Monday, March 20, 2017

The Religious Connection

(Follows from Rationalising Religion)  
The Illusionist [3/3] (= Enlightenment)
" .. Everything's easy, .. when you know how." (~ My dad).

The Reveal :-
" .. To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle.  <..and ..>  The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield. [George Orwell, ~ "In Front of Your Nose", Tribune (22 March 1946) ] .. reminding us that we all have the potential to be nutters in a nutty world, prepared to do nutty things in the name of 'intelligence'..
 "Hey, dude. What'd Teach say about entitlement?"
"She didn't say entitlement, she said enlightenment."
"Whatever, .. "Do you know how to make one of those ears she was showing us."
"Don't need to.  Got a gadget knows how to all by itself.  Anyhow, it wasn't an ear, it was a bum."
"Yeah, .. mine's missing an ear too. "
"Hey, can it do more than look like a wog?"
< "..?? .." >
"Work of God."
"Yeah, .. lots of things."
 Revelation.  "The reveal" - To "make (previously unknown or secret information) known to others."  [Otherwise known as the Apocalypse. "Hey, folks! What d'ya know? It's Good-News Week.  Good is betterer than bad.  An' that means us!"]
 Ho, ..  hmm .. .  Of course, .. that presumes that the person to whom the information is being revealed will recognise it, and not be misled by what they *think* it means.  The trick, however is to read between the lines of all the displacements, metaphors, and symbols used to communicate, knowing that at their root - to some degree and in one form or another and often manipulatively, .. is a transaction of power.

"When *I* use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, whether you *can* make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."
If the listener doesn't get it completely, then it is only partially revealed.

Without getting the full picture we are heavily disadvantaged in this matter of  'the reveal'.  Despite Best-Effort getting shoved under our noses we can stay dummies all our life if we choose not to look, think, or see things as the communicator intends them to be.  - the point being that the light might illuminate, but it's up to us to do the REAL- ising.  It also presumes that the communicator is doing a competent job at their end.
["You can show horse to a Picasso, but you can't make it think."]

Of course we could be so clever that when the information comes along wanting to make itself known it's a shoulder-shrugging moment when everything just seems to naturally fall into place, and we say, "Well, .. just look at that!  They've been looking at me all along, and I nivver saw them."

In other words revelation is not something that wobbles in the sky like the Baby Jesus expecting us to go down on our knees before it. It's to do with *us*.  It's an *us* thing.  We even invented the word.  It is the cognitive condition whereby, through our own curiosity and a strong desire to know, .. through a conscious desire to connect, we actively make ourselves aware of our environment and make it real to ourselves -  science with its 'breakthroughs' on the one hand (for those with questions looking for answers), and 'religion' on the other for those who already have an answer. [And there is only one - which is that there must exist some deity /creator responsible for making real the existence and order of all things in the universe. Science and religion, can both rightfully claim light-bulb moments of the same generic "ah-hah" sort.]   (.. or google a wordstring .. )


In this small matter of 'The Reveal', religion has no copyright over science when it comes to real-isation.  Both involve a transaction between ourselves and our environment on a sliding scale of involvement mediated by our nervous system and our capacity for reason. Indeed, revelation (/realisation) is the essence of science in what is called, "the breakthrough" - the Aha (!) moment when the penny drops and you 'get it'.  It is also the condition that is not recognised by 'science' *as* science, because it is metaphysical and therefore bordering on magic (some might call it shamanism), but it is science nevertheless.  However it is quite different from the two-dimensional (if not exactly linear), testing-hypotheses, scientific-method sort of science that is popularly regarded as science, .. and even different from the "pushing-the-envelope" sort.  It is breaking through to a different understanding completely - a different 'dimension'.  When it happens, it's a cream of a dream (!),  the cognitive equivalent of the physical orgasm.  It is more 'knowing' than 'understanding' in the way that it synthesises previous experience to make it seem as if you have always known it, rather than (as with understanding) something that you have to work towards.
Know:- 1. be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information.
Understand :-  1. perceive the intended meaning of (words, a language, or a speaker).  2.  interpret or view (something) in a particular way.
And it is *of_us*.  Anything 'transcendent' (/'special') that may be read into it is merely us perceiving our reflection in the environment (narcissistic).

