This book is a Get Out of Jail Free card and a passport back into the playground.

The aim of this book is to set you free. But free from what? Free from neurosis. Free from the feeling that you have to obey authority. Free from emotional intimidation. Free from addiction. Free from inhibition.

The key to happiness, mental health and being the most that we can be is absolute and unconditional self-acceptance. The paradox is that many of our problems are caused by trying to improve ourselves, censor our thinking, make up for past misdeeds and struggling with our negative feelings whether of depression or aggression.

But if we consider ourselves in our entirety in this very moment, we know these things :

1. Anything we have done is in the past and cannot be changed, thus it is pointless to do anything else but accept it. No regrets or guilt.

2. While our actions can harm others, our thoughts and emotions, in and of themselves, never can. So we should accept them and allow them to be and go where they will. While emotions sometimes drive actions, those who completely accept their emotions and allow themselves to feel them fully, have more choice over how they act in the light of them.

Self-criticism never made anyone a better person. Anyone who does a “good deed” under pressure from their conscience or to gain the approval of others takes out the frustration involved in some other way. The basis for loving behaviour towards others is the ability to love ourselves. And loving ourselves unconditionally, means loving ourselves exactly as we are at this moment.

This might seem to be complacency, but in fact the natural activity of the individual is healthy growth, and what holds us back from it is fighting with those things we can’t change and the free thought and emotional experience which is the very substance of that growth.

How to Be Free is available as a free ebook from Smashwords, iBooks in some countries, Kobo and Barnes & Noble

The audiobook is available for free from iTunes and Google Play.

It is also available in paperback from Lulu or Amazon for $10 US, plus postage.

The ebook version currently has received 1,163 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. iBooks.

The audiobook version currently has received 128 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. iBooks and a 4.5 out of 5 average from 103 ratings on GooglePlay.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

BOOK REVIEW : The Soul of Man Under Socialism by Oscar Wilde

When he wrote this essay, first published in 1891, Oscar Wilde was very optimistic about the ability of socialism to rid society of poverty, and advanced machinery to rid society of burdensome toil. Or was he? I don't know much about the context, but Wilde was a playful provocateur. Perhaps by taking the promises made by socialists and running with them, he was trying to expose the fallacies of their thinking and explore what really might be necessary for an improvement in society.

He claims that the chief advantage of Socialism would be rescuing us from having to be concerned about alleviating the hardships of others. Poverty might be ended without the need for charity, which is degrading to the recipient.

What he means by socialism is the abolition of private property. He is not simply talking about some extension of a state funded welfare system. Of course he is writing well before the horrors which attended so many experiments with communism in the twentieth century. So it is possible his optimism is genuine.

We think of socialism as the surrender of the individual to the collective. Irony is at the heart of Wilde's wit, and here the irony is that he takes the promised Utopia of Socialism and explains how it can only succeed if it leads to the full flowering of Individualism.

The reason to abolish private property is that its protection and maintenance distracts us from cultivating our Individuality. The more we are our property the less we are ourselves.

His vision of socialism is more like anarchism. All forms of authority will cease and along with them all forms of punishment.

He turns to the teachings of Jesus, which he presents also as a call to Individualism.

It is common for people to wrongly associate Jesus' teachings with Socialism. There is a huge difference between appealing to one's followers to voluntarily help the poor and advocating that the state should force them to do so. Wilde isn't saying that Jesus was a Socialist. He's merely saying that Jesus advocated Individualism and asserting the opinion that Socialism, if properly pursued, would lead to greater Individualism.

He adds that Individualism would end family life, but that this would make the love of a man and a woman more than it has been, the implication being that that which is enforced is less genuine. Again he appeals to Jesus' refusal to recognise the members of his own family.

In the latter part of the essay, Wilde turns to literary criticism to show how hard it is for Individualism to find acceptance in various written forms.

Wilde's take on things may tend to be unrealistic. He argues ending private property will end crime. But in the broad strokes of his thesis is much food for thought.

It makes sense that a peaceful, cooperative and loving society, if such a thing is possible, would have to be made up of those in whom Individuality has found an unhindered expression. We can see an apt analogy in nature. A thriving healthy group of plants or animals are those least impeded in following their instincts.

Is a society possible where everyone is free from impositions on their Individuality and yet cooperation allows for the practical solution of the problems facing the group?

I think so, but the process to get there will not be easy as the healthy loving impulses are often buried beneath much resentment.

The abolition of private property is impractical because it requires either the consent or the control of the masses. On the other hand, Wilde is right that Individualism is the answer. The way to achieve it is through a mixture of assertion and healing. Strength and soundness are needed to stand firm in the face of all that opposes it. This is where Wilde's pointing to Jesus is so relevant. We don't need screwed up people uninhibitedly living out their reckless disregard for the well-being of themselves or others. Of course, we might see that they are not Individuals, because they are more of a programmed expression of those who have damaged them than of their authentic self. 

But we need a path of healing and it may be that the words of Jesus, rather than those of Socialists, have the ability to provide it.

Anyway, there is much to recommend Wilde's vision :

"For what man has sought for is indeed, neither pain nor pleasure, but simply Life. Man has sought to live intensely, fully, perfectly. When he can do so without exercising restraint on others, or suffering it ever, and his activities are all pleasurable to him, he will be saner, healthier, more civilised, more himself. Pleasure is Nature's test, her sign of approval. When man is happy, he is in harmony with himself and his environment."

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Will We Fall Back On Love and Truth?

One need not be a religious believer to feel that we live in Apocalyptic times. We are reaching the limits of our society to maintain basic cohesion and of our ecosystem to support us. And we see the spread of toxic forms of ideology which emphasise identity and difference in a way which works against the spirit of universal love which might gather us in and set us on a true path. And the pandemic has tended to make us fear each other and to put our trust in a centralised authority which has often proved unworthy of that trust.

Some say that we need to return to Christian values. This seems valid if one takes those values from a non-literal interpretation of the Gospels. There are too many of us who call ourselves Christians while departing from those values - of love and honesty and non-judgement and charity - to expect that holding up Christianity as an answer will win the approval of unbelievers.

I say this and yet the one thing I fall back on to give me some modicum of hope is that Jesus prophesied that the darkest moment would herald his return. I may not believe in a supernatural sense, but a pattern which is central to our greatest story is not to be lightly dismissed, especially when the alternative is a slow painful extinction for the human race and all the beauty in the world.

