Try to imagine things from God’s perspective for a moment. Viewing God as the all-pervading Yang, and us as unlimited fragmental parts and parcels of snowflake-like Yin, is it possible that God’s greatest challenge might be how to keep everyone - the whole family - happy, for eternity? Creating short-term systemic happiness sounds like a manageable task for an entity with such extraordinary powers as are generally attributed to God but remember that eternity is a long time – so the task of creating a permanent sense of happiness with consistency might provide a commensurate challenge.
If we view God as the single predominator and provider, surrounded by unlimited multitudes of defenceless child-like dependants, it becomes immediately apparent that God’s job is not straightforward. It seems logical that God’s primary mandate would be to keep everyone as happy as possible as far and as much as is possible – after all, there’s no point having something fantastic if there’s no one to share it with. And there’s no point having others to share it with if you’re all ultimately miserable trying to share it!
Even the most benevolent and wealthy father may experience difficulty in keeping all members in his family fully satisfied all of the time. With satisfaction comes peace in the home. Perhaps that’s why we struggle to achieve peace in this material dimension, where the rules governing the operating system are reversed.
Most people will agree that we are here to learn – the only point of real contention being the choice of subject matter. After much observation and reflection it may occur to one that a selfish, self-centred approach when relating to others will ultimately fail in keeping everyone happy, initially, and keeping anyone happy ultimately. This, in turn, may make one wonder whether the most important teaching of this material world is as simple as recognising the superiority of we-consciousness over me-consciousness. To appreciate the superiority of a selfless approach over a selfish one. One may even begin to wonder if this material dimension plays some role in ensuring that there remains another portion of creation, free of me-consciousness, which remains perfect, unaffected by the ravages of time that we are used to.
The primary quality pervading that non-material world would have to be selflessness and consideration for others, in order for it to function optimally throughout eternity. Note that a selfless lifestyle is hardly onerous in a realm of exaggerated abundance, and where anything can be manifested by simply desiring it. It’s a matter of consciousness and intent. An important implication of this is that living in such a realm requires a sense of responsibility (since one must clearly be careful what one desires, in that place).
The ancient Vedas of India term this devotion or bhakti and I’ve elaborated on this topic in my first piece, The truth is out there http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/The-truth-is-out-there-20120105 published here about a year ago. The Vedas suggest that a sincerely loving perspective is evidenced by treating people the way we would like to be treated in return. The philosophical background driving this behaviour is that we (the conscious thinking, willing, feeling observer within) are distinct from our bodies (the biological avatar-like machine comprising physical material elements) which we animate. And that we are all equal. In such a paradigm it becomes absurd to treat others based on differences in their temporary material bodies. It also becomes much easier to work around or tolerate differences on the material platform – I would offer that our material miseries become far more tolerable in general. With such spiritual vision, one also feels related and connected to everyone in some way, however far removed.
It seems sensible to extend this logic to the treatment of even the animals and other creatures we share this planet with. In such a society, racial tensions would surely be minimal. Speaking of avatars, watching the movie Avatar again the other day reminded me how obvious these things are but how distracted we as a society have become. The hero aids and abets the activities of the villians until Pandora is all but destroyed; only in the eleventh hour does he realise the error of his unconscious ways. It left me wondering … if we travelled back millions of years, would we find that Earth was our Pandora?
Avatar also strikingly contrasts the materialistic tendency to assert our dominance over the weak and powerless against the spiritual tendency to serve and foster a spirit of equality and sharing. It also left me wondering whether the reason sex has sometimes been extolled as being the closest thing to a spiritual experience is that, in a rare unexpected twist to the way things normally work in this material world, serving you (by bringing you pleasure) is the very mechanism by which I derive my own pleasure. And the more I pleasure you the more I pleasure myself <wink> Looking at it like this we may be forgiven for thinking that love-making encourages we-consciousness! I’m just saying. Laugh it off if you like, but laugh quietly while others think!
