This morning I was reading Eckhart Tolle and walking around my background (Big trees surrounding a grass center), and I look up and notice that, our ancestors were lucky to have experienced nature in its expansiveness. While nature is still form, it forces us to come out of our me-ness and look at a world that exists without "me," and probably has given birth to me. It lets me see a perspective somewhat outside of my ego, to see how I am a whole-part of the universe, one blossom. The roots in my feet entangle and expand with other roots, and all at once I am back within nature, not going into it. I am blossoming from it, ego included. Call it nature mysticism, but it's a wonderful start for many of us to recognize who we are on our spiritual path.
When browsing the new age sections, whether in forums or in bookstores, I noticed a surprising trend: Me.
Sure, the ego appears everywhere anyway, but there's a particular emphasis. Self-love, self-empowerment. I definitely agree it's good to have some degree of self-love, but when flipping through all of these books I noticed another tend: Instead of exploring our 'self' through the eyes of spirit, we simply explore our selves to find a cozy spot to settle down in. Bluntly, it's just another escape from true growth. Instead we just find aways to bloat our ego even bigger than it was before. Instead of being self-loathing, we become self-gloating. We're ego-enablers, but not in a healthy way.
Now many a sage or teacher would tell you that the ego is a tricky creature. In essence, "I" am insubstantial, and this is terrifying. So I search and yearn for meaning and self-importance. Yes, maybe this is a stage of our spiritual journey, but I feel that a new problem today is we've created a spiritual-dead end for the ego to settle down in. Instead of pampering ourselves, why not love unconditionally? Love of all things, including your own ego, another object that arises in this grand universe. Love is. Being is. Ego is a part of that, but it is not the whole....
Sometimes silence is all we truly need in order to learn. And it's already there. Instead of running to escapes and building up new ideals, why don't we just listen? Why don't we just 'be' and not 'be for' something? How many new age books tell you that? Instead there is always purpose, mission, becoming. There is nothing to become. For once, just look at the world without labeling it, look at yourself without labeling 'you' anything. Just be aware.
Dennett's book is good. There's no working around that. In fact, his writing style is so lively written that I can actually feel the energy he put into the words, the desire for them to make sense and be as reasonable as possible. I think that's what I may be enjoying the most, honestly, over the ideas he conveys. But he does make sense, and the picture he paints is a very pragmatic one. Impassioned logic, I suppose. From his demeanor in the videos, this would not be apparent.
From an integral point of view, I'd like to believe Dennett is one of the most comprehensive out of the "New Atheists," despite the fact that Sam Harris isn't truly an atheist. There are times when yes, he reduces everything to the physical world, and yes, he doesn't necessarily address the deeper, mystical religious experiences, leaving many people like me wondering if there even is a good scientific, rational-based answer to them yet. (I'm not looking for an answer, just curious what they have to say about it... I don't think they'll find an answer). Harris mentioned this deeper, mystical state and related it to consciousness, but did not make a case against it, in fact he outright said it was elusive and not truly related to religion as a majority. Dennett doesn't appear to address it yet. What he does address is the mythical attitudes, their origins, and a call to question them, if for a moment. He proposes a means to view religion: aesthetically, like music art and literature. Things we appreciate and that enrich our world. He then asks whether the pros of this aesthetic view outweigh the cons (This is what I'm at). And that we must be daring, brave and mature enough to question it, to break apart the aesthetic piece.
In a metaphor, he compares it to music. He argues that by analyzing it thoroughly and critically, he is not going to destroy its value. Not anymore than understanding the science behind a musical composition destroys the beauty of the song. If anything, he hopes it will 'break the spell' on religion, and help us truly appreciate its place without blowing it up to such an unquestionable and blinding level. This I can understand is necessary, for the majority of the world's population, to undergo.
So, if he's writing exactly what the mythic-based majority needs to hear, and as carefully and comprehensively as he can, what's wrong with that? I don't feel that the new atheists are necessarily beating a dead horse and cashing in by repeating the story of past scientists and philosophers regarding religion. If anything, a rebirth of critique on the mythic world religions needs to be done in order to help "break the spell," which, for all intensive purposes, has not yet been broken.
If you're interested in him, here are some more videos:
I'm sitting in my living room by the back door. In the morning, the sun comes in through the back door and windows, in the afternoon it streams in through the front. It's nice being right int he middle. I sit at the living room table, and I'm currently reading:
Dawkins: The God Delusion Dennett: Breaking the Spell Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth
Coming up- Watts, Krishnamurti
I started The God Delusion. Dawkins writes eloquently, yet there is a verocity in his language that reveals an inherent emotional bias. Understandably so, he's writing in defense of reason, scientific method and a world where we do not need to strap bombs on our chests to defend an ideology. Yet, this emotional content clouds his judgment. He begins with the idea that we can, if but for a moment, "Imagine" the world without religion. Without suicide bombings and crusades. He cites John Lennon and uses him to enhance the metaphor and the mentality. It worked well, but I think it is not organized religion, per say, but humanity's inherent ability to seek and create ideology. We wish to make things known, to build castles of identity. We do this through science as well as through religion. The difference is, science is a deeper, greater more accurate 'version' of translating the world than old-age myth. To recognize this would be the most humble of acts Dawkins, or any other scientist could do. I'm not giving up though. It is his view, I don't condemn it or embrace it. Reading on!
Even though we may become numb to the outside world, our connection with it never ceases. The level of awareness and sensitivity we have to the universe, inside and out, is always present. This isn't even meant in a theoretically way. We never truly lose that boundless, vibrant state. We can always move beyond our boundaries because, they're not truly boundaries, not really. They exist, sure, and it's our own willingness, our own action of blockage, yes, but to move past them is as direct as moving your arm forward, opening your eyes, or, no, even easier: breathing. It's just there. Feel the air inhale, exhale.
It's difficult to describe it but, our sensitivity to the subtle bodies, including our own, is heightened when we are less inhibited by our own conditioning. "I can't feel this, I can't connect to another's soul, feel their emotions, No way! What am I, a sage?"
Personally I often forget about it, I drift back into a normal, bounded state of affairs. Where we must pick up what others think and feel by clues they give. Where we often hold up our personal fortress and interact with the world through a fence. Sometimes it's so easy to forget that's all artificial, and not realize that being open and boundless is actually a release from such heavy, convoluted mannerisms. It's already, always present. Your fear, your will, your "i" shouting in the night is the only act of refusal. Release, open, and swim a little in the river. For in truth, "simply being" is closer to you than your own breath.