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Rejecting Morality of Any Kind December 8, 2021

Posted by Gus Lott in Uncategorized.
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Where do morals come from?

Atheists and Theists together agree that morals have a source, that they are learnable, and that we should seek to live a moral life. Implicit in this view is that the world is not as it should be. For the humanists, one can be “Good without God.” For members of popular religion, the scriptures tells us what is good and bad to do. It seems so simple and obvious. Humans can know what is good and bad, they can and should know and follow this. But on its face, this is an absurd position given both the Christian scriptures and the basic principles of scientific determinism. Neither the humanist or the catholic has a leg to stand on.

The first prohibition in the Bible is:

“…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

Genesis 2:17

How can our churches claim to serve the fruit of the Tree of Life on the communion table while preaching the knowledge of good and evil (morals)? It seems that the moral compass always points out of Eden, no matter how you follow it. And there is a good reason for this.

As a scientist I view the world as a thoroughgoing hard determinism. The world is a connected web of causes without separate “free” agency. Our agency is entirely contingent on our contexts; what we learn and have experienced in life. From the scientific perspective, our faith is that the world is perfect. What is imperfect is our understanding of it. The epistemology (theory of knowledge) fundamental to science is the humility that if something doesn’t seem to add up in perfect balance then it must be that we have missed something. This has led to the discovery of entire planets and new theories of the fabric of the cosmos.

The central thesis that the universe is perfect (as in “a perfect stranger”) is the essence of the first law of thermodynamics – the conservation of energy. We have faith that everything is perfectly balanced. In fact, to understand a system is to have a complete description where all of the ups sum with all the downs in order to yield a final tally of zero. The thesis of free will is simply anti-scientific. It is not a disprovable hypothesis by definition. It is the faith statement that one can simply state that a gap in understanding of causes is filled by a person themselves. It is, by definition, the absence of evidence. It maps our lack of knowledge onto a real gap in the cosmos. It is to claim that we know all. Free Will as a thesis is hubris.

How then “should” we live? What “ought” we do? What is the good which we “should” seek? These eternal questions, it turns out, are all broken. Certainly there are outcomes which we wish to either achieve or avoid. We have fears and desires that are facts about us, but what are we to do when we walk into a doctors office and the receptionist snaps at us? Are we entitled to a kind response from the receptionist? Are they to be normed into an ideal behavior?

For me, I know that there must be en explanatory story behind all the apparent good and evil in the world. It is my faith that the snappy receptionist is struggling with a trauma. Perhaps she just found out that her niece was killed in a school shooting. Or perhaps she is being forced to come to work sick in order to provide income for her family. Or even if there is some explanation that I feel would not justify my own actions matching hers, this is no less of a complete explanation.

A true determinist, who understands the fundamental philosophy of science, understands that there is always a complete (perfect) series of events that make the current moment utterly necessary. The harsh words or violent outbursts we face are whole. This is the essence of the love implicit in understanding correct physics.

When one understands determinism, the knowledge of good and evil dissolve. The result is faith in a world laid out at your feet that is utterly perfect. This is not a perfection of what you desire, but a wholeness that transcends and includes all fears and desires as they are. This is how the poisonous fruit of eden is purged. You cannot be liberated because you think you “should” understand this. Liberation is a consequence of SEEING that determinism is a FACT. When you understand this, you are hopelessly dragged into compassion and love. This is the gospel. That, when you understand this truth, you reject morality and ethics of any kind. You realize that this is the only disease. It is the fundamental root of all our suffering.

When you truly understand this core deterministic philosophy of science, you will have the sight of Jesus who was battered, betrayed, bleeding, with death a certainty (as it is with all of us). He said the most profound thing ever said and that ever will be said. In the face of all this, the greek text of John 19:30 has Jesus’s last word as “τετελεσται” (tetelestai) which may be translated as “it is perfect.” That is the faith behind the true scientific world-view. It is a humble “yes” to the world. As we know such a faith statement can reveal and empower us as it has in the transformation of our post-enlightenment modern world.

Rejecting morality and ethics in favor of compassion and understanding has been the most important transformation in my life. It is something that I have been dragged to as if I were a fish caught in a net. It reveals the perfection of the world around me, as it is. It is to truly live. In the Bible, living with the knowledge of good and evil is literally to be dead. Genesis 2:17 is the first and second use of the term death in the Bible. To be dead is to walk the world with morals and ethics, devouring the knowledge of good and evil. The resurrection and the life is to be liberated from morality and ethical thinking… Liberated from judgment… not because one should, but because it is a fact. It is, in fact, the damned who live in the false knowledge that the world is broken and that they are somehow lacking.

Churches will always get this wrong. The Church is, and always will be, exactly the place to go for more death. As J.H. Newman put it, “A people’s religion is ever a corrupt religion.” But at the same time, of course, it is perfect too in it its utter ignorance.

