Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Song of Songs and the Living Universe

The Song of Songs and the Living Universe

Chris King

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons.
I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.

Collective Messiah and Beneficent Futures

In Eliyahu’s words above the Mount of Olives during our all-night celebration on Millennium Eve: “we are together the collective mashiach and our vision here tonight will spread peace in our hearts and peace on the city of peace below Jerusalem - and be a light for peace in the whole world, and in the whole universe”.

This vision of the collective messiah coincides closely with the description of the messianic dream manifest in children in Rabbi Adin Steinsalz’s ‘The Messiah Complex’ : “Therefore school children are all "my messiahs" [Chr 1 16:22], each one of them is within the category of a small messiah. And if he is not a messiah, whether in his present capacity or in his potential future, at any rate he belongs within the category of small messiah through the power of his will, the power of his dreams. From the inner Jewish world view it is possible to say, that each member of Israel has in him, in some way, a messianic spark.”

One of the most poignant and enjoyable aspects of my meeting with Yitzhaq in Jerusalem was the ability of people of different paths to sit around the table together and discuss their beliefs and traditions, as one shares a bottle of good wine, and one’s idiosyncratic cultural treasures, in a spirit of equitability, each learning insights from the others, in a way which brings mutual wisdom.

A particularly fertile aspect of the Jewish concept of the messiah is that it is a natural process inspiring living human beings to seek the long-term future goodness of humanity in a personal heroic vision quest. Again Rabbi Adin Steinsalz’s words: “A Messianic complex is not just the general wish - be it overt or covert - to redeem the world or to improve the conditions of the world, but it includes another component just as important. The messianic wish is not merely a general wish for improved conditions and for changes for the better, but the wish of that private person to become personally the redeemer of the world.”

It is a central tragedy of Christianity that this natural vision of redemption has been stolen from the living people by the pagan crafting of the heroic identity of Jesus as man-god Lord and savior, so that the spontaneous original virtue that resides in the messianic quest has been supplanted by an original sin which leaves humanity helpless except through the semi-divine intervention of the Lord in a Second Coming which Yeshua stated would occur in his own generation.

Part of the reason mainstream Judaism sees Yeshua as a false prophet and the Talmud Sanhedrin refers to ‘Balaam the Lame’ is that Yeshua’s pretensions to wild natural miracles and espousal by female patronage to his own sacrificial demise are more characteristic of the contemporary Dionysian fertility worship of Nabatea than of the Pharisaic traditions of Israel. And it is these very features, which also caused Christianity to sweep across the pagan world.

Apocalypse: Bridal Unveiling versus Patriarchal High Noon

In a deeper sense, both the notion of an apocalyptic unveiling and the messianic quest can be seen as a cultural imprint on the emerging human stream of consciousness, in which we have faced tumult and future shock in the process of coming from gatherer-hunter bands, through conflict of civilizations, to an awareness of the closing circle of planet Earth and the greater cosmological scheme in the scientific age.

Thus the founding myths of Genesis, to which Yitzhaq frequently refers, form an axis beginning with a falling out of relationship with nature and with the depth of communion with the ‘divine’ and a sexual falling out between woman and man in the patriarchal ascendance, leading down the corridors of history to the final unveiling in the age of apocalypse we all now face.

Apocalypse means ‘unveiling’ - something unmistakably associated with the veiling of women and with marriage. In Jewish tradition, unveiling has a deep connection with the struggle against matrilineal patterns we find in Laban’s kin. Jacob thinks he is marrying Rachel, but finds, after failing to unveil her, that he has been tricked into marrying Leah, leading to his seven year vigil, finally escaping the clutches of his matriarchal in laws to found the patriarchal tradition of Israel, albeit still punctuated by matriarchal inheritance of the Jewish line through the mother.

Hence in Jewish marriage ceremonies, the bride is unveiled for a period before the religious consummation, both to allow the power of her radiance to shine forth through Shekhinah - the feminine face of God - and also critically to make sure who she is to avoid Jacob’s plight. Muslim women wearing the Burqa take the warning - you are treading on ancient ground - the requirement to unveil for ID checks in public is older than both Islam and the modern age!

