On the Death of Soul and the Birth of Christ
This is not overly long for the sake of being long, but
rather for the sake of being clear and concise, and to at least point toward
But something's really been bugging me
In my pro-am status as a
theologian-philosopher-sociologist-economist-psychologist, I have been pursuing
truth since I was 14. That was 37 years ago. I recall
lying out on a friend's trampoline at midnight, staring up into the stars and
wondering how it was possible that anything anywhere ever existed. I wondered
what the purpose of life was. Unofficially but in genuine earnest, that began my
career. Later, I graduated with an official degree in the World's Religions and
went on to study with one of the western world’s first and foremost Hebrew
Christian mystical scholars, who asked me to carry on the tradition of his
My website is known somewhat immodestly as “GodsWebsite.com.”
For decades, I have been studying, reading, praying, meditating, examining and
teaching the nature of life and truth, of God, science, mysticism and the
interconnectedness of all things, the best I understand them.
Throughout all of this time, I have discovered many things, the important points
of which I have tried to lay out for you, my friends on Starship Earth, in the
1,200 pages that constitute this website.
And yet, there has always been a further, deeper question that nags at me in
the back of my mind or screams at me in the front.
There is something missing. The whole religion /
spirituality / confession / devotion thing is just not working.
Something's wrong. What is that something? What is wrong?
The wrongness manifests itself in many different ways. In a world full of
Scriptures, Sacred Places and Practices, we have holy
people, pastors, priests, shepherds, rabbis and gurus who appear unable to be
anything genuine, or at least anything that will genuinely matter. I need not
relate to you the endless litany of ways in which this world continues to teeter
on the cusp of apparent holocaust, if not indeed annihilation. Strange new virus
pandemics; global economic meltdowns; hotly disputed global climate changes;
wars going on around the globe…
We are torn asunder, ripped apart with an ever-increasing
pantheon of incomprehensibilities. The man who won the
2009 Nobel Peace Prize spent half of his speech explaining why he is
sending soldiers to the other side of the world to murder women and children.
(Be not deceived: that is the primary task soldiers in foreign lands
perform. Even the so-called "insurgents" are someone else's
baby boy...unless the mothers, too, have been slaughtered.) People all
over the free world who possess obscene luxuries by virtually any measure
(while tens of thousands die of starvation daily) yet
are so full of anger, hatred, sorrow and depression they find it inconceivable
as to how or why they should go on one more day. Many of them do not go on that
one more day and deliberately or otherwise commit suicide in hundreds of
The apparently useless church
The church is powerless to help. The Catholic Church spends most of its
energies either shuffling priests around so they can have ever-fresh children to
molest and abuse or figuring out which properties to sell to pay off the
hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements for allowing the child abuse and
protecting the molesters....The Pope in his so-called
infallible grandeur seems to find the greatest evils on the planet today are the
use of birth control and the use of God's holy name Yahweh in Catholic
liturgies, hymns and prayers. People who spent lifetimes in
spiritual living, in devotion to God, practicing (as society is so
excited to say these days,) not being “religious” but
being “spiritual”, so caught up in their own egos and
their own child-like need for constant approval, carrying on their own campaigns
of self-aggrandizement to impede the progress of anyone who might actually want
to make the world a genuinely better place. What passes for religion in so many
churches today is a prosperity gospel of having positive thoughts, the right
confession, the proper affirmation, or the right amount of seed money that will
get God and the universe to do your bidding. Sociologically, people inside the
church cannot be distinguished in any way from people outside the church.
Statistics for drug abuse, depression medications, divorce, child abuse, death
by suicide: the numbers for those inside and outside the church are virtually
indistinguishable. This is especially ironic because the word “church” comes
from the Greek word “ecclesia” which originally meant “to be called out, to be
called out from the maddening throng.”
The saints and saviors, the Torah, the Gospels and epistles, the Gita, the
Upanishads, Qu’ran, the Sutras: seem, ultimately, to benefit us nothing. The
books, seminars, teachings, trainings, retreats, and
so-called advances... seem to be without merit enough to really
address, to fix the human situation.
Why? What is wrong? What have we overlooked?
Have we missed something essential?
I do not exempt myself from any of this. Even after a lifetime of study and
meditation, prayer, service and teaching, I am not immune from the worries,
cares, frustrations and struggles of the mortal world.
So I ask myself repeatedly, what is missing? What is really going on?
What would be that magic element, the key to unlock the door and allow us to
really find “It,” assuming we can define what “It” is any more.
The reason most of us haven't found what we're looking for is because most of
us don't know where to look and we don't know what we’re looking for. We
wouldn't know it, so to speak, even if it was right upon us.
What is the missing ingredient? What would it really
take for us to enter... You know, the Promised Land, Utopia, the Second
Coming, the New Age, Peace on Earth, Good Will to All...whatever you want to
At 4:15 a.m. Wednesday December 16, 2009, I believe
the answer came to me. If it is not “the” answer, it is at least the clearest
answer I have yet had in terms of making my way to the elusive “It” that is
really missing, and that is the real purpose of this document.
