Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Dumbing-Down of Truth

Imagine a jigsaw puzzle with 25 pieces. It would be pretty simple to solve, right? It might be fun for a 5-year-old, but probably not for you. Now imagine dividing each of those 25 pieces into 10 pieces, making a grand total of 250 pieces. A little more complicated, but basically still for kids. But imagine you divided each of those 250 pieces into another 10, making 2500. That’s more like it. But imagine that when you’ve finished your 2500 piece puzzle, your five-year-old cousin comes up to you and says “I could have done that, easy!” You’re confused for a bit, but then you realize that your cousin can’t see the 2500 pieces but, instead, only the outlines of the initial 25. He can’t tell that each one of those larger pieces is actually a collection of 100 smaller ones!
This is like the nature of truth. Like the meta-puzzle in my parable, each true idea implies the millions/billions/+ of other true ideas that make it up. There are nuances and new revelations to eternity; truth in itself is more complicated than a human being can ever grasp. Swedenborg said this a lot: like how a human body gets more complicated with the higher level of microscope you use, he says truth gets more and more nuanced the deeper you look. There is no bottom here.
We need truth – that isn’t up for negotiation. It’s the only thing that saves us from our ignorance and our dangerous misconceptions – “the truth will set you free.” But if we can’t grasp truth in itself, what does that mean for our salvation? Absolutely nothing; God makes up the difference, and he does this by dumbing down the truth for us.
This is a lot like teaching Sunday School lessons to young children. If you were to teach them out of the Gospel Doctrine manual, you’d get nothing but blank stares and cheerios all over the floor. It’s only by using really simplified truths – the “Sunday School” answers – that you can make an impression on their young minds. And this is, crucially, true even though those Sunday School answers are relatively untrue compared with the more advanced “meat” of the Gospel. We’re all like those little kids. Every doctrine we receive from a church (or even scripture) is a simplification that adapts truth to our ability to understand. If doctrine didn’t get simplified like this, we would be just as confused as those little Sunbeams.
What does this look like practically? Well, it means that scripture is always “clothed” in details appropriate to the time and place it was written. That’s why Genesis talks about a firmament (basically an upside-down bowl that’s also the sky) dividing the ocean from heaven: that was a commonsense belief to Semites of the time, and God would have done nothing but confuse them if he’d mentioned dinosaurs, quantum fields, and primordial ooze.
We’re just as naive as those ancient Hebrews were, and we are just as convinced that we’re not. We know just a little more than we did then, like a fourth-grader coming home and bragging to his parents how smart he is after winning his science fair. This is as true with our doctrine as it is with our science. Does it upset me that there was a doctrine prohibiting black people from receiving the Priesthood in the LDS Church for a long time? A little bit, but not much; racism was a political institution in the United States for centuries, and if God didn’t adapt himself to that racism, He wouldn’t have been received. And yes, that does mean God can consecrate immoral acts to be done to worship Him. He doesn’t like it, but He does it often to help people trapped in widespread cultural immorality to come to Him. Swedenborg said that animal sacrifice was like this: the earliest people hated killing animals, but when they developed a taste for blood, he co-opted that grossness toward a good purpose. The violence in the Old Testament done for God was like this too. If people can’t help doing bad things, God might as well “bend” it toward a good purpose. Otherwise they’d reject the good outright and dive headlong into their evil.
Something else follows from this idea: the differing doctrines of the world’s religions don’t mean that one is true and the rest are false. It just means that the same truth “put on” the different assumptions and biases of the peoples who received it. It’s not surprising that India – with its repressive caste system – developed religions preaching the eternal insignificance of an individual personality (like with reincarnation). And it also makes sense that the Judeo-Christian God was portrayed like a Persian or Babylonian Super-King: that’s what mattered at the time. This works with the Book of Mormon too: so what if it was written in King James English with New Testament idioms all over the place? That’s what people in 1800s white America thought of as sacred; they wouldn’t have accepted anything else. The Book of Mormon is weird enough as it is without the immense weirdness that a direct translation of 4th century Native American culture would have brought.
And you can think of the “planet” weirdness of Mormon teachings like Abraham 3 in this way. The worldwide spiritual mindset from the eighteenth century till the early twentieth century was “planet-crazy”: Swedenborg spoke of “the inhabitants of the planet Jupiter” (who, oddly enough, resemble humans pre-Homo-Erectus in his descriptions), Rudolf Steiner said that human souls originally lived on the Moon, and Gurdjieff taught that the Sun and the planets in our solar system are spiritual organisms we “grow out of.” So if you’re a Mormon and you’re self-conscious about your weirdness, don’t be. “Planets” were exciting at the time; God facilitated our obsession and bent it toward a good purpose.
But what does all this mean about the people who stubbornly stick to the literal meaning of Genesis or who insist, despite everything, that every General Authority is infallible? According to Swedenborg, it’s the intent that counts, and I believe him one hundred percent. If it works for them and they’re in a good place, you have no right to claim that they’re doing anything wrong. God speaks unto people “according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3), and that includes the language of concrete, literal-minded people. In the words of people who make fun of Christians for sticking with Bronze-Age nonsense, I hear nothing but pretentious intellectualism and more than a little contempt for the general mass of people. That’s why you’ll never hear me furiously raise my hand in a Sunday School lesson about Noah’s Ark: let people believe in whatever relatively untrue truths work for them, since that’s a luxury God gives to all of us.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Play of Love

