Spirit and Matter

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

I'm trying to understand just what is is about a certain group of people that terrifies me so.  They feel like a certain kind of extremist to me, and I'm trying to understand what part of that may be correct and what part is projecting from my own flabby innards the fears that I'm still in the process of letting go of.

I think ultimately my fear is really about how terrifyingly destructive people can be at certain ends of extremes - at what they can do in the name of their own rightness.  It's an ongoing source of unfunny amusement to me that though the ends of the particular spectrum I'm thinking of contain people almost diametrically opposed to each other, people at extremes end up sounding and acting remarkably alike in their ugliness and narrowing of insight in defense of their space. 

Which of course both would take umbrage at, their tiny lens on proceedings apparently being the kind that enables them to know the whole world.  That is the way of these things, isn't it - we find truth in one area and insist on smearing it over everything.

I love science.  I don't love religion.  I'm amenable and open and experienced in the realm of life packaged up as "the spiritual".  And yet though I love science, love exploring the wonders of the beautiful world, scientific materialists stink up my corner.  They seem to carry behind them a large suitcase of preconceptions about how the world is and how it isn't, which is not very scientific;  it's the same surety that is displayed just as creepily in their opposing fundamentalist Christian counterparts. 

This part of human nature more than anything makes me wish to run away from this world and live on Pluto.

So I'm trying to understand why I react so hard to those who occupy the scientific materialist space - the idea that there is nothing beyond the physical or the measurable.  Their end of the spectrum is a complete flipside to those waaaaaaay up the other end, who tend to view the physical being on its way out and the spiritual being where it's at.  (The spiritual, however, in the fundamentalist paradigm does not give any kind of human-sized easy turning circle to a person.  It is a space full of restriction, of laws, of regulations, of fear). 

Do I somehow link that expanded side of living that some criticise and even refuse to acknowledge as existing with opening, growth, awakening in myself of the most beautiful, and so therefore if someone criticises that aspect of life as being unscientific and therefore not to be contemplated, I automatically fear them as potentially evil?  It seems so, though I feel a bit embarrassed writing that word "evil". 

It is hard to not look at both fundamentalist Christians and scientific materialists in their narrow rooms as being both fear-ridden and fear-mongering.  And yet my view of them is also fear-ridden and fear-mongering, isn't it?  All of this narrowness just perpetuates more narrowness and fear.  And how much of reality do I then see in this instance when so much fear abounds?

And I think we have had enough of fear.  Indeed, it's what drives the status quo of the world's imbalance.  Fear.

And yet also, if I get quiet and thoughtful, I can also awaken an element of ... I dunno, what do I call that?  Love?  Well-wishing?  Whatever I call it, I can awaken it and direct it towards those people who I fear and at times hate.  It can sit alongside the fear and even dispel it.  I know, because I do it sometimes.  

Acceptance.  The carpenter said it in a way that is a radical - almost insane - level of acceptance of what is:  turn the other cheek when someone slaps the first.  There is something profound that lies underneath the initial knee-jerk reaction of this being about the awesomeness of passivity and being a doormat.  I don't reckon it's about externals;  I reckon it's about managing internals, about managing what actually happens so as to not stay caught up in it.  It's about getting past resisting the bad shit that happens to us to a monumental freedom.  So monumental that we can fly way beyond the fear that is engendered by those who are doing the slapping, who, more often than not, are perpetuating the me-win/you-lose paradigm that is so destructive to us and to our earth.  So monumental that we are freed then to act out of something other than fear.

In our conceptions, so many of us end up acting with aggression rather than love towards those who may differ, though both sides are equally as capable as cultivating openness and understanding and a refusal to belittle towards those who differ.

When I examine the knee-jerk way I react to those of the scientific materialist persuasion I think I understand partly why there is such a mass level of fear and reactivity that comes from me.  Partly it's because I have found such great awakening through the aspect of life that so many of them dismiss with criticism.  And so therefore I feel defensive that they criticise a way of being that apparently, perhaps for reasons of temperament, they do not walk in themselves.  It is this way of being that has opened up so much in me and has given me the gift of seeing both me and the world as something special.  This side of being has made me a better humanist.  It is from its perspective that I see future change and possibility of freedom.

