This has got to be the Nadir of Materialism

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

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 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


McPherson’s latest essay for The Good Men Project was published Wednesday, 28 August 2013. It’s here.

Comments 107

  • @ ulvfugl

    Thanks for your kind mention… and for expressing obscure concepts so well. You deserve many thanks for your generous, selfless efforts to share what you have learned. Although you’d probably modestly deny it, you are an excellent teacher who is worthy of great respect… thank you. Please accept my sincere recognition.

    Meanwhile, I did not know that you have been suffering from cluster headaches. Perhaps the following link would be helpful to you. A low cost natural cure that results in an 80% therapeutic response rate, by empirical scientific evidence. While it may seem a bit bazaar at first glance, it is a serious and proven approach, recommended by a highly respected medical doctor. I hope this information helps you, and anyone else who goes through such misery: VIDEO 4 minutes 30 seconds. Please also read the Doctors notes and other pertinent information.

    Cluster Headache Remedy

    If the video does not play on the page I linked to, please try the YouTube link in the player. Don’t know what the problem was when I retested it before posting… but it did play on YouTube.

  • @ Ozman

    Yes. Spiritual.

    @ logspirit

    Thanks for the tip, I know about capsaicin, I’ve got the thing fairly well controlled at the moment.

    And thanks for the very handsome compliment, and yes, I do deny it, but accept your recognition :-)

    Do I try to be ‘a perfect person’, an exemplar ? No. I am mostly faults, few good qualities, and it’s easy for me to see the faults of others, hard to see my own, harder to acknowledge them, even more so in public.
    What I strive to do is to understand what’s really going on.

    You see, any excursion around the internet, it’s bedlam, a mad house, just look at the comments, on forums, on youtube, nobody can agree about anything, everybody haggles over the most ridiculous trivia,
    everywhere there is hopeless confusion.

    But this isn’t the first time this has happened. It happened, on a much smaller scale of course, in ancient Greece. It was the first time when there was a relatively stable prosperous community of people that opened up to freedom of discourse, and ideas flooded in from every direction. The women and slaves did all the work and the men sat in the sunshine and ate olives and drank wine and argued. About EVERYTHING. Every crazy idea you could possibly imagine.

    They heard what was going on in India and in China, from the Silk Road, and in Egypt and Sicily, and all around the Med from the shipping routes, and they had provocative geniuses who demanded answers to the most difficult questions, impossible questions, like ‘Wtf does it all MEAN ?’ And the other guy would say ‘What do you mean, wtf does it all mean, what sort of a stupid question is that to ask, you must be effing insane even to ask it’…

    So, they’d spend all day trying to sort the question out, and the next day, they’d start all over again, and the guys who enjoyed this and were good at it gathered together and some were so impressive, that everybody gathered around to hear them, and applauded when they’d finished a rant. But then another guy would stand up and demolish what the first guy had just said, and he’d get a round of applause… and on and on it would go.

    The problem was, although it was clear that there was some truth in much of the argument, nobody could ever reach any final conclusions on ANYTHING, just like here on NBL, it all went around and around, and
    so what to do ?

    So, somebody smart was taking notes at the time, and we have the record. As it says in the link in my comment above, re ancient Greek Scepticism :

    The term “skeptic” derives from a Greek noun, skepsis, which means examination, inquiry, consideration. What leads most skeptics to begin to examine and then eventually to be at a loss as to what one should believe, if anything, is the fact of widespread and seemingly endless disagreement regarding issues of fundamental importance.

    So, you see, we have not really advanced at all. We are still where they were. Struggling with the same problem. What one should believe, if anything, amidst the seemingly endless disagreement.

    It’s my problem and it is your problem. It’s everyone’s problem. God, global warming, 9/11, who shot the Kennedys, what happens when you die…. etc, etc.

    Regarding the spiritual thing, I went searching, began in my teens, through all the confusion.
    Maybe I was lucky, I don’t know, some others here have said ‘There’s nothing there’, but I found what I was looking for. And I know of others who have found the same thing, so I am not alone.

    This again is nothing new. This again is mentioned by the ancient Greeks, this again is detailed by the Chinese many centuries ago, indeed there’s the texts from Kashmiri Shaivism that are supposedly from 3000 BC, so the same kind of teaching is at least 5000 years old, and very likely goes way, way back into Palaeolithic times and the earliest shamanic wisdom.

    Anyway, here’s an interview with Bruce Frantzis who is a taoist priest and martial arts guy.
    Some people don’t like him, I’m told, because he charges a lot of money, or because of this or that, he’s a loud mouthed American, you know how it is… anybody who sticks their head up gets rocks thrown at them, it goes with the territory, but he went to China, learned the language, met the old masters before they died, and learned what he could. I think the ancient wisdom traditions of China have almost vanished and died out now, as the country has been consumed by capitalism.

    These martial arts, as far as I’m concerned, are not about fighting. It’s about not fighting. It’s spiritual. It’s about spirit in your physical body. Prana, qi, chi, ki, subtle body, golden elixir, kundalini.