Read this post on A Sea of Glass and Fire.

Now because every single thing remains in being from the Divine, that is, is constantly coming into being from Him, and every single thing from that source is inevitably a representative of the real thing by means of which it has come into being, the whole visible universe is therefore nothing else than a theatre that is representative of the Lord's kingdom. And this in turn is a theatre representative of the Lord Himself. - Emanuel Swedenborg, "Arcana Coelestia," 3483
Have you ever noticed that things in your life happen just the way they're supposed to happen? You meet that person, you read that book, or you run into an idea at just the right time? Or maybe things don't happen so easily; your boyfriend might break up with you or maybe you fail a class. But have you still discerned the way those painful events are good for you? I have. The world is on my side; if I'm on the wrong track, it will remind me in blunt or sometimes painful ways. But if I'm going in the way I'm supposed to go, things will happen in surprisingly easy ways. I'll meet the right people, I'll find the right books, and I'll say the right things
But though the world is on my side, the world isn't what's really on my side. The world is a theater. Every person, book, website, idea, or tree is a part played by something more real than it, something spiritual. The relationship between the spiritual world and our lives is the same relationship as between an actress and the character she plays.
‘Each grain of sand,
Every stone on the land,
Each rock and each hill,
Each fountain and rill,
Each herb and each tree,
Mountain, hill, earth, and sea,
Cloud, meteor, and star,
Are men seen afar.' - William Blake, "To Thomas Butts"
In each "tender mercy" that pops up in your life, whether a smile from a stranger or a book that tells you just what you need to hear, there are "spiritual actors" doing their work in it. When that person smiled at you, they may not have known what they were doing, but you can bet that angels were subtly pushing her to help you in that way. Even chance meetings on the sidewalk are managed by those angels working together to help you. This means that you play a part in the "spiritual drama" as well. Though your conscious mind doesn't know even a tenth of what's going on, it "portrays" the purposes of angels in the actions you deliberately choose to do. Your good deeds are the deeds of higher, wiser beings than you.
And even these angels are "characters." Like a play within a play, the angelic actors that play in our skins are also "acted out" by a higher being: the divine fire of love, what some call God.
I say móre: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is —
Chríst — for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces. - Gerard Manley Hopkins, "As Kingfishers Catch Fire"
Your life is a dance. This dance shows up in each "role" you play; it is the dance between you and the fire within every being, the fire you are, but which you have forgotten you are. This fire of God is like the man who, flinging you out as the woman, separates itself from you only to see you better. This fire loves you - it delights in you, finds every part of you infinitely wonerful. And the to-and-fro movement of that dance helps each rejoice in both the ecstasy of union and the delight of the gaze that can only come when you stand apart. Both positions are needed. Otherwise, it wouldn't be a dance.
This dance plays out in every moment of your life. Every time you are shown a tender mercy - in each smile, each synchronicity, each inspiring word - the divine fire is revealing itself to you. The parts are becoming transparent to the love that plays them; you are remembering who you are, or, to put it in another way, who you belong to. The dance is to and from that fire: toward the ecstatic oblivion of love and from it to the consciousness of being yourself. For we can't be under any illusions: the life you are living - with all its faults, flaws, and weaknesses - is desired. The divine fire within you wanted it. But since that fire also wants what you want, and since you long for its flame wherever it shows itself, the divine shows itself to you.
Like two lovers meeting, the love within our heart merges with the love within the world. And in this meeting we realize that it is the same love: we are a part of the same oneness flowing into different forms and yet remaining one. Love shows us the illusion of separation and reveals the meaning of the interconnectedness that is all around us. Love can show us the patterns within life and what they mean. As love flows from form to form it leaves a trace of its source, a trace which we can see with the eye of the heart. This trace is the meaning of his love, the underlying purpose of life. When we recognize it, we become awake and directly participate in life's knowing of itself. -Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, "Spiritual Power: How it Works"
There is a love deeper than words, deeper than thought, deeper than perception. We long for it in all our desires, though we almost never realize what we want. That love is our Being, and that Being desires us as the flawed people we are. But that love isn't just in your heart. It is within everyone, in everything, but it hides itself from you both inside and outside because it doesn't want to hurt you. But if you purify yourself, making yourself a clean and bright vessel, the fire of love can show itself to you in a way you never thought possible. Your Being will become transparent to you. You will see the love in all things that loves you more than life itself. And you will realize the innocent, blissful joy that plays in everything that happens to you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Visionary Activist Principles