Apparently history is useless
Now, a background in history seems to be of very little good. We love to
repeat stupid little adages because, at this point, that’s what the human race
has willingly been reduced to, at least those within the hyper-technological
marvels that we like to call “social networking.” I listened with fascination as
my wife told me that Facebook was clearly the wave of the future. I diligently
read the 200 or so “news feeds” the come across my desk every day and have been
doing so for about a month. What truly astounds me is that it reminds me of an
This husband-and-wife had been in marriage counseling. The psychologist
says to the wife “I have good news and bad news
for you, Mrs. Jones. The good news is, after
several years of intensive hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, past-life
regressions and sensory deprivation, your husband is now utterly and
completely cured. He is able to openly share all his thoughts, feelings,
emotions, hopes, needs, wants and desires. He is sensitive, supportive and
open to all of your hopes, needs, wants, desires and dreams.” He paused.
“The bad news is he has absolutely nothing to say!”
In our hyper-text enabled, instantaneous transfer of information world, it
occurs to me that people have, essentially, absolutely nothing to say. Those who
don't have anything to say simply repeat trite, perhaps true statements that
have been passed down as sage adages throughout the ages of man.
One of those adages that is so popular it has become meaningless is “Those
who do not study history are doomed to repeat it” Yet all of the countless
history books, courses and analyses of the events, the years, the decades, the
centuries and the millennia past seem also to merit us nothing – we are
apparently incapable of learning from the past. In part, this is because the
lessons we learned in the past do not necessarily solve the problems of the
present. This brings up another old adage: “as soon as I understood the game
they change the rules.”
Therefore, I’m well aware that there is not necessarily any advantage to be
taken in a review of history, so I will make this as brief as possible, but I do
think some context is absolutely essential to understanding.
So let's call it context
In pre-industrialized societies (basically before the time of iron smelting)
the people were indigenous to the land. Sometimes we call them pagans or
aborigines. They lived in a world that was utterly different from ours, not only
in terms of what happens on the outside, but also how they perceive the
world on the inside. For those people (fortunately, there are still some
on the planet, albeit in very sparse populations)
everything is animated; everything is alive; everything has a soul. The rocks
are alive. The trees are a living soul. The crows have an inner wisdom that can
teach us. Every plant is essentially an incarnate god or goddess that has come
to the earth for purposes of expression. Everything that happens to the
primordial mind is magical, mysterious and mystical, the manifestations not of
earthly powers, but of heavenly spherical predominance. Lightning flashes and
thunder roars because the gods are angry. The sun shines because the gods are
pleased. The crops died because a demon cursed them.
Personal responsibility immediately gets connected to this interplay of the
cosmos. We become the reason that God makes the sun shine and the crops grow. We
become the reason for famine and floods. We are a part of the magical,
marvelous, mysterious mysticism. Everything is alive and everything is soul. In
the indigenous view, when people die they have simply left the body. We still
offer food to them, talk to them, we can still be guided by them as they become
part of the pantheon of gods and goddesses, demons and
angels that both guide us and block our pathways.
Eventually, this view coalesced into a notion of human soul. The soul is, of
course, conceptualized differently, but the idea is essentially that we are a
living, spiritual “something” that comes from beyond the earth, inhabits a body
for awhile and eventually leaves. We are part of the magical mystery.
The body returns to dust, but the inner living soul continues
forever. Plato likened this to shadows upon a
cave, illumined by a fire; that this earth and all that can be seen here
(body) as just the shadows shining on the wall. The
real “thing” illumined by the true light (soul), lies
forever outside of our direct purveyance because of its one-step removal from
our domain, the earth.
For ancient eastern minds more attuned to the rhythmic cycles of a nature and
living in flowing, fertile river valleys where life was not nearly the struggle
as it was living in the Sinai Peninsula, knowledge of the soul's
trans-body nature beyond the body seems to have
existed almost from the dawn of human thought. At death the soul slips out of
the body, and there are ancient texts still available today that a priest would
read next to a dying person, explaining everything that they're going to see as
their soul leaves their body. The soul was so alive and vibrant, that as it
continued its journey, one of its primary decisions was to come back to the
earth and begin the cycle all over again. Another incarnation, another birth,
another life, another death - and then another reincarnation. So predominant was
this within the mindset of eastern cosmology that the real question for them
became not how to preserve the soul after death (which has been the primary aim
of Western civilization) but rather, what do I do to break out of the
entertaining and yet ultimately tiresome cycle of endless birth, death, rebirth
and re-death on into eternity.
The details, while interesting enough to have filled many books, are not so
important as the central point: that early humanity was utterly obsessed with
the notion of soul, that spiritual, eternal-beyond-mortality
essence within us that lives and breathes moves and grows. The soul, the
maintenance of it, what to do to protect it, what to do to make sure that it
will be okay now and in the afterlife became the predominant obsession with
human consciousness for centuries.
We will now in this “comprehensive" survey of the history of religious
thought, skip ahead to the present day.