In science, this sort of awareness strictly concerns the things around us and the way that they are related.  Our selves are not an issue.   In religion 'transcendent awareness' is *all about* ourselves, in our relationship to those things.  Paramount in this manifestation of narcissism is - "the meaning-of-life".  The oft-mentioned failure to find any is simply a reflection of our self-centredness.

Of itself, the world has no meaning.  It is itself, and of itself, with no help from us.  It can be a place of excruciating beauty or not, depending how we choose to see it.  'Meaning' is just the overlay we put on it.  When we do find ourselves looking at 'meaning' we mostly do not realise that it is reflexive, .. and that the meaning is to be found in ourselves, more than it is in our surrounds. ["Beauty in the eye of ..." etc.]

The five senses are the tools that allow reason to operate.  Reason + 'sense-of-proportion' combine to form what is commonly termed "intuition", or the "sixth sense" - the one common to the other five, or more usually, "common sense".  This 'sixth sense' can be quite transcendental in the way it experiences the world, in the way we 'sense' things to be true, to have meaning..    To attribute meaning in life to some deity is to deny the responsibility of the self to get out of bed in the morning and find some - and discover that there is a difference between a living body and a dead one.  To ask, "What is the meaning of life" is like asking "what is the meaning of that stone", and to ignore the point that of itself (without context) the stone has no 'meaning'.  The 'stone' (or whatever) is perfectly and irreducibly explicable in terms of its own self in its environment with a meaning all to itself, but its 'meaning' (to us) is correspondingly REAL-ised (by us).

Common sense, with its 'sense-of-proportion', has a high quotient of reason, or rationality (ratio) about it - which is when 'JUDGEMENT' comes into play :-
1. the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions [man].
2. a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment [God].

See what happens when God gets in on the act? .. and how we turn the knife to ourselves in moments of blame, .. rationalise our failure of connection to the group.

In human affairs, in the communication of things other than the purely functional, there is the assumption that the communicator is revealing the meaning, and it is the communicatee who gets it wrong (/'misunderstands) but often it is the other way round.  The communicator botches the job.  so inevitably we get hold of the wrong end of the stick.  We presume that when somebody says something, that they know what it is they intend to say, and it is our job to comprehend it.  Well, .. in the first place it can be very difficult to say what we mean, particularly when it is an abstraction that is being communicated.  In the second place, "telling it like it is" can be offensive, so we hedge, we coast on diplomacy.  Thirdly is time.  We are mostly concerned with the purely functional of everyday life and don't have any time for reflection.  And particularly not for the careful construction of syntax that is necessary to avoid treading on others' toes.  Harmony and getting along (usually) trumps telling it like it is.

The mind is perfectly capable of interrogating and assessing the world, .. giving it meaning rather than have it give meaning to us.   Just ask it.  And if it doesn't appear to have an immediate answer then try asking it again later. It knows perfectly well of itself, whether we live in a Garden of Eden or a Hell of a Hole, .. whether life is affirming or not.  Any consideration by us that there is a 'deity' looking after us that has made us in His image (or in any other for that matter) and favours us over the happy denizens of black hell-holes is excruciatingly narcissistic and denies our capacity to explore and recognise context.  If we have managed to look into the mouth of hell with its fire and brimstone at the bottom of the deepest ocean it is not because any deity has fallen down on the job of taking care of us, it is because we have freely exercised our curiosity (sense, reason and purpose).  If  He was properly 'looking after' us, HE would have chastised us, given us up in disgust long ago and smitten us off the face of the Earth for being naughty to each other, and particularly for being bad to His own special project - the Earth, which, without us, would unquestionably be a whole lot better off.  As things stand, it is *WE* who have been looking after *Him* and giving Him oxygen for the last two millenia (at least).

..............   (Jesus, .. this is boring.  must fix this.) .......

Curiosity, meaning,  purpose, ..  The self-imposed mandates by which we freely (?) live our lives.

