Sympathy for the Devil—the metaphysics of the root chakra

ouroboros

by Michael Maciel

This is a discussion about the Muladhara (moo-lud-HAR-uh) chakra and its activities. It includes an explanation of the natural interaction between the Muladhara (first) and the Sahasrara (seventh) chakras, which is the completion of the circle represented by the snake (the worm Orobouros) with its tail in its mouth.

According to Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, the Muladhara is the area of the mind where memory functions reside. It is the primary intelligence at work in the first seven years of a child’s life. It is the first of the three chakras located below the heart, which are used by the astral body. Dr. Carolyn Myss, author of The Anatomy of the Spirit, says that the first chakra or “root” is the seat of tribal consciousness. Issues of belonging, family life, tradition, and knowing one’s place in the social order are first chakra activities. It is located at the base of the spine. When asked where the first chakra is located in the body, she says, “You’re sitting on it.”

chakrasThe chakras can be thought of as the “operating platforms” of awareness. They are the mechanisms in the spiritual body of man and woman that facilitate the expression of the seven modes of consciousness of universal mind on the physical plane of action. According to Subramuniya, they are always fully developed, “awakening” as awareness flows through them. In this sense, we can understand the chakras as being universally present, or as he says, “…vast areas of the [universal] mind”. They are reflected in the individual consciousness for its own use. As the Self uses these ever-present areas of the universal mind in its interaction with the physical world, pranic energies form patterns of reaction around the Self, and a soul is gradually built up. (Dr. E.W. Blighton describes “Self” as a cell in the mind of the Father. It, along with the soul, is what we are.)

The Self naturally uses all seven of the “vast areas of the mind”, but individual experiences cause some aspects to be developed more than others, resulting in the differentiation which we call “soul-personality.” The possible combinations of these aspects are infinite, which allows for individuality—the distinct or unique expression of Spirit through individual souls.

The Muladhara has its mechanism of expression in us in the first or “root” chakra. It has its corresponding anatomical location at the base of the trunk at the perineum—the area between the urethra and rectum. To understand the function of the Root chakra, we have to look at memory. Memory functions much like the directory or folder system used in the hard drive of a computer. In order to be useful, items placed in memory (either in a computer or in the brain) must be arranged hierarchically and categorized according to association. Items are sorted according to the way they were first introduced and in their order of importance as they relate to other items. A well structured directory tree will process information more rapidly and efficiently than one that is poorly organized .

Personality vs. individuality
personalityWhile there is a generic plan for the placement of elements within the soul’s hierarchy of memory, it is the meaning we ascribe to each experience that determines the quality of our personality overall. At the level of the root chakra, the importance of each memory’s meaning is based on how well it enhances our ability to hang onto the physical plane (thus the term “root”). Meaning acts like the magnifying lens one uses to examine a photograph, the kind you have to place directly on the photograph and bend down to put your eye to it. The photograph itself does not change, but our perception of it changes dramatically. If our soul were laid out on a table like a photograph, the meaning we have ascribed to certain experiences would act like magnifying lenses of various sizes placed over them, distorting their actual “size” and therefore their importance in our lives.

This is the difference between individuality and personality. Personality is the generic structure filled in with personal experiences. Individuality is that same structure highlighted by the enhanced meaning we have ascribed to only some of those experiences. Psychology calls these magnified distortions and their interrelationships “complexes.” Cynics play off of this and call romantic love a mere interaction between one person’s neuroses with those of another. A Course in Miracles also endorses this as the “special relationship,” two self-identities complementing each other’s distorted view of themselves. Dr. Carolyn Myss humorously calls such a partnership “woundmates,” the relationship based on shared hurts, masquerading itself as “empathy.”

As described above, the universal mind’s memory mode of consciousness, which finds its expression in us through the Muladhara chakra, shows up in everyday life as first chakra activities. Any time we organize, categorize, or storehouse things or ideas, we are using the energies of the Muladhara area of the universal mind.

Let’s look at some of these activities.

Organization:
organizingThe purpose of organization is simplification, which always involves elimination. It is impossible to organize a closet, a workbench, or your kitchen cupboards without also having a trash can nearby. Although it’s nice to have duplicates of certain essential items, redundancies in the system can sometimes be inefficient. So, we decide which things are important and which are not, and we get rid of the latter.

This allows us to move freely in the rest of our activities. A well-organized kitchen, for example, lets us get down to the business of cooking. A well-organized closet, one from which all the unused or outdated clothing items have been eliminated, allows us to better see and manage our wardrobe. In the workshop, the right tools for the job that are close at hand and easy to find will save hours of frustrated searching.

The best image of organized, personal activity is the work station where an operator, whether an office worker or factory worker, sits in one spot where he or she can move and pivot to reach and implement the needed tools for the task. Remember when Carolyn Myss said that we are sitting on our first chakra? Whenever we “saddle up” to do a job, we are positioning ourselves for maximum productivity. This is power, power based on positioning that enables us to perform work quickly and efficiently. Our organization supports our activity, just as a chair supports our body. Organization is our “base of operations.”

It’s interesting to note that the famous mythologist, Joseph Campbell, says that the person who functions predominantly through first chakra consciousness is called a “stuffed-shirt,” an organization-man who can’t see beyond the rules and lacks imagination.

