“Mother is the word for ‘God’ on the lips and hearts of all chidren.”
— Eric Draven, The Crow; James O’Barr
This post has been long-coming, and even haunting me for quite some time. The problem isn’t that I don’t know what to say, but rather that I don’t know where to begin. There’s SO much. There’s too much to say. I’ll try to cover what I can in this one post, but there are so many foundational building-blocks to this information, it’s easy to get lost in attempting to make sure they’re in place before moving on to the greater point. I’ll do my best. This section is titled:
THE MANY DIFFERENT LENSES
Let’s start with Christianity:
I was raised as a non-denominational Christian. The churches my Mom took me to had mostly Babtist bent, with some Pentecostal influence– and who knows what other sects.
Regardless, it was also fundamentalist. Their biggest break away from Fundamentalism I think, was their use of modern instruments and a full band to sing praise and worship music in service to the Lord.
This is a practise that many early Fundamentalist sects would consider “demonic”– especially the speaking in tongues and dancing! Surely that hedonism is the work of the devil!
My point is that even within the “reformed” Protestant branch of Christianity, there are so many varying sects and contradictory beliefs, it seems insane to me that any reasonably-minded adult could look at the various versions of the bible and not realise: the Bible HAS been changed– and each of those changes has a multitude of varying interpretations. You can’t possibly rely on a book written thousands of years ago, in multiple different (ancient) languages, to be infallibly literal.
Even granting that God himself guided the words of the translators– clearly, He guided different translators to different words. This begs the realisation: different people need to hear different things in order to come to know God.
That last sentence is at the crux of everything else I’m going to say– and this post is going to be a long one (and as long as it will be, it will still only barely scratch the surface of the truth).
Once you understand that different people need to hear the same message differently in order to understatnd and accept the truth, the next step is understanding that sometimes those messages can/will evolve the to the point of looking extremely different.
It’s difficult for me to produce examples; I haven’t taken deliberate note of these things as I run across the hundreds of small examples, but there’s one which immediately comes to mind and it’s one with which I think everyone is familiar:
The golden rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s the way I learned it; I’m not sure, but I believe that comes from the New King James Version of the Bible. In other sects of Christianity, this reads as, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This comes from the English Standard Version. From the original King James Version, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you: do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
Different words, same message, right? Can we all agree on this?
Then here’s the next step; same message, entirely different religions:
Judaism: What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary.
Islam: Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.
Hinduism: This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.
Zoroastrianism: Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.
Buddhism: Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
Confucisanism: One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct… loving-kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.
Taoism: Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.
Sikhism: I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. indeed, I am a friend to all.
Unitarianism: We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Welsh Witchcraft: “an you Harm none, do as you will” (Harm none includes yourself.)
Native Spirituality: We are as much alive as we keep the Earth alive.
Hermetics: The Law Of Reciprocity which is intricately connected and harmonizes perfectly with all Universal Law, initiates and creates an unwavering and unfailing process which “Reciprocates” meaning to give and take mutually or to return in kind or degree.
* * * * *
You can see, as I got closer to the end of those examples, the message gets further and further from the wording of the original text, but maintains the same spiritual message:
DO NO HARM.
To reiterate the point: Everyone has a different life experience. There are unifying ties, which we call the “human experience”, but everyone’s individual circumstances are different. Some were raised in loving, caring homes, with two parents, a beloved pet, a mediocre income, needing nothing, and told the sky is the limit. Others were raised in slums or ghettos, a leaky roof, one drug-addled parent who abused and neglected them (probably because their parent(s) abused/neglected them, and so on), half-starved, street-hardened, and never hearing a positive word which wasn’t meant to manipulate them. The same message spoken in the same way is extremely unlikely to be received to the same effect by the two people raised in those extremes– no matter how true it may be.
Then consider cultural differences– and if you don’t know what “cultural differences” really means (be honest with yourself), that would be the best place to start in coming to understand different world-views, theologies, and paradigms. The most basic understanding of awareness of differences between us is to understand that when a person grows up in an entirely different culture, with different things they consider “normal”, you begin to understand how someone within our own culture– raised under entirely different circumstances from yourself– can see and be convinced by entirely different truths, which are equally valid to your own*.
* = This is not always the case. There are some objective truths, and some objective lies, and while almost anything could be considered at least partly true from a particular point of view, there are certain relative absolutes. For example, if you place an average-sized (working) pineapple grenade in your mouth and release the safety, in about five seconds, you’re going to die. Also, it was moderately impressive that you were able to actually put it in your mouth. Okay, that last part was subjective, but you get the point.
Once you’ve grasped how differently a different culture or even upbringing within your own culture can influence your opinions of what’s “true” or “normal”, you can begin to appreciate how someone might view a particular absolute truth from a different lens– as though looking through a many-paned latern, where each pane is a different colour. The light in the middle of the lantern might be white, but if you’re looking at it through a red pane (lens), you will see red. Another person might be seeing blue, or green, or yellow– but you all see the light, you know that it lights your way, and that it’s good.
This is the metaphor of good and evil, seen from different perspectives of religions and philosophies. Even atheists, after all, usually believe in the Biblical “Golden rule”.
There is another “Golden rule” however, which exists in both our ancient and modern world: “He who has the gold makes the rules.”