The year 2009 AD saw the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the
publishing of Charles Darwin's “On the Origin of Species.” Most people have
never read the book and yet it is almost universally acknowledged as having been
the greatest scientific breakthrough of our time, revealing to us the nature of
evolution, and that we all eventually come from the same tree of life. Over the
course of the last 150 years, this simple book has turned into the spark that
has lit the forest fire which is our current predominant cosmology in western
/ industrialized civilization. Here everything has
been turned upside down. Matter, whatever it may be, (for certain mysteries are
still acknowledged) is now “known” to be the essence of the entire universe. All
matter and energy, being related to each other, were somehow at one point all
condensed into one specific place and time when there was no place nor time. All
of this matter and energy decided to explode somehow, creating the Big Bang. The
gases turn into galaxies, the galaxies turned the stars, stars spawned planets,
planets cool…the different electrons, neutrons and protons get together, they're
able to replicate their structures and before you know it there are unicellular
organisms, the unicellular organisms bind together to create multi-cellular
organisms... Eventually there were plants, amphibians
and eventually birds, dinosaurs, apes, cows, fish…and a few hundred million
years later we have skyscrapers, symphonies and the World Wide Web.
This Darwinian cosmology, and only this (at
least in America and regrettably, I'm not qualified to speak for the rest of the
world) is the only cosmology legal to even speak of to our children in
the public school system.
The central point is this: in the last 150 years, on an ever-accelerating
basis, we have witnessed the death of the soul in modern thinking.
We even call this Science, the neo-God of post-industrial
enlightenment. Consciousness itself is simply an artifact of matter that
happens to get together in certain ways so that the brain can imagine that it's
thinking. It’s simply an artifact of matter. Love is an artifact of matter: you
get enough electrons, protons and neutrons together in just the right way and
magically, mothers will have children. And because of natural selection,
children survived better if the mothers happened to have a chemical impulse that
made them care about their children. Those creatures that chemically happened to
be born without the mutation that made them care for their children tended to
There is no soul
I could go on, but my essential point is this: in this cosmology there is
no soul. There is nothing in you, say the post-modern philosophers,
scientists, teachers and many theologians. There is nothing in you that survives
death because all you are is electrons, protons and neutrons. Your apparent soul
(your emotions, thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams,
needs and desires) are all aberrations that bubble off
the face of billions of electrons and ultimately have no more value or meaning
then the click-clack of a clock pendulum.
Years ago, Time magazine published on its infamous cover “God is dead.” We
can now certainly put to rest the final illusion and state categorically that
the soul is dead. Peter Watson, in his phenomenal book “Ideas: a History of
Thought from Fire to Freud” gives a 700-page overview of the history of human
thought, those ideas which have most shaped our
society, who and what we are. That this book exists is
frankly a miracle to behold. To own a copy is an impossibly great joy. To have
the time to read it is to watch, in very short form,
50,000 years of human consciousness grow. It’s like one of those high speed
photography time-lapse videos of a flower growing from seed into blossom in just
a few seconds. Watson’s concluding remarks give the feeling of almost being a
postscript for his own life. On page 746, he writes (somewhat infamously)
“There is no inner self. Looking in, we have found nothing; nothing
stable anyway, nothing enduring, nothing we can all agree upon, nothing
conclusive, because there is nothing to find. We human beings are part
of nature and therefore we are more likely to find out about our “inner
nature,” to understand ourselves, by looking outside ourselves at our
role and place as animals. In John Gray's words, ‘a zoo is a better
window from which to look out of the human world than a monastery.’ This
is not paradoxical, and without some such realignment of approach, the
modern incoherence will continue.”
But you do not have to look to such scholarly works to find this notion of
soul, dead. As the prophets of modernity (Simon and
Garfunkel) have said, “the words of the prophets are written on the
subway walls.” So let's skip to popular culture. What
do we find? Two horror story motifs that are growing in popularity (to the
astonishment of the sociologists of the world, and yet it's no wonder when you
see the big picture):
- First, zombies. The living dead. Their bodies
have been killed and yet they live on. The only way to stop a zombie is to
obliterate it. Sometimes a crack shot to the head will do it, but for the
most part you have to utterly eliminate all of the zombie matter. As long as
the zombie's arm-matter is left
intact, the arm can be reanimated. There is no soul in a zombie.
There is only matter. Zombies reflect this growing notion we have of the
death of soul: we have lost our souls and we, too, are dead and yet somehow
we live. You can purchase a book called “Jane
Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” where this romantic classic has
been rewritten to include the essential and vibrant element of zombies into
- The second horror motif growing in popularity at an exponential rate is
the vampire. And though they look like different structures, the vampire and
the zombie are essentially identical: they are dead and yet they live. There
is nothing inside of them; they are only matter. When a vampire is
vanquished, it turns back to the dust it has always been and there is
nothing left. Today, vampires are going to high school. They are mating and
dating. They are fighting for the honor of their loved ones. They are giving
interviews and becoming rock stars. Just like the zombies
(and the soul-less society that animates them), they are taking over
The two horror motifs are here for a reason. Modern people, especially our
youth, can relate to them, for they know themselves to be the living dead.
