Collision
 Home Contents Links
Home
reality part 1
reality part 2
Collision
Finality

Graphics by Paul's FrontPage Themes

 

 

 

DANGEROUS DIALECTIC

 

When I hung out in Berkeley, California in the early 70's, my "Bible" was Be Here Now, a new age opus penned by Baba Ram Dass (a.k.a. Richard Alpert - LSD sidekick of Timothy Leary).  In what I thought was one of his most profound chapters, Alpert wrote of the necessity of transcending the world of "Yin-yang opposites."   In relating to his counter-culture audience, he included a brilliant illustration: cut-out paper-doll clothing, half of it police uniforms and half hippie attire.  His point was not only that the externals were interchangeable for individual humans, but more specifically that the extremes of "pigs" and "freaks" had produced the necessity for their opposites in dynamic tension.

I didn't notice at the time that this is what the "father of modern philosophy," Hegel, termed "the dialectic": thesis and antithesis yearning for a transcending synthesis.  (Of course, disheartening in Hegel's system, the "synthesis" only becomes the new thesis that will inevitably call forth its own anti-type, and so on ad infinitum.   And in truth, to a great extent our fallen world seems to "progress" this way.)

Part of Alpert's vision of "the way things work" included Carl G. Jung's concept of psychological "projection."  In other words, "the pigs" were projecting  (and hating) their own repressed "shadow-side" onto the unruly, unkempt "freaks," while the latter were projecting their own unconscious (but hated) desire for cleanliness and order onto the "blue meanies."    The bottom line of this mutual-projection dilemma was that, really, on a higher level - if each could only get in touch with his own "wholeness" - the police and the hippies were so much alike they were essentially interchangeable!

 Now how does this sort of perceptual overlay - which I believe is becoming more rather than less widespread - impact our world today?

Try this on for size:  The self-styled "pagans" or new agers say that Christianity, because it believes there is a Satan, has produced its  antithesis in the crazy inversions of Satan-worship.  They would argue that both these outmoded forms need to be transcended in a harmonious return to pastoral Nature, where "evil" will finally be recognized as a humanly contrived myth.   Nor, I suspect, would their analysis change much regarding the latest "paired-opposites" of Christianity and Islam.  With some justice they would say: "Religion is the problem!"   Here, they would say, you see two "old-style" monotheistic religions at each others' throats - each one projecting "the devil" on the other.  Suddenly half the paper dolls are wearing burqas and the other half bikinis!   We need a transcendent synthesis "back to the Garden"!   (Is this a powerfully seductive line of thought, or what?)

Here's where I'm going:  The sudden intrusion of militant Islam onto the world scene may temporarily obscure the identities of the ultimate contenders in the "World-View Championships," but the final bout won't be between the Judeo-Christian view and the Islamic, per se.  The ultimate challenger to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not Allah but Brahman.  The personal God of the Bible and the impersonal "Universe-in-Becoming" of Hinduism will continue their clash on the battlefield of human thought to the end of the current scene.  One God is Real, the other a counterfeit crafted over millennia from behind the perceptual curtain.

This page will clarify contrasts between the two colliding worlds of East and West at their root level.  The following chart by Brooks Alexander and Robert Burrows, used by permission of the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, appeared in the SCP Newsletter -Winter 84-85.   (For subsequent publications see http://www.scp-inc.org.)

 

 

 

   NEW AGE & BIBLICAL WORLD-VIEWS

by Brooks Alexander and Robert Burrows

We believe that the emergence of "New Age" thinking is a developing historical process.  Therefore we need to continually observe the influence of this thinking in contemporary society and to understand its implications from a biblical perspective.  [The following] chart is intended to illustrate the difference between New Age and biblical world-views.  But it is also arranged to illustrate the internal logic and coherency of the world-views themselves.

Virgil correctly said, "We make our destinies by our choice of gods."  Our conception of God, the divine, or ultimate reality determines the rest of our world-view; and that world-view is fleshed out in our lives.  We are shaped by who or what we worship.  Thus, New Age and Christian conceptions of God are reflected in their respective perceptions of humanity.  When God is conceived as impersonal amoral energy, humanity is similarly conceived.  When God is conceived as personal, caring, and moral, so too is humankind.

From each of these streams of thought proceed further implications and conclusions about human nature and existence.  Thus, our conceptions of God and humanity determine how our dilemma is described and what remedy is prescribed.  Our conceptions of God are of vital importance because they shape our entire world-view.  If they are askew, their deviance will be multiplied in their extensions.  If they are true, other elements will more likely fall into place.  If we see God as he is, we will see ourselves as we are.  If we do not see God clearly, we will see nothing clearly, including ourselves.

