Monthly Archives: April 2009

Please Pass The Salt

Have you ever had to talk to someone you didn’t really want to talk to, whether that was because you didn’t like the person or simply didn’t know them? It’s extremely awkward and like pulling teeth to start the conversation and to keep it going. Why do you suppose it’s awkward to talk to that person? Probably because you haven’t talked with them often enough. The people we talk to on a daily basis and are close to, it’s extremely easy to talk to them and you even feel like you miss something in your day if you normally talk to these people and don’t. What would happen to your conversation if all you ever did was ask someone to pass you the salt at the dinner table? Strangely enough, this person always passes you the salt and doesn’t bother to continue the conversation, this person is perfectly content getting any sort of contact with you, however if you were to try to engage this person in more of a deep conversation it would seem awkward. It would be awkward on a couple different levels; first of all you don’t really know the person and secondly because all you’ve ever been asking this person is to do something for you. How would you feel if someone all of a sudden wanted to actually talk to you instead of just ask you to do things for them? What if all you got from another person wasn’t just “would you please do this for me” but rather this person made bargains with you like “if you would just help me out this one time I’ll be your friend and talk to you more” or “I’ll come over to your house at least once or twice a week if you can just let me have this”. There would be no way right? All this person ever does is complain and try and make deals and bargains with you. What kind of relationship could you possibly have like that, one person always giving and the other always taking? Now it goes a step further, say you’re one of those really nice people that will continue to pass the salt, and pull people out of hardships because that’s the right thing to do. What if after you rescue these people, all they do is ignore you? Their open ended promises fall flat as they repay your kindness with a cold shoulder, or worse still they do things that they know you don’t like. How would it make you feel to know after you gave up something of yours to help them that they repay you by spitting in your face? How many times would you continue to be there for that person? How many times would your trust have to be broken, your heart stomped on, and you kindness laughed at before you would no longer be there?

How many times are you only going to ask God to pass the salt?