So 'The reveal' (seeing things around us)  real-ises context, context gives understanding, understanding begets curiosity, and curiosity begs for meaning, and meaning gives purpose. The world is not passively being revealed to us, we are actively revealing it to ourselves.  Once we know what something means, we include it in our arsenal of experience and can use it to purpose.  All following from the five senses + the sixth one (reason + intuition)

Sense of proportion lies at the core of the whole business of the human experience.  Its misuse, or more likely its a-buse - (or its absence?) -  allows us to skew reason and intellectualise ordinary common sense to suit our world view.  If our sense of proportion was being fully functional we would not fall for the nonsense we do.  Nor would we create it.

For example, ..  Monday's mundanity, .. Monday because it's the day after the weekend when almost anything goes, and mundane because it is such ordinary common sense that it hardly needs mentioning. ( And has been since antiquity) :-

1. You shall not murder.
2. You shall not commit adultery.
3. You shall not steal.
4. You shall not covet
5. You shall not tell lies.

Directives that are no more than ordinary common sense.  But for some reason they have been sold to us as biblical dictates, .. carved in stone and handed down from generation to generation over thousands of years as if they are words of wisdom distilled from some transcendental Shangri-la communicated by a higher power, and that if left to ourselves we are incapable of knowing.  Apparently Higher Power knows something we don't, .. possibly because in the past rape and pillage was carried out mostly in Its name.

But there is no denying that too often we do blame others when it is our fault so that some introspection is often required regarding personal behaviour, hence the need for parental guidance if we are small, or if parents are no longer around and friends seem to be turning their backs, then help from some "Higher Power" might be welcome if one can be imagined or dredged from wherever such comfort might be found - maybe from a hopeful belief that the order and beauty and the connectedness of things in the natural world must be the manifestation of some divine purpose of which we are a part, and if so then maybe Mr Power will be ammenable to consultation on a personal basis and offer us indulgences such as we might seek from a scalper at the gates of the worshipful game.

Imagination and belief are obviously not guarantors of reality, but they do serve a purpose if the world is getting us down. A belief in (and real-isation of) the inherent beauty and order of the world, and that we have a right to belong in it, can be a source of peace and a reserve of strength from which to address difficulties in our lives.

Some people with time on their hands get to thinking about this, and intellectualise it out of all proportion to common sense, and, after a lifetime of agitation and cogitation end up with a bad case of sanctimonious poses and papal stares, ...
 Fig.1.  The sanctimonious poses and Papal stares that go with thinking too much about the Meaning of Life -  a popular pastime from way back, particularly for those with time on their hands. [image source = wikipedia]
 ... justifying what lesser mortals know instinctively, that there is a time and a place for everything - even murder.  Or at least killing, whether premeditated or not.  Which is when we (might) realise that the above-mentioned bullet-point admonishments are not so much literal commandments of behaviour, as figurative reminders that as representatives of the human condition with a natural conscience, we nevertheless do have to weed it from time to time if we are to healthily survive the ravages that the lowest common denominators in our lives might inflict upon us.  [That bit about judgement again.]

To brand common sense and sense of proportion as the dictates of some 'higher power' to which we should surrender ourselves is a matter of personal choice, but by doing so we axiomatically and of necessity surrender logic and reason, which can leave us prey to wolves in sheep's clothing and funny hats.

Revelation occurs on a sliding scale of common sense (reason) and sense of proportion (feel).  Both allow us to evaluate our world in the context of experience and make adjustments in order that it should have better meaning than it did before.

Concerning this lifetime of agitation and cogitation ("sanctimonious poses and papal stares"), .. if you've ever been in the shop and had the washing-up liquid in the cleaning aisle remind you that you need to get some tomatoes, you'll know that the unconscious mind is constantly in reverie, assisting us by making helpful (contextual) connections.  Where no particular problem is being addressed it is just the daily working of the mundane mind, but it is the same mechanism at work when there is a problem to be addressed.  Answers mostly don't come when we keep worrying them.  Not good ones anyway. We have to leave it for a bit, and explore possibilities non-judgementally ('judgement' again).  The answer (if there is one)  will come, quite often in unlikely places.  It might not be the best one, but it will probably do.  If the answer does seem to be particularly good then it might qualify as a revelation.  It isn't hard to figger that after a lifetime of agonising, posing & staring, such an answer might strike like ninety decibels of the Hallelujah Chorus !   And later (in retrospect once things settle) seem as mudane as Monday.  And maybe even questionable.

