Maha-ignorant human speciesism in living black and white
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Wétiko disables our ability for discernment. Being a spiritual warrior, however, requires, embraces and includes the most extreme discernment, which is the capacity to differentiate and tell one thing from another, and is related to our ability for naming things. Etymologically speaking, the word ‘discern’ has to do with ‘to distinguish between, to detect or discover that which is hidden or obscure.’ Discernment is radically different than when we are unconsciously caught in judgment, which is a reaction to and contraction against something. Discernment is the ability to make distinctions and see clearly, which is an expression of an expanded and evolved consciousness. It requires an ability to see through and beyond the outer plane of appearances and penetrate to the deeper, essential dynamics at play beneath the surface. As our consciousness develops, so does our facility of discernment. The faculty of discrimination and discernment is the sin qua non of all consciousness. Wielding the wisdom of discernment is an essential function of an awakening consciousness and is an expression of genuine compassion. The primary factor determining whether a daemonic energy like wétiko will move in mainly destructive or constructive, and creative directions is whether or not our capability for discernment in-forms our actions in the world.
A non-wétikoized psyche has developed a strong psychic muscle of discernment. For example, consider darkness. There are two sources of darkness; one we don’t want anything to do with; the other we do. We need to be able to differentiate the two, or we’ll be lost and disoriented in the shadows. The first type of darkness is the darkness of the abyss of evil which actively refuses the light of consciousness and thereby prevents us from seeing. This darkness is truly destructive, in the ‘demonic’ sense, in the extremity of its distance from the light and is the darkness to which the lower self is susceptible. We don’t want to become involved with, entangled in, nor invest our attention in this kind of darkness which, energetically speaking, is like a black hole. The other type of darkness is what mystics call by names such as the ‘black light,’ the ‘luminous darkness,’ and the ‘black sun.’ This darkness isn’t merely an absence of light, but a quality that is an expression of the presence of a higher-dimensional, invisible and uncreated form of light, the indwelling light of being that has no opposite. This luminous darkness has a light hidden within it; the way to discover this light is through this darkness. To quote Meister Eckhart, “Truly, it is in the darkness that one finds the light.” This invisible form of light, the non-dual light of sentient awareness itself, cannot be seen because it is the light by which we see. However, this second type of darkness is also very dangerous, in that it heralds the final, perilous stage of the mystical journey in which we can potentially transcend the illusion of our ego and recognize the Divine Presence. This divinely inspired dark night of the soul, a phase in which the soul is being purified of any remaining obscurations, must be clearly distinguished and discriminated from the demonic shadow that obscures it. To do this requires a cultivated, refined and fully operating organ of discernment.
In the ‘prima materia,’ there is a certain intractable amount of what is called ‘terra damnata’ (accursed earth), which defies all efforts at transformation, and therefore must be rejected and thrown out. This is symbolic of that there are certain energies in the psyche, we can call them ‘archetypal evil,’ that need to be resisted. This has its analogue in the physical realm, in that there are certain extremely lethal germs that can literally kill us. These dark, archetypal energies of the psyche are literally saturated in evil and are unredeemable, they are not able to be metabolized, assimilated, digested nor incorporated into the psyche. Immune to any human intervention, these energies cannot be united with, nor in any way integrated in the alchemical laboratory of the psyche; they are analogous to the deadliest of toxins. They must be kept outside the alchemical operation, for if ‘let in’ they will contaminate and destroy the work. Similarly, we don’t invite a vampire into our house, nor negotiate, make deals with nor compromise with this figure, for if we do so, we have already lost. This is like an alcoholic taking the first drink, which is in that moment to be offering their neck to the vampire. If someone has an overly righteous and fixed idea of wanting to be ‘all-embracing,’ however, which they mistakenly think would mean letting these toxic elements into the operation, they will pay a huge price, sometimes even with their lives. To be all-embracing includes embracing the understanding that there are energies in the psyche that must not be embraced; this is to be genuinely all-embracing, which includes the capacity for discriminating whether to engage with something or not. In addition, to be all-embracing means to embrace the part of ourselves that doesn’t embrace, which literally cuts through the dualistic polarization which feeds the unholy heart of wétiko. The awakening heart of humanity is truly all- embracing, which not only overflows with compassion, but also is strongly steeped in the ability to discern one thing from another and thus has the wisdom to know what to avoid.
