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, I-Tunes in some countries, Kobo and Barnes & Noble


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

The ebook version currently has received 470 ***** out of ***** ratings on U.S. I-Tunes.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Thoughts on Jeremy Griffith's "Freedom : The End of the Human Condition" - Part 16

Mistaking Satan for God

God and Satan are two mythological figures. God is our personification of the creative principle of the universe, which in our own species is manifested as love. Satan is seen as the originator of evil behaviour, and yet he is recognised as having come from God, as having been one of God’s “fallen angels”.

Our capacity for reason is clearly a product of the creative principle of the universe (God), but it brought with it the distinction between “good” and “evil” which led to the destructive mind virus we call “idealism”. Love requires unconditional acceptance, but idealism made our acceptance conditional and thus gradually eroded our capacity for love and sowed the seeds of conflict.

If idealism is what brought evil into the world, then Satan is a mythological way of referring to idealism.

In our increasingly insecure state we recognised that we were out of harmony with the theme of life - i.e. love, but by feeling guilty about that, by giving in to Satan’s whispered suggestion that embracing idealism was the way back to harmony with God, rather than recognising that God works precisely by refusing to judge or to expect perfection, we went down a dark path, one in which we would quickly come to adopt Satan as our God.

People often wonder why there is such a difference between the judgemental, jealous, condemning God of the Old Testament, and the forgiving God spoken of by Jesus and of which it is said : “God is love.”

This is because the God which cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, who drowned the world in a flood, etc., was really Satan. Of course these are mythological events, but the point is that they are stories about a harsh judger of humanity, and that judger of humanity has been what William Blake referred to as “the accuser”, i.e. the originator of destructive behaviour, the enemy of the real God (love). And to the degree that we have worshipped that God we have been Satan worshippers.

Blake expressed this in the Epilogue to his poem Gates of Paradise :

"To The Accuser Who is The God of This World
Truly My Satan thou art but a Dunce
And dost not know the Garment from the Man
Every Harlot was a Virgin once
Nor canst thou ever change Kate into Nan
Tho thou art Worshipd by the Names Divine 
Of Jesus & Jehovah thou art still
The Son of Morn in weary Nights decline
The lost Travellers Dream under the Hill."

If we can throw off idealism (the habit of standing in judgement of ourselves or others) then there is no need to worship God. We can be God, we can be love personified.

Patriarchy

Griffith’s view that we have a genetic instinct towards selflessness which criticised our attempts to self-manage, means that he sees the attempt to find understanding of the world and ourselves as “a battle against the ignorance of our instinctive self”. Because this was “a battle” he feels that it naturally fell to men, and because women are biologically nurturers, and thus aligned with “our instinctive self”, it brought about a rift between the sexes which required the institution of patriarchy, so that the men could pursue the battle to find understanding with support rather than interference by the women.

I don’t think this is at all what happened. I see no evidence that we have a genetic instinct for selflessness which criticises us. However, as I’ve outlined previously, conflict arising from the requirements of the nurturing role provided by the women and the group protector role provided by the men, would have led to the distinction being made between “good” and “bad” behaviour - aggressive vs. nurturing - and thus the thought virus of idealism came into being.

Armouring is our defence against criticism. Since the men would have been more vulnerable to criticism because theirs was the aggressive role, they had to become more armoured. And it was a negative feedback loop. The more armoured they became the more criticism they were subjected to because of their relative lack of responsiveness and generosity to others.

This situation progressed until society became patriarchal. The armour is a form of control - it protects us against threats from without and within. A lot of repression is involved. A lot is bottled up within the armour. And since we project our inner battles onto the outside world, the more desperately embattled an individual is in their armour, and thus the more self-control they need to keep it from breaking down, the more they also feel the need to control the behaviour of those around them which resonates with that internal threat. And so the most armoured individuals came to exercise control over society. The more embattled the men in charge of a society the more oppressed the women in that society will be. It takes a secure, i.e. relatively armour-free, man to not feel threatened by a woman’s freedom.

I don’t think the need to find understanding, in general, comes into it. Clearly an understanding of our psychology, particularly the relationship between idealistic criticism and armouring, was needed. But I don’t know that men were necessarily in any better position to find that understanding then women. And the search for general understanding is something which can be pursued by anyone with a functioning brain irrespective of their gender.

So I see patriarchy not as a retrospectively justified strategy in the journey toward self-knowledge, rather I see it as a symptom of an unavoidable mental illness which occurred along the way.

