How to break religious attitudes and learn from anyone

May 26, 2008 by

Open-minded: Is it useful or dangerous?

Religious attitudes: those are the critical, judgmental, and close-minded attitude. Each person has belief and values that they have created over the years, this can be a good principle, yet sometimes that caused them to close their mind to learn from anyone. They limit their learning only from those with the same belief and perspective.

The lessons for the “naives”

Lessons from Eckhart Tolle
Recently I listened a lot from Eckhart Tolle on Oprah book club, a discussion on his recent book, A New Earth. He is from a very different belief than I am, especially in our concept about God and consciousness. He believes more on consciousness rather than God. Those are the values that I won’t compromise, yet I am still able to learn a lot from him. Many of his teachings are eye-openers, lots of “Aha” moments in many of his insights. The last article I shared is one of them; it is inspired by his quote on uncertainty and possibilities.

I am so excited that I wanted to share these insights. I’m recommending the Podcast to one of my Christian friends. He is working in US right now, and it’s not a surprise that he has known about this podcast from Eckhart and Oprah. I didn’t realize that when I was recommending the podcast to him. He was replying me with some interesting video…

Lessons from critic’s video
Out of concern, he shared with me a video on YouTube. The video shared Christian comments and review on the book and the discussion between Oprah and Eckhart. Not only it criticizes Eckhart, it also criticizes Oprah. It quoted many of the Bible verses of how wrong Oprah is, how misleading Eckhart is, and also the cult, church, belief or religion that Oprah is establishing and promoting.

I have some points that I agree with the video, some of the points Oprah brought is not correct from my understanding. However, the video disappointed me very much in how religious people often very good when it comes to judging and criticizing. They may want to scare people not to watch and being dragged, but I don’t find that judging is effective enough. If people’s life are changed because of the insights, judging and criticizing them will not benefit them.

That video does make me thinking. There lies not only benefit, but also danger in being open-minded. Some people may naively believe all the things that comes into their life, while others guard their mind too much from any knowledge that “seems” to be against their own belief. That is the religious attitude too many people is in.

This article will share with you my insights on the matter, how to break the religious attitude, being a learner while learning not to be misled. I will not judge other people’s religion or belief. Instead I will take from the point of view of the people with the same religious view as me, the Christians.

Hope that whatever religious view you have, you still can learn from this article. I am going to share about how to balance between being open-minded and standing firm on what you belief. Please let me know when you have input in the comments as well.

Who are the “naives”?

I Can Ride! I Can Ride!
Creative Commons License photo credit: chefranden

Are they the open-minded? Mmm, not necessarily. It’s quite a thin line between naive and teachable. The difference is what I learn from John C. Maxwell in his book, Winning with People.

Different from what many people are saying about being naive, John Maxwell attributed the attitude of learning from anyone into being teachable. That is what he shared in his Learning Principle, that each person we meet has the potential to teach us something.

Then, who are the “naives”?
John Maxwell called it naive if you believe that one person can teach them everything. It talks more about the time when you stop learning and satisfied with what you have known so far. It talks more about the time when you make any other human as an idol for their teaching or wisdom.

I read some comments on iTunes for the Oprah-Eckhart podcast episodes. A lot of them are satisfied with the videos and the discussions. However, some are not, some are negatives. They protested Oprah and asked her to talk less. They did not want to learn from her, and they just wanted to listen more from Eckhart.

It might seem exaggerating, but I have some concerns that people start idolizing Eckhart Tolle. Despite of all the great things we can learn from Eckhart, he is still human with all the limitations. I hoped that people will not take him as a false idol that people put into their life.

In fact, those comments made me questioning those readers whether they are really following the book? The book teaches how to be aware of your ego and not following it. Aren’t those comments show more of their ego, the desire to get more and more from Eckhart?

Lesson #1: Be teachable, learn from everyone, but do not expect to learn everything from one person.

Influence comes with criticism

I have noticed that many speakers that have changed people’s lives get criticized. Joyce Meyer is criticized for being blessed and rich, Joel Osteen for the many messages on success and prosperity, and the last one that I got to know from the video is Oprah for building her own cult.

The higher you are; the harder the wind and the pressure you are in. That’s also a challenge of a leader and influencer. One thing we need to learn, nobody is perfect! I don’t think that anyone I mentioned above is perfect. None of them can teach us everything, and none of them are perfect in their teaching. Each of them has perspective we all can learn from.

They have gone through their process and they have taken many steps ahead of us. They have touched and inspired people’s lives with their calling. Those are the positives that we all can look into. People have nature on looking into the negatives. That might be the reason why they become so critical.

Lesson #2: Instead of looking into the negatives, learn from the positives.

