Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
(Here are ten forms of thinking which work against the optimal evolutionary emergence of life-positive, harmoniously creative, multi-dimensional human beings. Nihilism, obviously, is not a simple cognitive situation but a complex emotional, physical, energetic and social event with echoes in our ways of thinking. A person could be relatively emotional healthy and still use nihilistic thinking by habit. Or perhaps a person is individually enlightened but still uses latent nihilistic terminology in a purely pragmatic manner or out of deference to tradition or as a result of having personally built up a strong sense of meaning for this or that wording. Etc.)
TEN COMMON FORMS OF SUBTLE NIHILISTIC THINKING
1. PROCESSES ARE BEST AT EARLIEST STAGES
We all want to move toward more benevolent energy situations. That is why it is so insidiously strange when people start to think -- and then insist -- that we started at the "high point" and will inevitably reach the darkest, most meaningless place in the entropic void. What should we make of living entities who so casually remove the best possibilities of life and place them where no once can get them? That change is the enemy of life and moves only toward the End. This is not a strong sign of intellectual health! It is personal or cultural "bad faith" with life. It represents a lack of fidelity to the common purpose of all living processes. This idea that life (energy, creativity, benevolence, sacredness or deep meaning) starts out at a high and runs downward until an apocalypse or disintegration is a model of transformation which pursues the zero-point, annihilation, massacre, empty relinquishment. It is the alternative to a view which finds life as a potentially increasing quantity that depends upon effort, insight and active generation of new resources. Here are a few infamous examples:
the epoch-fleeing impulse which says, “It was better back in my day...”
the regressive political instinct which is desperate to get “my America back from these progressives”.
the myth of an Eden or an spiritually illuminated infancy or some other Golden Age from which we are fallen into strife and unnatural ways
a highly organized “supersymmetry” condition in physics, at the beginning of the universe, when NOTHING gave birth and the long, slow, downhill into apocalypse began... seeking the zero. The highly disturbed version of zero-seeking is the massacre, actively trying to create an apocalypse. The minimally disturbed version is simply feeling that life is a slide which starts high and runs low toward the end
the soul is complete at conception
Nature is originally pure
truth precedes and is distorted by lies
2. ABSENCES ARE PRESENCES TOO!
Non-thinkable notions such as "void", "emptiness", "nothingness" etc. may function as evocative short-hand phraseology but they also express personal and cultural habits of cognition that slide readily into an attempt to “produce unbeing in the mind”.
3. ANYTHING GOES!
The “real reality” has unlimited possibilities and no functional limits whatsoever. Anything is possible -- except impossibility. And without the social habits of, say, Biblical Morality, people will fall into chaos because underneath they ARE endless, pointless, valueless, unreal. People who say, "Reality is whatever you believe it is" are partly telling an empowering truth and partly affirming their subliminal feeling that reality itself is... meaningless. Nothing without a belief added to it. This is a way of believing that what cannot be believed is the root of all things. So close to sublime wisdom but also so close to the presencing-of-unreality-as-mind.
4. UNITY MUST BE ENFORCED!
Purity is strength. Imagine if the Nazis had believed that racial interbreeding was the means of creating the super-species? But they didn’t. Obviously. They believed in purity -- a narrowing, emptying, refining into insignificance of a living process. A preference for bleached, processed white flour and sugar of the soul. The idea of the dictator, even the dictatorship of the masses, is a variation of this form of thinking. One man, one vote, one president! But greater fidelity to reality always means more pixels. And a better, smarter, stronger conversation means not feeling like one person's monologue has to be enforced (present company, excepted, of course). And most forms of mental illness present aggravated variations of this need for ritualized, enforced purity of habit and expression. Once everyone joins my local church THEN I will start to accept people's differences. Allah is a totally abstract giant Invisible Fist in the sky waiting to unleash hell upon anyone who deviates from the one book's protocols espoused in the one prophet's voice. Narrowness is seldom life's method of success. This "thinking flaw" is connected to what Ken Wilber refers to as the chronic problem of quadrant reductionism. All reductionism tries to remove the material of life by concentrating into a single channel, a single origin, a contracted lop-sided distortion of reality which occurs in tandem with hasty impulse to enforce unitary models.