Or at least they feel that way.
They have been taught so from the very first day of school and it has been
reinforced within them in a great variety of ways.
And since we are only dead matter,
all our solutions must come from the outside.
If you have a medical problem, in one way or another you will be diagnosed
with an imbalance of your chemical structure. In order to solve the
problem, you need chemicals from the outside. The cause for your
imbalance is a chemical DNA genetic predisposition. The patient lying in
the bed dying is only chemicals, and once the engine stops running there
is nothing left. Therefore, extreme measures must be taken to extend life at any
and all costs. We are born into a society where from almost day one we are
taught that the solutions to all of our problems lie on the out side, in
the form of some product we can purchase that will enable us to be happy because
we bought the product. Kids will swear that they can see the magic leprechaun if
their parents will only buy the right cereal. We buy the right chemical
compound and the horrid dandruff is fixed. The correct chemical can
eliminate the itch and the odors in our armpits, in between our legs and between
our buttocks. We even have magical chemicals that will solve the problems
between our very toes.
And behind our nose.
In alarming amounts, we are buying chemical solutions not just for diseases
of the body but for diseases of the soul. Remember: the cosmology says there is
no soul; only electro-mechanical interference from electrons, neutrons and
protons. Therefore everything that happens is going to happen to you on the
outside. Everything that matters happens outside of you. The people outside of
you that you connect with; the cell phone outside of you that you connect
through; the twittering and Facebooking; the car outside of you; the clothing
and fashion and music outside of you; government outside of you that will tell
you what to say, what to think and what to do; the entire medical profession
outside of you that will tell you what you're supposed to do and how you're
supposed to behave in order to comply with their edicts so that your body
matches those statistics which they will tell you are necessary in order to be
stamped with their good housekeeping seal of approval....
You can add your own several-hundred pages of examples here.
The point is this: the death of soul has led to a society that informs each
individual member of the necessity of spending almost all of one's energies
outside of oneself. We take trips to look at the outside world. We
buy TVs to watch the outside world. We project our thoughts and feeling
outside of us. We care about our external appearance. Outside,
outside, outside. We worry about our children; we worry about the color and
shape of our car. We worry about our finances and our jobs; we worry about
everything because everything outside of us is the only thing that
matters: inside of us there is nothing. We are zombies. We are vampires.
We are the walking, animated, living dead. A zombie need not spend time on its
inner world: a zombie only needs to find new things to consume. A
vampire need not spend time in introspection - it only needs to spend time
finding other victims to suck the lifeblood from.
And if you look economically at what the industrialized nations have been and
are doing to the pre-industrialized nations, you will see that a brain-eating
zombie and a bloodsucking vampire are the most perfect models you could ever
find for the current geo-economic-military-political
forces living on this planet. They are also most perfect illustrations for
what's happening to each of us and our children, and unless something happens to
stop it, to our children's children's children.
The Outer-Obsessed world
So much for the introduction
We have come to the essence of the problem.
The problem is, we spend well in excess of 99% of our energies on the
outside and virtually none of our time and our energies on the inside.
As we sit here and now, the overwhelming majority
of us spend the overwhelming majority of our time on the outside and
almost no time at all on the inside.
You might think immediately that's patently absurd – what about all the
self-improvement, self-help books, seminars, churches, The Secret, etc. -
clearly we are, if anything, too obsessed about our inner selves,
right? I would ask you to seriously reconsider that idea. Go through your
average self-help section of the bookstore. What you will find, remarkably, are
a series of tools and techniques to change your attitudes, thoughts and feelings
(which you could legitimately call internal work) with almost exclusively the
purpose being to manifest clearer, better and more advantageous results on the
outside! One book tells you what you have to do
to become a better spouse and have even a happier marriage. Another tells you
what you have to do to organize your time so you can be a more efficient
business leader. And here is what you have to do to orient your brain and you
thinking so that the secret of the universe will be unlocked and God, time,
space and dimension will do your bidding.
At best, self-help uses the inner as a tool to get
what we really want, which is always on the outside.
Even inside the church (and I speak from personal experience) the
overwhelming majority of the time spent in our Bible studies, in our retreats
and in our sermons is dedicated to the notion of enabling us to better manifest
the outside world. This is what you have to say to get the house by the
ocean you've always wanted. Here’s what you have to do to get the book you've
always cared about published. Do this and the music you've always wanted heard
by the whole world will be heard. Here is what you have to do in order to
harness your energies and become a financial success. One of the biggest
arguments I've ever had with my brother had to do with an Easter service at his
local Presbyterian Church, where the pastor's theme was (over and over and over)
the power that resurrected Christ from the dead is present to help you with
whatever problems you have in your life. Putting aside all of the theological
issues involved, notice that even the highest point that Christianity has, the
death and resurrection of Christ, its “raison d'être,” is here to do nothing
more than enable you to get that business deal worked out, to close that real
estate transaction, to solve your problems on the outside!
