Labels, Religion, and Falling in Love

Labels, Religion, and Falling in Love

Posted on Apr 22nd, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade

“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Shunryu Suzuki-roshi : Japanese Buddhist scholar & Zen master, founder of the San Francisco Zen Center Shunryu Suzuki-roshi (1905 – 1971)

I’m wary of labels… especially when placing them on myself.  The moment someone identifies with a label, I’m pretty sure they’re no longer in beginner’s mind.  I don’t mind labels to any great extent because I use them tentatively.  At its best, a label is just a way of looking at things.

I was criticizing a certain type of Christian in my previous blog post, and this is related.  A label is a way of looking at things.  And when one identifies with that label, it limits the way one can look at things.  Comparative mythology and integral theory is more interesting to me because they both allow one to switch perspectives.

I’m attracted to Christianity and to that extent I’m Christian.  But, to me, Christianity is a very loose network of ideas, myths, and cultural paradigms.  There is no one true Christianity.  Christianity is a confluence of trends that come from diverse cultures much of which predates or was concurrent with Christianity.

I’m also wary of hegemony whether of the Christian, perennial, or integral varieties.  I do believe there is a universal truth of some sort, but within that infinite specific differences.  Yes, all gods point to the mystery beyond but so do all humans.  Monotheism doesn’t negate polytheism.  The powers that be(archetypal or whatever) are as distinct from eachother as one human is to another.  When you consider all of the saints and angels and demons, its easy to see that Christianity isn’t essentially different in kind from Hinduism for instance.  Its more apparent in Hinduism how Monotheism and Polytheism relate.  To be technical, most modern world religions are henotheistic… which means they have a favored deity but still aknowledge the reality of other lesser deities(powers, spirits, angels, demons, etc).

For certain, all the monistic and monotheistic religions arose from and were largely based upon polytheism.  Whenever looking at different views, I’m often mildly annoyed and amused at how ignorant most people are of this fact.

Similarly, is the phenomena of conversion.  How do people know what they’re converting to?  There is a whole lot of biased interpretation in the conversion process.

As an example, I was reading of an agnostic lady who while on vacation visited a Christian shrine.  She had a vision and became a Christian.  I find this amusing because many shrines were built on pagan holy ground.  She saw a spiritual vision, but how does she know that this spirit wasn’t the ancient spirit of that holy place?  Just because Christians built a shrine there(possibly incorporating some of the pagan shrine) it doesn’t mean that this particular spirit converted to Christianity.  The spirit of that place may not give a hoot about Christianity.  Maybe that spirit likes anybody with sufficient devotion no matter what there religious affiliation.  Maybe the spirit was simply saying hi.  Furthermore, the shrine this lady visited had a statue of Jesus.  I’ve read before that the image of Jesus was based on previous pagan savior god-men.  So, which god-man came to save her?  Maybe it was Mithras and he was disappointed after she left because she didn’t sacrifice a bull for him.

She took an ineffable experience and effed it up with Christian theology.  =)  Now she is a Christian who filters the world through a theological lense.  She has gained something, but I suspect she lost even more.

But nobody ever said religion is rational… sort of like love.  Essentially, conversions is just a form of falling in love… and that goes a far way in explaining the insane things that some religious people do.  Its not accidental that a monotheistic religion like Christianity promotes monogamy.  God is jealous and so are his followers.  There is a difference between falling in love with a god and falling in love with a person.  Many people when they fall in love with a god become devoted in a way that is rare when they fall in love with another person.  Falling in love with another peson usually doesn’t lead one to deny the existence of all other people or else deem everyone else as evil.  Could you imagine if people treated their romances the way that many treat religion?  What if when people fell in romantically fell in love, they felt they had to deny their love for their parents and family?

(Here is the thread for this post at the God pod.)