Once an autonomous complex such as wétiko emancipates itself from the co- operative economy of the psyche, it can take on a truly demonic status. Even though the demon of wétiko came about through the creative power of the divine, once it attains sufficient autonomy, it is no longer totally under the control of divine power, no longer wholly under the divine thumb, nor safely domesticated in the divine household. Rather, it can oppose divine power and threaten its purposes. To put on my theological hat for a moment, everything is not and could not be separate from God, as everything that is or could ever be is God Itself. And yet, God has set up the universe, so to speak, such that the creation has a degree of autonomy relative to its creator. An autonomous, daemonic power like wétiko is an example of a divine energy gone bad, reminiscent of fallen angels becoming corrupted and running amok. Scholar Rudolph Otto, in The Idea of the Holy, refers to it as the “myterium tremendum cut loose from the other elements and intensified to mysterium horrendum.” The Bible refers to this as the “abomination that causeth desolation.” It is crucial to not be absorbed in the fantasy of magical thinking and think that everything will turn out OK because God is in charge. To not recognize that the demonic has potentially deadly consequences is to be in denial and is simply bad theology, and is ultimately a form of ignorance.
An overly optimistic view, believing that God is in complete control of everything and will therefore come to our aid like a cosmic parent, and that everything is perfect, is equally as misguided a view as pessimism. On the one hand, from the absolute perspective, everything is perfect. And, at the same time, from the relative point of view, things are obviously far less than perfect, sub-optimal beyond belief. There exists a point of no return, the crossing of a certain threshold, the symbolic Rubicon, such that if things get bad enough, attain a sufficient momentum, they become truly irreversible in our lifetime, with severely destructive consequences (think of the environment, for one example). To not to realize this is to be simply fooling ourselves. If we assume that we can go on with business as usual, while destructive evil mounts on all sides, naively assuming that a beneficent God will take care of us, preventing anything really disastrous from happening, we are deluding ourselves. This would be analogous to viewing the current state of our body politic, which can be likened to a ship of state being driven by drunken adolescents who have fallen asleep at the wheel and are steering us over a cliff and we, as passengers, are totally trusting, just assuming that God will take care of everything (forgetting the maxim that God helps those who help themselves). This is an incredibly naïve, pre-adolescent, ignorant point of view, simply called ‘wrong view’ in Buddhism. It is an expression of not being grounded in this world, of avoiding the harsh reality that from one very real point of view, things really are as bad as they seem. To just think that God will come down and save the day is to not realize our responsibility as co-dreamers of the dream to proactively do something, to channel this daemonic energy that is in- forming events in our world in a constructive, instead of a destructive way. If we are attached to an optimistic point of view without realizing that what plays out in our world is not written in stone but depends upon us, we are investing in a complacent attitude which falsely absolves us from the need to act and doing whatever it is that can and needs to be done. The demonic potentially can become an instrument for God, but this depends not just on God, but upon us too, as we are playing a crucial role in the Divine process of creation and Incarnation.
This being said, having a healthy dose of optimism is a good and helpful attitude, as there are an ever-increasing number of people who are awakening. This optimism is to be in touch with reality, in contrast to the overly one-sided optimism described previously, which is a denial and avoidance of reality. As those of us who are awakening to our intrinsic gifts stabilize our lucidity and connect with each other, all bets are off, as anything becomes possible. The only limitation is our lack of imagination, a limit which itself is truly imaginary.
The music and dance ensemble I was involved in last week had a performance which was streamed and posted on ustream. com. The audio and visual quality is low, and a proper video was also made which may be available later. But for a taste, you can watch a clip of the last number, Moksha, the liberation dance of Odissi repertoire at the link below. I am playing mardala drum at the far left side and speaking the "bols" [tat thei...].
Moksha - Upasana Dance Company
ps - doing well...every day improves and full of abundant blessings and love.