We do have problems on the outside world. I'm not denying that at all; nor am
I denying their importance or severity. What has struck me is that as human
beings, regardless of the existential nature of the soul, there are two paths
that we can go on. There are two aspects of everything: everything that is in
us, the “soul,” and then everything that is outside us.
If not dead, the soul is dying
Everything that’s in us, constituting our emotions, desires, our hopes
and dreams, our minds, our logic, imagination and creativity...all
of this is dying. Laying aside the existential
question whether or not the soul survives, who and what we are in this current
society, the inside world is getting almost no attention. If it
does get attention, it is only temporarily as a means to acquire
greater control and beneficent outcome in the outside world.
The soul has become at best a means to an end, never an
end in itself.
We are not nourishing that which is within us, and as a result it is dying.
We're spending all of our energies (or nearly all) nourishing the outside world.
Meanwhile, the paradox is that the outside world, without the impetus of a
healthy inside world, is also dying.
It seems to me that what's really missing, what the real problem is, what's
missing from the priests, the businesspeople, from the spiritual seekers...the
real problem a lifetime of devotion and study
cannot fix is the fact that even inside the best-intended of us, we are utterly
obsessed with the outside world and that due to lack of attention, care and
nurturing, our souls lie essentially dead.
The evidence for the death of soul lies all around us if
only we have the eyes to see it.
On the earth today, some 3 billion people live on less than
one dollar a day, adjusted for monetary systems, standards of living and
cultural differences. In most of the world today, working a full days’ labor can
earn you barely enough to afford one liter of clean bottled water. On the other
hand, some 4 billion people are living lives of relative prosperity and riches.
It is fascinating to watch, as we have gone through
the economic reset - (call it the great recession,
call it the minor depression) - people who are used to
making $50,000-$60,000 a year are now barely able to
survive (in their own mind's eye) making $30,000-
$40,000 a year, a hundred times more than the average wage earner on the planet.
Yet, not being able to have a brand-new car every other
year or not being able to afford whatever luxuries we want creates anger, hatred
and depression in us. Anti-depressant sales are through the roof in modern
America. People find it impossible to deal with setbacks in their lives. In our
technological age, the quality of what we have to say and the language with
which we say it continues to devolve. You only have to watch any given hour of
daytime television to see in full blazing high-definition color, right in your
face, the death of soul. People with cars, with homes that have hot and cold
running water and internal plumbing, people who have
obviously never lacked for a meal in their lives,
incapable of communicating except by screaming obscenities, wailing and
punching, requiring the presence of the bodyguards in order to keep the most
shattered remnants of civility from breaking into all-out war.
The death of soul can likewise be
found in our highest echelons, as people making $1 billion are not satisfied
until they've made $2 billion. The Senate and Congress seem incapable of even
the most restricted, civil discourse. Name-calling, shouting matches, anger,
hostility, gun sales through the roof...
Ammunition sold out coast-to-coast.
Clearly, you could fill hundreds of books with the
never-ending litany of what is happening to human beings who are a part of this
Once you see it, it is quite plain that the soul is dead.
The white-knuckle agony of cold-turkey heroin withdrawal
If you use in an external agent long enough, you lose the
ability inside your soul that the external agent mimics. This is a fact of life
so common that we actually overlook it. We have to overlook it in order to
maintain our ever-increasing wanton lust for the external world. If you sit in a
wheelchair long enough, your legs will atrophy and you will not be able to walk.
Use a spelling-checker long enough and you will no longer be able to spell. Use
a calculator long enough and you will use the ability to add.
One of the clearest examples I know is
opiate / narcotic addiction, whether opium, morphine, Vicodin Percocet,
OxyContin or the Queen Herself, Heroin. There is a
magnificent structure inside the brain that manufactures
magical chemicals (internally!) called the endorphins. This structure
exudes a very powerful chemical in response to anxiety, in response to pain or
threat, a response that allows you to deal with a whole host of difficulties
that come at you in life. From Wikipedia
polypeptide compounds. They are produced by the
pituitary gland and the
vertebrates during strenuous exercise,
consumption of spicy food and
and they resemble the
opiates in their abilities to produce
analgesia and a feeling of well-being. Endorphins
work as "natural pain relievers."
The term "endorphin" implies a
pharmacological activity (analogous to the activity
corticosteroid category of biochemicals) as opposed
to a specific chemical formulation. It consists of two
parts: endo- and -orphin; these are short
forms of the words endogenous and morphine,
intended to mean "a morphine-like substance originating
from within the body."
The term endorphin rush has
been adopted in popular speech to refer to feelings of
exhilaration brought on by pain, danger, or other forms
supposedly due to the influence of endorphins. When a
nerve impulse reaches the spinal cord, endorphins are
released which prevent nerve cells from releasing more
pain signals. Immediately after injury, endorphins allow
humans to feel a sense of power and control over
themselves that allows them to persist with activity for
an extended time.
The problem is, once you begin a regimen of external
application of opiates in any form, the body tells itself it no longer needs to
produce endorphins. The opiates mimic the endorphins. The body decides it’s
getting a supply from somewhere else and therefore does not need to do the job.