Some believe that the heart of human psychology is competition. Nature is a competition for food and mating opportunities. But it seems to me that love is the primary grounding of our psychology. The love bond between mother and child is the foundation of our development. Later there are factors which alienate us from that. If our survival as an individual is in peril, if we are feeling the impulse to serve the breeding impulse, and, particularly, if we are in a psychologically insecure state, then this acts as interference temporarily blocking out our more profound nature. But if we meet a stranger in a situation in which we feel no danger to our survival or our psychological integrity, then there is no reason we won't feel a fellowship with them which is a return to the essence of our first way of relating to another human being, but without the element of complete dependence.

Psychological insecurity is the root of our problems. I know it all too well. If my belief system were made up of secure building blocks, then I would not want to see those who think differently proven humiliatingly wrong. Don't we see this in ourselves and others, particularly on the topic of politics. We build our ego castles and hurl projectiles of mockery at those of our fellows. The "other" becomes perhaps a stand-in for everyone who has ever hurt us. We get an outlet for our frustration, but no healing for that hurt.

So is, perhaps, an Apocalypse the last stand of a failing strategy? There is no doubt that business as usual is proving to be a massive failure. If that failure breaks us, will we, in newfound humility, acknowledge the long-denied truth and fall back into our capacity for love?

Sunday, 23 January 2022

BOOK REVIEW : A Hunter-Gatherer's Guide to the 21st Century : Evolution and the Challenges of Modern Life by Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein

The challenges which face us as a species are legion. What should we do?

First we have to know who we are and where we are. We need to understand our programming and the ways in which it interfaces with the world around us, both its natural elements and those we have constructed.

The central challenge is one of hyper-novelty. Our instincts change extremely slowly and so are still adjusted to the way we were living many thousands of years ago. Culture changes more quickly, but still requires much time to test its innovations. A technological advance can spread throughout the world almost instantaneously, but a culture of social habits which allow it to be used for our net benefit rather than net deficit might take decades. Social media gives a case in point. It has brung us great benefits, but we are struggling to know how to manage downsides such as addiction and toxic forms of social interaction.

Heather Heying and Bret Weinstein set out in this book to provide us with tools which we can use to orientate ourselves and begin to improvise strategies for a liveable future.

I sometimes become annoyed with people who interpret human psychology with an evolutionary lens. Clearly our psychology exists within the process of evolution, but it sometimes seems as if people will use evolution as an excuse to reduce everything to the question of what does or does not lead to the prospering of the genes. So we are told that people wear ostentatious clothes for the same reason that some species of bird have bright feathers, i.e. it helps to attract a mate. That is all very well as far as it goes, but it doesn’t acknowledge that a post-menopausal woman may wear fancy clothes because it feeds her ego to get attention. The authors talk about rape as a product of evolution - a reprehensible form of reproductive strategy. This makes sense, but the rape of non-impregnable individuals is very common. Men rape other men and they rape prepubescent children. Rape can be an expression of a distortion of the ego which does not confer any benefit on the individual's genes.

So it seems to me that, just as culture is nested within and interacts with the system which is the genetic evolution of the species, so the psychology of the individual is nested within genetic evolution and culture, and it would be foolish, in trying to understand it, to reduce it to a role of servant to that larger system. Very often we are not even servants, but rather saboteurs, to ourselves.

This is just to give some idea of my own biases. I was not disappointed in the way this book approached the topic of evolutionary psychology. It emphasises the importance of viewing cultural evolution as being in service of genetic evolution. Just as mutations in genes lead to variations which either persist or don’t depending on fitness for life in the environment, culture is a series of experiments (conscious in this case) which lead to changes in society which either prove adaptive or not.

If an aspect of culture is costly in effort or resources and persists for a long time, then we can assume that it is adaptive in some way. The authors call this “The Omega Principle”. This doesn’t mean that the content of this cultural form is necessary true. It may be a myth which encourages socially beneficial behaviour. If a tribe believe that anyone who steals will go to Hell, it will probably lead to them being more cohesive and prosperous even if it isn’t true.

One of the key influences on this book is G. K. Chesterton. You may get a little sick of just how many times the author’s refer to “Chesterton’s fence,” but it is understandable given what a useful analogy it is. Chesterton pointed out that, if you are walking across a field and you see a fence and you don’t know what the fence is for, it is a really good idea to find out before you tear it down. This is Conservatism 101. Tradition is the wisdom we have inherited. Be careful that any change is going to be in your own best interest.

There is an interesting balance between this caution and the authors’ acknowledgement that, at this crisis point of hyper-novelty, we need to prioritise consciousness over culture. Culture is the repository of old solutions and consciousness is what we use to find a new path. I suppose the idea is that we need to learn the lessons from culture in the process of finding a new way.

There is plenty of practical advice in the book, grouped in bullet points at the end of each chapter. A lot of it centres around limiting hyper-novelty - processed foods, pharmaceuticals, unnatural light, etc. There is much parenting advice. And a lot about getting out into nature and being more sociable in person. Their argument against watching pornography seems like very sound advice for others, though I won’t be following it myself. I’ll also give spending time in potentially dangerous wild environments a miss for the time being.

One part of the book I found very interesting was their comment on the growth in diagnoses of autism and the way they link it to young children being “babysat” by screens. This fits well with what I have read from some other writers and it makes complete sense. I’m curious how it will be received though. In the past, explanations posited for psychological disorders which centred around the behaviour of parents have been very strongly resisted.

It’s a book which is very easy to read and full of fascinating information. I never knew that we humans can be usefully thought of as a kind of fish.

The final chapter deals with the question of where do we go from here - how do we secure ourselves a future. The key insight is that we need to find a psychologically satisfying alternative to material growth. We need to be exploring and utilising a new frontier - “The Fourth Frontier” - because it won’t satisfy us to stagnate without adventure. It has to be something other than maximising our exploitation of the Earth’s resources in the service of an increasing population and its indulgence. It’s a fuzzy picture, but I suppose it has to be. It can’t be someone’s planned utopia. It has to be something emergent from the interactions of us all. Thus it can’t be knowable in advance.

