This week and next, I want to explore a subject that may be a little uncomfortable for us to look at, but that I think is wildly important in our time to consider.
I want to look at how we may be unknowingly continuing on with a superstition that isn't helping us to ground into reality, where we can make true positive change on the planet.
I want to explore how we may be continuing to stay stuck in religious thinking, believing we've transcended that, in ways that are making us continually look for a perfect answer, a perfect deliverance from pain, a perfect savior figure to follow - and how this thinking is preventing us from taking the actual steps required to improve living conditions for all beings here.
This is going to be a deep one, so let's take it in two chunks. Have a read of today's half below, and I'll see you next week for part two!
The New Sun God:
‘Sovereignty’ and the ‘Sacred Self’ are the new Sun Gods in our late stage capitalist society.
If you’re not familiar with what the Sun God myth is, it’s essentially a series of religious stories built around the concept of a chosen, pure, savior figure that is destined to deliver humanity or a group of chosen pure disciples from suffering into bliss ever-after.
George Santayana said that those who don’t learn from history, are doomed to repeat it. This is very true.
But what about when what we’re repeating looks like something new?
This is what I believe we have been grappling with as a humanity for much of our time on earth.
Repeating the same patterns over and over, having very little awareness that we’re doing so, because of slight surface variations.
Most of us do this in our personal lives all the time - we repeat our same patterns in relationships but don’t notice because the ‘topic’ of the fights seem to change. The ‘issue’ we think we’re dealing with shifts. New people come in and old ones go out - but if we dig a little under the surface we will find that our same root issues are playing out in slightly different ways. We attempt this new diet or lifestyle program, falling off the wagon, getting back on with a new program, convincing ourselves that this is different, this is new, this won’t be like last time - never looking below for the WHY we’re not feeling well and why we are shifting from program to program. We get on all the self improvement highs, feeling like we’re going to change our lives forever, like we really ‘got it’ this time, we have all the enthusiasm and discipline in the world, get some results for a period of time, fall off. Start again.
We easily miss the loops we’re in, not because we’re lazy or unintelligent.
Not because we WANT to fool ourselves.
Not because we don’t want to feel better - but because we were never taught how to expand beyond what we already think we know.
We live in a world that so deeply fears the unknown, that has trained us to feel shame, deep guilt and like we are BAD PEOPLE if we don’t already have the solution to our problems. Being wrong, or not having the answer, is something we all grew up learning meant love/safety was taken away.
At the same time, humanity deeply fears the unknown not for social reasons, but simply because practically speaking the unknown means threat. We have a great fear of the unknown because most of us don’t feel confident that if we don’t already know something, that we have the capacity to figure it out.
We don’t feel like we can learn.
We don’t feel capable of observing the reality around and within us, gathering the information from that, and moving forward in new ways that work better than what we’ve done before.
We don’t believe in learning from observation, cause and effect, witnessing for ourselves. Most of us have been so deeply indoctrinated that learning happens in the context of someone/something telling us the answers, that if we want to know something we have to find someone who already knows, because again, none of us really believe in the idea of learning new things from reality.
We believe in being RESCUED on some level from an external source.
We all fear anything being unknown, because to us, most of the time, if we don’t already know, and if there isn’t someone or something out there who already knows, we’re hooped.
Our own higher selves.
A past civilization.
There’s a deeply held belief in humanity that if it’s not already known, it can’t be known.
Thus we have to search for the knower.
This brings me to the general loop that humanity has been in for as long as we’ve been telling stories - and that’s the loop of the Sun God/rescuer myth. Which is really just a story we’ve applied to a very deeply human pattern.