The organizational principle of Muladhara shows up everywhere. Anatomically, it is expressed conceptually any place we have a ball and socket structure, such as the hip and shoulder joints, which permit skeletal articulation. Again, conceptually (which means in terms of actual function) the pituitary or “master” gland of the body sits in a perfectly carved out niche almost exactly in the middle of the head, the place from which it organizes and regulates all the other glands.

Categorizing:
pinsCategorizing is sorting objects or ideas according to type. As an activity, it precedes organization, because things must first be separated into like categories before they can be organized. The key word here is “separate”. Any time you separate one thing from another, as in the elimination processes of the body, or children from their state of dependency (as in adolescent rites of passage), volumes of an encyclopedia, one social class from another, you are using first chakra energies. These are all tribal issues based in memory or tradition. An Alzheimer’s patient, the mother of a friend of mine, once said in a brief moment of clarity, “This is this, that is that, and that’s all!” This seems to me to capture the essence of the Muladhara intention.

Storehousing:
StorehouseHolding things in place is what the physical plane is all about, and the Muladhara chakra is the chakra of the world. This area of the mind not only separates and organizes, it also holds these things in memory, and at this level memory has substance. The obvious example of this is the literal storehouse, which if well managed will strictly control the locations of its inventory. A not so obvious example is Church canon law and the literary canon. Here ideas are fixed and stored in their own kind of inventory. Nothing can be changed without overwhelming consensus and lots of time.

The keyword is “hold,” as in “hold in place” or to control the relative position of things. Wherever this kind of activity can be found, the Muladhara intention predominates.

The Orobouros Principle
It is perhaps not so easy to see that controlling the relative position of things can have within it the action of elimination, but this is in fact the case, for anything that does not fit must be gotten rid of. The memory of the world, if we can call it that, is a matrix of energies resembling, in principle, a net. This net is designed to hold those frequencies that are like itself. It acts very much like a filter which eliminates everything that does not match its inherent criteria. It’s this inherent criteria that makes up the foundation upon which the rest of the personality is built. The more information that it starts with, the more it can obtain. The ultimate quality of the personality will depend on the overall quality (which includes the proper sequencing) of that information.

worm-ouroborosThe worm Orobouros, or the snake with its tail in its mouth, represents how the world maintains a static image of itself while at the same time participating in the endless cycle of change. The serpent is self-renewing—it sheds its old skin to make room for the new, which duplicates the characteristics of the old.

Present-day physicists and ancient seers alike tell us that the world “occurs” in a rapid series of blinks too small for our consciousness to perceive. This pulsating flow of reality is discontinuous—each blink is a separate entity, so to speak, and yet each of these entities somehow passes on the image of itself the way a serpent’s new skin looks just like the old.

The circular formation of the snake symbol tells us that the Ancients understood this fundamental law of the New Physics. Reality replicates itself in a series of cycles that appears seamless, but is in fact renewing itself in an incredibly fast barrage of pulsing packets of energy. A picture is worth a thousand words, and the image of Orobouros contains within itself millennia of philosophical and scientific thought.

Orobouros also describes the feedback loop, the self-learning principle of systems with memory. The serpent’s tail is its “past”—where it’s been. It processes (eats) this information and uses it to inform the next cycle in its evolution. This tells us that the metaphysical concept of “substance” (Hindu akasha) operates in and through memory.

the-holy-trinitySubstance is organized in two ways, sequential and holistic. Sequential or hierarchical organization is dependent upon order. Holistic organization depends upon completeness—all elements must be present in order for the system to function. The equilateral triangle, for example, is the primary symbol for holistic organization. It describes cause, medium, and effect, or as the Religious Science people put it, “The Thing Itself, how It works, and what It does.” Traditional Christianity calls it the Holy Trinity. You cannot eliminate any one of the elements without negating the whole system. And while all of the aspects must be present in order for the system to work, the energy within the system must move in the right sequence. Cause cannot move immediately to effect without first going through medium. The spoken word cannot motivate action without first being heard.

Whenever we name the points of the triangle, and by so doing ascribe to them different attributes, we name the entire system. We are taking the general principle and applying it to a specific dynamic.

Simple_Electric_CircuitAll systems work according to one basic law, the Law of the Triangle. But don’t make the mistake of confusing the three-sided symbol with its principle. It’s the principle that’s real; the symbol is merely decsriptive, or at least that’s what the mind would have us believe. In reality, and this is where the title “Beyond Metaphysics” comes in, the symbol has actual power – not power in the magical sense, which would imply a suspension of Law, but power in terms of pattern, the way a computer derives its power from patterns in its circuitry. Patterns are the media through which power manifests. Power is “the ability to perform work”—the potential for work. The battery cables in your car are the pattern through which the electrical potential created by the chemicals in the battery can be brought into manifestation. But you can’t simply hook the battery up directly to the starter motor without a circuit. This is the sequence aspect of the Law of the Triangle—battery, circuit, motor—and it cannot be violated.

All life depends upon the holism of its parts and the sequence in which they are hooked up—integrity, wholeness, holiness.

Perseus

That Other Worm
Medieval Western mythology sometimes refers to dragons as “worms.” Orobouros is much older, so it’s likely that dragons are its updated version. Everything around the myth of the dragon seems to corroborate the principles of the Muladhara intention.