I also highly recommend the authors' Dark Horse podcast.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

My Response to Jeremy Griffith's Explanation for the Human Condition

From the time of my adolescence I was always prone to feelings of guilt, even though I did little to feel guilty about. I felt shame, early on, about masturbation. I sometimes gave sizeable donations to Third World charities because I felt guilty about having more money than I needed. I’m sure these were fluctuating phases. I was also prone to deep depressions.

When I read Jeremy Griffith’s first book Free : The End of the Human Condition, I resonated with it because of my guilt. It said that “sex is an attack on innocence". It related our extravagant lifestyles to the starvation of people in Africa.

It also promised redemption from this state. It promised to explain why we had had to be the way we were and shouldn’t feel guilty about it. I was glad that such a thing was promised, but I didn’t feel it as strongly as I felt the guilt.

I’m not sure how much I came to feel his work as a defence. I certainly championed it, and I did some work transcribing for him. While I was doing that I was throwing the responsibility for whether he was right or wrong to him. I knew that it was good for ideas to get out into the public sphere where they had a chance to prove themselves. If Griffith was wrong on some things, it would come out in the public debate which would eventuate.

My immediate break from supporting Griffith’s work came when I had a mental breakdown. The worst point in that experience was a confrontation with the worst feelings of guilt I ever experienced. I felt that the whole of human history was going to come to nothing only because of my lack of courage.

Later I tried buying copies of Griffith’s new book and donating it to libraries. By now I felt he was wrong on at least a few things, but again I thought the best way for that to be sorted out was to submit it to the attention of the world. There was need for debate.

It’s hard to be in a situation where you recognise that there is some key problem at the heart of human psychology which is not being addressed, but you’ve ceased to trust the one attempt you have come across to articulate it.

If an explanation for the human condition is going to solve that problem it has to bring positive feelings to the bulk of humanity.

What if it works the opposite way? What if we all have our ways of keeping the guilt at bay, and this book promises a better way, so we grab it, but then it dissolves in our hands and drops us into undiluted guilt?

I suspect this is why it has been a slow process for Griffith getting many people supporting his work. Most people can probably sense where guilt lies. I was early to open to his work because I was already wallowing in the pit.

Griffith’s advice is that, once someone has been convinced that what he says is the truth, they should support it without grappling with it intellectually too much, lest they become destabilised. That they should live off of what it can do for the world.

But that is only possible if you believe it will have a liberating effect on most people. If you believe the “confronting” aspect of it will connect harder than any defence, it would be hard to be so enthusiastic, especially if being confronted by idealism is what drives the progressive worsening of that condition in the forms of hostility, alienation and egotism.

My response, such as it was, was to express the ideas I did in How to Be Free. How might we heal from the human condition without running the risk of increasing any feelings of guilt? 

The Case for Jeremy Griffith

I’ve written a lot about the case against Jeremy Griffith’s explanation for the human condition. Here I will try to walk with him as far as I can go.

His explanation grew out of his need to reconcile his idealism with what he encountered in the social world around him.

His idealistic behaviour was an expression of his instinctive orientation toward love, which was sheltered by similarly loving nurturing.

From observing himself he deduces that our instincts are toward idealistic behaviour.

In time he will discover that most other people do not behave in this way. People are often selfish, egotistical or cynical. And the world is not run on idealistic principles or it would not be in the mess it is in.

He comes to the conclusion that people become angry, egocentric and alienated when they encounter the message that they should behave idealistically. They are angry at the criticism. They try to defend themselves from the attack on their ego by fortifying it. And they shut their ears to what is being said. If this means blocking their mind from acknowledging certain aspects of reality, then that means they become alienate, i.e. cut off from reality.

It’s worth pointing out that the anger isn’t necessarily one way. Griffith talks about expressing a great deal of anger, in his youth, at what he saw as the wrongness of other people’s behaviour.

Griffith supposes that all children will go through the process of trying to make sense of why the people around them don’t act according to what they perceive in themselves as the correct form of behaviour.

Eventually, he says, they will “adopt resignation”, i.e. find a strategy of adaptation to the non-ideal world they find within them now as well as without.

The state before resignation is innocence.

Sex could be an innocent expression of the loving instincts, but by the time we reach sexual maturity, egotism characterises our behaviour. So Griffith sees sex as “an attack on innocence” - he sees the egotistical element of it.

Perhaps it would be fairer to talk about something like sex (to the extent that one can generalise) being used as an attack on the oppressiveness which originally originated in innocence. There may be sadists who want an innocent one to suffer, but most of us just want guilt to fuck the hell off. And that doesn’t just come from directly from innocence, but censorious prudes who may be anything but innocent.

Anyway, there’s a battle against the oppressive ideals, a battle which is necessary if those ideals are not going to oppress the freedom necessary to find liberating self-understanding.

Griffith came up with a hypothesis to explain what he had experienced in his own life. Our instincts were like him, in his youth, pointing a finger and accusing people of being selfish and superficial. Our conscious mind had to set off to find a defence for itself. Humanity, as a whole, was responsible for the knowledge gathered by science, though it is Griffith who assembles it and finds the liberating truth, thus being a representation of the start of the problem and its finish.

Griffith’s takeaway is that we are the heroes of existence because we were willing to fight a great battle against ignorance.

I don’t remember how much this meant to me when I was supporting Griffith. I know I saw value in it as a “selling point” when writing about Griffith’s book for others.

When I knew him, Griffith had a way of saying “I love your courage” when he hoped that someone would stop doing something. The theory is that, if egotistical behaviour is part of this grand battle against criticism, then the proper response is to show appreciation for the behaviour instead of criticising it.

When he tried it on me it didn’t have any effect. I could see through it as a strategy, but also receiving praise from others is rarely if ever the motive behind something I do.

So, even if Griffith’s explanation for the human condition is correct, will the perception that we are an heroic species have a healing impact on individuals? Isn’t “you’re a hero!” a bit like a cocaine shot to the ego, which burns out as quickly as it hits? And even if it didn’t, isn’t “I’m a hero” just a cage to live in?

What interests me the most is therapy. How do we become free of the embattlement of the ego?

The most beautiful thing in the world is redemption. A redemption story in film or literature is the most likely to move me to tears.

For as long as I can remember I’ve identified with we human beings at our worst. Griffith in his youth may have looked on at egotistical and superficial behaviour with anger at its wrongness. And most of us will tend to view those who commit atrocities as alien monsters.

