Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Atheism, Love and Acceptance

The love and acceptance coming from a (imagined) God is unconditional.  In the absence of this acceptance, there is no choice but to accept humanity as the "animal kingdom" of one-up-man-ship.  A close simile is the love from one's parents when one is an infant.

The conception of God, as a priori infallible, is a means of inspiring us to be more than animals.  It is an ideal to whose qualities we can aspire to.

God offers both an idealized sense of virtue, and an acceptance of one's fallibility.

In the absence of an infallible ideal and in the absence of an unconditional self-acceptance, a neurosis of alienation, nihilism, self-mortifying reflection becomes second nature.

The grace that comes from feeling loved makes one lovable.  A hated or self-hating person becomes hateful.

The need for love is the need for acceptance, as well as a need for one to have a reason to keep on living.  Why live when one's living or dying does not make a difference to someone?

In the absence of an irrational anchor, the neo-cortex, the rational brain, the social identity, is called upon to invent or find a rational anchor.

Unconditional real-world love and acceptance is a very tall order.  It is made almost impossible by the fact that commitment, to survive, requires a perceived narrowing of choices.  If the choices are kept open: at-will employment, at-will divorce, at-will engagement with the wider society, at-will cultural identity, then commitment absolutely requires superhuman will.

Without that commitment from you, and to you, how can there be that emotional security that traditionally was provided by God?

Martin Buber titled his landmark work I and Thou.  In the modern times, one has to struggle to move from regarding others as strangers, to finally recognize someone as "you".  But more significantly, in the absence of a secure ego, one has to first come to terms with "I".

One who is already loved, even by an imagined lover, has a healthier, less desperate "I" than one who is seeking love and acceptance with hungry eyes.

People are all hungry for receiving love, but increasingly unable to recognize the other's need of it.  The crushing aloneness in an increasingly competitive world makes one pine for union and rest.  So in need is one of nourishment in oneself that a relationship demanding anything at all feels a burden.  All seeking love, none to provide.

And any conditional love starts with marketing and manipulation.  The manipulation is unconscious in the better cases.  In either case, the realization of the conditional and stressful nature of love dawns sooner or later.  And again therefore, the blues.

The turn to spirituality, or a Guru, in the modern times of Godlessness, can be understood as a thirst for acceptance and love, for that release from the stress of constant competition and marketing of oneself.

The "spirit" is a thirsty being, an un-loved ego.  The harder it aches and pines for its beloved, the harder will be the path it will be willing to walk to seek that mythic union, an experience of oneness, in this world or beyond.

In this desert of parched souls, give the elixir of your love, kindness and compassion, as a balm on the wounds of orphaned infants.


I remember, from Tennyson's In Memoriam, a verse that I have partly quoted before:

Oh yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;

That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroy'd,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete;

That not a worm is cloven in vain;
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivell'd in a fruitless fire,
Or but subserves another's gain.

Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last—far off—at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.

So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You say one turns to Spiritual Gurus for that release from the stress of constant competition and marketing of oneself. But that is exactly what the Gurus are doing - constantly marketing themselves. Are you saying that you go to a Guru to learn the Art of marketing oneself with a smile even if stressed and get wealthy too?