The internal world, in the presence of the external stimulation, takes the day
Once the external application of the opiate is stopped, it
takes nature five to fourteen days to begin producing the natural internal
chemical response. This is what is known by millions of people as withdrawal.
Whether it's using Vicodin for two weeks for a horrible toothache, being a
full-out OxyContin injector or mainlining heroin for years, the result (to
greater and lesser degree) is always the same: pain, tremors, cold, shakes,
insomnia, vomiting and diarrhea as the body goes through the horrid process of
being weaned off the external supply it has so relied upon and tries to
kick-start the internal production of these precious chemicals, while the
entire factory has been shut down and the door locked.
I'm not the only one to observe that modern society is
acting like a heroin addict going through white-knuckled cold turkey withdrawal.
We've reached a stage where we are no longer satisfied with just television -
now it has to be color-television, then satellite-color-television,
now it has been announced that by Christmas 2010 we will see the first
appearance of home high definition color blue ray 3D available for consumption
in your very own living quarters.
The heroin addict is never satisfied with just one fix; s/he
always needs the second then the tenth then the hundredth in ever-increasing
doses, until even the biggest dose fails to satisfy.
At that point, one of two things happen: either the addict
goes through withdrawal, or the addict dies. There is no third pathway.
Addicted to our ever-growing need for external stimulation,
we are now reaching a critical point where many of us are indeed dead. Dead
inside; dead to the world. Zombies. You can see it in their eyes as they walk
down the streets, as they perform their menial tasks, waking up to go through
the motions of one more day simply because they do not have the courage or the
energy to actually commit suicide. Those who are not dead are either going
through withdrawal or are still on the white mare in
the footsteps of dawn, continuing on the pathway of addiction.
Our souls are addicted to the
heroin of the outside world, and the ramifications are clearly drawn on
a one-to-one relationship with biological heroin addiction.
But what is Soul?
But what does "soul" even mean?
To flesh it out a little more (pardon the mixed metaphor) the soul, being our
inner state, is capable of love. The soul is capable of joy, capable of finding
peace, patience and kindness: all of these things and more, which have been the
signs of a great soul. Mr. Gandhi's title, “Mahatma” in fact means “great soul.”
A person who may be poor on the outside, as measured by material goods, and yet
his inner soul is great, full of compassion, of kindness, goodness and
Most of these attributes seem to be shunned, if not
outwardly disdained and derided, by a media focused on degradation.
It has been said that space is the final frontier. Some are
now arguing that bottom of the ocean is the final frontier because we know were
ten times more (they say) about what is happening in space than we do about
what's happening on our own ocean floors.
I maintain that the real final frontier is our soul; the
latent, potentially infinite capabilities of that which lies between our ears
and beats between our lungs.
But at this point, we reach a quandary. We really don't
know what life off the heroin of the outside world would be like. We are
somewhat at odds to even be able to speak about what the inside world is like.
But we do have clues.
Savants have remarkable abilities that seem to defy any
rational explanation on the basis of neo-Darwinian chemical interactions.
Astounding feats of mathematical computations; the ability to know the day
of the week any date in history, forward or back, falls upon; feats of
memory that are truly astounding; being able to hear a single musical
passage, remember it and play it back forever. And in what is known as an
“idiot savant,” this is truly breathtaking, for the idiot savants not only
show this incredible capacity for what could best be called miraculous
abilities, but with a mind that in all other ways is utterly crippled and
incapable of so much as tying shoes or telling a quarter from a dime.
We have dreams, but no amount
of dream analysis can tell you what dreams are. Why do we dream? What
is the purpose? What creates the images?
Today in the outside world, we have machines where we
push buttons, listen to blips and bleeps, record them and convince others it
is cool music worth listening to, but for a true musician, this cannot be
how music is created. Real musicians hear the music in their heads, inside
their souls, and then they do the best they can to explain what they have
heard to the outside world. History tells us that the great musicians of the
past heard their songs in their heads and projected them outward.
History also tells us that
the great saints and stages used to be able to memorize the entire Koran,
all the Upanishads or indeed, the entire Bible, verse by verse.
History tells us of the great savants who have a
glimpse of a revelation to an answer to an almost imponderable question.
History tells us of the role of creativity where all
the worlds that ever were or ever will be dance and breathe and grow on the
inside, in the realm of the soul.
There it is, a hint of the inside world.
The soul's capacities and untapped possibilities. Infinite potential not to
majickally manifest the outside world, but to grow the inner.
Life beyond the body
Several pages ago, we briefly discussed the history of
thought about the soul, from the primordial man who saw everything alive
including himself, to modern man that sees nothing alive,
especially himself. If we grant for a moment that perhaps the primordial
tradition has validity; that perhaps the religious view that there resides
inside of the human being something which lives beyond death...if
we can grant for a moment that this might be true, then the ramifications
of this death of soul become ever more significant.
The modern cosmological paradigm is that when you are dead,
you are dead. Turn off the screen – blankness. Nothing ever happens again.