My imagination has always taken me inside the destructive individual to see someone who is already imprisoned by a character structure which makes them the centre of their own little hell, which they then inflict on others.

I can imagine that something in the human spirit which corresponds with the condemning innocent that Griffith represented in his youth might be the jailer which locked us in our prisons.

Does his explanation of the human condition set us free?

I can only imagine this being the case if it brings on a cathartic release of the frustration pent up within that condition. Maybe some kind of almighty primal scream aimed at the condemning innocence which was the unwitting source of all the horrendous evil and suffering ever committed or experienced by we humans on the planet earth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Sunday, 12 December 2021

BOOK REVIEW : Death By Dogma : The Biological Reason Why the Left is Leading Us to Extinction, and the Solution by Jeremy Griffith

I’ve been wrestling with the ideas of Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith for over thirty years

What’s the problem? Why not simply accept them or reject them?

I agree with him that the human race suffers from a psychological condition which threatens our future. We are prone to forms of selfishness, aggression and irrationality which have brought us great suffering and squandered opportunities throughout history. And, now, there are so many more of us, we are beset by new forms of irrationality, we seem more miserable than ever, even though our lives are longer and more comfortable, our ecosystems are threatened and we have weapons that could make the world uninhabitable in minutes.

I see it as a psychological problem through observation of myself and others. My behaviour is dependent on the insecurity of my ego in different situations, and I can observe the same to be true of others. If my ego were secure at all times, I would always be cooperative and loving and clear-thinking. When my ego is wounded by shame at a mistake, by criticism or mistreatment of some kind, I am liable to be angry or depressed, ungenerous, rebellious or withdrawn.

How secure could the ego be? How resilient to the vagaries of human existence? Could we all be so secure that love and reason would rule our lives?

That’s what I want - A human race made up of rational loving individuals living peacefully and creatively together in a healthy ecological system.

We clearly can’t get there by force, or by discipline. Whatever is wrong with our psyches, which makes us so prone to feelings of insecurity, needs to heal through self-understanding.

So here is Jeremy Griffith claiming to have the solution. He has a grand narrative to explain what he calls “the human condition”. This is the thing. No-one else that I know of has a grand narrative so all-encompassing.

When I first encountered this narrative, in his first book Free : The End of the Human Condition, I felt divided. On the one hand, it was reassuring that someone recognised that there was a problem of this kind and claimed to have the explanation which would solve it. On the other hand, his book was so drenched in an extreme idealist’s vision of the world that it felt more like torture than liberation to read it. He would deny that it was idealistic, because it is a defence for why our behaviour is not ideal. But when someone says that “sex is an attack on innocence” or talks about how an ornate spoon represents several starving Ethiopians, these things are dagger wounds to the insecure ego regardless of the context. And I had never even had sex. But here was I conjuring up the image that I was somehow molesting a small child within me by masturbating to lustful fantasies.

Griffith warned that his book was “confronting” and that we usually coped with these things by being “evasive”. So the question always remains as I critique these ideas - am I following reason or am I evasively fooling myself in order to escape from a reality I find oppressive?

The way it is supposed to work is that the “defence for humanity” is supposed to give me so much relief that the rest doesn’t matter.

I don’t buy that defence. I did at first, but I don’t think it survives close examination.

The problem with presenting a defence within the context of confronting material is that it can lead to the “cripple them and then give them a wheelchair” problem. You don’t want to be too ruthless in your assessment of a defence if its collapse is liable to dump you undefended into the briar patch where “sex is an attack on innocence” and your cutlery drawer is full of dead Ethiopians,

Griffith claims that we have an instinctive orientation toward selflessness. He identifies this with our conscience. He believes we acquired it through something he calls “love indoctrination”. Our ape-like ancestors had an extended nurturing period made possible by a food-rich and predator-scarce environment. The mothers' nurturing of their offspring was a genetically selfish process in the sense that the offspring were repositories of their own genes. But to the infants this looked like selfless behaviour. So the infants learned that selflessness was meaningful. Somehow what was learned by their minds became encoded in their genes. I’m not sure how this works.

Griffith views this instinctive orientation as something dictatorial and unforgiving of deviation. I’m not sure how love can be dictatorial or unforgiving.

When we began to develop our intellects we needed to experiment with different kinds of behaviour. Griffith says we began to feel criticised by our instincts when we deviated from selfless behaviour. Clearly he doesn’t mean literally criticised, as only the conscious mind can criticise. Presumably he means that we felt like we were doing something wrong and thus became insecure, leading to anger, egocentricity and alienation.

In one of his early books, Griffith had a cartoon he had drawn which showed the inner child responding to the individual at each stage of life. Eventually the child is pointing an accusatory finger and saying : “Now you are really bad!” This gets to the heart of what feels wrong to me about Griffith’s worldview. I don’t feel like I have one of those creatures at my core. My guilts seem superficial. They are pain in the flesh of my ego. But when I experience love it comes from a deeper level where there is no judgement. This seems to fit with what we find in religious writings.

If we have a horrified little child judging us from our core, then healing for the individual and the world will be hard, especially if that child is actually an instinct not amenable to explanation.

Griffith says that we are born with instincts which expect a perfect world and we are deeply wounded when we discover that it is so imperfect.

If we have a loving all-forgiving core then we won’t mind that the world isn’t perfect. We’ll just want to do our bit to make it better.

Griffith first wrote an essay called Death by Dogma for the Foundation for Humanity’s Adulthood newsletter back, I think, in the early 1990s. He’s had a couple of major books out since then which included the same ideas. Now he has this new version which updates the discussion to include the topical subject of Critical Theory.

Is what Griffith himself is presenting a dogma? The scientific method is supposed to involve presenting a hypothesis which attempts to explain the available data and then looking for ways to falsify it, i.e. prove it wrong. Griffith’s approach has been to look specifically for evidence (and quotes from famous people) which back up his hypothesis. This is called confirmation bias. It comes across as an attempt to defend through fortification. And much of his rhetoric is an attempt to persuade by something other than reason. To be fair, if people find it hard to understand the significance of his hypothesis (simple as it is), I suppose he has to sell them on the  idea of making the effort. What we should look for in any explanatory framework for human behaviour is a simple formula which explains the complexities and paradoxes of history and culture no matter where we look and how finely we examine the details. If the advocate of such a framework has to oversimplify and cherrypick in order to provide evidence for its veracity we are right to suspect that it is a pseudo-scientific dogma.