It seems to me that all that's happening is that we're 'stepping outside' so to speak and seeing ourselves reflected in the world and in others around us - a kind of 'cognitive entoptic image'.

 "Oh wad some pow'r the giftie gie us
     tae see oorsels as ithers see us!..."
     It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
     An' foolish notion:
     What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
     An' e'en Devotion!

     [Read the original]


 And so with the GIFT, life comes to have meaning,  Self-knowledge is unquestionably a good thing to hope for, .. and a very sobering experience when it happens, .. and one which is not confered by any deity other than one of our own-self  ("get-real") - real-isation..

Orgasmic revelation subsides to Monday's mundanity. We are it, and it is we.  Manifestions of the so-called "driving force" that inhabits all things - 'life' - if it's living.  (God?)   ?It's just us?  Fashioned in < cough> our image?  That it? It's that easy? Is that all there is?  God is we and we are god?

"Force"?   Well, it certainly pushes us around.  We are like chaff in the wind when it comes to finding meaning.  But it certainly does not lie in the near-death experience of sniffing coke or m/ethylene exuding from the furnaces of Hell in Apollo's temple, (link to Delphi) or from sitting out in the desert under a lote tree in fifty-degree heat for a month - not according to rational people at any rate.

But it certainly ups the ante on the old story of Narcissus seeing his reflection in a puddle and falling in love with himself when you think of man also seeing himself as made in God's image.  In the painting below we have to ask ourself what the artist (Benczúr) is saying with all that black.  You could read it as Narcissus (good example of an eponym by the way)  wallowing in a selfie, except that going by his other paintings it was something that Benczur seemed to do all the time with his subjects to better highlight them - as many painters did then (so maybe black paint was just a fashion that allowed the artist belong to the club and we shouldn't intellectualise it too much.).


 Fig.2. Drowning in a sea of love. I am God and he is Me - "Somebody pass me my I-phone". No 'please' - just do it. [Narcissus by Gyula Benczúr]
 .. except in the passing maybe to ask ourselves if this is another aspect of Greek mythology about the meaning of life that has been written out of story since modernity got a grip?  For most people back then the only mirror available was a pond of still water.  Pools of water and light would have been fascinating for those who cared to consider the communication of messages from gods; once the light goes you are no longer 'there',  for example (.. meaning, ...??).

In fact quite a lot of meaning could be squeezed out of it once you start thinking about it, .. Narcissus there, ..drowning in the pool of his own image, seeing God in himself.  And his missus, condemned forever to have the last word, thus cursed with agency for turning him into a deity by irritating the HELL out of him.

So much for any "new deal", already old among Olympians.  They had it sussed already.

 NEW (Echoing)

 Fig.3.  Narcissus and his missus, .. Echoes of the New Deal:-  "Just look at me in my very nice off-the-shoulder wrap! If he doesn't get (it) up soon, I'm going to try for a Virgin Birth".

 And thus as polytheism gave way to monotheism... (Crikey! Look!  Even more undressed and not even a fig leaf!.) )  What's all this undressing about?.  Is this what makes it (/or not) sinful?  Should children be looking at this?  Maybe Reubens intended it be cut down the middle so the children could look at the well-dressed animals with their furry, hairy and feathered coats on the right ('right'), .. and the grown-ups could perv the swept-back, racy version on the left (/wrong).
 Fig.4.  The Transactional abyss of seduction. [Bigger pic here]

 The Virgin Birth?  Where'd they get that one, .. with Eve giving Adam a ribbing ever since the Garden of Eden flashing her lilly-white thighs and rounded belly armpit lifting breast just so and just look at her the hussy not even a blush and him the carnality cleaving his foot and tweaking his hair into horns and the Satyr in him powerful and rising strong and thinking it's on to a GOOD THING the squirrel there near enough nibbling his nuts and Eve reaching to give him the fruit of her virtuous body life forever after and him fallin' for it the old goat an' hur wantin' a place an' her wee dug there need'n a walk an' some buddy tae tak' it.