Joseph Campbell describes dragons as hoarders of the world’s riches, namely gold and virgins, but they don’t know what to do with either. Of course, the symbols are not to be taken literally—the dragon is the Orobouros Principle, the gold is vital energy (vitality), and the virgin represents the memory of the soul, the energy matrix that contains the data that will inform the next cycle. Nature, as sustainer of the world’s patterns, is automatic and machine-like. It is the “machine world” in the movie The Matrix. It is the world of cause and effect—intelligence without the ability to transcend itself. Nature can only be nature.

The knight who conquers the dragon, freeing both gold and virgin, is the properly prepared conscious mind armed with the tools of Spirit. Typically, when a dragon is slain, it is dismembered. This is the “breaking open” of the cosmic storehouse of memory, the way the official seals on grain storehouses in ancient cultures would be broken in order to distribute their supplies. It is the hatching of an egg, where the containment aspect of the Muladhara is struck by the rod of spirit, and the contents of the new life are spilled out.

This idea of dismembering, or breaking apart, shows up recurrently in the mythologies of ancient agricultural societies, according to Campbell. In one Native American myth, the god commands the human to slay him and then to dismember his body and plant the pieces in the ground. In the Spring, corn grows from the sacrificial body of the god. Myths like this describe the “life from death” motif inherent in the Muladhara dynamic. That which is kept in a holding pattern (the food) must be broken apart (digested) before it can be used to inform the new cycle of growth.

Similarly, muscle memory—the way disciplined, repetitive practice, as in learning to play a musical instrument or training one’s body to react automatically in athletics—goes through a “dismemberment” process. The athlete goes through her moves over and over again; the pianist does his scales until he can’t stand to do them one more time. The practice starts to feel like a wall, a barrier, forming a kind of carapace in the mind, a husk or shell, which like any other gestational vessel resists up to the very last. When it finally gives way, a “breakthrough” occurs, and the seemingly endless cycle of stale, repetitous activity is transformed into an easy gracefulness. This is the Orobouros Principle. The past is eaten, broken up into its constituent parts, digested, and then incorporated into the new life wave. This is the conjunction of the first and seventh chakras, the endless cycle of the activity of growth and development.

Let the sparks fly
The first and seventh chakras, the Sahasrara and the Muladhara, are like the two poles of a battery. When they touch each other, current flows and work is performed. The current is the universal Life Spirit; the work performed is the building of patterns on the soul.

Unless we incorporate Spirit’s influence on matter (turn it into a body), it does not become part of the earth, or our body (same thing). This is why it is so important to act in accordance with our best understanding. It also implies that we work with what we have and not wait until we’re “perfect,” because perfection can only come about by using what we have as it is given to us.

Personal, spiritual , and political freedoms are absolutely essential to this graduated unfolding, the never-ending dance between Heaven and Earth. Unless we are free to act upon our understanding as we understand it, true soul-growth is impossible. Anytime an individual or a society, whether in their personal or social life, is constrained to think and act according to a strict model artificially established by other people, a kind of spiritual voltage builds up, until a catastrophic discharge breaks out and damages the entire structure.

Pandora-s-box

The consciousness of prohibition
In one of his letters, St. Paul says, “There was no sin before there was law.” I believe he was speaking to this point. He goes on to explain that he’s not advocating libertinism, but rather, as I am saying here, that excessive restraint makes sinners of us all. “Excessive” means the attempt to censor or control the thoughts of others—to make certain thoughts and beliefs illegal—instead of drawing the line at the threshold of the manifest world, that point where thoughts are acted out.

It does not matter, so to speak, what we think or believe, but it matters a lot what we do. Thoughts and beliefs must never be subjected to civil law, nor should they be grounds for social ostracization. It is in the fires of our conscience that our actions are forged. Unless those fires are allowed to burn hot, unless a person is allowed to think and believe as he or she chooses, and be free to take the risk of slowly but surely implementing those thoughts and beliefs on the material plane, no soul-growth is possible.

Simply said, we must be free to make mistakes in order to discover for ourselves what works. The universe waits upon each of us to see what we will choose, and it unerringly provides feedback in the form of consequences. It is impersonal and precise, and it is infinitely supportive of our soul-growth and development. This is the “justice” and the “love” of God respectively, and it is the only model for a bona fide legal system.

Freedom is the foundation of life, and is therefore the basis of the Muladhara intention. It is the grease that allows the wheel to spin. If we try to sit on Pandora’s Box, it will eventually explode. If we throw it open willy-nilly, the tide of its contents will sweep us into the nearest looney bin. We cannot deny the expression of what is, nor can we simply lay down and let it roll over us. Instead, we have to “eat” it—we have to take bite-sized chunks of it and incorporate its energy into our daily lives. The tumultuous forces that surge and swim in the cauldron of the Muladhara constitute the fuel of our lives. Inner peace comes when we organize its expression in constructive and creative activity. All hell breaks loose anytime we deny that they exist.

