It’s a riot: when religion rejects Spirit

No doubt you have been following the news this week, and watching with some concern – maybe even anger – at the riots by outraged Muslims. The demonstrations have broken out in several middle-eastern countries and also (at the time of writing) in Britain and Australia.

Hate is a strange thing. It seems to defy the universal law of entropy.  Entropy entails that there is just a little bit of energy lost after all chemical reactions and physical processes. According to many physicists, the universe will eventually run down and go cold. But just before the last bit of stardust flickers and dims, I reckon we’ll still have some idiots grabbing each other by the throats and screaming “Look what you gone and done to us! You people are evil!” hate just seems to go right one expanding. Hate begets more hate.

Hate is contagious. It doesn’t take much to get caught up in it. No doubt a big part of this is the basic neurochemistry of the brain and body, and the evolutionary imperatives which lie behind it. You’ll find a lot of agreement with this in mainstream science.

From my experience as a longtime introspective mystic, I have seen that hate also has an “energy”. But it is not “energy” in the classic meaning of the term. It’s not part of one of the four known forces of nature. I am talking about the way that thought/consciousness operates within fields of intention, and these consciousness fields tend to be self-maximizing, acting like attractor fields which suck the “minds” of the unsuspecting into a vortex of ‘mental’ violence. And once the mind becomes violent, the body tends to follow pretty quickly. This is one of the reasons why the current violence tends to pull people in. Seeing others full of hate and blame tends to make us feel angry. Unconsciously we may be drawn into a “dark” consciousness field.

Culture is another factor which is important in much mass violence. If the culture in which you are embedded says it’s okay to project hatred and violence at the other, then naturally people will feel inclined to do so. In Muslim communities worldwide there is a strong victim mindset which has permeated their worldview. Victims tend to feel justified at lashing out in hatred and blame. After all, the “victim” is innocent, and the “other” is the wrong-doer. This kind of culture can be spread in many ways: the internet, religious teachers, news media, community, family and so on.

There is also the reality of individual spiritual maturity – or lack thereof. A person who has a high level of spiritual maturity knows his mind well. And in this understanding he knows the nature of all minds. Through the discipline of introspection he has come to recognise that the mind tends towards constant projection. The mind lives in an imagined world of belief and judgment while rejecting experience and data which contradict those beliefs. When we live from “the head” and life experience informs us that our beliefs are inadequate, we inevitably hit out at those who we see as threatening our worldview.

There is always a part of the mind that knows that its beliefs are fantasies. The alcoholic knows that it is not really true that “I can give up anytime I want”. The wife beater certainly realises deep down that it is a lie to insist that “The beatings are good for her”. The religious believer too, knows full well that it is impossible that his beliefs (and his God) are the only beliefs that are true and that every other religion is deluded or evil. But instead of going through the destabilising trauma of accepting that he might be wrong, and entering a state of “not knowing”, he attacks the thing that he believes is threatening his (imagined) world. But it is not the other that is the cause of his fear. The fear emerges from the truth that is bubbling up from within him, whispering “Your world is an illusion.”

This is why deep meditative introspection is forbidden in many religions. Religion tends to be terrified of the psyche. For it is within the psyche that the truth can be found. And that truth that will often contradict “the scriptures”. A great irony is that much religious practice is actually the mind’s way of making sure that it does not listen to Spirit.

Let’s face it. There is not a lot of wisdom and common sense in smashing things up and killing “the other” simply because he laughs at you. Why attack Americans, Germans, Brits and Australians when the YouTube video you are outraged by was made by a man of Egyptian heritage?

You probably agree that it’s madness: “These people are nuts!” Yet if you find yourself saying that then you are in the grip of the mind. It is not that you are wrong, technically speaking. Yes, the people murdering and burning and screaming revenge are deluded. They have lost control of their own minds, and their connection with Spirit (Spirit, like Grace, tends to find goodness and peace in everything).

Every spiritual and religious teaching has the potential to become a religion. That even includes this “teaching” you are now reading in this blog post. In fact all spiritual truth becomes a religion as soon as the mind takes possession of it; and that happens every single time you enter the world of thought!

Depressing thought, isn’t it? Yes, the THOUGHT is depressing, but not the simple awareness that lies behind it.

Times of violence and collective madness are perfect opportunities to deepen awareness for anyone committed to a genuine spiritual way of being. For as the flames rise before you, you can see yourself reflected in them, like a ghostly visage. Most people, like the silly kitten charging at itself in the mirror, cannot tell that they are just looking at their own reflection.

Can you?

It’s a question which is crucial to your future. And all human futures.


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6 thoughts on “It’s a riot: when religion rejects Spirit

  1. Is it fair to suggest that hate is a synthetic energy? Made by humans, for humans. Sad, really… it’s like crack — so addictive, so dangerous.

    Thanks for the work you do.

    • Synthetic is probably a good word, Sheila. I suspect humans are the only animals that hate, as we are probably the only animals that can enter the world of time, abstraction and imagination to any great degree. Hatred requires conceptualisation of “the other”. Marcus

  2. I suspect this kind of violence will continue to escalate as long as the U.S. acts like the world cop. What archetype is that?? We’ve got so many problems in this country that even a fraction of the Pentagon budget would go a long way toward mitigating, if not solving. We’re have entered truly uncertain times.

    • It will only stop when the story ends. There are widespread anti-Jpanese riots in China right now across many cities – worse than the Muslim riots in the West. It’s been 70 odd years since the Japanese left China, but the story the kids are told is still the same – that of the evil other. So the hate goes on, regardless of the fact that Japanese aggression stopped many decades ago.

  3. Very thought-provoking idea, Marcus, that hate isn’t exactly a force, and isn’t the opposite of love. Yet in a sense I suppose it is: hate is a pure ego construct, where love in the deepest sense is the absence of ego, or the rising above it. And of course, in China egoic nationalistic materialism is the closest to an official faith that there is, while in some sections of the Muslim world, as you say, a kind of victim consciousness has supplanted the deeper message of Islam, which like all religions is love and compassion.

    Regarding the US as world cop – thank heavens for a relatively enlightened leader like Obama, and God help us (literally) if Republican neocons take over in November. Their level of consciousness is identical to that of the mobs who have been storming Western embassies.

    • Yes, Simon. Some have stated that the US is not a democracy, but a republic. Regardless of the semantics, it’s pretty clear the system is not that far off being broken, and appears to bring the worst out in people. Then of course, many have said the same about “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. These are the two superpowers leading us through the 21st century… yet another reason why it would be a very good thing if more people engaged in an introspective discipline which enabled them to understand the way their minds work (and are easily manipulated) at a deeper level. Marcus

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