The Nature of Man

There are some basic views of man that are worth examining. The first of these is the idea that man is the pinnacle of evolution, and its derivation would be that man is, in fact, god. Another idea is that man once was, and is currently in progress to becoming again, god or gods. The other view that I’ll be taking a look at is the one that claims that man is currently in a temporary state. Now these views have several different forms in today’s society as well as historically but I’ll attempt to cover the most common ones.
The first view is that the evolutionary process has been slowly winnowing out imperfections throughout ‘life’(meaning all living things) and through the idea of the survival of the fittest has brought about man (as a species, not a sex). This idea leads one to wonder why stop with humans? Surely there are differences throughout humanity as a whole that would lead to further evolutionary progress. Take for example Olympic athletes; here are people that are at the peak of physical condition and could easily outlast the common man, in the hunter-gatherer sense of the word. Another example would be some of those famed Tibetan monks, or perhaps monks in general. Here are a group of people who would physically be on the same level as most people but seem to be at peace entirely with their world and their role in it. Now the first example should naturally provide adaptations necessary for survival beyond that of the common individual while the second example would provide stability or “mental toughness” to deal with the stress of living in today’s society. There are other examples of course but these are the first two that come to mind and it stands to reason that if man is the pinnacle of the evolutionary process than that process should still be working by slowly changing from humanity to super humanity. When I refer to super humanity I’m not talking about any sort of physical impossibility aka super man, but rather of human beings being in the best possible shape that they can be in all ways. In order for this super humanity to be reached, the process should be simple; the concept of the strong surviving and the weak dieing should always be in constant motion. Those individuals who are looked upon in society as being exemplary in physical or mental condition should be reproducing to slowly create a new ‘race’ of people. Genetic disposition would indicate a shift from ‘common’ man to super human. However, most of the people that are in these higher states of conditioning did not get that way from being born into them. The idea is that through some form of training (meditation, working out etc), one can reach these ideals. So that being the case, there could be no way for genetics to enhance the general populace; and if the human race can’t be advanced except through hard work, then what does the evolutionary process have to do with the advancement of species? There are several individuals throughout history who have been born naturally with abilities in certain fields that are far above normal. However these individuals are more commonly viewed as anomalies rather than the next step in the evolutionary chain. A more common term for these people would be geniuses or savants in the mental case. The physical anomalies that arise in people have often been almost looked down upon by most people. Terms like giant, monster, freak, etc have been applied to these individuals. Athletes that are in the news are constantly being scrutinized automatically for being on some sort of performance enhancing steroid or the like. Now why would people that have a seemingly natural advantage over other people physically be so looked down on in society whereas people with seemingly higher mental capacities praised? Is it because it would be impossible for someone to enhance their mind with some sort of drug? Some people claim that drugs enhance the brain all the time (brain/mind used interchangeably) through various hallucinogenic visions that are had during times when the individual is using a drug.
The other possibility to that question would be that people believe the mind to be somehow immune from corruption in terms of enhancing drugs and that individuals termed genius are simply what they are, an anomaly. The underlying premise here is that people are simply afraid of the very notion of the evolutionary process. By cutting down on the people that seem to have a physical edge on the competition so to speak and by regarding the geniuses as anomalies and nothing more, this seemingly eliminates the possibility that some day those type of people would be the norm and all of us who are ‘normal’ would be weeded out. If this idea was true, and humans could actually control the growth and development of a population, then how could the evolutionary process come about naturally? This question leads to the derivation mentioned earlier of this idea that all men are essentially gods. This would provide an answer to the questions dealing with the evolutionary process because if man is able to control life to the extent that they guide natural processes then clearly they are above nature. However another problem arises when referring to this idea because if all men are gods, why is there diversity? Not in the sense of ethnic diversity but in the sense of all men not being equal in every way. If all men were gods, theoretically we should all be perfect in every way. This does not answer the question posed above about those individuals in society that seem to outclass his/her peers. The only conceivable answer to this would be that there is some form of hierarchical society of gods, perhaps reminiscent of the ancient Greek and Roman pantheons. If that were the case, why is this order not well known? Surely if everyone was gods and there was a structure to who was higher or lower, it would have to be known universally. The other problem mentioned above applies here as well, that being the idea that people are scrutinized for being ‘abnormal’. In the idea of the hierarchy it would not be uncommon for people of lower deity to be jealous of those above them, but it wouldn’t be possible for them to overrule the higher gods by claims of the performance enhancing drugs etc because it would simply be a known fact that those individuals are higher, or better than everyone else.
