Wednesday, January 14, 2015


There is a terrifying schism in this world between radical fundamentalists of various stripes and atheist materialists.  The schism is terrifying not because of the number of people that have been killed so far, which is tragic but not terrifying.  The schism is terrifying because of the utter lack of understanding between the two groups, a lack of understanding that continues to grow and deepen as the dead bodies and the insults continue to pile up.

Before I attempt to bring some understanding to this schism, let me just declare flat out that Charlie Hebdo's publishing of a picture, any picture, of the Prophet Mohammed is disgraceful  and does nothing but pour more fuel on an already raging fire.  I think I have some idea why Moslems are offended by any depiction of the Prophet, and I will explain that in a moment.  But what I think doesn't matter.  The point is that pictures of the Prophet are highly offensive to millions of Moslems, regardless of their reason.  If someone tells me that what I am doing or saying is offensive to them, is deeply bothering them, then, if I have any respect for that person at all, I will stop doing it.  I don't complain about the limitations on my freedom of expression because I can't use the N word, or the C word or the G word or any number of racial, religious or gender based epitaphs.  Those words offend people, so I no longer use them, period.  Do those words offend me?  In most cases no, but so what?  I am not the person complaining.  I do not have that person's background, culture, religion or sexual orientation.  It does not matter a whit if it is not offensive to me, or if I don't 'get it.'  Others are offended; that's all I need to know.

Why did a million people protest in Paris?  Was it to mourn the death of the editors and cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo and the random slaughter of innocent shoppers in a grocery store, and to make a statement that this kind of wanton violence can never be tolerated as an answer to any offense?  Fine. But if it was to support the continued freedom of a few clever people to offend and poke fun at what is sacred for hundreds of millions of people, that is not something that I can justify.  And especially in this case, where the offended people have born the brunt of Western imperialism and colonialism for centuries.  To march in self-important protest to defend the freedom of a comfortable white intellectual elite to insult these people, many of whom do not have the means to even fill their bellies when they are hungry or to find safe shelter when they are in desperate need of sleep, seems to me to be an exercise not in freedom, but in entitlement.  Then, to put another picture of The Prophet, front and center, on the cover of your next magazine and try to make a world-wide statement about it, seems unconscionable.

The reasons why Moslems are offended by the picture of the Prophet may not be able to be understood by Western materialists.  What Moslems revere in The Prophet is his spirit, a spirit that was, they believe, an open channel to God, to Allah.  The Prophet's body or face is not important, and is not to be worshipped as a substitute for the worship of the spirit, the consciousness of the Prophet, and the vessel that that spirit was for the communication of the Divine.

Now I don't agree with fundamentalism.  The passion of fundamentalists is very real, whether Christian, Jewish or Moslem.  This passion is based on personal experiences of the fundamentalists that are not only very real but are of a depth that is impossible for the atheist/materialist who has never had a spiritual experience, to understand. And what  fundamentalists of all stripes do not understand is that the experience they had which made them fundamentalists is basically the same experience that other fundamentalists of every other religion or sect had that made them fundamentalists.

With any peak experience, you try to recreate it.  You ask, why did I have, or why was I given such an experience?  And the answer that you come up with usually has to do with the particular church or synagogue or mosque that you were worshipping at when the experience happened; or the particular prayers you were saying, or the particular rituals you were practicing.  Contrary to what materialists may think, each of these religions: Christian, Jewish and Moslem, as well as Hindu and Buddhist, are valid, proven ways of arriving at this transcendent experience; which is precisely why they have  all survived in tact for the many centuries that they have all survived.  Nothing survives for a thousand years by the empty repetition of meaningless rituals.  These religions survive because they provide for their ardent followers experiences that are, in and of themselves, tremendously meaningful and which, then, imbue the worshippers entire life with meaning.

It is part of the human ego to want to think that our way is the best way, that our religion is the best religion and our spiritual experiences are the deepest and most meaningful spiritual experiences.  But the human ego is based on the illusion of separation.  In truth, we are all one spirit.  The momentary experience we have when we are able to remove ourselves from our separate, egotistical point of view, the feeling of dissolving into the cosmic consciousness, of freeing ourselves from the boundaries of separation, of being one with the universe and all our spiritual brothers and sisters, is the same experience for everyone who has it.  You cannot experience the joy of oneness and the pride of superiority in the same moment.  The fundamentalist must learn that spiritual experience should lead to embracing not just one's own spiritual brothers and sisters, but all people; those of your religion, those of other religions and those of no religion; in fact, it should lead to the embracing of all of life, which are all manifestations, all aspects, of the one, same cosmic consciousness.