5. EQUALITY OF ALL VALUES
Integralites are well-versed in the critique of this flat-land post-modernism.
6. SKEPTICISM LEADS TO BAD FAITH
Believers act like nihilism is the result of not adhering to their beliefs. In reality the nihilism was the undercurrent of their beliefs all along, the desperate goad. And so believers have always lashed out against skeptics, cynics, investigators, mockers, etc. They say that this will undermine the confidence upon which their faith is based and lean to ruin. The have it precisely backwards, of course, but many people have a little believer inside them who always wonders whether this "modern climate" of doubt, irony and cynicism is a threat to the healthy play of faithfulness in life and spirit. This is a residual suspicion that unless we "plug the hole" with an irrational assertion there will be NOTHING MEANINGFUL underneath. So it keeps the basic belief, the belief in non-being, un-value, pointlessness, alive and well behind the assertions. But when this idea that enervating pointlessness is even an option erodes -- then we find that that "hole" was filled only with a positive and meaningful energy.
Don't try to regulate the environment... leave that to nature (no matter how much we are affecting it already). Don't get involved in the gestation of the fetus -- that's too important for mere humans! Don't try to tell GOD what constitutes a marriage... just leave him alone to hate fags. Don't let the "Westerners" and the "World" come into our little country and turn the people against our fascist theocracy! Don't let those Jews or Americans undermine our borders. Don't let the UN interfere in our gun laws. Don't let the Whitehouse tell you how to eat! Don't let those academics pervert our minds with evolutionary doctrine. Don't touch me!!! Get out of my space!!! We can all relate to this in various ways but we also know that it is usually through opening beyond our resistance patterns that we allow in novel creative life energy. When we exaggerate the danger of interference we use an idea to brace ourselves against the powers of life, innovation and vitality. We think in a way that supports malnourishment. That's thinking on the way to nothingness. Get your hands off my poison!!! But life appears to be nothing but interventions... weeds coming up through the cracks in the highway, bees drifting in through open windows, distant sounds reaching my ears and disturbing my sleep....
8. PLEASURE IS SUSPICIOUS; HEALTHY CHOICES ARE ARDUOUS
This one's pretty self-explanatory. Corrupt and archaic religions have traditionally opposed pleasure -- the life of the body. Laziness and social habits typically oppose, mock or grumble about any overt attempt to bring in fresh air, living foods, better drugs, exercise, etc. And all there is inevitably a form of ideation involved. The structure of the arguments against pleasurable and vitalizing activities is fascinating to observe. It is the shape of the logic which opposes the purposes of life itself
9. THE ULTIMATE SPACE IS BEYOND SPACE
Hyperspace? Before space and time? Multiverses??? While it is good practice to test the boundaries of the mind by entering into the uncanny borderzone where potentials proliferate indefinitely... we still can't actually think more space than space. We lack the capacity to think of space being located somewhere because we basically mean locatability when we say "space". Higher dimensions refer to greater complexities of variables... not to a much bigger box in which our paltry "everything" is contain. The temptation to envision this empty, impossible "extra space" is another way of letting nothing into the mind and placing it on a pedestal. The cult of non-being.
10. WE CAN OUT-THINK OURSELVES.
Although it is good to humble ourselves, empowering to know our limits & important to comprehend the relativistic nature of many universal processes we can naively pervert all this into a way of thinking which takes a stand outside of itself. All truth is relative -- even this statement! That's a fun loop but in order for it to be true we have to practice not being the person we mean when we refer to ourselves -- since we ourselves are making an absolute claim. It's just like saying, "Well, yes, but that's only how it looks to human minds..." WE are those human minds. And if we listen closely to casual grammar we here people slipping -- speaking about another place and time and if they were presently there rather than telling you about. Fine practice for our theatrical instincts but dangerous practice for our cognition. We are again practicing not being who and where we are -- replace our presence with a hypothetical situation.