Religion and conflicting loyalties

Monday, June 13, 2016

2:35 a.m. I’m ready if you’re ready.

You see, there is conflict within you, between your will as a being in your own right and your will as part of a larger being with what may be a different agenda. It is not a question of one being right and the other wrong, so much as a question of which level will you represent when you cannot represent both.

I’m getting the absurd analogy of federal government versus state government.

Not so absurd, and in fact illustrative. As an American citizen, you are subject to the federal and state governments. When both agree on goals and tactics, no problem, but when they disagree, you may be in a very complicated position with few good options and no one “obviously right” choice.

Joseph Smallwood and I explored this issue ten years ago, but we were looking at it simply as a means of explaining what brought on the Civil War. We weren’t thinking to explain our situation as conscious beings that are simultaneously more than one thing. At least, I wasn’t.

We don’t need to pursue the analogy here, but you might wish to consider that, just as the political problem in the 1800s was that people weren’t used to the idea of federalism, and had different reactions to it when they learned about it by living it – so, in your time, are you learning to think of yourselves as having dual and perhaps conflicting loyalties not externally, not in terms of politics, but internally, in terms of your obligations and possibilities as both soul and spirit, or rather as soul at one level and soul as part of a greater being.

Except that this cannot be something new. It isn’t equivalent that way.

The situation as such isn’t new, but your awareness of it is changing, and that in itself helps change the situation. The American decision that created a federal republic was not unprecedented in the world, either, you know. The medieval world order consisted of tangles of feudal loyalties, which could result in a given knight owing allegiance through different paths to both sides of a warring or conflicting situation.

I get the idea. In America in the 1780s, a new situation was created deliberately, and people’s awareness was forced to rise to meet it. Feudal obligations were complex, but did not necessarily extend to the humblest levels of society.

That’s right. America was about extending the relative equality fostered by New England communities to the larger polity – which incidentally was why blacks and Indians were excluded. It was too complicated for the white man of the 1700s to both extend sovereignty to the humblest economic class and at the same time continue to exist on slave labor and exclusion of alien (that is, Indian) ways. But this is just the politics that we need to avoid, lest it skew the discussion.

You have come to the place where you are forced to seriously consider religion as evidence, because if you are to reconcile two viewpoints – that of the individual as individual and that of the individual as part of the vast all-that-is, well – what do you think religious thought is?

Obviously in thinking about this, we are not “signing on” to any of the religions past or present that have attempted to make sense of the world (i.e. the 3D world and the non-3D world as a functioning system). If any of them represented “the truth” for everybody, it would persuade everybody and would become universal. The fact that none of them can be universal represents a frustrating and inexplicable fact to many adherents for whom it does represent the truth, and this as you know is the genesis for many a crusade or jihad.

But at the same time, it is an equally grave error to dismiss religion as conspiracy or delusion or fraud. That is not rational analysis, but prejudice and perhaps blindness. The wars fostered by religious fanaticism discredit the idea of  religion in people’s minds, and an inability to understand the experience that makes people firm adherents to religion renders some people unable to give any of it serious consideration, and – a third interwoven problem – the “religion” of science-as-the-only-valid-means-of-ascertaining-truth, carried well beyond its valid field of inquiry, persuades still others that “there is nothing here to see, folks, move along.”

So we need to investigate religious testimony without conceding to it the right and ability to define its meaning. At the same time, we need to investigate respectfully, recognizing that there is something important to be found.  But you do not come to this inquiry with empty hands! You bring to it the very perplexities and questions that make you wonder, sometimes, if there can be any understanding of life at all.

It is precisely your questioning attitude, which is a combination of personal experience and the testimony of others that resonates within you, that you bring to the table. But realize, as you do, that this is just what any religious thinker ever brought to the table! Only, your time has produced different facts, different ways of seeing, different people. And that’s how it has been every time a culture has broken through into new understandings.

You aren’t going to find a new “universal truth” in the sense of something that will be true for every person in every circumstance in every time. That doesn’t exist in these terms, only because the truth, like reality, is always greater than our understanding of it. Any statement implicitly suppresses opposite truths that nonetheless remain true. So, you can’t come to “the truth” any more than you can come to “the future.” But what you can do is find the aspects of truth that best match your time and condition, and this is no negligible task or achievement.

You are well aware of yourselves as beings living in the 3D world according to 3D rules and yet being something else as well. And many of you have begun to expand your self-definition to include the companionship of “past lives” – the strands that comprise you, with all their experiences, prejudices, pains, gifts, attainments, et cetera. As you have worked your way to greater self-awareness, you have expanded your definition of what it means to be an individual, so-called.

But now as you attempt to realize your place in the larger scheme of things, you see that this view of yourselves as individuals – even as very extensively interconnected individuals – will not suffice. Now you must account for other aspects of your psychic reality that have little to do with you as an individual and much to do with you as representative of something greater. And there we may leave off, for the moment.

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