 

             NEW AGE WORLD-VIEW                                        BIBLICAL WORLD-VIEW

God

1.Ultimate reality (god) is One and impersonal. Being One, it contains no distinctions, is undifferentiated, without qualities or attributes.   It thus unifies all dualities and transcends all values, including good and evil. It cannot be personal, since personality is a by-product of differentiation and distinction.  It therefore has no will and harbors no purposes. God is pure unmanifest energy, and the cosmos is the permutations of that energy, according to strict laws of cause and effect. 1.God is personal and has attributes appropriate to personality:  will, purpose, values, concerns, freedom, creativity, and responsiveness.  These attributes are reflected in all that God is and does.   All of God's creation portrays some features of his nature, but the highest aspect of his being -- personality -- is specifically displayed by the highest development of his creation:  humankind. 

God and Creation

2.God emanates the cosmos out of its own being.  The cosmos therefore is an extension of god, has the nature of god, and, in essence, is god.   There ultimately is no distinction or discontinuity between god and the cosmos:  All is one.   God is creation.

3. The emanations of god -- the cosmos -- are appearances which have only a limited and deceptive reality.   The full reality behind all appearances is the One, which does not allow particularity of existence in any form, by definition. The cosmos is therefore maya -- the play of illusion. It has a largely negative value insofar as we take it for real.

2. God creates the cosmos out of nothing.   God transcends his creation and is distinct from it. There is a radical discontinuity between God and what he has made.  The cosmos is not God and does not share his essential being.   It is subordinate to God, and God is sovereign over it.   God is not creation.

3. The creation is both real and good. When God created ex nihilo -- out of nothing -- he brought a genuine novelty into existence. It was neither God nor nothing, but something. The creation is now flawed and fallen.   Even so, it continues to display the imprint of its Creator and remains in God's sight "very good."  In the end, God will renew it, not reject it.

Humanity

4.Humanity also is not distinct from God. Human beings, like the rest of the cosmos, are in essence made out of god.   Like ultimate reality, they are reducible to pure consciousness, featureless and impersonal.    Thus, humanity too has no definite nature. Whatever nature it seems to have is illusory.

5. Human beings, therefore, like ultimate reality, have no innate attributes or inherent limitations. No particular values or functions come as a given of the human condition. Human nature is not fixed in any regard, but is protean and infinitely flexible.   All options are open. Humanity therefore has infinite potential. Human beings inherently embody all the power, knowledge, and wisdom of the cosmos, as well as its divine nature. Humanity is God.

6. Divine humanity has no limits and confronts no unbreachable barriers. Mortality is unreal.  Death is the final stage of growth; it resembles termination only from the viewpoint of the illusory, separate self.   Death is a process within the illusory cosmos and is therefore an illusion as well.  The impersonal ground of existence is deathless and unchanging.   Human beings, in their divine essence, are therefore immortal.   Ultimately, death does not exist.

4.Humanity is part of creation.  We share its reality and goodness. Human beings are constructed to provide for the growth and development of personhood, precisely because God himself is personal.   God purposely conducted the course of creation toward the pinnacle of personhood.

5.Human beings, therefore, have a particular design, which yet provides for individual development.  The limitations of finite existence are not chains of the spirit; they are boundaries which provide for the play of freedom.   The particularities and limitations of created existence are intended, designed, and blessed by God. This also means that human beings are distinct from God and subject to him. No created thing can bear the burden of divinity.   Humanity is not God.

6.In addition to the providential boundaries of created existence, there are further limits introduced by the brokenness of sin. Many of the limits we experience are the result of the curse that followed the fall (Genesis 3:14-19).  Death in particular, the predicted destroyer, raises a baffling barrier to the human quest for meaning. Death reduces our limited life to meaningless absurdity. Because its reign is universal, it nullifies hope and achievement.  Death is God's judgment on sin and is therefore real and inescapable.

Humanity's Link with God

7. Humanity's link with ultimate reality is based on the oneness of all existence and its essential unity with the divine.  There may be self-imposed barriers to the perception of this unity, but there is no discontinuity of being at any point. 7. Humanity's connection with God is through communion in relationship. The distinction between God and his creation permits an appropriate and fulfilling relatedness.   God created us for this purpose, and he endowed us with personhood -- his image -- to this end.

Humanity's Dilemma

8. The dilemma of humanity is a constriction of awareness. We have limited our consciousness so we do not perceive the One, but only fragments of it. Our problem is metaphysical ignorance.

 

9. The limitations on our awareness are imposed by various forms of social conditioning. From the beginning we are taught to break reality up into parts and pieces: good and bad, us and them, me and you, etc.    As we move into adulthood, these mental systems become more sophisticated, but no less divisive.   Self, family, nation, race, and "matter" all define illusory boundaries where there is only Oneness.