However, there is a truly astounding set of data that indicates this is simply
not true. People have experienced and reported what are known as “O.B.E.s”
(out-of-body experiences) for centuries, where they suddenly see themselves
across the room or above their bodies, having an experience of being outside
their bodies. One step beyond these are near-death experiences, where people
have bodies that by every measure of modern science, are clinically,
totally dead. No heart beat, no brain waves, no pulmonary function whatsoever.
Some NDE people have been dead for up to an hour. They come back and
recount what are amazingly similar journeys.
If even one of the of the
hundreds of thousands and millions of reports of
ghosts, psychic abilities, out-of-body and near-death experiences are true, then
clearly that one genuine experience is enough to disprove the entire modern
modality of man being nothing more than mindless matter.
If the church is right, then what do we benefit, as Jesus
says, if we gain the whole world and yet lose our souls?
In this life, I have had a very real death-like experience.
I had lived in the same house with the same phone number, the same friends and
the same activities in the same surroundings for almost 19 years. Then, through
circumstances which are not germane to this story, I found myself uprooted. The
house that I knew was gone. The geography was different. I had essentially lost
all of my friends - I could no longer see them, meet with them or hang out with
them. In fact, every single object I owned was in storage for six months, as we
worked out the details of moving from one coast to another. It was death-like in
that everything I had done before, everyone I had been with, every material
object that I had known, every restaurant I'd frequented, every party I ever
attended, my car - every single bit of it was gone. Gone. And yet, I carried
something with me. What I carried with me was what was inside of me: my
thoughts, my dreams, my hopes and fears, my memories: everything that had ever
lain within my soul was still there.
If Jesus or the church or the Hindus or the Buddhists or
anyone who has ever had a spiritual idea is right about anything, then that
experience is very much like what happens when we die. The places we occupy are
gone. The people we hang out with her gone, or at least in exile from us. The
car, the stereo, the Xbox, the computers: all those things that we fight and
argue and scratch and exist for are now gone, and the only thing we take with us
on the next step in the journey is what we carry with us on the inside. If this
is at all true (and I maintain to the nth degree that it is absolutely the truth
of the universe) then our current existential situation, the death of our souls,
is a trillion times worse than it would be otherwise.
A life lived simply on the
outside, externally focused, leads to what amounts to the soul's version
of heroin addiction. When we lose our inner capacities, we become
shallow half-selves, willing to kill others just for $13 in change.
Without comportment, without civility, without decency, our individual
souls die along with society,
And yet, that could almost be
seen as the good news. The greater tragedy is,
having spent an entire life here with daily food, running hot and cold
water, living in relative peace, we do not take the time to harness the
soul within, the only part of us we will keep for a literal eternity.
Rather, we pour out that soul onto the altar of actual matter: the
electrons, protons and neutrons of our houses and cars, game systems,
big screen televisions, computers, boats: our stuff.
We invented a disease that
doesn't exist and called it the modern mechanical version of life. We
imagined the soul does not exist, thinking it to be nothing more than
matter. We then pour out our true, living soul on that which is really
only matter, and find that our real soul is dying. Our souls are
learning almost nothing of what they need to learn to continue the
journey through the ages. What could and should be a huge opportunity to
learn the inner graces is being squandered by an entire civilization,
literally pouring the soul out upon the altar of externalized machines.
I've said it before, and will say it
again: The real problem, then, is that we spend the overwhelming majority
of our time on what is outside; meanwhile what is inside is dying.
My wife and I are doing this writing the week before
Christmas 2009. It is especially easy this time of year to see the death of soul
and the worship of the external. Just look at the cold, empty eyes of people
wandering through endless aisles, trying to find something, anything at all,
some thing to purchase out of obligation. The
endless lights and the same stupid songs; meanwhile the inner being continues to
die. We sing “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” on the outside, and yet
having sung this for centuries, what have we accomplished on the inside?
There is no peace and precious little goodwill happening on the planet today.
A vision beyond
The Bible says that not only do we have internal abilities
(love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, etc.,
what are called the “fruit of the Spirit,”) but that
these attributes are in the place where God reigns supreme. This place within is
the Kingdom of God. It is also called the “pearl of
great price,” the only thing in the universe worth living for.
Further, the Bible says that the real mystery of the ages
and the purpose of all existence is the birth of Christ within you; that the
Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) seeks to live inside of you and grow in
you to the point of being fully formed in you. I said in my introduction to this
piece, I have been attending church and focusing on the world of religion for
some 37 years now, and never once, not ever have I heard a single pastor,
priest, or teacher explain that the real essence of Christmas is to
re-commemorate the birth of Christ with you.
The real purpose of your life is
not to be the one to die with the most toys so you can “win,” but rather
to have the living incarnation of God be your true soul. That, and only
that, is truly worth living for. At best, we can use our machines to
serve and help one another along the pathway, but as so easily happens,
we invert the first and the last.
