GOD ON THE TABLE
Attempting A Useful Discussion of Mankind’s Spiritual Future
Michael C. Ruppert
© Copyright 2010, CollapseNet, Inc. Please Distribute Widely
November 1, 2010 – Arguably, the cause of the collapse of human industrial civilization has been a fundamental disconnect in consciousness that has led humankind to tell itself that it is exempt from the laws of physics and nature – that infinite growth is possible on a finite planet. That certainly defines the issue in terms of our survival because nothing less would permit continued expansion of human population and resource consumption.
Mankind is essentially expecting (or demanding) that technology overturn the laws of physics, chemistry and especially thermodynamics/energy. By definition, anything that can overturn natural laws is God. Under this construct, technology is, in fact, a religion. I think its, perhaps unwilling, “messiah” was René Descartes – the guy who said that empirical knowledge was the supreme knowledge (another disconnect) and therefore, by implication and application, the God of Knowing. This was a perfect mate for an infinite growth monetary paradigm and we are just awakening to the fact that its actual imperative is to kill us and all life on the planet.
Today we are awash in technology… and we are also dying. We are, in fact, killing ourselves with it. We make better weapons. We make better devices that require the extraction and consumption of more raw materials and then require us to throw away the energy and resources in old ones. We poison ourselves and our environment with chemicals and then we turn to chemistry to create drugs (using a lot of oil and energy) to imperfectly cure the diseases we ourselves created.
Having recognized that technology is essentially a religion we can also – without great emotional charge – say that technology can be judged as a religion to be either a success or failure; either outcome being measured by whether it adds to the health, longevity and survival of our species or hinders it.
I think the same tests are beginning to be applied to all religions. Soon they will be applied with a fury.
DOMINION -- THE FUNDAMENTAL DISCONNECT
An essential component of all of western (Abrahamic) religions is the theme of man’s “dominion” over the earth. That is the disconnect which is killing us. All other life obeys physical laws. In fact our so-called dominion depends on that. But we have believed, justified and acted as though we were exempt simply because we are “man”. This is a distinct difference between western religions and “eastern” religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism which loosely place man as an integral part of – but not supreme – in a spiritual universe. If however, we consider the Church of Infinite Growth – as expressed through fiat currency, fractional reserve banking and compound interest – we see that Buddhist, Hindu and Taoist faiths have, by (to one degree or another) encouraging detachment from or acquiescence to the material world, not prevented their adherents from suffering the same fate as we Westerners. We’re all going down more or less together and no religion anywhere has spared its adherents from what’s taking place. While western religions preached the unsustainable and the impossible, eastern religions have acquiesced to infinite growth saying essentially that the spiritual world is more important and the physical realm can be discounted. -- So much for those belief systems. The Abrahamic religions offer the ultimate bailout if the books aren’t balanced here -- there’s always the Afterlife. I personally believe there is an afterlife, but not like this one. According to those following what Moses (allegedly) wrote, there has to be someone/thing to be rewarded and someone to be punished.
There’s an old saying that says that there are no atheists in foxholes. As the world marches headlong towards places that make foxholes look cozy, what will be demanded by humankind is a spiritual construct or cosmology that actually and tangibly deals with the crisis at hand.
I love a line I heard Bruce Springsteen deliver at a concert. “The Church of Rock and Roll doesn’t promise you life in the hereafter. The Church of Rock and Roll promises you life… right now!” – Cartesian science cannot measure heart and soul. Music and art most certainly do. That is why music and playing in my band New White Trash figure so prominently in my life now, just as music, dance and art did in the lives of our ancestors. And that is why CollapseNet will always encourage these as an essential part of Lifeboat building. Man indeed, does not live by bread alone.
A good question to ask then is, “Are there any spiritual practices which originate from and teach a way to live rightly and in balance with this world?” Is there an instruction manual that teaches us how to live here?
A THIRD VIEWPOINT – Meet Red Crow
Earth-based, native belief systems have never to my knowledge relied on printed and codified rules. A book cannot be an ultimate authority. The earth is. It is possible, however, to direct you to an indigenous elder named Red Crow who conveys, as clearly and as eloquently as I have ever seen, what I understand to be earth-based spirituality. I strongly encourage everyone to take the time to watch this short and poignant video which well-summarizes earth-based spiritual philosophies (video below) as I know them and what we ascribe to here at CollapseNet. [I urge the reader to stop and watch this wonderful video here and return to this essay.]