And when you meet me have some courtesy
Have some sympathy and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste

–Mick Jagger, Sympathy for the Devil

Postscript
Of course, our thoughts are important. If they weren’t, the Law of Mind would be meaningless. But, unless thoughts are mixed with feeling, the Law will not work. There is a difference between reasoned discussion and trying to incite a riot, and our civil law makes this distinction. Similarly, it is the intention behind the thought, not the thought itself, that is the precursor to action and, therefore, the only part subject to judgement (this is what Jesus was referring to when he spoke of the unpardonable “sin against the spirit”). Besides, you can never tell what a person is thinking, but, with a little careful observation, you can almost always tell what his intentions are.

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What Is a Terrorist?

HamasIt’s hard to kill a human being. That’s why you have to label him as something other than human. Take the word “terrorist” for example. Easy to hate, right? By labeling an entire group of people terrorists, you no longer have to bother with understanding their grievances. They become a lot easier to kill.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” Too often, this has been interpreted as throwing down your weapon and offering your chest as a target. Stupid, right? No one in their right mind would do such a thing, which means that Jesus was either stupid or, worse yet, delusional. Or…there could be a deeper, wiser understanding of this principle.

Let’s go with the deeper and wiser.

targetWhat does it mean to love your enemy? It means do not dehumanize him. Do not demonize him or in any way disregard his concerns. RESPECT him. You can hate him all you want, but do not for an instant see him as a thing.

As a species, we are still a long way off from beating our swords into plowshares. We are going to fight. The question is whether we are going to fight as animals (and I don’t mean this as disrespect towards animals) or as human beings.

bodegaThere are three major business enterprises on Earth. They are so huge that all other enterprises fade into insignificance by comparison. These three enterprises are prostitution, drugs, and war. Prostitution manifests at the extreme end as human trafficking, pornography, and the sex trade. Its less obvious forms involve sexualizing everything from cars to clothing. Drugs cover the entire spectrum from narcotics to pharmaceuticals, including such things we don’t usually think of as drugs, such as coffee, tea, cigarettes, and chocolate.

F-35But, of the three, war is by far and away the most profitable. The new Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet has an estimated cost of $223 million. That’s not the cost of the program; that’s the cost of each airplane! Knowing what you know about human nature, what do you suppose the chances are of war going away anytime soon? If you need help answering this question, try to imagine what the profit-margin is on a $223 million airplane. Then multiply that by the thousands of these airplanes that will be sold over the next decade. That kind of money is almost beyond imagination.

In order to sustain this kind of profit center, war has to be sold. And, the first step in selling war is to dehumanize the enemy. They are the other. In reality, they are no such thing. They are human beings just like we are, with the same values, the same concerns, and the same desire to love and be loved.

At the same time, they have the same propensity to see us as the other, to demonize us, so that they too can find it easier to kill. So, we’re gonna fight. The real question is whether we will let fighting destroy our souls. Jesus said not to fear those who can kill our body, but to fear those who have the ability to cast our souls into hell.

media

Who might that be?

Real power comes with the ability to create the context of a given situation. Create the context, and it doesn’t matter what the issues are. The tide of opinions can vacillate all they want and it won’t change a thing, as long as they vacillate within the context you put in place. Understand the context, and you understand the issues. Create the context, and you can re-create the world into whatever form you want it to take.

Pinocchio-classic-disney-5435119-1280-960Are you a spiritually free person? Let me ask this a different way: are you conscious of the contexts within which you live? If not, you are a puppet— a marionette that dances to the tunes of others. You haven’t yet become a “real boy” or a real girl.

A Course in Miracles says that the purpose of the world is to teach you that it is not real. The “not real” part is the context you have bought into, not the physical world. When you realize that the context through which you perceive the world determines how you will perceive the world, then you are on the path to spiritual freedom. The politics of the world then become your daily lesson in detecting bullshit.

Enemies are a fact of life. There is always going to be someone who wants what you have and is willing to take it by force. So what. That’s not likely to change anytime soon. Don’t let others talk you into dehumanizing him. If you do, you only dehumanize yourself. Jesus knew this. That’s why he said, “Love your enemy.” Ask anyone who has killed another person. They will tell you (if they have a shred of humanity left in them) that it is something you never ever want to do. A part of you dies with them.

Stop using the word “terrorist.” Stop buying war. Stop it.

 

 

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A word about inner guidance and spiritual gifts

8A611BCC51F545F29CB49DD8EFCF109FWe are each born with certain spiritual gifts—some with more, some with less, some unique and specific, some quite general and broad. Some have the ability to heal, others the ability to teach, and some have the ability to be a friend to all of humanity.

Inner guidance comes in many forms. Some people hear a distinct message, some have visions, some find themselves caught up in the spirit of the moment, and the right thing to do spreads itself out before them like a roadmap.

Have you ever considered that your spiritual gift IS your guidance? In the parable of the Ten Talents, the lord gives each person a different amount of money and tells them to go out and earn some more. He doesn’t take them by the hand and tell them what to do at every turn in the road. He just says to go out and put it to work.

If your talent is healing, heal. If it’s teaching, teach. If your talent is love, go out and spread love. Doesn’t it make sense that THAT is your guidance? The particulars of your “mission” don’t really matter. That’s the human mind talking. The overall plan, however, matters a lot! Because, at some point, when all is said and done, someone’s going to ask you, “Whadaya got?”

We don’t have to wait for “a message,” necessarily. The message is written all over us. All we have to do is be true to who and what we are. If we wait to be taken by the hand and told exactly what to do, we could be waiting for a long, long time.