Instead, take the faith of Jesus Christ and meet the world with τετελεσται tattooed on your chest. You will be the best kind of scientist, filled with love, emptied of ego, and able to move mountains, all through the power of the remarkable fact: it is perfect. The moral compass always points out of eden because you already stand in the “city of perfection” (a literal translation of the hebrew word Jerusalem – ir shalem). It’s like standing on the magnetic north pole with a compass in hand and seeking north. Wherever you think you should go, you will fail. You are already there. Let this knowledge be born into you this Christmas season.

Atheism and the Ten Commandments February 7, 2019

Posted by Gus Lott in Categories, Communication, God, Metaphor, Myth & Religion, Science.

The following story is no take-down of atheism.  In fact I place atheism as a central requirement in Christian faith.  No kidding.  That may sound contradictory, but hear me out on this, it is so crucial to understanding the bible, the cosmos, yourself, and science.

The second commandment (of the ten) states that we should not create any idols of God.

Now, I’m going to throw up in my mouth a little bit as I share this link to a youtube video by PragerU, a pro-capitalist propaganda machine with dubious content.  You don’t need to watch it (I’ll describe it here), but he captures my point very well, though I’m sure this was not his intent.  Prager points out that the second commandment calls us to not worship idols such as money, race, power, or flag.  He also points out that we should not worship seemingly beautiful things like art.  He says

Any of these often wonderful things, when worshipped, can lead to terrible results.

He focuses in on music and points out a lesson he “learned early on in life”:

Great music can be used to inspire people to follow evil just as much as it can be used to inspire people to do good.

Now, I want you to consider what happens if you replace “great music” here with the word “God,” another “wonderful” thing.  I think you’ll find no problem accepting that revised statement.

In comes atheism, a lack of belief in God, which is a acknowledgement of both our own finitude as well as Prager’s modified quote about idol worship leading to good and evil.  Note, this is not a claim of agnosticism where I might say “I don’t know enough to believe yet.”  It is a claim that I will not make a statement of belief in this way, ever.

It comes down to humility.  It comes to knowing that our conscious perceptions of the world are built with finite knowledge from a unique and necessarily limited perspective.  When you assume you know what “God” means and claim a “firm and certain knowledge” as the reformer John Calvin wrote in the 16th century, you create your own idol – your own golden calf.  When we make declarations of belief in a god and feel that we have it figured out, we are worshiping an idol.  We have erected a golden calf between our ears.

But how do we know anything?  Science, then, holds both the first and second commandments holy.  The first commandment says that “the mystery of being” is your God.  The second says to have no idols.  The trick is to hold the truth with an open palm, not a clenched fist.

Science seeks to embrace the objective world “out there.”  As such, it is focused on what is.  That is to say: it is our best effort to grasp the mystery of being.  The Scientific Process achieves this through the development of theories of the behavior of what is.  This is so crucial, and gets lost in some of the bad use of language in phrases like “law of gravity.”  Science never offers “proof” to concretize a claim.  The theory of evolution will always remain “only a theory” no matter how much evidence supports it.  The scientific process, in its purest form, does not allow for the creation of a golden calf.  A statement like “evolution is true” offends the scientist, as it should offend all of us.

Science, like atheism, is not a statement of agnosticism where I might eventually be able to say “evolution is true.”  Science is a covenant that I will never say that evolution is true.  It is not just a claim that “we don’t know.”  We actually do “know” a lot; there is a great pile of data available to us.  It is a claim that we “cannot know” if the theory we hold is the truth due to the nature of perception.  We could be a brain in a vat or it could have been created this way with all the appearances, but none of the real history.  The list goes on with useless non-disprovable other options that we can never “know” are not true.

Science and atheism are thus the true ways to hold the first and second commandments.  The moment we mistake the metaphor pointing at the mystery for the mystery itself, we’ve violated the second commandment.  It doesn’t matter if we are talking about God, evolution, the atom, or you yourself, we only ever experience a representation in our minds that points to that truth out there.  Our concept of it is not it.

Avoid these commandments at your peril.  Not because some words on a page are objectively true, but because if you don’t hold these commandments, you’ll end up trapped in your own world of solidified hallucinations.  You’ll mistake the finger for what it points at.  And maybe that is divine punishment; a consequence written upon the cosmos.

Projective Geometry and the Horizon January 8, 2019

Posted by Gus Lott in Uncategorized.
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Projective geometry is mathematics of non-dualism.  It is math that allows us to transform the infinite into the finite.

In euclidean geometry, there are finite points, and then points “at infinity.” In euclidean geometry, parallel lines never intersect. There is an infinite and a finite and they are separate. There is a dualism.  Sound like familiar theology?