Reason and belief, in particular, are barriers to a true perception of the One. The fragmenting abstractions of the intellect must be erased and belief-systems that predefine reality must be swept away.   Those who preach the primacy of reason or belief obstruct the evolution of humanity and hinder the advent of the New Age.

10. When we see reality in pieces, the effects are numerous and negative. Subjectively we experience the anxiety and alienation of illusory separateness.  Division, hostility, and conflict emerge as alienation is projected onto other, equally illusory "selves," thus deepening and multiplying the mistake.  All the hatreds and miseries we see around us derive from the simple error of attributing reality to separate, limited, individual existence.

8.The dilemma of humanity is a broken relationship with the God of Creation.  Our primal ancestors were dismissed from the presence of God -- in part for their own protection.  All their descendants are likewise born into spiritual exile. We have made ourselves enemies of God.   We have lost the very relationship in which we were designed to find fulfillment.

9. The source of our loss of relationship with God is human rebellion, ancient and enduring. Rebellion, freely willed, has poisoned our gene-pool.   It is both our inheritance and our tradition.  Our inborn and inbred response to God is rejection: struggle or evasion, fight or flight. We continually turn our backs on God, not just with indifference, but with hostility.  The career of Jesus clearly demonstrates that if God lovingly plants himself in our midst, we will resort to murder to remove him. That is who we are. We are caught in a situation of our own making which we are powerless to unmake.

 

 

10. The nature of sin is rebellion.   Its primal and dominating effect is death -- an unnatural undoing of the integrity of life.  Sin fragments, separates, and alienates. It divides us from God and deepens our spiritual blindness. We begin by rejecting God's presence; we end by denying his reality.   Continually avoiding God, we soon cannot see him at all.    Sin also divides people, internally, against themselves. And, of course, it divides human beings against one another. It is useless to talk of humanity solving its own problems as long as it is infected with sin; for it is sin's nature to divide people and turn them against one another.

The Remedy

11.The remedy for our dilemma is to attain knowledge of divine reality -- the One.   Such knowledge is widely known and goes by many names -- gnosis, enlightenment, god-consciousness.   Whatever it is called, it represents a return to the source, union of dualities, fusion with the One, and transcendence of human nature to self-divinity.

 

 

12. The self is both the subject and the agent of enlightenment.   Self-realization, as enlightenment is sometimes known, is precisely that -- knowledge of the self, by the self.  Yet the self, as ego or persona, is also the source of the problem.   It must be undone so the Superself -- the One -- may emerge and be known. Awareness of the One is accessible only to those who can step outside ordinary modes of perception into altered states of consciousness which dispel the illusory boundaries of individual existence.   Therefore the self applies to itself techniques of manipulation that finally dissolve its own existence.

If humanity is a cause and effect emanation of the One, the technique of enlightenment is first to control, then to reverse those cause and effects. The process of reversal will be as mechanical and impersonal as the process of manifestation which it seeks to undo -- which is to say, totally.

13. The ultimate effect of union with the One is the dissolution of manifest existence in general and of identity and personhood in particular.   In effect, enlightenment repeals the curse of life by embracing the curse of death.  It undoes the structures of individuation by embracing the powers of disintegration.   It ends the alienation of personal existence by ending the existence of the person.   

11. The healing of our condition depends on the restoration of our broken relationship with our Creator. There are no techniques to apply, no procedures to learn. As the dilemma is personal and relational, so is its resolution.  Healing is initiated by the choice of God and is accepted by the choice of human beings.   On the human side, acceptance of God's forgiveness is a turning or revolution. This turning is called "repentance," or metanoia. Repentance is simply acknowledgement of what was previously ignored: our creatureliness and dependence on God, but especially our rebellion and hostility against God.

12. Repentance is not the source or active factor of salvation. Salvation is a gift. Repentance is the passive act of accepting that gift.  The gift is God's reconciling love demonstrated in Christ, who bore our deadly hostility and rose to undo our due judgment: death itself. The gospel is the news of that gift, as an act in space and time.

The entire process of restoration is personal and relational, from its conception in the mind of God to its acceptance or rejection in the minds of humankind.

 

 

 

13.The ultimate effect of salvation is to repeal the curse of death by restoring our relationship with the God of life. When our fundamental relationship is restored, our personhood is properly based and becomes more intense and coherent.  The guilt and alienation of our condition are erased, but the basic structures of individuality are not lost or weakened. The purpose and import of the gospel is that the personal in humankind be cleansed, not disposed; restored, not rejected; strengthened, not extinguished.

[End of SCP article]

horizontal rule

 

Regarding the new age worldview's illusory "dream of the senses,"  I must therefore admonish:

It's God's Movie:

DON'T KNOCK IT!

 

 

 

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Copyright 2001 STORMWATCH all rights reserved.  stormwatch@bellsouth.net 
Revised: March 21, 2007.

Back Home Up Next