The contextual truth

As a Christian, I’m often taught to learn from the Bible contextually. It’s not right to take only one verse out of the Bible, interpreting it without understanding the context and the circumstances the author is in.

Sadly, the same people who taught me about context, also the same people who criticize many of the speakers above when it comes on their teachings. They pick one statement or message, and then they start judging and criticizing. They pick one mistake and they despised the person. Instead of understanding their full knowledge, heart, belief, and purpose why they do that.

Contextual truth for an ostrich
You can learn from ostrich. Ostrich are laying their head and neck flat on the ground when they sense dangers. Their body are not covered by anything, and we think that it’s a stupid action. Yet, if you are willing to look at another side, here is what Wikipedia shared…

When lying down and hiding from predators, the birds lay their head and neck flat on the ground, making them appear as a mound of earth from a distance. This even works for the males, as they hold their wings and tail low so that the heat haze of the hot, dry air that often occurs in their habitat aids in making them appear as a nondescript dark lump.
~Ostrich @ Wikipedia

Volstruis / Ostrich
Creative Commons License photo credit: Lollie-Pop

They are a very smart creature instead. They do it based on their knowledge on their predators, weathers and geographical area they live in. Read this article if you wanted to know more about the lessons from disagreement.

What the ostrich do is not true in our sense, but contextually, it is truth and helpful for it to survive. Yes, it is a very thin difference between compromising and contextualizing truth. If you want to both learn and reach people with different beliefs, we need to build bridges. It is what I call as contextualizing. How can we contextualize without compromise? Understand the context why people do what they do.

Contextual truth in abortion case
I’ll try to give another example. Let’s say a person committed an abortion. The truth: abortion is wrong. Yet people can somehow justify their action. You can simply judge and criticize them, but you won’t learn anything and you won’t be able to reach and help them.

The secret is that you need to get to know her struggle, embarrassment, dilemma, financial and family situation. Once you understand the context, you will learn all the reasons that hurt her and made her taking those actions. We should not compromise or legalized abortion, even more on promoting it. But, understanding the contextual truth, you will learn a lot more things. We can learn more the need and motivation of people, the psychology of people, and how we can take care of the similar people we care about.

Similar to all the teaching above, those are contextual truth, their interpretation of the truth. All of them are based on their belief, talent, and experiences. It is not necessarily explain the whole truth, but there are undeniably certain values they give to people. That’s the reason why many people are listening to them. That is a perspective that you can learn from them.

Lesson #3: Take lessons from the contextual truth, that’s the truth in action, and from them you will learn the deeper truth about the truth.

Broaden your life

Recently I went with a friend to a bookstore. She shared her doubt on her career and personal life, so I suggested a book from Joel Osteen, Becoming a Better You. Unfortunately, she denied reading the book. Even worse, the reason is simply because her friends told her so. Her Christian friends told her before that it is bad to learn from Joel Osteen, his teaching is not right, he is too prosperity minded, and so on.

Challenge your belief
Many times, religious people, including myself, are too afraid that their beliefs are challenged. If you believe that your truth is the truth, then you should not be afraid that it is being challenged.

In the opposite end, insecure people are those who are getting very defensive on what they believe. They take conclusion too early, and judging everything as wrong and irrelevant to what they believe. I hope that religion does not become a comfort zone for you.

Use other people’s belief
Another Christian friend of mine, Adrian, shared how he also enjoyed reading non-Christian books. He embraces the knowledge and the wisdom that non-Christian shares. He enjoyed reading them because he finds that non-Christian dug a lot deeper wisdom than the Christians. Instead of getting defensive, he learned from their wisdom. More than that, he even more affirmed with what he religiously believed. From them, he is much more amazed on how God created the world, His plan for salvation of human being and everything. It is exactly what the message I am trying to share with you, learning and using from another person’s belief.

Lesson #4: Broaden your life and learn from people with different belief from you.

Take an active approach

I had an article before, sharing about the ten symptoms when you live a vision beyond yourself. That article speaks about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and living a life beyond your individual need.

Instead of getting defensive with your belief, live a life of purpose! It is living a life to fulfill the need for self-actualization and self-transcendence.