However, in the patriarchal tradition of monotheism, apocalypse is associated with tumult and discord in the culmination of the messianic age in which each path sees its ultimate destiny in becoming the sanctified of the supreme dominant faith of the true God ostensibly throughout the entire world. The apocalyptic way of the one God has thus led to some of the most serious strife facing the planet and a real risk that monotheism will bring about, not an era of long-term future goodness, but the hellish destruction of military, nuclear and ecological Armageddon upon us all.

Abrahamic Syntheses and Divine Contradictions

Part of the seeking to unify the mythical, and in a sense historical, peoples of Abraham is a striving for a unity of viewpoint between Israelites and Arabs and between Jewish and Islamic religions, each of which on their own are liable to an apocalyptic high noon of ultimate diabolical supremacy.

However one fundamental difficulty with the stress on Abraham is that it doesn’t carry over to the gentiles of Christianity, nor to the non-Semitic adherents of Islam, neither of whom trace their roots from Abraham except in so far as Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad are variously perceived to originate from the covenant that Abraham made with El. However El is a significantly different entity from the God of Moses, or of Jesus, or of Muhammad, who may, from the intimations of Harran and Ur in the Bible, and many of the nomadic Benjaminite names around Sumerian Mari, be anything, from the ancient Moon god Sin, to El the old father god of Canaan.

James Tabor, in his summary ’Principles of Abrahamic Faith’ , describes the common relationship: “There is One Creator God, YHVH, the One Who will be, is and always was, beside whom there is no other. He is the Great, and Mighty, and the Awesome One – merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in loyal love and faithfulness. To Him alone we offer our deepest love and highest devotion.”

He then proposes a fusion of the prophetic, Christian and Jewish ideas of the messianic culmination: “The Kingdom of God is the goal and meaning of history... In that Day YHVH Himself will dwell with humankind, the will of God will be done on earth as it is in heaven, violence among men and beasts will cease, and the knowledge of YHVH will fill the world as the waters cover the sea. YHVH will be King over all the earth ... Human beings will be able, at long last, to reach their full potential as creatures made in the image and likeness of their Creator God. … ushered in by His prophetic Messiahs / Anointed Ones, as His chief human agents who prepare the way for His coming."

Here we can already begin to see the pathological signs of God’s nature emerging as a monarchial, implicitly male Lord, ruler and creator. But this is only the good side – the rosy future. Somewhere we have lost sight of the violent jealousy and retribution of YHVH the forsaken lover of the bride Israel, and the homicidal Father Abba who sacrifices his only begotten Son in a twisted tale of guilt and the war between light and dark, fit only for the blood rites of the pagan religions Christianity sought to annihilate as false teachings, echoed in Ester and other dark Old Testament passages used by Christians to justify the messiah who has to be killed for us all to live.

So what is the relationship between the messianic quest and the identity of the abstract nameless God of 99 names, acting in history and destiny, variously referred to as Abba, al-Llah or YHVH? Is God an essential element of the messianic quest, or is the quest for collective redemption a natural manifestation of the existential condition of biological mortality, and the struggle for full understanding and reconciliation, while God is a cultural construct, or even an evolutionary trait, whose purposes are more adapted to the emergence and control of large societies?

Deity and Cosmology

To understand the nature of God, we need to look a little more carefully at what we now know about how life, the universe and everything actually comes about. At every stage of cosmological discovery, revealed religion has come into collision with the emerging scientific discoveries of the universe in which we exist, from Galileo’s excommunication for discovering the Earth orbited the Sun, to the rejection of Darwin’s discovery of biological evolution as the basis for life’s complexity.

Rather than existing on a flat Earth, with the firmament of Heaven above, we find the universe appears to be self-generating through a paradoxical series of complements. The cosmological form of the universe as a whole is intimately connected to the diversification of the infinitesimal forces of nature. The mathematical form of this is ultimately challenging and confounds our intuitive ideas of space, time and classical causality. It is intimately pervaded by chaotic processes on huge energy scales, unconceived of by even the most hyperbolic Biblical author. All of these processes appear to be self-generating and there is no hint, or indication of any kind, of an external creator, or the need for external intervention in the process of cosmic emergence.

Rather than an ordered cosmos emerging by an act of God from the chaos of tohu vohu, existential reality presents as a series of symmetry-broken complements - wave and particle, body and mind, female and male, as well as chaos complementing order in the generation of complexity, in a manner much more closely mirroring the Tao of yin and yang, the Tantric origin of Shakti and Shiva retreating from intimate coitus, and the fertile overflowing of the Song of Songs, than the seven day act of Sabbatical Creation, full of manifest endearing contradictions, such as the Earthly plants coming into existence epochs before the Sun.

