Us vs. Them

In small moments when my daughter wants to sit with me, on my lap, and is not content unless her hand is touching my neck, collarbone, hands or heart – this is when I fully realize and remember why we’re here. What we’re meant to do. What we’ve been looking for.

Connecting with others, ourselves, and the world.

Things can be beautiful and fun in this life – but in these moments of beauty and exhilaration and lighthearted fun, isn’t there also a moment of connectedness? A sharing of yourself with others or the world? These amazing moments do not happen alone.

We are not alone, and we were not ever meant to be alone. Because we can’t be. We are connected already. We are one.

Our souls are ever searching, our subconscious on the alert, for any person, situation or community that we can feel this ultimate unity and the togetherness we crave. We may even sacrifice logic, reason and moral values in order to achieve this. It is a powerful subconscious drive within us. Propelling us to fantastic feats and also the lowest of degradations.

We need to recognize our link to each other and the world. We need to celebrate it!

In these tumultuous days, every time I see or feel an “Us vs. Them” story or directive, I know in my heart that at the core it is a lie. A pure, blatant lie that our conscious world has co-created with us. A lie meant to serve the Ego, the “veil” that separates us from the Cosmic God we yearn for, and that we may never recognize unless we tear the lies out. Tear out the lie of ‘Them.’

It is never “Us vs. Them.”
It is always “Us vs. Us.”

Belief in God… the three-letter-word

I’ve recently been trying to define my belief in God, or map it in some way, but it’s hard to describe. I’ll cut to the chase:

I think the subconscious is a direct line to God. I think the subconscious IS God.

I don’t think this is a sensational thought. In fact, I thought this to myself today and sighed in relief, as I think this is where I’ve been headed on my spiritual journey; finally, a destination of some sort has been sighted!

My own belief in God has been greatly enhanced and catapulted by recent readings from neuroscience and psychology, and also by physicists and other scientists who are trying to figure out what is this “cosmic background” that we are living in; what is “Consciousness.” And I naturally then start to wonder where the consciousness, raw emotion, ideas and imagination comes from. Within us? Without us? I personally don’t think these things originate only within ourselves… this only seems part of the equation.

I think it is entirely plausible that we are all receptors of God-consciousness and that every time we engage our imagination, feel emotions, and ideate, we are connecting to the ‘Cosmic Source’ – a divine source. I find that I am coming to the conclusion that ideas do not originate inside the bony, squishy skulls our thoughts call home: they originate through the subconscious, through the heart.

And that the heart – the spiritual, subconscious heart – is the receiver, the direct line within us of God’s divine force and intelligence.

I keep going back to the idea that the subconscious activity – as opposed to the conscious activity – is what is really driving the bus, and scientists agree. But we aren’t consciously aware of this. Why? Because we don’t have to be. We live in a biological world that has no biological need to.

Our brains are evolutionary wired to only tell us what we need to know to survive and pro-create, no more, no less. In this sense, it makes zero sense for us to know and feel all the subconscious activity that is going on in our brain. If we did, we would not function! Think about all the automatic processes that your brain is doing right now for you, and that you are not even aware: your brain is filling in holes in your vision in order to read this, your brain is automatically regulating your breathing to get your body it’s needed oxygen, your brain is creating quick, rapid-fire first impressions on my writing as you are reading this, most likely based on all your past memories and emotions in order to sort out if you should feel happy, sad, or upset – or whether or not to activate some kind of fight or flight response.

ALL of these things, and many, many more, are happening right now without you having conscious knowledge. And we do not need to know about these things, because if we had to consciously focus on them we would not have the brain function left to focus on other things, like building things, imagining things, thinking things, dreaming things….

We don’t know where our ideas or emotions come from because we don’t need to. We just feel them and think them, and they propel our lives.

