Thursday, April 12, 2007


Desires begin in consciousness. I want, you want, he wants, she wants. Beings have desires. Non-beings do not have desires. Proteins and nucleic acids do not have desires. When you say "My brain (three pounds of protein) wants", "my genes (microscopic bits of nucleotides) want", "my neurons want", "my DNA wants....", etc., you are ascribing to a piece of matter a consciousness that it does not have.
Also, principles or concepts do not have desires. If you say 'evolution' wants, or 'nature' wants or 'my reptilean brain' wants, you can mean one of two things. You can mean that the principle 'itself' wants, which doesn't make any sense because a principle is not an 'it' and has no 'self', or you can mean that the being that you refer to as 'nature', 'evolution' or 'mother nature' wants. This makes sense, but then it makes no sense to say that you are an atheist.

Will is the desire of the cosmic consciousness to individuate and participate in the physical universe. All biological processes and the synchronization of all these processes is driven by will. All our desires to satisfy our basic biological needs to survive and procreate come from will and these are the same set of needs and desires that we share with all living beings.

As individuated beings we also have desires that go beyond basic survival needs. These desires can be classified into two groups. The first relate to our individuated existence as a separate being. These include all those desires that we have to individuate or separate ourselves; to stand out, to rise above others or distinguish ourselves in some way. Everything that we do to bring honor, or recognition or wealth or fame to ourselves, to elevate ourselves in any way or to dimish others in any way, would fall into this category. The second group of desires include all those that relate not to our individuated consciousness but to our common origin, our shared cosmic consciousness. These include all desires to make peace and harmony, to share, to achieve social justice, to experience union or oneness with another person or an activity, to bond, to transcend, and all religious activities that give us a greater sense of who we are and a sense of being an integral part of the cosmic consciousness.

There are people who are involved exlusively with the individuated consciousness and experience no connection to the cosmic consciousness. These people believe that nothing exists beyond the satisfaction of their own needs. They live to accumulate as much honor, fame, material goods and/or sensual pleasure as possible. Spiritual life, connections to other people, loyalty to groups of people, commitments to ethics or codes of behavior are all illusory. In the extreme, these people are sociopaths.

There are also people who are involved almost exclusively, once basic survival needs are met, with the cosmic consciousness. For these people, separation, the individuated self, is the illusion. The reality is oneness, the unity of all things. The physical body is a transitory garment that one wears and casts off, and has no real existence beyond one's temporary experience of it. One's own needs are of no consequence. What matters are the needs of life and the planet as a whole. In the extreme, these people are saints.

For the great majority of us, our life is a balancing act between these two opposing yet complimentary forces. And not just within ourselves. We strive to find the right balance between self serving and selflessness, between the cosmic consciousness and the individuated consciousness, between the whole and the individual, in our families, our governments and all our social and economic institutions. The paradoxical nature of these two sets of desires is this: the more we behave from a narrowly selfish perspective, the more our limited sense of self is reinforced and the more isolated and therefore miserable we feel. Witness the anguish of the sociopath. On the other hand, the more altruistically we behave, the more we operate from our larger sense of self, the more connected to the cosmic concsiousness (regardless of your beliefs or the terms you use), the more loved and loving we feel. Witness the ecstasy of the saint. This, in a nutshell, is the essence of all the great spiritual teachings. Selfishness alienates the individual from God; selflessness bonds the individual with God.

God is one, and the experience of God is the experience of oneness, which is the experience of love. This sense of oneness, or love, can be experienced at many different levels. It can be experienced between an individual and an activity, an animal, a plant, a family, a group, a nation, all of humanity or with life itself. What I would like to focus on for a minute is the experience of oneness between two human beings. This can happen at a variety of levels. When you realize that you have experienced similar events in your background as has another individual, or have a similar reaction to an event in present time, this can be very pleasurable. When you realize that you share the same point of view as another individual regardless of differences in background, this is more pleasurable and can be experienced as a powerful bonding. When you realize that you share the same ambition for yourself and for others, the same dream of life, with another person, this is a very powerful experience of bonding and love. When you realize, even for a moment, that you chose this life and that the other person chose their life and that the bonding that you are experiencing is not random but part of a dream that you both had for this life but are only dimly aware of, that is an ecstatic union. When you realize that the being that looks out from behind your eyes and the being that looks out from behind the other person's eyes is the same being, that is a kind of bliss. And when you realize that all individuated beings, including the ones that have passed through this physical plane and the ones that are arriving on this physical plane are all really different aspects of the same One being, well that is as far as you can go while still in this body toward experiencing the bliss of cosmic consciousness.

These two sets of desires, those rooted in the individuated self and those rooted in the cosmic consciousness, blend in endlessly interesting combinations, like the ruthless gangster who is also a very loving family man. No combination is more interesting than in the fundamentalist religious zealot. Understand that we are not talking about mysticism. A mystic is a mystic. There aren't really any Christian mystics, or Buddhist mystics or Moslem mystics or Jewish mystics, and certainly not any militant mystics. Once you get it, you get it. The mystical understanding is exactly the same in all religions. But the fundamentalists are different. They have had some experience of the bonding, the union, the transcendency, the joyousness that one feels when one is lifted beyond one's individual experience and tastes the cosmic consciousness. The trouble with fundamentalists is that their experience has outstripped their understanding. They deify the ladder that they climbed to reach a spiritual height rather than the spirit itself. Each fundamentalist is absolutely convinced, in exactly the same way, and based on exactly the same experiences, that his way is the exclusively right way, that his way is the only way sanctified by God, and that anyone who says differently is to be ignored, diminished or annihilated. This is why religious wars are so passionate. Zealots have had genuinely transcendent experiences. These experiences are associated for them with certain practices, certain prayers, certain buildings, certain groups of people, certain rituals, etc. So each side, using a different name for exactly the same God, with equal passion based on exactly the same fervent experiences, sets out to kill one another.

Thankfully the choice is not just between myopic and joyless atheism or zealous and militant fundamentalism. God is not one or the other. God is not this or that. God is not a story that is true or not. God is not something that took place two thousand years ago, or five thousand years ago. God is not something to squeeze in between biology and psychology on some shelf in your mind. God is at the center of biology, psychology, zoology, anthropology, musicology and cosmetology. God is at the center of all ologies. God is one-ology. God is at every moment, in every space. God is exactly as God has been described through the ages: eternal, omnipotent, and omnipresent. 'Hear, O, Israel, The Lord, our God, the Lord is One." Not one God, one prophet, or one religion as opposed to another; not one temple, one group of people, one species, or one planet as opposed to another. The Lord is beyond opposition. The Lord is One.

Any feedback? I sincerely welcome your comments..