Monday, August 4, 2014

Neo Heresy

I do not know how to teach philosophy without becoming a disturber of established religion—[Baruch Spinoza]
To highlight the reality delusion associated with many neo esoteric beliefs I want to recount an incredibly horrific incident.
It concerns an atrocity that occurred just a few miles from my home in which a seven year old girl was brutally raped, her throat slit, set alight and left for dead.
In spite of the inhuman savagery the girl suffered, she miraculously survived, though now most certainly having to bear the scars of this unspeakable horror for the rest of her life.
And to add to the depravity of the act, it was perpetrated by a close friend of the girl’s family, someone she knew and most likely trusted unconditionally. Though someone who in a single hour shattered her innocence, and with it most likely diminished the potential of her young life.
However the real tragedy is that this is a far too common occurrence in a society having been the victim of centuries of brutal colonialism, savage slavery and racial oppression. Though now in post-colonial South Africa the former victims of past oppression are sadly brutalizing their own.
When looking at this particular instance of inhumanity logically and you do hold strong esoteric views, then you unavoidably have to come to some rather irrational conclusions about why this girl supposedly must’ve earned or even deserved her fate.
For instance if you believe in karma and reincarnation, then it must also be your view that what happened to her – as a consequence of your belief – had to be as a result of her past misdeeds. That is in this life but also of her past lives, and that she now must be repaying back some monumental karmic debt.
Or if you believe in personal spirit guides then they in their infinite wisdom must have orchestrated this monstrous event from some or other higher cosmic vantage. Perhaps it is so that the girl had willingly chosen this lifetime to learn her spiritual lessons through pain and indignity.
Or if you subscribe to the views of The Secret, that “You cannot "catch" anything unless you think you can, and thinking you can is inviting it to you with your thought”, in spouting this profanity you must be of the view that her conscious or unconscious thinking must’ve been responsible for bringing this cruel inhumanity upon herself.
Or if you are of the opinion that “love is all there is, all else is an illusion”, a quote by John Demartini a contributor on The Secret, explain to her that her horror is not really real, but that from a deeper perspective had been an act of love. And furthermore that the actions of the perpetrator were in fact not a vile and monstrous one, but motivated by some or other form of cosmic love which he had unconsciously enacted upon.
If these indeed are your views then my honest opinion is that you are not living in my reality, and particularly not of that girl’s, but rather in a sick delusional fantasy.
Though if you are of the opinion that you are not deluded, then you must be an incredibly cruel and unfeeling person for having had the gall to confidently proclaim that these are your views. What you therefore are implying is that at some supposed more consequential level, this poor girl had not been the innocent victim of human savagery, but at some obscure ‘cosmic’ level had deserved what happened to her.
Such attitudes are very real and unfortunately are significantly increasing with the advent of New Ageism. The real danger in these neo ‘spiritual’ views is that they essentially are escapist. For instance at a talk I gave in Cape Town where I spoke about this very incident, a prominent person in the city’s New Age movement attempted to defend the notion that “love is all there is, all else is an illusion” by indeed rationalizing it from Demartini’s perspective.
In defense of his ideology he intimated that, unless one takes mental heed of the event, it did not really happen at all from one’s individual perspective.
In his argument he literally equated the events of our lives to the fictitious events on a movie screen by indicating that, if a particular event was not captured on film, it then does not exist from the vantage of the movie audience watching the showing of it at all and thus is not a reality for that particular audience.
Quite frankly, this is the most inhuman argument that I have ever heard.
I say this because I always understood from my Judeo-Christian upbringing (not that I’m a Christian or Jew but an Agnostic, if anything) that one’s capacity to become conscious of the suffering and inhumanity around one and then to actively reach out to those ill-fated by circumstance, is the most consequential act of humanity one can ever show.
Moreover, it is imperative we fully acknowledge that the brutality of ‘humans’ are real and omnipresent and cannot be wished away or meditated into spiritual oblivion as is becoming the predominant view.
Rather it is incumbent on us to fully acknowledge that this type of barbarity takes place, being a scourge within humanity that must be bitterly fought against if we indeed are to collectively evolve to a higher level of being.

 Copyright © 2007 by Newton Fortuin

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