Perhaps it isn’t atheism specifically that’s killing us, but a lack of spirituality in how we do things.
My life unfolded somewhat off the radar. As a teen I embraced music as my love, then took it on as a full-time profession, starting at 18 years old. I travelled the country performing and writing music then settled into a twenty-year career creating recordings in various capacities. Despite many hardships, life was sweet. The practice and the centre was always music – a pure, divine flow of melodies and rhythms exchanged with brothers and sisters of the trade, and exchanged with all who were listening and dancing live, or through media.
There was a genuine solidarity between us. Always a noble purpose and we supported each other in the expression of something beautiful, ultimately surrendering to the unending source of song that gracefully channels through us.
Throughout my life I wasn’t exposed much to the mainstream 9 to 5 culture. The boss, the employee, the paycheque the shopping, the taxes. Lived on beans and rice – no car no mortgage, and practiced/worked diligently, opening hearts with sound.
Much later I discovered zen and became a disciple of a mature Korean zen master named Venerable Samu Sunim. He was rock solid, he was on fire. He taught mostly without words.
Then came the G20. I was in shock observing the relationship citizens have with their government. Then came divorce. Oh my god! A sweet long-term relationship turned into bitter contention by the influence of mysandrist female psychologists, lawyers and a feminist court system that had little interest in the rights of male parties to a breakup,
Luckily I have a rainbow in my heart. We all do, but mine was less conditioned, due to staying out of the systems that have forgotten divine purpose, and this rainbow was well embodied by pursuing my own musical/spiritual practice for decades.
Our systems are sociopathic. They have produced powerful and intense ability – to fly, to build, to calculate, to articulate, to consume, to dominate -without grounding of profound purpose. We don’t know our place in nature, we don’t know why we are here, or where to go next. Therefore not having much (capital “S”) “Self-knowledge.” With less Self-knowledge, less presence. Less presence, less love. Less love, less joy and poor stewardship.
As I recovered from a formidable attack by these systems, I clearly saw something sweet in our hearts and how it is missing in our societal systems. Here are some observations from that view – how far things have strayed from an organic, devotional orientation, and what effect it has had.
During the “Age of Reason” (Europe, approx 1685 to 1815) we decided that thousands of years of tribal, worshipful, nature-respecting momentum had little worth, and our new religions Science and Industry were worthy of displacing and quashing all else. Two hundred years later, these seeds have grown to eclipse much of what we had evolved, spiritually speaking.
Today, the lack of genuine spirituality in churches, government, banking, the judiciary, policing, big business, science, and medicine, converge and conspire to our detriment. Below are just a few examples of how these systems, hell-bent on reducing intuition and spiritual aspiration, have in many ways de-evolved.
Pharmaceuticals and Healing
Picture a pharmaceutical company wanting to sell flu shots and immunization. Their key driver is profit and the method they understand is to “attack” a virus, vs. strengthening peoples’ immune systems naturally.
Flu shots are 10%-60% effective at best (Science Magazine). However, not to lose out on an opportunity, Big Pharma gets the government on it, laws are made to compel long-term care facilities and school boards, science is mistrepresented to justify a business goal, and the public interest is compromised. Given the history of misreporting, it is difficult to trust the claim that flu shots reduce flu incidents and that side effects are negligable. And even if they are, they only refer to gross side effects. Subtly we are poisoning and weakening ourselves.
The average elderly person in a nursing home is on a cocktail of eight to fifteen drugs – half of them unnecessary while causing physical and psychological health problems and sometimes death.
As Big Pharma identifies opportunities in various African countries one of the obstacles has been locals wanting to continue with their own thousand year proven medicines. By rearranging laws, forming “partnerships” with governments and public health entities, pharmacy moves forward, quashing traditional wholistic methods.
According to the source link below, 40 children in Gouro, Chad, located in northern Africa, became paralyzed after they had received the meningitis A vaccine MenAfrivac in December 2012. The still- being developed vaccine had been administered to 500 children who were locked in the school, told if they didn’t take the vaccine they would be expelled and go to jail. This occurred without parent’s knowledge or consent. According to the source link, this was a coordinated effort by local government, the World Health Organization, various financiers and the drug manufacturer, Serum Institute of India.Source
The part of the Hyppocratic oath that says “Do no harm” was not coined frivolously. It expresses an understanding of how things work, in a clear context of spirituality. It also says to “give no poison”. Unbalancing the human system with intense substances that force a result at the expense of other problems brings layers of illness that cannot be measured. In Hyppocrates’ time, long before the Age of Reason we were more in tune with those kind of universal rules (do no harm, for example). Overlooking them now, thinking that we can manage exceptions, instead of following universal law and progressing in context of it, whike adhering to it, is a great cost to health and the long-term the tax pool,while we go further in debt and further into weakened health.