Suffering And Oppression Leads To The Desire For Rescuing:
You see, for as long as humans have been alive, we've faced some form of suffering and oppression. For as long as we’ve existed, we’ve sought deliverance from this suffering. We’ve looked for what we can become, do, or sacrifice in order to be worthy of the thing with the power to save, to save us. This general pattern is the basic program most of us live on a day to day basis. We look for the lover to rescue us from our loneliness. The health professional/information that will fix our bodies. The God who will love us and give us everlasting love and favor. We look to purify ourselves, do right, be right, find the right things - so that we will be delivered from our suffering into the heaven of pure joy at all times. In this life. In the afterlife. We want an END to suffering, and we want a THING that’s going to make that happen.
We want to be rescued, permanently.
In the very beginning, we were unaware of how nature and reality worked, and thus we were constantly antagonized by nature. Trying to figure out how to survive, just living - gathering enough food, creating adequate shelter, surviving weather, fending off predators - all of this was REALLY HARD. We were slowly developing social structures, technologies and the pattern recognition required to pass on our genes - but doing so was incredibly challenging.
With this we see the beginnings of our current ‘spirituality’ where we started to project our human desires/characteristics onto nature, giving it human-like qualities. We saw nature as a kind of parental figure - one that either approved of or disapproved of us, and then rewarded or punished us accordingly.
Stumbling upon a huge mango tree? We were being rewarded by the fruit Gods.
Big storm that wipes out ¾’s of the tribe? Punishment.
We started to worship, give offerings and generally deify the elements as they were the givers and takers of life itself.
There was also a spiritual connection to life in this time, something that went a little beyond just mere survival, because humans have always searched for MEANING - due to our self awareness.
We’ve always wanted to know WHY.
Why we suffer.
Why we exist.
What happens after death.
What our purpose is.
These existential questions don’t really have answers, and for that we have always turned to something greater than flesh and blood. This weaved it’s way in and out of our survival needs and that projection - creating superstition and the buds of modern religion.
Ceremonies for blessings, for provision, for protection were created along with ceremonies for passage into the next life, passage into this life, healings, future telling and so on. There was naturally a sense of wanting to be rescued from pain and delivered to a perfect land of freedom, abundance and a release of the constant struggle for survival - and for this we prayed to the Gods to deliver us.
Our pattern seeking minds (which gave us our survival edge) started to notice patterns and connections between our behaviors and the seeming outcomes of nature - when we worshiped in this way or gave this offering, there was abundant food for a season. When people did this or that, we faced a drought. We started to mold our ways of being, our rules for ‘right and wrong’ around what we thought were the patterns of nature and reality - what we thought was bringing us favor from the Gods or what we thought was causing them to punish us. Our codes for living were partially being developed via what we thought were the patterns of our behaviors and their outcomes in greater reality.
At the same time, we were noticing the things we liked and didn’t like as HUMAN beings within social structures, as well as ways we could control one another - and this also formed the basis for our social structures of right and wrong, who would be given what was needed to survive and who wouldn’t and so on. Because in life, there often wasn’t enough for all people to have enough. Prioritization had to happen, and it wasn’t done equitably. We needed each other to survive, and those who could overpower did - because that meant more resources, pleasure and deliverance from the suffering of the rest of the group.
The Birth Of Social Order:
We started to develop hierarchical structures in our social groups, as we discovered that some people had more strength, power and seeming utility within the community. Those who were more physically capable were able to dominate those who were less so, and in this domination they learned that they could hoard more of the resources for themselves as they wielded control over the tribe.
There was still a deification of nature, but to this was added the witnessing of being controlled by not only nature and her whims, but also PEOPLE. With this, we started to create an intersection between the upward and outward deification of nature/life as an entity unto itself that could help us understand the mysteries of self awareness, with the powers that some people had over others. We started to create stories of the Divine right to rule, and with that the Divine right to have more than others.
Those who were more capable and thus able to dominate and take more for themselves did, because survival was HARD and shoring up more for yourself was an advantage. They justified it via the idea that they provided something for the tribe that the tribe couldn’t provide without them and with the idea that they were blessed. They were in control because God wanted them to be - obviously, otherwise why would they be in control?
