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Two Looks into the Spirit of Things

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Andrew Bard Schmookler     Permalink
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[I came across this in reading the book Original Wisdom: Stories of an Ancient Way of Knowing by Robert Wolff. These lines are by Ursula Le Guin:

No truth can make another truth untrue.
All knowledge is part of the whole knowledge.
Once you have seen the larger pattern,
You cannnot go back to seeing the part as the whole.



These lines correspond deeply with what I have been trying to say about Wholeness, and more particularly about polarization.

"No truth can make another truth untrue" speaks to the need for the different sides of a polarized culture to acknowledge the truths that the other side holds, and to seek the higher wisdom in which those two truths --seemingly contradictory at the level of the cultural conflict-- get integrated into a single Truth that has room for them both.

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"Once you have seen the larger pattern,
You cannnot go back to seeing the part as the whole" speaks to the transformative effect of those moments of mystical and integrative understanding in which one glimpses the Wholeness, those moments of vision that seem to be at the core of the various human civilizations that have arisen over the millennia.

Unfortunately, we humans tend to be such incomplete creatures that our hold on the Whole --as individuals, and as cultures-- is more tenuous than that idea of "You cannot go back" would suggest.

*****************

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This is from the weekly statement, for the week of the October 6 edition of the magazine THE WEEK, by the magazine's editor-in-chief, William Falk.

America, it turns out, is not one nation under one God. We answer, in actuality, to four Gods. In an intriguing new survey by Gallup for Baylor University, Americans were asked how they conceive the deity. The most popular God, backed by 31 percent, is an authoritarian father figure who takes a very hands-on approach to his domain. Like Yahweh in the Old Testament, he rewards the faithful with good fortune, and smites the sinful with tsunamis, terrorist attacks, and dread diseases. Another 23 percent envision God as essentially "benevolent"-- a loving spirit who provides help and guidance when asked. For 16 percent, God presides over the universe like a taciturn judge, letting events unfold without interference, tallying up sins and virtue, and rendering a verdict when people die. Finally, 24 percent see God as a mysterious prime mover who engineered the Big Bang and evolution, wrote E = mc[squared] and all those other nifty cosmic laws, then backed off to watch how it would all come out.

These differing conceptions of God, the pollsters found, are ultimately more important to people's political and social views than their party registrations or church affiliations. Those who live with a stern, vengeful God looking over their shoulders are far more likely to want the government to promote "Christian values," to outlaw abortion and gay marriage, to execute criminals, and to wage war in Iraq. For this influential and adamant third of the population, domestic politics is a holy war, and those who disagree here and abroad are, well, damned. Such absolute certainty, no doubt, has its rewards. But it's one major reason why intelligent and civil dialogue in this country has become so difficult, and so rare.
[Adding up the numbers, this account of the Gallup poll seems to imply that only 6 percent had no concept of a deity.]

It might be said that the way people conceive of a deity not only influences how people experience the world, but also reflects it.
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
 

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