I often think of ourselves as being suspended in a cosmic “soup,” within our machine-like, bio-computer bodies, and are permeable to the God-consciousness – the “God Soup” – that surrounds us. And this God-consciousness, or source, or the Infinite, or the cosmic background, or just God – whatever you would like to call it – is everything and nothing, all at the same time, continuing on into infinity, forever and ever and ever. This is how I think about God. And I think it possible we can access Him with our subconscious; that our subconscious can access infinity. A crazy thought.

When I think about God being ‘permeable’ it increases my relationship with Him (– or It, She, You, Me, whatever pronoun you prefer). God being permeable means He is more accessible – He is no longer “distant” or disconnected or omnipresent and omnipotent; what we think of when we think of an ‘infinite unyielding God.’ No – this is a God that we are co-creating with. This is a God that we are in intimate relationship with every day of our lives. This is a God that we are connected to. Permeable.

When I pray, meditate, journal, write, or do stream of consciousness writing, I feel like I’m connecting with something beyond myself. Outside of myself. And if I ‘go with the flow’ in this reflective state, I often activate my imagination. Here, in these creative thoughts or imaginative prayers, I find true passion, peace and ultimate love. God is not somewhere else; He is here.

And what is God but love – infinite, undefinable, no-restrictions love. The love that comes no-strings-attached. Feel it? Feel that love? God is within you.

***

When I define my belief in general terms, it comes down to two main thoughts that guide me:

  1. Separation is an illusion. This applies to all things: material, spiritual, God.  To tear down walls is to remove the “Us vs. Them” psychological prison so we may be more present and observant of our true connectedness.
  2. Live in love. Everything in love.

I’m not perfect, but I’m making strides. These two principles might come and go on my journey, but they strike me as the best guides that I have in this moment.

If I get a sense of “Us vs. Them” I know that the situation has been built on lies or untruths. If I am feeling that something is not being said or done in true, no-strings-attached love, I know it has been built on lies or untruths.

I am a seeker, and I will continue digging and seeking if I find untruths in my life and in others’ lives. Because we are all One in the Heart. Because I am You. Because You are Me. Because this is important. And the only way I think we can find these untruths is through the two steps above – nothing more, nothing less.

This is my obligation as a piece of humanity – my obligation as a piece of God.

In this way, I do not simply have a belief in God; I have a knowingness of God.

***

Thank you fellow heart-led blogger Mel at Mel’s Mouth, for inspiring me to write and think deeply about my belief in more distinct terms… Pushing me further down the rabbit hole 🙂

Flawed by Nature, or Flawed by Nurture?

I struggle with why and how a fellow human being comes to the decision to kill many others, go on a ‘rampage’ with a gun or other weapon, and cause this kind of deep hurt and malice.

I try to put myself in someone’s shoes, to work out what kind of motivations might meet me there, in a place so dark as to consider murder as the solution to a problem.

I wrestle with the concept that this kind of action is not only becoming commonplace in our “advanced” society, but – dare I say it – trendy. A trending way for the outcast, disgruntled, or misunderstood persons among us to express their grief, anger, or sadness. A way to act out. A way to be heard or known. Or perhaps they feel nothing at all.

***

How does a civilized world like our own create and nurture people to have them act like this?

It doesn’t. I think this is the problem. We are NOT a culture of nurturing, and I think it’s heading to our undoing.

In this day and age, when we think we are so strong and free and intelligent, self-reliant and confidant, I think it’s possible that this is a farce. An outright lie. That we, as Americans, act this way based on an early preconception in our nation’s history that we are powerful and don’t need anyone else to survive. That our nation is the greatest, that Freedom rings from sea to shining sea – without “handouts” or support from anyone else.

This false truth has trickled down into the individual minds and consciousness of our populace, and now we impart these ideas on a day-to-day basis as an integral part of our own self-concept. We promote ‘picking oneself up by the bootstraps’ as the end-all, be-all of the American Dream. We are told that if we work hard, we will be rewarded. If we persevere, we will prevail. Survival of the fittest. When we see millionaires, we believe them to deserve the riches they worked for – and if we see someone by the side of the road, with a sign held up asking for help, we think they must have done something horrible to end up there. Or even more common, that they are lazy and don’t work hard, thus they are getting their comeuppance.