How did it come to a pass that by biblical times Mother Mary had to resort to VB (Virgin Birth) to propagate the Son of God?  Where was the father?  Was he dallying in a pool-house somewhere?  Why is Reubens painting them both with red hair? .. like Anne of Green Gables? Is it because the Garden of Eden was in the Middle East and because in biblical times redheads there were buried alive as compost, .. sacrifices to the God Osiris to ensure a better harvest?  Are we looking at a crossover of sorts from the poly- to monotheistic traditions?  It's not clear if this use of redheads was deprecatory or not but by the Middle Ages everything seemed to be back on track with redheads being much sought after for their "beastly sexual desire and moral degeneration".  Which just goes to show how everything that goes around, comes around.

And just in the passing we could wonder what the fertiliser might have thought of it once the first shovelful began to fall, .. whether it approved of the business plan, or whether there was a belated suspicion that it might have been conned by some low-life common denominator in their life..

Ah, .. this business of symbolism and displacement and the meaning of life.  Whose god is better than my god and why have one when you can have ten?  The ancient Greeks had it all sewn up long ago, so why ten steps forward then nine back?.  Well, that's a long story, but once upon a time there was this bloke in a garden, .. see?  (And no, it wasn't Lady Chatterley's lover.) (Nor Prince Charles checking his nut trees.)

Well, you can read about it in just about every bookshop.  Sometimes there's one by the bed if you happen to be on the move.  It's very popular among those who care to open it.  Most don't, and don't know what's in it but neverthless claim to believe in it, though it's not very clear what it means to "believe in a book", .. that it's full of goodly /godly things, I guess, when in fact half of it at least must be the most bloodthirsty, genocidal family history you are likely to find anywhere.

Despite two thousand years (at least) issues remain much the same as successive generations try to resolve questions of Culture and the Politics of Patriarchy and the Deity (What is God?), posed against the ("Oh my God!") practicality of women's issues -  the swamp at the Gate of the Meaning of Life, .. babies soaked in blood since the beginning of time.  Well, .. long before the Virgin Birth of the Baby Jesus at any rate.   Ask any Aussie Bloke what VB means and you'll get a right answer, but it probably won't be the one a woman expects to hear about "virtuous bodies".   But it will throw light on cultish and tribal behaviour, and the necessity for it in one form or another that is inherent in people's need to belong, either in thought or in deed, whether as harmless fashion, religious rituals, or genocidal tribal savagery.

...................  @@@@@@@@@ ...................

And so having navigated the Golden Rule, the Sanctimonious Poses and the Papal Stares, the Garden of Eden and the Virgin Birth,  we find ourselves arrived at the Aussie Bloke, and thus in a position to address Essential Theology and the Meaning of Life and Everything, and find it in the ritual of wall-to-wall weekend cultish and tribal behaviour, in the power and the glory, the ecstacy and the agony  in what has become known as ...


     (a.k.a.  ...the Worshipful Game)

     .. and (at last) what it MEANS to be a Stray Lion ..

     "...Thou shalt have no other game before Me.
     Thou shalt not do leather in any shape but mine
     Thou shalt not take the name of The Game in vain.
     Thou shalt remember to keep the Saturday Holy
     For mine is the spirit and the glory,
     The agony and the ecstacy,

 The park is the venue, .. clashing and trashing is the mandate.  For this is the turf of the Holy Ground, drenched in the sweat of gladiatorial combat where violence is surpassed only by the Wheel of Death, where groin injuries are revered as trophies of primal confrontation, where their broadcast on national radio attests to survival, where children learn the calls of brotherhood, misogeny and racisism. For this is the killing fields, the venue where boys are inducted into the hall of savagery, where the doublespeak of gender equality is exposed as socks to soup (well, yu no what I mean). This is where Big Biffy Blokes get their rocks off, scattering wimps'npink (who have nothing better to do than play with their sister's dolls), like chaff.  The lure of the leather, as deeply ingrained as vegemite, transcends all.  Its manifestation is declaratory.  Its meaning,  ... Blokedom. (!)

