Cartesian Theology and the Axis of Separation
At the core of this approach is a familiar and prevalent collection of concepts that promote rationally devised and vehemently defended disconnections from existence...
The logical underpinnings, world views and mechanistic paradigms of what is predominantly a northern hemisphere Western/European, patriarchal, hierarchical and deeply alienated culture has colonized and subjugated indigenous, southern hemisphere, Eastern, feminine, matriarchal and nearly all other human ways of understanding, relating, experiencing and sharing the commons (world).
All of our planet’s life’s ways, experiences, relationships, explorations, discoveries, needs and perspectives are being forced, far beyond what is natural, healthy or sustainable, to engage, submit and/or adapt to the belief systems, structures and effects of northern hemisphere, Western and European male centered ways of acting, reacting, thinking, seeing and understanding. As a result nearly all of the earth’s life support systems and inter-relationships, as well as most of our human social, political and economic life support systems and relationships are beginning to collapse.
This Western centered approach engages the unknown, the unfamiliar, and what it cannot immediately relate to through rigidly defined and defended boundaries or “edges” that are almost always and almost totally shaped and defined by predetermined ideologies and beliefs. It forces all new experience and observation to fit into and serve a vast and mostly unconscious network of pre-existing patriarchal and hierarchical concepts and contractions that are founded upon one singular meta-belief, the meta-belief in separation, a delusion that western society hugely embodies and is deeply identified with.
One way to describe this manner of seeing, engaging and understanding, and the churn of thinking and beliefs that lie behind all of it, is that it occurs as if all of existence resides within various interrelated and interdependent ideologies, concepts, logic systems and mathematical equations, or “boxes.”
Western science, religion and philosophy, and all of the stories that the western mind-identity uses to validate its collective beliefs in separation has become a great, complex edifice of variously sized, shaped, shifting, moving, interchanging boxes, where innovative thinking is most often used to define, defend, and extend territory (identity, boxes), making this already huge, ponderous intellectual contraption merely larger, more removed, and more complex.
At the core of this approach is a familiar and prevalent collection of concepts (boxes now become like chess pieces) that promote rationally devised and vehemently defended disconnections from existence.
All of this enables and empowers, as early European thinkers like Rene Descartes intended, a dualistic “Self” opposed to “Other” view of life and human purpose, as a rationale for domination and control by the ruling classes. This exclusionary ideology, dependent almost completely upon its foundational meta-belief in separation, has come to dominate the whole world, with all the various competing and allied intellectuals who defend, define, control and interpret these beliefs or boxes acting as the new priests.
“Other” becomes all others and all else. Everything that seems to be outside the possibilities of ownership, control, commodification and self-identity is denied existence, trivialized, and/or destroyed. It is this separation paradigm that dominates all of our world’s various interweaving levels of “Us and Them,” via all the myriad diverse ways competing and warring ruling elites define, contain and determine present day complex, mechanistic, and highly alienated institutions, political boundaries, sciences, societies and cultures.
What I am attempting to point at, hopefully without getting to lost in detail, is a whole underlying collection of establishment beliefs and ideologies that deeply justify and empower our present society’s immense conflict with the earth, nature, life, and self.
This fundamentally human identity of separation has become deeply institutionalized on a world level, with pretty nearly all human societies now embodying immense alienation from other people(s), life forms and the earth, resulting in ever increasing subjection and destruction of the environment and other life forms, all wars at all levels, and all social, environmental and cultural inequities and oppression.
Descartes’ thinking extended out of a pre-existing separation identity that was, in the European context, already well established in a major way through elite aristocracies and the Roman (Catholic) church. All Descartes did was turn those elite and church controlled separation meta beliefs into a mechanistic philosophy, language, or science, partly as a means for the aristocracy to dominate over the Church, and eventually for the bourgeoisie merchant and banking classes, using the same “Cartesian” thinking, to take over from the aristocracy and establish what is now called Capitalism and Corporations.
Present day science, commerce, politics and religion in most of their established and prevalent forms are deeply rooted in that original European Roman Church informed and supported separation from the Whole. Nearly all Cartesian/Atheist/Agnostic arguments against institutionalized churches and religious philosophies are basically arguing with themselves. All sides of such arguments are merely reinforcing and adding to the many misleading and mistaken views that we and the world are suffering from most acutely now, views based on a very fundamental and hugely mistaken belief in separation.