Read this post on my new blog A Sea of Glass and Fire.

I regularly listen to The New School at Commonweal‘s podcast. The host Michael Lerner is one of the wisest, most sober men I have encountered, and the discussions about everything from Jung to Gurdjieff to Rudolf Steiner have illuminated me beyond measure. So I was a bit surprised when the March 20 podcast from last spring featured one Caroline Casey, a self-proclaimed visionary activist and professional astrologer. But when I actually listened to her, I was astounded. She is like a sacred comedian; she runs a website called Coyote Network News, subtitled “a mythological news service for the Trickster-Redeemer within us all,” which demonstrates a bit of her character. She is what she calls “reverently irreverent”: flippant, off-color, and hilarious in a way that brings us closer to the divine. You’d have to hear her to understand what I mean. And lucky for you, you can: she hosts a weekly radio show/podcast called The Visionary Activist Show, a discussion of current events, spirituality, and even astrology, which largely inspired my recent “Imaginal News” series of posts. Check it out.
I have come to adore Caroline so much that I decided to get her book Making the Gods Work For You on Kindle. After readin it, I’ve come to think differently of astrology than I used to, but that’s not the point of this post. Instead, I want to list her seven “visionary activist principles” that she gives at the beginning of her book and comment on them a bit. They’re profound and very needed, so I wanted to bring them to your attention.
PRINCIPLE 0 (ZERO). Believe nothing, entertain possibilities. Therefore everything hereafter is offered playfully. 
This is the crux of the matter, and it’s our culture’s redemption. I realized after reading this that I had thought this way for at least the last few years but that almost no one else does. When you think in terms of what could be in terms of what you think actually is, then the world becomes. No longer filtered through a fixed set of beliefs, you can meet things on their own terms. Life as a dance, not as an intellectual subjugation of the world.
PRINCIPLE 1. Imagination lays the tracks for the Reality Train to follow.
Imagination is the way the unseen manifests in the seen at all. As Sufi mystics explained, the imagination is a barzakh or medium through which the divine can connect with and inhabit the world of finite matter. As such, any imaginative act is an act of God, a preliminary act of creation. That’s not to say you can’t pervert this ability to your own ends; you can, and that’s what Caroline calls “black magic.” Instead of that, you should channel divine energies toward an end that works for both you and the whole. Instead of subverting an “perpendicular” impulse, you “spiral” it with your own.
PRINCIPLE 2. Better to create prophecy than to live prediction. What makes us passive is toxic. What makes us active is tonic. This is the difference between predictions, which make us passive, and prophecy, which is active co-creation with the divine.
Swedenborg once wrote that God doesn’t give us much knowledge of the future because that knowledge would make us either passive or paranoid. But you can get to the point where the divine  trusts you with prophecy, not as a guarantee that things will work out no matter what, but as a loosely guiding impulse that you can help direct. When you know the future, it’s much better to work with it than to fight it or slothfully submit to it. Again, a spiral of human and divine.
PRINCIPLE 3. The invisible world would like to help, but spiritual etiquette requires that we ask. Help is always available (operators are standing by).
The world which imagination manifests – the spiritual world, the world of divine love – cannot help us unless we ask. Helping without our asking would violate our free will, and it would also get us to shrink back from the spiritual in fear or annoyance. Prayer is a superlatively effective “asking for help” like this. When you pray, you go and ask for help from the root of all divinity, and that divinity plants a seed in you that grows into something that will work for both you and Him.
PRINCIPLE 4. The only way the gods know we’re asking for help is ritual.