If we look around the universe, from the annihilating maelstroms of black holes, through the nuclear furnaces of stars and elusive shadows of dark matter to the freezing wastes of outer space for a place where God might exist, we are inexorably led back to the biota of living planets and to the conscious brain, which for all its fragility and mortal ephemerality, is the perennial interactive culmination of all the forces of nature in complete integration, from the quark through protons and neutrons to atomic nuclei, atoms and molecules, through proteins and nucleic acids and on to the fractal structures of organelles, cells, tissues, organs and organisms. Thus, in our search for God, we find ourselves back at ground zero, the very source of the messianic quest - our own selves.

Moreover the informational deluge of the genetic age following the human genome project has shown us irreversibly that life evolves, and does so based on extremely subtle and complex physical laws, which no attempt to finesse the bogey of creationism into ‘intelligent design’ can hope to model, let alone understand . This is a fundamental folly, coming from the application of human ideas of industrial design to God forging the entire universe in the same classical way we make bridges, automobiles, computers and watches, none of which are alive, or conscious, or capable of generating living systems. The very notion of creator God thus smacks of human projection of a very limited kind.

We now see the heavens we thought were up in the sky are a radiation-filled vacuum, and that most, if not all, of the cosmological ideas of religion are willfully imaginative human fantasies. This holds equally true for evolving ideas of the afterlife from the old Hebrew idea of Sheol, through the sexless Christian heaven with angels bearing feathered wings to fly in the airy skies, to the hyper-sexed Islamic heaven full of black-eyed virgin houris, created anew every morning for the carnal pleasure of men, let alone the diabolical intimations of hell fire used to make us cower into submission.

This means that if we are going to understand the mysteries of consciousness and the claimed spiritual dimension of the existential condition, let alone our cosmic origins, we may have to approach this quest with something more like the radical transformative spirit of skeptical inquiry of science and look for vastly more paradoxical, complex and subtle solutions, than the legislative feudal Lord riding the apocalypse on a white horse, the Shi’ite Mahdi trying to attract him to worship at Mecca, or the demiurge cosmocrator in the guise of an old man with white woolly hair.

Also hidden in the patriarchal divine fantasy is the repression of the intrinsic sexuality of the universe as evil, and the subjugation of the feminine aspect to God. In contrast to the ‘Elohistic account of the sabbatical creation, expressing God in the plural, with man and woman conceived in ‘their’ likeness, consistent with the congregation of the mighty of the Psalms, and with the presence of the Asherah and Heavenly Host in Hebrew worship, in the Eden genesis, which appears to be a Judaic account, we find YHVH wandering alone in the garden. He is so incensed by Eve’s deceiving Adam into eating what she thought was the fruit of life-giving wisdom, but was actually the fruit of dark and light division, that Eve was cursed and Adam was cursed and they were both thrown out of paradise by a flaming sword, to live as mortals under pain of childbirth, with woman now firmly under the rule of man, as man is under the vengeful thumb of God.

We can see this as a founding stream of consciousness description of falling from the arboreal gatherer-hunter wilderness into patriarchal urban empire and conflict, just as the unveiling is the final stage of this process of culture shock. Nevertheless this creation myth results in oppression, with man ruling over woman, as God rules over man, in the assertion of an inequitable regime of pure dominance, just as dark and light become warring opposites, fractured from the healing wholeness of the immortal Tree of Life - the very process which the Zohar declares caused the Shekhinah to retreat until her return in sparks or shards in the unveiling.

Moreover the feminine sacred was demoted and shattered - Hochmah of the Proverbs, who cried out that she was there with Him from everlasting, before his works of old, is relegated to mere practicality. Shekhinah retreats de-sexed of her power to become merely the feminine face of His presence on Earth. Asherah, symbolic of the immortality of the Tree of Life, is cast out of the Temple and burned with the bones of her priests and priestesses in the Vale of Kidron, in the shadow of Deuteronomy - that apocryphal text ‘discovered’ in the Temple, for whom the prophetess Huldah was maneuvered by a posse of men into acknowledging as ‘genuine’, thus making women to blame for their own plight, in such punishments as being stoned for adultery for not crying out when raped, or not possessing the tokens of virginity, thus cementing male reproductive rule outright and showing that the whole process is driven, not by divine law but by the incessant paternity uncertainty, not shared by women, that drove the transition to patriarchal marriage.

