by Ben Croser
Materialism and Spirituality are on a spectrum of values, a pendulum, where we find our Human Identity. We have now moved so completely into a cycle of Materialism, which began many thousands of years ago, we see great changes now in our world.
Catastrophic Climate Change, and The Great Slide Toward Inverted Totalitarianism
Inverted totalitarianism is a term coined by political philosopher Sheldon Wolin to describe the emerging form of government of the United States. Wolin believes that the United States is increasingly turning into an illiberal democracy, and he uses the term “inverted totalitarianism” to illustrate the similarities and differences between the United States governmental system and totalitarian regimes such as Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union.
… Inverted totalitarianism reverses things. It is all politics all of the time but a politics largely untempered by the political. Party squabbles are occasionally on public display, and there is a frantic and continuous politics among factions of the party, interest groups, competing corporate powers, and rival media concerns. And there is, of course, the culminating moment of national elections when the attention of the nation is required to make a choice of personalities rather than a choice between alternatives. What is absent is the political, the commitment to finding where the common good lies amidst the welter of well-financed, highly organized, single-minded interests rabidly seeking governmental favours and overwhelming the practices of representative government and public administration by a sea of cash.
Chris Hedges “Inverted Totalitarianism”
Materialism Extremis has lead to Inverted Totalitarianism, lead us to see this world as entirely Material in essence, and to see ourselves as Eating, Talking and Procreating Machines. The Spirit of previous ages, the Animistic traditions that prevailed before the rise of Science, and the Industrial Revolution, permeated the way of life of virtually all Native Peoples, and Cultures.
The world views of Cultures of the Spirit, that preceded the rise of civilisations, all included as a central component the Land, Country, and the Elements, but these were not seen as Material only. With a complex weaving, they all had stories that detailed how they came to be, how the world came to be, and what their place was in this Magnificent World.
Cycle ahead to the present, and we find ourselves living in what can only be hoped is the Nadir of Materialism. Whatever the specific formative reasons, be they Overpopulation, Social and Cultural Collisions, Resource Depletion, Abundant Fossil Fuel Energy, Habitat Destruction, Ecosystem Destruction, Ocean Plastification, and Human Exploitation and Debt Slavery, we as a Species are faced with the limits of our devastating acceptance of Materialism as a model for reality and ourselves.
With the enormous crescendo of Scientific understanding, we begin to also understand the power and fragility of the systems we need to survive on this, our planet, our only home – Earth. The rise of civilisations, and now their apex, a Monoculture atop cultures, we arrive at Materialism. There is no longer any surviving vestige of Stabilised Spiritual Culture, powerful enough to counter-vale and transform Materialist ethics and laws.
Materialism dominates our world view, our cosmological view, if not every individual, then a vast majority, and all the nodes of institutional legitimacy and power.to such a degree, Materialism dominates such that we accept the most horrendous abuses to ourselves, or the greater underclasses within cultures, and our planet, all in the name of supplying an ugly over-abundance and sheer terror of waste, resulting in a cascade of pollution, species and ecosystem loss, and the extreme dehumanisation, and dishonour of Homo sapiens.
Were we to conceive of ourselves as we once did, we may still be fewer, we may still be nomadic, we may rely far more on those close by for deep love and communal support, and we also may be a meaningful part of an awesome living planet.
But no longer.
We cannot go back. That world is no longer obtainable again – Seas so abundant in life it was obvious to everyone all life arose there; Air so clear and fresh any solitary mind could shape a winged thought so steeped in time that memory of ancestors would come calling; Land so sacred and alive no place was not part of oneself, and Fire, so precious to a sacred heart-filled merging of Spirit and Self, it become the defining tool that was respected, mastered, and known as the inspiration for all dreams, visions and foreknowledge.
All this we have lost. Our tacit connection to the very centre of our own consciousness is in doubt, as Materialism prevails, like a cloud of confusion and death covering the globe. Few today know deeply why they have the gift of life, why they have so much cultural promise of freedom, but little Spiritual Understanding that has always been the door to the riches of the Heart, and that freedom. Few today know any Real Spiritual Touchstones, once embedded in their unique Cultural heritage. Lost, almost all now have been replaced with a shallow mummery of life-business transactions, with all the joy of endless Having and Getting, but no ways to contact the Self.
The Self -the manifestation in all beings that Carl Jung described as the Transcendental reality inflected in us. In a worlds apart description, Jung would have rejected, utterly, and with passion, the modern Adam Smith dictum that at the core of our being is self interest. In a macabre word-play, we see the small self the Ego, of Smith attribution, being lauded as a meaningless material coil of flesh, and then extolled as the legitimate human seat of being, and meaning. A very far cry from what all ancient conceptions of what it is to be Human, and what Jung called the Self, the very Transcendent loci of reality.
The Self is the project of all manifestation, especially here on this Jewel of a planet. The Self is what we seek, but it is our very essence, and as the seductions and consolations of Materialism lock our gaze and capture our hearts, in so doing it empties or experience of its Crowning Bliss – the Heart Joy of Being.
