Sunday, May 29, 2011
Coming out into the general nature of the earth, each of us is free to conceive and attempt to embody our individual definition of “human nature” – It is ours to choose, and the more valuable and beautiful the longer we search to understand and define it. We are free to choose a better or worse definition, as revealed by our actions and attitudes. For some of us, the imagination that we wish all humans would favor and attempt to demonstrate is centered on Compassion – the sense of empathy and justice present in the first rule learned by every child: “Treat others as you would have them treat you.” Simple, but clearly not easily realized in our world, and, by many, rejected.
Many are familiar with the concept of “the vital lie.” While we live in a factual reality of the senses – now, in the past, and in the future – through language, thought, and creativity we create an overlay that we may call The Word, and we live under that imaginary dome as well. Ideas, dreams, goals might be called illusions in comparison with our finding ways to survive as physical beings in a physical world. You may choose to call this metaphysical world a vital lie, but we are not about to live without that other, symbolic reality.
Remembering how we are almost ghostly or fictional or spirit-beings as we play with thought, art, and invention, beyond meeting our daily needs, we might hope to escape self-delusion and self-division if we let Doubt be our guardian spirit, ever questioning our pleasant fictions and conjectures, and reminding us that they are human projections.
It is not likely that humans can live very harmoniously without some mythos of a general human unity – the challenge is to create a sane and wholesome imagination of a “human nature.”
The dominant mythos so far in human history has been of there being some parent reality looking over the human race. It is a comfort for humans to turn to that fiction when feeling overwhelmed. But sanity requires that we move on. With tragic consequences world-wide as we shift from one world view to another, God is taking a long time dying; notions of an afterlife are blighting the only life we shall ever have. Most of the present population will miss the chance to embrace truly the only life they will ever know. If they do not find the riches of the mind and imagination and humane values, they are not likely to make the transition out of the God delusion into an awakened life.
The transition from that mythos of God and eternal life is stalled, and until that change is complete we cannot know a new general sense of balance that might happen through a new imagination, in which Doubt and Questioning are central, not Faith and Obedience.
“In God we trust” makes no more sense than “In the Easter Bunny (or Santa Claus) we trust.” As in the tale of the Emperor With the Invisible Clothes, we must listen to those people turn to as leaders who weave that delusionary reality around everything they say, invalidating everything they say, using a delusion to delude others into actions destructive to the human race. The comforts found in religion can be found in human metaphor, and all the trappings and stories and comforts of religion would be made less dangerous if seen as metaphors. Time for the human race to grow up, awaken, and learn to be self-parenting. All is possible with the jewel of Compassion.
There are probably innumerable sites on the Internet and in any library where voices urge this same change. A quick glance finds
John Kaminski offers this quotations by Johnny Barzakh: “A society that denies death winds up killing all that it loves.”
Kaminski urges a “new consciousness that mandates transcendence of the pathological aspects of belief while keeping all those old wonderful values that we all love.”
“We’re all trapped in a complex web of mistranslated myths that have been used to anesthetize the populations for purposes of commercial exploitation. This is the pattern of all history. Keeping the peace means getting people to agree upon a pleasurable lie. And always, the local God is turned into a hammer with which to slam the neighbor.”
“The killing of others anesthetizes our fear of death.”
“War is a sociological safety valve that cleverly diverts popular hatred of the ruling classes into a happy occasion to mutilate or kill foreign enemies.”
“Killing others lessens our own fear of dying, although it is own sense of animality and inferiority we try to kill — and never succeed.”
“There is nothing in man or in nature which would prevent us from taking some control of our destiny and making the world a safer place for our children.”
Others addressing the matter of “the vital lie":
Friday, May 27, 2011
Click on title line above to see slide show.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
It was the climax of my eating my way through my turning 74, with kind and sweet friends helping me slip through this happy pause in what Gary Gach wished will be my "Happy Continuation."
For the subliminal level that was connected with food: Thank you, Martha and Carrie, for the candle stuck on a pint of hard-to-find Three Twins Cardamon ice cream. Thank you, Dana, Bud, and Doris, for brunch at the restaurant at the south end of the Ferry Building: artichoke, chard, and gruyere cheese omelet. Thank you to the two Pauls for dinner at the Pacific Cafe: salmon bisque, halibut parmesan, and Mitchell's strawberry ice cream. Thank you, Fred, for dinner at that French restaurant near Laguna Honda Hospital: onion soup, flounder with capers, and floating island (meringue). And in all those places, with all those meals, wonderful conversation.
Monday, May 23, 2011
Click on title above if you would like to see a slide show of Robert Bly reading in Berkeley on 20 May 2011. I was happy to hear him say that for him poetry begins with sounds, even before meanings. He read in The Hillside Club. From their brochure: "The Hillside Club was founded in 1898 by a group of Berkeley women who wanted to preserve the rocky contours, live oaks, and waterways of the environment and protect the hills of their city by ensuring that buildings be designed to blend with the natural landscape.