The problem with this new booklet begins with the back cover blurb :

“The Left’s dogmatic insistence that everyone behave in a cooperative and loving way makes its advocates feel good but…”

We have all experienced dogmatic insistence from individuals on the left, but is what they are insisting on “cooperative and loving behaviour.” Cooperative and loving behaviour is something which can only arise spontaneously. Submission to another’s will is not cooperation. To the degree that those on the left demand something, what they demand is submission to their will. It has nothing to do with love, which by it’s nature must be open, spontaneous, honest and generous. What we see is the resentment-driven aggressiveness of the wounded ego masquerading as love and compassion.

With this booklet Griffith is playing catch-up. The justified backlash against Critical Theory had not really got started when his major work Freedom : The End of the Human Condition was released in 2016. It is no secret to those of us who've read Cynical Theories : How Universities Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity - and Why This Harms Everybody by Helen Pluckrose & James Lindsay that Critical Theory is a threat to our society and our ability to practice science, and thus advance our understanding of ourselves. Pluckrose and Lindsay have an advantage over Griffith in their ability to investigate the topic and make it understandable to the rest of us. They don’t have to make the facts fit a pre-existing explanatory structure. They can approach the topic in a scientific rather than propagandistic manner.

Griffith precedes his critique of Critical Justice with a rundown of his ideas about our instincts and a history of earlier dogmas.

He presents his refutation of conventional theories about our competitive and aggressive nature. He rejects ideas about competitive genetic instincts and the role of testosterone in influencing competitive behaviour, etc., because we have words like “egocentric”, “depressed”, “sadistic”, etc. It isn’t necessarily either/or. We might have an instinct to sow our genetic seeds and yet, also, be prone, when emotionally wounded, to become depressed or sadistic. Personally, I think that emotional wounds play a bigger role in competitive human behaviour than genetic competitiveness, but that doesn’t prove there is in us no retention of the impulses of our pre-human ancestors.

Griffith is wrong when he presents the conscience as something instinctive. We may have an instinct for loving behaviour, but that is not what we call our conscience. Our conscience is a part of our ego in which we store our expectations about ourselves. Love is open and free of content. Conscience is rigid and specific in its dictates. Much of the conscience is learned. How else do we explain the fact that different people, in different cultures, feel guilty about different things.

Central to this essay is Griffith’s concept of “pseudo-idealism”. By this he means progressively superficial demands for some improvement in the social world which are essentially dishonest because they mask the person’s “upset”, i.e. their deep well of emotionally-wounded anger, despair or depravity, and don’t recognise the need for moral compromise inherent in the search for meaning. For Griffith, there is a simple progression of dogmas each of which calls for a retreat from the battle and insistence on cooperative social behaviour enforced by some form of discipline. Each is more alienated than the last, less acknowledging of the failings of the individual, that is more delusional and self-congratulatory.

There is no such thing as “pseudo-idealism”. There are just different kinds of idealism, all of them divisive and destructive. Idealism, the tendency to demand that oneself, others or the world as a whole, conform to a concept of perfection, is the root of all evil. Perfection is impossible. To demand it is to breed anger and egocentricity.

The most evil form of idealism would be that which is so total as to condemn humans for not being selfless. The fact that something is less extreme than that doesn’t mean that it is “pseudo”, i.e. pretend idealism.

Now perhaps Griffith thinks of it as “pseudo-idealism” because he thinks that adherents are pretending to be ideal. If so, they are not fooling anyone but themselves in most cases.

Griffith says that Moses was an exceptionally sound individual who gave us the Ten Commandments. Most Biblical scholars agree that Moses was not a real person, that he is a mythical composite for a number of other figures. When it comes to the Ten Commandments, would it really take an exceptionally sound individual to compile a list of dos and don’ts based on the complaints that people in their tribe had about each other? Who wouldn’t be able to identify not killing each other, not stealing from each other and not sleeping with each other’s wives as important principals for maintaining peace in the tribe based on the experience of things which had caused fights in the past? To read the words of Jesus in the Gospels is to be awestruck at the clarity of vision and purity of nature of their source. The Ten Commandments, not so much. Griffith claims that they are still the basis of our law today. Are they? Sure we have laws against killing and theft, but would a person not be punished for those offences in Ancient Greece or Egypt? In most countries it is not against the law to covet one's neighbour’s wife or property. It isn’t illegal to have graven images. Even adultery goes unpunished in many societies. Christopher Hitchens pointed out that it might have been better to forget the coveting laws and put in something against rape and the molestation (or mistreatment in other ways) of children. I think a truly sound individual would have put in laws against those things. Their absence is no mystery if the commandments arose as a reflection of what had caused conflict amongst the men in the tribe. It was a patriarchal society where crimes against women and children could easily be ignored.

Moses and the Commandments by Gustave Doré

Griffith uses the example of Christianity as his primary example of a religion centred around a uniquely sound prophet. He doesn’t mention Islam, although one of his illustrations includes the crescent moon symbol amongst the symbols of other religions. Leaving it out is a good way of avoiding controversy. Where does this religion fit into his progression? Anyone who knows much about the life of the Prophet Mohammad knows that he was very different from Jesus. He hardly conforms to my concept of a sound individual.

Griffith sees Communism as a form of “pseudo-idealism” for people who found the concept of a potentially judgemental God too disturbing. He presents it as being aimed at imposing a cooperative and selfless society. This he sees as a betrayal of our obligation to pursue understanding (through science) of our selfish psyche and thus achieve liberation from it. I think it works better to conceive of Communism as an idealistic thought virus. It provides an excuse for people to unleash their resentment against those more successful than themselves. This is one of the sources of its bloodshed. It also encourages dishonesty to cover for the misalignment between behaviour and espoused ideals, on the part of the rulers or the ruled. Of course violent oppression is also brought on by the imposed nature of the experiment, which Griffith is acknowledging. The reason I see a thought virus as a better way of describing these forms of dogma is that a virus can affect different parts of an organism in different ways and can lead to a progression of different symptoms.

Griffith has a very simple formula at the heart of all this. Our instincts are toward selflessness. Our emerging intellect needed to experiment with departure from selfless behaviour in order to find understanding of itself. The instincts criticised this. Our intellect thus became insecure and responded with anger towards our selflessness-demanding instincts. We became egocentric. Our duty now was to plow on through increasing levels of self-corruption in order to eventually find the understanding which would liberate us and allow us to become selfless again.