This is a violation of the central cosmological principle, of complementarity, which also lies at the source of the emergence of human culture. Human super-intelligence appears to have arisen through neither sex having the strategic upper hand in the reproductive prisoners’ dilemma, so that each has had to run a Red Queen race to succeed in courting the opposite sex, particularly in terms of bright men possessing intelligent and witty minds, good creative skills, melodious music, accurate targeting, and good domestic and fathering skills being selectively favoured by astute women in the highly polarized reproductive process human pregnancy, lactation and child rearing involves, in which women have to make massive and risky long-term investments in parenting, while the men are prone to sewing wilds oats and yet fear paternity uncertainty with jealousy and violence. As a result of strategic sexual paradox, genes for cultural intelligence have swept rapidly through the human population. To the extent that either sex gains a fully dominant position reproductively, as patriarchal marriage laws seek to enforce, this would act to inhibit the very essence of human culture and intelligence.

YHVH and the Mysterium Tremendum

The central claim of monotheism, despite its incessant factionalism and the endless spectre of religious war, conversion by the sword, and the genocide of jihad and crusade, is that, unlike the cyclical iconic fertility deities of pagan ‘false’ religions, the nameless, faceless, abstract God acting in history is the ‘true’ God of creation, not a mere stone idol, who, despite displaying the turbulent reactive emotions we associate with human personalities, including jealousy and retribution, fit only for a totem deity, is different because He is absolute, omniscient and omnipotent. However the proponents of iconic religions have always understood these to be metaphorical symbols of a transcendent entity, just as Christianity does today in its endless figures of Jesus and Mary.

It thus serves us well, in coming closer to understanding the nature of the numinous reality behind the mysterium tremendum, to recognize that the very best of the meditative tradition of inner vision has come, not from monotheism, but from the traditions of the implicitly iconic male and female Hindu deities. It’s is the rich interaction of these, from Brahmanic Indra, through ancient Dravidian Kali and Shiva, whose origins go back to the Indus valley planter cultures contemporary with the Sumerians, that the meditative depths of insight of the Upanishadic, Buddhist and Jain thinking came about.

It is here that we can begin to see a deeper avenue to understanding the mysterium and the whole religious spectre of the quest for the supernatural in the inner journey in meditative repose to the ultimate interior cosmic ‘self’ or ‘void’ of the Buddha mind, and with it the philosophy that mind is ‘finer’ than the gross accretions of matter and thus forms a complementary realm to the physical universe.

It is in the mythical allegories of Vishnu dreaming the history of the universe, with Brahman appearing in the lotus emerging from is navel, that we come to understand how the religious quest is a manifestation of inner consciousness as a dream-time, rather than a false physical heaven in the sky generated by a legislative personality who will love us only if we obey him, but curse us in his jealousy and condemn us to hell fire if we are unfaithful.

Furthermore the god acting in history is not new. If we go back from Abraham to the gods of our African Adam and the even older African Eve, we find for example in the ancient culture of the Bushmen, whose maternal mitochondrial genes form twin human Mariana trenches of some 100,000 years separation across the Kalahari (Behar et al.), both the shamanic vision quest and abstract creation deities, whose roles in relation to humans are refreshingly subtle and paradoxical, and also reflect heroic personalities with miraculous attributes.

Bushmen believe in the existence of two gods: ≠ Gao!na a greater god manifesting the creative force and //Gauwa, a lesser god invoking the malevolent forces of uncertainty and misfortune.

≠ Gao!na, the !Kung Great God, using one of his seven divine names, created himself:

"I am Hishe. I am unknown, a stranger.
No one can command me.
I am a bad thing. I follow my own path."