You know the saying: “Be yourself.” This word, “be,” is an action verb in this case. You have to put ALL of yourself into whatever you do. BE a presence in the world, and you will know what to do.

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The New Teacher/Student Relationship

zodiac_signs_aquarius_004071_by Michael Maciel

It stands to reason that the Age of Aquarius would bring changes in all areas of life, including the time-honored traditions of the teacher/student relationship. Perhaps especially in this area, since Aquarius represents a major course-correction in all things authoritative. Yes, authority is the issue. Specifically, it is the usurpation of authority by any person who takes on the authority of God as if it were his own. Sure, you have to step into those shoes if you want to be effective in the world. But, if and when you forget that it is God’s authority and not yours, you will become, and I mean this in all sincerity, an insufferable pain in the ass.

Here is the new law about the teacher/student relationship. It’s not a rule, but a principle. And it’s not new, strictly speaking, because it’s always been in play. It’s new in the sense that it can no longer be ignored. Here it is:

Teachers learn from their students.

Now, if this seems like something you knew already, well…of course you knew it already. But what you may not have known is that the student doesn’t know it. And this is where the playing field is changing. Every teacher/student relationship in the past has been based on the contract of “I will teach, and you will learn.” This is straightforward enough, and every teacher has taken comfort in its simplicity. The problem is that it’s an entirely up-down affair. It is hierarchical—linear—with no room for feedback or the living system that feedback provides. The new contract, which both parties must enter into with eyes wide open, is “We will learn together.”

This is going to rankle the hell out of a lot of people, not only teachers, but students as well. Why? Because it ain’t the way things are s’posed to be. Why fix something that ain’t broke? Well, guess what…it is broke. Every teacher who has set himself up as the ultimate authority in a student’s life has only created a whole lot of issues that the student will eventually have to work through, just like most parents do with their children.

The problem with this is that if you see your student as a child, he will behave like a child. He will abandon every shred of common sense that he has learned in his life, prior to meeting you, in order to fit your preconception of him. Instead of getting what he needs in order to live an independent spiritual life, which is ostensibly what you are trying to give him, he will adopt your idiosyncrasies and personal traits, which for him are inappropriate. Why corrupt the good stuff with your stuff? Why inflict that on him?

Here’s why this has become an issue. The Age of Aquarius is bringing in a new level of energy. Spiritual growth is happening faster and more spontaneously. In the words of the prophet, “No man will have to teach his neighbor, saying here is God, for all shall know me from the least to the greatest.” Our task now is to help students cope with what they are experiencing already. God is becoming part of the landscape, as bright as the noonday sun. And most people don’t need to be told what the sun is, do they? They already know. Your job is to help them deal with it.

So, this is it. This is the new program. It doesn’t invalidate what you know, neither does it put the student up on a pedestal. It makes the relationship real. We have always learned from our students, and we always will. Why try to keep that a secret? Deep down, the student knows it anyway. If we hide behind our robes and our rank, all we do is teach him how to pretend. After all, we are not in the business of creating clones. We want to help the student reveal themselves, not mimic us. Thinking that we already know who they are can only lead to cloning. If we think our spiritual sight is that good, we are kidding ourselves. It’s not. Only God knows the true potential of each living soul. Teaching is a process of revelation—for everyone involved.

friendship

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bannerAs you can tell, The Mystical Christ is a series of articles and essays on the spiritual life. It’s your go-to place for thoughtful, insightful examinations of spiritual principles and beliefs.

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World Priest 2

Adam Scott Miller

Adam Scott Miller

by Michael Maciel

…continued from World Priest

In order to be a world priest, you have to know what is essential to spirituality. You have to be willing to strip away the jargon of your own beliefs and the beliefs of your religious tradition. You have to take an honest look at what you mean when you say the word “God.” What does “faith” mean? And, is there more to prayer than begging God for a different outcome? How much do we understand the words we use?

Usually, when we try to broaden our understanding of God, we look to other religions. More and more, we also look to science. But, how much do we look at our everyday lives? Could it be that we are interacting with God all the time and not know it?

Science tells us that there is much more to reality than what we see, more even than we can see. Our senses seem to be part and parcel of this world, not the next. Any knowledge of anything besides where we are now seems to be, by default, beyond our reach.

But…

We can see the effects of unseen causes in our lives. And, logically we can deduce from our observations certain facts about them. For instance, we know that our attitude plays a huge part in the quality of our experience. It’s what we think about what happened that has the most power, not what happened. By our thinking, we determine what is good and what is evil, and then we tailor our reactions accordingly.

Wouldn’t this be a workable definition of faith? Observing the effects of unseen causes, knowing that those causes must exist by reason of the effects they bring about—this is “believing without seeing,” is it not? If a fervent feeling of gratitude made habitual through careful, intentional control over one’s thoughts can bring about a dramatic change in the quality of one’s life, isn’t that proof of an unseen cause?

Take synchronicity, for example. If, as a lot of people think, synchronicity is a function of the subconscious mind, that we are guided by subliminal thoughts and observations into chance encounters, then wouldn’t it be possible that what we call our “subconscious mind” is really the world itself? If intelligence is the very fabric of matter, the stuff out of which matter is composed, then where is the boundary between what the world knows and what we know? Could they not be one and the same?

