Truth Against the World

Friday, December 17, 2010


The idea of faith is one that was inevitably going to be discussed by me here. Faith, religion, spirituality, and psychology have always been the most interesting subjects for research by myself. The only real way to research these issues are empirically. Buddha himself said he just points down the middle path of enlightenment but you have to walk it. When it comes to spirituality only you are equipped to make decisions. The exploration of the ideas involved in this topic will probably span largely and require many posts. In fact it will be an on going topic on this blog. In this area I remain open to suggestion and new ideas with one stipulation; I will not change my mind on these issues unless you can first present your case logically. I will only get to the point of departure with you by exhausting logic first. In other words, you must show me that you have thought critically about why you believe what you do. Just parroting one liners from a holy book means absolutely nothing to me. Referring me to your particular religious fairy tale as an answer to a critical question like "why did God exterminate all but a few people?" is not going to get you anywhere with me.

In Grace and Grit, written by Ken and Treya Wilber, Wilber talks about the differences between exoteric and esoteric spiritual beliefs. Exoteric: Suitable for or communicated to the general public. Basically this is what you get in church. Those who hold exoteric beliefs generally believe in religious imperatives that they have never spent cognizant time with. That is that they accept all of the tenets and beliefs set forth by their particular religion as the alpha and omega without ever questioning them. Now I know that is not implied by the definition of exoteric, but I'm saying it is usually the case. If you are of that type of person than you probably are not open to knew religious/spiritual ideas and this blog is not for you.

Exoteric beliefs do not require you to question them. In fact they thrive when you do not question them. In my experience Christianity is composed mainly of people who have questioned the Bible at most a tad bit but usually not at all. The questions kids pose of the Bible are not the kinds of questions I'm talking about either. I'm talking about questions that arise from the age of reason. To be clear I do not have a problem with what I believe to be the true face of Christianity. That is to say, what I believe the real Jesus of Nazareth said and meant, and not what the red words subjected to the will of man over the last 2000 years say. There are Christians out there whom act Christ like and can carry on an intelligent conversation about their beliefs (usually up to a point at least), but in my experience they are the minority. The majority fall into the exoteric camp. They see the Bible as the unaltered perfect word of God. It's not my intention to single Christianity out during this discussion. It's just what I grew up in. The Bible was not able to stand up to my logical scrutiny. Things are different now but that's for another discussion.

Exoteric means accepted ignorance to me. I don't care what religion you are talking about. If you subscribe to one book as the word of God, than it's very probable that you are practicing that word exoterically. In order to say that one book is the perfect word of God you are also saying that the other "word of God books" are wrong and fraudulent. You see, saying that the Bible is the only way to God is inherently unchristlike. Christ does not condemn souls to hell, frustrated exoteric beliefs, on the other hand, do. Exoteric beliefs are largely used to control the will and mind of the masses. They have always served that function in society. They are a function of the controlling arms of society and nothing more. I have no use for exoteric belief patterns. In my mind the only thing that keeps the masses bound up with these all or nothing beliefs is fear. Namely the fear of death. Logic and reason get you pretty far but at some point you have to address questions that logic and reason have no business with. These questions pertain to faith and what it means to practice esoteric religion. This is the point where religion and spirituality meet. Fear is what keeps most people pigeon holed in a particular religion.

People are afraid to die. Exoteric beliefs provide them with recluse from the onslaught of this meditation. Meditating on the impermanence of your own life is an extremely powerful practice. Death as fear is a product of ego. Your ego, what you identify as you in your head, that constant monologue that you are prisoner to, the ticker tap that goes non-stop in your head, that is ego. It is concerned with only one thing and that is continual existence. Your ego wants to make sure that it will always exist and death is the antidote to that. Therefore it will not willingly allow you to ponder death. Death means that at some point the ego ceases to exist...unless. Unless there is some way that it can continue to exist after death. Enter exoteric religion and control of your mind by oligarchs.

Do not succumb to your visceral knee-jerk reaction to this idea. This is the point of departure I was talking about earlier in this blog. If you look at the history of religion, the use of religion as an ultimate vehicle of control cannot be denied logically. This is presented perfectly in the history of Christianity. It is historical fact that Christianity is a fusion of popular Roman beliefs and the then new Christian sect. Why would that be the case? I think, if you are willing to allow reason in, you can see why that would be the case. The important concept to keep in mind here is that just because your particular exoteric religion is caught up in this undeniable history does not mean that you must remain locked to it by fear. You do not have to remain an apologetic to your religion. What does it mean if you are an apologetic to begin with? It means that you are making excuses. For what?

Faith does not have to mean accepted ignorance. Faith can mean that you have exhausted the limits of reason and must now make decisions about what you feel the nature of ultimate reality is. This is the realm of the esoteric.

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