And so (at last) we have uncovered the Meaning of Life and found it in the spirituality of the Aussie Bloke and his passion for vegemite, leather and his "Ozieozzieozzie"  warcry, which, even when buffered from weekdays by religion and theology, probably have more rallying power than all the kalashnikovs and bodybelts that any theocratic Middle Eastern rent-a-clash mob can muster,

Thus deconstructed, the memes and themes of  The Meaning of life (and everything) are :-

 1.  Personal  and Spiritual.    (Because experience of the world begins with the individual.) This is all the life-worth-living, life-affirming things that range through the significant and the meaningful, the diffuse and the numinous to the transcendent, orgasmically sacred and truly divine, .. all related to the development of self-awareness in the matrix of belonging (for no man is an island; the whole being more than the sum of the parts etc).  Hope,  freedom, love and beauty and everything (in the eye of the beholder) worth dancing for. It is completing the circle, ..  the spiritual path, .. from nothing to nothing, with nothing very much in between once there is the severance of dependence from the mother, .. from others and to others and back again.  Make of it what you can, .. or will.  Work out what your values are and you probably find they are much the same as everybody else's, and that there is comfort and transcendent awareness in that.

 2.  Religious -   (After the weekend) (when the fun dies down).  This is the Monday-fication of 1 above, .. the formalisation of traditions and cultural mores and their codification in rules and regulations of right and wrong for the common good,  particularly for the guidance of those who have trouble with such concepts - just so we all behave ourselves according to acceptable norms and do like everybody else.  It's a bit lifeless, but ok as far as a professed creed goes if you have to tick a box.  It's a kind of formal acknowledgement of the requirement (if not the need) to sign the cosmic register , .. It is exactly the same thing as bellystuds, quiffs and fashions general if you happen to be that way inclined (or not if you're not), meaning you can subscribe to it or not as you like, but it doesn't exempt you from the fact of belonging. You might feel you don't, that you are some high-life special who wouldn't be seen dead at a football match or going fishing, but others might feel your highmindedness warrants you going in the bin.  So look out.  It's an edgy situation.  This is the domain of potential mob rule.  It can be to your benefit or detriment.  You choose, .. and enjoy the harmony and celebration of belonging, or suffer the ostracism of not, or of just being a bum indulging in the meaning of (your) life, and finding reward in the realisation that everybody else's is probably mostly a bit of a bummer too.

 3.  Theological.    (This is where things begin to get complicated) (and difficult) (and heavy) ... It's when for one reason or another the essential positivism of the free spirit and the connectedness with others seems to have been drained out of existence and the whole week (and even the weekend) seems like wall-to-wall Monday and you feel like it's time for a proper holiday.  A resurrection of the spirit, sort-of. You can do it to yourself by getting away from it all, ..

Fig.5 A proper holiday. Getting away from it all. Clearing the deck for a recharge. /Minimalist everything, while you work it out.

 .. or by flying to the Moon and playing among the stars, so to speak, .. or by getting somebody practised in the art of messing with the mind ("setting you on the spritual path") do it to you, or show you how. This is the shaman who will use various techniques to set you right.  You know the sort of thing, .. sitting in a chair and counting to ten, or sitting on the ground and folding yourself in half while holding your fingers just so, so that the 'energy of life' can circulate, .. and hoping that some of it will drop in for a visit.  If it's really serious he'll encourage you to talk drivel after singing a song.  Or you might be encouraged to whirl like a dervish.  But I doubt he'll get you to find a cave in a desert someplace and have you starve yourself near to death for a month.  The idea is to get rid of the blues, not suffer a near-death hallucinatory experience in a hundred and fifty degree heat, though if you're really serious he might actually pull the one on you where he falls into a trance and has you witness him having a fit and then telling you what it was like, .. frighten the daylights out of you so you think that maybe Monday isn't so bad after all.  These guys, once they've been doing it for a while and have it down pat don't worry about doing the near-death bit 'cos stilling the mind to the point where it nearly conks out is really risky-biz, particularly when helped by anaesthesia, .. like at Delphi where they used to get women to do it for them, just in case (which it quite often was) (the case), and just use some short-form mumbo-jumbo that they learned from others who had already been down the same route and written down what it was like ('cos getting that close even once could be one time too many and why would /should you when there was already a written account anyway?).