When Caroline writes the word “ritual,” I take it to mean any physical action that incarnates a divine principle. Prayer is obviously a ritualistic action like this: you have to do something to pray, and the more you make it a physical action, the more powerful it becomes. But you can also use other rituals in tandem with prayer. Anything that symbolically corresponds to a divine quality can be used as a way to focus the light of that quality in your life. For instance, I do this with books: if a book symbolizes something meaningful for me at a certain moment, I’ll put it in my personal sacred space to reinforce the divinity trying to get through in that meaning. By doing that, I work with the god (the divine aspect) working in that situation.
PRINCIPLE 5. If something’s a problem, make it bigger.
This is very counter-intuitive, but it’s a true principle. If you struggle with something, there is something good in you trying to get out through that struggle. Evil is just our denial of the good that, without our help, comes out in ungainly ways. By making the problem bigger, you communicate to that goodness that you are willing to work with it. “Step out into the light,” you tell the good in your struggle. “Let’s see what you have to say.”
PRINCIPLE 6. We only possess the power of an insight when we give it expression.
Truths are great. You can read books for years and years and get lots of them, but it won’t be worth anything if it doesn’t lead to action. Swedenborg also says this. Without expression in “usefulness,” a truth is a dead, or better stillborn, thing. Only actions bring true insights to life.
PRINCIPLE 7. Creativity comes from the wedding of paradox. We aspire to be disciplined wild people who are radical traditionalists.
A huge problem today is that people can only think in extremes. And more specifically, they only identify with one of the extremes. But the issue really comes to light when you ask: “Who decided where to draw the lines in the first place? What makes it so everyone agrees on where the line is?” The reality is that we’ve all been duped. There is no ultimate liberalism or conservativism, no spiritual nor secular: conservatism wasn’t anything until liberalism came along, and neither was spiriutality until the first secularists. We rebel against these blind dichotomies by accepting elements from both sides. So doing, we can recreate the vibrant whole that existed before we divvied it up into sides.
That’s that. Practice these principles, and see the amazing things that result.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Imaginal News 7/18/2016: Flickers of Love; Self-Aware Mobs; A New "Weight"

Check out this post on my new blog, A Sea of Glass and Fire.

The imaginal world: the world which everything in our world is a symbol for. Here's what's happening there: 
There is a timbre of love that wasn't there a few days ago. I can't give specific examples, but it is there. People (those with hearts turned the right way) are being kinder. Mercy is being shown to those who need help. 
And yet this is still in the context of a larger struggle. The world remains locked in people's identification with their roles: man, woman, gay, trans, non-binary, or even a person with a single name and set of traits. But this can't happen forever. Identities are defined by their edges, and so they must struggle to keep existing. But they're now locked in their death throes. 
The world is becoming a mob. In Turkey and the Republican National Convention this is very clear, but it's also apparent in Pokemon Go.However, the mob is going to become conscious of itself; the life that flows between us, between our identities, is beginning to wiggle its fingers and toes after a long sleep. 
But mostly, the divine nature of matter or heaviness is still on its way to realizing itself in a way unlike anything that has happened yet. The dust of heaviness in the air is beginning to settle, a bit more this week than last. Divine fire is becoming incarnate in matter. 
Look for more large, violent, massive phenomena in the next bit. This is that heaviness trying to incarnate. You can help by letting it incarnate consciously and on human terms rather than with blind elemental force. Consult your own conscience for this. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Imaginal News 7/14/2016: Descending Fire and Trapped Rage