Self-actualizing people are democratic in the deepest possible sense. They are friendly towards everyone regardless of class, education, political beliefs, race, or colour... They are humble in the sense of being aware of how little they know in comparison with what could be known and what is known by others. They are ready and willing to learn from anyone. They respect everyone as a potential contributor to their knowledge, merely because everyone is a human being.
~Maslow’s hierarchy of needs @ Wikipedia

That is also what Dr. Henry Cloud shared in his book, Changes That Heal. He calls the judgmental attitude as having a black-and-white thinking, and here is more explanation from him regarding those people…

They are thinking like an eleven-year-old. They are unable to think in terms of gray; there are no tough moral dilemmas. Everything is simple; if the rules say it; do it… They were so occupied with the rules and right and wrong that they could not get to wisdom, truth, and love.
~Dr. Henry Cloud (Changes That Heal)

Active approach means that you are not waiting, but you are looking and hungry for wisdom. You know that what you know is not enough and you need to learn more. You are embracing what is different from you have known so far. You take it deeper than only what appears on the surface. You take what is good and letting go what is not. And the most important thing, you start building your principle rather than rules.

What is your deepest desire in your life? Do you dare to challenge them and make sure that it is what you really want? Do you dare to learn things and knowledge that will turn your values upside down and change when it is necessary?

Lesson #5: Live an active life of purpose. You will not be bogged down by rules, and you will start living by principles

The trap of being open-minded

It’s hard to give an award on humility. If you announce the winner, called her on the stage, she will not be qualified for the award once she stepped up to the stage.

Similar to being open-minded, once you start criticizing the people with close-minded, you started being judging and critical. It’s just like my natural tendency towards people with close-minded people. I don’t see their life fruitful, yet they have a hard time changing.

This is something we all need to learn as well. Being an open-minded person does not mean that we start feeling superior than those who are more close-minded. We need to stop judging them and learn to see things from their perspective as well. There are some contextual truths that we can learn from them as well.

Open-minded are very useful on building bridges and relationship, but eventually you will also need to learn to stand firm on your principles and move forward. If you have different perspective on either sides, or disagreement with this article, please let me know in the comments. Let’s learn from each other!

My message for you: live out your principles and keep on learning!

For your success,

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  1. Amanda Linehan

    Hi Robert – I’ve noticed that you include a lot of ideas from John C. Maxwell in your posts. I have also read “Winning with People” and found a lot of ideas in the book that have helped with my life. I think from all the people and ideas I’ve ever learned from I tend to take pieces of it, more than the whole thing, and incorporate that – just like you’ve mentioned in this post.

  2. Robert A.

    Hi Amanda, thanks for your comment. Yeah, that book is really helpful… you got it right, take some pieces from different people… applying it to your life in unique way as well. It’s A success, uniquely yours


  3. Hi Robert,

    Excellent, thoughtful post.

    For me the test is my experience. If it doesn’t make sense of my experience it goes. There are those who proclaim ‘open mindedness’ as another religion – it can be quite confusing: until you disagree with them, then enlightenment is likely to dawn. (They are also usually surrounded by those who agree with them – and there can be an awful lot of them!)

    I like the idea of teachable rather than just ‘open’, that makes great sense to me.

    Thanks for an excellent post once again.

  4. I am taken aback by just how alike our views are in this post. For several weeks I looked into the program and while there are things that dont match beliefs I’ve been raised with, I felt like I learned so many practical, life saving steps and when I saw some of the youtube reactions, I was shocked..turned off a little with religion.. and I spoke about it at length with several people in my life. In my quest for peace in my life, I really believe that you can learn from others. I don’t view that as being weak minded. On the contrary, I would think that someone who is terrified of listening in on other ideas because his own might leak is more of the weaker minded type. After all, your beliefs are your own even after hearing other things.

    Alot of good things began to happen with me, with my personal spirituality, even looking at religion (me .. the same one who didnt think it could ever happen again). I have a great respect for the wisdom out there and will continue to approach people with views different from mine with respect. I learn alot from people from all walks of life and I DO believe that THATS the way of God bringing me the positivity and wisdom that I seek every day.

    This comment is long – I know .. I just really love this thoughtful post.

    THANK YOU for writing this!

    oh – and Become a Better You is a great book. I’m just saying πŸ™‚

    JEMi | Tips for Life, Love, You.s last blog post..7 Guaranteed Ways to Drastically Improve Your Life

  5. Interesting post Robert, nice one!

    I have been turned off by religious attitudes per se for a long time, maybe 30+ years, but the weird thing is I have become more and more spiritual in that time. Maybe it’s that mid-life crisis?

    I have no problem with anybody that follows one religion as long as that is a religion that excludes nobody and respects the beliefs of others without any desire to change them.

  6. Steve

    I am so greatful to Eckhart Tolle and Oprah for turning me onto Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor and her beautiful book “”My Stroke of Insight””. Her story is amazing and her gift to all of us is a book purchase away I’m happy to say.

    Dr Taylor was a Harvard brain scientist when she had a stroke at age 37. What was amazing was that her left brain was shut down by the stroke – where language and thinking occur – but her right brain was fully functioning. She experienced bliss and nirvana and the way she writes about it (or talks about it in her now famous TED talk) is incredible.