Later exponents would reasonably consider that there was no need for any repetition.  Firstly it might not work, which would throw doubt on the earlier reportage.  Secondly, if it did work and the story was the same then it could have calamitous results as everone tried their hand and exposed it for what it was, namely attempted suicide.  And thirdly, if it did work and the story was anyway different, then it would also throw the first report into doubt and cheapen it too.  Rather, abstraction and interpretation were called for, .. "more research", .. philosophical derivatives that could enhance the general story by providing symbolism and metaphor that could elevate ordinary dreaming (even if it were potentially fatal)  to portentous significance for whoever cared to be 'portented' by the portent.

Thus the portents, by claiming themselves to be the instrument whereby the 'dream' could be real-ised, came to usurp the authority of the charismatic returned from the (near) dead.

"Charismatic" because there's nothing like a near-death experience to make you feel more alive than you've ever been in your whole life, to make you throw off the doubts and the fears and the general angst - the 'monday-itis'- and give you a new lease of life so that it shows, .. like when you just come down from climbing Everest and everybody cheers.  People like it when you walk into the room, full of friendlieness, exuding the confidence of achievement, bopping like, "Yeah, man!", telling them what it was like in terms they want to hear.  Some of them even follow you around, wishing you would tell them more, and though there are plenty of opportunities for near-death experiences to go around for everybody, not everybody would like to try a preview first-hand.  It's not even very popular when the real-deal comes around, so I don't understand what everybody's on about, listening to this coot.  Besides, there usually aren't enough caves for everybody to try their hand at near-death, and though there are plenty of lote trees where the Earth meets the sky and sandwiches you in between, it's no fun being meat for a month - in stinking heat.

But it is the ease with which the gullibility of people can be exploited [heard later, see also.], particularly their natural inclination to guilt, self-recrimination and debasement that really seals the deal - epitomised in the  symbiosis between the 'helper' and the 'helped' when it deviates from the norm (). 219244

Now this is where we encounter the polarisation of the human condition, in the difference between (to put it crudely) the goodies and the baddies, between which there insinuates the matter of power and who wields it, which is when the spiritual and the religious get seriously mired in 'vegemite' - the displacements given voice by symbolism and metaphor).  And it really shows too once the charismatic (this time without even trying) succumbs to natural causes. ("So who's gunna walk into the room and shut everybody up with a smile, a wave of the hand, and a pirrouette (and an unlikely story) now then, .. eh?  Tell me."

Tricky one.  What was once religious and codified begins to splinter and fall apart, and requires the mailed fist of theocracy if all this codification connecting personal spituality to societal 'religion' is going to hold together.  It is not always easy to tell the difference between the theological and the theocratic.

 4.  Theocratic.

Enter the scribe (again) :-

 Fig.6.  The iron first of theocracy writes it down.  Studying scripture - the good, the bad and the moggie of the expanded human condition codified in scripture, .. while saying nothing about actually reading, but a whole lot about who the target reader is.
 Given that 'the fist' has no first-hand experience in somebody else's near (or actual) death experience, much is probably lost in the scribbling (and much augmented in its intent).

 And this is where it *really* gets out of hand in the "Government by God's representatives", as the flower of the Spirit-Personal gets cannibalised by the ogre of patriarchal theocracy in a kind of feed-back loop that ploughs right through religion and theology and shovels both out of the way.  Without embarking on a close study of the semiotics and syntax of original scripture it would be impossible to assess the theological v. theocratic intent..  The Koran, as Tariq Ramadan insists, is all so much a matter of personal interpretation that the massed dogwhistles of Islamic fundamentalism are as the Sound of Silence, for those who care to (not?) listen.

