Monday, May 30, 2011

Amazing: Truths About Conscious Awareness / Supernatural Part Two

Supernatural, Part Two

Supernatural, Part Two is the ninth installment in the free online serialization of my book, Amazing: Truths About Conscious Awareness (Click the link for an index of every chapter to date.)

Supernatural, Part Two

What’s special about people now? Since we’ve followed the tone of Nietzsche’s √úbermensch, the super man toward which we’d stretch in escaping the legacy of our disgusting simian ancestors, has our music grown sweeter or more discordant? Does the zeitgeist allow us to as genuinely respond to the appeal of angels Shakespeare illuminated? Do we still believe we have the grace to mingle with heavenly cohorts?

The Blessings
The Blessings
16 in. x 20 in.
Angels At

We know it’s not true. In fact, the tamping down of idealist expectations is fed to us in heaping amounts every day through television. It’s as if derision were an antibiotic and hope a disease.

Commercial television persistently reminds us how small and ineffective we are, how pathetic and trivial are our ambitions. We sit still for it, the vicarious dose of video life as addicting as any of Marx’s opiates. Maybe it’s the best we have left. Maybe we haven’t the ambition to hone ourselves like fine sculptures but have gone over to gathering ourselves as feckless collections of pebbles instead.

For myself, I’m blaming Nietzsche for discrediting the legacy of evolution. Toss Shaw in too, for fanning the flames.

At least Nietzsche had the decency to go bonkers.

An interesting trend in the last decade is the growth or, at least, the visibility of what are thought of as New Age sensibilities, although most–like love, oneness and inner peace–are nebulous and hard to define. The explosive popularity of both the book and the movie, The Secret, whatever else anyone thinks of the ideas promoted, exposed a craving for more. When a chance to satisfy a need our religions don’t handle well anymore arrived in acceptable clothing, an eager, mushrooming audience listened, absorbed and accepted.

What made the phenomena more intriguing was the absence of any serious mainstream backlash. Usually, you’d expect mockery and a parade of debunkers trotted out by the national media. It didn’t happen. The negative reaction was minor, believers in the “law of attraction” cast as selfish and deluded, even cultish, but the criticisms weren’t especially aggressive. Advocates, like Wayne Dyer and Esther and Jerry Hicks, appeared on national television without serious challenge.

A cultural relief valve opened, releasing pressures built up by persistent, colorless conformity and control. Truth be told, the suddenly and wildly popular law of attraction–which, if true within nature now, must always have been–had been presented by Esther Hicks, posing as “nonphysical teacher,” Abraham, as an explanation of how reality works for twenty years already. And the Abraham-Hicks operation had not so much invented it as repackaged the idea. They hadn’t even created the term. Now, they helped make it a smash hit.

Esther and Jerry Hicks emerged like law of attraction rock stars, and in contrast with their eccentric position, it’s hard to imagine a more likable couple. Even when detailing the wildest claims, they sat levelly in front of huge television audiences as if explaining something as ordinary as the joy of knitting competitions.

Esther and Jerry, whose mantra, “Life is supposed to be fun,” decorated the rear of the “monster bus” they drove from seminar to seminar, looked and acted liked the beloved grandparents they were. Yet, the story they told was so extreme it tested anyone who gave it much thought. It had the benefit of seeming harmless.

In simple, self-deprecating, even funny stories, Esther told audiences about nonphysical beings from a purely spiritual realm who took over her body, gradually persuading her to be a conduit for their teachings. Jerry’s role was facilitator, an openminded third party with a gift for asking great questions, taking notes and making recordings. After a period of adjustment, Esther was able to call up Abraham whenever necessary for seminars and book writing, a mission they assigned for themselves that resulted in the bestselling book Ask and It Is Given. What Abraham taught was, in the words of Wayne Dyer, “You get what you think about, whether you want it or not.”

Secret Garden II
Secret Garden II
Rej, Bent
27.5 in. x 19.75 in.

“No exceptions,” Esther, speaking for Abraham, would add.

Simple to preach, maybe, but not when the preacher is a nonphysical group of approximately one-hundred, all speaking in the same odd voice through a transfigured Esther Hicks, yet they made it easy, relaxed, confident, even playful. It didn’t hurt that Esther and Jerry, in normal situations, were both warm, genuine and optimistic or that Esther had a strong resemblance to Shirley Mclaine, the Hollywood popularizer of reincarnation. The couple seemed to be without pretense and easily able to have a laugh at themselves and their exceptional circumstances.

The public seemed ready for an uplift. Whether listeners fully accepted the idea of “talking to dead people,” as Abraham jokingly called themselves, or not, the teachings broadly resonated. There were no serious clinkers or whacky claims, apart from the circumstances, for critics to latch on to. Abraham described causes and interactions within lives listeners recognized as like their own. Their teachings insisted on gaining control to make things better, laying full responsibility on individuals for their own happiness or unhappiness. Blaming others for bad results was rejected.

Consistency made a difference and so did resonance. A generation of experts had turned the giving of advice into a profession, the basis of which was that the educated advisor knew better than his or her client. In the days when a Dutch uncle played such a role, trust had been earned by experience. Now it was demanded by a diploma and certification.

Professionals diminished individuals first by describing a culture structured around positives and negatives, rights and wrongs, that the participants themselves were not capable enough or, more accurately, educated enough to figure out for themselves, using age old methods that had somehow failed.

Diminishing individuals was the inevitable result of a passion for higher education that saturated America after World War II, the pledge from our parents that they’d give us “the things we never had,” higher education being one of them. Oddly, having heard so many pitches that grew through the 1960s, I don’t recall higher education being identified with any value other than increased income. Nobody seemed to think it might be an enriching experience as learning about the world and how to think had once been seen. Higher education was being geared to create better consumers. The past was being denigrated, one net effect being a cultural disempowerment of individuals.

Divine Guidance
Divine Guidance
Smith, Ford
32 in. x 34.5 in.
Buy This

Then, into an unidentified gap stepped New Age teachings that connected people intimately with, take your pick, God, the Divine, Source or infinite energies. And it was an old, always been there flavor of spiritualism. This was spiritual adrenaline. It made intuitive sense.
Here was the √úbermensch, softened up and pliable.

David Stone

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