Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Giving back by teaching

If you have ever read Luke Cullen's book, Growing Up With Draja Mickaharic, about his escapades as a student of the famous spiritual teacher and cultist, definitely give it a try. It is a quick read. A long time ago, Luke was a friend and confidant of mine, and we were both fellow students of Draja. The difference between us is that Luke had the balls to write about it. I don't, mainly because of the lunacy of it all, or at least how I see it as lunacy looking back on it. Nevertheless, I learned an immense amount of things during those days that I still use as a foundation.... just not the things I thought I would be using today when asked about it back then.

In those days, things were quite hierarchical. Draja was the teacher. We were the students. Not only was this the physical arrangement, but in Draja's view this was ordained by God, if you will. He was a "Spiritual Teacher", meaning that was his divine Function in life. To be his student was to obey, because that was the Order of the Universe. If you obeyed, you would prosper or learn something. If you disobeyed, you would not gain the benefit of his teaching, and obey we did.

Looking back on it, it seems so alien to me. With the framework of Integral Theory and Spiral Dynamics that I have been reading about, I can see exactly what was going on. All of us involved in those teaching interactions back then were living out the Red and Blue vMemes or core value systems. In Red, someone has power and you don't, or maybe you do have power and you lord it over others. Either way, there's a power structure and a system of haves and have-nots. In Blue, there is some ultimate Absolute Truth ordained by a Higher Power, and when an agent of that Higher Power says something, that's it. No discussion. Also in Blue there exists a hierarchy and the notion of Functions. People have Functions that stay with them for their whole lives. This person is a "Teacher". That person is a "Merchant". That other person is a "Priest", and next to them stands a "Slave". Draja Mickaharic taught about these four types of Functions in particular, as if they were permanent divinely ordained things.

Years later, I have to say that my experience has shown the real world to be much more complex than this. I do think there are Functions, but not in the same vein that Draja taught Luke and I. Functions are dynamic and ever-changing. The important thing is the Present Moment and your consciousness of it and your Oneness with all things, and whatever you are doing in that Present Moment is your Function. It is the ultimate thing that you are put here to do. In another moment, past or future, you will have some other ultimate thing you are put here to do, but that does not matter: only Now matters.

Do not get me wrong: I am not saying we should throw out everything that Red and Blue teaches us, nor am I saying they are in some way bad or wrong. I am merely saying that they are not the whole picture, even though they have their time when they work well. I teach graduate students at the University level. In moments when I am doing that, I am the Teacher and they are the Students. That is my Function during class time, and yes, there is a hierarchy at that time. My Faculty ID Card from the University and my Adjunct Contract say so. In order for the Students to learn something in my classes, they need to acknowledge that I know something that I can teach them. That acknowledgement is not for ME, but it is for THEM. Without it, they probably won't learn. In cases like this, a Red-Blue scenario works, and is "real". However, to carry that notion through to every scenario in life is misguided and is not taking into account the rest of the bigger picture.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Response to "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus"

There is a viral video circulating right now on the Interwebs called "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus". Here is a link to it:

Why I hate Religion, but love Jesus

What struck me about this video was that it displayed a mature Blue vMeme outlook, as per Dr. Clare Graves' scheme on Spiral Dynamics. Briefly, the "Blue" core set of values says that life is ruled by some form of Absolute Truth, and all other things that profess to disagree with this Truth are evil or wrong. It also talks about the need for rules, hierarchies, and some form of system to enforce these.

Traditional religion is just that. The man in this video is professing what he sees as an Absolute Truth, versus something that is against that Truth. It is black and white.

Then there's this video:

I hate Religion, and Jesus too

Here we see an Orange vMeme. Orange is about hard logic. It points out the hypocrisy of blind belief and the failures of hierarchical systems and Absolute Truths based on Mythology. The man in this video does just that.

The next stage of complexity on the Spiral is Green, and here is an example of that:

Why I dislike your poem, but love God

Hard logic gives way to compassion. Green insists that all viewpoints are equally valid, and Truth is not Absolute, but Relative. "Why can't we all just get along, and believe what we believe but leave each other alone, or better yet, live together in peace?"

Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time finding a Yellow vMeme response. They are harder to come by because a smaller percentage of the population is at that stage.

But if there was one, here is what I think it would say to the video:

This debate is taking place exactly as it should be. The debate sparked by it is precisely what will lead to a communally derived outcome which will work out for the best. Religion has its drawbacks, as the original video said. However, Religion also serves a purpose for those who need to partake of it. That is not a bad thing. Similarly, "Non-Religion" or simply following Jesus in the manner described by the man in the video also serves a purpose. The two sides of the debate are SUPPOSED to interact because they comprise a SYSTEM, much like predator and prey, the sun and planets, and any other symbiotic entity. In the end, the conflict is what leads us to grow as the human race, not the winning or the losing, but the learning. That is the point.

So to the followers of Religion I say, you fight your good fight. Keep making your points and your arguments, but be open to the responses. I say the same to the other side of the debate as well. To both, I would warn this: do not lose site of empathy and compassion as you debate, for that will not help anyone.