Friday, May 27, 2016

The Politics of the Big Lie

There is almost no better story on the lies of the ego than the story of Ucle Laban in Genesis, the story of false promises is the story that 'makes the world go round.' False promises galore everywhere. It is the bedrock of the twelve tribes of Israel, man's life in the ego's world of time and space. In modern literature there is Goethe's story of Faust, and of selling one's soul to the devil. And, infamously, there is Hitler's notion of the Big Lie, which Wikipedia sums up as follows: "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it." In the end it became most famous because of Goebbels' use of it, as expressed in this quote: "The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous." (see Wikipedia article).
Later on it was to get worked out in literary form to its logical extreme by George Orwell, in the form of Newspeak, with terms like "truth ministry."

All of these are merely reflections of the central feature of the ego thought system, the phenomenon the Buddhists call "monkey mind," and as describe in the Course, when it speaks about how our mind is split in duality between ego and Holy Spirit, between wrong and right mind:
Remember the Kingdom always, and remember that you who are part of the Kingdom cannot be lost. The Mind that was in me [is] in you, for God creates with perfect fairness. Let the Holy Spirit remind you always of His fairness, and let me teach you how to share it with your brothers. How else can the chance to claim it for yourself be given you? The two voices speak for different interpretations of the same thing simultaneously; or almost simultaneously, for the ego always speaks first.  Alternate interpretations were unnecessary until the first one was made.
The ego speaks in judgment, and the Holy Spirit reverses its decision, much as a higher court has the power to reverse a lower court's decisions in this world. The ego's decisions are always wrong, because they are based on the error they were made to uphold. Nothing the ego perceives is interpreted correctly. Not only does the ego cite Scripture for its purpose, but it even interprets Scripture as a witness for itself. (ACIM:T-5.VI.3:1-4.4)
In other words the strategy of the separation thought (ego) in the mind is simply to control the press, as is always done by dictatorial regimes. The ego's illusion is that there are different truths for different people and we can make truth what we want it to be. This is why there is no hope unless and until we come to the realization that something is not working, and eventually nothing is working, and we end up looking for "another way."

One lie or many lies?

The bottom line is that there is really only one lie at the foundation of the ego thought system, and that is that we are not as God created us, or, to put it differently, that ideas do leave their source - two different ways this issue is expressed in the Course. To that extent then, the level confusion of thinking we're the dream figure, and not the dreamer of the dream is the fundamental lie our ego is constantly trying to cover up, by keeping us 'entertained' with our bodily adventures in this world of time and space. And to the extent that the decision to identify with the ego is buried in our unconscious, the adventures of our life serve to keep the decision for the ego deeply buried, and keep us busy moving the deckchairs on the titanic. The constant mind chatter serves no other purpose than maintaining the ego's temper tantrum in all of its high-pitched intensity, so our mind should stay engrossed in the dream, for there's simply too much to do and worry about. Clearly Plato's allegory of the cave, which is implicitly referenced in the Course is one of the clearest cultural myths: we are glued in the seats of the theater of the world, fixated on the screen, and totally identified with the adventures of our hero on the stage - our false identity and bodily self - incapable of even turning our head around to see the light, and to realize that the images on the wall are mere shadows cast by the light outside, and figments of our imagination. Not only that, we'll muffle or kill off anyone who would attempt to tell us otherwise.

Since in the ego thought system the refraction of light ensures that what was one appears as many, the one lie takes on many forms, and we can spend the rest of our lives fighting the lies of the world, like Don Quijote and Sancho Panza, fighting the windmills. We will be totally preoccupied with fighting the evil in the world ("out there"), and never have to wake up to the fact that all the lies of the world are just a cover over the one lie our ego does not want us to see, our choice of "selling our soul to the devil," to put it in Faustian terms. Or, in abstract philosophical terms our choice for duality instead of oneness. In oneness, truth is true and everything else is a lie, and in duality truth is different for everyone, and hence it is always a Darwinian battle of one or the other.

