Far East such as Hinduism and Buddhism have no problem co-existing with each other. Only the Abrahamic religions claim the need to be the exclusive arbiters of Truth. That is probably the reason Westerners, raised in those religions can argue about even science.

evangelicismBoth Christianity and Islam are evangelical religions. Funny how they both sprang from Judaism which never has been evangelical. While believing in the absolute truth of their monotheistic religion, Jews never believed that the whole world had to embrace Judaism and don’t seek converts. Since Jews don’t believe people are either damned or saved, there is no need to bring others into the faith. Only when Jesus came along did the idea of mankind needing to be saved from sinfulness become an essential feature of religious thought. Looking at it that way, one can actually claim that Jesus was the original creator of holy war.

objectiveI do believe that Truth is objective. In other words, reality isn’t subjective. I don’t have my “truth” and you don’t have your “truth.” One can be “right” and everyone else “wrong.” Or everyone can be wrong. But truth transcends subjective opinion. Whether it is knowable or not, it is indivisible. Socrates was the first to say it, as far as I know. “True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.” He started with one assumption: that he didn’t know anything. Everything that could be known had to be proven. But he never said truth was subjective. Just hard to know.

freereligThe Europeans who settled North America were seeking religious freedom in a time when every country was thought to need an established religion but many citizens had different religious beliefs. Even among the settlers, a single established belief system was thought to be a necessity. Every colony had a religion everyone had to obey. Over time, the colonies came to accept the need for unity with other colonies in order to win independence from England. The nation that was built was deliberately designed to avoid establishment of any religion.

ingodwetrust“In God We Trust” did not appear on the US currency, at the start of the Civil War, it was added to coins. Teddy Roosevelt ordered the phrase removed but popular sentiment forced it to be returned. It didn’t appear on paper money until 1957 when the Cold War made combining piety with patriotism seem like a good idea. “Under God” was added to “One Nation…” around the same time. Although the onenationreligionists like to argue that these tokens of religious piety were part of our original identity, none of them appeared at the founding of our nation. In fact, in 2002, the Ninth Circuit of California ruled that the “under God” phrase violated the Constitution. The ruling was the result of a lawsuit by “Michael Newdow, who had complained that his daughter is injured when forced to listen to public school teachers lead students daily in a pledge that includes the assertion that there is a God.” (One Nation Under God) The ruling set off political backlash. It was argued that the girl didn’t have to recite that phrase or even the Pledge of Allegiance itself. (Funny, when I went to school, I was never told I had the right not to say the Pledge.)

pledgeIt may seem petty to some people, but having to proclaim something I consider a falsehood every time I spend money is being forced to be false to myself and that is gaslighting. Having to stand with my hand on my heart and recite (or pretend to) words I don’t agree with is gaslighting. In the movie Song of Bernadette about the Catholic Saint Bernadette of Lourdes, the life of a royal family is saved by the Lourdes water. When a member of the royal family, praises the waters for healing the prince, his father scolds her for not giving the doctor enough credit. “You’re an atheist,” she proclaims. “That’s the stupidest thing a monarch can be,” he returns. Religion and national sovereignty go hand in hand. The “divine right of kings” was long considered justification for the government of nations. We don’t believe in that any more but we still have prayer breakfasts and atheists have little chance of ever being elected to office.

redmenaceHere’s an interesting piece of trivia: The original Pledge was written by a socialist. That’s right. A socialist by the name of Francis Bellamy. The story is covered in Why we’re not one nation “under God,” by David Greenberg.

Hand in hand with the Red Scare, to which it was inextricably linked, the new religiosity overran Washington. Politicians outbid one another to prove their piety. President Eisenhower inaugurated that Washington staple: the prayer breakfast. Congress created a prayer room in the Capitol. In 1955, with Ike’s support, Congress added the words “In God We Trust” on all paper money.