    What I took away from Dr. Taylor’s book above all, and why I recommend it so highly, is that you don’t have to have a stroke or take drugs to find the deep inner peace that she talks about. Her book explains how. “”I want what she’s having””, and thanks to this wonderful book, I can! Thank you Dr. Taylor, and thank you Eckhart and Oprah.

  7. Robert A.

    Hi Tim, thanks for your comment!
    I guess many are being trapped by the same thing, religion instead of the belief in God.
    Hope that in this journey you will also find more about spirituality and God.

  8. Hey Robert!

    That was a pretty long post to read. Lol. Here’s adding to the article: Learning starts when criticism stops.

    The great part about Lesson #2 is that the people mentioned though criticized lots of times before, they are still going on strong! And continuously learning and living a prosperous life that goes beyond what others would say bad about them. πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. jasciu

    There has been an uproar on many Christian blog websites on the Oprah’s recent sponsoring of Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth. She effectively used the internet to disseminate the ideas in the book. Because millions of people were exposed, certain christians feel very threatened.

    The following essay will be long but I hope will be insightful for those wanting some details into the whole “spirituality” revolution. This controversy is more important than some think given the state of the world.

    Ironically, all this defensive behavior has been predicted by recent social psychological research. Even more ironically, this author’s motivation in writing this essay falls under the same prediction. The main thrust of Tolle’s writing is that incessant comparison between individual egos creates dysfunctional cultural institutions which emphasize competition, growth and conflict for status and natural resources. This same competitive principle ruled humanities’ progress thus far. This worked as long as a populations were small and any culture’s effectiveness at exploitation was minimal. The situation is now very different. The way we interact with one another is now affecting the world climate. I will come back to this at the end of the essay. But first, lets describe how we got here.

    Recent research has supported the idea that, individually, within the context of our cultural customs we really don’t feel we will actually die, but deep down we do feel, without conscious awareness of the feeling, it is inevitable. Thus, we unconsciously participate in our institutionalized modes of striving for approval, status, and prestige to gain the confidence to confront life. We collectively create, support and reinforce that imaginary striving toward unlimited growth and, by extension, an imaginary eternal life. Or, at least of life with significance and respect of our peers. In particular the confusion of symbolic abstract thinking with self and consciousness is the stumbling point for all. Given the state of environmental crisis in the world, consideration of these ideas and reforms resulting from them might be worthwhile. Here is a summary with some added opinions:

    1) We are animals first, humans with imaginations second. We live in a dangerous world, in an unsure world where death is just around the corner. Try to remember your own anxiety as an infant or notice the fearful stages of growth in your children, especially when they realize how dependent they are on the adults. Humanity was also in this state of anxiety in our early history. Tigers were big and all we had were spears. Part of us feels this all time. We feel vulnerable in our animal natures and limited. We strive for growth, mastery and propagation just like every living thing that has ever existed. We crave and greed for anything that represents more abundant and secure biological life – even when it is actually taken care of in our advanced civilization. In the following essay remember we are animals. Thinking animals but animals nevertheless.

    2) However, we are social animals – like some herd or pack animals but not at all like big cats, sharks, or hawks. We need each other and the group to compete against other animals and nature. But we also compete with our fellow humans for mastery and status. Knowing our place allows us take on specific jobs in the group and to feel purpose and meaning. We test and gauge our status within the group. We especially need other love and recognition. Early in history and our physical skills were the important measure of worth but that soon turned to social skills. The function of our direct perceptual senses is to gauge our level of security, protection and worth/recognition within the group. Getting our fellow humans approval and esteem enhances this protection because somebody is literally watching your back. In a sufficiently advanced civilization, when the food supply, health care, shelter and education are taken care of the impulse to grow – to have more abundant life – does not go away. That is because the emotional part of us knows we are still limited and vulnerable without our cultural and group protections. So we unconsciously compare worth, significance and power in our society – to find our place in it and to gather as many protective affiliations around us as possible.

    3) As our brains evolved and abstraction and symbolic abilities developed we imagined we could be gods! Our situation was so perilous in the wild we tended to make false correlations in nature, thus creating “magic” to allow us to feel more in control. Eventually, our egos created complex systems of symbols representing physical skills. We created institionalized ritual to control the environment and its ceremonies to control each other. Magic turned into religion. Religion turned into divine kingdoms and states. Divine states turned into secular society and political philosophies. Thus, magical ritual, religion and its descendant institutions allowed for defined hierarchy, castes, classes and organizational efficiencies. This progressed

    We freely give up our freedoms to perceived “heroic” higher authority. Our egos do not like to hear we have weaknesses or are simply competing status seeking animals, or we are the cause our own suffering or that we are vulnerable, limited and will one day die. So we seek ways of removing our guilt and feelings of vulnerability by latching on to anything or anybody who can make us feel secure, safe and confident that all will be well, and in their care that we will prosper, grow, be significant and live a much fuller life. This is the “heroic impulse”. It is pervasive within all cultures except the most simple and egalitarian. We value and acknowledge those symbols (not reality) that which will make us feel safe or make us feel like winners. Of course, this had loads of survival value in the forest because some did have real skilled hunter gatherers – but the impulse has been distorted to an absurd point.

