MY PERSONAL BELIEFSA comparison with new age religion
In my early life, i always wanted the truth. I often thought how (apart from lower desires) some people wanted peace, some wanted love, others enlightenment, emptiness or oneness, but i wanted truth. That changed a bit with my own experience of suffering.
This was written to a friend who kept telling me about Gaia, and Stephen Buhner. So i wrote to her about my beliefs.
Let me start by saying i find Gaia theory, Stephen Buhner, and my old hero Alan Watts (who i also mention), very well-rounded and valuable compared to most of the other new-age religions and their gurus.
Buhner is a genius when it comes to plant intelligence, and well worth listening to. But then i listened to a video about his ideas on Gaia, and the first 2 - 3 minutes is i think, a good explanation. Gaia is the ancient goddess of the earth – mother earth. Mother Earth is wonderful, but she has finite limits.
You see i'm often quite happy to accept a picture of God which is the big bang, the creation itself, when the world was set in a state of permanent creation, etc. etc.
But for me, God doesn't have a start or end. God is eternal and incomprehensible, the only unfortunate point is that he seems to be male (God is a man's name!). So when praying i often call it the great creative spirit... the Creator, or just Great Spirit. From the Tao te Ching "it was from the nameless that heaven and earth sprang".
With our normal way of thinking we can never understand it – and if God is just a figment of my imagination, then i need that figment of imagination to be a complete human being... maybe it's just magic...
But it's not really so important what God is – it's our relationship to God which is vital.
Buhner talks about a companionship with Gaia – and this feeling of "being with" is something i can find through panoraming...
But my relationship with God is far deeper than panoraming or companionship. It is actually living to serve God, putting yourself in 'its' hands. My relationship with God is to submit to it and be subordinate to it. And it's this giving the ego – the sense of sacrifice – which is missing from all, or most modern new-age religions.
For me it's things like thine is the power and the glory for ever and ever – thy will be done, not mine – i often ask "dear spirit what should i do, what should i think" – there are a multitude of prayers i have, often "Jesus have mercy on us" – "dear creator, who is everywhere, i trust you, my life is in your hands".
New-Age ReligionsI can often find bits of new-age thinking which i like and can use – but i have a big basic problem with all these new-age philosophies, and that is the lack of ego sacrifice, they are all to do with 'finding yourself', self development, being an authentic individual, etc...
My teachers are Jesus, Buddha (NOT modern Buddhism, modern Buddhism is one of the strongest influences behind the ego confirmation in modern religions), Lao Tzu and there are others who i follow, but if i go to someone modern, then Gandhi. Simplicity, and if its not simple, then strive for simplicity – forgiveness and sacrifice – it's no good trying to understand sacrifice intellectually, or get philosophical about the self and no-self, you've gotta just do it, give yourself to God.
It really is a shame to get psychological and analytical about it, and start thinking that openness to God is a way of getting touch with my own deeper nature, i.e. something i'm doing to enhance myself. If that happens, then it's Gods grace – but it's not anything to strive for or even want for yourself.
Now i will repeat that i understand how our culture presently rejects ideas of God; our culture and modern thinkers have had to kick out all the old Gods with all their different names, and are looking to science and rational thinking for the answers.
Trauma and SufferingBUT the problem is that among practically everyone i know or have met over the years – there are just so many cases of trauma early in life, child abuse, neglect, or cruelty.
And generally and personally i feel a great need for a simple great spirit whose ways we can never understand, but who is FORGIVING. Personally I really need this element of forgiveness, for how i acted at times previously, and for how others acted towards me when i was in trauma – and just everything.
Dear God, Please forgive me for not giving everything. And please have mercy on all of us.
And it's a continuing pattern, when i get angry etc. at someone these days, i can almost always find something similar that i did or do, even if it's a 100 times smaller, the same seed is there.
So i have had 'God phases' on and off throughout my life. But it was during my own trauma times for ten years when i was around 50 yrs. old, and there were times when no-one believed me. SO, i often felt completely alone and the only 'person' who believed me was God... or Abraham, or Jesus... and so at times of desperation i would pray, and was often filled with strength or a couple of times with feelings of oneness.
And i remember often feeling vividly, if a person had lived through something like this in the early years of life, there's little chance they'd ever get through it.
So my point is, a great many of these new-age philosophies are all about "you're perfect as you are, you just have to realise it" – they are all ultimately to do with being self-reliant, self-sufficient, independent, and establishing the ego – and 'heart cognition' sounds like a cool form of this, but i doubt if Buhner's is the best method, in my opinion Jesus and Gandhi have far better methods.
Such philosophies are for the elite, the privileged lucky few, like Buhner and Alan Watts, etc., and i think you. You have surely had dark times and problems in life, but never the sort of trauma which most other people have had – nothing which endangered the integrity of the whole person – nothing where there was no-one to support or understand you. You and they had choices which most people don't have, maybe through good parenting and luck, or enough money and talent to avoid the normal material struggle of job interviews and paying off mortgages.
Buhner etc. have public/social recognition, (1.000s of followers confirm and admire his identity and ideas!) – it must make an enormous change to a person, it must confirm their social image and personal ego. And with that in mind, i never noticed Buhner, or my old hero Alan Watts, speaking with any empathy for people with traumas and suffering of normal material life.
People with trauma need a simple almighty god with forgiveness.
Gandhi understood this. Gandhi was also from a privileged 'elite' background – but he developed an awareness of suffering – he identified with the little people, he understood their needs, he developed empathy for them (i don't like the word compassion, it's so often thrown around in a pompous way) and he developed a sense of self-sacrifice, ego-sacrifice to a greater God – which i don't see in Buhner or Watts.
Buhner etc. are talking to an elite class of people – but trying to be an independent self-sufficient ego is just asking too much for people who are traumatised, it's ultimately just adding another trauma – it's an impossible mountain to climb – an impossible ideal to live up to.
Traumatised people are under stress, they often don't have the freedom to choose – the finances, time and relaxation to study with an open mind, to learn, interpret, understand, complex theories and philosophies.
And the ivory towers of this superior abstract understanding are so often admired and aspired to by those who are suffering, which makes my heart bleed, because it actually increases their own suffering, while simultaneously confirming these cloud cuckoo land gurus.
Traumatised people need something simple and straightforward to believe in. And if they don't have god (now that these days god has no 'street cred') then they turn to all sorts of bombastic stories and lies, extremist and conspiracy theories, the right wing judgemental god, any sort of leader who expresses their anger – probably the most intelligent of them turn to football.
Without forgiveness, someone who was abused, neglected, traumatised in childhood, and then treats others badly, has no choice but feel terrible inside, lie about it to themselves, or carry on feeling that somehow they are right about abusing others.
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