Projective geometry is a unified non-dual geometry in this sense. In projective geometry, parallel lines intersect at infinity which is on the continuum of values. It is a superset geometry that entirely contains euclidean geometry. The infinite can be transformed into the finite by a change in perspective, a linear projective transform.

We all intuit this when we look down rows of corn or train tracks and see where those parallel lines intersect. They intersect at infinity, at the horizon. When we pitch our heads up, that intersection point becomes real.

In Ancient Hebrew, the word olam (עוֹלָֹם) is often translated as “eternity” or “forever,” but it is really pointing to that point out there on the horizon where the things that seem to be eternally separate (parallel) all intersect no matter their spacing here.  The word has many meanings, and horizon is certainly one of these.

The oldest surviving mathematics on this topic that we have are from the Greek Alexandrian (Egyptian) teacher, Pappus (c.300 AD), from 600 years after the time of Alexander the Great and Euclid (of euclidean geometry).  His work that we have is interestingly titled “Synagogue” which is merely greek for “collection.”  Most of this early work consisted of discussions of co-lineations.  Here is a real engaging history of co-lineation and projective geometry in lecture format.

Today, projective geometry has evolved with the addition of algebraic projective geometry by Pascal, Desargue, Möbius, and many others.  Paul Dirac used projective geometry in his formulation of quantum mechanics, and others have used this formulation throughout modern physics.

If you look, you will find that under the hood of every video game, the graphics are rendered using projective models and projective transforms (using graphics languages like OpenGL).  This enables perspective transforms and simple mappings from three dimensional worlds to two dimensional screen images.  This is the forward problem of projection.

In robotics, projective geometry is core to the understanding of multiple images generated by a moving robot or a robot with multiple “eyes.”  In a robot (even the human variety), projective concepts are used to invert multiple two dimensional images into a three dimensional model of the world.  This is the inverse problem of projection.

Projective geometry is a beautiful mathematical and theological system.  At a higher level, projection, the forward problem can be thought of as our conscious experience (see Plato’s cave).  We are, each of us, perspective projections of the cosmos.  Science and theology seek to solve the inverse problem of discovering the cosmos by pooling our individual experiences to remove the effects of the projection device (our minds) to get at the objective reality out there.

This inverse problem is what theology/science seeks to do and can be summed up in the parable of the blind monks and the elephants.  What this parable reminds us is that, when we deal with projections, we all intuitively understand that we can experience images of an object that are completely contradictory (the elephant’s tail or the trunk).  We can say that my experience is completely different from yours and that they cannot be resolved.  We hear this in all of the calls of competing religions sending each other to their own respective concepts of hell.

But what we can take from projective geometry is the same lesson that we get when we hold our finger up in front of our eyes and close one eye and then the other.  We do not try to resolve the images of the finger pixel for pixel.  Instead, our mind discovers a higher dimensional (3D) model of the finger which, when coupled with knowledge about the relationship between the eyes, can describe both conflicting experiences.

It is critical that we KEEP the tension in the experiences.  It is exactly the conflicts between experience that give depth to the world.  This is a heavy lesson from projective geometry.


One Will and the Kingdom January 7, 2019

Posted by Gus Lott in Uncategorized.
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Rob Bell (in his 2011 NYT bestselling book “Love Wins”) says:

“…Jesus often referred to the ‘kingdom of heaven,’ and he tells stories about people ‘sinning against heaven.’ ‘Heaven’ in these cases is simply another way of saying ‘God.’

Second, Jesus consistently affirmed heaven as a real place, space, and dimension of God’s creation, where God’s will and only God’s will is done. Heaven is that realm where things are as God intends them to be.

On earth, lots of wills are done.
Yours, mine, and many others.
And so, at present, heaven and earth are not one.”

What scientific determinism tells us is that the universe truly is one will, and that each of our wills is an aspect or projection of that one will.  We are taught that the physical forces that govern the cosmos are lifeless puppet strings pulling on us and to which our wills must resist or inevitably follow.

I believe, however, that determinism, as presented by science, is exactly equal to this kingdom of heaven.  Determinism describes the universe as one body; the body of the divine being?  I believe that God, Godself, is the interconnected cosmos; one evolving co-arising will.

To respond to Bell’s words:

On earth, and in the cosmos, science tells us that one will is done, but we do not see.  Your will and mine and many others are one, but we do not see.  And so, at present, heaven and earth ARE one, but we do not see.

Science shows us that there is only one will actually being done in the cosmos.  Isn’t science then showing us the kingdom of heaven!?  Pick a name for that will: Self, God, Allah, Adonai, Atman, The One, or no name at all.  Science tells us that the cosmos is as it is intended to be.  We fear this kingdom come.  We fear the world in which only one will is done and not our own isolated ego’s will in conflict with others.  We fear that what the one will has in store for us may not be pleasant.  But how could that be?  It is our will too.  The unpleasantness is the death before the resurrection into joyful participation in the sorrows of the world.  As Islam calls us to do: Submit to God.  Submit to yourSelf.