The theories of evolution, survival of the fittest etc. ultimately promote a self-centred approach, because they suggest that people get their place in line to the share of the spoils in proportion to how evolved they are (or how effectively they fool others into thinking they are, ouch!). The endgame is a mentality of entitlement, where one justifies to oneself that one deserves more than others because one offers more to society than others do. At its crudest, it leads to the view that human beings are worth relatively more or less depending on their material value and contributions to the rest of society. Indeed, society’s values seem to have evolved in such a way that one’s success is measured by how successful one has been in enjoying this world the longest and most thoroughly. Perhaps this is at the root of our material addictions – the desire to enjoy this material world until the bitter end, even at others expense. Could the growing global public dissatisfaction at our increasing levels of inequality be evidence of how far we have already gone down this road?
A richer man who remains unprepared to share the benefits of his superior material blessings with a poorer man, in so doing, expresses his intention to remain in this material world where this is the way things work; whereas a man who chooses to share, expresses his intention to enter a similarly selfless realm, like the spiritual world, at the time of death. This seems supported by the fact that good behaviour is encouraged in all genuine spiritual traditions. Pleasure derived from enjoyable personal human interactions will, after all, always remain superior to gratification of our external material senses, so protecting our feelings towards each other should be prioritised, even at the expense of material advancement if necessary.
It is no secret that governments across the world have conducted massive behavioural studies and religion has been one of the most useful tools in their hands. The Experiment, a movie which dramatises one such controversial experiment done in the USA in the early 70’s vividly illustrates how people act out their beliefs about themselves. In the movie, a random group of civilians are paid to enter a vacated prison. A few are then told to act as guards and the rest as prisoners. It is only a matter of time before the guards start abusing the prisoners and the prisoners start behaving like criminals. At first the storyline looks implausible but as the movie unfolds, it became quite apparent that even normal people can turn into monsters when put into encouraging circumstances. Those prisoners who believed they were “more than just evolved apes” tended to cope better whilst the others eventually accepted their miserable fate and the abuse, and became grateful for even the small mercies handed out by the guards. One can’t help notice how much easier it becomes to live up to our higher selves if we believe we stem from a divine ancestry. There surely can’t be a worse form of enslavement than voluntary self-enslavement of the mind, since from this enslavement, there is absolutely no escape – not even your captors can set you free.
Careful examination of society today suggests that we might be creating the backdrop for a society in which the Haves engage the Have Nots in this kind of soft, voluntary slavery. As in The Experiment, money is the ultimate motivator for such a mechanism (the participants didn’t quit the game even when it got rough because if they did, they would have not been paid the money they were promised for participating in the experiment). The endgame is a divided polarised world with the Haves fiercely defending their hard-earned possessions and the Have Nots who are basically seen as outcastes and criminals and whose only hope of survival is to voluntarily accept a role of slavery to survive.
Scientific advances have promoted the cause of both the theists and atheists – the theists via. Intelligent Design (ID) arguments e.g. evolutionary anomalies like the bombardier beetle (which could not possibly have evolved due to its unique defense mechanism) and the humble bacterial flagellum (whose tail works like an outboard motor – to the extent that even the biological terms for the various parts of this “organic machine” are taken from engineering textbooks) – and the atheists via ever-more-fascinating discoveries about how matter works. I have developed this topic further in my second piece I want to believe http://www.news24.com/MyNews24/I-want-to-believe-20120326. I think that the debate about whether there is a God or not can become excessive and tiresome, to the point that one can miss the real issue. On a practical level, selfless living seems to at least be an assured way of surviving as a race, even if there isn’t a God.
For one brave enough to confront their own mortality, the primary imperative becomes developing a suitable consciousness for a favourable transit to a better destination at the time of death. Forcing us into a realm of higher consciousness is futile unless our consciousness is similarly aligned, as one will eventually just revert to this material reality, being drawn by one’s consciousness and desire. And remember that from eternity, there should be no return! You join the dots.
Therefore it seems that the ultimate lesson of this material world is that being conscious of everyone and everything else is in our best self-interest. It should be easy to see how agreeing to live in this state of consciousness gives God the necessary motivation and confidence to invite us there.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.