    Acquisition of possessions, titles, status, large families, and attachment to symbols far and long divorced from actual survival needs is what drives our culture and politics. The impulse for more, more, more drives our economic systems. In fact, it is OUR need for MORE and our unconsciousness of why we desire MORE that creates the economic system – a system that depends on 4% growth per year despite that fact that we live in a finite world with finite resources. Unbridled and un-reflective thinking in service of the fear of death is what makes the human animal so destructive to the environment in comparison to other species. The fundamental confusion is taking mere words or concepts to be reality.

    4) Biologically, abstracting egos arise from the left hemisphere of the brain. The symbolic processors of the left brain take fear arising from the amygdala and rationalizes an insulating symbolic defense – many of which are words or concepts. The left hemisphere also tends to mask perceptual realities of the right hemisphere since this holistic part does not harbor linguistic processors. The right hemisphere cannot argue for itself even though it harbors many intelligences! This effectively removes feelings of vulnerability and fear from our thinking selves but it also veils broader realities and perceptions that could have survival value. This is a necessary condition for mental health and negotiation in a highly symbolic environments which most people live in. Cultures are systems of symbols that reinforce a consensual strategy against this fear of death. Or, at least, a “social symbolic death” with insignificance or loss of approval among our fellows. Cultural values change as the demands of survival from the environment change. We create complex symbolic absolutist views and cultural sanctioned rituals, rules and behaviors that institutionalize the strategy against death because total faith brings the most confidence. That is why suicide bombers say they love death as much as we love life – they are assured at place in paradise. These emotional displacements provide order and sense of meaning to our world and provide confidence. The value of the concept of immortality, gods and single great hero, God, has provided the greatest sense of relief for many cultures.

    5) Furthermore, we create conflict and suffering through mutual exclusive competing symbols within and between our arbitrary rule-bound cultures. Thus, individuals will constantly compare who’s up and who’s down, one street gang will fight another over graffiti, how clothing is worn, territorial encroachment; soccer games will erupt in violence over a game, republicans and democrats will demean and “symbolically” fight each to other’s social death (the inability to influence others). Our egos constantly strive to strengthen its stature compared to others. Our egos are willing to defend, belittle or even fight to the death any symbol or person who threatens our unconscious immortality symbols because our ego’s imaginary life is at stake. The impulse to prove oneself right and the other wrong is simply the defense of the ego against imaginary death.

    6) Whether it be God, Nirvana or our imagined legacies on earth, or our political philosophies our egos find something to latch on to, no matter where we live. Cultures, religions and all absolutist philosophies exist to provide approval-seeking humans ways of organizing, encouraging, coping, prospering, staving off fear of death and moving civilization forward. We are social beings that create our own environments whose need for a sense of belonging and self esteem is universal so conveniently adopt the prevailing notions that imply worth. The need for human connection and approval is primary and real, cultural values are secondary and imaginary.

    7) Our egos can be exploited, controlled and abused by those who use our needs, hopes and dreams to suit their own agendas or by those that insist to withdraw their respect unless we tow the cultural line. We all, quite naturally, give our loyalty and our lives to those who best can communicate to our emotions the symbols that promise security and strength but most importantly – a sense of belonging. The success of leadership is proportional to the level of alignment of culturally adopted values to the real demands of the environment. Blind following often leads to disaster. Following, a worldview, hero or personal expression is only useful to the extent that it actually harmonizes with the reality of others, other cultures and the physical environment.

    8) So, we only contribute more suffering in the world when we allow the ego unbridled comparison, identification and power-seeking or when we let our egos get competitive, defensive huffy and violent over whose coping mechanisms, behaviors, opinions are best. Judgment and negativity is the primary diagnostic of absolutism – whether it is unbridled praise or criticism. Acceptance (tolerance), enjoyment and enthusiasm is the primary diagnostic for awareness of the extreme comparative activity of the ego.

    9) We could spend our time much more profitably by recognizing more when our ego’s comparative and defensive functions operate and instead look to our fundamental common needs – food, health, education, need for belonging and personal expression. We could look to our common problems and working together to make a difference, rather than defending our egoic coping belief systems or sense of status and worth or defending out-dated cultural systems and pet ideologies.