Then he created a Lesser God who lives in the western sky where the sun sets; and after this two wives for himself and for the Lesser God. ≠ Gao!na, tallest of the Bushmen, was in his earthly existence a great magician and trickster with supernatural powers, capable of assuming the form of an animal, a stone or anything else he wished, and who changed people into animals and brought the dead back to life. But as the Great God who lives beside a huge tree in the eastern sky, he is the source and custodian of all things. He created the earth with holes in it where water could collect and water, the sky and rain both the gentle 'female' rain and the fierce 'male' rain thunder and lightning, the sun, moon, stars and wind. He created all the plants that grow on the earth. He created the animals and painted their individual colours and markings, and gave them all names. Then came human beings, and he put life into them; and gave to them all the weapons and implements they now have, and he implanted in them the knowledge of how to take all these things for themselves. Thus their hunting and gathering way of life was ordained from the very beginning and ≠ Gao!na ordained that when they died they should become spirits, //Gerais, who would live in the sky with him and serve him. He set the pattern of life for all things, each in accordance with its own rules.

However the Bushmen do not see these as good and evil in the manner of YHVH and Satan. When a missionary inquired into a Bushman's ideas of good and bad he was told it was 'good' to sleep with another man's wife, but 'bad' if he slept with yours. Still lamenting the Bushman's ignorance of absolute morality, he later asked the man, whom meanwhile he had discovered 'was in the habit of smoking wild hemp', what he thought was the most wonderful thing he had seen. The reply he was given was that no one thing was more wonderful than any other and that all the animals were the same.

We need to take a deep teaching from this evolutionary perspective on life, for the lessons of evolution are that disease and predators, just as plants and animals are integral to the diversity of life and a critical feature of the climax diversity that makes conscious life able to come into existence. Therefore our notions of absolute morality are flawed. While there may be a beneficent role for a greater collective consciousness expanding love and peace in the universe, we need to view this in a context founded on respecting the evolutionary diversity of life as both a natural and sacred process, with all its teeth and claws and the contradictions of sexual fidelity and betrayal.

Significantly, although the culture of Bushmen such as the !Kung-San is nominally patriarchal and male elders like to consider themselves definers of lawful arrangements, according to the accounts of Marjorie Shostak’s ‘Nisa’, women have retained a considerable degree of reproductive autonomy and relationship choice, comparable with modern society. A woman will return to her maternal family to help with at least her first birth and early child rearing and the first menstruation is celebrated as a joyful rite of immense feminine power, which can destroy a male hunter’s prowess if he inadvertently witnesses it.

Pivotal to the discovery of the immanent numinous is the profound difference between monotheistic prayer and contemplative meditation, which shares attributes of personal vigilance and autonomy with the older shamanic vision quest pervading world cultures. While Zen koans are paradoxes and the mantra Om Mane Padme Hum is a verbal recitation of a single concept designed to make the mind one-pointed and to stop the train of extraneous verbal thought, prayer is a formal verbal recitation to an unseen personality in the place of an actual vision quest. It is not a direct path to empowerment and self-transcendence, but passing off one’s own autonomy to an entreaty to a higher being.

While the Jewish tradition has had a continuing current of confirmation of the life force in its people, the Christian tradition has degraded our integrity because humans are perceived to be intrinsically fallible and can achieve redemption only by appealing to the Lord Jesus Christ because of the biologically false doctrine of original sin.

Again, while the Jewish tradition has had a continuing current of mysticism in the followers of the Zohar, the Christian mystics from Meister Eckhart to Marguerite Porete have been largely suppressed and even burned at the stake, and the Sufis, whose founding traditions run back to the time of Jesus, have been variously crucified or hermetically sealed, as merely the ‘inner garment’ in a society of dominant Islam which condemns all future prophets to death because Muhammad is considered the final prophet of the monolithic world age.

Many, or even most, religions, despite their treasured sacred texts, have thus acted as much as barriers to communication with the mysterium tremendum, as conduits to it, by placing obstructions in the way of the process of discovery, aided by the intervening roles of the priesthood. The prophets crying in the wilderness have more often than not been cursed and killed, despite being the visionary link between the people and the divine, formative and essential in the emergence and development of religious traditions, while the priesthood have enforced the orthodoxy, as often through torture, murder and incarceration as through insight and spiritual wisdom. And this is not just a problem of corruption of the upper echelon, but intrinsic to the very nature of the priesthood and the fascist nature of religious social control.

The God Spot in Evolution and Brain Science

So where does the nature of God stand in evolution and in the workings of the conscious brain?