And so that's partly why I am so knee-jerk to scientific materialists.  It's also because this particular paradigm is a powerful one, and yet it is capable of much damage.  There have been many, many cultures in the past, each with their own paradigms of viewing the world.  It can seem a little befuddling to us learning how certain people saw the world the way they did, and the actions that stemmed from those worldviews.  It is much easier to see with a long-range perspective the absurdities that come from particular paradigms than to link our own causes and effects.  Ours of course is no different.  It's hard to avoid seeing how much damage the western style of living can do to the earth (though there is much conjecture around how much we humans are contributing to it) and it's hard for me to avoid concluding that it is this narrowly focussed version of seeing - from which the scientific materialist mindset directly springs - that is the culprit.  It is a way of seeing, a mindset - a brainset, really - that has vast and great and massive benefits, but which needs to be reined in lest it becomes a tyrant.

If you don't know what you're missing and what you don't understand, will you necessarily go searching for it?  If your view is unbalanced and skewed, sometimes you can sense that, and you go stepping forward in the dark towards trying to find something that you don't even know what it is.  But then what happens if what is required to balance is located in a giant container you have named Irrelevance?  What if balance gets located for you over there to the right that you associate with those hippies and those creepy druids dancing round trees and bleating about the sanctity of stuff?  Do you walk away then because for you the labels and the categories are more important than the contents?  Do you think that if god is dead then this whole container is dead?

Of course I'm caricaturising here.  Both ways of seeing the world are absolutely compatible inside the one human being.  In fact, it's the balanced amongst us that carry my hope for the future righting of the many wrongs we see.  Somewhere in the middle of these two spectrums of being and of defending our own worldviews lie people open to both spectrums.  And it's there, with the meeting if you like of matter and spirit, that the bestest and truest examples of humanity emerge.


  1. I think because neither material scientists nor religionists have been able to produce any measurable evidence for the existence of anything beyond the material, this is why there is such absolutism about it. Some people, of course, don't require evidence, which is certainly fine, because not everyone is scientifically minded. However, in order for actual scientists to accept the existence of the ethereal (or anything non-material), science requires evidence. And although material science may not be looking for it, religious science IS.

    Personally, although I side entirely with the "necessary evidence" camp, I also welcome the idea that we don't know nearly as much as we like to think we do. We should have learned that by now, but absolutism exists on every level.

    And I know you and I don't see eye to eye on this, and that's fine, because I love you anyway! It takes all types to make this world we live in, and yes, narrow-minded ideas deserve to be challenged on both sides.

  2. Nicely said Erin.

    Scientific skeptics rarely side with "blind believers" (their words), and vice versa.

  3. I wonder if there will ever be a time when something would occasion those two camps coming closer to each other - do you think? I believe there will, or hope we will, and also that we are far closer to that time than we might think. We are advancing in our scientific understanding and quantifying of consciousness and energy and our connection and it excites me very much.

    I feel a bit frustrated and defensive talking about this whole idea of "spirit" because I get paranoid and think that what I say will always be rushed away into another category than I intended, as if you're talking about God and about something 'out there' whereas what I'm talking about really is something closer to our true nature and its expression and which also encompasses 'in here'. I think institutionalised religion has a shitload to answer for in that regard (and I'm sorry that one of its proponents shat on your own head, Erin :\)

    I think we are on the verge of a different way of viewing the world than the dissected and separate ones of both science and religion. I would REALLY like to read this book here - I think that's something along the lines of what I'm talking about: http://transitionconsciousness.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/guest-article-fritjof-capra-and-pier-luigi-luisi-the-systems-view-of-life-a-unifying-vision/

    I just want us all to love each other, wailed the hippy :)

    Hope you're both having a nice break xo xo

    1. Thank you for your concern re:being shat on. :)

      I'm sure we are missing definitions in our conversation which is why the disconnect.

  4. My early view of religion was totally skewed from a young age, when I witnessed a catholic priest hit on my mother, in a big way. Only to see him stand at the pulpit the following sunday preaching purity and piety. Hmm, guilt much?
    Future successive dubious and dodgy incidents with other denominations, simply confirmed (my) already strong opinion that many religious followers - not all, but yes, I'm generalising here - are hypocrites, no matter which church they hide behind.
    Hypocrisy leads to bigotry. Bigotry is excluding. Exclusion leads to narrow mindedness. Narrow mindedness is dangerous. Pursuit of control.
    Science and religion can, at times, be very narrow minded in their beliefs.
    Both fear and ridicule the "open minded".

