Creed Is Chaos

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    Martin LeFevre,

    The poppies are in full flower on a day that feels like the very pinnacle of spring. It’s sunny and mild in California’s Central Valley, with a border of stupendous clouds along the western horizon.

    I spot a hawk, a kite, shortly after sitting down under the great bifurcating sycamore on the bank of the small stream that runs along the present periphery of the town. It hovers for a few seconds, and is gone.

    Two pairs of mallards swoop in, and one couple glides onto a secluded section of the creek a couple hundred meters upstream. I hear the piercing cry of small-winged Cooper’s hawks in the distance, but only see a few buzzards. Nonetheless, their long wings, with finger-like feathers on the ends, make them the most graceful gliders.

    The observer ends, and the movement of thought falls silent in sustained attention. The increasingly dark movement of thought (which is consciousness as we know it) cannot end as long as there is the infinite regression of the observer.

    Of course, many people can listen to babbling brooks all day and never come away with an insight, much less peace of mind.

    I cannot end the observer, because I am the observer—all the accumulated memories, images, opinions, and conclusions of the self. I am inseparable from the whole movement of thought.

    But thought has a clever trick. It continually separates itself from itself, and that keeps psychological separation going, with all the baggage of the past.

    So all one can do is passively observe the total movement of thought and emotion. Awareness quickens in doing so, and attention (not I) catches the observer in the act of separating itself from the totality of thought’s movement. When undirected awareness is quicker than thought, the observer ends, and with it, separation.

    Order and chaos then take on completely different meanings. One sees there is no chaos in nature, nor is there order, as we conceive and impose it. Man generates chaos from thought; then the order of theology is deemed necessary.

    There is an old expression from the field of semantics: the map is not the territory. It seems simple and obvious, but its application is rare indeed.

    With regard to truth, and religious experiencing, the maps that others have devised, much less the hand-me-down maps of the generations before us, are of no use. One can study them for some insight into how people constructed and superimposed their reality, and perhaps for pointers, but there are no maps for knowing ourselves.

    It’s only through knowing ourselves that we can truly discover the timeless truths about the human psyche, and enter the infinite territory that lies beyond it.

    Wisdom is not cumulative–not in the individual, and not in a culture. I may be as balanced and graceful as a tightrope walker one day, and sunk in the muck the next.

    Besides, there is something deeply irrational in talking about accumulated wisdom in a culture that’s turned completely to muck. Americans with even a 60-watt light on in their heads know what I’m referring to. You can’t turn around in this land anymore without stepping in it.

    Even so, the map-makers and media darlings are still busily drawing maps, or hauling out old ones, going around saying that we’re still a good and great people. Their maps don’t even resemble the territory.

    With all due respect to religion, systematic theologies are detailed maps that have little or no bearing on the actual territory of religious experience. For genuine religious experiencing (what is often derisively referred to as ‘mystical experience’) to occur, the mind has to let go of its constructions, and the heart of its accretions.

    The human mind fabricates complex theologies when the imperative is complete simplicity. The most difficult thing is to be simple, especially for smart people. Encrusted with their intellectual systems, they think they’re being ‘rigorous’ when they’re actually just being cunning.

    Combining a thin but respectable coating of the latest scientific craze—neuroscience—over the many layers of traditionalism, some conservative thinkers in America seem to believe that they have something new to offer. In truth, their so-called philosophy just adds a gloss to the old and ugly paint that so clearly and urgently needs to be scraped off.

    Conservatives have a view of human nature as sinful, unregenerate, and incorrigible. Which of course requires continual spanking, or at least standing in corners, administered and enforced by institutions and structures governed by proper rules and supposedly cumulative wisdom, essential to keeping some semblance of order.

    That’s worse than spewing nonsense; it’s upholding irrelevancy. The idea that rigorous theology helps people avoid mindless conformity is so wrongheaded it’s laughable. Theology demands conformity, or it ceases to exist. And below skin depth (and even there, given the number of tattoos) America is already the most conformist country on earth.

    It isn’t a choice between the order of rules, theologies, and traditions, and the chaos of whim, selfishness, and indulgence. They are two sides of the same worthless coin of the realm.

    If we’re not awakening as gods, we’re slumbering as humans.


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