Monday, February 12, 2007

You know, another problem with trying to discuss religion these days is that everyone is so damn touchy about it. It's nearly impossible to have a reasoned, intelligent discussion with someone about their beliefs (or the things they don't believe)-- a discussion in which you might learn something and/or change your own ideas based on contact with new information-- because as soon as you bring up religion and/or spirituality, you're touching on an issue where people's minds are already made up-- including atheists. I've read some stuff written by atheists recently that is every bit as adamant and closed-minded as fundamentalism. I think of Richard Dawkins as an fundamentalist atheist. Wait! let's not get off on that topic.

anyway. I'm still thinking about The Secret but anticipating before even typing out my thoughts that this might be somewhat controversial. So, let's try making it into a fable.

Imagine that we live in an alternate universe. A universe where it is a firmly established fact that your thoughts and the thoughts of everyone around you create the reality we all inhabit. You think about something you want and that something appears in your life. BUT the thoughts of everyone around you do the same thing, and although the country where we live in this alternate universe is big and diverse, the resources which produce these "thought manifestations" are limited to a reasonable amount per person--plenty for health and happiness, but not enough for fabulous wealth. Let's further imagine that the ability to manifest your thoughts is a learned skill, just like riding a bike or baking a cake. In this alternate universe, given these circumstances, would you as a thinker/manifester (is that a word?) have an ethical responsibility to not manifest more than your fair share of the planet's resources? If you have an innate gift for manifesting your thoughts (i.e., you're better at it than your neighbors), should you scale back on what you "could" manifest out of deference to the needs of those around you? should you be aware that you might strip the planet raw? what happens if you are visualizing living in a peaceful, quiet neighborhood where you can meditate on your back porch every morning, but your neighbor is visualizing raising two dozen chickens, so they can have free-range, naturally nested eggs every morning for breakfast? whose visualization is going to "win"?

In this universe, it seems to me that the most important spiritual task would be to learn enough about yourself to know what you need to support a healthy, creative, and useful life. And even more importantly: how to be content with that. Rather than learning how to manifest the ultimate most that you possibly could.

Do you see my point?

Back in our universe, different bits of this will be problematic to different people. The skeptics, of course, think the whole "thoughts create reality" idea is just a clever ruse to get people to pay big bucks to the infomercial folks. Theist types will be bugged that you don't need God in this scenario. The New Age folks would disagree that there are only finite resources: they seem to believe that the universe has unlimited ability to meet all our desires, and there really is enough for everybody to have everything they want.

But even given all that (none of which I can really argue with, because I don't really know the answer to any of this and maybe they're right)-- I still think my alternate universe makes a point. Because just imagine a universe in which every one can manifest exactly what they're thinking but they are competing for limited resources with which to do it. So you would have some people who have stronger personalities who would charge ahead and get whatever they want; you'd have people who wanted to make sure everyone else got what they wanted and so ended up with nothing; you'd have people who live in the country to the (um, let's say) west of here who are resource poor, so they don't have nearly as much as we do; you have people in the country to the (say) east of here who don't really care about manifesting their thoughts, so the people in our country feel justified in using their resources to get what they want. IN SHORT, you'd have our world.

Which is why I think that if you ever hear anyone say, All you have to do to have everything you ever wanted is just..... (insert anything here) you should run fast and far in the opposite direction. If you're teaching this stuff, you have a responsibility to teach that our heart's desire, our true spiritual path, is not the same as the path to monetary success.

It's just my opinion of course.

Aunt BeaN

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