Personally, I am coming to the conclusion that this is an outright lie; an illusion that has lodged itself into our brains and drives us to a hard-edged, patriotic culture. Where we are pushed out into the world to conquer it, or be conquered.

This way of thinking is not only detrimental to ourselves, but detrimental to humanity as a whole. It is a cold, calculating, logical way of thinking that removes the human-centered, “fluffy” emotions that are integral to how we think and act. When you are telling others that their feelings and emotions are shameful and wrong, you are devaluing their experience.

In many ways, Christianity and religion promote shaming. And as we think of ourselves as a “Christian nation,” we also shame and devalue others for how they feel or think that we don’t approve of.

We tell people that feelings and emotions are wrong all the time. The most pertinent and personal examples to me are the “cry it out” sleep training we parents are advised to do, or telling mothers that they spoil their baby by picking them up too much or nursing them to sleep. What are these things really saying? They send a message to the infant that we are not receptive to their needs; to their emotions and what they are going through. That we are not empathetic; only sympathetic.

Babies do not know they are being spoiled or that they need to sleep on their own; they don’t know the concept of self-reliance. (That is an ADULT concept.) Babies just want their emotions –their experience – to be validated, to be nurtured. To be comforted and know they are not alone.

As it is with our adult selves.

***

Gunman, I hear the news telling me to not acknowledge your name or your actions, as this would give credit to you and your “cause” or motives. That it would give you glory. But actually, in reading about you and others like you, if I read about you and your life, I feel deep sadness. I want to figure things out and make them right. How in God’s grace is it possible for you to kill others and justify this as a solution to a problem?

This is the kind of decision that one makes in a cold, calculating manner. A loveless manner. This is the decision from someone who feels unconnected and alone; someone who does not see things as human-centered. Perhaps someone who has been shamed for feeling wrong. Someone who feels mocked or belittled. Someone who has been ignored or kicked down, because they have been told they deserve it. Because we are sinful creatures. Flawed creatures.

I implore you: we are not flawed by nature; we are flawed by nurture.

In our free will as individuals, we are free to inflict harm on others. However, within us there exists a morality that guides us as to how to function with love and respect. A morality that must be nurtured. A morality that must be taught how to love. We need to witness it in the world, see examples, feel it in our hearts, if we are to act on it and live it.

We tend to imitate that which we see and hear in our lives. The motives, the thoughts of those closest to us, and the ideas presented by society. And our society is very bad at emulating nurturing, encouragement, and love.

If we tell others how wrong they are, inflict shame and guilt, but tell them to figure it out for themselves – or even worse, to ignore them – we are not nurturing our people. We are abandoning them.

What is abandonment, but another kind of death?

***

This kind of violence embodies desperate actions from a desperate person. And I desperately pray and hope that you know you are not broken; there is always a way to fix it. Our culture may not think so, but there is.

I pray for healing, love, peace and the care of humanity. We are ALL humans of unfathomable worth; I think it is time that we all acknowledge that and put our money where our heart is.

Love and Light to you all.

Lost Connectedness

What is the true meaning – the true purpose – of religion? To find God? To save yourself? To redeem yourself? To have a pathway to morality?

No, I don’t think any of those statements fully captures the main purpose – the real, subconscious drive that lights us up inside and compels us to seek and devote ourselves to any cause or religion. I think it might be more accurate that the main driver is connection.

Connection to God. Connection to others. Connection to this world. Connection to a higher purpose. Isn’t connection just love, as another word?

Again and again I am pulled to the belief that we as humans are inter-connected – a social consciousness. A symbiotic ‘net’ that for some reason does not know of it’s inherent symbiotic ‘net-ness.’ That we are operating in autonomy is an illusion, a conscious construction, because we are really ONE, subconsciously, in the heart.