    10) Ultimately, all human activity is “religious” or “political” in that any activity that provides a sense of mastery of life over death tends to held on to. We must be vigilant in the tendency for our human psyche to attach to absolutist concepts or world-views. The unconscious denial of death is the primary motivation for humanity. This irrational motive lies behind science, art, technology, politics, philosophy and culture. The only solution is to accept tolerance as a fundamental moral, to treat intolerance with intolerance, expose ourselves to other cultures, come to empathize with them, communicate with them, catch ourselves holding onto absolutist worldviews or ways-of-life and be willing to mutually compromise and adapt. We could also ensure that everyone can participate in a sustainable economic system rather than a growth model, have health care and safety, shelter, modes of self expression and encourage a sense of belonging in local communities. At the very least, we can avoid situations that harbor extreme absolutist mind-sets or practices – even create disincentives if a real danger to broader tolerant cultural values is imminent. Or, we could all just move to Canada or Denmark.

    So, what do we do with this information? How does it relate to A New Earth? Of course, we step back and put it in perspective.

    There seems to some of confusion on the healthy development of consciousness amongst many. It would help to realize there is place for religion in the world. Mostly, it is ignorance of the process and the fact that many find success in life not having to go through all the steps.

    As Tolle has discussed in Power of Now and A New earth, the sublimation of the fear of death into the unconscious is what drives people to attach and identify with forms (symbols representing protection worth, and meaning). Or, more accurately, the development of symbolic strategies of protection keeps the conscious anxiety of our vulnerability at bay. We also get our self esteem, worth and security through group approval by adopting prevailing values. It is difficult for people to understand and feel because most people HAVE successfully adopted cultural symbols that stave’s off the feelings of anxiety. Some people just will not let go of cherished beliefs. But, the dangerous and evil result is that unconscious acts of aggression are acted out when the symbols are threatened by other mutually exclusive symbols or just taken away from us (Suicide at loss of a job, or when very compelling world view mentions “your religion”, even the impulse to prove another wrong because you become the winner or just giving up on the common good for self-interested belief)

    Lets get real here. You can help another by affirming Christ’s love, and his promise of paradise. You can also lead a healthy and happy life within a Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, etc. subculture. You can even die with sense of salvation. The point is there are many cultural world views that assist people to live healthy happy confident life. Its the teaching of absolutism that is destroying the world.

    In an increasingly “globalized” world whose cultural boundaries are blurring, there is last stand of intolerant teachers the continue to set up invariant believers to judge, distrust or even hate others.

    The insistence that belief in a divine Jesus is the only way to peace, self esteem and confidence is ultimately evil and damning of others just as the belief in a unlimited American dream is our birthright. Greed for prestige and forms above and beyond what is required for a healthy, happy and educated social life is destroying our world.

    Jesus had many insights. He taught to look beyond institutionalized ritual and look inward toward the individuals relationship to the to God. In that way, he shared the same self-reflective insights of Buddha, Mohammad, and Lao Tsu, et. al. Since his teaching emphasis was the relationship between old Judaic ritual and a fresh view of self-reflective salvation he found no need to teach tolerance. Thus, the tragedy is: we have been handed down intolerance i.e. “I am the way, the truth the life. Only through me will you go to heaven (paraphrase). All ideologies or activities with which we identify harbors intolerance, but many of worlds religion’s explicitly teach intolerance.

    The paradox is, that we absolutely need to develop some “healthy” anxiety displacements to develop self esteem and confidence in growing up. Sometimes children need to know their is a “guardian angel” protecting them from the “boogey man” in the closet just as adults need to believe in something for direction. Religion has its place. In fact, a lack of magical thinking destroys creativity – we lose the ability to fluidly associate and marshal genius. However, when the displacements become rigidly absolute, people will become very aggressive in defending them and eventually, environmental changes out-pace the cultural values that helped in survival. Faith must develop a self corrective function. Interestingly, the catholic church does do this at agonizing slow pace with its Vatican councils. Of course, science is a master of self correction based on empirical evidence.

    There seems to be a healthy arc of development that involves a increasingly generalized world-view.

    1) Identification with parental heroes and development of self esteem by their early unconditional love and then getting their approval from successful negotiation of the social rules they present.

    2) Differentiation from the parents by successfully identifying with and negotiating cultural rules or societal expectations – Tolle’s “world of form”

    3) Getting a sense of approval and belonginess from subcultures that are relatively more aligned to broader accepted cultural values. Choosing heroes, beliefs, activities and groups that allow some sense of security, direction, personal expression and sense of worth and significance within the culture.

