Sunday, March 25, 2007

Letter to a Bundle of Sticks

You have *just* discovered bishop Spong, and though I agree that what he says is very interesting, it is not new to me. I lived and breathed that stuff for years, but when I did, I was 99.9% sure that we survived death and I was all but entirely certain that ESP was real. Why you will never be as well versed with spirituality as I am is because there was never a point where you were entirely able to believe it and immerse yourself into it. You are still viewing everything you discover in terms of your knowingness that we can never know. I knew, or at least thought I did very strongly. I didn't question much the miracles and the anecdotes. I swallowed them hook line and sinker. I would like to believe that stronger intellect decreases one's chances of becoming involved in cults of belief, but the evidence doesn't support the idea. I used my native intellect to support beliefs which were intellectually unsupportable. And people like Mit Romney, the believing Mormon with 2 harvard degrees, first in his class, and over a billion dollars in net worth are example A of how intelligence has very little to do with it. Religion is a social construct. Since I am somewhat non-social (preferring to be alone most of the time even though social opportunities arise) I don't feel the requirement to engage in a social enterprise like religion. "Religion allows people to believe by the millions what only a lunatic would by themselves". Luckily, when I meditate alone, I prefer to be by myself ((c) George Thoroughgood). Group thought, spurred by anxiety and abject fear of annihilation.
Sure, you traversed true belief in a major religion- Mormonism, as I was a fundamentalist Christian at age 15-19 and if I am to be honest, some rather absurd fundamentalist beliefs lingered with me into my 20's which I am embarrassed about. I discovered embraced by the light at age 19 and became hooked on the NDE. This led to my discovery of yogananda at 22 or 23 which created about 4 more years of that. I credit the fact that I was not socially engaged in SRF with being able to see through it. I went to only one SRF meeting all the way in Dearborn Michigan and was wholly unimpressed. Mostly it was older women, and they were rude in the lines to buy books. The atmosphere was one of stifling sickness and inauthenticity. We met two younger guys our age (I was with a friend who was also into yoga) who we went to lunch with. They were involved in organizing the SRF event. It turned out that one of them had pretty much lost his faith in the organization and seemed almost embarrassed I was getting into it, the other was a complete dork. Driving down the road with them a fairly attractive woman walked across the road and they both stared and nearly jumped out of their pants oohing and ahhing. I was wondering what their trip was, and soon found out that they were fasting and going through a celibacy thing- no sex no masturbation and they were near the end of it and they were out of control horny. BTW, Yogananda recommends rubbing an icepack on your balls and your perineal region to cool down the first chakra when you are horny. HAHAHAHA!!! No, I never did this. I have never made any real attempt at subverting the urge.
[Bishop Spong]

I eventually was thrown for a loop when I discovered Zen because Zen was the most believable, most scientifically supported, required no faith and was clearly a psychological/neorological practice having little to do with untestable claims. Satori happens, there's no contraversy there. But I saw that Zen is totally at odds with SRF or NDE or any number of things. And Shinzen Youngs tapes are the best summation of what it took me 15+ years to discover about spirituality- namely- it's a great big illusion. Then ultimately as I began to realize this, bolstered by my understanding of Zen, I began to see that spirituality the way it exists as an illusory mechanism and zen satori the way it exists, is precisely what we would expect to see in a purely naturalistic world. The fact that NDEs and OBEs and ESP cannot be confirmed experimentally is *precisely* what we would expect to see in a naturalistic world. Then you sort of spurred me to read the blank slate and a couple of other things and I developed a deeper understanding of evolution and once again things are precisely the way one would expect them to be in a naturalistic world. We are creatures of fantasy and illusion. We were designed by nature to be this way, and so it is no surprise that we have such a natural proclivity for belief and self-delusion. There are extraordinary mysteries concerning origins and consciousness, but I feel quite strongly that our understanding of these origins can only be diminished by a sidebar into spirituality. Zen satori I exclude and count as more of a science experiment- an experiencing of a certain form of consciousness that reveals deep and necessary insights into the nature of consciousness itself. This is applied science, barring all the dogmas of Buddhism and the schools of zen which are not immune.
Science can't tell us everything we need to know about the universe, but so far religion and spirituality have shown us little to nothing worth knowing. If all Christians were like bishop Spong, it would be a better world, and I woud have little to no problem with Christianity.

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