My favorite saying to describe this condition is the old latin adage:
Mundus vult decipi, decipiatur ergo. (Eng.: The world wants to be fooled and therefore she will be. Cited in St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, and often ascribed to Petronius.)
And the reason we want to be deceived, is because we are projecting out the deception we accuse ourselves of, where we shattered the peace of Heaven, and launched our own substitute reality, but we won't accept responsibility for our actions and project it on others instead, leaving us in the victim role, proclaiming our innocence. In other words, the ego's addiction to victim scripts (including being deceived) is sustained in the Freudian sense by the secondary gain of obfuscating our self-accusation of being a guilty sinner who has shattered the peace of Heaven. The corollary to that is that the world loves helping helpless victims because again it covers up our self-accusation of similarly being guilty sinners who shattered the peace of Heaven.

Original 'sin' and originality, or lack thereof...

The Buddhist term "monkey mind" becomes more brilliant the longer you think of it, for the ego, by definition has never had an original thought. The thought of separation is the thought of copying God, and starting to play God on our own, or as the Course puts it, I want it thus! - here is the quote in full:
Dreams are perceptual temper tantrums, in which you literally scream, "I want it thus!" And thus it seems to be. And yet the dream cannot escape its origin. (ACIM:T-18.II.41-3)
With a litttle bit of humor we could say that the ego is the original copy cat, so that, if indeed monkeys like to mimic behavior, the monkey mind does nothing else than 'playing God,' in a substitute reality of its own choosing, which is the dream that serves to forget our reality in Heaven. And, unsurprisingly (for those who've studied Freud a bit), in the dream we then project out the deception and become victim of a thousand deceptions. All of the monkey mind (to use a Course term, "the thoughts you think you think") is nothing but 'Newspeak,' for its very purpose is to obfuscate our reality:
It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing. You think you think them, and so you think you see them. This is how your "seeing" was made. This is the function you have given your body's eyes. It is not seeing. It is image making. It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions. (ACIM:W-15.1) 

Some favorite lies and what to do about them

What to do about them is of course to forgive them. It is the only way out, however, that does not mean foregoing the need to get to the bottom of them, except if your mission is forgiveness, what will happen is that in the process of the 'dressing down,' you will uncover ever deeper layers of your own need to be fooled, and all the emotional attachments that keep the ego's amusement park (a.k.a. the world) going. The best ego strategy is the victim role. Nothing is more effective than if you have somebody else (the scapegoat) to blame for all your troubles - the unconscious goal is to absolve yourself of all responsibility, and feeling like an innocent, blameless victim.
In my own life, and in our culture in general, there are always lies aplenty, and they are all useful classrooms, if you put the Holy Spirit in charge, and not the ego, because with the ego all they are is a battlefield on which everybody loses. Some examples:

  • The never ending story of cults, religious, political and business. Steve Hassan and his Freedom of Mind resource center are the go-to resource in this area.
  • The 'healthcare' racket, a.k.a. the medical industrial complex is another cultural lie that is slowly devouring us all. A lot of healthcare spending is really sick care, for there's more money in keeping us sick, at least as long as we can pay the bills... but that's increasingly questionable. The seminal book on this subject is perhaps Ivan Illich's 1976 book, recently re-released under the title Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health. There's a lot afoot in this area, but there seems to be a budding awareness that taking responsibility for ourselves is somehow key to it all, and Jan Willem van Aalst recently summed it up with a wonderful post on The Victim Gland.
  • Currently in the US, there's the battle of pyramid schemes, which are a form of business cults, complete with their own Newspeak. One of the best sites is that of British critic David Brear, MLM, The American Dream Made Nightmare. His own family was devastated by the association of his brother with Amway, and David is performing a real public service by helping to unravel the Newspeak, for in the MLM version of Newspeak, the 'dream stealers' are the people who have figured out that 99.9% of people lose money in pyramid schemes. This industry has gone to incredible lengths to subvert the language in a way that would have done Goebbels proud. The bottom line is that the 'MLM business opportunity,' is simply yet another way for fools to be separated from their money. It is also a festival of victimhood.
  • Another classic of course was the denial of the link of smoking and lung cancer, which is now being repeated on the e-cigarette and hookah front.
  • Still going on is the scam of fluoridation of drinking water. In my native Holland it was introduced in the 1960's, but after the scientific fraud behind it was uncovered in the 70's, the practice was discontinued. When I arrived in the USA in '79, I was surprised to find they had not received the memo yet, and the levels of complication and CYA tactics to cover up how fluoride even ended up in our drinking water are beyond belief.
  • Clearly, all addictions of any kind are forms of 'living the lie,' and the results are devastating. Yet the cover-up is very clever. 80 heroin deaths a day in the US is a national crisis, but 1,600 daily deaths from cardio-vasculare disease are somehow business as usual, and even the government continues to support bad nutritional and agricultural policies and advice. Evidently, the addiction to the Standard American Diet (SAD) is alive and well, and officially endorsed.
Nothing will ever be resolved unless and until we start to recognize that all of these are just so many forms of idolatry, of substituting yet another "Big Lie" for the truth, and... that it takes two to tango, so victims and victimizers need each other to keep the amusement park (kudos to Jed McKenna for that term!) in business.

