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:
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)