Each of the forms of “pseudo-idealism” Griffith examines is, in this formula, an attempt to retreat back towards our instinct’s demand for ideal behaviour and thus deny the need to find and confront the truth about ourselves. Of course, it’s never an insistence on complete selflessness. It’s an insistence that the capitalists stop exploiting the workers or that we stop chopping down so many trees, or something like that. But if those insisting cast themselves as “the good guys” and interfere with the freedom of the human enterprise, then it could derail the whole project. Griffith sees the human condition as a battle against the ignorant condemnation coming from our instincts. It is responsible for the battle weary to leave the battle, adopt some form of behaviour which will allow them to feel better about themselves, but the battle must be pursued by those capable until it is won.

For Griffith, there is a simple progression of dogmas each of which calls for a retreat from the battle and insistence on cooperative social behaviour enforced by some form of discipline. Each is more alienated than the last, less acknowledging of the failings of the individual, that is more delusional and self-congratulatory.

I don’t think we have a dictatorial instinct for selfless behaviour which criticises our experiments in self-management. I think we are born with an instinct for loving behaviour and an intellect which has the weakness that it can become more insecure as it develops if it picks up contradictory programs. Idealism - in the sense of an unforgiving insistence on certain useful forms of behaviour - arose experimentally as we learned to think. This acted as a thought virus to spread insecurity, and thus anger and egocentricity, throughout society. Forgiveness and love (open, honest, spontaneous and generous behaviour) could act as a healing force to the insecure ego, but it could also be seen as implicit criticism and attacked, e.g. Jesus.

To get back to Griffith’s progression of “pseudo-idealisms” - the next is the New Age Movement. What Griffith fails to acknowledge is that The New Age Movement isn’t a dogma. Particular gurus may have their own dogmas that they push, but the movement is really just a loose collection of practices and gurus. It hardly represents the kind of threat that Communism does. It’s voluntary and appeals mostly to those who need something they aren’t likely to get anywhere else. Griffith sees it as more alienated than Communism because it doesn’t acknowledge cooperative ideals. That may or may not be true depending on which guru they are following. Some gurus set up communes.

Next comes The Feminist Movement, which he claims “maintains that there is no difference between people, especially not between men and women.” He believes the feminists are more removed from reality than the New Agers because they don’t acknowledge that there are psychological differences between men and women, and specifically that the fact that men are egocentric is a sign of their heroism not that they are villains. Again he is oversimplifying. Not all feminists believe there are no psychological differences between men and women. The concept of feminism as a route to solving all of society’s problems has the characteristic of an idealistic dogma, but for women to insist on their right to vote and be paid more are simply pragmatic pursuits of self interest. To work together to build rape crisis shelters or defend their access to abortion, likewise, are hardly acts which impede the freedom of society to search for understanding. Where feminism can be a destructive thought virus is when it takes the form of social constructivism. Here there is the belief that the only psychological differences between men and women are those which we are socialised into. As for men, where there is aggression there is insecurity driving it, so Griffith is probably right that the dark side of men will not be healed by more criticism, even if that criticism has to be expected.

With the next development - The Environment or Green Movement - we again see that it is something which grows out of pragmatic approaches to real world problems but which can take a dogmatic form based in tokenistic behaviour or a lack of realistic thinking. There is a lot of “virtue signalling” about environmental issues. On the other hand, they are real. The seas really are full of plastic. The ice caps are melting. The problem is that it is our lifestyle which causes the problems, and it is easier to wave a placard than it is to restrain our consumption. We need psychological healing if we are to heal the planet. Griffith thinks the answer is to absorb his explanation for the human condition and then promote it to all your friends. I don’t think that will work, because I think he’s got his explanation wrong. If his explanation were correct there would be no need for the Transformed Lifeforce Way of Living - i.e. to transcend your hurting psyche and live off the excitement of bringing liberation to the world. He says you could use his explanation to go back and reexplain all the traumas of your life to yourself in a “truthful” way using this “information”. I think the only reason that would be so time consuming is that what he is presenting is not the truth but a dogma and you would be attempting to go through and brainwash yourself. If it were the truth, it would effortlessly seep through your thinking bringing its illumination.

I don’t know a lot about post-modernism but my understanding is that it amounts to scepticism of received “truths” taken to the extreme. On the plus side this may mean deconstructing dogma. On the negative side it may mean rejected the means - reason - by which one approaches the truth. If it is a form of idealism, it is one which makes doubt an ideal. It doesn’t seem to, in and of itself, be a demand for ideality in one’s self or others. I believe Foucault was all about analysing systems of power and saw categorisation as one way in which power is exerted over groups. This is a philosophy amenable to “social justice” idealists, but I’m not sure whether Foucault felt that he was making the world a better place. No doubt there are better places to go to get an understanding of what post-modernism is than Griffith. Pluckrose and Lindsay’s book above might be a good start.

Griffith gives an account of conflict between the left and right in evolutionary theory. He also talks about how easy it has been to defend left wing ideas politically and how hard it has been to defend right wing political ideas. He ends with “the ideology of the Left was wrong while the ideology of the Right was correct”. But surely the social system which was working its way toward self-understanding needed a balance of cooperative behaviour and competitive behaviour, some arguing for more assistance for those falling behind and some arguing for progress at all costs. The whole enterprise could be sabotaged by too much insistence on group interests but also by too much individualism without responsibility. If the right were always correct, then slavery would have been O.K. Surely the ideology of the Right was correct when it didn’t go too far, and the ideology of the Left was O.K. when it didn’t go too far.

This mapping of a righteous battle for self-understanding onto specific human behaviours is an uneasy match. Most human enterprises require a good deal of cooperation and generosity. This cooperation and generosity may arise from transcendence of more selfish impulses, but, if there is a battle to achieve self-understanding it is an aid to it. So isn’t this person still participating in that battle? By contrast, someone may live out their aggressive tendencies in defiance of the demands of the instincts, but in such a destructive way  that it disrupts the search for knowledge.

Griffith feels that now we can all become left-wing (in the sense of desirous of and practicing loving and cooperative behaviour) and we can all give up being selfish or aggressive. It may be a little hard to imagine : “I’m selling my yacht and giving the money to the poor because some dude in Australia wrote a book saying I’m really a hero.”