It seems possible to me that each religion that we have ever seen is only trying to regain that connection. But I think the tragedy here is that because the religion is consciously created, and borne out of the conscious thought preconceptions (that we have lived and been programmed with for millennia) that presuppose that we are separate in the first place, they may be doomed to fall short of that which they ultimately strive for: TRUE connectedness.

True connectedness does not put up walls. True connectedness tears them down. Connectedness does not need religion. Connectedness is connectedness. It doesn’t need rules to engage. It just is.

In my heart I feel that the pervasive illusion of our time is this thought that we are separate. Separate in race, separate in religion, separate in nationality, separate in education, creed, in even morality.  Separateness seems to me a pervasive weed in our collective subconscious – our heart – that is always whispering in our ears that we are different, that they are not us. That seems to me an evil in itself, to use such a strong word. Who put this idea in our hearts?  Who pushes this agenda among us? How did the seed of this thought get incepted in the first place?

Perhaps we were once conscious of our connectedness, in a past time too far back for collective memory to fathom. But somehow, in some way, we’ve let this external world creep up and convince us that there are walls and they were always meant to be there. For our safety. For our benefit.

How can we take down these walls? How can we see the world and ourselves the way we ought to? Maybe we should ask ourselves what we are so afraid of, and then dive deeper into the pool. In order to keep swimming in the face of our insurmountable panic.

Human Context

I feel as if the internet is the wild, wild west of the modern era. Anything goes! Speak your mind! Offend people! Let off steam! Stake your claim! Get into duels! Express yourself! Dig for gold! Free-range thoughts!

I can’t be the only one who is getting a little weary of this attitude? Don’t get me wrong, the internet and the ‘free-range’ thoughts that are expressed and consumed by it seem great –  the immense commerce of ideas and information, how is that not exciting?! The information junkie inside me is revelatory in the amount of data that is available to consume. So-called free-thought. Or is it?

Recently I have been thinking about the online trend to increasingly ‘curate’ or personalize our internet experience. Don’t like that ad? Get one that is more to your liking! Offended by your crazy aunt bitch about Obama on Facebook? You can block her posts! Everything is moving towards cushioning us into our own comfortable bubbles of dogma. So much so that we are forgetting what it is like to have frank, honest and civil disagreements with other people who hold differing beliefs. I’m not sure if the online population has caught on to this yet, but I’m pretty sure it is statistically impossible to convert 100% of all people to one way of looking at the world.

We will always meet with a differing viewpoint. Always. I feel like sometimes there are people online who are actually offended when other people do not view things the way they do. Is this for real?

So how does someone get to the point where they believe their way is the only way? That a civil discourse on a topic that may be contentious turns into vehement hate-spew in the comments of an article? I think the internet is increasingly de-humanizing the exchange of ideas, so when you interact with others online you are missing a crucial piece of the context: the actual human presence. Sure, you see their name and photo maybe, and perhaps where they live, but does your brain actually humanize the avatar of this so-called real person?

In his book Mindwise, Nicholas Epley notes a study which highlights a huge disconnect in the way people think they will act in a certain situation, and what they actually do when faced with the real face-to-face interaction. There is a certifiable contextual element when you have real people in front of you, and your subconscious has spent millennia learning how to interpret body language, facial expressions and mood into a very human interaction. And now we are having to re-train our subconscious in translating the subtext of internet slang and emojis in order to complete our social transaction. I’m pretty sure that without the real person in front of us, our consciousness is not able to properly interpret and react the way it needs to, leaving us with a more or less empty encounter, devoid of real energy and exchange. An interaction that is mostly about ourselves and our personal agenda. Humanity removed.

I believe firmly that we have a social consciousness that is crucial to our ideological mindset and evolution, and without actual interpersonal interaction it is rendered useless. Unless we are somehow able to humanize these interactions? Is the internet stunting us in this regard? I certainly hope not, but this thought has moved me to build more in-person social activities in my life. The virtual version of such is of no comparison, and is indeed missing so much context.