One day it may dawn on us what Exodus meant in 20:3: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Simply put, truth is one, only truth is true, and anything else is a lie, but we're all slow to give up "other Gods," until we start generalizing and seeing through them wholesale, meaning the differences between all the scams of the world are insignificant, and once the sameness is understood, the magic of Maya is losing its lustre. Eventually, we will give up wanting to be deceived, as we learn, through forgiveness that truth has not changed by our nightmare dreams, and all we need to do is wake up. Hence the Course speaks of:
The world stands like a block before Christ's face. But true perception looks on it as nothing more than just a fragile veil, so easily dispelled that it can last no longer than an instant. It is seen at last for only what it is. And now it cannot fail to disappear, for now there is an empty place made clean and ready. Where destruction was perceived the face of Christ appears, and in that instant is the world forgot, with time forever ended as the world spins into nothingness from where it came. (ACIM:C-4.4) 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Undreaming Chronicles by Alex Marchand

Most of us come to the Course with some background in formal religion of one sort or another, Christianity, Islam, Judaism are the most prominent, but scientific agnosticism is certainly one of them. Or, as the late Kenneth Wapnick used to joke, Marx was right that religion is opium for the people, but he ignored the fact that communism (a form of scientific materialism) was a religion too. On and on.
Many of us are motivated to take up A Course in Miracles, because we sense very quickly that it untangles some of the seemingly unsatisfactory issues that have come with our previous conditioning. Typically, in a religious context, those tend to be the 'mysteries of the faith,' where we were told that certain things were off-limits, or it was even dressed up as here was where 'faith' came in. In the materialistic/scientific world view these unresolved issues typically manifest as problems that have not been solved yet, and where conflicting hypotheses are being entertained, and we are supposed to (here come the 'mysteries of the faith' again) have faith in the method, and that ultimately these questions will all be answered. If our background and conditioning is more psychological/social, we are stuck with the dawning of contradictions around the real human motivations and talents, from the ridiculous to the sublime, of self-destructive and aggressive behaviors, where we come no further than survival of the fittest, and why everyone ultimately thinks the world revolves around them, and everyone else is dispensable - the Hitler within all of us, something again we never like to look at.

But then we stumble on to A Course in Miracles, or perhaps some other non-dualistic teaching, and gradually it becomes evident that all the seeming contradictions, the annoying 'mysteries of the faith,' are really the result of applying a dualistic interpretation to a non-dualistic reality (teaching), and suddenly all of the seeming contradictions in the teachings of Jesus disappear like snow before the sun, once we realize that he was teaching non-dualism. The theologians who made a Christian out of Jesus, starting with Peter and Paul, really busied themselves perverting the original non-dualistic teaching into a dualistic religion, and exploited the unexplained that resulted from their twisted interpretation as the 'mysteries of the faith,' that could bind believers to the emerging church. This is always the moment when specific teachers become lionized, just like Jesus was 'promoted' to being the only Son of God, completely contrary to what he taught. Within the Christian context, it was perhaps the re-discovery of the Thomas gospel which was the catalyst for returning to the non-dualistic teaching of Jesus. Gary Renard's trilogy (The Disappearance of the Universe, Your Immortal Reality, and Love Has Forgotten No One) deals with this extenstively, and my own Closing the Circle: Pursah's Gospel of Thomas and A Course in Miracles  explores the historical dimensions in depth, and demonstrates how via Thomas we come back to Jesus before he was a Christian, and who sounds remarkably like the author of A Course in Miracles.