  • @ infanttyrone

    To return to this point for a moment.

    I can’t recall if you are among the subset of folks here who decry “scientism”, but if and to whatever extent you do that or identify with those who do…seems like it would make sense for you to lighten up on the calls for EVIDENCE related to what are generally accepted as short-duration phenomena.

    Yes, I’m dedicated to strongly supporting science, fighting scientism, and trying to explain to people what the difference is.

    I’m not fussy about this being a secular blog, I like the spiritual stuff, I’m with Voltaire, free speech for all, in principle, I like Fight Club, – but what about the shy, timid ones, I want to hear them too – and I accept, in general, Daniel’s point that as this is the ONLY blog where NTE is the main theme and empirical science is the basis for understanding what’s happening, too many diversions into other contentious areas are noise that drowns out the signal.

    Science has a high requirement re evidence, and a strict standard re procedures and methodology. This produces it’s own problems, which have been highlighted on the climate change summary. E.g. if the changes are rapid and dramatic, as in melting ice caps, and the theoretical ideas don’t match up, the science gets left behind. But it’s still the best we’ve got.

    Scientism is something quite different. It’s an ideological view that maintains that the only valid way of knowing the world is the scientific viewpoint, and that any other way is illegitimate and to be scorned and ridiculed. That’s the extreme form. It’s really quite nasty, and akin to racism and fascism and other chauvinistic and bigoted attitudes. On the whole, my impression is that the majority of scientists do not share this outlook.

    I have been attacked on this thread by F. Kling, because I don’t accept his personal view re aliens, and told I am sick, by Rob, because I write a lot on the internet. I don’t mind this at all. I enjoy mudwrestling, and nobody has ever beaten me yet, so I’m pretty much the world champion, hahaha. Unfortunately, the rules of this blog mean I can do little more than give an occasional virtual slap, which is as it should be, because Guy has asked for civility.

    As far as I’m concerned, outside of SCIENCE, anybody can believe absolutely anything that they want, and I insist that they have that right, and that right should be defended.

    Why is it okay to insult and denigrate some people but not others ? This point was made in the previous thread, re trannies as freaks.

    Nobody spoke up on their behalf. If someone insulted women, there’d be an outcry, same for black people, but going down the scale, it depends on how many there are in the minority group, doesn’t it ?

    And some people are beyond the pale. Nobody is going to defend rapists and paedophiles are they ? We start getting into tricky territory. Some cultures hold that some behaviour is unacceptable. Women should be stoned to death for adultery. Even if they were raped against their will, sometimes.

    I knew of a sort of tribe in UK of several hundred, where people changed partners, fairly casually, all the time, everybody had been with almost everybody else, about 500 members, everybody knew everybody and was relaxed about it, rave culture, couples stayed together so long as they were getting on. The idea of punishment for adultery would never enter anyone’s mind, nobody possessed anybody as property. People who were’nt into the ‘love everybody’ thing, got excluded. I’ve been in a similar group myself.

    Of course, Dawkins et al, and some voices here, will say this is impossible.

    So where do we draw the line here ? I’m not against killing animals, but I consider cruelty to animals to be even worse than cruelty to people. Possibly not worse than cruelty to children.

    Hate speech towards the Other seems built into almost everyone. My neighbour, who lives from selling animals for their meat and sees vegetarians as some sort of economic threat, speaks about them with the sort of tone that is quite chilling to hear. His view, they aren’t eating vegetables for ethical or health reasons, they are doing it because they hate farmers, people like him, and intend to ruin them by any means possible.

    What about psychics and mediums ?

    “When it comes to psychics, my stance is hardcore: they must die alone in windowless cells.”

    I’ve been psychic, in various ways, since I was a very small child. It was very confusing and it took me very many years to understand what was going on.

    Hate speech towards the Koch Bros I’m in favour of. Also John Kerry and John McCain. They all deserve to die in windowless cells. Actually, thinking about it, I could draw up quite a long list…. ;-)

  • @ logspirit. Hey, pal. Such graciousness to give ulvfugl some recognition. He has to take a lot of hits, so I want to take this opportunity to add my complement to yours. To me, real intelligence, expressed in an understanding way, is the absolute highest form of entertainment. Thnks,U!

    And to all of you here who are brave enough to put thought into print. My hat’s humbly off to each one of you. Keep it coming!

  • Hey, thanks, Kirk ! :-)

    I read an ancient Chinese text, Bodhidharma’s gentle monks and nuns kept getting beaten up by ruffians, so what to do. One technique, they thought about the tortoise, covered with a hard shell, and then the hard callous that develops on skin that is subjected to abrasion.

    So they made little leather bags full of sand and pebbles and beat themselves quite gently all over the body for a few hours every day, until the skin became thick and calloused.