10commandThe Ten Commandments are not “common sense” as Lucky Otter has declared. (“Ten Commandments are just plain old common sense.”) The first four of the ten are all about worshiping God. That leaves atheists out. It also threatens anyone who isn’t worshipful enough with punishment to the third generation. “Honor thy Father and Mother” is more authoritarianism. Lucky Otter knows better than that as she has discussed the limits of one’s obligation to honor a parents who doesn’t deserve it. The others are mostly about preserving the status quo. “Thou shalt not steal” even if an unjust system enriches some justly at the expense of the many? Nice that people are told not to commit adultery. How about a rule forbidding rape?

dominionistsCertainly Lucky’s main point that Dominionism goes way beyond what is accepted in today’s society. Domionists are every bit as extreme and authoritarian as ISIS. Lucky’s opposition to the wave of fascism that threatens to overtake our country is important.

The Problem of Perfection

Why is there Religion?

idealmaterialMan is said to be the one species who walks in both the spiritual world and the material one. Metaphysicians are divided into “materialists” and “idealists” depending on which of the two they believe to be the fundamental reality. Does the spirit create matter? Can the soul exist without the brain? Do lobotomy victims still have their souls? What about “near-death experiences?” Life after death? Scientists have seen the body of a dead person lose weight at the time of death. I never saw someone die on a scale but I can testify to a qualitative difference between a living being and a dead one. Something just isn’t there anymore.

godaThe majority of mankind exhibits a need to believe in something supernatural, hence the existence of religion. The “three major religions” all sprang from one small part of the world, the Middle East. They are, of course, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The other major religious current comes from the Far East. They are Buddhism and Hinduism. In addition, there are religions of indigenous peoples. Christianity is a spin-off of Judaism (just like The Jeffersons is a spin-off of All in the Family). Judaism was really a tribal religion like the other indigenous religions. Jesus Christ changed all that, founding a universal, transcendental religion named after him. He may have been influenced by the eastern religions.

religiouswarWhile some people are just fine not believing in any kind of god and while people who practice tribal religions seem at ease with a religion that focuses more on how to live in the world than on other worlds, most humans prefer focusing on beliefs that take them beyond the world we live in. This other world has become so important for humanity, people have fought bloody wars over their beliefs. They have also imposed all sorts of austerities on themselves, sacrificing advantage in the material world for hoped for advantages in the spiritual world. That is putting a lot of gravitas on their spiritual beliefs, showing how important transcendence is to man.

21-sufferingOne reason people cling to religion is an explanation for suffering. They need to see the universe as something meaningful and benevolent. If they must suffer, let it be part of some larger good. Of course, a very high and enlightening thought can be, “It don’t mean shit.” That there is no “meaning” to suffering and that things just “are” with no higher purpose can be extremely liberating. Just accepting reality with no moral narrative can instantly free us to be here and now, the most spiritual place one can be, in my not-so-humble opinion. The Buddhists seem to understand this when they say thereisnogodthe enlightened mind is “alive and empty.” My own mystical experience informed me that we are all One. When one considers that time and space don’t exist in the spirit dimension, how can it be otherwise? Seeing oneself as One with Everything can really be the same as seeing oneself completely alone as there is no Other.

How do we bond?

sacredheartIf Eastern mysticism is mainly located in the third eye and the crown chakra, Christianity is located in the heart chakra. The Other is very much present as the Christian unites with his fellow man in Agape Love. Both forms of unifying oneself with the All involve releasing the ego which is only there to limit us in our individual identity.

No matter how religious, we are still living in physical bodies which are, by their very nature, limited and vulnerable. Our bodies have needs that simultaneously link us to the world and keep us separate. No matter how idealistic one is, filling one’s own belly is satisfying in a way that feeding one’s brethren is not. So, although Christianity is about spiritual transcendence, Christians living in the material world must still negotiate the tricky terrain of Malkuth. Some examples of Christianity can involve behavior that would seem odd to outsiders.