Remember, we are making a distinction between mind and consciousness. Consciousness is the result of mind reflecting back upon itself, “moving over the face of the deep.” Mind is the computer inside every atom and molecule, the patterns of intelligence that give matter its characteristics and govern its interactions with the rest of the universe.

We would have to believe that each of us, each and every person who has ever lived or will live, is a completely autonomous individual, entirely separate from his or her environment—an island amongst other islands. If we were separate from the universe, we would be the only physical entity that is. But we know that that’s not the case. Even the atoms of our body interpenetrate and react with the atoms of our immediate surroundings, and, some think, with other atoms at great distances from us, instantaneously and without crossing the intermediate space.

Is it any wonder that our gut sometimes knows more than our head?

If matter is essentially waves of vibration entrained in specific patterns and varying densities, and the boundaries between our physical apparatus (our bodies) and their environment are less than distinct, then perhaps we are tuned in more than we realize. Maybe we are affected by light and sound at the very deepest levels of our being. Maybe the distance between us and the objects we hold at arm’s length is really zero. What if there is no such thing as “intermediate space”?

When we get a good look at just how much we confine our experience to our brain and the surface of our skin, to the exclusion of all the other data that is pouring in, we can finally see why we never quite feel at home—anywhere!

Mind is the key, and imagination is the door. With our imagination, we can see into the deepest recesses of matter. We can see the inner workings of atoms and molecules. We can picture vast areas of the universe, the infinite expanses of space and time, the geologic processes of the Earth, and the evolution of its lifeforms. There is nothing that our imagination cannot see.

The only limiting factor is the belief that what we see with our imagination is imaginary.

Let’s try on a new definition of “imagination”: imagination is a tool of communication.

What if it was impossible to imagine anything that did not already exist, if only in potential? What if our imagination was really our sense of vision spread out across the entire spectrum of reality, not just the part we call the “physical world”? What if what we see in our imagination is every bit as real as what we see with our eyes, only in a broader, as yet unrealized reality? If you are at all familiar with quantum physics, this will ring a bell.

In order to function as a “World Priest,” you must, as Fritz Perl said, “Lose your mind and come to your senses.” But, remember: your senses are the feeling part of your imagination. They are unlimited by space and time. Stop looking at the surface of things. Look at them instead with your mind’s eye. See all that you can see!

There is no such thing as extra-sensory perception, because there are no “extra” senses. There are only senses that are more fully developed.

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Is the World Unreal or (for the theologians in the audience) “Sinful”?

escherIt would be ridiculous to think that just because we cannot see something that it does not exist. It would be like saying that nothing exists on the other side of a wall, that the limit of our vision is the limit of reality. It would be like looking at the surface of the ocean and thinking that nothing existed below it, that there was no such thing as depth. If something emerged from it, such as a dolphin or a school of flying fish, these would simply be “unexplained phenomena,” beyond our current capacity to understand. wallWe might, in the absence of a concept of “depth,” think that such occurrences were phenomena of the surface itself, as though the atoms and molecules of the water rearranged themselves for some unknown reason, perhaps as a result of sunlight or wind. In other words, dolphins and flying fish would be the result of some external cause, not entities in their own right emerging from beneath the waves, from the “unseen” reality.

There are two separate concepts I would like you to consider:

1) The world does not exist unless it is perceived.

2) Consciousness is everywhere.

treeThe first concept asks the question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” This question could be rephrased to ask, “If there is something on the other side of the wall, and I can’t see it, does it exist?” The first question has to do with hearing and the second with sight—both faculties of perception.

The second concept asserts that consciousness is the fundamental aspect of reality. There is nowhere that consciousness is not present. Flowers and leaves turn to follow the sun in what’s called “heliotropism,” exhibiting a particular level of consciousness. Electrons “know” which shell of an atom they belong in, and they know it without analysis or consideration. They know it automatically, which can be said of all of nature, including our own physical bodies with all of their autonomic functions.

sunflowerConsciousness has a spectrum, just as light has a spectrum. Spectrums are continuous, but they allow for distinct differences. Red at one end, ultraviolet at the other—red and blue are different colors, but they both live in the same spectrum. The same can be said of consciousness. The consciousness of electrons is of a different order than the consciousness of leaves; the consciousness of leaves is of a different order than our consciousness of what might exist on the other side of walls. But, just as light is light, regardless of its frequency, so is consciousness consciousness, regardless of where it shows up in the spectrum of reality.

Here’s another concept to consider:

3) Sight and hearing (along with touching, tasting, and smelling) are also differences along a continuous spectrum of perception. They all register states of vibration, each at their own particular level.

These senses are not restricted to organic life-forms, just as vibration is not restricted to organic life-forms. Rocks and stones have their own means of “seeing” and “hearing.” So, the question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”, is rendered moot—”someone” is always there.

flower of life

Flower of Life

There are two issues that arise from this line of reasoning:

1) The universe is a web of consciousness.

2) Reality has a certain stasis that is in a constant process of degradation and renewal.