I recently spoke with a friend who was suffering through
the pain of the loss of his mother. He was bemoaning the fact that she had
suffered so much physical pain and discomfort in her life, and meanwhile he was
celebrating the fact that she was the kindest, gentlest, most loving person he
had known or encountered, and he couldn't understand why someone so kind and
gentle and loving should have been forced to live a life full of such physical
pain. We all mourn in our own way, of course, but I could not help but be struck
by the profundity of his words. So often those of us who live in total luxury do
indeed lose our souls, and yet those of us who go through toil, turmoil and pain
learn compassion and through the pain, find inner waves of goodness and find
that which is truly valuable.
The Bible makes it clear that suffering is going to be real
and suffering is going to be present, but that we can learn from it. Whatever we
are suffering, whether minor or major, is not worthy to be compared to
with the glory which is about to be revealed. This is, to me, the single
most important verse in the entire Bible, Romans 8:18:
I consider that our present sufferings
are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Think of a third- grader struggling through his homework.
No matter how hard he has to work and no matter how painful the striving, his
efforts cannot be compared to the glory of being able to have the
knowledge and ability he is learning. What he is
learning will be with him for the rest of his life. To the other radical
extreme, the pain and suffering of dying, betrayed by all your friends, cannot
be compared to the glory that awaits.
Life is not meant to be pain and suffering, but life will
have its pain and suffering. Clearly we have been
ignoring God and the call of the Spirit, but we will not ignore our own pain.
That’s why pain has been called the greatest teacher. Through the pain of our
heroin addiction to the external world, we can learn to return to the garden of
the soul and prepare the manger of our inner being for the reincarnation of
Christ - God in the flesh.
That is my Christmas hope for myself, for my family and for
Some practical practices
I'm going to conclude with a few practical considerations.
Being thus far removed from the garden of our soul, it is challenging to even
imagine what a life lived from the inside would mean. If my thesis is correct,
that the real problem with all the churches, the saints and saviors and sinners
is the same, that we spend 99% of our time on the outside world and virtually
none of it on the inside world, what would our lives look like if we were to fix
things? What would life on the inside world be? What would matter? How would we
A full sketch of that is beyond the boundaries of what we
can imagine, but I'm going to give you some practical ideas you can do here and
now, should you choose, to get on the pathway of starting to return to an inner
Get a dream diary. Make note of your dreams every day.
Discuss them with a loved one. Write them down either on paper or on a blog
maybe keep a tape recording.. but somehow,
any way possible at all, take note of your dreams.
Your dreams are your most direct and immediate messengers from the inside
world. Review previous dreams; see the patterns and structures that repeat
over and over. Don’t just ignore them or deprecate them by saying “Oh,
it was only a dream.” According to the Bible, God spoke to people through
dreams, and He still does and will. It’s up to us to take the time to
Turn off your stereo; turn off your iPod, the radio and
the TV. Think about all the songs that you have in your head, and then
listen to the music inside of you. Pick a song and listen to it from
beginning to end, inside of your own head. Repeat this practice over and
over, working on things like turning up the bass so you feel more of the low
vibration inside your head. Turn up the highs. Make the music run faster and
slower. Listen to the music that is already in your soul, and then make new
sounds. Make new songs. Listen to what is in your soul.
Re-read the accounts of Jesus' birth in the Gospels of
Matthew and Luke, and see them symbolically or poetically as songs and
stories about the birth of God-consciousness, the Christ within you. Let
this season be a new beginning of real change, where you begin a conscious
effort to give birth to the Christ inside. Begin to see the 2000 year old
stories of Jesus as something that is not outside of you, only to be sung
about once a year, but allow them to take on their full meaning to be
symbolized and to reflect the birth of Christ within you.
Start with five minutes if that’s all you have, but
spend some time every single day turning your attention within. The simplest
term for turning within is meditation. Meditation is not thinking about all
the things you have to do that day or quieting yourself to prepare for all
of your external battles, but simply being quiet and finding the presence of
God within. Feel your soul. Smell your soul. You can start with noticing and
lengthening your breathing. You can start with noticing your heartbeat. Turn
within out of pure curiosity, to see what wonders and mysteries you find
there. Meditation becomes like a living, waking dream where you are going
into your thoughts and feelings just to know them for what they are.
Meditation allows you to smell your soul and experience the transcendent
miracle of your own existence.
Find someone to help, serve, care
about, who can never, ever pay you back, and do not let anyone know
you are doing it.
Realize there are two types
of prosperity: inside and outside. Find contentment, joy, peace regardless
of the outside, and cease your never-ending obsession with
rearranging the outside world.
Finally, as you go through your day, meeting and
dealing with people, try to see the world as though you are the other
person, looking at you. This is a higher form of a “walking a mile in
someone else's shoes.” As you are standing there talking to someone, imagine
you are in their skin looking out at you. This helps you to find their inner
world; their fears and pain, what motivates them act the way they do.
I'm not claiming that any of these techniques will, in and
of themselves, solve anything. But they can help us move out of our obsession
with the outside world and move us toward harnessing, developing and nourishing
the soul that lies within.
For though your soul may be sick
and though in some of us it may actually be dead
the true promise of the birth of Christ is that
death is never the end,
and there's always hope for new life,
resurrection and a real future.
Where God lives.