Indigenous Native American Prophecy
I am no expert on these beliefs, merely a beginning student. I remember once asking one of my teachers, Skip Mahawk, an elder of the Dakota Sioux in Oregon, if I had a chance of becoming a human being in the way indigenous spiritual traditions defined them – that is, people who lived in complete or near-complete harmony with nature and who had respect for the earth and for all living things. I have never seen a Native American laugh so hard
I have a lot to learn.
My limited experience and study has led me to believe that earth-based spiritual practices are rooted in the concept that God never made any mistakes. (Who’s going to argue with Him?) Somebody who knows please correct me if I’m wrong.
One of the greatest crimes, in my opinion, of Abrahamic religions has been to falsely associate earth-based faiths such as paganism and Wicca with devil worship. I just saw it again on a NATGEO Special and it made me cringe. My research shows that paganism, Wicca, the Druids and native/indigenous faiths (all centered on the earth and spirit rather than man) do not even recognize an Abrahamic devil, let alone worship one. I have not found one which looks for, or even recognizes, a “Number-One Bad Guy” with a nameplate on his desk.
The lie about earth-based religions was convenient because these spiritual practices stood in the way of “progress”, control, expansion and infinite growth. Calling pagans and Druids devil worshippers justified their slaughter in the eyes of misguided Christian theologians.
Even within the Abrahamic religions evidence can be found of an understanding of the perfection of creation. As an example of that, in the Old Testament book of Isaiah and the prophecy of Habakkuk appears the statement, “God’s eyes are too pure to behold iniquity.” -- There are no such things as iniquities in God’s world. How could there be? God, by definition, does not make mistakes. The universe that God created and which was described in John1 which says that God (the Word) created everything that was created and there was nothing that was not created by God.
What Abrahamic religions have done is to interpret that God won’t tolerate iniquities and that has been the rationale for all the abuses which have followed, “In the name of God I kill, loot, plunder, rape or exterminate you.” To tolerate something gives it existence and power.
I have experienced earth-based religions referring to good and bad or darkness and light but I have yet to encounter one that advocates an “overcoming” or final victory of one over the other. As with Taoism and Buddhism, what I have encountered thus far in my study and experience of earth-based spirituality is an emphasis on balance between the two on this plane and a loving acceptance or embrace of both as elements of a cyclical rhythm of existence, like the seasons; like day and night.
Essentially, humankind’s biggest and most-enduring spiritual activity -- living in an earth-based consciousness -- was as valuable (if not more so) to people as a flint, an axe, water, food or shelter. And it was treated as such.
So where does that leave us?
In the many successful 12-Step recovery programs, the Second Step says that we “came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” (12-Step programs originated from mystical teachings found in and common to almost every religion). And – distilled down – the only real things this step requires are a recognition that there actually is a power greater than us and that we (either as individuals or collectively) are not it. Those facts are already in evidence. What the step calls for is a conscious connection to that higher power and an appropriate (i.e. working) relationship with it.
What I am suggesting in this article is a simple concept: Healing the disconnect between ourselves and the rest of creation and the laws which govern this universe is an essential step in saving our own lives, perhaps all life on the planet. Throughout most of man’s history this cosmology was referred to as relating to the spirit world, in recognition of the fact that everything, whether animate or not, whether visible or not, has a spirit. In historical perspective, “religion” is a very new word. The concept of spirit is as old as mankind itself.
SEEING THE DISCONNECT MORE CLEARLY
Judging from the abundant evidence around us, not only have we taken exceptional and unjustifiable liberties with the construct of dominion, we have completely trashed our only source of life (the planet) in the process. At minimum, we have been disgraceful stewards and poor husbands.
A psychology experiment from the 1970s really unmasks the fundamental flaw that comes, I believe, with the Great Disconnect. In that study a group of well-adjusted, pre-screened college students from Stanford University were arbitrarily separated into prison guards and inmates. In relatively short order the situation deteriorated to the point where the experiment had to be terminated. Brutality, psychosis, breakdowns and a continued escalation of conflict required the expenditure of more and more physical and emotional resources until serious harm and injury was imminent… and chaos (entropy) the unavoidable and looming end result. What happened in this experiment is a compelling and a stark metaphor for the Great Disconnect as human industrial civilization flails helplessly, creating ever more chaos with every new solution it proposes. At this level of consciousness there are no solutions.
This study went sideways almost immediately. So did mankind’s internalization of the Great Disconnect which is essentially the knowledge of “good and evil” as described in Genesis 1. The difference is that there was always room to expand, start over, and deny. There were other lands to explore and conquer, people to exterminate, resources to use and plunder, all the while repeating the catechism, “We’ll get it right this time, or next time and we’ll be forgiven even if we don’t”… Not anymore.