Could Jesus have known this?  Of course he could have.  This is standard theological fare in The Far East, and eastern ideas were flooding into the region after Alexander the Great took Greek culture all the way to India three hundred sixty years prior to Jesus’s teachings.  This is not as striking an assertion as C.S. Lewis would have us believe.

This is the wacky thing about free will and how it is preached in Abrahamic churches around the world.  This preaching gets in the way of us realizing the kingdom of heaven, which is right here and right now everywhere that we look.  It is just that we can’t see it, and the sermons we keep getting keep us in the field of a battle of Good vs Evil, which is the field named sin.

The orthodox church is truly the church of the God in the Garden of Eden.  That God places guardians at the gates and keeps us out in the world.  So, when preaching on free agency and selective salvation, the church we have is really and truly the church of exile and sin.  It keeps the law of the God of Eden, but it is not a Christian church!

The laws of Christ and the laws of Thermodynamics speak the heresy.  They tell us that the will of that God is our will and that those gate guardians are us, it is just that we do not see it.  When each of us internalizes that “I and the father are one,” we find ourselves back in the Garden.  We see the one divine will all around us and can then truly love our enemies and our neighbors as our self.  It turns out that our enemies and our neighbors are our Self.

For me, this is where the concept of the boundaries between religion and science fall away.  They are and always have been describing the same thing.  And I’m not talking about reconciling creationism or other pseudoscience.  I’m saying that straight up thermodynamics, physics, systems neuroscience, evolution, and big bang cosmology are describing Jesus’s “kingdom to come.”

This rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem scares the hell out of us.  Well, at least it freaks me out.  I have all these plans!  Somehow I want to reconcile this with the life that I’ve been building.  Well, that is our work in this new world.  It’s our work, which is God’s work.  And maybe me clinging to my plans is like the rich man Jesus tells to give away all of his possessions to the poor.  The man bows his head and walks away, unable to do it.

Shema December 31, 2018

Posted by Gus Lott in Uncategorized.
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The Shema is the most popular Jewish prayer.  Jesus reportedly used this prayer, and it is likely more than 3000 years old. The most common source is from the book of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 in the Hebrew Torah or the Christian Old Testament.

I recently got a chance to memorize this prayer in the ancient Hebrew and started saying it to my children at night.  It is important to me that this is understood not as some sort of “cultural appropriation” but as me taking ownership of an artifact of my cultural heritage.  I do not think of myself as Jewish or even as a theistic Christian, but this prayer comes from my ancestors and from the culture in which I was born and raised.  I identify, theologically, as a pantheist Christian.

This essay explores the prayer and my scientifically or atheistically or pantheistically compatible translation of this ancient text.  When I say it, what follows is what I mean and hold in my mind.  It is a marvelously compact theological statement.

The following is the ancient Hebrew text from Deuteronomy (read from right to left).

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל:  יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יהוה אֶחָד
וְאָהַבְתָּ, אֵת יהוה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁךָ, וּבְכָל-מְאֹדֶךָ

When I share this at bed time with my kids, I pronounce it roughly as:

Shema Yisrael: Adonai Eh-lo-hay-nu, Adonai ach-ad.
Vuh-ahavta et Adonai eh-lo-hay-cha, bah-kol leh-vav-cha, oo-vah-kol naf-shech-ah oo-vah-kol mah-o-day-cha.

Here’s my audio:

Here is the standard NRSV English translation.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

And this is my english translation, when my kids ask me what it means.

Listen up we who wrestle with God!  Our God, the source of being, the source is all and one undivided unity.  You will love your God, the ground of your being, with all that you think and feel, with all that you do, and with everything that you are.

Let me break this down…

1) “we who wrestle with God”

The first section calls to all who wrestle with the notion of God.  In the book of Genesis, Jacob, one of the mythical patriarchs of the Hebrews, wrestles with God all night (and wins) and as such is given the name Israel.  The word means “struggles with God” and the meaning is given there in the text of Genesis.  Today, “Israel” has come to associate with only these people of Jewish ancestry in the Middle East, or the current country of the same name, so we can stop using the direct transliteration of the word and use the translation from the story.  This is all of us.

You can think of Israel as “struggling with God” and Islam as voluntary submission to God.  That is submission in the struggle.  The Arabic word “Islam” comes from the same root as the Hebrew word “Shalom” (peace/completeness – asalam in Arabic).  You can see the SLM root in both cases. Perhaps an atheist or anti-theist defines their views in opposition (struggle) to some concept of God, which they reject.