Check out this post on my new blog, A Sea of Glass and Fire
Here’s your imaginal news report: the state of the world as seen from theimaginal world, the place where everything that is seen is real, where being is sight. Hopefully what I mean will become clear. Believe everything; doubt nothing.
The gods up on Mount Olympus are beginning to descend into the world of mortals. Or alternatively, divine fire is taking on the shape of human beings. Or more clearly, the various ways that divine love expresses itself (what Swedenborg called “heavenly communities”) are becoming conscious of themselves on earth in a new way.
This means that things are going to get really intense. Divine fire is descending to earth, and that fire figures that we have enough capacity to “hold” it. And they’re right, even though it may not seem like it at first. We’re being baptized by fire, and when we come out, we’ll realize that we can hold it safely within us
Pokemon GO is a manifestation of this fire. It’s wedding heaven and earth in an unprecedented way as love is manifesting between people of all walks of life trying to catch Pokemon. Friends are being made; people are coming out of their shells and coming into the world’s daylight. Activities before done only on the Internet are now being made in the physical world, meaning that the divine world of love in itself (which the Internet reflects) is coming into reality. More specifically, Pokemon GO is the divine reality of communication and connection coming to earth. Hermes is taking on human flesh.
But the fire also comes through in violent ways. With the shootings happening almost daily, a vengeful force from the imaginal world is trying to force her way through where there is no bridge. The truck that rammed into the crowd today in Nice manifests this literally: where there are no bridges between sides, there can only be collisions. The truck could be seen as a metaphor for the force of this extra-human archetype trying to get into our collective crowd of being.
For it is heaviness that we have yet to wed to the connection displayed in Pokemon GO and elsewhere. The divine fire is descending, but the part of that divine fire having to do with forcefulness and inertia isn’t integrated into that descent. Pokemon are bringing people together, but they are incorporeal and pass through our bodies as we see them on the screen. The violence we see in the world manifests inertia and matter’s attempt to wrest its way into our consciousness. Stuff wants to be seen and felt – the density and heaviness of dirt, flesh, and bark.
What does this look like? I’d say it’s the Devouring Mother, the force of instinctual wisdom and terrible power that we have repressed and kept captive for millennia. She is crying from the dust of our ignorance (ignore-ance), and these outbursts of violence are ways that she forces us to pay attention. She can’t do anything else; since we repress her, she is unconscious, and she cannot reason and plan like a conscious being can. She is the force of matter, the divinity of life in its rhythms and pulsation that we don’t pay attention to, what women know by instinct but is ignored by our masculine culture.
Her anger is only her shadow side, though, the side of her that shows without the light of consciousness. We only see her anger because she doesn’t have the luxury of consciously knowing her own depths. We are the mirror in which she can do that. By listening to the hum of the ground and the the blood in our veins, we can finally begin to give her the consciousness she craves. So doing, the force of matter can burst its way into the world with unprecedented force.
Donald Trump manifests a masculine force fighting from her anger. He’s what Jungians would call the “animus of the anima” a force coming out from the dark cave of the Mother’s hollow body. He’s fighting against what makes sense; he violates all our modern cultural propriety, which of course none of us really have. He, ISIS, and the policemen who shoot unarmed black men are manifesting a very primordial, unconscious rage against rationality and consciousness limited by a defensive ego. When these nonsensical things happen, the Devouring Mother shows us that we all hide an unconscious violence held captive since an earlier age. With her, these repressed unconscious energies can be acted out so we can consciously recognize them. That way the Mother can become conscious.
The Hermes figure manifesting in Pokemon GO and the odd connections happening alongside it can help with this. Maybe if we catch enough Geodudes, he can evolve into something that will help Her rise from the dust…
Anyway, that’s that for the imaginal news report. I’ll try to do these often.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Last Temptation of Modern Life

