Open to Everything, believing Nothing


  There’s been no golden age when all dreams came true. Nor will there be.

 And so to imagine that there’s no heaven, only earth below, is the greatest of fantasies, a pagan dreaminess, that the great sages and seers have always said is an impoverished state of mind, needing to be overcome. 

The great illusion, say the sages, is to believe that this passing world is all there is.

 For by its nature, this world (and our life in it), will be gone in a flash.

 As most everyone exclaims in their later years: 'Where did it all go? It happened so quickly. Why just yesterday, I was...'

 The crucial thing to know is that another world calls to us - a more solid reality, deeper and greater than this shadowy existence. 

 Our response to that call is our one and only true hope, since all other worldly hopes will be dashed. 

 To make sense of this vale of tears, this place of heartbreak and sorrow, our great mission is to cultivate a deeper, spiritual perspective on it all.

 Armed in this way, we are then able to look at everything from a higher vantage point, with an eagle-like vision.

 Now, ironically, such a level of perception, arising from the transcendent realm, has the effect of heightening the value of this passing world.

 Which is because life, from this higher perspective, is now seen to be a pilgrimage towards a distant shore.

 Life itself is understood to be a great launching pad towards a great arrival - a climactic homecoming.

 The point of this life, in other words, is to prepare us for heaven. 

 Life in these terms is a movement towards a wonder-filled destiny instead of a distintegration into nothingness. 

 Thus instead of the all too common collapse of belief into a sneering cynicism and suspiciousness, a spirit of hopefulness and expectancy can take over.

 Freed from unbelief, life can become a journey towards transcendence and transfiguration.

 What it therefore comes down to is that, within every human being, there is a battle to be fought between the attainment of hopefulness based on transcendence, against the collapse into a state of unbelief.

 Which means then that I must never give up the search for truth. And indeed to expect that truth can be found.

 My point is to emphasize an attitude of expectancy, starkly at odds with the spirit of postmodernism - the spirit of the age - where truth is forever regarded as an impossibility. 

 When the search for truth is abandoned, says University of Toronto Professor, Jordan Peterson, all that’s left is a power struggle between the haves and the have nots.

 Because of unbelief, not a few have now been reduced to regarding everything as a power struggle.

 In an age of unbelief, where there is no real world of objective meaning and truth, the sorry consequence is a loss of meaning. And we are then lost in a lost world

  Lost in a meaningless world, we become vulnerable to politicians whose specific aim is to stir up resentment against any perceived power brokers. 

 An array of Sophist spinmasters offer the message:

  'If you have, and I do not, it’s your fault, not mine.' 

   'I’m not responsible. You are.' 

 And on it goes. 

 The shrill, ear splitting cry of the leftists is that equality should be forced upon us.

 Equal outcomes, it is thought, should be guaranteed for all.

 “Universities and colleges," says Peterson, "are largely controlled now by postmodernists and neo-Marxists, actively agitating to producing people who believe that all inequality is due to oppression and power.”

 Though in the last century, millions of bodies washed up on the shores because of this deadly spirit of socialism, it has reared its ugly head yet again. 

 Once again the effort is to tear down, not to build up.

That battle cry to tear down - to deconstruct - is such a long way from the noble search for truth, beauty and goodness.

 On the deconstruction hit list:

    1. Religion.

     2. Constitutional democracy.

      3. The rule of law.

       4. Fine art. 

        5. The ideal of economic progress.  

         6. Science and its standards of objectivity. (Adapted from James Franklin, The Postmodern Calculus, The New Criterion, Sept. 2010)

 The list goes on and on.

 Yet we have seen this all before. This nihilism was on display in Athens, five hundred years before the birth of Jesus.

 It appeared in the cast of mind of the sophist, Gorgias of Leontini. 

 Gorgias was a thorough going skeptic. Gorgias was supremely suspicious. And had three gloomy points to make:

 1. Nothing exists. 

  2. If anything existed, it could not be known.

   3. If anything were known, it could not be communicated. (Ibid)

 His depressing refrain amounted to this that, there is nothing you can know and nothing you can trust.

