>Are we programmed to self-destruct?

17 May

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I read something years ago to the effect that even the most buttoned down individuals among us are deep down inside just as insecure as the rest of us about fitting in, and we are all, in one way or another, dealing with our own shit. Without pre-judging Dominic Strauss Kahn, I just want to say that the exposure of vices in high profilers and those who we consider role models seems to prove this point. Could it be that those who court and wield power are the ones dealing with the most shit?

In recent times, in Jamaica at any rate, there has been an undercurrent of panic about the Second Coming and the end of the world, much akin to the pre 2000 hysteria in some circles.  Have we so internalised the idea of our unworthiness that we are willing to believe we deserve to be punished?  Maybe this is what drives powerful and materially successful persons to self-destruct in the most bizarre ways.

I am coming to the conclusion that this idea of Original Sin, and the unworthiness of mankind is itself the demonic force that threatens to destroy us.  If we are really ‘born in sin and shaped in iniquity’ as some would have us believe, then there is obviously a threshold above which we can never rise.  And if, according to this teaching, we are dependent for our salvation on a vengeful God who permits the most horrible atrocities against the weak and helpless, then we begin to suspect that we are truly screwed.

This philosophy has installed an internal self-destruct button in our psyches which fosters what psychologists call the impostor syndrome – the nagging feeling that we will never be good enough- forcing us to cover our nakedness with the trappings of wealth and power.

The Gnostics seem to offer the best Christian answer to the dilemma that I have seen to date.  Not to confused with Agnostics who have no interest in matters godly, Gnostics believe that an understanding of the Divine comes through individual and direct experience.   According to the Gnostic creation myth, the worlds in which we live are actually a replica of other worlds created by the original creative force.

The female aspect of that creative force, in her vanity gave birth to a son, without the knowledge of her male counterpart – apparently simply because she could. Anyway, the being she created had all of the power and none of the goodness of the original Divine Light and was banished from the higher realms.  This discarded offspring decided to create his own realms based on the innate knowledge that he inherited of the divine realms, going as far as to create a replica of the original divine first man, created by the original creative force.  But he was tricked by his repentant mother and others.  After putting the various parts together to produce a human male, he found he couldn’t quite get him up and running, so he was told to breathe into him.  What he didn’t know was that by doing so he would pass on to the man whatever spark of divinity he had inherited from his mother.  When he found out he had been tricked he set about trying to sublimate the man’s understanding  of that divinity by creating distractions including gold and money.

Of course my account is an extremely simplistic, and possibly careless, rendition of the story but you can read it for yourself in the Apocryphon of John, also known as The Secret Book of John.

According to Gnostic tradition, the mission of Jesus and other great teachers was to point us to that divinity – literally the Kingdom of Heaven – within us. However, early Church fathers such as Irenaeus corrupted the message, and  taught that we were sinful beings whose only hope of salvation was through belief in the divinity of Jesus.  For the Gnostics, what is needed is more than belief, it is persistent action to revive the spark of divinity in us so that we too can achieve Christ consciousness.
 
Interestingly Carl Jung, one of the fathers of modern psychology seems to have been a strong proponent of Gnosticism.  A synopsis of the philosophy of Gnosticism is available on the website www.gnosis.org  under the heading ‘The Gnostic Worldview – a brief history of Gnosticism’.


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One Response to “>Are we programmed to self-destruct?”

  1. Trixie Belden May 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    >Fascinating topic – I had heard of Gnostics but didn't really have a sense of what they believed. I do agree with you that we seem to be happy to self destruct, and it seems to be largely egged on my religious beliefs. Here in the States, I got a little panicked myself a few years ago when I realized that the Bush supporters and Christian right-wing people were hell-bent on creating an ultimate battle between Islam and Christianity, thereby forcing the "end times" to occur as sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Very scary!

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