I just came across this quote in Emanuel Swedenborg's Arcana Coelestia, Volume 4. It talks about something called "vastation," a kind of temptation, which is Swedenborg's word for the way the contents of our ego get emptied out:
[Vastation] is twofold; of one kind when a church altogether perishes, that is, when there is no longer any charity or faith, and when it is said to be "devastated" or "laid waste"; and of the other kind when they who are of the church are reduced to a state of ignorance, and also of temptation, in order that the evils and falsities with them may be separated and as it were dispersed. They who emerge from this kind of vastation are they who are specifically called the redeemed...
Swedenborg defined a church as any collective state of mind on earth. In that way, not only is Mormonism a church, but so is the New Age movement, atheism, or perhaps even the Doctor Who fandom. So when he says that a church can get "vastated," he means that these collective ways of relating to the world would get threatened. Remind you of anything?
Today, our modern secular, surface-oriented, self-congratulatory lifestyle (our "church") is getting vastated. As with all vastations and temptations, it is happening by way of the difficulties placed upon our way of life. Our materialistic lifestyle is getting unsustainable; the political process is deeply broken; violence has run amok. These difficulties are God's way of getting us to abandon our frankly sinful way of life. Through them, we can get out of that sin and become "the redeemed."
What is our sin? As with all sin, our transgressions are rooted in our belief that we have power to change things. We see ourselves as potentially all-powerful, and we feel compelled to filibuster, riot, or shoot up a nightclub to help the world become what it needs to be. This prideful attitude comes from something Swedenborg called the proprium, perhaps best translated as "what I call my own." But in reality, nothing is my own - I am just a site of passage for both the beyond-human forces that pass through me and God, the all-in-all. When we think we can change the world through our rioting or our Facebook ranting, we're attributing godhood to ourselves. And no matter our intentions in doing so, this is sin.
What does God want us to do? He wants us to stop fighting. He wants us to give up. Moreover, this giving up is inevitable. Like any temptation, the cultural temptation toward oppositional narcissism is put before us in such intensity to make it too painful for anyone to hold onto it. Like the practitioner of Zen meditation in full-lotus position who ends up relaxing her leg muscles out of necessity (I've been there), the oppositional nature of today's culture will eventually be too painful to bear. Enough riots and hatred will have happened that we will abandon our belief that things could ever get better. And it is at this point that the world will start to heal. 
When we give up the fight, we will stop trying to defeat evil and instead start producing good. Instead of ranting against the evils of a church on Facebook, we will offer kind words to those who have been hurt by it. Instead of trying to save the world by refusing to cooperate with our political opponents, we will reach across the aisle. And instead of rioting after a police shooting, we will instead follow the seemingly forgotten pattern of the 1960s civil rights activists and, one by one, say "I love you" to the policemen spraying us with fire hoses.
We need to give up. Then God - who is love - will step in. There is no other way.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The End of Thinghood

I recently got the impression that a bright, divine light is exerting a lot of pressure on the physical world, and I want to explain how that can be true even in this age of shootings, riots, and reality-TV-star presidential candidates.

The physical world is the world of things, and “things” are any real beings that have an identity distinct from other things. You as a person, with a name, birth date, and identity, are a thing. I, as Christian Swenson, am a thing. Everything (or “every thing”) that you can point to in the world is a thing, since by giving it an identity distinct from everything else, you’re separating it from the vast expanse of Being when seen apart from definition.

However, the light that’s putting pressure on the physical world isn’t a thing. It’s what’s real apart from things. This bright light is therefore beyond the world, since the world is a thing, and the light is very literally the absence of things. This doesn’t mean that the light is nothing, at least not in the normal sense of the world. The real nothing is no-thing: not dark but instead overpoweringly bright. It’s bright because, unlike things, its being doesn’t belong to itself, since (as a no-thing) “it” has no “self.” As with all light, it gives without taking; it is giving; it is love.