Those who argue for a mechanistic Universe of bits and pieces ignore their own breathing, pulsing life and self awareness in order to do so, using twisting shifts of logic, a sort of logic that cannot really be “argued against,” so to speak, because to do so is to accept and validate the underlying terms of the argument, which is the meta belief in separation. It is an argument that insists upon the very nature of the argument itself to be the only means to ascertain fact and truth, and it dominates simply by continuing to assert its emphatically (and often violently) maintained apparent existence.
Anyone who seeks for truth in other ways and yet engages such arguments will, and often without realizing it, justify the underlying terms of the argument as valid. And so they help the “True Believer” with their argument for a mechanistic universe of bits and pieces to continue the argument ad-infinitum, reaffirming forever all the myriad ways dominant identities of separation reassure themselves that they are “real.”
This, at a basic level, is the primary purpose of Cartesian logic, to continue on as the “one” arguing such logic, all of it informed by an abiding faith in a fundamentally “egoist” self that is “absolutely” separate from all of the rest of existence. It is a circular kind of thinking that leads essentially nowhere, or in other words, always back into the delusions and illusions of separation, with only some occasional change in outer appearances and language.
A mechanistic (delusional) universe only exists in the fictitious (separate) mind of “someone” seemingly standing outside of the Universe, perceiving “it” as something “other.” This is just one of the many peculiarities of Cartesian thinking.
In other words, Descartes and all those of similar bent replaced the institutionalized Roman church’s “god above, outside of and ruler of the universe” with themselves, and all dualist thinkers since have been expanding upon this revolutionary Western European ruling class event, culturally instilling, expanding and institutionalizing this most fundamental split. “Man as god, lord over all else” has come to dominate nearly all levels of nearly all of our world’s ways of thinking and believing.
Letting go of “consciousness of” (or beliefs in) “other,” the basis for all identities of separation, and learning to become more and more comfortable (or familiar) with “simply consciousness,” what I’ll call here awareness engaging with itself through all of us, welcomes a journey beyond rigidly held concepts of self, to a place where strong and healthy boundaries (flexible, inherently intelligent, naturally permeable) become our means of perception, communication and exchange.
We begin to realize we are here, participating in life on earth, so that we might experience, embrace and bring ever deeper into shared consciousness all these infinite possibilities of distinction, celebration and diversity that life on earth is all about expressing. As a part of that we also begin to realize we are not here to reinforce and expand limited and rigid structures of separation (ego) identity through conflict and zero sum competitions.
The purpose of all conflict is to establish ownership and territory, justify separation, expand and solidify beliefs in other, and, via myriad twisting and forever shape-shifting illusions (beliefs) assert power and control over what in truth only exists in our minds, no matter how much we may project our beliefs as being an outwardly appearing world.
In this different sort of journey I’m attempting to point to, Self is directly experienced in the context of awareness, interaction, connection, distinction, discernment and interdependence, or in other words through open, healthy and vulnerable relationships. We begin to realize we are not these ideological peripheries, rigid (unhealthy) boundaries, or strongly held (defended) positions that our outwardly projected (appearing) belief systems seem to justify.
Self, distinction, diversity, and unity is now realized as an inter-weaving, ever extending, creative process, a process we are merely yet so incredibly participant in. In this different scenario (what might be called the reality of existence) nothing is apart, all is participant, and we are now “identified” with (know ourselves as) our dimensionless and unlocatable center, or source.
At the same time, such beautiful paradox, we realize all our centers are the same center, the same source. We begin to understand that everywhere in the universe, every place, every point, every awareness, every recognition, is the center and source of the universe, that each of us and all of us are also that center awakening to itself, and that through all of us life is becoming what it is meant to be, a conscious, infinite and unending discovery (recognition), celebration, and sharing.
Exchange the word center for heart in the preceding paragraphs, and see how it affects your understanding of what is being said.
What is not often accepted is that even as the Universe contains mechanistic logic, mechanistic logic cannot and will not ever be able encompass or explain the Universe. To keep insisting that the only reliable method we have for making sense of existence is the scientific method assumes sense and awareness are only and merely logical, objectifiable and/or mechanical activities.
To truly know something one must first and foremost be intimate with it, one with it, i.e. not separate from it. In this essay knowing, or “to know,” is being used in the biblical sense. All other forms of knowing are merely belief, judgment, violence, and attempts to control, with all of that being the mechanizations of separation.
