Tuesday, February 20, 2007

SECRET #3: The Truth and Nothing But the Absolute Truth

Bill Plotkin wrote a wonderful book called Soulcraft. In it, he gave the example of a tree. The branches were the transcendant religions and new age scene. The trunk was the middle world - day to day reality. The roots were the domain of the soul - dark, muddy and murky. His point was that all three are real.

But, so much of the new age is that only the branches are real. Spirit is real, the physical world is not - it’s just an illusion.

As Derrick Jensen puts it in his book Endgame:

We are split off shells, partial people pretending to be whole but only completed by our split off and disavowed twins.

It's all about disconnection. This culture is based on disconnection. Man (strong) versus woman (weak), man (good) versus nature (flawed), thought (honest) versus emotion (misleading), spirit (pure) versus flesh (polluted), love (good) versus hate (bad), serenity (good) versus anger (bad), nonattachment (good) versus attachment (bad), nonviolence (righteous) versus violence (evil), and so on ad nauseum. So often I've heard pacifists and others say we need to get rid of all dualism, that by speaking of those who are killing the planet as my enemy I am perpetuating the same dualisms that got us here. But striving to eradicate dualism is perpetuating the same dualism! This time it's nondualism (good) versus dualism (bad). It's all nonsense. The problem isn't that there are pairs of opposites. Opposites simply exist. Nor is the problem that there are values assigned to these opposites. We can—and I certainly would—argue with the values chosen by this culture for each of these poles, but the truth is that the different poles do have different values. And that leads to the real problem, which is the word versus. Yes, men and women are different. But they are not in opposition; instead they work together. Yes, humans are different than nonhumans (as it would also be true that salmon are different than nonsalmon, and redwoods are different than nonredwoods). But they are not in opposition; instead they work together. Thought is different than emotion. But they are not in opposition; instead they work together. Spirit is different than flesh. But they are not in opposition; instead they work together. Love is different than hate, serenity is different than anger, nonattachment is different than attachment, nonviolence is different than violence. But they're not in opposition; each of these paired opposites works together. Dualism is different than nondualism. But they are not in opposition; instead they work together. Duh.

Either/or thinking is the beating heart of whiteness. The beating heart of the culture that is destroying the planet. The inability to sit with many possible truth. The inability to see through many lenses. And the unwillingness to allow them to exist (see: witch burnings, the Crusades, colonization, mandatory state run education, residential schooling etc.)

New agers have a very, very hard time in discussions about race precisely because of this. They have a great difficulty seeing the differences of experience that people of colour have. They declare themselves to be ‘colour blind’ and lament the way we’re trying separate ourselves by saying “we’re all one. Why are we focusing on race. We’re all human.” Of course we’re all human - but we don’t all get pulled over by the cops for no reasons. More to the point - we’re not all afraid of the police. Even more to the point - we don’t all have very good reasons to be afraid of the police.

The new age is increasingly becoming fundamentalist in its thinking: “this statement is always true, regardless of context and it’s the only truth about it.”

And people read these statements in books and take them in - often without questioning. You can hear new agers parrot lines they have read - but you can also sense that they don’t really believe it in their heart. They merely want to believe it.

As Caroline Casey puts it, “believe nothing, only entertain possibilities.”

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