Access_public Access: Public 14 Comments Print // Post this!views (229)  

2 days later

Domi333 said

marmalade,
it’s always been like that…have you heard about ‘our lady of guadalupe’ appearing on the hill of Tonantzin(trad. Goddess)?
and yes, spirituality is nameless, I once read a piece which said that the mother goddess appearing as Kwan Yin to Chinese, Mary to Europeans etc, she appears in forms common to the people living nearby…
I also think you touched on the ‘God is a jealous god’ topic…so then wouldn’t there be other gods to make him jealous? monotheism and polytheism are related…Allah was high God become only god, JHWH-God may have been El or Ea(poss. combination of both)
ahh i see now, we can express belief without being dogmatic and through different expressions, one loves one’s wife and mother just like one expresses spirituality on different levels and in different(sometimes contradictory)ways…
Peace

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

4 days later

Marmalade said

Howdy Domi333,

You’re a very new member of Gaia.  I’m glad you found my blog and responded.

I’ve read a little about the story behind ‘our lady of guadalupe’, but I haven’t looked into it much.  Have you ever heard of the Evil Saint?  I have a picture of him and I find him very fascinating.

As for goddesses, I most definitely feel there is immense connection with the Virgin Mary and all the other Marys.  I’ve read that some of the Black Madonnas in Europe were probably originally statues of Isis that were bought from traders.  The churches that bought them assumed they were statues of the Madonna.  Maybe they saw it as the Madonna because the imagery of the Madonna was based on pagan goddesses in the first place.

Yep about the El and Ea origins of JHWH-God.  And yep I think you get what I was saying about love and belief.

Blessings,
Marmalade

Nicole : wakingdreamer

12 days later

Nicole said

Ben, I think that we tend to be polytheists, really, even when we think of ourselves as monotheists. the important thing is to realize the unknowable God behind all the “gods” or knowable one God. it’s when we think that the God or gods we “know” is/are all there is, that it gets out of balance. cause that is just the tiny bit of the elephant in the parable of blind men that we can touch. love and light

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

12 days later

Marmalade said

Yep, right you are.  We do forget that there is an essential common truth behind all “gods”.  But we also forget that there is an essential common truth within all people.  When we’re in love(with a god or a person), we can become unbalanced.  We become focused on our love object and forget all else.

Song of the day:
Let the Mystery Be
by Iris Dement

12 days later

Domi333 said

What do you mean by the evil saint?
and also you just went into two concepts: deus absconditus(hidden god) from Thomas Aquinas…or deus otiosus(idle god) yet not hidden… then we have the closer active forces in the universe- relating to shakti(creative forces) in hinduism…anyways, as long as we experience whatever it is, that’s what’s important..
Dom

FastDart : Peaceful Arrow

12 days later

FastDart said

You guys rock my world. I am one in Spirit and remember that my source is always available.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

12 days later

Marmalade said

Dom,

Two names of the Evil Saint are San Simón and Maximón.  They’re also related to the Santa Muerte, a female personification of death.  Maximón is a combination of Mayan deities, Judas Iscariot and Pedro de Alvarado, the conquistador of Guatemala.  He represents evil, but he is also a protector of sinners.  As such, he is a favored saint amongst prostitutes.  San Simón is similar, but his name may be a reference to Simon the Magus.

These saints are revered by some Catholics in Central America even though they aren’t aknowledged by the Catholic church.  I’ve read about a festival where a statue of the Evil Saint and a statue of Jesus are paraded through the streets and then meet in confrontation… of course, Jesus always wins.  🙂

“as long as we experience whatever it is, that’s what’s important”

True.  Experience is the important aspect, but there is another aspect that motivated my posting this blog in the first place.  We need to trust our own experience over dogmatic interpretations and cultural expectations, and we must continually return to our own direct experience and question our own direct experience.  In doing this, we need to remain humble in our limited understanding and open to new understandings.  We must remember that our experience is filtered by unconscious assumptions and beliefs, that we’re caught in collective reality tunnels.

13 days later

Domi333 said

OK, I know a bit of Maximon, the mayans never totally abandoned their old beliefs, there was a lot of syncretism, an evil saint who’s evil yet protects sinners, that’s a strange paradox…then again the mayan and aztec gods weren’t pure god or evil they were powerful beings(maybe not quetzalcoatl, my fav.)

yes, experience is limited by all that…i think i meant that what we ultimately perceive to be true(although we may keep changing), after breaking through what we have learnt to believe, subconscious motivations etc. Buddha once said: With our thoughts we make the world.(and we are living in the world of our underlying assumptions etc.)
Ben, do you believe that ultimately most people are totally stuck in these ‘collective reality tunnels’, then ultimately how do we know what is really real?
the subjective perceived truth versus the objective reasoning

Marmalade : Gaia Child

13 days later

Marmalade said

BTW you rock too FastDart!