    Many people are searching and becoming uneasy with both (s&r) it seems. Questions aren't being answered "satisfactorily".
    But unrest, unless it's grounded in something "good", could lead to something, shall we say, not so good ;)

    This is just the very tip of what could be excessively long discussions on s&r, money, politics. It's all relative it seems.

    I'm enjoying a delightfully quiet - read, lazeee - day after a long, tiring and somewhat disappointing day at the market yesterday.

    And, finding MUCH solace in excessive amounts of chocolate bunnies, eggs and coffee. Ahhh, there's something so good about that thin (only at easter) chocolate. Crack.
    Yep, I'm not discerning when it comes to chocolate - I'll have it anyway you throw it at me - from Lindt to Cadbury and Red Tulip :)

    1. You chocolate whore :)

      Wow, that must have been such a defining thing to see as a young child. The top dude wearing the most strange garments behaving in the worst way.

      Religions do seem to bring out the worst in people, don't they? I guess a god with a big stick who's gonna whack you and who expects his creations to behave differently than they happen to be probably does it. Such shame-inspiring institutions.

      I remember when I classed myself as a Christian going to a church and being so unbelievably disappointed that after the service people didn't want to have deep and meaningfuls about God. It was like, "That's what you do at bible study. We don't wanna talk about that stuff." I had a sinking heart realising that church wasn't a place where you could talk about that which you professed to love. I feel lonely an awful lot in life but that was a pretty defining moment too.

      I am thinking of going for a walk to Sherbrooke Falls this afternoon. If I can lure you out from your resting with a walk, it would be lovely to see you.

    2. It be's 1.20 already and I haven't showered yet so I reckon around 3ish.

    3. Owkay. Which entrance?

    4. Only if you want to. Don't feel compelled to if you wish to stay home and chill (says my inner paranoic).

      The entrace near the Ridge Track, north of Anderson Street.

      I just realised though that it's not dog-friendly so I would be amenable to a walk in an entirely different area if you were wanting to take Mr Jack out :)

    5. ... Ridge Track, north of Anderson Street.
      Clueless as to where that is.
      I know the Sandell's Rd entrance.

      Jack's been for a walk this morn - and he's limping. So, old pup needs to rest.

    6. It's the next entrance north up Terrys Avenue from the Sandells Rd entrance. So turn left from Sandells Road onto Terry's, go past Anderson Street on your left, and then it's a little bit up on the right.

    7. Yep. I know the one.
      So, 3pm?

  5. If it's getting too cold/late, then we can make it another day if you like. Next week perhaps?

  6. I hope you guys had a nice walk!

    RE: church, my biggest disconnect was the idea that people could practice the same things they preached against, and then justify it with excuses such as "a fallen people", etc. etc. That, and the supernatural explanations for everything via confirmation bias.

  7. Well ... we had a bit of a miscommunication glitch. I'm sure we would have had a nice walk otherwise :)

    Yep, next week would be nice, Vicki :)

    Erin - yeah, all that confirmation bias stuff. It's a bit creepy, isn't it ... but when you're inside the story I guess it's different. It's not so much that as ... not wanting to break the story rules or something. Hmm, still seems creepy ...

  8. I'm one of those 'creepy druids'. :) We are taught in the order I am in that fundamentalism leads to 'the smell of disinfectant and the sound of jackboots'. That works both ways, and i truly believe that pure concrete science is a religion is just as much as the organised ones. I'm not a believer in organised religion as such and I follow my own set of often-considered ethics, just as most other pagans do, but I have had enough experiences in this life that I know that there is more than meat and chemicals to being alive. I feel sorry for people who believe it is all there is, because they are missing out on so much that makes life worth living, and also they scare me because their religious folllowing of science could easily lead us to humanity's doom.

    1. I had a long coffee with a druid today who is the furthest thing from creepy I can think of :)

      "The smell of disinfectant and the sound of jackboots" - well now, then, there's nothing more to be said about it now. What a wonderfully evocative description.

      More than meat and chemicals - yes.


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