TGU – animism and higher religions

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

4:50 a.m. I don’t know where you wanted to go, and I don’t have a firm hold on the thread of the argument you are developing, but I’ll trust the process as usual. You’re on.

The overarching theme is – What is life like as it proceeds without reference to 3D? The immediate process is, edge ever farther away from the familiar, hoping to bring you with us by heavy use of analogies and – mostly – pretty extensive use of sparking.

Yes. What is life if there is no 3D body living in 3D conditions?

And, more, if there is no “individual” in the way 3D life leads you to believe, yet there is a certain individuality within a larger community. That is, we will try to provide a sense of how identity exists and continues in the absence of a 3D anchor. It is the question (seen from 3D) of “How can there be a before-life? How can there be an after-life? How can there be a non-3D-life in the picture at all?”

All of it shedding light on the nature of 3D life, but from another direction.

That’s it exactly. Many people who have obtained a sense of non-3D life have not bothered to try to translate it into terms meaningful to others, largely because it did not seem to them to be of importance. In other words, their attitude might be summed up as Thoreau’s “One world at a time.” But there is no a priori reason militating against such description, and you never know who will be able to make use of what.

And besides, the questions interests me, and we have time and leisure to pursue it.

Of course there is the question of why it should interest you, or anyone, beyond idle curiosity.

Meaning (I take it) that there’s more here than meets the eye – and also that as usual I may have been prompted. Well, if so, it doesn’t matter. Let’s proceed.

Actually, it does matter. The importance of the argument is that it may provide context to your lives that can be sketched in no other way we can conceive of.

So let us begin by remembering that you – the “you” reading this, both in the singular and in the plural – are both individual and community. Each of you, and all of you considered together, and any grouping among you. Do you see what we are doing here?

I get that you are reminding us that the singular-out-of-the-plural, and the plural-which-may-be-considered-as-single are two alternative ways to see us, and that means within our individuality we are communities; within our community we are individuals. This holds true whether we are discussing any one of us, or any group of us, or humanity considered as all one thing.

Yes, although even that may not be plain to everyone. We advise that those who find the paragraph inexplicable or meaningless brood on it a little, to see if they can intuit the meaning that words do not quite convey.

It is the mistaken idea that any of you is as individual as your 3D bodies lead you to believe yourselves to be, that is the root of the fear of death and consequent non-existence. If you knew (with or without evidence, but if you were satisfied) that your elements preceded your 3D birth and continued after your 3D death, where would be the room for terror of non-existence? However, then another source of fear (and of inability to envision) arises: fear of judgment of what you did with your life.

Sure, I see that. And you seem to be saying that the advent of personal religion – what they call the “higher” religions – changed the nature of people’s fears.

Not exactly. They arose as much as a result of new perceptions, new fears. Adherents to an animist religion never doubt that they are part of the whole. They do not think of themselves as separate from the rest of existence, and so they see birth, life, death as natural stages. Which, of course, they are. Can anyone imagine an animist despairing that life has no meaning? That, therefore, death has no meaning? Could they feel as if they were alone in life, when every breath of air, every rustling of leaves, every fluctuation in the world around them was speaking to them and responding to them? Does someone who ingests ayahuasca as part of a religious rite among fellow animists think that any soul is separate, when the very plants speak to him, telling what they may be used for?

That’s very clear.

The rise of higher religions was a loss and a gain, as always. The Church of Progress [as John Anthony West derisively described this aspect of Western thought] notwithstanding, any gain in understanding in one direction is accompanied by – let’s say, necessitates – a loss in understanding in other directions. So the higher religions demonstrated and fostered individuality as opposed to community; this was both a loss and a gain, of course.

Now, if you see yourself in your individual aspect – as something somewhat divorced from your surroundings – you acquire a sense of responsibility different from the sense enjoyed by those seeing themselves in their community aspect. An animist seeing itself as a part of the intricate never-ending dance has responsibilities and potentials quite different from those of the ones who become aware of the internal world in which they are as distinct from others as their 3D bodies are distinct from others.

This is the mind of the black Africans Carl Jung experienced in the 1920s, at the very end of their existence as animists.

A little slower. You are on the right track, but – a little slower.

All right. What I just said isn’t wrong, but it over-generalizes. Some of the people he encountered were still fully animist, some were pretty individual – “mission boys,” so to speak – and many were fluctuating between the extremes, with consciousnesses that flickered like slow-motion versions of fluorescent tubes. At one time they would be more or less individual; at other times they would be part of a group consciousness, with individual mind all but submerged.

And this difference in mental world got confused with being a difference in race, leading first to colonialism and paternalism (not to mention callous exploitation) and then – in reaction, decades later – to an idealization of what they had been before contact with the West. This all misses the point, and renders understanding all but impossible, because it encourages political liberals to deny obvious differences, and encourages political conservatives to attribute superiority (as if this even involved superiority) to race.

Yes, I get this. And even the liberal position is a form of racism, in that it pretends that everyone in a given race (or even ethnicity) is at the same level, lives in the same mental world, in obvious contradiction to the facts.

Now if you look around you, and look backwards in time as well, you see that many kinds of mentality co-exist. Racial stereotypes are as overgeneralized – silly, almost – as in previous times national stereotypes were. “Spaniards are all –.” “You can’t expect that Italians will  –.” “Russians, Chinese, Arabs, Swedes [etc.] are all alike,” and so forth. The same generalizations come into play always when one is tempted to divide the world into “us” and “other.” Divide according to religious fault lines and you see “them” as superstitious or whatever it is you wish to disclaim in yourself. Divide according to mental habits, or temperament, or aptitudes or whatever criterion, and you wind up in the same place, doing the same pointless and misleading thing, dividing the world arbitrarily into “us” and “other.”

This habit may make it difficult for you to see the distinctions as they do exist, for to generalize that way is merely to create an new category of “us” v. “other.” Thus, you have “People who are wise enough, awake enough, handsome enough (said smiling) to read and appreciate the wit and wisdom of TGU,” and “Those poor unregenerate slobs who are incapable of appreciating the teachings”. After a couple of generations, the latter would be cast into the outer darkness, if not into hell or whatever would be invented to take the place of hell. Perpetual ignorance, perhaps. The wheel of samsara.

We get the point.

Some of you do, some of you don’t, and some of you reject it. Doesn’t matter, it’s on the record now.

This is going to reduce contributions to my Church of Superficial Plausibility.

With luck, yes. Now, we only made one point here, but it is an important one.

Seems to me you made more than one. But I get, don’t try to summarize, as that is each person’s job, which will seat in the martials. Till next time, then, and our thanks as always.


3 thoughts on “TGU – animism and higher religions

  1. Your view of “higher religions” seems very narrow. How does Buddhism, as a higher religion, foster individuality? It does not. Neither does it foster community. Instead, it is interdependent arising. For that matter, Hinduism as a higher religion is similar with Brahman is Atman. Also, to equate samsara with hell is a GRAND misunderstanding. Samsara is nirvana, if you get the point.

  2. What a “coincidence”.

    I’ve recently started reading about an ancient community of 60 people who lived in harmony with nature and each other. The wind, trees, animals, etc sang and talked with them. They never considered leaving the community because they realized that everyone else relied on their individual contributions, and by leaving they would diminish the whole. I didn’t realize there was a term for this until you mentioned animism.

    I’m constantly amazed how frequently something I read in your blog then shows up in my life. It always makes me feel like I’m on the right track (to somewhere).

    Thanks for continuing to share your conversations and insights with TGU!

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