Okay, Dom..
“i think i meant that what we ultimately perceive to be true(although we may keep changing), after breaking through what we have learnt to believe, subconscious motivations etc.”

I think I agree with what your pointing at here.  I sense there is a truth to be perceived.

“do you believe that ultimately most people are totally stuck in these ‘collective reality tunnels’, then ultimately how do we know what is really real?”
 
I do believe we are for the most part stuck in reality tunnels, but I don’t feel it has to be a bad thing.  I feel there is something inherently good to the world even if I don’t fully understand it.  Reality is infinitely creative and will always defy the mind that attempts to constrain it with knowledge, but its a fun game to play anyways.  We don’t ever know what is really real.  We just can have experiences that feel real and we can have faith in our own experiences.  And from that we live our lives.  Mystery trumps all, but we too are Mystery!

“the subjective perceived truth versus the objective reasoning”

Simply put, I don’t believe those are the only two choices… nor do I believe that those two choices are entirely distinct.

So, what do you think of reality tunnels and the possibility of knowing reality?

Nicole : wakingdreamer

13 days later

Nicole said

hi dom! thanks for joining the God Pod! i can see it will be fun having you with us!

Ben, getting back first to your response to my comment, yes, you are right about getting unbalanced when we are in love… that’s what you see in “Jesus freaks” – i remember my Jesus freak days – and that’s what happens when you get lost in the gaze of anoher human being and you can’t eat or sleep, can’t work, can’t think of anything else but that person.

thanks be to God for falling out of love! lol

so, on to your dialogue with Dom. fascinating stuff here about the evil saints. the latin culture is so interesting around religion, with the Days of the Dead and so on… but i wasn’t aware of the evil Saints, reminds me of the movie The Saint with Val Kilmer, a modernising of the old British book/series, and this Saint’s past as an orphan preached at by priests at how they were bastard children of sinful women etc… anyway there is more than meets the eye to that movie, don’t know if you and Dom have seen it.

now, here’s something else new to me. reality tunnels… i do think that many people i know struggle to know what is real. first of all, the media are so all pervasive, and benumb and bemuse people in TV, movies, internet, gaming, newspapers, radio shows… these are not reality but webs of overlapping mental/emotional/spiritual constructs that inform how we think about and live our actual lives to the point that i wonder if we really “see” our lives or live them, or just sleep walk through them.

Marmalade : Gaia Child

14 days later

Marmalade said

Sweet dear Nickel,
 Yeah, we become unbaanced in love… but that is what makes it so much fun.  🙂  The “Jesus freaks” aren’t wrong.  They just need to step their love up a notch.  If they’d truly lose themselves in love Sufi-style, then there’d be no problem.  Superficial love of God makes God into a symbol of the ego.  Deep love of God transforms the ego.

And there is power in falling out of love.  For the mystic, this is the Dark Night of the Soul…. what felt so good, so right disappears… a sense of abandonment and loss, emptiness and loneliness.  On the human level, to really love someone means a willingness to let them go.  The sorrow comes from the fact that even though the object of love is gone love itself remains.  Its difficult to learn to sit still in the fires of love.  At first, we love God.  Then, we realize God is love, that God isn’t elsewhere to be loved but right here in our hearts.

so, on to your comments about my dialogue with Dom.  I haven’t watched The Saint.  But becasue you like it, I’ve put it in my Netflix queue.  So, I’ll be watching it soon.

Ahhh… something new for you…  lovely reality tunnels.  I think I probably first learned about them from reading Robert Anton Wilson years ago.  Timothy Leary coined the term, but it was RAW who popularized it.  There are many other ideas and terms that are simiar.  Maybe I’ll blog about it sometime.  It is a fascinating subject.

