Friday, December 23, 2016

Exiting Deceptions and Illusions

And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. (Gen.29:25-26)
Jacob's service with uncle Laban is just one of the stories of the ego's empty promises and deceptions. The ultimate is the realization of Faust, having sold your soul to the devil and gotten nothing for it. Or indeed, it is the story of the slavery in Egypt, and the many doubts we have even after leaving "the fleshpots of Egypt," and the food that kept us satiated but made us sick. Many myths tell the same or similar story, as this is truly archetypical.
Ultimately, we find ourselves in the position of the prodigal son:
And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  (Luke15:14-17)
In recent days, I watched the documentaries on Scientology by Leah Remini, as well as the documentary Going Clear. I found myself identifying with the profound disillusionment of the people who somehow pull themselves together enough, in spite of the abuses and the relentless brainwashing, to one day get up and leave. I've known that feeling, and sooner or later we all do, although some cases seem to be more extreme than others. This new wave of reporting about Scientology also includes a BBC documentary, by Louis Theroux, called My Scientology, which builds on Going Clear and which takes a very interesting off-beat approach to exploring the workings of Scientology and the dynamics behind it. Taken together, these documentaries definitely turn up the heat on the empty promises of Scientology.

In the last few years I've extensively delved into another viciously deceptive cult, network marketing, which, much like Scientology, sucks its victims dry, even while promising them the sun, the moon and the stars. Recently John Oliver turned up the heat on MLM, as he had done earlier with the televangelist preachers of abundance who merely exploit the tax-exempt status of their "churches" to their own benefit, as well as with Trump University. Eventually, many of the victims arrive at a point of reversal, hitting rock bottom, and the victim stories tun into stories of people getting up, and leaving the most abject slavery, such experiences can be a wake-up call for many.

Another modern parallel that comes to mind is Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's biography, and the book and movie "The Hurricane," there, it is quite obvious that the change is entirely inside, as he could not leave prison even if he wanted to, but as he comes to realize that the problem is inside, not out, and that he is the warden of his own prison. His attitude begins to shift, and eventually that translates in to change in form when his conviction is overturned.

Never mind how far we wander away from home, eventually there always comes that moment of "there must be another way," as it is known in Course lore, referring to the moment when Bill Thetford admitted to Helen his utter despair with the way their professional relationships within their institution were working, or rather, not working, as in being dysfunctional in the extreme. I found myself being astounded and impressed with the clear-mindedness of Leah Remini and some of the people she interviewed, as well as the stories of how they came to the point of giving up everything and following that inner feeling that anything was better than what they had been doing, combined with the feeling that they had wasted their lives.

Of course this is never true, for whatever you needed to wake up is irrelevant once you start waking up. And it does not matter what kind of a cult or addiction, gang, or indeed corporation was your path. It is very impressive how much we are able and willing to learn in order to lose ourselves in the world, and to get away from who we are in truth. Yet, just like drugs, in the end it loses its effectiveness, and we need more and more until it destroys us, or, we admit defeat and get out. Eventually, you must realize that it no longer works, and that it actually never worked and begin looking for "another way." And though sometimes you have to leave where you are, sometimes you don't, but you do have to change your attitude and expectations, and realize that the truth is within, and nothing out there can ever give it to you - as soon as you fall into that, you've just fallen into slavery, again. The final realization of "is that all there is?" was famously expressed through the role of Shakespeare's Prospero:
Prospero:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158
When that total disillusionment is acknowledged for what it is, the journey home begins. In our Western world the most vivid parable for the journey home was the book of Exodus, and recently Robert Rosenthal, M.D. delivered a modern retelling of it that really explores the significance of the myth of Exodus, titled From Plagues to Miracles.

The documentaries on Scientology were particularly interesting, because there is such a clear picture that it promises a M├╝nchausen scenario, that we could pull ourselves up out of the muck by our own hair, except of course with the twist that we needed to surrender to this guru L. Ron Hubbard, and his proxy David Miscavage, in order to learn how to do it, and in the process give up everything, becoming totally dependent on the cult-environment and alienated from the world. In other words, in Scientology the ego is our guru, and boy, does it let us have it. Particularly clear was the illustration of how the confusion over being personally responsible for your situation is used against you, once the false serlf-identity is mistaken for who we are. Surely we are responsible for what we perceive and experience, except that choice is not a choice of the false identity, our ego-self, but is made by the mind at a level that is now in the subconscious, and the journey home is nothing but the journey of making the unconscious conscious, and forgiving everything, everybody, until we finally realize we are only forgiving ourselves for having made one wrong choice and thereby undoing it. In short, instead of the endless fancy "promotions" and achievements that the world offers, and which lead us nowhere, all we need to do is to stop trying to be what we're not.

Like in Exodus, we hanker back many a time to the Fleshpots of Egypt, and often times we find ourselves replacing one idol with another, until eventually, like Odysseus killing off the suitors, we abandon all idols, and merely return to the truth of who we are. All the value systems of the world are illusions, some just seem harsher than others, but none of them are true. In the Course's words: we take the second place to gain the first - we let the Holy Spirit lead the way, which invariably means we no longer hasten to a form, but abandon every personal preference to finally just be free, by letting Him lead the way.

The journey home in truth is a journey without distance, simply because we only need to learn that what we were seeking outside could never be found there, the truth is within, it is we who ran away from it, and now it merely needs to be remembered, and rediscovered.
The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed. Truth can only be experienced. It cannot be described and it cannot be explained. I can make you aware of the conditions of truth, but the experience is of God. Together we can meet its conditions, but truth will dawn upon you of itself. (ACIM:T-8.VI.9:7-10)

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)