Gorgias was a relativizer. For him, as for the postmodernists today, there is no solid reality.

 Truth is entirely illusive. Truth is always slip-sliding away. 

  We cannot know the truth because, after all, we are:

   1. Trapped in our own evolutionary determined brains.

    2. Trapped in our own cultural understandings.

      3. Trapped in our own specific histories. 

        4. Trapped in our own reactionary educations.

  We are stuck because of our various conditionings and cannot get past them.

 We cannot therefore break through to the other side.

 Is this a threat? 

 Well yes, and I fear for my granddaughter’s future (6 weeks old) if this kind of thinking continues to hold sway in our culture.

 For if she, like too many others, does not expect to find truth to build her life upon, what instead will her focus be - perhaps to nurse a grievance of some kind or another for years to come?

 My hope is that my granddaughter will grow up filled to the brim with enchanting stories (ie.The Narnia Tales) that direct her towards the vision of transcendence. 

 Bereft of that, my fear is that she will be a likely candidate for cynicism and become that worst of all possible sights, a postmodernist teenager - open to everything, believing nothing.

 My prayer is never to behold the wretched state of a blood relative open to everything, believing nothing

 Dr Jordan Peterson (age 57) has recently confessed that it was a mistake not to send his children to church.

 Like so many, he had dreamily wanted his children to "make their minds up for themselves.

 Which amounted then to his children receiving no instruction and no guidance in religious matters.

 The result, says Peterson regretfully, is that they "missed a hell of a lot.”

 But Peterson’s effort now is to encourage what he neglected before. 

 His concern now is to inspire into being the well developed individual - the person in full.

 Such a person in full, he says, is the antidote to all forms of tyranny.

 And the chief characteristic of such a well developed individual is that he takes responsibility for his life. (Joe Rogan Experience #1006)

 Such a one, on his way to fullness, was a scribe in the New Testament who overheard a conversation between Jesus Christ and others. 

 Upon hearing them “reasoning together”, he was impressed and asked Jesus Christ an earnest question: "Which is the first commandment of all?” (Mark ch. 12)

 What an astonishing question!

 For it is the exact opposite of questions such as:

  1. 'How can I get what I want?'

    2. 'How can I get what I’m entitled to?'

 Rather, in an entirely different spirit - an open, receptive spirit, - the scribe  asked 'What is required of me?

 Put in other words: 'What standards should I be living by?’

  Or, 'What Divine imperative needs to be there at the heart of my life and being?’

  Or, 'What is the greatest commandment to which my life should conform?'

 And Jesus answered him, "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment."

 The scribe responded with wholehearted agreement that this was the way to go.

 Then Jesus, commending the scribe's receptivity, offered the encouragement: "Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” (verse 34)

 Christ had apparently observed that two of the scribe's essential inner faculties were totally on fire! - his capacity to reason and his capacity to be receptive

 Philosopher, Josef Pieper, has written that in order for there to be a true knowing, a full apprehension of the truth, that both reason (in Latin, ratio -discursive reason) and intuition (in Latin, intellectus) need to combine. 

 If, for example, reason is overemphasized to the exclusion of intuition, (intuition defined as a purely receptive level of seeing) you have the case of a spiritual imperviousness - that "hard quality of not-being-able-to-receive - a stoniess of heart that will not brook any resistance.” 

 And it is therefore the case that reason alone will not take us into the kingdom of God. It must be combined with a total openness of the heart. 

 What that happens - when the inner faculties are set aflame and combine - the result, says Piper, is "the highest fulfillment of what it is to be human."

 And so it is that both have to be there - reason and intuition - for there to be true knowing and true fulfillment. 

 And it is this possibility of true knowing and true fulfillment - what the scribe was on his way to experiencing - that exists as the alternative to the postmodernist nihilistic impulse of being open to everything, believing nothing.


The Child on your Eyes, by Hossam Ahmed