14 days later

Domi333 said

These reality tunnels, would they justify the interlocking of separate minds in the same stream? I guess, people who are close to each other tend to have a strong mental connection…
Objective and subjective analysis, rightly so would not be so concrete and distinct as only ways of seeing things, they both interlock…one needs to be subjectively experiencing something to look at it objectively(or the observer’s paradox, even though the observer can affect the subject)
There could be a possibility that we’re stuck in a plato’s cave-matrix paradox, yet even exiting the cave, would that too be real? defining what is ‘real’ and what is ‘true’ is not exactly constant, an anomaly can come and become the force for a paradigm shift…but it’s the way that we personally want to see things…
Would it be personally possible to traverse these reality tunnels and affect their comings and goings? or maybe I’m just getting a bit far out…

Marmalade : Gaia Child

14 days later

Marmalade said

Dom – All that you said sounds good to me.  Feel free to go as far out as you like.  If you’re familiar with Robert Anton Wilson, then you know that the out goes quite far.  🙂

Reality tunnels can be applied to almost anything. 

At its most basic, they’re the psychological and bio-sensory limitations of our individuality.  But you can step this up to include the social in terms of paradigms.  If you don’t take it any further, then its not anything too far out, nothing that goes beyond mainstream understandings of ‘reality’.

However, once you start considering how much overlap there is between the objective and subjective, you’re stepping into different territory.  If reality has a collective/consensual factor and if perception is an act of creativity, then reality tunnels aren’t merely something we’re stuck in, not just something that happens to us, not simply the limits of the way the world is.

So, there is the modest view of reality  tunnels that says that objective analysis and observation can allow us to see beyond our reality tunnels.  And there is the radical view of reality tunnels that says that even objective reality is just another reality tunnel.

Its not a matter of what is absolutely real, of what is the correct view.  Reality is about how we relate and the motivation that is behind our way of relating.  Subjective experience and objective analysis are both useful to the degree they help us achieve our goals in relating better to the world and to others… however we define those things.

Nicole : wakingdreamer

14 days later

Nicole said

uh huh, still making me pay for that Binyamin eh? lol well, at least i’m worth five cents!

 Yeah, unbaanced in love is so much fun – i just love totally losing it in my life.  🙂  I agree with you about losing self in love Sufi-style, that deep love of God transforms the ego. That’s my path!

And the power in falling out of love,  Dark Night of the Soul, been there last year with God, this year with ___, “what felt so good, so right disappears… a sense of abandonment and loss, emptiness and loneliness.  On the human level, to really love someone means a willingness to let them go.  The sorrow comes from the fact that even though the object of love is gone love itself remains.  Its difficult to learn to sit still in the fires of love.”

It gets easier. The first time I very deeply loved and let go, it really really hurt for the first three or four years.  This time, I was much better prepared so while there are days or hours or moments when it is harder, I accept it thoroughly so the fires pass through me. I don’t resist as much so suffer much less.

“At first, we love God.  Then, we realize God is love, that God isn’t elsewhere to be loved but right here in our hearts.” Yes, yes, more and more I know that deeply to be true.

Glad to hear you will be watching The Saint soon, just because I like it! 🙂 Thank you, and I very much look forward to your comments. I think I shall add mention of that to the God Pod discussion of the Illusionist, because it too is about smoke and mirrors…

Every day there is something new for me! But the reality tunnels are especially enticing. I must get more into Robert Anton Wilson, I keep hearing about him on the I-I pod mostly. Good old Timothy Leary, eh? If you do want to blog about it, that would be so cool and you know i will read, mark, learn and inwardly digest. :).

I agree, from the sound of them, they sound far from something to be “stuck” in, something that is gloriously freeing. Wheeeee!

 – – –

Comments from the forum thread:

Nicole : wakingdreamer  

Re: Labels, Religion, and Falling in Love

Nicole said Apr 22, 2008, 5:44 PM:

  Hi Marmalade,

Wow, this is interesting… 🙂 as having recently fallen intensively in love, I thought i should comment on this.

You make an excellent point about conversion being like falling in love, and there are also many things in life like conversion, for example joining a new company and being really excited about it, or doing the job you are used to and getting a whole new perspective on it.

I think that as humans we filter our experiences through our physicality, so we often interpret our strong feelings romantically when they perhaps are quite different, operating on a spiritual or mental or different kind of emotional level.

What do you all think?

