Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Philosophy and (by Extension) Theology

Originally posted on December 16, 2013

Rationality is great, and we should strive to develop this part of our mind. Most folks are at what I estimate to be 15 – 20 on a scale of 1 – 100. People have the capacity, most of them, to become a bit more aware of their thinking, how rational it is, and to improve that level. It’s called critical thinking.

But yet once this has been developed to a moderate level, it is especially rational to recognize that rationality is by no means the only criterion for wisdom. At around 50 – 60% for the top professors, there needs to be a slacking off, a fertilizing of rationality with intuition, even poetry. Useful Truth involves several non-rational dimensions, including such elements as:
  – mystery, faith, receptivity to guidance from the angels, appreciating synchronicity or chance
  – play, exploration, openness, a flexibility of mind in changing fundamental assumptions
  – knowing when to be generous, inclusive, loving, and how to do that
  – acceptance of the potential to be surprised
          … and the like. If we don’t build the aforementioned into life and philosophy, it’s as if we’re trying to paint in black and white—no color.

Theology is weighted down with traditional taboos and wrong understanding about what should be considered “the sacred” and what “profane.” This psychological taboo makes it hard to reconsider if some things that were considered sacred are really just relics of old thinkng, crystallized tradition; while some things consider profane need to be redeemed, recognized as in their own way sacred. Dare we go further and assert as holy the freedom of the mind to play, to  speculate? What if we consider that this freedom also might allow us to encounter God afresh?

This is more relevant as we open to the depth of complexity and, from that, necessarily, uniqueness of our minds; and perhaps this fact is of significance. Rather than everyone being expected to perceive, think about, and worship the deeper source of being (i.e. God) in the same way, what if your individuality needs to be taken into consideration? What then does Swami Muktananda’s line mean, “God vibrates through you as you!”? My interpretation is that the Divine Unfolding, rather than having a clear sense of what needs to become, relies on us for co-creativity. Our minds, our power to create, is part of creation, and what this requires then is that there’s no other creative source that a priori “knows better.” That would make the game unfair.

This is difficult to conceive of, to de-mystifying the ultimate mystery. But really all we’re doing it taking back a quality that we—WE—attributed to God. It might be argued that God never asserted the notion that “God knows better.” (Actually, that idea is very patriarchal when you think about it!) If part of the God-Unfolding-Becoming is what seems to be, as I see and interpret it, it involves everyone becoming optimally empowered to create, which includes creating one’s own theology!

Certainly there can be no authority in this realm: Would the learning of how old-fashioned thinkers thought before the present paradigm shift qualify one to be a teacher after the paradigm shift? That’s like attributing authority to people who really know how to ride horses as being able to then know how to fix and drive cars! Or making the gunnery commander one who has proven his skill in sword-fighting. They’re very different skills, different bodies of knowledge! That’s what a disruptive technology does.

Disruptive Theology

Theology is an activity that has been based on scholarship, but scholarship is often lacking in imaginativeness. A disruptive technology is one in which the knowledge and skill base for the new activity may well be radically different from what was needed before. We have had many disruptive technological events in history—the emergence of gunpowder and gun; the emergence of automobiles versus horse-and-buggy—but the pace has been accelerating significantly in the last century. Now we need to recognize that the nature of the implicit challenge of many things is changing very basically—the nature of not just science and industry, but also theology and everyday living.

For example, what if it’s so that the present generation will need to “re-invent” itself, again and again, and this involves exploration, play, freedom to make and correct mistakes, and a lighter attitude towards identity.

What if that’s also true about God? We’ve tended to view God as a law-giver, a patriarchal lord-king who knows what “He” is doing, even if we don’t. What if we revise that to a more non-gendered principle of ultimate creativity, one that needs to explore and open to new possibilities? Indeed, what if part of what holds us back is ultimately clinging to old versions of hope for a type of salvation in which we humans are children who cannot be “saved” except within the sphere of mystery of the wise-elder-god?

What if God is not going to abandon us, but neither can God do the job with us as passive children who do little more than “believe”? It seems to me that we have to take a fair amount of responsibility. My estimate is about 1/3—more than 1/4, and certainly much more than 1/5th.

One Response to “Philosophy and (by Extension) Theology”

  • Allan says:

    Nice expositional play on the human phenomenon of left brain-right brain imbalance: Intellect & logic vs empathy & creativity.

    We give authority to doctrine on the left side and experience that God “vibrates through you as you” on the right. Out at the extremes lie cruel rigidity and psychotic chaos as severe symptoms of a lack of integration of left and right.

    Following the amazing findings of the human neurobiology of inter-rational development from infancy onward (e.g., locating the brain pathways of empathically mirroring the outer world in infancy), has come the development of positive psychiatry & psychology and mindfulness meditation in academia. It’s all going mainstream after over half a century of absorbing eastern thought and spirituality into western societies.

    Daniel Siegel, at UCLA, calls it “mindsight” as a teaching model and has written extensively about what it is, how it promotes the left-right integration we call mental health. He applies it as a great help in parenting, personal self-healing, training mental health professional, pursuit of spiritual enlightenment and a more balanced intellectual understanding of how our physical brain pathways + emotions + interpersonal relationality = a definition of mind that is meaningful across a broad range of academic disciplines.

    Your thoughts seem to mine a rich vein of how our inner lives relate to our outer world; both dimensions being capable of and frequent hosts to rigidity and chaos.

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