Griffith mentions that Critical Theory drew on Sigmund Freud as well as Marx. The member of The Frankfurt School (birthplace of Critical Theory) in whom these two influences came together was Wilhelm Reich. Reich had been a student of Freud’s, who, like Jung, had split from him. Reich was a member of the German Communist Party at the time when they were fighting the growing power of the Nazis. He would later disavow his support for Communism, or any other mass movement, seeing them all as forms of “the emotional plague”. I find Reich’s account of the human situation, in many ways, more accountable than Griffith’s. Reich saw us as having loving instincts which can be experienced as erotic impulses. If we are taught to fear such impulses they become selfish or even sadistic drives. This gives a clear way of explaining how sex exists on a continuum between a tender act between two people who have got to know each other intimately and a sadistic act like rape. His concept of “character armour” (as presented in his book Character Analysis) gives a practical way of studying ego embattlement. He saw this form of embattlement as the common state of humans. Thus he acknowledged that alienation is now the norm, our thinking and feeling and, even our bodily functioning, being structured by the neurotic (i.e. fearful) ego. He also took inspiration, late in his life, from the teachings of Christ, in his book The Murder of Christ. No doubt the Critical Theorists took some inspiration from Reich, but they don’t seem to have paid much attention to his key insights. Now maybe the emphasis on the sexual in Reich’s ideas needs to be seen in its context. He grew up in a time when it was the norm for parents to punish their children for masturbating. The church and teachers spread the message that natural erotic responses were sinful. One of the ways in which the innocence of children was attacked was teaching them to fear these feelings in their body. Reich would say that the reason someone’s sexual behaviour in adulthood is perverse or even sadistic is because they were taught that their first innocent sexual impulses were something dirty. And repression of erotic sensations brings with it repression of love in all its forms.

Regarding Critical Race Theory Griffith says : “To impose a new world of love and kindness between ethnic groups or races, it was simply asserted that it was philosophically sound to claim that there is no difference between races; and further that any contention that there were differences was just a dishonest, manipulative, racist, artificially invented device used to oppress and ill-treat certain races.” Griffith believes that different races differ in their level of alienation dependant on how long they have been involved in the battle to find knowledge. Hence, Asians are more alienated than blacks. While it is true that one can make statistical comparisons, e.g. seeing that Asians tend to perform better academically, it isn’t clear to me that that is not a matter of culture rather than genes. Would an Asian child who was adopted by a family which didn’t place such a strong emphasis on academic achievement still have an advantage? It’s wrong to make the assumption which Critical Race Theory makes that all variation in success is evidence of racial prejudice. But Martin Luther King’s principle that we should not assess people based on the colour of their skin is the answer to it. If everyone is allowed to proceed on the basis of their merits, then, if some groups have an inherent advantage, that will manifest as it will. But if we were to operate on the belief that such an advantage exists, we might make unfair decisions on its basis.

Griffith leaves out all mention of one of the key offshoots of Critical Theory or “wokeness” - Queer Theory. Queer Theory is based around subverting the concept of normal especially with regard to sexuality. So, for instance, it sees our society as “hetero-normative”, i.e. oppressively imposing the judgement that one is not normal if not heterosexual. One of the dangers of Queer Theory is that some of its adherents want to “normalise” sex with children.

The concept of an idealistic thought virus, appealing to the intellect while sowing seeds of greater insecurity in the psyche or providing tools for gaining power or wealth or providing an excuse or justification for the cathartic unleashing of aggressive behaviour, seems to me to better fit the complexity of the different ideological dogmas which face us in the world today.

It is the divided self which makes us prone to thought viruses. We have a dark side where our resentment dwells. Then we have our “good persona” which needs to have a positive self-perception and which may be sensitive to criticism. The thought virus may take hold with the idea “if you don’t adopt me you’ll be bad”, e.g. “if you don’t support BLM you are racist.” Or such a hook may sometimes not be necessary. The “good persona” is necessarily sensitive to criticism, because it is a precarious barrier against encounter with the dark side. This generalised sensitivity explains the call for “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces”. The sense or righteousness of the “good persona” is at the opposite end of the spectrum from knowledge. Knowledge is precisely that which can stand in the face of all criticism.

The divided person who has been infected by the thought virus for some form of idealism, projects their own dark side onto the enemy of that ideal. If anti-racism is the ideal, then white supremacists are all around. The hostile resentment and entitlement he sees in them is that which lurks in his own subconscious.

What often causes the worst behaviour is when the conscience aligns with full expression of aggressive resentment. That conscience is our ideas of what is right or wrong. If we believe that it is right to torture or murder people because this is just punishment for something they have done, the dark side pours out through the “good persona”. In a somewhat milder form this is what we see when “social justice warriors” send death or rape threats to those who challenge their dogma.

The cure for thought viruses is individuation - the owning and reintegration of the dark side. Individuality is the state and practice of not being internally divided. This can also be described as having integrity, i.e. the parts of one’s psyche are integrated. Such an individual is authentic and substantial, not an empty vessel to be filled by whatever intellectual contagion may come along.

Honesty is inseparable from individuality. It means being guided by our own individual perception of reality. Then the question arises as to how accurate that perception is. But it will not be accurate unless it is our own. We must be guided by our own senses and our own reason. Others can provide ideas and data, but it must be sifted and integrated by our own reason if are not to be false.

Griffith believes we are doomed if his message doesn’t reach a broad audience quickly. I don’t think his explanation is correct, but I do find engaging with it is a stimulus to potentially productive insights. Most of what hope I have for the human race comes from my own experience that a breakdown can also be a breakthrough. If there is an answer which will arise from the debates going on in the world, it could spread like wildfire if it works to unlock the mind-prisons of dogma. When we run out of lies, there is nowhere to go but into the truth. Whatever that proves to be.

I take some comfort from the prophecy : “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:27

This suggests that when an answer arrives we will know it because it will effortlessly race throughout the whole of humanity as if instantaneously. We see this with new technology, so why not with knowledge which unlocks what William Blake called “the mind-forg’d manacles.”

Thursday, 1 April 2021

The Lord's Prayer for Unbelievers Like Myself

Photo by Serhii Datsinko - Ukraine

For a while I’ve been intending to do some more writing about what Christian ideas mean to me as a person who doesn’t believe in the supernatural. Why not have a look at a central text - The Lord’s Prayer? This is found in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4.

