COMMENT: Are material things making humans more humane...or less?

Charles Jeanes
By Charles Jeanes
August 31st, 2012

Do you count your blessings? Is being a Canadian one of those? Are you content with your life?

Humanity in the most materially-developed societies (such as Canada) is both blessed and cursed, for we have the physical health and leisure to be altruistic and informed, but we’re trapped in materially-dominated lives that make us more like matter and less like spirit with every use of our tools. Our interaction with electronics and machinery makes us more like material and less like spiritual beings.

A recent email from a lifelong friend declares that concrete, real things have proven to explain the world best; scientific materialism has given humanity its finest history since history began. He declares his five senses are enough. He “has feelings” but he does not let them rule mind. He’s an atheist, and political.

Our success at “mastering” nature with our technologies makes us believe in the truth of materialism. Yet the thought and teaching of thousands of cultures have said we are not just matter. If materialism was humanity’s best path to know reality, then why has it produced this world full of fear and death?

I am the kind of person who likes to see how individual and collective consciousness unfolds over “time” [Recall that Einstein said time is not real]. So I keep track of my direction in these columns. My words are a compass to my consciousness, as they are for all people who speak, I believe.

Thus far I see my writing since April joined by one theme, the outer world of politics and the economy as our minds and consciousness affect it. Most people would say the outer world affects us, we perceive it, our mind feels an impact, and we have thoughts. But of course the opposite also works, and how that mind-into-matter effect operates is a theme of much of what I write here. Thought affects matter…

Politics matters to me, but I am weary of it. Is there more to politics than material? In an esoteric view of political, social and economic reality, spirits make material history happen. It is a perspective radically opposed to the modern way of seeing reality. Two authors, Charles Eisenstein and Mark Booth, are my present favoured thinkers.

Eisenstein is not an esoteric scholar, but a committed public intellectual. He looks at the world, he perceives its sad state, he seeks answers to our crises in our consciousness – and that is why I am drawn to his writing. Booth pits his consciousness against materialist stories about the nature of reality. I am persuaded that materialism causes threats to our lives, our environment, and our spiritual natures. I was not always attentive to spirit and hostile to materialist perspective. That is recent personal growth.

“In the mind-before-matter view, mind created the physical universe, precisely with the aim of nurturing human consciousness – and helping it to evolve. A conscious shift in consciousness is needed  – a consciousness chosen in full awareness – to open ourselves up again the free-flowing, revivifying influence of the spirit worlds.”

 “In 1789 the armies of angels led St. Michael won a victory in heaven. In order for this victory to be decisive though, it would have to be fought again on earth…“ In the 18th and 19th Centuries, the great initiate-novelists forged the sense we all enjoy today that [our] interior world has its own history, a narrative with meaning, highs and lows, reversals and dilemmas, turning points when life-changing decisions may be made. “On June 28, 1914 Rasputin was overtaken by the plot to kill him. On the very same day, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated. All hell was let loose.“…Marxism can be seen as a materialistic reframing of the fraternal ideals of Freemasonry. Marx, Engels, Trotsky, were Freemasons; Lenin was a Freemason of the 31st degree. “There has been some debate in occult circles as to how much esoteric wisdom should be made public. How much is useful in the war against materialism – and how much is dangerous?… “Empathy, sympathy, intelligence of the heart, intelligent care for others, being slow to judge, tolerance, decency, probity, moral imagination, moral courage – these are the qualities that the great writers, poets but particularly the great novelists who are steeped in esoteric philosophy, have focused on and helped to evolve.” [all excerpts from Mark Booth, The Secret History of the World, 2008]

Has Jeanes left the path of common-sensible scientific rationality? — I imagine some readers, and my friends too, ask. No, that path is never far from my sight. But I am not letting it control my mind.

As I read the story of our time, scientific materialism has controlled us, as much as our science has let us control our material world. I quote from Charles Eisenstein. His books, The Ascent of Humanity,and Sacred Economics, explore the agenda of Control our sciences pursue:

“The very adjective ‘scientific’ implies deep suppositions about the nature of reality and our relationship to reality… Like other cultures before us, we have created a mythology, a constellation of stories to explain the Way of the World… Science is this mythology’s consummation. The study of science reveals as much about ourselves as it does about the world.”

Why quote these authors? Because they sum up a present predicament: I have tried to be an historian of the material world, using politics, psychology, economics and other tools of the academic mind; I have been taught to do that. The subject/ object dualist consciousness accepts our sciences as an “objective way” to learn about truth. But there have been many other cultures in time and place, and our very own esoteric tradition within Western culture denies scientific materialism has The Truth.

The genius whose writing sustained my view of reality for a number of years in early adulthood was Karl Marx. Two of his proverbs told me what life meant and what my purpose would be. He wrote this: “Consciousness does not determine being; being determines consciousness,” and “Philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it.” I would not be an idealist, and I would change the world, were my conclusions, and thus I gave my allegiance to materialism and revolutionary politics. I would do what I could to raise the class consciousness of the oppressed and exploited, and I would use my privileged education to organize working masses. I joined communist and socialist parties.

This is not a thumbnail autobiography, but my personal narrative or “story I tell myself” is the ground of my activity in the world. When I react against the latest examples of the Harperite agenda for a Canada of greed, corporate economic growth, and selfish patriotic hubris, I am acting according to my scripted self, not according to the best teachings for a spiritual path. I live with one foot in political habits and material egoism, and one in the realm of esoteric belief and spiritual seeking. I am not unique in that.

When I read news about our political activists and authorities, I try to imagine myself in their places. I try to keep a balanced view, that they are doing their best with the minds they have, and they are not bad people consciously doing harm. They have a consciousness of their role that is not what I wish it to be, so I still get angry about their dismal performance as leaders.

I have no answers today. Please keep reading with me and send me emails to help us all understand.

Charles Jeans is a Nelson-based writer. The previous installment of Arc of the Cognizant can be found here.

Categories: Op/Ed

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