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Thursday, 8 May 2014

All One Big Happy Family, Innit?

Probably not human: Highland frog

During the twilight period of my 'official affiliation' with Buddhism, around twelve years ago, I wrote an article for the magazine of the Buddhist organisation concerned. It was written in the aftermath of 9/11, at a time when I saw no need to question the official version of events that fateful day; nor, indeed, realised that anything other than the story beamed out of televisions and newspapers of the mainstream was possible. The article was called 'I'd rather be a gorilla than a guerilla', the main theme being how little I felt in common, on a deep, visceral level, with certain members of the human race. And how, in certain respects, I felt greater kinship with some non-human beings, even on the level of consciousness. I singled out as an example the gorilla, as an animal closely related genetically to humans, and as an animal with which I felt a personal affinity as a result of the shamanic practice I was undertaking at the time.

The article was, I thought, bold and, within the world of modern Buddhism, potentially controversial and groundbreaking. Without fully recognising the implications of these trains of thought and feeling, I was questioning the discrete nature of different species' identities, suggesting instead a continuum of consciousness. The feedback I received on my radical article was precisely...... zero.

The Gnostics, those western spiritual ancestors contemporary with early Christianity, were forthcoming about this topic. In 'the Tripartite Tractate' the Gnostic mystic writers proclaim there to be, not one, but three different kinds of human. There are the Pneumatics, spiritual souls. Then there are the Psychics, matter-dwelling spirits. Then there are the Hylic, totally devoid of soul, lacking the 'light of epinoia'. All three appear the same, living inside bodies of flesh, sharing the same language, mode of procreation, all with the same DNA etc. But their origin and psychic make-up are seriously different. Three different types of human, dressed up to look the same, but with unique configurations of consciousness, and at their own distinct stage in the 'sacred journey' (call it what you will).

More than once on Pale Green Vortex the words 'psychopath' and 'politician' have appeared in the same sentence. Some readers have considered this uncharitable of me; I'd say that the truth staring us in the face, should we dare to look, is not always pleasant, or what we'd like to see. A more softly-softly but related diagnosis for some people in 'high places' is afforded by the phrase 'narcissistic personality disorder'. I have my reservations about some of these psychological diagnoses, but for now let's go with this one. Narcissistic personality disorder is especially prevalent, it would seem, where visible signs of success, power, and status are prominent, and where admiration is readily forthcoming. Politics, celebrity, academia, medicine, finance, law enforcement, high profile sports. You've got the picture. A person suffering from NPD is likely to exhibit the emotional maturity of a typical 3-5 year old.

You can draw up your own mental list of likely candidates: I've got mine. But hierarchical systems of status, power, and influence will inevitably attract, and be populated by, folk with psychopathic and NPD tendencies. This is the rub, and plain common sense. Bees to the honeypot, and it cannot be any other way. A number of friends of mine have implied at various times that I'm a bit hard on politicians and banksters: we're all the same, really, all trying to create a better world. These friends of mine are in the main intelligent people, articulate and with a decent portfolio of formal qualifications. When asked why, with their apparently impeccable credentials and a wish to improve the world we live in, they haven't made any attempt to climb the political ladder themselves, they are at a loss. The answer's easy. They are decent folk, with a good heart and, unlike the Hylic, with an active soul. They are simply not the kind of people who are going to get into high-profile politics, finance, law, or whatever.

One serious consequence of these ruminations is that our current systems are tailor-made for (and by?) the soulless, the psychopathic. And, what's more, some form of political anarchism is the only political set-up that can in the long term be good for humanity. Even small government doesn't really fit the bill: the bees-to-the-honeypot syndrome dictates that small government will become bigger and bigger as time goes by.

It is a materialist worldview, focussed on physical appearance rather than on consciousness, that has promoted the great fraud that we're all the same. We look the same, therefore we are all the same. It's almost as if we've been put onto by this one. So don't be suckered. And keep your eyes peeled next time you walk down the high street: you never know who or what might be passing you by.