The first explains how actions can mirror each other at great distances simultaneously without traversing the space between them. It also explains how we can know things without perceiving them directly with our physical senses. Along with this, it helps us to understand what Buddhists are talking about when they say that there is no such thing as an independent self. If there is only one consciousness, complete and continuous within itself, how can we separate ourselves from it? We cannot.

kali

Kali

The second explains what Hinduism calls maya. It is the trap in which we sometimes feel caught, the sense that the universe has a mind of its own, and that there is nothing we can do to change it. From this we derive the notion of fate, the inexorable outworkings of the law of cause and effect—the wheel of karma. But this, as we shall see later on, is an illusion.

Divine Mother,  by Alex Polanco

Divine Mother, by Alex Polanco

If consciousness is the fundamental aspect of reality, then knowing is the glue that holds the universe together. Knowing and memory go hand in hand here. This is what Hinduism calls akasha. If every point in the universe is conscious of every other point, then that’s the Mother of All Networks. It is the matrix, a word that comes from the Latin word for “mother.” It is the fabric (or gown) of reality, the outer cloak of an inner or unseen process.

If this Grand Stasis were left on its own, it would eventually grind to a halt. There must be some element in all of this that feels compelled to shake things up, some agitating principle that can’t resist the urge to insert something new into the system—to create. This agitating, creative principle is what Hinduism calls OM and Christianity calls the Logos or “Word.”

LogosI’m sure you can see the metaphysical principle of Gender in all of this—the active, initiating male principle and the passive, conserving/maintaining/protective female principle. One is always “got to be startin’ somethin'”, and the other just wants a little respect. This is the dynamic that, just as it does in biology, makes all life possible.

aretha

Aretha Franklin

jackson

Michael Jackson

I am presenting these ideas in a somewhat irreverent way on purpose. Sometimes, I think our notion of reverence gets in the way—hugely—of our ability to see spiritual things realistically. We tend to project all of our beliefs about goodness onto our sense of God, and at the same time, we project our beliefs about evil onto a “devil.” These projections, which are always amplified in direct proportion to our existential insecurities, can only prevent us from seeing reality as it really is. There is an element of unpredictability (mischief, if you will) in creation, just as there are elements of wonder and awe. If we fail to recognize this, then we will distrust and even demonize those same attributes when we find them in ourselves.

And perhaps the greatest act of mischief ever perpetrated is this game of hide-and-seek that we call life—where the real world lies hidden just beneath the surface of the “waves.”

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A Workable Definition of “God”

GodThe trouble with living in the scientific age is that few of the words we use in religion make any sense. One-time Unity minister in New York City and metaphysics teacher, Eric Butterworth, said, “God is a three-letter word.” No one agrees on what that word means, and most people are at a loss to come up with a coherent definition of it. Even terms like “universal intelligence” fall short, because the same could be said of the World Wide Web. And, “Supreme Being” is supremely inadequate, because it sounds like a North Korean dictator. We need a workable definition of “God,” one that doesn’t demand that we sacrifice everything we know about science. At the same time, it should give us a way to come into direct contact with the Divine presence.

towerNotice the word “workable.” What we’re looking for is a non-definitive definition, not a once-and-for-all pigeonhole or a bulletproof talking-point. We need a direction in which to look, not a destination where we can build an ideological fortress. What we need is a general map of the metaphysical universe, one that also has a street view. Most of all, we need a conception of God that is full-spectrum, one that places God everywhere and not in a place you can only get to by dying.

Let’s address the universal intelligence issue, an idea that drives most scientists bonkers, which (as we shall see) is completely unreasonable on their part. When we consider the extensive degree of organization present in matter—its seemingly infinite capacity to adapt to changing conditions, and its ability to communicate with its environment, and its power to remember its preferred configurations—the idea of universal intelligence becomes an inescapable conclusion. Matter is nothing but intelligence. It is, you might say, intelligence made visible.

nitrogenAtoms are extremely complex mechanisms composed, as we know, almost entirely of empty space. They generate enormous energy fields, despite their small size, and are capable of forming nearly unbreakable bonds. They “know” what they are supposed to be and how they should act, and they know it with precision.

Look at the objects around you. In the most real sense, they are clouds of electromagnetic energy, their borders indistinct, each mingling with the other in a communicative dance. Move any one of them, and all the rest “sense” the change. It’s as though they exist in a continuous web of vibration. At a certain level, those vibrations must surely make a sound, the harmonies and discords of which must produce quite a symphony indeed! Cycles, rhythms, harmonies—the entire spectrum of matter pulsates with interconnected relationships. The universe itself, at both large and small scales, is a computer.

faceoffWhy then is the idea of universal intelligence so hard for the scientifically minded to swallow? And why, as a spiritual person, do you perhaps feel compelled to choose between two (erroneously) opposed worldviews?

Remember, we are looking for a workable definition of God, not an Answer. And, as far as matter is concerned, this expanded idea of universal intelligence provides us with a good baseline.

