The Law of Distraction

When I finished the exegesis of John’s Revelation, I went around to several local congregations to advertise the work. I went first to the pastor of the church for the Bible study I was attending – a meeting that went so well that I was soon disinvited from the Bible study.

I then went to the Center for Spiritual Living just two buildings down the street. Having read Ernest Holmes’ work, I thought that the ministers there might be receptive to other work that clarified the intentions of Christ. The conversation with the two female leaders was uncomfortable, the energy shifting decidedly when I handed over my business card, turning even more sour when I suggested that “there were certain constraints on the focus of our intention.” On the way home that evening, I was nearly run off the road by a man that I clearly perceived was under their influence.

Oh, boys and girls.

The marketing of the power of intention for our society – whether as “The Secret” or “Spiritual Living” or “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” – tends to treat it as magic. You set your intention, and the “Law of Attraction” brings together the elements that will manifest your desires.

Unfortunately for the neophyte, the management of intention has a lineage that predates even humanity. Among the pre-historic intentional fields we might include “predation” and “lust.” These fields accumulate power by giving those under their control a brief moment of satiation that requires persistent struggle to attain. In every other moment, their subscribers focus intention toward that satiation, making others in their community susceptible to the same urges.

At one time, human society recognized these intentional fields as corrupting personalities – known variously as devils or demons. But the devil’s greatest trick has been convincing us that he doesn’t exist. The sexualization of romantic love follows from the idea that we’re just acting naturally – like all the animals around us. The “dog-eat-dog” culture of high finance is seen as a defense against the testosterone-fueled aggression of our peers. The problem is with other people and the cultures they create, rather than with the sinful intentional fields we inherited from our Darwinian past.

Purging sin was the challenge of monotheism as undertaken by the ancients. Socrates preached that there must be one God, and this was also the conclusion reached by Abram, the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Both observed that the gods fought among themselves for our attention, forcing upon humanity patterns of behavior that corrupted our societies. So they chose to celebrate one god – a god of higher human intention.

A god that was eventually refined into pure love.

So try not to be distracted by attraction. Yes, it will draw people to you that share your intentions, but when you reach a certain critical mass, you will come to the attention of those ancient animalistic tendencies, and the weight of their power will humble you if you do not take refuge in love.

It’s not magic. There are mechanisms, and the choice of mechanisms is still a choice that binds your soul – even if the devil no longer appears personally before you with a feathered pen and parchment in his hands.

So choose love, and trust that love will choose you. After all, that’s its only purpose.

Sexual Modesty

I’ve signed up with the Universal Life Church, and came across this post on female sexual modesty. It tends to emphasize the negative impact of religion as implemented in repressive cultures: I am aware that many religions have teachings that celebrate and heighten sexual experience, most commonly known through the discipline of the Tantra. But I also think that the post tends to see religion principally as a political activity, which misses its purpose.

My response follows:

Much of what is presented here is not limited to religion – modesty in dress and control of women’s bodies has a long cultural pedigree. This should not be surprising: perhaps the most powerful biological urge we have inherited from our Darwinian past is the procreative urge. Religion is not the source of the difficulty we have in managing it, nor is it surprising that people with principally secular motives (property inheritance, for example) often project their program into the religious sphere.

But I think that there’s also a talking past the point of the religious proscriptions. Let me offer a definition: taking religion as management of our spirituality, and spirituality as the negotiation of the boundaries between the “I” and the “we,” the proscriptions have to do with preventing our spiritual landscape from being polluted by lust.

Our society tends to facilitate that pollution in two ways: by celebrating adolescent sexual license, and by limiting our opportunities to express self-love. Intercourse is often the only time that we are allowed to really enjoy our bodies. Even in exercise, our culture has so objectified the outcomes of that effort (both in terms of our self-image and competition) that we rarely enjoy sports.

Here’s an experience: I was doing child-care at a battered woman’s shelter, and the children liked to have me push them on the swing. One night, I was pushing a seven-year-old on the swing, and began to get a distinct feeling of sexual arousal. I stopped pushing the swing and said “I would appreciate it if you would keep your energy HERE” – placing my hands on her heart – “and HERE” – putting my hands on either side of here cranium. The sexual feelings evaporated, and when I began pushing her again, she shook her head and laughed with joy.