Spiritualism and Spirituality were never simply a series of hokey rituals to fool the Child-Mind into giving over power to others. Spiritualism and Spirituality emerged within Hunter Gatherer life which was completely adapted, and co-evolving with the Land, Sea, Air and the Fire of a living planet. There was no attempt to ever ‘escape’ to other imaginary places, many now conceive Spiritualism and Spirituality to be. Being so completely adapted to the Real matrix of this world, all the dimensions of our being emerged and were revealed over time. All the functions of Consciousness developed and demonstrated their purposes; that being to experience the diversity of the currents of Reality, as they are. Sensation, Thinking, Feeling, and Intuition, all describe and report to the conscious host, what exists, what its features are, and are not, if we like it or not, and its ultimate place in the cycle of its own being.
Materialism only perceives, and therefore, only reports on, the Sensation and Thinking functions of consciousness. ‘Objective’ reality then becomes a cage from which the human Self and its Transcendental correlate in Reality, vanishes. Consciousness has no ‘position’, and therefore, no ‘meaning’ in a Materialist existence.
Subjective by definition, Feeling and Intuition, describe the experience Consciousness has of itself as a subject. In earlier forms of Culture, the True, Transcendental Self was a projected conception of the Divine. These capacities, in Truth are our own – Human.
This is only old Greek Hubris if we, as we now do in a Materialist way of existence, conflate Ego with Self, or in the old world we assign Ego with divine powers.
As Jung was at pains to point out to ‘Moderns’, Self is revealed by Ego Surrender, not Ego Reinforcement, and Deification. Earlier Cultures found that projection of Self in the Land, Sea, Sky, and in the Fire, and with the rise of civilisations – the cults of Pantheism, and Monotheism – of closer personifications of our own unrealised capacities.
That experience of Self and the World, with far less separation and fear than today, was not an idyllic period we can romanticise from our contemporary outpost here, now. It was full immersion and interface with the Biosphere, shielded from no force of Natural Systems, nor consequence of human action. Its legitimacy is not from the Truth of its descriptions of Reality, but in the fact that they were Child-like adaptation to the Transcendental. Greater Truths were usually embedded in the Esoteric marginal segments of the civilising Spiritual traditions, out of reach of the orthodoxy.
We no longer have that Child-like adaptation, no matter how hard the network of Global Corporations may seek to maintain for us.
We are Adolescents, in a sea of shifting haze, an indeterminate self.
Old ways have past, new ways are emerging, but the required Understanding to the vast majority, seems out of reach.
The Transcendental Heart is what we need, but conventional conceptions of what that Heart is, and all its greater functions are even less well understood.
As the Yang and the Yin of manifestation describe a unity, the Transcendental Heart is not only the Seat of all being, very much conceived like our physical heart gives to the body the vital life blood it meeds. The Transcendental heart is also a Bridge, to the new stage of being.
We are at the world cultural moment where we, like the snake, need to shed a skin to grow.
That skin is Materialism.
We need to realise we are not base replicating machines. The only purpose of replicating machines is to convey over time a living being, in a changing landscape, until it Realises itself. The diversity of forms masks the Real Essence, which is like the Promethean heat of an earlier time – the unrealised essence of our Very Self.
The heartbreaking state of the planet – the rapid Catastrophic Climatic Changes, the Long Polluted and now Dying Oceans, and the Choking Air pollutants, and Land that no longer supports Species in their normal Habitat, all culminates in this time as the Sixth Great Extinction – the delusional thinking that got us here so rapidly, is coming to an end, but not without some struggle.
That struggle is really a struggle of and for Spiritual Understanding.
It is only Understanding that reveals to us our need to grow.
Grow we must, and quickly, or we may perish.
We must make the change – shed the skin of Materialism – into a new experience of human identity, human compassion for all beings, and a new relation to the Living Planet.
Heartfelt effort is needed to reject the ways of Ego, of a Having and Getting culture, of Consumerism as a training ground for Emptiness and a harrowing, unfulfilled Hollow-Being world-view, and the Planet Devouring, Planet Killing ways of Materialism.
Come together in Co-operative, Resilient, Giving Communities.
Please – I beg you – this is a plea from a heart … breaking!
Look Long and Deep into the Eyes of A Child You Love.
There Is No Other Way Beyond Here.
This Has Got to be The Nadir of Materialism.
Ben Croser is a peace-loving 50-year-old ordinary dad. The realisation that Climate Change is the biggest and most devastating threat to all life on Earth has prodded him to do something. He has a solo Biosphere Reconciliation Walk around Australia planned for early 2014, in order to raise awareness on these issues. Ben will pull a modified Recycling Wheelie Bin, especially kitted out to address the needs of the walk. Many obstacles have already arisen in realising the plans for the walk — everything one could expect really. Follow him at walkaway2014.com.
McPherson’s latest essay for The Good Men Project was published Wednesday, 28 August 2013. It’s here.