The next idea, on the surface, seems very similar to that derivation with one large difference. This idea claims that every man once was a god and is now a human, but is progressing somehow toward becoming again a god. There is no claim of a hierarchy here so it is assumed that everyone is on equal footing with one another once they pass through humanity and once again regain deity. The other idea that is central to this claim is that this entire process is cyclical. A common wording is that men are all ‘spirit children’ that were conceived of gods and are now men on their way to again becoming gods. In this way it removes the idea that there was a first god or gods that are higher, it simply means that they are older or preexisting. Now, if everyone were on their way to becoming gods and were once gods, what would society look like? It would be common knowledge that all men are equal and they would know both their history and their future. In the sense that they know their ultimate beginning and ultimate end (as gods), not so much that they would be all knowing about what would happen in the entirety of their life as human beings. That being the case, it would be logical to assume that there would be no corruption on earth in any of its forms because everyone’s time spent on earth was simply a process of regaining their former deity. If everyone started out equal and will end up equal it would stand to reason that everyone in their human form would be equal as well and there would be no way of bettering ones status or worsening it by anything done in this transitory state of humanity. Therefore, if everyone was equal and there was no conceivable way of changing that, there should be no motivation for any form of corruption. The society imagined here would be one most closely represented by a utopia in its truest form. There would be no need for law enforcement or government to create laws because everyone would simply exist to, if anything, better each others time on earth as to make easier their time of mortality. The fact that corruption runs rampant in today’s society begs plenty of questions; such as why would anyone try to get an advantage on someone else if they are all, in fact, equal? A possible answer to that would be that everyone simply follows some sort of natural alignment (aka good or evil) that would indicate that their time on earth must be spent in opposition to people of the other alignment. If that were the case, more questions could be asked, such as during beings’ state of deity, is there a difference between the good and evil alignments? Is there a war of some kind being waged? Would a war even be pertinent if everyone is a god and therefore on equal footing? Taking that idea to its logical conclusion would indicate a mindless battle being fought for all eternity where no side would gain an advantage or a victory because everyone is an eternal being and with no advantage or disadvantage to anyone else. The other possible solution is that the time spent on earth would be completely devoid of the knowledge that men were ever, or will ever be again, gods. If that were the case, the most basic question would be how did anyone ever find out that there was a state of deity past of future to begin with?
The final idea at first seems like the previous idea because it claims that man is in a temporary state. On the surface that would appear to mean the same thing as the previous idea, that man is on its way to becoming gods. However this idea does not claim that at all. It states that men were created by God, singular, not plural. And by being created, that implies that man is not equal to God. When I mentioned that man is in a temporary state as humans, I was referring to an afterlife, not a certainty of deity. This idea answers the earlier question of the existence of corruption by stating that men are born wanting to follow their own desires. Obviously with so many people on earth at one time, it stands to reason that each individual’s desires would not be the same. Therefore, with everyone working to accomplish their own ends you start to see the formation of the society we are currently living in. An earlier statement would apply here as well when saying that if man was in a temporary state, then knowledge of what comes after this state would have to be universal. I suggest that this knowledge is, in fact, universally known. However it is not known in its truest form, nor is it universally accepted. Your basic world religions all teach some form of an afterlife, whether that is heaven/hell/nirvana/paradise/sheol, etc. For those people who do not believe in ‘religion’ there is the idea that this life is all that there is and after you die on earth you simply stop; however with these people there is not a direct contradiction to my earlier statement as you might think. By not believing in something, that implies that you know what you are not believing in and just refusing to accept it. A common challenge to this would be the ‘pigmy in the jungle’ and to this I say “alright, find one and let’s talk to him.” I submit that even a society that has no contact with the ‘civilized’ world would have some sort of idea about what happens after you die and whether or not there exists a god or many gods.
If the statement that man was in a temporary state were true, then there must be some form of coming to this knowledge and also a way to transition out of it, in a sense (the sense of a guide, not of an out-of-body experience or extra planar existence). Many of the world religions teach that there is a desirable place to go when you die and a place that is undesirable. Almost all of them focus on what humans must do in his/her time on earth in order to achieve the preferable location. The problem with that idea is that by focusing so much on human works to prove ones ‘credibility’ it places no real difference between them and the god that they are choosing to follow; after all if man can work his way into a desirable place for all eternity, then what is to stop him from working to a position above this god, who by all practical means simply preexisted. The answer to that problem is usually posed by the idea that the preexisting god has the final say in where a human will be placed for eternity. This way the best that man can do is follow the god’s directions to the best of their ability and hope that what they accomplish on earth will be good enough for their entry into a preferable afterlife. There is one religion however that does not follow the same general pattern (the others, of course differ in ways but the idea is the same). This religion would be that of Christianity. I mentioned earlier that if man was in a transitory state of existence, then there must be a way of obtaining this knowledge and also that of how to ‘transition’ out of it. A very common understanding is that a guide is in existence and that would be known as the Bible. Something that this book does is outline how to live; a list of do’s and don’ts if you will aka the 10 commandments. Now if you were to examine your own life (myself included) next to these 10 commandments you would find that it is impossible to life your life without breaking at least one of these 10. The Bible lists two ways of overcoming this problem, the Old Testament way and the New Testament way. In the Old Testament there was a designated mediator between the people and God. This man had to make sacrifices that were pleasing to God in order to atone for the sins of his people. This idea is something that is not unique to Christianity however something happened later that, in light of the other world religions, is quite radical. What happened is that God became a man, therefore being fully God and fully man, and made a way (as was foretold through many prophecies in both testaments) for each and every individual man to be his own mediator to God and also, therefore, be able to reach heaven without the aid of someone else on earth. In comparison to most of the other world religions which required toil-less hours of doing all manor of things to gain entrance to their specific afterlife, Christianity only required two things, that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.” The Bible explains in much greater detail and with far greater authority the things that I have attempted to understand, however in relevance to this essay the only logical idea that answers the questions posed in their fullest would be Christianity.