Religion 222: Being and Nothingness, Atheism and Anthropomorphism—Putting a Smile on God’s Face…

“Given that Being, Consciousness and Life are synonymous, presence means consciousness realizing itself or Life achieving self-consciousness…” – Eckhart Tolle

Huh? What? Anthropomorphism in the New Age is pretty much just as bad as what preceded it. We all know the atheist caricature of religion as consisting primarily of “an imaginary friend,” and the best arguments for atheism always centered for me around what were clear instances of assuming God to be some person or persona with desires and wishes and sufferings and blisses, and threats to be dealt with accordingly—obviously b*llsh*t.

Michelangelo’s grey-haired patriarch with stolid gaze and fierce expression pretty much defined the look. The bad news is that the various ‘New Age’ manifestations of modern religion and ad hoc versions of Hinduism and Buddhism, fashioned more to modern Western tastes than traditional Asian scripts and scriptures, are not much better.

True, the grosser human-like aspects of a ‘personal’ God of wrath and love, are missing, and tend to be replaced by more romantic statements suggesting that ‘the universe wants to manifest itself through us’ or something such, which is fine if that’s what you want, the romance of it all and the mysterious glances, but there’s certainly no scientific basis to it, and nothing that holds up to much philosophic scrutiny, either, just romantic longings to belong, to be a part of some fairy tale with a happy ending.

We seem to not only want some meaning to our lives and the world, but want sympathetic deities, too, with feelings just like ours, albeit of a higher caliber, presumably, i.e. Superman. New Agers don’t use the word ‘God’, of course, more likely ‘the Universe’ or ‘Earth Energy’ or ‘Divine Feminine Wisdom’, or something else groovy like that…

…something that you can believe in without feeling guilty about supporting the Inquisition or the Crusades or the Boy Scouts or the Ice Capades, something that you can feel good about without playing in to the narratives of ISIL or Trump or the Vatican or whatever.

The bizniz of Religion, whether traditional or New Age, is all about making you feel good, of course, more than any doctrinal or empirical accuracy. In fact, neither religion nor popular philosophy is about being correct. It is about motivating you and inspiring you. This can happen while the earth is burning in the fires of Hell or engaged in interminable wars of genocide and hatred. But as long as you ‘feel good’, then there is no issue of righteousness, from that viewpoint (which is not mine BTW)…

Therefore, to assure you that the Islamic fundamentalists of ISIL will not deter you in your hedonistic quest for temporary titillations is more important than trying to understand their motivations or trying to buy them off. The fact that early peoples cared not whether they lived or died is significant, and perhaps makes them spiritually—but not morally—superior to us, for that simple fact…

So what else is better, anyway (and why the elliptical ET quote at the beginning)? Wait for it: nothing, that’s what, absolutely nothing. No, wait, I’m serious. Nothingness just may be the Holy Grail of our Existential Trail, and ironically Eckhart Tolle is the one that clued me in to it, not that he invented it. In fact, I’m not sure that he sees it as such himself, since he insists on babbling on about quasi-deities such as Now and Presence and so on and so forth, Consciousness with a capital ‘C’and all that metafizzical baggage..

But what he’s stumbled on to is the possibility for a metaphysics of meditation, without all the religious baggage (which I like BTW), and that’s HUGE. We all know that meditation works, doctors and scientists included, it’s just not clear how or why. Buddhism and Hinduism proved its utility long ago. My best guess is that since this is the natural state of (small ‘c’) consciousness, pre-linguistic, then we need to return to that state every so often, like, I don’t know, say: maybe every Sunday?

But why, and how? Here’s my best analogy, Cricket: remember back before smart-phones, when you used a real computer, and you’d open up ten or twenty windows on two or three different browsers, all at the same time, pausing only long enough to sleep, if not hibernate? Then remember also that about once a week, if not less, the memory just got so full and cluttered, and the actions and reactions so slow and clumsy, that what came next?

You’d have to re-boot, of course, start all over, begin anew, and start off refreshed with a clean path and a full belly of free memory. One early GUI computer even gave that final crash-and-burn blue screen a name: ‘Guru Meditation’. Got it? We call that the “Sabbath” in the religion business. Twice a day: keep it holy. And you know the best part? That nothingness is not really nothingness at all (as Mr. ET well knows, but if he talked about horizontal and vertical realities, would you ‘get it?). Stay tuned…

 

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