These are several ways of looking at the struggle, but in either case, the struggle is real, and something we all are involved in universally as humans.  There is the undeniable mystery that we are here.  The nature of that mystery is God.  Here, I use the term God simply as another word for the mystery, not as a claim about the nature of the mystery.

2) “Our God, the source of being”

The next section is the special name of God used by the Jews, YHWH.  This word has produced a mountain of ink on its own, but there are a few important facts.  The Jews do not say this word.  In fact, it is assembled here so that there is no way to pronounce it (no vowels).  It has been incorrectly translated as Jehova, or Yahweh, but really, it is a symbol, exactly like the “artist formerly known as Prince” who changed his name to a symbol in 1993.

This particular set of four letters is derived from the verb “to be.”  When seen in text, it is verbally replaced with the word “Lord” (“Adonai” in Hebrew).  It often appears simply as “The LORD” in most english translations.  It saddens me that this dynamic for the name of God has been lost in our Christian texts.  How boring (and idolatrous) to replace it with LORD!

Instead of “Lord,” I remove the hierarchical/monarchical language and replace it with “source” as meaning (“ma-kor” in Hebrew, but I still say Adonai).  No matter what you say, it doesn’t change the text, since you are avoiding the name itself.  In some ways, this is like the idea of having no idols of God (the second of the ten commandments).  Even a word for God forms an idol in your mind, so the Jews try to create this intentional confusion in the text.  I think it’s beautiful.  It is like a zen koan in one word.

3) “the source is all and one undivided unity”

To me, this says that God is the mystery of being itself.  It is also the source of our being and, in my theology, that is all of the cosmos (including you and me), which is one continuous Self. Hence my translation “all and one undivided unity.”  And that brings us to the last word of the first verse.  “Eh-chad” (the “ch” is pronounced as it is in Bach) means “one” or “single” or “alone.”  This has had many meanings over history and the translation to english is quite ambiguous.  The word has gone from meaning that the Hebrew being was the target of their worship instead of other gods (e.g. henotheism), and then to a monotheistic understanding of the deity, and now evolves for me into the pantheistic unity of all being in the cosmos.  Quite an arch for the character of God!

4) “You will love your God”

For the Hebrews, the second verse is a call or a command or a prediction.  “You will love” is not a command in my interpretation.  It is an inevitable statement about life and death.  For me, this kind of love is everything you do.  When you reject, when you embrace, when you are ambivalent, when you do crime, work intensely in flow, or otherwise are distracted, every moment of every thing that you do is in the embraced in the divine unity, God.

5) “with all that you think, with all that you do, and with everything that you are.”

The verse then calls for us to love the mystery of being with all of our thoughts and emotions (the hebrew word translates as heart), with all that we do (the hebrew word here is soul which is a concept I translate as a verb – what the body does), and all of everything that we are and do; the Hebrew word here is “your very” (great youtube video) which is a wonderful term on its own.  For me, this is again, not a call, but a declaration that all that you do with every part of you, no matter what it is, no matter how peaceful or violent, but all of it, every breath, is inescapably the actions of the divine mystery of being, the one will.

An Apology for the Definition of God

What is my defense of this evolution in meaning of God?  As I mentioned above, the term for “oneness” has already evolved from henotheism (one god out of many gods during the pre-monarchy Hebrew period), to monotheism (there is only one God, during the Hebrew Babylonian exile and certainly into Christianity), and now, in my theology, to this: There is only one being, Self/God of which your self (little “s”) is a projection or image, the image of God, and at the same time, still the One.  To me, this is the culmination of the trajectory of this term and is completely consistent with modern science.  There is only one will in the cosmos from which all phenomena are expressed (a physicist might call this determinism).  The concept of many independent wills (e.g. free will of the individual) is false.  God has then followed a biographical trajectory from one among many, to one among two (creation and creator), to one among one, the unity.

My kids think it is pretty cool.  Saying it in Hebrew is magical for them.  It is kind of a foreign mystical sounding set of symbols.  And as I have been saying it over the last month to them, they are slowly beginning to capture it in their minds too.  It’s neat that this prayer is something like a quantum superposition from quantum physics.  I can say the ancient Hebrew, and it can have many meanings until someone asks the person praying what it means for them.

Missing the Mark December 28, 2018

Posted by Gus Lott in Uncategorized.

A common definition of sin is “missing the mark.” that is, we fail to do what is right. What this really is is us drawing a mark around a place we didn’t hit. We make the mark miss us.

Science tells us that we do what we must do as the universe unfolds and there is no sense of “ought,” only what is. But to be human is to sin: a misunderstanding. It is to be driven by “oughts” instead of being still in what “is.” And “ought” is exactly drawing a “mark” somewhere other than what “is.”

Being free from sin is to “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don’t toil, neither do they spin” (Matthew 6:26). It is to be still. The Buddha got on this too when he held up a flower and was simply silent (The “flower garland sutra”).