    4) Realization that there is way beyond form (Presence and dropping of status consciousness) in which can get a sense of security. Andi also the realization that your way or anyone else’s is not absolute. We finally separate imaginary status symbols from the actual biological requirements of healthy and happy social life.

    To clarify and review, the mechanism of denial the death drives our cultural institutions and economic systems. If you remember, individually, on an emotional level, and collectively through institutional conventions, we deny the bodily
    perception (or true awareness) that we will actually die. Perceptions are bodily feelings and senses that can be more attuned to reality than mere IDEAS or concepts. This is real physiological reason for our gross acculturated behaviors. Surprisingly, this includes scientific and secular humanist culture.

    Rationality itself is a system of logical thought that is powerful tool in controlling the environment and by default, our security and safety. Thus the irrational will to live and/or be significant/have meaning drives most everything. Our culture and economy is based on the assumption of infinite growth and dominance of the natural environment. Science and technology is part of the madness that assisted us. We are finally beginning to see the limits of being unaware of our inner motivation.

    Our logical and symbolic abilities IMAGINES that the status and subsequent approval, respect, love and recognition that we receive from others when we acquire possessions, titles, the power to influence will forestall the inevitability of death. We must somehow provide this need for belonging as much as we need food, water, shelter and self-expression.

    Getting away from the denial of death and the denial of physical limits and our addiction to the behavior of comparative behaviors – that constant newsreel assessment of each other in terms of who’s up and who’s down – must change. This behavior
    drives the collective madness and consumes the limited resource base of the planet. This madness that eventually that will lead to global warming and a total environmental breakdown.

    Experiments on the economic decision making seems to point to the force of feeling of “what is in for me” – either logically, in terms of real financial gain or by the social advantage and social consequence of the decision. Since our culture determines that arbitrary heroic values can bring social advantages as well as financial we leverage the latter to effect the former. We create governmental institutions that promote cooperation, respect, tolerance, a sense of belonging, taking only whats needed, more conscious egalitarian ethics. Look to Denmark as a model. They have been consistently measured as the happiest most contented country on the earth

    So, the surprising conclusion is one which the Beatles sung about! All We Need is Love. We need social policy that engenders our community involvement, nurturing of self expression, research into economic models that provide for the care, love, belongingness and respect of everyone despite the presence or lack of talents, special powers or prestige. We must minimize status seeking based on infinite growth and immortality.

    We need to minimize competition and increase cooperative and sustainability principles in our economic models, religions and governments.

    Only then can we come to the realization that our economy can based on sustainable and mass balance principles. Of course realigning an economy based on cooperative principles rather than competitive principles is going to take the adoption of the this new kind of consciousness.

    I have been told that the current situation is thus:

    – Easy to extract crude oil is mostly used up now. What remains will be harder and more expensive to extract. All the oil in Alaska, ANWAR included, and offshore for the U.S. won’t make much difference. ANWAR, best case, would provide 5% of the U.S. daily oil case. Not enough to make up for the declines in output we’re seeing elsewhere.

    – For about 500 years we’ve been able to base our society on continuous growth, because there were new continents to fill in. Those days are over. We can’t realistically plan on growth elsewhere, since it would take more energy to move 100 million people to Mars than there is energy from all sources in the Earth’s crust (oil, gas, uranium, thorium, etc). We gotta make it work right here, on a planet about 8000 miles in diameter and it’s not going to grow anymore.

    – There *is* a blueprint of sorts for what comes next; there’s a school of economic and scientific study around the “Steady State Economy” (Google it, one leader is World Bank economist Herman E. Daly). Interestingly, the platform for social change cuts across traditional liberal and conservative lines. In a nutshell, SSE features no *physical* growth, but the *qualitative* growth continues. i.e., every 10 years your refrigerator is recycled and your new refrigerator is more amazing than ever.

    The free market would work in the context to these limiters on growth and would force qualitative (not quantitative) improvement in our lives.

    (1) Maximum and minimum limits on personal income, and a ceiling on personal wealth

    (2) Transferable birth licenses

    (3) Depletion quotas for natural resources including pollution costs

    Read for more information and google “terror management theory”

  10. That’s quite a comment jascui.

    I agree with almost all of it. Or, all of it and I want to add to it.

    Reducing institutions to individual decisions doesn’t get us far (because, as you note, we are herd animals). Eg if I want to live off sustainable power generation and no one else does then I can’t (we need research institutes company structures, enough of a market and so forth).

    The Eckhart Tolle line runs the risk of falling into the trap of being intolerant of the intolerant, judging those who judge. This isn’t exactly unknown in the christian world either.