What about consciousness? When we consider that the seeable universe is a matrix of intelligence that functions much like a computer, we must then ask, “Who is operating this computer?” In a recent interview, a philosophy professor admitted that the people in the AI (artificial intelligence) department at his university know more about philosophy than he does. They are grappling with questions of being and consciousness on a daily basis, whereas most philosophers are stuck in never-ending debates over what previous philosophers have said. The AI people are actually looking under the hood trying to figure out how consciousness works, what makes it possible, and how to build a platform within which it can “show up.”

the First Day of the Creation, by Escher

the First Day of the Creation, by Escher

But, both the philosophers and the scientists are ignoring key bits of information found in the creation myths of the world’s major religions, information that could provide the breakthroughs they are looking for. Take for example this passage in the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.” This is ancient language for the process of mirroring and self-assessment. The surface of the “water,” an ancient symbol for “mind,” is a reflective surface, beneath which lies the unseen, unknowable intelligence of the natural world. The “deep” contains all of the automatic functions of matter, which when reflected back upon themselves create an interface that makes consciousness possible. How all of this works has yet to be discovered, but it will be discovered in the foreseeable future, perhaps within our lifetime.

The Birth of Venus, by Botticelli

The Birth of Venus, by Botticelli

The image of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (or as science-fiction writer, Kilgore Trout, put it, Venus on the Half Shell) symbolizes consciousness arising from the “deep” of Genesis. This account in Genesis describes a set of conditions out of which something happens, namely the “beginning.” Compare this with Taoist master Zhuangzi’s statement in the Book of Master Zhuang: “This moment—the beginning not yet beginning to be a beginning,” and with the Buddhist Idappaccayata: “When this is, that is. From the arising of this comes the arising of that. When this isn’t, that isn’t. From the cessation of this comes the cessation of that.” Within these statements lie the keys to understanding consciousness. When they are eventually translated into the language of science, AI will become a reality.

caduceusThis idea of the universe becoming “self-aware” is, however, nothing more than materialism on steroids, IF it is taken to mean that consciousness is a phenomenon of matter. It could just as easily mean that matter is a manifestation of consciousness. Huston Smith, the author of The World’s Religions, put it thus: “The brain breathes mind the way the lungs breathe air.” This mind is the “Spirit of God” mentioned in Genesis, the one that “was moving over the face of the waters,” which shows that the author had the insight that Mind was there before the beginning.

Wondering where Mind came from can seem like a useless speculation. Or this account, which shows up pretty much the same way in many different religious traditions, describes the stillness out of which arises creative thought. Instead of Genesis describing an ancient historic event, it gives us explicit instructions in creativity. Creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing) takes on a new meaning: New combinations of thought and their corresponding physical manifestations depend for their arising on a mind that is devoid of thinking—in other words, a meditative state. Quieting the mind is the goal of nearly every acknowledged spiritual discipline, from devotional prayer to Zen Buddhism. What they don’t tell you is that this state of mind is enormously powerful when applied to creativity.

sciencereligionAs you can see, a realistic understanding of the word “God” requires a multi-disciplinarian approach. Science, philosophy, and religion must all be brought to bear on the problem. The tragedy of 9/11 was blamed on the failure of the CIA and FBI to communicate with each other, mostly due to departmental pride and competitive arrogance. The lack of a workable definition of “God” is the fault of science, philosophy, and religion—their unwillingness to listen to the best of what each has to offer.

Here’s our workable definition of “God,” our updated cosmo-conception of metaphysical reality: The universe, the part we can see, is comprised primarily of intelligence. This intelligence is the unseeable part that informs the part we can see. Understanding how this intelligence works and putting that knowledge to work in our everyday lives is the essence of scientific prayer. Locating ourselves within this process brings us into direct contact with the mystery of consciousness. The more we contemplate this mystery, the more our limited sense of who we are as an individual dissolves, and we begin to identify with the Whole and not merely as an embodied personality. As we cease to rely on our individual abilities to know the world, and we open up to the existence of the One Mind, we discover our interconnectedness with the entire spectrum of existence, and we become a new being.

ChristThis description is not meant to be a summary, but as a beginning, a starting point from which we can explore reality. Even if it is not 100 percent accurate, it is still useful. The deeper we look into matter, the more intelligence we see. And, I think it’s clear by now that we have made the distinction between intelligence and consciousness. It is when we can apply this distinction to ourselves that the usefulness of this hypothesis makes itself known: it allows us to experience the presence of God.

 

 

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World Priest

Walter Louis Emil Sauer PureteIs it no longer enough, spiritually speaking, to think of ourselves as members of a particular religion, citizens of a particular country, or proponents of a particular ideology. The time of secular thinking, of nationalistic thinking, and ideological thinking is over.

If we are to survive as a planet, if we are to thrive as a species, and if we are to grow spiritually, we must think of ourselves as world citizens. There is no longer an “other.” We are all in this together, and we will either succeed as a unified human race, or we will tear ourselves and our world apart.

Nowhere is this truer than in the field of spirituality. We can no longer afford to emphasize our differences in matters of faith, to differentiate ourselves from the followers of other saviors, other gods, or other beliefs. All of these differences must be transcended. They must be seen for what they are—different articulations of the One Truth designed to suit the needs of the people and times to whom they were given.

Underlying all faiths are a few basic, simple principles—the sanctity of life, the presence of a higher intelligence that creates and sustains the world, and the importance of love and compassion in our relationships with each other. These are the high points, the ideals around which we build our lives, our communities, and our nations.

Whether we call that which is bigger than we are “God,” or some other name, such as democracy, science, or freedom, the effect is the same. As we submit to a higher principle, we see ourselves less as a separate entity and more as a part of a unified whole.

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Bringing Matter to Life with Sound

bookcoverBringing Matter to Life with Sound

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