    The next time, a monk was assaulted by brigands who thrashed him with sticks. He just stood and smiled and laughed at them. They became terrified at this supernatural power and ran away…

    Story may be apocryphal… ;-)

    On the next thread Robin Datta writes a comment directed towards me, and because it is related to spirituality, and not secular matters, and I don’t want to hijack that thread if I can avoid it, I respond here.

    @ Robin Datta

    nut-job morons
    Actually possessing great powers acquired from extensive, intensive, powerful practices: able to raise both great ire and great admiration. Not to be sneered at. Much for others to learn from, but also quite dangerous. Caveat emptor!

    Hahaha, you are so funny.

    I swim !

    All you ever do is worry about drowning.

    And now you warn others of the danger…

    Learn to swim, clueless man.

    This is NBL, where we speak everyday of the end of life on Earth, and you worry about danger ?

    What danger ? Of what ? For whom ? To whom ?

    I think the the truth is that you cling, you cling to the safety of ancient scriptures and dead stories, because you are afraid to let go, and from your mundane and petty perspective, yes, I am extremely dangerous, because I will show you that there is no safety, no security, nothing to cling to, not anywhere…

    To be alive is to be in mortal danger…

    You posted a video of a Roshi, an ordained zen master, speaking of non duality, this world, this reality, as an illusion.

    Do you think he is Enlightened ? Do you think he is a good teacher ? Do you think what he says is the truth ? Do you think his words help people ? Will you answer these questions ?

    You have rarely answered my questions before, you avoid all direct engagement, although you never hesitate to pass judgement upon me, with your typically patronising condescending attitude, insulting the intelligence of the adult readership, who are surely capable of making their own estimations to whether to admire me, hate me, despise me, fear me, pity me, or whatever else, without requiring your guidance, Robin.

    Personally I don’t think that Roshis’ teaching helps anyone, it’s the same opaque nonsense that you tell us here on every thread, it sounds as if it might mean something but nobody can be clear about what it is meant to mean.

    Reality is an illusion ?

    Perhaps you would like to explain this to us ? In words that we can all understand ? Even the simple foolish uneducated ones amongst us ?

    Yes, you see, I am dangerous, Robin. Please don’t try and sell me bullshit.

    I truly never concern myself with how others perceive me, I’m not pandering to an audience, some adore me, some ignore me, some want to burn me alive, so what ? hahaha, that’s people, it’s to be expected…

    Nobody should look to me as a role model, I mean, you’ve already GOT Robin Datta, as an exemplar of virtue, and you’’ve got Rob at the Public Library, and Guy McPherson, plenty of people here to look up to, as examples to follow, hahaha, anybody who tries to be like me is an idiot, YOU need to be YOURSELF, and if you think there’s something wrong with you, then that’s probably because you’ve taken on board some stupid fucked up ideas from somewhere, but I can’t sort that out for you here… try Bankei maybe..

    If you need a role model, nobody needs ME, because there’s already zillions…


    Is it really possible to live an enlightened life of all-embracing love, compassionate service, and actual freedom from binding ego-tendencies? Can one live spontaneously yet intelligently from the sublime fragrance of real wholesomeness and bountiful generosity? Can one, in short, awaken from the ultimately miserable “me”-dream to the inspired grandeur of Divine Awakening?
    The answer to each of these questions is YES.
    Behold an assembly of humanity’s most eminent spiritual leaders—from Jesus and the Buddha and many luminaries of ancient and medieval times to our era’s Ramana Maharshi, Shirdi Sai Baba, Ramakrishna, Narayana Guru, Meher Baba, Nityananda, Nisargadatta, Dadaji (Amiya Roy Chowdhury), Neeb Karori Baba, Padre Pio, Gemma Galgani, Maria Esperanza, Mother Teresa, Taungpulu Sayadaw, Ajahn Chah, Hsu-yun, Hsuan-hua, Cheng Yen, Kyongho, Hyobong, Songchol, Daehaeng, Kusan, Harada Roshi, the 14th Dalai Lama, Dilgo Khyentse, 16th Karmapa, Sheikh al-Alawi, Hazrat Babajan, Anasuya Devi, Anandamayi Ma, and the amazing “embracing Mother” Amritanandamayi (Amma)—along with several thousand other sages, saints, adepts, prophets and incarnations within all our sacred traditions….
    All these impressive figures have clearly shown us over the millennia what it is to have genuinely “let go, let God”
    (God =Awareness-Love-Reality-Spirit-Brahman-Atman-Buddhata-Tao-AinSof-Allah).
    They are enlightened—without narrowly identifying with anyone who is “enlightened” or claiming any special, superior state of “enlightenment.” They are entirely lightened up, illumined, awake, free, clear, emptied out and filled up with Divine virtue.

  • @ Kirk Hamilton — Thanks for ‘seconding’ my vote for U. Some folks seem to think that creative thinking is dangerous. Perhaps it is – to their boring conformity. I like your stuff too… keep on keeping on, we all need to challenge our assumptions (and that includes me). Might as well enjoy what there is to enjoy. Extinction ends all options.