    I think we are a multi-dimensional phenomenon. In this sense we are no more (or less) basically animal than we are basically our thoughts or spirits. We are effected by and effect our environment. A change in our environment effects our consciousness (think of the effect of a change of teacher on a student in the class or of a new colleague at work) and a change in consciousness can effect the environment (think of a student being radiantly happy when they come to class instead of despairing or a colleague coming to work after an experience of enlightenment). We don’t need a world of saints before we set out on the journey to sustainability.

    I’d like to engage more fully with the points you have made but that would be even longer than your essay. I really enjoyed what you have to say and think it was very well written to. If you would like please feel free to contact me via my blog or the email address you will find on my about page.

    Thanks to you and Robert for a very stimulating post and comments on a very important topic.

    Evans last blog post..How to Update Your Past

  11. jasciu, that is THE longest reply I have ever seen to a post!

    It’s an interesting post Robert although I have to disagree with parts and you know I do that with respect because I like your stuff.

    Being genuinely open-minded can only be a good thing in my humble mind and when you make statements such as “We should not compromise or legalized abortion, even more on promoting it.” you fall into the same trap as the people that say you should do that. On the one hand you gave reasons of why it may be understandable for a women to want an abortion and in the next sentence you say we should never compromise! That’s exactly what that is, a compromise.

    Isn’t saying open-mindedness can be a bad thing demonstrating a lack of open-mindedness about open-mindedness πŸ˜‰

    Tim Brownsons last blog post..Who Are You Today?

  12. Robert A.

    Thank you Tim, I really like when my readers see my thoughts from differing perspective. I’m also still a learner.

    Okay, here is my thought on your comment, what I’m proposing here is digging deeper than judging behaviors. When people are doing wrong, punishment must still be there, otherwise as you said, it is compromising. But building a person, not only through punishment, building a person is transforming their inner belief and their concept of truth (in another word, their contextual truth).

    One example is stated in the book that I read titled Margin (I can’t remember the author). The author is some kind of psychologist, someone that is facing many clients with problems. He can merely see and fix the problem with medicine, but if he choose to see deeper. It’s how eventually he summed up in his book, a book about the need of margin for overloaded lives. I believe as a life coach, you must do the same again…

    This is what I said, a potential to learn from anyone, even someone with problem, if you don’t learn the good thing to do, you still can learn the bad thing to avoid…

    Of course, we can’t learn from everyone, that’s how we have to pick our mentors or information sources. A succesful speaker, author, or motivator is usually a sign of the source from where we can learn lots of things. That’s what I’m proposing with this article.

    That’s my 2-cents, appreciate your feedback.
    Thanks Tim!

  13. We’re all still learners Robert! I like to look for areas of disagreement so that I can learn and understand more. There are lots of beliefs and opinions I hold now that I would have once disagreed with, but I’m always open to be persuaded.

    Tim Brownsons last blog post..Who Are You Today?

  14. Hello Robert, I am stopping by from my blog where you posted a comment and referred me to this post and asked for input, so here goes:

    1. Rather than stating that we should be open-minded, I would say that we should examine all things. We learn from the scriptures that all truth is God’s truth. Although I have not read Eckhart Tolle, if Eckhart stumbles onto or observes something that is true, then we welcome it. The term ‘open-minded’ use to mean that one was able to consider other ideas, but unfortunately it has come to mean that one is accepting of all other ideas.

    The same thing has happened to the the term ‘tolerance’. Tolerance use to mean disagreeing with someone but allowing that disagreement to exist in peace. You tolerated it. To tolerate something now means to accept it as valid and agree that it is valid. In keeping with the original menaing, you ‘tolerate’ things you disagree with, and you accept as valid things you agree with. Being open-minded now means to accept those arguments. To disagree, whether you think critically about it or not, is to be close-minded.

    2. Some people are not discerning enough to read some authors without a guide, someone who is more discerning and able to guide them through the material. To have a young, immature mind come up against great, new thinkers without a guide is a bad idea for both. From what I saw in your references to Eckhart, even he would want people to think critically about what he is proposing.

    3. My last and most crucial piece of feedback concerns the sufficiency and authority of scripture. This is our most critical guide for discernment, and were I would send new and old believers to for guidance and growth primarily. All the other voices are to be understood through the truth of scriptures.

    As for the prosperity gospel that Osteen and Meyer promote, I would look to the apostles. All of them were persecuted for their faith and all but one died a horrible martyrs death. Their prosperity was not in earthly wealth, but in the richness of the mercies of God and the pleasure of serving him and others.

    Blessings in your ministry and your sanctification.

    Jacob Vanhorns last blog post..Patriarchs

  15. mar



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