Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Precipice of Belief

“Did you sleep well?
Did you sleep fine?
Did you sleep much at all?
All night I heard two voices from out here in the hall;
The first one was ancient but the second was a gun,
The first one was laughin’ before the second was done...”

Twice a month, almost every month, I sit down with my father-in-law and one of his friends and talk about politics, religion, history and geography. I enjoy it greatly despite the fact that one of the individuals involved in the discussions is a Christian Evangelist. The fellow went to Vietnam, where upon witnessing the brutality of American soldiers and the human potential for evil first hand and became a pacifist.

I have a hard time describing my relationship with Christianity. When I was younger, I saw the evils of the Church of my youth and those who believed they were doing 'good' first hand. My response was something you could describe as quasi-Gnostic. I've spent chunks of my life with a practically Luciferian view towards the world. It has since softened, in so many ways, because I've come to see the mess I created for myself in riddling myself with views based on false dichotomies.

And yet, I do not hate Christianity. I do hate what calls itself 'mainstream Christianity' today, specifically Fundamentalism. But on the other hand, one of the first discussions we ever had centered on Liberation Theology. A few years ago, I didn't even know such a thing existed; VVF had to introduce me to it. Nor did I know about the reality of many of the South American Catholic Priests that formulated the basis of the arguments of it. Did I know that South America housed priests that eschewed even their traditional modes of dress to become more like the people they were trying to help, or that they critiqued the hierarchy of the Church to the point that they were called 'Marxists'? Absolutely not. But I wish I had, because it is one of the few Christian views I find myself in agreement with today.

In the years since my angry defection from the Church, I find myself more and more contemplating human nature in conjunction with the organization of religious and other social structures. I find myself watching in amazement as the same ghostly or phantasmic ideas possess individuals who view themselves as 'scientists,' as 'religious leaders,' or 'political authorities' rise up. I blog about these ideas and post links to documentary films, books, and other such topics on the subject. And I do this because I believe that these ideas in and of themselves form the basis of our greatest pitfalls; when belief in our knowledge leads us to conclude that we know what is best for others (because they are less informed; because they are less intelligent, etc).

To this day, I see a number of magicians and others in different fields reflect on ideas such as 'control,' concluding that we somehow understand the nature of the world we live in, or the nature of ourselves. They stretch out their hands to try and control the actions of others; to try and control the responses of the world to their actions, or to try and 'control' themselves. And yet, I strongly suspect that this system of responses is based on an idea that is untenable to the world we actually live in. We have as much control over others as we have over ourselves, and we have precisely no control over our surroundings. Our decision-making processes are built out of habits and frameworks of belief that are both strikingly modern and exceedingly ancient.

And everywhere around us, the precise opposite of these beliefs is patently manifest in the world. Attempts to 'control' others may succeed for awhile, but often explode in horrific and revolutionary moments that pit various factions of human beings against one another. Attempts to 'control' ourselves often result in psychological repression, the long term implications of which result in neurotic responses and deep-seated mental illness. Attempts to control the natural order of things does not seem to work very well at all, and we are in the process of discovering this.

This leads me to conclude that all we have, and all we have ever had, is influence. We can influence our inner responses; we can influence the actions of others, and very briefly we might possibly influence the world around us. But none of this designates a state of Knowing or Controlling.

From this view, all human organizations are subject to the same potential problems, but their means of doing so are myriad. For some, the fear of sex leads to attempts to control sexual behavior (which simply cannot be done and is intolerable). For still others, the potentials for conflict or violence – often seen, due to the influence of Freud, as being comparable to sexual desires – must be controlled... With again similar social responses with very similar consequences to trying to control sex.

The Christian Churches of today are just one format of these same beliefs. But we can find them everywhere. This makes me question, can other potentials come from even such organizations if they are met with long-term and informed challenges? After all, The Songs of Solomon actually advocate a sexual being; the Bible, and indeed all religious history, is riddled with conflict and shocking violence. Is it possible that even these things could bring about something decent?

Or is humanity and all human concepts doomed to the spiritual fortitude of a swamp befouled by all the worst human impulses and phantasmic paradoxes?

And if we recognize the above, does it tell us something about the pendulum swings of nature and ourselves? That we are neither good nor evil, nor the world, nor our own institutions? That there are tiny fractions, moments when the beauty we can derive from all life shows... and moments when the utmost horror and terror of human existence is brought to the fold?

I don't really know. I'm not Enlightened. But I do wonder. And I also wonder if all this wondering is nothing more than intellectual wank, garbage I should cast off and instead focus on something else?

Did you sleep well?
Did you sleep fine?
Did you sleep much at all?
All night I heard two voices from out here in the hall;
The first it was singing and the second dressed in red,
The first one was hungry and the second was well fed...”

Be seeing you,
Jack.

1 comment:

Robert said...

I think you are broaching solid concerns over control. It is my belief (at the moment) that the damage done unto me and the damage I have done to others all stems from the need control. This is true of the private and private selves as well as, public institutions and society as a whole.

My way around that was to merge into the mystic. The magician learns by imposing his will; The mystic learns by receiving his will.