Firstly there is a fundamental contradiction in the very notion of a moral creator deity. Although we know that life has evolved through mutation and selective advantage, because the evidence is clear, both from the fossil record, and from the genetic sequences of diverse species, even if we don’t presume this, no God who created life the way it is, with its climax diversity spanning both predator and prey, and parasite and host, designed it on the basis of the moral obedience of any species, however dominant, let alone a riveting focus on any particular one of the countless planets orbiting myriads of stars and galaxies in the universe as we know it. Even if God had a particular affection for planet Earth, or a deep desire to see conscious life become morally and ethically aware of its own existential predicament, devising the biota to survive adaptively by tooth and claw, is in complete contradiction to demanding the very opposite as a consummation - that the lion lie down with the lamb, as Isaiah fervently hoped and that all forms of dissention would cease to exist. No creator deity would intentionally give the power to make free choices, only to command his creations not to disobey him under pain of eternal damnation. All such ideas are a grotesque sadistic product of oppressive human patriarchal logic designed to perpetuate and control large dominant human societies through fear and oppression particularly of the female.

Secondly the dynamics which have been used to associate religiosity with evolution and the brain come in two opposing forms, reflecting the prophetic and orthodox currents above. Some twin studies have shown that religiosity has an up to 40% genetic basis, regardless of the cultural environment of the person concerned. However what this constitutes depends on the experimental measures used, from self-transcendence through to measures of religious conformity. These differing measures highlight two very different currents.

The brain scientist Ramachandran first highlighted an area which popularly became entitled the ‘God-spot’ on the boundary between the temporal lobes and limbic system centres such as the amygdala, which serendipitously lie alongside one another. The idea of this, gleaned partly from episodes of temporal lobe epilepsy, was that primary mystico-religious experience is often associated with a combination of peak emotional fulfillment and overwhelming significance - associated with mutual hyperactivity of each of these neighbouring areas. A natural conclusion could be that evolution has arrived at a human brain attuned to mystical insight. However, although this may be true to a certain extent, people endowed with such faculties have often been rejected, treated as lunatics, or even killed by the societies from which they came or at best given guarded, somewhat isolated existences, as shamans, healers, witches, prophets or other intermediaries with the unseen world, so it remains unclear such traits on their own are a selective advantage, although they might be genetically linked with other traits such as creative insight which might compensate.

A completely countervening evolutionary trend is the one toward religious conformity and the propensity for belief in a moral deity, with powers of punishment of transgressors, on the basis that such traits enable larger more dominant societies of believers to survive and prosper. Thus an evolutionary trend, in which people seek simple ordered belief systems enforcing a moral regime, may aid the survival of large societies, despite the fact that it reduces the autonomy and capacity for religious discovery of the individuals who possess this trait. This is consistent with the biological theory of morality as a means to reduce intra-social strife to enhance inter-social dominance. Many of the central elements of monotheistic worship fit closely with this idea. An invisible moral deity, who is omnipresent, and aware of our thoughts and desires, demands fidelity on a national or global scale is optimally suited to influence our actions in a way which will reduce our likelihood of exploiting at least other members of our own religious following, even if we consider it a divine duty to annihilate the infidels in the name of God‘s divine plan.

Research into a variety of religious practices, from Carmelite nuns, through Buddhist monks, to young university students in a variety of settings, supports a diversity of such components of religious belief spanning these two opposing currents.

This brings us back to the avenues of conscious exploration humanity has discovered access to embracing prophetic vision, meditative contemplation, the shamanic vision quest, the use of trance states induced by psychotropic and psychedelic plants and fungi, and the varied states of lucid to ‘precognitive’ dreaming and finally related deep conscious states, such as so-called near death experiences. Although many of these involve unworldly experiences, in which a huge variety of situations can occur, from sweeping visionary panoramas, to witnessing a deep connection to all life across space-time, they all appear to be accompanied by the activity of a conscious biological brain, so until we can fathom exactly how consciousness is generated it remains unclear whether such visionary experiences can transcend the biological reality in which we are embedded.

Before coming to any conclusions about God or His moral or ethical covenant with humanity, we need to explore the varieties of conscious experience without preconceptions, or predilections, in the same skeptical spirit of truth the scientific inquiry engages with the physical universe.

Shulamite Apocalypse: Free-will, Living Redemption and Sexual Destiny

The quest for the cosmic redemption of life is thus a fundamental attribute of the existential condition, which has much deeper roots than the Abrahamic epoch. Indeed it is a fundamental aspect of the way conscious beings find themselves in the mortal coil and thus have no option, as sexual beings, but to give their best to the ongoing future of their progeny and to life as a whole.