Peace and light,

Nicole

 
  Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Labels, Religion, and Falling in Love

Marmalade said Apr 23, 2008, 2:42 AM:

  Thanks for the reply Nicole!  Ain’t love a funny thing?

As for conversion, Buddhism has an interesting take.  When the Buddha became enlightened, some of the Hindu gods(according to the Buddhists) showed deference.  In Tibetan Buddhism, some of the deities are considered to be converted from the Bon religion.

This makes sense.  In the ancient world, when a people were defeated it was assumed that the god of the people was defeated.  So, if a people were converted, they very well might see it as their god being converted… that is submitting to the power of a ‘greater’ god.  Conversion isn’t always through love.

Related to this, is a Jungian idea that I think I may have mentioned to you before.  Jung said that a person wasn’t genuinely a Christian until they had faced the pagan gods within themselves.  This is very intriguing… an internal conversion of archetypes?

Blessings,
Marmalade

 
  Nicole : wakingdreamer  

Re: Labels, Religion, and Falling in Love

Nicole said Apr 23, 2008, 3:23 AM:

  conversion of gods and archetypes! wow, that is mindblowing, marmalade. i will have to ponder that…. you always give me so much food for thought, dear friend.

love and light,

nicole

 
   

Re: Labels, Religion, and Falling in Love

Dave [no longer around] said Apr 23, 2008, 4:28 AM:

  Marmalade… “an internal conversion of archetypes”…
These 5 words are extremely important… and reflect the specific reason I have difficulty with Integral Theory. 

IMHO, Integral is too focused on evolution, and not transformation.  Evolution suggests a slow, methodical, concerted effort to develop new physiological and psychological capabilities for increasing consciousness and spiritual awareness.  I am not sure, but evolution also suggests moving up a hierarchy of archetypes… one to the other to the other.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Every being on this planet, has it within themselves, to “complete their evolution’ in an instantaneous transformation.  Some call it enlightenment, others born again.  Whatever one calls that… it is a transformation of consciousness… a quantum leap… rather than an evolutionary one.

Appreciate your thoughts.

Dave

 
  Nicole : wakingdreamer  

Re: Labels, Religion, and Falling in Love

Nicole said Apr 23, 2008, 5:34 AM:

  Hi dave

I’m not sure why you see integral this way. To me it definitely is more of a quantum theory, transformation kind of approach. Transformation is not always instant though. For example when the new testament speaks of us being transformed into the likeness of God it is something that takes our whole life and is not complete. Experiences of enlightenment that we have are states not permanent. That is why we are exhorted to work out our salvation with fear and trembling though we can be initially saved in the blink of an eye. The working through of that takes much longer.

Love and light

Nicole

 
  Negoba : A Simple Seeker  

Re: Labels, Religion, and Falling in Love

Negoba said Apr 23, 2008, 9:40 AM:

  I think the reason that many of us are here is that in a global society, crosspollenation of religious and spiritual thought is a fact of life. Dismissing other religions is just not possible for most thinkers anymore. This is probably why Integral thought is finding such an audience right now.

Similarly, we may see less and less traditional “conversions” but we will see more and more episodes of people falling in love with traditions that are new to them. And that seems ok to me.

I agree that “tranformation” or “diversification” seem better substitutes for the word “evolution.” Despite Wilber’s (sometimes reasonable) meandering about the Mean Green Meme, I still have suspicions of linear heirarchy. The word evolution itself implies linear, up, more, better, bigger. And it’s not that transformation doesn’t include that. It’s just that it’s that and more. Similarly, I wish the field started by Darwin wasn’t named “evolution” because that’s not really the best descriptor. Perhaps his “On the Origin of Species” is better, but of course that’s too many words and not catchy enough.

Enough rambling….till tonight

 
  Marmalade : Gaia Explorer  

Re: Labels, Religion, and Falling in Love

Marmalade said Apr 23, 2008, 11:26 AM:

  An internal conversion of archetypes.  I’m not sure what I meant by that, but it sounded good at the time.

As for integral, I don’t think that transformation and development need be opposed.  But integral does seem more focused on development because it can more easily be mapped.  Ultimately, though, development is transformative because each new stage is emergent.