The Prosperity Gospel

prosperityParading extraordinary shows of “goodness” can be profitable in America. The best known examples of this are the televangelists. Most of these are Pentecostals and Baptists. There is a pattern to their beliefs. Many preach the “prosperity gospel,” which promises that if Christians are good enough, they can be rewarded in this life with material wealth. The pastors  certainly are rewarded, mainly by members of their flock who make donations in hope of being likewise rewarded. Many of these justforgivenpastors have been caught in scandals, some sexual and others financial. Because God’s forgiveness is stressed, these pastors simply confess their sins and expect their congregations to forgive them too. A seemingly heart-felt act of contrition is thought to be enough to wipe out all transgressions. After all, Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. Where there’s life, there’s hope. No matter how low someone falls, he has infinite chances of rising to the greatest heights. This can easily be dismissed as corruption but, on the plus side, it teaches optimism and tolerance. Of course, once you die, there are no more chances of recovery or forgiveness. Only in the mortal state, is forgiveness and salvation possible.

theblanchardewomen-1050x700-cb799087-3c1e-40b4-bc35-31cfd426e5a7Goodness for profit isn’t limited to evangelists. Dee Dee Blanchard made herself into a media saint by convincingly making her daughter seem to be a mega-invalid. The sight of illness combined with saintliness has inspired people long before the above-mentioned cases. The media loved to build this spectacle into it’s own secular altar. A perfect example of holiness combined with suffering is Lourdes. Saint Bernadette revealed the presence of healing waters after the Blessed Virgin told her where to look. Since then, Lourdes has been a Mecca for the sick and handicapped. Not only do infirm people want to find healing, I think the chance that their disability can become sanctified probably boosts their self-esteem. Here is where explaining suffering and giving it meaning is such an important part of religion.

brokennessIn each of these cases, “goodness” equates with humility. It is the very brokenness, the imperfection, the weakness of an individual that is a gateway to holiness. Jesus said, “That which you do to the least of these, you do to Me.” That is probably the deepest essence of Christianity. God humbled Himself to become a mere mortal, born as a helpless infant “between piss and shit,” subject to all the natural shocks and woes that we mortals must bear. Perhaps, we mortals cherish the belief that we are all really God, disguising ourselves as fleshy beings. The lower we fall in the earthly realm, the more powerfully our inner light is destined to shine. That idea has been stigmatized in psychiatry both as masochism and covert narcissism.

Do the gods envy us?

lohengrinJust as man yearns for the spiritual, human culture is also full of stories of gods who yearn for the four dimensional realm of Malkuth. Think of Lohengrin. The realm of spirit is exulted but also cold. It seems the material world, with all its hardships, has something one can not get anywhere else. As humans, mortality is all we really know. The rest is speculation or projection. I guess there is an uneasy relationship between spirit and matter. Goethe, who was a scientist as well as a poet and novelist, had a theory of color that was at odds with Newton’s. According to Goethe, color is a manifestation resulting from the struggle between light and darkness.

Time’s winged chariot

timefleetingThe sanctity of human weakness appears to be based on the idea that our mortal lives are perishable, temporary.  Buddhism stressed the temporary nature of everything. Marx, too, said that everything is changing, matter in motion. All change is the opposite of perfection. It has been said that perfection is death. Of course, even death is part of the process of endless change. We die. Our bodies decompose and fertilize the soil in one way or another. Mankind has also striven for immortality. But can there be immortality with change? Vampires live forever but never change. Christians go to Heaven where they live forever in a state of perfection. Buddhist nirvana is a state of perfection that is the end of change.

zygoteGoethe’s Faust rejected that unchanging perfection in favor of eternal striving. “Man is continually striving and, striving, he must err.” Constant struggle seems to be another ideal seen by Goethe as well as by Marx. It’s a very Western concept. Eastern philosophies look at continual change as “the curse of birth and death.” It looks to me as if life is inherently fleeting and ephemeral while immortal life is only a moment frozen in time, like a photograph. We strive for perfection just as a sperm cell strives for the egg. Once we find it, we are obliterated.