Just as Rabbi Adin Steinsalz speaks of the children of Israel, so children the world over find themselves facing a situation where their voyage of life is pitted against the vagaries of fate and its true redemption lies in making the vision quest of the mortal condition to help bring about a greater unveiling for the generations of life to come.

This existential quest is deeply embedded in the complementarity of body and soul we find at the root of the existential condition and is the one true panacea for all the travails of selfishness and exploitation, which of themselves can do no good for us because, no matter what fame and fortune, or temporal power we attain, we can’t take it with us when we go.

Whether there is a disembodied conscious afterlife or a deeper principle of conscious relativity which unites all conscious beings as one manifestation of the universe coming to discover itself in its own maha-samadhi apocalypse over space-time, doesn’t really make any difference, because it is what we do now as biological beings which will bring about the redemption of existence around us, or let it slide into oblivion.

In this respect, it is the tenuous thread of personal autonomy we call free will, which is our critical asset in being able to make any difference to the world around us. The core reason evolution has arrived at the conscious brain, is because it provides life’s best chance of anticipating threats to survival and giving us all a chance to live another day. So in regard to the notion of future destiny, which Rabbi Soloveichic in ‘Destiny, not causality, governs Israelite history’ , suggests is paramount, we need to understand destiny is neither fixed by causality, nor is a future preconceived by divine will, nor even set, like an apple in the eye, by the national psyche, but generated consciously through the paradox of free will expressed in each and every one of us, as sentient beings shaping history together. We thus have little choice but to take personal responsibility for the world situation in which we find ourselves, because it is the messianic quest which lies at the very core of our conscious being.

The messianic quest is thus real and leads naturally to our redemption, even though the many spectres of God acting in history could well be a cultural, or even an evolutionary aberration. Just as we can’t afford to take the baggage of spiritual materialism with us, neither can we afford to corrupt our intrinsic virtue to false assumption of divine providence. The future of the universe remains our personal responsibility as long as we continue to exist in the mortal coil.

This is also extremely pertinent for the future of Israel and Palestine, for the Middle East, for humanity as a whole and for the ecological future of planet Earth, because it may be that, only by descending into the abyss of tohu vohu and realizing the universal nature of the messianic quest common to all people, and the suppressed nature of the feminine, which in the prisoners’ dilemma of yin and yang, contains the keys to the long-term investment in future offspring that secures the stability of humanity from the boom and bust mortal risk-taking of patriarchal reproduction, will the world become a safe, sustainable place for life to flourish.

But the unveiling is also finally the end of the messianic era - even the messianic quest of world redemption has become tainted with the patriarchal imperative, as a predominantly male quest - so we are being drawn into the primal chaos of a sexual reflowering, in which the Song of Songs between woman and man again becomes a true Holy of Holies, and the Shulamite bride returns from the wilderness to reclaim her sovereignty, as co-conceiver of world futures, under the tree of all life, in a true marital unveiling beyond our wildest dreams.

Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon,
clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?
Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee.
What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.

Behar et al., The Dawn of Human Matrilineal Diversity, The American Journal of Human Genetics (2008), doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.04.002
Fielder, Christine and King, Chris (2002-2010) Sexual Paradox: Complementarity, Reproductive Conflict and Human Emergence


Oroboros said...

Re: modes of meditation vs prayer.... I was talking recently with a friend and noticed that the concepts of enlightenment vs salvation seemed to be nice metaphors for the grossest dichotomy of east vs west (and I'm sure I'm not the first to notice that either). I can see how meditation calls forth the enlightenment from within, while prayer beseeches the messiah without for salvation.

So I really liked this notion that we have "little choice but to take personal responsibility for the world situation in which we find ourselves, because it is the messianic quest which lies at the very core of our conscious being."

On Easter this year the sermon at the local Unitarian Church I've been attending was on the subject of the Second Coming. The preacher suggested that we are already living in a post-apocalyptic world (post-holocaust, post-hiroshima etc) and that perhaps the second coming of Christ will not be what the Christians expect, but it will be manifested in each of us.


Tor Hershman said...

Ahhhhhhhhhh HA! Mike, you've hit the spike squarely.
Either we're ALL the messiah orrrrrrrrrr no one's the messiah.

Guess which it 'twas, 'tis & 'twill be?