It can be fun to be still sometimes, but hey, we are human for only a short time. It’s our nature. Let’s move too, in the knowledge of the stillness! Go look at the flower to remember how to love in at-one-ment and then get out there and do some living.

Is and Ought December 15, 2018

Posted by Gus Lott in Uncategorized.
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is is
the ought is not
yet there the ought is
in the image in thought

One Voice November 14, 2018

Posted by Gus Lott in Uncategorized.
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Inspired by the Wailin’ Jennys’ song “One Voice”

The idea of a separate God “out there” is sin. That is, sin: the separation from the divine. The church and our culture preach a theology of sin. This is where we live out our lives.  This is where we make our stand.  This is THE orthodoxy. We are to be in separation from and relationship to the divine. This is a faith of dissociation. Orthodoxy is the physical form of the guardians and the sword at the gates of Eden.

The sound of voices two; the sound of me singing with youhelping each other to make it through.

God is the divine dressing with which we clothe the mystery.  We clothe it so that we may be embraced by it.

And we also know that there is one being which is all of what is. It is what we are. It co-arrises and forms. That being (our being) is God, and it is the inexplicable mystery of the ground of what we are. It is simultaneously foreign, inaccessible, and a close to us as our next heartbeat. We arise from this mystery like waves from the ocean. This is a faith of association. This is a gospel of atonement (at-ONE-ment) and it is THE heresy.

This is the sound of one voice; one people one voice; a song for every one of us.

Our task is to sing the voices of all of us in harmony as one voice. Surrendering to the mystery. Surrendering to ourselves and each other. Orthodoxy is the human condition, and it must be lived with the heresy written on our hearts.

Further Thoughts:

The church is the church of Yahweh: the God in the garden that puts up the guardians to keep us out in the condition of Sin. The church supports the will of this force, that is, to keep us in the condition of sin. This makes the human condition (including love and hate) possible. This is orthodoxy. This is literally the mechanical function of our mind. Our minds, at their core, inescapably put us in exile from God.

Christ is the agent of Heresy who shows us how to get back into the Garden (free us from sin and give eternal life – the other tree in the garden). It is to realize identity with the divine and to see that the flaming sword at the gates is really in your own hand. This is Heresy. If you go this route, you die to sin, but also leave the world.

Our task is to live with these two forces integrated in us. That is, to die by the heresy and be resurrected to experience the human condition (embracing orthodoxy triumphantly) knowing full well what it is. The Buddhists call this “Joyful participation in the sorrows of the world.”

This doesn’t mean we can be free of sin. It is clear that it is not possible for anyone to NOT sin. Sin is identical to the condition of being as a separate entity. To be human. It is intrinsic to our condition. Only God cannot sin because God is the universal undifferentiated ground of being (which is you too). If you are you and not “that,” you sin. So the hindus say “Tat Tvam Asi” and Jesus says “I and the father are one.” Jesus said that you help him when you help others. Jesus was gone from the world, identifying with the universal ground of being. He did not “Phileo” love (in greek), he “Agape” loved. Phileo, is love of other while Agape is love of all as God. Peter’s love is the love “Phileo” of the world in sin, and Peter became the church… The orthodoxy.

We can embrace the fact that we are sinners in this fashion. Sin is not imperfection or “falling short.” Sin is, in fact, the notion of perfection or imperfection itself. It’s the “knowledge of Good and Bad” in the Eden story. This is the knowledge of categories and value judgments which is the set of motivational forces which “are” us.

What is God? March 13, 2018

Posted by Gus Lott in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

What or who is God?  I think I’ve got a good idea, and I think I can point to it and show you exactly what it is.  It’s not an invisible patriarch in the sky, a parasitical virus in the mind, or the pantheistic god of Spinoza.

Instead, it is something literal and central to who we are.  The God I’m talking about here is Yahweh; the “Lord God” that walked in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day, and who formed Adam out of river clay (no, not really… I know.. duh).  The God of Moses, named “I am.”

You see, our minds have this peculiar feature.  We grow to understand that we are free actors with our own identities separate from the rest of the world.  We create object concepts of this and that. “Alive and dead are totally different states,” we tell ourselves.  We convince ourselves, “You are not me,” and “I am in control.”  We feel that we have Free Will, which leads to the notion of moral agency.  Our parents teach us to go out and discover what we want to be.  We are instructed to persevere and pull on our own bootstraps.  The entire structure of Heaven and Hell is the setup.  We are to believe that there is a battle between moral actors and that we must pick a side.  That is the game of life.  Pick your team.