Maintaining health is a partnership with nature, where nature is the boss, and our rights of variance are guided by universal principles. If we vary too far, bad results follow. Understanding this requires a level of clarity and humility that is difficult to come by without a spiritual perspecive. This cannot be understood thinking only from the neck up, as science, business and government often does. Aggressive atheism combined with materialist ambition leads to a level of delusion that creates a pitbul trend in the wrong direction. The stuff Big Pharma is made of.
Regardless of complex analysis, we still don’t know what a body is, how it relates to individual soul and universal Soul, which runs through all material things. This cannot be explored with statistics and cold logic, without also using the love and compassion that arises from genuine spiritual practice.
A good measure of that awareness was included in the traditional tribal medicine practices that the West, along with local governents in Africa, insisted on displacing, instead of respecting their established ways and ensuring the villagers had clean drinking water, and adequate food. Their thousand year old medicine and prayer practices are a formidable technology, rooted in faith and understandings we in the West have yet to acquire.
The modern culture of the dominating countries lacks tools and pracices to embody and experience Nature i.e. experience trans-personal Consciousness. Therefore we cannot understand “Do No Harm” in its full meaning – within the body, man to man, and man to nature.
My personal experience of the Western judicial system as a copyright creator and a divorce participant has shown me that it allows for a professional sports game and a crafty distortion of truth – often using the letter of the law to fly in the face of the spirit of the law.
It encourages an adversarial process, pitting the parties against each other and bringing out the worst in our nature. There is no awareness that a higher mind is watching or that our intuition knows better than to attempt to destroy and exploit each other, for material gain and misdirected purpose.
The crown or the complainant alleges exaggerated transgressions, and the accused, who (rightly) doesn’t trust fair treatment, is advised to carefully avoid any potentially incriminating evidence. A nasty dance around an elephant in the room. This flows through to politics and big business, where the rich and the dirty fighters are empowered, while the poor and the meek are bulldozed.
The phrase “spirit of the law” is interesting. It touches on something beyond the material, something known in our hearts and something beyond an individual rule. The phrase suggests a surrendering of the small picture to the greater perspective that is not attached only to the letter, or only to technical “evidence”.
But how can we hold a sense of such noble intuition in a world where “evidence based” logic (often skewed) is the only allowed basis, and feelings about things – about people or spirit are seen as vague, irrelevant, or illegal points?
I recall a time when my ex-wife was 2 years into her suffering from an MVA head and spine injury. We had paid our premiums faithfully for twenty years without incident. The medical bills were formidable. The insurance company was dragging its heels about reimbursing us. We had to get a lawyer who set out to use technicalities to counter the technical obstacles the insurer was using. We had to hire doctors to send letters describing my wife’s health issues, and the insurer paid doctors to send letters saying my wife was fine. No one at the insurance company (or their doctors) mentioned concern or wished for her healing, and no one wanted to meet her.
There was wasted legal fees and paperwork produced, never to be read. It got so crazy that I tried to pressure our lawyer to arrange a face to face meeting with the adjuster to establish a relationship and try end the madness. It was impossible, I was told, “they don’t do that.”
If anyone were to speak with my wife, face to face and look in her eyes, it would be clear that a) she was quite compromised from the accident and b) she was sincere, trying to get better, is so far from a person who would lie. That would be simple, but it would rely on intuition and honesty – neither of which is available in an aggressively anti-spiritual system focussed on financial loss or gain. Setting aside the spiritual aspects eliminates any higher calling for compassion and fairness.
Spiritual Language and Custom
We’ve come so far from feeling things, from thinking about the big picture – instead focussed on money and self protection. Not too long ago, language such as “God would want..” would be common in ordinary conversation. Awareness of a greater power is still left over in our language, such as “Acts of God” in insurance, “In God We Trust” on the American Dollar bill. But we are fast fading from actually applying such perspectives. The words ring empty, most people saying them don’t even hear themselves, certainly don’t “listen” for God’s message.
It’s understandable we turned away from God talk, considering what it had become. Seeing God as an authoritarian, jealous male figure has its limitations and some huge down sides. There has been abuse, oppression and atrocities in “God’s name”. Partly for these reasons, North America has turned away from churches and “God” thinking – especially in education, government, law and business. So we have cultivated an agressive atheistic rebellion, on tbe basis that goidness diesn’t require religion. That may be so, but what have wecome up with instead?