Controlling people and their behaviors was something that was necessary for keeping these hierarchies going, for quelling rebellion and for giving REASON for why people were oppressed/given less than others.
A whole complex social order started to be created. Along with increasingly complex spiritual myths and practices that gave ‘reason’ for it all. It also led to the formation of slave labor and other practices that were the foundations for a LOT of technological progress. People were sacrificed by the controlling top members of society in order to generate what was needed, or more than what was needed to survive - and this is how we went from hunter-gatherers to the techno-giants we are now. Hierarchy paved the way for labor that took us out of the food chain, at the expense of life.
Also those in positions of power started to USE this spirituality as justification for their laws/preferences/ways of life that supported their staying in power. They started to use the idea of a Divine force that could bless or punish as a reinforcement for the social order they needed. There was an indoctrination process taking place around what was ‘good and bad’, what would get you approved of and therefore provided for by the group vs. what would get you outcasted as being rooted in some kind of higher wisdom - when in fact it was a tool for keeping people obedient and subservient to the dominant parties. Religion was being used as a tool to keep people in their oppression.
These structures of projecting mythical qualities onto nature and life, as well as Divine blessing upon those with the capacity to rule over others evolved with us as our social structures evolved.
Tribes and tribal leaders fought with one another, oppressed or supported their people, took more for themselves, took over other tribes, leading to larger and larger groups. Which turned into cities, countries and nations. With this our technologies advanced, and we became agrarian rather than hunter-gatherers. The technologies and what was of use to society changed - but the structures stayed the same. How and what we worshiped changed with each passing generation, but WHY we worshiped stayed the same - we wanted freedom from struggle and answers for WHY we struggled/why we lived.
Remember, life was still really hard, surviving was really hard. Having enough was really hard. And we were already seeing the divide between those who came from lineages of wealth and status (dominance) vs. those who came from lineages of less.
We can observe through all of this time how spirituality evolved along with the challenges of life. God’s became less nature centered and more personified as people, royal people, people with wealth, status and the power to bless.
We continued to see the pattern of projecting our human minds and characteristics onto life and the Gods we were creating in our minds, constantly searching for the benevolent power that would be the power strong enough to override the oppression we were facing on earth.
This is because the actual overriding of oppression, the actual finding of the ‘promised land’ where we never suffered again, the actual solutions to the problems we face here on planet earth are big, complex, oftentimes impossible tasks.
At the end of the day, power structures have existed in lineage for as long as human history.
Life, disease, weather, caring for billions of people is all INCREDIBLY complicated.
We aren’t going to find perfection any time soon.
For all of human history we’ve been longing for FREEDOM - and we’ve been slowly inching towards it though learning about ourselves and this reality and working out how to survive best within it - but even within that there are still those existential questions that may never be answerable.
We still suffer because we don’t understand ourselves well.
We don’t understand life.
Survival is still hard.
Oppression and dominance are still the law of the land.
We want and have wanted a savior for as long as we’ve been around because deep down, we know that the actual happiness and freedom we seek may not be possible. Life may always be a struggle, and slow, step by step process towards greater and greater freedom (with most people fighting progress the whole way because the unknown is scary and the unknown is the ONLY place all these freedoms will be found) rather than a THING that happens that rescues us from our pain forever.
We want deliverance, because progress is hard. We want to be rescued - and forever we’ve been trying to figure out how to please the Gods of the day so that they will give us this deliverance. We’ve always wanted it. We still want it. How we interact with and express this has changed, but the root of where it comes from and why we’re doing it have remained.
We feel oppressed by life, we also know we’re being oppressed by humans, and we want to be rescued from this. We want to know what the bad guy is, what we’re doing to deserve it, and we want to eradicate them or purify ourselves so as to be worthy of the peace that comes from Divine blessing. This has been our narrative since the very, very beginning.
Alright friends, let's pause here and resume next week! As always, I'd love to hear what you think so far 🙂