It is challenging, but not impossible, in the face of all this, to discover the that the ego and these categories which we perceive, are not actually categories of “kind,” but of “degree,” and that all that about Heaven/Hell, Life/Death, You/Me, and This/That are false dichotomies.  Mystics, long ago, were able to discern this and encode it into our ancient stories (and they still do to this day).  The truth is that all of the universe is interconnected, interdependent, and dependently arising.  This understanding is what wakes a Buddha (literally “one who has woken up”).  When Jesus claims identity with God and calls us to love our enemies, he is clearly awake.  When the atheist, Sam Harris, speaks on the absence of Free Will, he is ham-handedly touching on this same noble truth:  The interdependent nature of the cosmos… That the moral value judgments that color our world are colors projected by the mind.

And it’s here that you find Christ’s God; the God of Adam and Moses.  When you feel a drive towards egoism and righteous anger at another…  When you feel desire for and fear of loss of a loved one…  When you feel guilty and morally responsible…  When you feel pride at an accomplishments…  The entire field of human experience that is opposed to the truth of interconnectedness and dependent arising of all things.  That’s God.  God is literally the structure and function of our mind: an identity/ego generator that categorizes and classifies our environment into false dichotomies.  God is not some poisonous idea or parasite in our brain that can be escaped.  The God of Eden is inextricably tied to the human condition.  God is the hard wired features of the human brain that give rise to the human ego consciousness.

In Eden, we eat of the tree of the fruit of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  This is the fruit of false dichotomies and symbolizes this feature of the human mind.  Original Sin is not some moral act.  Original Sin is the nature of our mind forgetting that it is identical with the cosmos from which it sprouts.  We are ejected from Eden, by God, into the field of life and death and pain and suffering.  We are ejected so that we don’t eat the fruit of the tree of eternal life, the other tree.  The fruit of that tree is what the mystics are speaking of.  It is the antidote to categorical consciousness.  It is a symbol of the undifferentiated truth of reality.  And it is Yahweh that places the guardians and the flaming sword at the gates of Eden to keep us from this realization.

God is this real force in our the physiology.  He is our sense of “I am” (that was the name he gave to Moses).  God is the basic operating system we are each loaded with in order to go about the human experience.  We can’t escape it, but we can come to terms with it.  And this is what the mystics discover.  You can either go out on the cross like Jesus, or return to the world and joyfully participate in this human condition like the Bodhisattvas (the Buddhas who choose to come back and play the game of life – its the only game there is to play).  The goal of high mystical traditions is (or should be) to help the individual to come to terms with this God feature of our bodies.  It is to realize that the flaming sword at the gate of Eden is really in our own hand.  That’s a truly integrated individual.

Like it or not, we are linked to God.  In order to reach up and pick the fruit of eternal life and to free ourselves from sin (sin in my terms here), we must come to terms with God as Jesus did when he said “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).  God’s hand is our hand.

Grand Unified Mind Theory March 5, 2018

Posted by Gus Lott in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far

Evil exists. How should a religious person reconcile this with the all-powerful and all-good nature of God? If God allows evil to exist, then God is not all good. If God cannot prevent evil, then God is not all-powerful.  I hope to directly addresses this logical contradiction by proposing a resolution based on an interpretation of the Eden story, and the teachings of Christ, that is also consistent with Eastern traditions and our modern western physical model of the cosmos. I seek to unify and empower both fields (science and religion) with meaning; I seek to compromise or diminish neither.

I will start with the following proposition: God is all things. This is not saying that God is merely “within” all things, or part of all things. It is to say that God is identical to all things; the cosmos is divine. To take a phrase from Jesus (John 10:30): “I and the Father are one.”   I will add that so are you and I, and so are the rocks, the trees, and the space in between.

Now, the core physical principal guiding all fields of western science is the First Law of Thermodynamics; summarized as: “You can’t get something from nothing.” It is an intuitive statement of conservation of mass and energy. Nothing is created or destroyed; all phenomena are derived from other phenomena. This implies causality and determinism. This is the basis for all fields from quantum mechanics (the microcosm) to neurophysiology (the mesocosm) to astrophysics (the macrocosm).

An alternative expression of this law was provided by the Buddha in the “Flower Garland” (Avatamsaka) Sutra where he taught about the principal of no-self. To understand this, think about a table in your home or office. The table consists of wood, metal, effort of a craftsman, etc. There is nothing intrinsically “table” in that table. It consists of entirely non-table parts. And the same is true for all of the parts of the table; the wood consists of sunlight, water, earth, etc.  You are also an assembly of entirely non-you parts. Not just your physical matter, but also the current state of your mind. You are an assembly of entirely non-you experiences. Your brain is an experience aggregation machine with a unique perspective.

This Buddhist principal matches the western science principal of causality. Everything is connected in a vast web of interdependence. In Sanskirt this the term is “Pratītyasamutpāda,” or “dependent origination,” found in the Avatamsaka Sutra. What this law of causality implies is that any concept of a finite/bound being (like a table) is a convention within your mind. The only real bound on an absolute entity is a bound around the entirety of the cosmos. So if we wish to discuss what “God” is and what “I” am, we must concede that there is only one absolute being, and that that must be both God and I. Thus my original proposition that “God is all.”