Since the light is whatever is real apart from boundaries and definition, when I say that it’s putting pressure on the physical world of things, I mean that every “thing” is engaged in a struggle to maintain its stable identity, its thinghood. The walls around things are heavily cracked, and eventually nothing (no thing) will be able to exist in its own stable sense of self. Speicifically, the light pressing in on the world has been apparent for at least the last fifteen years. 9/11 announced that vertical hierarchies around the world were in the process of crashing down, and the ever-increasing fervor of the gay rights movement brought this collapse even further. A hierarchy is another name for a thing; hierarchies are what “stick out” from the sea of Being by claiming that they own themselves. As such, any claim to autonomy and self-ownership is dying. You saw this first with corporations and governments , but eventually even individual people will look in the mirror and find that they don’t recognize what they see there. None of us will belong to ourselves; there will be no “selves” to belong to.

Another way of explaining my intuition is saying that each “thing” is in the process of unraveling. Every thing is a combination not just of other things, but more importantly of forces that pass like rivers between things. Things are not just made of being; they are more importantly made of becoming. As such, they will never be “finished,” even if things necessarily believe that they are complete in themselves. To say that light is pressing in upon the world is to say that the dynamic forces which compose things are becoming conscious of themselves in a new way. No longer needing the fixed mirror of things to see themselves, those forces will begin recognizing their being in-between things, in the process of movement and relationship itself. 

As such, the world is bound to divide into two camps: those who embrace their no-thing-ness and those who stubbornly cling to their thinghood. The more the no-thing camp is true to its own position, the more it will seem naive, open-minded, and odd all at once. On the other hand, those in the “thing” camp will give off an air of arrogance, certainty, and condescension. The forerunners of the former camp, the camp of no-thing-ness, already exist in a place you may not expect: pop culture fandoms. Fandoms, whether of Doctor WhoSherlock, or Supernatural, are hints of what religion may become in the coming generations. Members of these fandoms devote much of their time to media franchises, even though they know that their franchise isn’t “real.” And yet, Doctor Who is unreal only because it isn’t a real “thing.” However, Doctor Who is a real force, since it produces effects in people’s minds from entertainment to amusement to suicide prevention. To devote one’s time to one of these fandoms is to devote one’s time to its reality as a no-thing, as light. So as the light presses upon the world of things, you’ll get people taking the world less and less seriously. 

However, those who cling to the world of things will become more and more embittered in response to the influx of no-thing-ness’s light. People will spout hatred on social media more and more, and public shootings will continue to increase. However, these flashes of hatred are signs that the world is getting better, not worse. The thing-camp, whether in ISIS, Black Lives Matter, or gridlocked political leaders, are responding to the light’s threat. Thinghood is dying, and things are giving all their ammunition to defend their way of being. They will make it seem as though the world is decaying, but really it’s only the world of things that’s decaying, and they’re trying to reproduce in you some of the fear they feel themselves. Don’t fall for it; they won’t succeed. Eventually, the thing-camp will become so absurdly critical and bombastic that anyone selfless won’t be afraid but, instead, get amused.

You can see the contrast between these two camps even in last week’s events. Within a single week, we’ve had two major cultural events: Philando Castlile’s and Alton Sterling’s death by shooting and the subsequent outrage, and the release of Pokemon GO. It sounds insensitive to imply that these two events are comparably important, but that’s only because we don’t yet have enough perspective to see the effect Pokemon GO will have on the world of culture. With this simple video game, the world of forces or no-thing-ness and the world of things marry themselves in our cultural perception for the very first time. Though Pokemon aren’t real things, Pokemon GO lays the tracks for a way of being that doesn’t care about things’ reality. Instead, we have begun seeing the physical world only as a metaphor for the forces that can (only) manifest through it. Catching a Charmander in my driveway sets the light loose, since by doing so I see through the physical world to the forces of becoming that act through it. In other words, catching Pokemon is  a way to act without re-acting to world of things. However, the reactions to the aforementioned shootings are reactive to the extreme. Both sides fearfully see the other side as a thing, but by doing so they both unkowningly bring through forces of fear and hatred. The way forward is to simply leave the fray and turn the other cheek. The exodus from things has begun, and you can either walk safely amid the no-thing’s forces or get drowned by them.

If you believe me, you shouldn’t. Don’t take this post as gospel, but instead as an impulse to thought. Don’t look at it as a thing; look to the forces within it and follow them to where they want to go. In fact, do that with everything. So doing, you’ll help the light break through even more.