The Middle East is recognised to be the type locale for this but America runs a close second going by the importance of religion (not spirituality) in the portfolios of those running for office. But the emphasis is on religion of the leg-dragging, personal spirituality sort, not the in-your-face knuckleduster of theocracy.  Theocrats are those who are too enlightened for everybody else's good, particularly that of women, who, by their essential need for self-expression (bellydancing /being noticed /telling stories all night /buying up all the shoes and handbags in the shop, doing their hair while running for president), are deemed to be better employed at the kitchen sink (because the massed mercurial narcissistic reflections of God all say so).  This is where the lamb of your own life-affirming, spiritual best-practice gets subsumed by the tsunami of institutionalised religion, spitting hellfire and damnation and bullets-from-a-gun extremism (the one that's authoritarian, strategic and tyranical, cancerous and parasitic, deranged and corrupt, predatory and big on genocide), .. the one that's hands-on -heads-off as a way of promoting spiritual health, that will even insist on converting your cat to the specified religion on pain of death if it refuses, and say that killing is good for it because it (and you if you protest) are better off in heaven anyway, which (if you have been wondering), is where all those nice pink unicorns with wings live. [There is a vid. here where evolutionary biology is under pressure to dispute this.]

 In summary,

Spirituality -  the agony and the ecstacy ("the meaning of life") (Mon-Fri) / (Sat -Sun).
Religion -      its codification since antiquity, formally expressed.
Theology -    its intellectualisation by scholarly popes (thinking too much).
Theocracy -  its politicisation by powermongers (/splintergroups where everyone claims authority).  East - West, .. both know best.

People, Popes and Powermongers, ..  three consenting bedfellows mired in vegemite, with restless legs about to kick the lamb of personal spirituality directly through the goalposts of militant theocracy.  We hope.

The spiritual?  Put it back in the Personal where it belongs, and keep it there, out of the hands of theologians and theocrats.  And beware too what religious box you tick. If you don't, then be prepared for living under the boot as envisioned by Orwell.
 " If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever."  <......>  "We control life, Winston, at all its levels. You are imagining that there is something called human nature which will be outraged by what we do and will turn against us. But we create human nature. Men are infinitely malleable. "  ( ~  George Orwell, 1984, wikiquotes.)


PS.   ["17 Again" -  "Sweet dreams are made of anything that gets you in the scene."]  So maybe 'The Dreaming' *is* what it's all about, after all.   Maybe the 'reality' *is* just too hard.  Maybe that *is* the message, whatever medium is used to communicate it - a winged horse, a flock of angels, or the residue of holy spirit strewn on a bottlefield.  Life, .. "from nothing,  to nothing", .. maybe it *is* all in the dreaming, .. if it's the weekend.   But (wakey-wakey), tomorrow is Monday.  Is there is really only sand to build on?
 Fig.7.  Understanding Middle Eastern values ..  Just sand(?) to build on?  From the Levant to the Euphrates (the cradle of religion as it is mostly known from Abrahamic Dreaming).  (The meaning of life?)
 And while you thought Ireland was a fruit cake with its chucklebuddy sectarianism, zoom in for a look at the lote tree where you can sit for a month and have your near-death experience.  There's a package to cater for every jihadist while he wrestles his internal tensions to the canvas.

So why did the Abrahamic religion as we know it come to be adopted in the west, rather than, say, .. that of the local people congregating at the Menhirs of Stonehenge?

Well that's another warp in the weft of the dreaming that the scribe would embroider to amuse everybody once the sun had set, the camels tethered and watered, the stars stuck on the sky, the children put to bed, and the wobbly wimmin let out to answer his prayers.

 Fig.8.  Wimmen, .. One for each eye, .. Wall-to-wall, and wobbling in the sky like the Baby Jesus.  The mirage confronting every jihadi, making him  peevish and sanctimonious by irritating hell out of him as he contemplates his nose, the conudrum of the Meaning of Life and Everything, its attendant issues, and everything else that is hidden from obvious (secular) objectivism.
 [Reality check:-  Restorative justice -:-  Mumbo Jumbo restoring "peace among the ladies."]

(More? )

['Tribes' - It's all about tribes. ]
(The -isms of tribes - the scourge of African politics [and every other nation's as well).
['Patriots'  v. 'patriotism'.]

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