Armed with this knowledge, lets visit the Garden of Eden story in Genesis, the first use of the terms good and evil in the Bible (the problem of which I seek to solve). I propose that Eden is the story of the literal creation of the world. No, not that “real” world, but the world in our mind. Our personal worlds are a model of the outside world with the additional infusion of abstraction and meaning (such as “table” and “tables go in dining rooms”). This is the only world we ever know. In this context the Eden story tells of how this meaning infused consciousness arose.

Eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil speaks to this trick that our minds play. It is the trick of the “table” where there is no table. The mind creates categories and labels for things and it happens to help us survive. Segmenting a tiger from the trees is of great evolutionary utility. But it is not an objective categorization of an intrinsic being and the environment. What the Eden story tells us is that the human condition is this sense of ourselves as separate from God, all things. When our minds create a bound of “I” and the world out there as “They” we are thrust, out of Eden, into the game of humanity. We are these peculiar machines that have forgotten our eternal nature in exchange for tools for survival. This “original sin” is inherent to our brains. This segmentation of the world is “The Fall of Man.”

Hopefully, the solution to the problem of evil is now apparent. Good and evil and our derived sense of moral agency are categorizations of our brain and part of our psychological separation from the divine. And we do not need to segment God as both “All-powerful” and/or “all good.” God is simply all (including the concepts of good and evil in our minds). Instead of “I and they,” one can say, “I is they.” From the Hindu Chandogya Upanishad (contemporary to Genesis – c700 BC), we see this term in Sanskrit as “Tat Tvam Asi” or “Thou art That.”

This interpretation casts the creation story in Genesis as a phenomenal insight into the nature of the human mind. It has immense value as a guiding doctrine for our species. It is not to be discarded. In the west, there is no other insight like it.  No psychological systems model.  No understanding of consciousness.  We live mostly in a dualistic world here in the Abrahamic world.

This feature of our brain tricks us into thinking that we are finite (we come into being upon birth and leave upon death). It allows us to dominate and till the land to create agriculture. And as Carl Sagan points out in his book, The Dragons of Eden (1977), these abstractions require a large brain relative to our body mass, leading to pain in childbirth. Each of these examples are the consequences of expulsion from Eden (Genesis 3:16-19).

But there is another tree in Eden. It is the tree of eternal life. Yahweh bars us from eating the fruit of this tree. He placed gate guardians and a flaming sword east of Eden (Genesis 3:24). It is the counterpoint to the tree that projected us into our current state. It is the path back to Eden and unity with the divine.

It is into this situation that Jesus arrives. He arrives into a world of sin. It is clear that he understood the false nature of these categories of good and evil. In his first attributed teachings (Matthew 5:45 NIV), we have “[The Father in Heaven] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” This is to say that God does not discriminate these categories (or God is in all of these categories). Jesus goes on to assault categorical labels in Matthew 5:44 with “Love your enemies”, and in Luke 14:26 he advocates that we “hate our family and friends and even our own life.” Importantly, Christ does not employ us to not have enemies or to end our life. He employs us instead to see through the person striking our cheek to the shared being within him, and to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39).

On the Thursday before His crucifixion, Christ shares a communion with his closest disciples. We are to consume his body and his blood in remembrance of his teachings. And there on the cross where his body was broken and his blood was spilled, we are to see a conquering of sin and the gift of eternal life.

Christ on the cross is the location of Eden. Christ on the cross is the tree of eternal life in the Garden and his body and blood are the fruit of that tree. To internalize his body is to internalize his message, and to see through categories to the truth that you are one with God, which was the truth he proclaimed for himself as a model for us. Eden is within; it is just that we don’t see it. Jesus told the Pharisees as much in Luke 17:20-21: “The kingdom of God will not come with observable signs. Nor will people say, ‘Look, here it is,’ or ‘There it is.’ For you see, the kingdom of God is within you.”

In this context, is God all-good? I believe that this question is wrong. What we can say is that Yahweh is the force keeping us in sin. In Genesis, Yahweh fears our return (Genesis 3:22), and places the flaming sword at the gate to Eden. What Christ helps us realize is the same truth that Eastern religions and Western science point to. Christ teaches us that the flaming sword was in our own hands all along and that Yahweh is a projection, like us, of God.

So this is the problem of evil, but it is not the one you think. The problem of evil is the problem of the nature of the mind. And the real eternal life that Christ offers is the solution to this problem.  As far as I can tell, this is the only teaching of the mystics throughout time.  It also happens to be heresy.  They’ll nail you up on a cross for it.