You see, she was managing me in the same way that her mother managed her abusive father. I was mature enough to recognize that and demonstrate that a caring man encourages women to manifest other potentials.

So I tend to side with the Rabbi here: little girls should cover their bodies. I also understand why some women in orthodox religions wish to avoid revealing their bodies to lust-filled men. On the other side, I have explained to my sons how to manage unwanted attentions coming from women.

As science currently offers us no explanation or tools for managing our spirituality (except drugs, unfortunately), we need religion. I would also agree that we need religion to do better that command prohibition. But I don’t think that the spiritual aspect of the problem can be ignored. I recommend the chakra model in the vedantic traditions

The Nature of Sin

Over the last fifteen years, I’ve had the privilege of being passionately committed to the service of two spectacularly beautiful feminine personalities. Unfortunately, as women like that tend to have a lot of dirt dumped on them, neither of them understood the depth of their beauty. In the second case, I finally found myself whispering across a crowded room, “Please, please, please. Please come into yourself. We need you here so badly.”

While I’ve been physically lonely for a long time, this process of calling beautiful women into the world has its positive benefits. I dance alone most Saturdays, but I dance with the joy of knowing that my loving is connected to a purpose that I find to be precious.

Many women respect that intention, but there are those that see my devotion as a resource to be turned to their benefit. The methods they use are pretty crude, and I have to say: after you’ve been sleep deprived for long enough, being beaten on by lust tends to lose its luster. So I really appreciate it when a woman approaches me with the attitude that she just wants to know what it feels like to step into devotion. Most of the time they finish dancing with me and go off into bliss with their lovers.

My most powerful experience of the impact of psychic wounding came under such circumstances. At the venue I haunted, a man in a rainbow tunic would show up occasionally on a field trip with a group of emotionally disturbed followers. One evening, I noticed a woman – let’s call her Deanne – staring at me. She seemed really timid, so I asked her to dance with me. When we got to the dance floor she announced “But I can’t go away with you or take my clothes off.” Realizing who I was talking to, I agreed. The song was a little forward, and Deanne looked uncomfortable. She agreed that she didn’t like the music, so I told her to come and get me when she heard something that she liked.

I kept on dancing by myself, and Deanne finally joined me again. Her movements were really wound up, and I just tried to invite her to move around into the space I left behind me on the floor. She began to play a little bit, and I had this strange sense of her opening up. Putting my hands on either side of Deanne’s head, I took hold of the threads of personality that she had wound up so carefully in herself, and attached them to the joy that my friends and I had built on the dance floor. I was overwhelmed by this glorious surge of energy, the likes of which I had never before experienced. Deanne just smiled and returned to her friends.

Scott Peck, author of People of the Lie, remarks that ‘evil’ is ‘live’ spelled backwards. From the physicist’s perspective, living is the process of investing the world with our spirit. Somebody had pounded Deanne out of the world, leaving her not even her body to inhabit. What happened that night, though, gave me an absolute conviction that evil is impotent in the face of love. That surge of energy was the joy of spirits welcoming Deanne back into the world. It was as though they had been waiting for her to reclaim them.

When we are first taught about sin, it’s as a prophylactic against evil. “Thou shalt not kill” definitely qualifies. Most of the Law of the Pentateuch (the Jewish holy books) can be interpreted in this way. The goal was to avoid corruption in the relationships between the people, the sacred land, and the God they worshipped.

The problem with the law is that it yoked guilt to evil: it created sin. This was the uniquely human evil that entered the world with the fall of Adam and Eve. Before that time, evil happened and living creatures just shrugged it off and moved forward. Man ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and began to ask “why?” From that point, whenever evil happened, our questioning minds looked for a place to affix the blame, and our materialistic tendencies led us to assign fault to the person that committed the sin.

When Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins, he sought to liberate us from this burden of guilt. As he put it “It is not the well that need a doctor, but the sick.” Implicitly, he is asserting “Who cares why it happened? Shouldn’t we just fix it and move on? Here: let me show you how love works.” In the most impressive case: the oppressor Saul goes blind on the road to Damascus and is healed to become Paul, the foremost Christian evangelist of his time.

Healing through love is the absolute bedrock of Christian ethics. Those that prefer to judge sinners might better focus their energies on learning to emulate the master that they adore. You’ll have a lot more fun when love moves freely through you. Assigning guilt just gets in the way.