In the final analysis, all mechanistic arguments for a Universe that can be logically “measured” and explained is by its very nature an argument that denies existence to anything and everything the arguer does not (and cannot as something separate) know. We cannot know what we have set ourselves apart from. Argument of this sort is by its very nature violent, dualistic, and invested above all else in acquiring power over what it (the argument/arguer) is merely imagining as being separate from itself.
This kind of foolishness merely and forever (for as long as such an argument continues to be central to the identity of the arguer) sets things up so that the arguer for a mechanistic Universe absolutely cannot ever know or experience anything beyond what they already “know” or seem to experience. Whether they realize it or not they are arguing for an illusion, that is, their own believed existence as some “thing” or some “one” separate.
Even when the arguer for a mechanistic universe understands some of these words, they do not really get it, in-their-bones, so to speak, that labeling a box or a collection of boxes the Universe doesn’t make it so. If they did, their arguments would soon cease to exist, and they would finally be able to look at the universe in some very different (new and ancient) ways.
In Cartesian theology “Man has become God,” with some men now asserting themselves as “more god” than others. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Gaddafi, Hussein, Assad, Putin, Trump and similar others are examples (personifications) of this belief system expressing into some of its most insane of all, unfelt and disconnected extremes.
Prior to Descartes the Church offered its own theological underpinnings and rationales for this sort of event, in the form of popes, kings, emperors, aristocracy, hierarchy, etc. The East and Middle East had and have their own expressions of this separation centered human tendency, of course, but it is the dominant European and cultural West that has developed that tendency into the extreme rationales and belief systems that are responsible for most of our present day major disconnections between cultures, between humans, and between humans and the natural world.
And yet with all that has been said so far, I also believe we are upon an amazing journey and creation story of separation and return, with something new becoming awake and alive in (and as) the Universe.
It may be that, as much as we are willing to let go of the past, we are coming into an end time, and that right here and now in these present moments, of our collective journey as self aware humans, we are being called to process and bring together our multitude of journeys and our multitude of stories, with none of them ever to be individually completed or fully understood until and as much as this “bringing together” happens.
We are becoming able, if we choose, to realize that within all of our journeys and stories, with all of us so clearly in this same now become very leaky boat we sometimes call planet earth, that there is an incredible possibility being offered to us, the possibility of weaving back together, only now within consciousness so to speak, our collective reality of here and there, you and I, them and us, and all of it, as not ever having been separate to begin with.
In that realization becomes universal forgiveness, the whole now remembering itself as all of us and each of us, and that nothing separate has ever really occurred. Nor that it ever could occur. In this sort of collectiveness forgiveness is the possibility to become what I believe is the most incredible miraculous paradox of them all. We seemed to go away and so now we return to where we never left, through (with) each other, our paths now transformed into this shared awakening of and to what has always been.
Waking up is the path in other words, with both the going and the return, through this rejoining of what was never apart, actually becoming a new act of creation in the Universe as a whole, as this human consciousness itself begins to participate in what has always been, always on-going, Creation.
Expanding, extending without edges, every point of consciousness knowing itself as the center (heart) of the universe, and the conscious choosing of all that is. This sharing of metaphors is, in a real sense I believe, what religion or spirituality, or what some of us refer to as awareness realizing itself, actually is.
But this is not a discussion about religion, rather it is to suggest that in the end all language that is not of a so-called practical nature, here and now, regarding physical needs, or as a way of joining our efforts to manipulate substance — trees into shelter, iron into tools, silicon into solar panels, seeds into food — all the rest of language is perhaps metaphor, a means of sharing what is always beyond conceptual or intellectual grasp, but also real, in a very different sense of “real.”
All of creation as pointing fingers, so to speak, with language and art and science and all awakened human endeavors some of the ways we become a part of that incredible conversation. Even the most practical and mundane things now become a part of that conversation.
In this sense, what has become of religion can, when it is no longer what so many of us have turned it into, be re-realized as a means for diverse groups of people to share common experience through shared metaphors of what can only ever be pointed to.
To experience this that we and all are, we must even be willing to let go of pointing, actually step beyond the end of the finger, in other words beyond all thought and image of our seemingly separate and separated selves.