It would appear that Ken Wapnick's magnum opus on Freud will be lost in the mists of time, as he was unable to finish it, but we should note that Joe R. Jesseph, Ph. D., a psychiatrist who was on the staff of the Foundation for A Course in Miracles for a long time, and who worked closely with Ken on this project, has already given us A Primer of Psychology According to A Course in Miracles, which really does for psychology what I described above about religion, which is to demonstrate rigorously how the whole of psychology collapses into a simple framework, once the non-dualistic framework is even beginning to be understood by us. Simply put, the key insight is that 'consciousness' so-called is a paranoid schizophrenic phenomenon which is designed to keep us from experiencing reality, so that all theories, psychological or otherwise, that are built on the gratuitous and erroneous assumption that 'consciousness' is the norm and the foundation, must shatter when confronted with reality, which in turn results in the experience of many conflicting theories. In this case the 'mysteries of the faith' simply are revealed as the stubborn belief that the individual reality is a valid starting point, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, and that somehow the whole of  'psychology' will get us anywhere, in spite of all the many contradictions.

Where it will get us is one day to wake up, and begin looking for another way, if we don't buy the story any longer, for it simply does not add up...

In terms of the scientific tradition, the 'mysteries of the faith' are again the many contradictory, not to mention sometimes mutually exclusive theories and hypotheses that never add up to a unified theory of everything, for the simple reason that they rest on the dogma of material reality, which is as irrational as the belief in the reality of the individual, and individual reality. Individual reality is what the sophists wanted, and which Plato rightfully ridiculed them for. After all, there cannot be many truths, as that is a contradiction in terms, and completely undoes the concept of truth in the first place.

Along comes Alex Marchand, a talented graphic artist, who delighted Course students some time ago with his wonderful graphic novel, and one of the best introductions to the Course you could find: The Universe is a Dream: The Secrets of Existence Revealed. Since then he has been up to no good (LOL), and has started to publish a series of books, The Undreaming Chronicles, of which so far books 1 and 2 have appeared, respectively subtitled Revelations from the Holy Planet, and The Library of Time. (Highly recommended to get them in paper form, not in e-book format, or at least get both.). In this new series of books, Alex systematically develops the same vision of how all of the seemingly unresolved issues in the scientific framework disappear like snow before the sun once we shift to a non-dualistic understanding as a point of departure, instead of positing the hapless physical world as the foundation of anything. In short, Alex's contribution resolves the 'mysteries of the faith,' in the materialistic (and Newtonian) religion of science, by offering us a larger, non-dualistic framework, which suddenly resolves all the seeming contradictions, and reveals in full glory how and why 'evolution' and 'creationism' are at loggerheads--because they both are religious myths, which are ways of explaining something that only obfuscate the truth if they are mistaken for the real thing. Alex builds on the work of Thomas Campbell (, and Brian Whitworth, representatives of a new notion, called "digital physics," which offers a Theory of Everything, and a coherent way of seeing the world as an expression of an idea, not as reality. This is delightful and enjoyable material. Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Clarity from Advaita

Sri Ramakrishna taught, in the spirit of the Advaita tradition that we all go through stages in our spiritual development, from dualism to semi-non-dualism and eventually to pure non-dualism. This kind of concept is right in line with the Course's emphasis on not skipping steps.