This disconnect has severed our species in just the last few hundred years from the intuitive and innate wisdoms and philosophies that protected us as a species for our first two million years of existence. That’s a lot of stored up wisdom and experience that has been pushed aside… as if by an oil-powered bulldozer and a Rockefeller-owned printing press or a Murdoch-owned TV station. And that disconnect has been hugely reinforced and facilitated by the influence and power of organized western religions, namely Catholicism, Protestant Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
OK BUT WHAT ABOUT…?
Organized religion has been a major player in bringing us to this horrific crisis. The cozy co-existence between “religions”, politics and money is revealed pretty clearly if one steps back and examines the historical interactions with the leaders of these religions and the expansion of industrial civilization over the last four centuries. Let’s face it; Christianity has obviously had the best “business model”, but only in an infinite-growth paradigm.
Perhaps nowhere is this historical “coziness” revealed more starkly than in the almost-perfect alignment with Catholicism’s need to proselytize, expand and convert the heathens with Spain’s hunger for resources, territory and wealth from the 1400s through the 1800s. Protestant Britain’s ruthless oppression of pagans and Druids accomplished the same thing. The same can be said of American bible-thumpers who demonized native peoples and exterminated them “in the name of God” in North America in the 1800s, or the way in which Christian Evangelism worked hand-in-hand with the CIA and the Rockefeller family to colonize and subjugate Latin America.* And it is abundantly true of the emerging spiritual theme of the Tea Party movement which, according to several recent polls is populated by the same people who would burn the Koran and exterminate Muslims. Those same polls also showed that a dominant belief among Tea Party members was that the United States is a Christian nation.
As long as continued and wasteful expansion produced tangible, if imperfect and unequal “progress” that symbiotic partnership worked by enabling secular and clerical power elites to consolidate and enlarge their control and influence over… us, the people. I would include financial elites as a separate class in this trinity as well.
But as collapse unfolds and as religions fail to adapt to or address changing needs and circumstances, the flaws in mankind’s disconnect become more apparent and more manifest. We have now come full circle back to the imperative of having a cosmology that shows us how to get along in this world. The laws governing the physical universe are real limits to our self-indulgent behavior. They are real limits to growth. They have been a very effective, unbreachable and arguably essential playpen.
WHAT DOES COLLAPSENET OFFER?
The fundamental or non-negotiable truths of CollapseNet’s philosophy are articulated in our Compass Points. The Compass Points originate in the laws of physics, so I have complete confidence in their relevance to the world in which we live and their usefulness in helping as many people as possible (regardless of belief) to survive. I wrote them coming almost purely from a rational, rather than a spiritual perspective. And yet, as I look at them in the context of this article I see and feel how much they resonate and align with this spiritual belief which I also hold. I see and feel no disconnect, no division.
In our Lighthouse Directory you will see many entries for spirit-based teachings and resources. We will actively seek out and list ones that are earth-centered because of their direct relevance to and alignment with our Compass Points. We will not exclude any other religious or spiritual links on any basis unless they contradict the Compass Points. For example I would love to see a directory link to a black Baptist congregation in Manhattan I heard about that is actively preaching that its members must become debt-free as a part of their spiritual health. All we ask is that if one submits a link or article that reflects or supports a religious group or philosophy that you clearly identify it up front, as we have done here.
I have drawn a clear differential boundary here between spiritual beliefs that mandate living in conscious partnership with all of creation as the foundational step in sustainability. Those that promulgate humanity’s superiority to and division from the rest of creation are on the other side of that line. This, I believe, is a clear description of where we are going in the next step of our conscious and chosen evolution. This is not a step backward, because if we take the consciousness and knowledge attained through five centuries of Cartesian worship – rebalanced with the imperatives of partnership and respect – we will indeed be a “new and improved” species.
The bottom line to all this is that when and if mankind is able to free itself from the labels of good and evil, victor and vanquished, and especially the concepts of dominion and servitude, the only thing left to do with all things that exist in this universe will be to respect them.
[CORRECTION 4/27/11: We originally used the name Red Elk in this story (as taken from the video listing on You Tube). We have been corrected that the speaker is Floyd Red Crow Westerman and made appropriate corrections.]
· -- I strongly recommend “Thy Will Be Done – The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil” by Gerard Colby with Charlotte Dennet (1995, Harper Collins). This seminal work is the book I modeled “Crossing the Rubicon” after. It remains the most chilling and abundantly documented work showing the deep, dark and very ugly, bloody and brutal connections between Christian missionaries and intelligence services I have ever seen. In a book ostensibly about religious work one finds some of the most horrific and brutal acts or murder, treachery and betrayal by the CIA and its forbears ever produced.