Editor’s Note: There are essays and there are rants, and this is a rant. However, we at SolPurpose love how the nonlinear portrait of phase-space created by an inspired wander through the associative language of experience can nonetheless hint sidelong at a more profound thesis than could be tackled directly. We encourage you to compare this perspective on religion with Edwin Leskin’s recent exploration of the mystical archetype of Christ…
Politics and Religion: fairly well-known topics off-limits in almost all casual conversation. George Carlin famously once said, “picture how stupid an average person is and then realize half of them are stupider than that!” His comments are good indications as to why these topics are and probably should be a No-Zone between civilized strangers. Part of my connection to this community really comes first and foremost from my insatiable curiosity, but secondly, the AQAL matrix as outlined by Ken Wilber.
AQAL is a very meticulous extrapolation of developmental and transpersonal psychologies into an “integral” theory. In my first article for SolPurpose, I spent some time talking about a man named Rupert Sheldrake, whose science has upset the status quo to such a degree that TEDx would label it both “radical” and a “potential health risk.” And yet Sheldrake has carved out quite a name for himself within the worldwide community of self-described “integral practitioners.” Sheldrake emphasizes that things occur as they do more because of implicit patterns than because of abject laws. Nature tends. As Sheldrake points out, laws are merely something we’ve made up.
This is truly fascinating to me. An answer like Sheldrake’s receives what the Peace Pilgrim referred to as “an inner-confirmation” from me. From experience I can say that as we work to understand the nature of reality, the ocean of mind is ever-present. In some ways, the process of Zen and the purpose of koans is to bring our attention from the particular to the universal. Think of it like a muscle – when the bicep contracts, the tricep elongates accordingly, and vice versa. Similarly, when we focus on narrow details, in some ways our mind actually contracts, like a muscle. And sometimes we work desperately hard at maintaining the basis for its contraction. Religion is mental contraction on a mass scale – in the case of fundamentalist Christians, the point of their contraction is Jesus. You often hear Jesus referred to as their “rock.” This is quite literally true. Their minds attach and then contract directly by way of their faith, a ligament. Jesus is the “rock” to which the muscle of their mind is tethered. This point becomes extremely important because the functionality of a muscle depends on it being anchored down. I feel that the untethering from our justification allows the natural mind to confront its own quixotic nature.
It’s my feeling that the outreach present at SolPurpose is about untethering from anchors. The SolPurpose approach is not for an individual to focus exclusively on a single muscle set. His or her insistence to develop a single muscle set at the exclusion of others creates an inherent, inflated importance. A fatal flaw. Inflated importance creates imbalance, and in some cases it restricts the functionality of the system surrounding it. This is most clearly seen when an extremely religious family neglects medical treatment in the name of prayer for their ailing loved ones. When fully relaxed, the mind is very much like an ocean. Relaxed and unattached, it is as much an ocean of emptiness as a perceived ocean of “Self.” When the mind contracts, it becomes like a personal life-vest. The contracted mind is a personal, condensed, mental-extension of the Self, an iteration if you will, and it fits like a glove.
SolPurpose recently posted an article about these transformational festivals, and I encourage you to read it if you haven’t. Sometimes there is a perception that because we’re discussing a topic like consciousness, that necessarily connotes only endless possibilities. I think SolPurpose is more or less focused on reality. In other words, sometimes reality and our perception of reality differ wildly. In cases like this, we try a little bit to tempt fate, right? We look at the chocolate box, and there is only one chocolate left. And it’s raspberry. So we pick it up, look it over, and set it back in the box in the space labeled “caramel.” And then we pick it up, give it a taste, and expect it to be a caramel. We taste the raspberry and almost get offended, spit it out, saliva covered, stick it back in the box in the space for almond nougat and try again. Sometimes consciousness indeed presents us with endless possibility. Sometimes it’s simply raspberry no matter how many times you try chewing it.
And really, we have a responsibility to learn more from our experiences with our personal versions of raspberry. Yes, it is very nice to imagine the world that could be, but in the meantime, we are sucking up oxygen in a world that is. Anybody could feel joy when getting exactly what they wish for. Where is the development in that? Fundamentalists have always settled for this kind of contraction. Jesus is the path. Jesus is the path whether you live in Nebraska or Peru. Jesus is the path with or without you. Jesus is the path if you have no clean water. Jesus is the path if your sick child is lying in your arms and desperately needs a hospital. It’s a no-matter-what. And it is, quite frankly, the ultimate sabotage. Christianity, as a religion, not necessarily Christ as an inward path, is the deification of homogenization. The whole point is trying to get you to tether to the same rock as the rest of their order, like blind abbots staring at the sun. Rob Breszny once said, “Either I don’t believe in God at all, or else I believe in 6 billion Gods, one for each person alive.” His wisdom is poignant. And while it may not be caramel, it’s real nevertheless.