arbitrary stuff that comes to mind: whenever I feel like thinking aloud

Monday, September 6, 2010

Arising: beyond body, belief, and into the meaning of it all



My Grandmother and knowing yourself, reaching towards your soul

Stephen Hawkins has plonked himself firmly on the side of Physics in the battle between pro- and anti- God Factions.
Of course, he assumes the constituent parts for Universes to evolve exist, so that knackers his argument too, as it begs the question where do those constituents parts spontaneously erupt from (his answer is nothing coming and going to nothing)? ... it's a circular argument that supports every opinion.
And, since it's a fight no-one can win, let's digress away from that and reflect on the steps that spiritual people might go through to become able to rise above the arguments.


When someone says to me "I don't believe in mourning" or "I don't believe in wasting my time pining over a relationship" I look askance and I look askancer. Because what I am really hearing is that this person is not mourning, or pining. Their feelings were never that deep about the missing person/object/pet/whatever in the first place. Belief has nothing to do with it; turns out their feelings were just plain shallow to begin with. Otherwise they would have to go through a period of mourning or pining or whatever. In the same way, atheists just don't need that communal religious thing, their religion is atheism. Go figure.


My Grandmother, who had a thing or two to say about a thing or two, was once put in the awkward situation of explaining life's progress towards God: a sort of phasing of the soul, as it were. Explain that to the under 8's. So this is what she said (as best I remember - although I paraphrase and use my own words … obviously …)

There are three stages to the liberation of the Soul.
The body, the idea, the spirit ~ that's pretty much as I understood it.


The Body
 
We are born, she said, with what we are born.
So far so easy: If you believe that you have a Soul, then it is contained within your body, and what you've got is what you've got (despite the best efforts of Change Artists, be they stylists or surgeons!).
For example. If you have a bad temper, it's there, isn't going away. No amount of "get rid of your temper" is going to help. "Control your temper" now that'll work ~ if you keep trying sooner or later it will come under control. The message is: Learn to cope with your body, it's the base animal encapsulating you, and until you learn to master it, it masters you.


The terrible tragedy of Abusive/abused people is that their abusive/accepting natures have never been brought under control. They are both victims of their natures, and the villains too. (It seems that culture vs nature has plumped down on the nature side, which would have been satisfying for her had she lived. "In the blood" is more correctly phrased "in the DNA …")
Back to the point. Our Parents, Teachers, Friends, Society, and the rest *should* be helping us to learn the vital art of Coping with our bodies: their physical state, their natures and temperaments.

Until we have mastered our bodies, the animal natures will dominate.
When (and only when) we have mastered that, we are ready to tackle our …


Our Beliefs
 
We are immersed in a myriad of interlocking belief systems: the backdrop to our lives and cultures. As a small sub-section include Religion, Nationality, Race, Gender, Language, Local custom, etc. etc. etc.
Where do we learn, take on these beliefs?

From wherever we were born to wherever we travel, of course.
They stream in early: Parents, extended Family, Teachers … in fact the same crowd who teach us to control our animal natures use these belief systems to be the agents of control. Since it worked the first time round, we naturally assume this is good too.
Here's a generalization: Most people accept beliefs blindly and are contained within them for most or all of their lives. What does it mean if you never challenge your beliefs? Necessarily, you remain in blind obedience of them. Maybe that's because it's the safest position to be in, vis-à-vis the communities you must interact with and survive in.
If you never challenge your beliefs, then you are the servant of them.
It seems to be a perfectly natural thing to challenge them. From late teenage to mid 20's, all of us, to a greater or lesser degree "rebel" against authority. To the degree that society lets us, to the degree that our upbringing supports it, to the degree that the spark in our breasts demands it, we challenge.
By the time we reach our early 30's most people are patterned into, have accepted the basic truth of, their belief systems.
For most, this is a lazy acceptance of the status quo.
For the rest, the journey can result in a radical change in belief systems.
And it can happen more than once too.
For those who have never contained their baser natures, the combination of a powerful animal nature and unchallenged beliefs is a monster that behaves outside reason. Sorry for them, sorrier for those under their sway …

So here's the important thing:
 
  • The best we can do about our animal natures is to learn to cope with them;
  • We have the power to take on or let go the beliefs taught to us: they can be challenged, modified, discarded, assumed…

Once we have done that, we are ready to approach …

The Spirit, the Soul, the Meaning of Life
 
In whatever way you would like to express it.
If there are Eternal Truths, if there is a God, it/they certainly do not need anyone to stand up for it/them. By definition, being omnipotent, it is beyond existence and time, is what was before the physics of Universes became possible.
So here we stand at a threshold. For those who truly believe, their belief systems are utterly immune from challenge. To be utterly immune from challenge requires a good deal of thought and introspection, and will only happen after the side tracking body has been dealt with, and the beliefs imposed accepted and rejected with conviction.
This is that point at which one can truly approach one's place beyond the Universe (which, after all, lives and dies and rebirths like anything else we know).
To approach God, whatever that might be, we must rise above the physical animal that is our container, the self serving beliefs that govern us, into a space where the mind and body is accepted and accepting of the search.
Wisdom, Spirituality, the meaning of it all, my old grandmother implied, will only be for those who have mastered their bodies, stripped and examined their beliefs, and are then ready to move forward into those Eternal Truths.
And for those who will come with, come with.
And those who do not, well their pain and fear will be a constant threat.
Its hard work, consumes that spark of life, and in ,most parts of the world - dangerous, to go beyond.

So, Back to Stephen Hawkins!
It’s not a new position for him, but it is a rather silly one – having no religion he is better off with pure Physics.
Truly spiritual people aren't concerned with the nature of the Universe, with whether a button initiated it, even whether it exists.
They are concerned with whether the infinitesimally small spark of life contained within themselves has a purpose, and having assumed that is the case, with how to fulfill it. And that is a far, far cry from evolution debates, after all.
In fact, got nothing to do with it …

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