What do we in the West expect?  Do we think that the billion and a half Moslems, many, many millions of whom are ardent followers of the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed, to succumb and say, "of course, do what you want, publish pictures of the Prophet, publish pictures of Allah if you feel like it.  We no longer care.  You won."  Is that what we want?  To take away the belief system which is, in so many cases, the only precious thing in these people's lives that they cling to in a world of terrific adversity, an adversity that, to a great degree, has been imposed by the West?  Must their submission be that complete?  Must we insist on destroying their inner life after we have destroyed their outer one?

And for what?  For the freedom of a few satirists to draw pictures of The Prophet?  What about pictures of Jews with horns?  Should we add insult to injury and have this severe restriction imposed on satirists as well?  Is it too tragic to imagine these comfortable, elite, writers and cartoonists having to go through the rest of their lives not drawing a picture of Mohammed or a horned Jew?  Only so several hundreds of millions of people are spared a devastating humiliation?  If in this conflict your sympathies are with the satirists I accuse you of racism or at least of anti-Moslem religious prejudice.

And if you think that this form of unbridled satire will ultimately bring about a reconciliation through the spread of freedom and different points of view, you are insane.  People that have had spiritual experience, who understand a reverence for life, understand a deep and profound spiritual meaning to our existence, will never learn anything from the irreverent who worship only fame and financial success and who have no compunction about doing or writing or drawing or acting in anything regardless of it's message or its values if it will reward them with the requisite amount of money and/or fame.  For there to be any real reconciliation, it is the reverent who must teach the irreverent, not the other way.

We will not achieve real peace on this planet until all those in the West who have lost their reverence, who have been inculcated in the idea that life is the result of random molecular collisions with no planning, no purpose and no over all design; it is those people that need to resign their position as teachers and become students of those who have found a real spiritual meaning to life.  When fundamentalists realize that the God that they have experienced, even for a moment, is not their God, does not belong to them, is not Jewish, or Christian or Moslem, but is God, the cosmic consciousness, which transcends and traverses every nook and cranny of this universe, and supports all of life at every moment, that allows you to translate, at every waking moment, your desires into actions and your electro-chemical activity into conscious experience; that God, is not better than any other God, because that God is One, not one God as opposed to another God, but One, and beyond opposition.

And the Western atheist, materialists, must realize that they are not their bodies, but that which experiences their bodies; that their brains are something that they have and use, but that they are not their brains; that their brains help them record and define and categorize their experience but their brains do not experience their experience.  They do that.  And that the genetic code is just that, a code, which, like all codes, is a way of communicating intelligent ideas from one intelligent being to either another intelligent being, or to intelligently designed equipment that is able to read that code; and that genes are not, in and of themselves, creators of bodies, just like bricks or lumber are not, in and of themselves, creators of houses.  Gene are merely the recipes for the material requirements of ideas;  ideas which include the molding of those materials into precise shapes; countless shifts in the enormously complex firing patterns of genes; the use of  transcendentally complex and precise systems for transcribing and translating genes into actual protein materials; an enormously complex system of delivering this new protein material to the exact place and at the exact time that it is needed in the growing body; and enormously complex shifts in equilibrium, in the distribution of nerve and blood vessels, and in brain real estate, to enable this "random" trait, or "random" feature to actually be incorporated into the enormously complex and synchronized system which is a living body so that it can be used to the advantage of the being, you, that inhabits that body.

In other words, that life is not an empty, meaningless accident, but a precious opportunity, provided to you by an intelligence, a creative, loving intelligence that is way beyond our ability to understand; so that you can have the opportunity to experience the experience that you are now experiencing and to make the most of it.  And you can begin to make the most of it by revering it, not as an accident but as a sublime and intentional gift.

If only we could get there, and, admittedly that is a long road, but the Divine has created us as humans, not rocks, but humans that  are capable of great accomplishments and thrive on great challenges.  Our challenge is to heal this great divide between ardent fundamentalists and atheist materialists.  Let's begin, and we can begin by apologizing, even on the heels of the random murders in France, apologizing to the hundreds of millions of people that were offended and agreeing, not because it is forced on us, but because of our new and deeper understanding of the passions of others, to never draw a likeness, whether flattering or not, of the Prophet again.

In the aftermath of the events in France, Western countries are now upwardly revising their budgets for defense against terrorism.  Let's add one new item to this budget; an item which will cost relatively little, but may reap for these countries enormous economic savings and  real security advantages; that item is respect.

Please feel free to comment.

1 comment:

Merisanne Yasser said...

c'est la sagesse en elle même prouvé par le respect d'autrui mais en vain my dear MATT CHAIT invoque la révision des budgets sécuritaire. A mon point de vue si les politiciens seront plus humains (not égoïste)et que les médias ne détournent pas les faits par leurs propagandes le monde sera beaucoup mieux sur tout les plans donc plus de justice entre les humains et tous les systems tendront vers l'équilibre.