Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Secular Apocalypse: What It Destroys, and What It Creates

I've been meaning to write about the effects of secularism on religions of all kinds, including the non-dual traditions within Hinduism and Buddhism. A good place to start is this recent debate between famed consciousness-capitalist Deepak Chopra and Dr. Aseem Shukla, co-founder of The Hindu American Foundation - and by good I mean there are so many bad ideas running amok between the two of them that each makes unintentional points in the other's favor.

Aseem begins the debate with an attack on the western appropriation of the Hindu Yoga traditions, often without attribution, or much respect for the real purposes and fullness of that tradition, but with a canny eye on the profits to be made from exploiting Yoga's glamour and personal transformation potential. He points out that Chopra is himself one of the primary exploiters of Hinduism, mining its ideas and traditions for marketable sales pitches and methods aimed at the western consumer mentality, rather than fostering any sincere interest in liberation from illusion and ego. All quite true, of course, and Chopra makes a mess of his own efforts to defend himself, not least by making the idiotic claim that Yoga is not actually a form of Hinduism, but that it preceded Hinduism, and that in any case, it actually comes straight out of consciousness itself, and thus can't be limited by any historical tradition.

All in all, I'd say that Chopra loses the exchange badly, but that doesn't matter, because he and others like him are winning the war.  Aseem can argue all he likes that Hinduism is not being treated respectfully by its western usurpers, he can't stop them from continuing to take from it what they like, and leave behind what they don't.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Strap-On Dildos vs. The Way Of Feeling

As I wrote before in Ego As An Emergent Phenomena, the ego is very much a real phenomena, if one examines it as a collection of constituent parts and their repetitive patterns of action and behavior, rather than as some literal "thing" floating around inside the body-mind. In reality, both form and our formless nature are inseparable from one another, as are consciousness and energy, which are really another way of describing the same thing. But when the consciousness aspect of reality identifies with its own form, a strange disruption seems to occur in our awareness. Our own consciousness seems to separate itself from its own form, and in the process, both are felt to be reduced from infinite non-separate realities to finite and separate illusions.

The primary effect of this reduction is experienced as this emergent ego-phenomena, in which our very sense of being aware is felt as a personal identity of limited consciousness, unable to enjoy its infinite nature, and seemingly cast adrift, lost, alienated, separate from what it needs, and associated with a limited form that is also separate and incapable of giving us what we require, unless our requirements are also reduced to the bare minimum. This is what we experience as our common state of awareness - a frustrated and frustrating small-'I' consciousness that seems to vaguely exist inside the body, and which depends upon the body for its unpredictable fluctuations in happiness, surrounded by a much larger and frightening world to which we are precariously related.

This emergent ego arises from identification with the body-mind, and it also represents a pattern of endless forms of identification with all the pieces and parts of the body-mind, each of which appears to be separate and limited. But primarily, it is simply felt as this most obvious sense of awareness, of consciousness, of being 'I' or 'me', that feels and observes the body-mind in lockstep formation. We all know what this feels like, and can't seem to help being this ego, even if it has no particular existence independent of the body-mind. No matter what kind of experience we have, no matter how pleasurable or even spiritual, we still experience it from the point of view of this emergent ego-consciousness, as if that is who we are.

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