We are acting out oppression and atrocities just the same – even using drones and bots to do it. Previously we justified it with “our God verses their God”. Nowadays we justify it with economic need, and with insincere or misdirected “Human Rights” pretences and propaganda. It seems our dark side comes out no matter what clothes are in fashion.
In larger, older, more sophisticated cultures such as Africa, India and China, and in indigenous spirituality of the Americas, “God” is not particularly authoritarian or particularly male – quite unlike the God of Christians, Jews and Muslims. And in Asia there are many non-religious, spiritually informed systems to develop grounded-ness, intuition, body health, mind health, spiritual health, and positive community. These levels of health cannot be separated, they work together.
Without this whole health model our laws, our conquests and our policies are useless, for their interpretation is uninformed. Intentions will not be clear or healthy, nor will we create sustainable systems. Long term, vast and profound vision is required. Individuals must be developed in body mind and heart, from a holistic perspective that includes spirituality.
Some of the ancient and still-practiced non-religious or para-religious systems of cultivation of positivity, from Asia for example, include the many yogas, sufism, zen, taoism, chi gong, and martial arts. Art in all its forms from singing to drumming, dancing, painting and poetry also do this. Often (especially in the West) these transplanted cultivation practices are reduced to physical or entertainment routines only, but the fullness of these practices addresses much more. Sometimes they flow out from religions, but they can be used without religion too, bevause they address fundamental issues.
These practices provide tools to develop restraint, celebration, humility, inner peace and respect. They open the universal memory, awareness of the One Consciousness reflected in the many (all knowledge in a grain of sand), gentleness, efficiency, compassion and clear-sightedness – using physical holds and postures, dietary awareness, movement, prayer (which needn’t be to a god), chanting, meditation, mastery of breath, community service and more.
Previously in the West, Sunday was a day to stop working and reflect on God. When America adopted the motto “In God We Trust” and when parliamentary sessions might hear religious arguments for goodness, we were balancing both heart and reason. Einstein included spiritual perspectives in his science. We had a society who considered God. Even if our fumblings were at times juvenile, we had a notion of ultimate goodness which set a tone for how things might be done or why one might do the right thing. Praying in church on Sunday might have helped you notice the remorse of a foul deed. That isn’t terribly advanced thinking, compared to the systems mentioned from the East, but it is a call to one’s higher power, and some structure to do it in.
Perhaps the church system lacked wholistic cultivation of the individual but it had merits that our contemporary atheism lacks. Unfortunately, the Church’s transgressions combined with the seduction of indulgent affluence and the effects of the Age Of Reason caused “God thinking” to fade. In many ways it became illegal. “Angry God” Christianity sure had its flaws, but we’ve thrown out the baby of spirituality with the bathwater of churches. Now we are missing ways to pursue noble-ness and trust. Little to call us to our conscience, and the inspiration our Higher Self. Happily, the growth of interest in yoga and Eastern thought in the West is taking some steps back towards that, possibky in a fresher, better way.
But in our mainstream systems we have a materialist, consumerist, aggressively atheistic environment with no particular “national practice” or national shared belief. Ethical behaviour and fair thinking are optional. Belief in, or attempted awareness of a higher power, or a divine aspect of self, are as optional as whether you prefer your cappucino made with dairy milk or soya milk – which are a more likely topic of conversation.
Meanwhile, one in six Americans takes a psychiatric drug, the planet is lashing out with hurricanes trying to warn us about our excesses, and childish bullies have their fingers dangerously close to the nuclear launch button.
Spirituality Beyond Religion
Would these conditions be better if we included spiritual / optionally, religious – thinking and cultivation in our governance systems and in our individual persoective? If we had practices and tools to do so? If we had meaningful community venues to convene and genuinely exchange tender and subtle notions of devotion? If we made room for spirituality in all our activities? Perhaps voting results would be different, perhaps there’d be less monsters and more benevolent visionaries in positions of corporate power.
Perhaps calling it “Mother Earth” in the lawbooks, having national dances around a fire, and taking Sundays off to sit in meditative contemplation would help prevent us from destroying her. The “savages” were busy doing just that, instead of designing guns and planes, until we decided they should do it our way – even on their own turf.
I’d rather have clean air, kindness and slow transit than machines making my food, nowhere to go to celebrate devotional feelings in community and sociopathic corporations deciding my fate, enslaving me to interest payments and wathing taxes skimmed and squandered on wrong “progress”. What do you think?
I think that ungrounded atheism, or anti-spirituality – is killing us, and uncovering the rainbow in our hearts could relieve our pain.