“Our Father…”

I think it helps to draw meaning from this concept of “God the Father” if we acknowledge that it is an expression which originated in a patriarchal culture. The source and guiding principle of the universe might have been depicted as “The Mother”, but in this case it wasn’t, so what we have to ask is “What does the father figure mean to a culture in which a man was considered the head of the family?”

Our parents are the source of our existence. They came together and we were the result. So the father is a representation of the process by which we came into existence.

The father, in such a culture, is also the teacher of morals and the one who punishes us if we depart from them.

I don’t believe in the supernatural, but the term “God” is meaningful to me as a symbol.

First there is “God the Creator”. For me, this is a personification of the creative process of the universe whereby more complex and capable wholes come into existence. Somehow atoms came to be arranged in the meaningful form which allows me to exist as a complex intelligent entity sitting at my computer and typing this sentence. We know a lot more about this process now than we did when the Lord’s Prayer was first spoken, but it is still something worthy of the kind of awe we associate with the term “God”.

Then there is “God” as a motivating force in human behaviour - “God” as love. Here again we have something which brings into being more complex and capable wholes. While love is all too easily subsumed by conflicts of one kind or another - to the extent that there is such a thing as a friendship or a family or a tribe or a community, these are wholes which are greater than the sum of their parts made possible by love. Love being a form of communication characterised by openness, honesty, spontaneity and generosity.

“God” is seen as a teacher of morality and a judge. Love is the source of our morality. I believe we have an instinct for it which is born in us, and, if we are lucky, that is reinforced and encouraged by the example of those who love us. While we often suffer from experiences which are simply bad luck, we can also be taught lessons by life. We may make a selfish decision in which we neglect to recognise that our wellbeing rests within the wellbeing of those around us, and as a result life may teach us a lesson via negative consequences. I think “God the Judge” is a symbol for that process. Life could be imagined a bit like a video game. We have a certain capacity for love which can be recharged in positive encounters with others, like picking up power packs, and there are encounters with mischance and with the malevolence of others which may deplete us. There is a chance we may lose our way entirely. Maybe we will lose patience and “go over to the dark side” because it seems easier, less of a struggle. The idea of “God the Judge” is of someone who is keeping the score. Maybe there is no such entity, but our life situation and its consequences are real.

“…who art in heaven…”

To me, the word “heaven” represents a realm of potential which we can apprehend using our imagination. We can imagine what the human world would be like if it reached its creative potential, if love and reason ruled over all. In our world we see “God” as if “through a glass darkly”. Love shines out here and there amidst the darkness, but war and crime and depression and all the rest can easily seem to be the larger part of reality. And foolishness is more common than wisdom or reason. So we have to look to our imaginary vision of how things could be to see “God” clearly.

“…hallowed be thy name…”

“Hallowed” means “made holy”. As I’ve said, the creative principle of the universe is one which allows for the formation of more complex and capable wholes. “Holy” comes from the same source as the word “whole”. So that which is “holy” is that which is “whole” or “of the whole”. To heal is to “be made whole”. “God” is our symbol for all that “makes whole”.

“…Thy Kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…”

The essence of the prayer is that the potential for wholeness - through love and reason - be realised in the world as it exists in our imagination.

“…Give us this day our daily bread…”

A plea that we are able to obtain the means to meet our daily physical needs, but this also could be a way of symbolising our emotional needs for hope, inspiration and love.

“…And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

One of the major threats to wholeness, of the individual or the group, is lack of forgiveness. 

Conscience acts as a guide to our behaviour, but a healthy relationship with the conscience requires self-acceptance and the flexibility it makes possible. If our self-acceptance is undermined to the extent that the conscience becomes an intolerable source of oppression, then we can go to war against it. Instead of doing what we know to be the best thing, we may deliberately do the opposite of what our conscience would tell us. This seems to me to be the best way to understand the extremes of human malevolence. There are acts of evil which have a pragmatic purpose. One might torture someone to get information to help one’s own side in a war. But some people commit such acts without such an external motive. How do we explain such sadism? The impulse is the exact opposite of the love impulse. Is it unreasonable to interpret malevolence, of which this is the purest form, as resentment at a conscience which demands loving behaviour when, because of undermined self-acceptance, there is no more love to give? If hatred of the conscience were not a motivating force there would be no point in wasting time, or risking one’s freedom, by inflicting suffering when one could spend that time and effort indulging in sensual pleasure.

So a healthy relationship with the conscience is one in which forgiveness for past transgressions frees us up to do better next time. Self-forgiveness is a major part of self-acceptance. By self-acceptance I don’t mean complacency, because our potential to improve is a key part of what is being accepted. To be self-accepting is to recognise that one has nothing to prove about one’s self and thus be able to open up to intrinsic motivations for doing things rather than ones rooted in maintaining a fragile sense of pride.

And clearly the functioning of human groups require forgiveness amongst their members. It won’t work if there is an imbalance here, with some forgiving all the time and others always being the ones whose misbehaviour is being forgiven. So it is linked : “…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us…” (the unforgiving don’t get forgiven) and followed by the next two lines which address the origins of the transgressions which might need to be forgiven.

“And lead us not into temptation…”

It’s all too easy to be tempted by opportunities to seek immediate gratification of some desire even when we know that the longer term consequences will be harmful to both ourselves and others. So there is a plea to limit such tests. Since I’m not looking at this as something involving a supernatural being, I would see this as an intention to develop the spirit of stoicism as an defence against impulsiveness.

“…but deliver us from evil.”

Once again a positive focusing on the power of love, reason and wisdom, personified here as “God”, to heal our malevolent motivations, An opening up to all that might lead us back to wholeness.

This is needed to compliment forgiveness. Forgiveness can’t be expected in the absence of a move toward better behaviour.

“For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.”

The creative principle of life, expressed in inter-human affairs as love, is that through which everything becomes possible. In a limited sense it is possible to defy this principle, but such defiance is ultimately in vain as nothing worthwhile comes to us as a result. Selfishness is ultimately self-defeating, because we have far more to gain by working together for our mutual benefit. In this sense, that which we symbolise under the word “God” is the source of everything wonderful and the ruler of the system of which we are an expression.


“Amen” means “certainty”, “truth” and “verily”.