This is a paraphrasing of two different concepts which– like the more positive golden rule given in multiple versions far above, also has several iterations with but a single meaning:
Whatever you have the power to do, you have the right to do.
In one respect, this means physical prowess– the law of material nature. In another respect, this means mental prowess; in another, it refers to economic; in another, it refers to influential; the common theme however is that the powerful are “right” and the powerless are irrelevant.
You may not want to think of that as a “golden rule”, but many (mostly evil) philosophies hold it in this regard; which brings me to the next important point:
SELF VS. OTHER
In my years of studying different philosophies, ideologies, and theologies– especially exploring those which are considered taboo for whatever reason, I’ve come to realise there is only ONE significant divisive axis, bearing two extremes, which determines whether such a philosophy is ultimately “good” or “evil”.
Many of you are likely to disagree with me on this point, but if you must disagree, please at least understand what it is you’re disagreeing with before you decide.
Put simply, your philosophy either places in the highest regard the notion of the self, or the other (unless your philosophy falls under neither extreme, in which case you belong to one of the balanced few).
Philosophies of the Other include Christianity; it bears the positive “golden rule”, for example. It also places an Other being (God) as the Most High, Holy, and all-powerful. This Other is benevolent, omniscient, and omnipresent– and paradoxically inside and a part of each of us. We are made by God’s power, and therefore it stands to reason that we are made of God. This bears further philosophical implications I won’t get into now, but some of you will be able to see where that’s going, and others already know.
Philosophies of the Self include things like Satanism and Thelema. They place worship of oneself as a god above all else, and despite any teachings of “love” which they might entail, the most central rule is to do whatever you want, as long as you can get away with it– which makes any other rules little more than mere suggestions, and practically irrelevant. They corrupt the notion of “As above, so below” to mean that whatever’s good for Heaven is good for Earth, and vice-versa*, which further can be used to justify all manner of twisted behaviours using out-of-context scripts as precedence. These philosophies believe in the second “Golden Rule” I mentioned, which ultimately boils down to: might makes right.
* = Not all sects of either religion/philosophy believe this way. The multitude of beliefs spanning Thelema and satanism are arguably as varied as those of Christianity. I’m going by the most generally-linked beliefs of which I’ve learned across 20 years of a breadth of study.
So what’s my point here?
It’s that no matter what you believe, if your philosophy is more concerned with the self, you find nothing holy other than yourself, then it is likely your credo is greed, your modus is power, and you ultimately can’t get along with the Sheopherd’s flock– you’ll never be able to fully trust anyone but yourself. Everyone else is competition.
If your philosophy is more about the Other, then it is ultimately aligned with all other philosophies of Other, as long as you don’t focus on the dogma (the exact story text of why you should be a good person and what sort of things go on in your version of the after-life, each of which are delivered to us from Source as a means of understanding the TRUTH in a way that we are able to understand and accept it).
Why should you care?
Because this tells you who you friends and enemies are. You may look to the Hermetic, the Astrologer, the Wiccan, and say “Your beliefs are herectical! Demonic! Pagan! Evil! Foolish!” because you don’t understand them, and the dogma of your particular faith or ideology suggests or outright states as much; but the deeper important truth is:
We’re all contributing influence to this world all the time. Every moment of our existence. In every moment, you’re contributing more positively or negatively to the world around you. (That which does the most good for the most people is positive, the least good for the fewest people is negative– as a general rule of thumb, which even this is not infallible).
If you’re creating more positivity than negativity, you are aligned with all others who are positive. This is why it’s important to know your enemy, because the enemy of God, of Justice, of Truth: is Self, Greed, Power.
Yet you need power to fight power.
Fortunately, power comes in many forms– one needn’t simply chase personal power for the sake of fighting power. At the same time however, one can’t simply ignore the personal-power-mongering of others; if left ignored, an opposing power will overwhelm you, inevitably– and if diligent, it will never be overcome.
Likewise, if diligent, the power of Good, Truth, Love, Justice, and OTHER may indefinitely stand guard against the evil of this world, and it’s personally-focused power.
Look around you. Pay attention to the events of our world. Do you believe that Truth and Love are winning? If you’re paying attention, your answer should be “Of course not.”
That’s because we have NOT been diligent. We have NOT known our enemy. We are losing because we have lost sight of the big picture, of what’s most important: the positive-side golden rule. We haven’t placed it in such esteem as to safe-guard it against those who wish to do us harm. Capitalism, while not inherently evil, relies on human evil to keep functioning (greed), and lends itself as a perfect vehicle to those who wish to acquire power over others. Capitalism in fact, rewards this behaviour. Think about it objectively– how does one succeed? Where does wealth come from? What does wealth represent? Are there enough resources for everyone to hoard as much as they want, indefinitely?
It is of the utmost importance that we accept our allies of different spiritual cultures. It’s imperative that we recognise brothers-and-sisters-in-arms against the darkness, and work with them to repel it. Not just to fight against Capitalism, but to fight against all philosophies of the SELF which seek only power and personal pleasure above all else.
Otherwise, we’re sitting under the shadow of the great dragon’s gnashing teeth, awaiting the moment that we’re the next part of its tail to be chomped and swallowed.