Feminism’s critique of patriarchy and defence of a woman’s right to perform any role in society is fundamentally sound. The only problem is that, since the role of patriarchy was as a form of armouring, and armouring is a defence against criticism, feminism didn’t exactly make it easier for men to become less patriarchal. It is the practice of unconditional acceptance (except of destructive behaviour towards others) that makes a world of equality possible.

By contrast, Griffith’s approach to healing is to try to demonstrate that the patriarchal role has been a heroic one, necessary to the salvation of the human race from the human condition, but one which can now disappear because understanding of the human condition has been achieved. But to tell someone they are a hero is surely a reinforcement of their armouring. What heals is to be made to know that one is simply acceptable. It is the difference between trying to repair someone’s self-esteem, which needs always to be maintained, and encouraging them to leave the self-esteem economy altogether.

Sex

According to Griffith : “Unable to explain their behaviour to women, men were left in an untenable situation: they couldn’t just stand there and accept women’s unjust criticism of their behaviour — they had to do something to defend themselves — but because women reproduced the species, men couldn’t kill women the way they destroyed animals, and so instead men violated women’s innocence or ‘honour’  through rape. Men perverted sex, as in ‘fucking’ or destroying, making it discrete from the act of procreation. What was being fucked, violated, destroyed, ruined, degraded or sullied was women’s innocence. The feminist Andrea Dworkin recognised this underlying truth when she wrote that ‘All sex is abuse’.”

Here we see the real irrationality coming out in Griffith’s thinking. Because his own sexual desires are a threat to his “innocent good little boy” persona, he views sex as essentially an “attack on innocence.” Now it is true that women don’t like to have sex, or anything else, forced upon them. That is an attack. But he is assuming here that recreational sex could only occur if it were forced onto women. He is saying that an innocent woman has no desire for erotic pleasure. He talks about ‘honour”, but surely the concept of sexual honour is a product of a sexually repressive society. “A good and proper woman doesn’t want to do those beastly things. She just lays back and thinks of England.” I can imagine that many women will find this attitude insulting. And when he quotes from Andrea Dworkin he fails to point out that she was a lesbian who was molested by a man in a movie theatre at the age of nine.

He says : “Well, sex as humans have been practising it has similarly been extremely offensive to our instinctive self or soul, and has caused the same ‘emotion-induced’ shock to our soul and thus temporary ‘blackout’ in our mind, as this study found : ‘Research suggests that when shown erotic or gory images, the brain fails to process images seen immediately afterward. This phenomenon is known as “emotion-induced blindness.’”

That doesn’t seem terribly significant to me. If we see something which induces a strong emotional reaction in us then our mind remains focussed on that for a while before being able to focus on something else. I’m sure that the degree of this response would be lessened in individuals like myself who are very desensitised to erotic and gory imagery. I don’t think it has anything to do with some sensitive innocent instinctive self. I’m sure that, if you met up with an old friend in the street, it would take you a while, as you walked away after talking to them, to really open up to concentrating on the world around you, because your emotion had drawn your attention away from your environment.

And the degree of disturbance which erotic or gory imagery has on the individual is generally based on how repressed that individual is. If we are repressing a lot of sexual desires within us, then erotic images are liable to be disturbing to us as they resonate with what we are repressing. On the other hand, a child watching the same image would probably view it with untroubled curiosity or amusement, because he or she does not yet have the desires required to resonate with what is seen. And gory footage will be most disturbing to someone who is repressing a lot of anger, as the violence resonates with their repressed feelings of hostility.

He says : Humans don’t remember sexual episodes very well and the reason we don’t is because sex, as currently practised, is a violation of our soul and we don’t want to remember such violation.

I don’t know what evidence he is basing this on. I haven’t had much sex in my life, but I think I remember those episodes better than a lot of other things. My view of the soul and Griffith’s seem quite opposed. I feel that masturbating to pornography is one of the things which nurtures my soul, providing some healing from the soul-crushing repression of the erotic which is the norm in our society.

He goes on : “The main point being made here, however, is that sex became a way of attacking the innocence of women, the result of which was that women’s innocence was oppressed and, to a degree, they tragically came to share men’s upset.”

I think that it is true that women became armoured as a result of macho retaliations to their criticism of men, but I don’t think sex was a driving force in this. As we become armoured, free erotic sex becomes channelled, egotistical and sometimes aggressive sex, but the development of the armouring as a response to criticism is the driving factor, not the sex. In fact, orgasms have a tendency to temporarily release us from our armouring, hence the expression “the little death”, i.e. death of the ego.

Griffith’s attempts to describe and explain human sexual behaviour and psychology are spectacularly off-base, but unfortunately they have the ability to seem credible to some people because they fit with the sexually repressive ideas, often religiously based, which have historically warped our society.

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