Today’s Spritzophrenia Street is brought to you by the letter Orange, and the number Fish. It’s a wild, rollicking ride through what I’m currently reading, so lets get started.
The Laughter of God
I will argue that [science and spirituality] not only can coexist within one person, but can do so in a fashion that enriches and enlightens the human experience. Science is the only reliable way to understand the natural world, and its tools when properly utilized can generate profound insights into material existence. But science is powerless to answer questions such as “Why did the universe come into being?” “What is the meaning of human existence?” “What happens after we die?”
One of the strongest motivations of humankind is to seek answers to profound questions, and we need to bring all the power of both the scientific and spiritual perspectives to bear on understanding what is both seen and unseen. The goal of this book is to explore a pathway toward a sober and intellectually honest integration of these views.
First, I should explain how a scientist who studies genetics came to be a believer in a God who is unlimited by time and space, and who takes personal interest in human beings. Some will assume that this must have come about by rigorous religious upbringing, deeply instilled by family and culture, and thus inescapable in later life. But that’s not really my story.
~ Francis Collins The Language of God (Free Press, 2006) p 6,7
We now move from the sublime to the ridiculous – but perhaps the ridiculous can be spiritually helpful too?
I believe that people who have a good sense of humor are usually intuitive people in general. Show me someone who has no sense of humor, and I will show you a very stiff, boring person with no insight whatsoever.
~ Warren Shiller quoted in Romy Shiller Who Knew (Trafford, 2010) p 32
Could a sense of humour mark the kind of intuition that helps along the spiritual path?
You may have heard the recent news that the bones of John the Baptist have allegedly been found. Barth’s Notes has an amusing piece— amusing because of the language and feisty-ness of the Bulgarian officials, who it seems need tourist dollars. Hence they’re eager to proclaim authenticity. The evidence seems pretty flimsy to me, see Rollston Debunks Stupid John the Baptist’s Bones Claim.
Sorry Bulgaria, writing as someone who is open to the idea that faith could be a valid way of life, “faith” in the face of clear evidence to the contrary is not faith— it’s dogmatism and idiocy.
Speaking of idiocy, Insane Clown Posse’s track Miracles. Thanks to Marty Atheist Climber for alerting me. Mysteries do not prove impossibilities, especially when it appears we aren’t to try and figure them out. I do like some ICP, particularly Let’s Go All The Way, but check these lyrics:
Water, fire, air and dirt
F**king magnets, how do they work?
And I don’t wanna talk to a scientist
Y’all motherf**kers lying, and getting me pissed
Bahahaha! While perhaps it’s a metaphorical point they’re trying to make, it does come across as celebrating ignorance. Even better, today Marty tweeted me the hilarious SNL spoof of the song:
Eat, Pray, Lust
Following on from the allegations about Eat, Pray, Love
Sex between gurus and disciples is common, sociologists and other experts say. The New Yorker magazine reported in November 1994 that female followers of deceased Swami Muktananda, the man who made Chetanananda a swami, had sex with them. Many devotees later left after learning about the sexual allegations.
~ from here.
I’ve had this in my notes for some time. Now I realise Swami Muktananda is the one who guru-fied Liz Gilbert’s Gurumayi Chidvilasananda (formerly Malti Shetty). Another book in my current pile is a biography about following a guru:
All of the people whom [guru Paul Brunton, alias P.B.] had chosen… as his disciples were singularly favoured. They were to be at the center of the salvation of the universe. There could be no greater honor. This was a universe as simply organised as a boy’s adventure story. I found a similar atmosphere when I read Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings years later.
[P.B.] is not an egregious example of a false prophet. The story I have to tell about him is not an exposé in the classic sense, although I have nothing against such exposés. Tales by insiders of what really goes on in these cults are not only fascinating gossip, they are instructive of the kind of world this spirituality builds. … I was able to observe, especially in me and my father and in Paul Brunton, the clash, the romanticism, and the ultimate tragedy of these attempts to escape the imperfections of the human condition. I was a direct participant, and I did not escape its consequences.
~Jeffrey Masson My Father’s Guru: A Journey through Spirituality and Disillusion (Harper Collings, 1993) p xiv, xv
Things Mistaken for Meditation
Another misguided notion about meditation is that it’s about becoming enlightened.
You can’t become enlightened. It’s not possible.
You can’t become enlightened for the same reason that you can’t come into contact with Truth: you’re already here, immersed in it. It’s like trying to become human, or searching high and low for air.
When we search for enlightenment, we’re like a fish searching for water or a bird seeking the sky. Enlightenment isn’t something you can pursue. And, anyway, you don’t need to, because it’s already right where you are. Meditation is not about straining or striving for some special state of mind. It’s about letting our habitual striving drop away and simply experiencing what’s present before we make anything of it.
~ Steve Hagen Meditation: Now or Never (HarperOne, 2007) p 21
I’ve begun a very basic practice of meditation, after I get up in the morning. I’ve been quietly pleased with my progress so far, no doubt this is the ‘beginners luck’ that most new practices enjoin. Perhaps I’ll report back sometime, if this blog is about searching for higher reality it will pay me to occasionally record such things.
Which of the above tickled your buttons? Have a great day y’all.
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