As I have covered in a recent blog, the Course's version of the "creation myth," (how did the impossible happen?), for many people may offer certain advantages in clarity compared to the Advaita tradition. The Course posits that the tiny mad idea (the separation thought, the ego), was our (the Son's) idea, and that the problem was not having the idea, but taking it seriously. The Course then appeals to our innate ability to change our mind as a straightforward "way back" to our Home in Heaven. This "change of mind" (Greek: "Metanoia,"), is the core teaching of Jesus, both what remains of his teachings 2000 years ago, and in ACIM today.
This particular aspect of the Course's explanation of our current predicament, is psychologically extremely powerful and helpful to us in returning to our mind where the problem is, rather than trying to fix the outcomes in the world, where the problem isn't and thus cannot be fixed either. It helps us in taking responsibility for entertaining the separation thought seriously, and now enables us to start to doubt our choice, and help to undo it, for which the Course offers us a stepwise training program, centered on "forgiveness," which properly understood is not dualistic forgiveness of someone out there (the Course would call that "forgiveness to destroy,") but forgiveness of myself for projecting my guilt on someone else, and taking it back to let the Holy Spirit be the judge for me instead.
The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this still is true. Whoever takes the role of enemy and of attacker, still is this the truth. Whatever seems to be the cause of any pain and suffering you feel, this is still true. For you would not react at all to figures in a dream you knew that you were dreaming. Let them be as hateful and as vicious as they may, they could have no effect on you unless you failed to recognize it is your dream.
This single lesson learned will set you free from suffering, whatever form it takes. The Holy Spirit will repeat this one inclusive lesson of deliverance until it has been learned, regardless of the form of suffering that brings you pain. Whatever hurt you bring to Him He will make answer with this very simple truth. For this one answer takes away the cause of every form of sorrow and of pain. The form affects His answer not at all, for He would teach you but the single cause of all of them, no matter what their form. And you will understand that miracles reflect the simple statement, "I have done this thing, and it is this I would undo." (ACIM:T-27.VIII.10-11).
In The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary Renard through the voice of Arten, proposes a similar developmental path from duality, to semi-dualism, to non-dualism (such as Vedanta), and finally pure non-dualism as represented by Jesus, in the sense of the total reunification of the Father and the Son (see DU, pp. 30-37). non-dualism is realizing that the world is an illusion, as indeed the Advaita teaching of lila (the godhead playing a game of "who am I" with himself) and Maya does. Pure non-dualism is reflected in the Course in the notion that "there is no world." (ACIM:W-132). Realizing that all these steps are a necessary part of the process is important, and is in-line with the Course's notion that we should not skip steps, lest we trip ourselves up. This is an evolutionary process while you are in it, and you need to respect your attachment to seeing things a certain way, until experience shows you that you are not giving up anything, but rather confining yourself to a constrained point of view, and you can't help but let it go.

Lately, I have been talking with Dutch teacher Jan van Delden, whose path was via Advaita in the tradition of Sri Ramana Maharshi, but who lately realized why A Course in Miracles often is so helpful to people because the forgiveness process teaches us gradually to turn to the Holy Spirit, and incrementally to let go of our ego attachments, in the context of our normal daily lives. Recently, Jan has shifted to teaching the Course for that reason. I already reported how his Advaita teacher at the end of his life had agreed with Jan's personal intuition that the origin of Maya (the life we dream), is our idea of separation, not a game of God, for that would impart some degree of objective reality to the world again. Much later, after the death of his teacher, Jan then found the Course via the work of Margot Krikhaar. However, his Advaita background, along with his in depth study and understanding of the spiritual metaphor of Homer's Odyssey, in turn help him explain the Course in a vibrant, new and different way.

Via Ken Bok I recently became aware of Mooji, and I have been taking in some of his material, which is also quite wonderful and helpful exactly because the language is different from the Course. Interestingly, Ken's interview with him sort of shows that transition, where at first the difference in terminology seemed to be a hurdle, but gradually better and better communication happened, until it ended in an experience of total surrender for Ken, which he has also shared with us, here.
One of the many things I found very helpful in Mooji's presentation was his reaction to the death of his guru, Papaji:
A month after returning to London, Mooji received news that the Master had passed away. Of this Mooji declares: "That Principle that manifests as the Master is ever HERE NOW. The True Master never dies, it is the mister that dies. The true Master, that Sat Guru* within, alone is the Real".
Interestingly, with the Course we are first being pointed to the existence of an "Inner Teacher," and gradually learn that he may show up for us in various manifestations through people, places and things, as we learn to tune in to the Voice more and more because engaging in forgiveness process would gradually lower our resistance, our defenses.

And again, the language of Advaita is different from the Course, but Mooji's approach to questioning our ego is quite interesting, and could be helpful to people:
So unsparing is his scrutiny and uncompromising stance, that the 'I' concept is inescapably exposed as a mental construction, when viewed from the formless awareness we are. 
Yet another Advaita teacher caught my attention recently: Tony Parsons. His way of talking about True Empathy (his term: Compassion) versus False Empathy (his term: Complicity), is quite instructive, and really in synch with the Course, except I like the words even better - in particular the word complicity, for that's what it means to play into the ego's conspiracy, which is always about tempting the son of God to believe he's a body, in other words the conspiracy is about making the world real at all costs, and suffering and sacrifice does a great job of that.

In the end all ways lead to Rome, and it won't matter which way you came. The Course respects all paths, but simply suggests that you "stick" to yours in terms of being consistent in your practice. Skipping around on the buffet line is simply another ego stalling tactic. But simply listening to other ways of saying the same thing helps deepen our understanding, and can sometimes bring to light issues we had not been clear on for ourselves, for hearing it in different words, requires a more intent, conscious listening effort.