Some folks will question such musings as these in terms of pragmatism verses idealism, consciously or unconsciously pitting these two principals against the other. But consider instead that there may be a natural and healthy way, in a larger context, that these two approaches actually weave together, with an assortment of other differences and principals, into life, human, and not just human, all the myriad unique individuations, condensations and expressions of life that make up this planet earth.
It can no longer be about choosing between. Rather, choice becomes something else, showing up, being present, surrendering to, and participating in what is.
When we choose in this different way there begins a new sort of journey in which we learn how it is that each of us is able to act as a part of the whole, all the while we are realizing ourselves as myriad unique individuals. A kind of global spectrum of possibility becomes aware of itself, through each of us awakening, uniquely, each at our own pace, and yet altogether.
Arguing with prevalent dogmatic beliefs in structures and ideology, including the ideology of a “separate” so-called supreme being (Cartesian thinking before Descartes was born), recalls the “Briar Rabbit” stories from when I was a kid, and the “tar baby.” The more we argue with all of that the more we get stuck in it, stuck in our own arguments with it, and/or stuck in “it” through our own arguments, so to speak, and, what’s the point?
Why not, instead, go on with our own journey into (becoming) the mystery? Realize ourselves as part of Creation so to speak, and save our energy and attention for those we meet along that sort of path, however they may appear?
What we believe we have defeated we ourselves will eventually become, over and over. In every so called “victory” all that ever changes is the “appearance” of separation.
So we let it go and continue with our own journey to become free, free from the past (his-story) and from fundamentalist dogma, whether it be scientific, economic, political, religious or personal, and dive deeply into a direct (and growing) experience of mystery. Leave behind efforts to capture into concepts what will always remain mystery to every mind lost in beliefs of separation. Instead allow mystery itself to express through us, moment to moment, writings upon water, and realize that we are this life which is awakening to itself.
Yet, paradoxically, stay engaged. The opportunity for interaction and conversation is all around us. We don’t need to make anything happen, just step up when and as much we are able to be present, make relative choices around time, energy, and personal needs, and engage. By living in the world as it is, even as we discover more and more that we are not of it, and even as much as we can still sometimes despair of the way it seems to be, we still allow change to happen of its own, so to speak. And sometimes even through ourselves.
Otherwise, our ways of thinking in terms of “either/or” and “us/them” will keep getting rehabilitated, on and on, with all the inherent assumptions of separation remaining as the only way to perceive, experience, or communicate.
Duality and separation is the world’s meta religion, believed to be the only reality, forever taking “either/or” as far as it will go. When a particular brand of dualism no longer entertains or distracts, or justifies our competition and fear of each other, we merely attempt to move or lift our dissatisfactions into other areas, levels, or degrees of dualistic concepts.
What is the context and what is contained within the context. Machines exist as a part of the living Universe — I drive and use them regularly. But the fuel injection system in my truck does not describe the living Universe. Machines are expressions of a logical mind, yet logic is just one small part of the universe.
The logical mind is a limited contraction of greater mind (Awareness). To the degree we are in touch with it, our intuitive (non-linear) mind will take us a little closer to realizing this. Yet we identify with the actions, imaginings and “makings” of our logical minds to such an extent that we are barely able to recognize that we are alive most thoroughly by way of participation in what is, on every level and to every degree, soooo much greater, infinite, eternal.
Where we are coming from is what is important. Entering deeper into and reaching further out of where we are coming from, always further and always deeper, outward and inward, one whole rhythm or movement like breathing, is what life and consciousness is about.
What is also important is to share, with others, each of us in our own unique ways, real and actual engagement and movement, rather than attacking, running, hiding, digging in or defending. In such sharings we begin to discover more and more that what we are, in truth, is the same.
In every moment that that sort of discovery is shared, even if only a little more or for a little while, it moves all of us closer to this common world that is always here, always and forever waiting for us to (re) awaken to it.
As women, men, humans, and all our relations, all beings born into this Earth-centered life together, continually forming and reforming through all of these myriad ways, shapes and species of life that have co-evolved with, together, we already have a common path.
We don’t need to invent the way, only rejoin it. It is a path that we will be able to engage best through surrendering to it, which becomes, but only as we actually do it, a surrendering to what we always and already are.
That surrendering into what we already are, together, is the true challenge. I believe it is the greatest and most central challenge humans now face.
~ John Fridinger
Silver City, NM
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