REPOST: Issues and Existence.

I subscribe to a blog called “Bigstoryguide” where he author is involved with a running commentary as he goes through the Bible. Yes, the whole Bible. His blog he calls ‘Jesus’s death to life project’. I think he just got to the New Testament.
I am not a Christian; I am not religious nor prescribe to any particular religious doctrine. I would say if there is a god then he-it-they guide and/or ‘cooperates’, not so much with me, but, more so say, ‘upon’ or ‘through’ me. I’m not much for claiming god as my homie or leader of my gang or nothing, but neither, as what could appear contrary but complimentary to religion, would i say i practice or believe any sort of spirituality; if i am spiritual it is because i am motivated to convey (in practice and speech, as writing or talking is a practice also) what I understand and understand how i might be able to convey it. God or gods, religion and spirituality are just interesting to me, and seem to suggest many significant issues with reality, life and the world, as well as their solutions. If I say I am religious or spiritual, believe in God, gods, spirit, universal energy, etc… It is in the ‘spirit’ of colloquialism for the purpose of the attempt to communicate and/or to help. In a way, one could say, it is not so much what I say I believe, but what is true of what I say.
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So this blogger posted a nice piece that I use as an occasion to comment. Here is his post, with the link after:
One night during the Spanish Inquisition in Seville, a cell door swings open and The Grand Inquisitor steps into the doorway. Pausing on the threshold, he lifts his lamp into the small dungeon to cast light on the prisoner’s face. The light yreveals what he already knows. The prisoner is Jesus.
There will be no trial. In fact, The Grand Inquisitor has already made his decision. He will burn Jesus at the stake in the morning.
The verdict: What Jesus offers human beings is not enough. Although He offers Himself as the bread of life, it simply is not enough.
Thou has promised to them the bread of life, the bread of heaven; but I ask Thee again, can that bread ever equal in the sight of the weak and the vicious, the ever ungrateful human race, their daily bread on earth?
(“The Grand Inquisitor” from The Brothers Karamozov by Feodor Dostoevsky http://www.gutenberg.org/files/8578/8578-h/8578-h.htm)
John 6. Non-fictional.
A crowd of people searched and found Jesus – excited about the way He had miraculously provided bread for them. However, Jesus didn’t want to talk with them about miraculous provisions of food.
Instead, He offered Himself to them. He offered Himself as “real food” and “real drink.” Their verdict?
“This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
From this time many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.
http://bigstoryguide.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/bread-of-life-no-thank-you/comment-page-1/#comment-132
I don’t think the blogger intends it, but the situation he presents here in juxtaposing the fiction and the, supposedly, non-fiction, sums up what can be called our current ‘existential situation’.
Again, as I have said in previous posts, the issue is not so much about what may be true of these stories, but how to speak of it, about its significance. The religio-mythological writ coordination of meaning, such as the (assumed) intent of the Bigstoryguide blogger, is much too dogmatic for me, too much like “…and the moral of the story is…better eat yer veggies!” As if one can merely choose to believe; as if if I just explain it to you well enough, then you will of course choose the obvious better choice. My question is: Why wouldn’t you? I mean, if all you got to do is believe and everything will be ok, why would anyone choose not to believe it? I, for one, can honestly say I have not chosen anything about what I believe, except maybe that I believe I will leave for work tomorrow 20 minutes early instead of 30. So it is that we have our existential situation. (By the way, in case you didn’t know, Dostoevsky is considered an existentialist writer, though he wrote before the term was coined.)
{ Side: Somewhat recently I saw a book, a humor book, that was called something to the effect like, ‘The Idiots Guide to Choosing a Religion’. It was great; truly funny. Similar tongue-and-cheek to a book from the 1980’s called, again, I think, “The Book of Money”, or maybe “The Money Bible”, From what I remember of it (the latter book), someone wrote this book using ‘biblical-speak’, with titled books that mimicked the actual books of the Bible, numbered chapters and versus; stories similar to the Bible stories’ content, but its was all about money. I wish I would have gotten it when I saw it. It was classic. The best chapter, which was in the book with the name and style that mimicked the book of Psalms, and was called “Money”, went something like this:
1. Money money money; oh money. Money money money money money money thou money. 2. Money money, money money. My money money money: money money money money. 3. Money. Money money money ….
Well, you get the jist. Absolutely hilarious. And the really great thing about it, the thing that struck me about it, was I wasn’t totally sure that it was meant to be a joke. As I said; Classic.
The ‘Religion’ book, though, is like a reference book, and it has every religion, sect, and cult that you can think of from the ages till now, all listed as to their qualities. Fundamental beliefs; type of pantheon, from one God, to paganism, to polytheism, to natural philosophy; benefits, such as, having an afterlife, or being forgiven, to you get to have you own universe, and ‘thumbs-down’, like, believes there is a hell, or must be willing to kill yourself, or have to wear certain clothes; practices; etcetera. Each religion and/or spiritual belief system has its own listing and even is rated, like, in a five star scale, against others. At least, again, this was my impression of it; the actual details may be slightly different. And again; I’m not totally sure that it is a joke, but I’m pretty sure it was written in good fun.
The reason I mention it is because it comes out of the idea that people can choose what they believe, like we can actually go shopping for a religion that best fits our beliefs, as if i can find one that meets most of my criteria and the rest ill just choose to believe; or, I can even choose what I want of believe because I’m not totally sure what I believe, or what it means. Well, I’m sure we can do this, but what does that really say of what we believe ? }
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The issue I am going to deal with now is posed in the excerpt. Particularly how John puts it, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
Again, if I wasn’t clear, I am not advocating Christianity, or that one needs to ‘accept’ Jesus as their personal savior. But likewise, I am not taking a dig at Christian blogger dude; he likewise could no more choose not to be a Christian (I only assume he is a Christian), than he could choose to be, say, an alligator, though it is just as well that most everyone believes that there is a choice to be had. I suppose the significant idea is found in asking someone to believe she can choose to believe that she has no choice. Or even better, asking someone to not believe in what they believe. That person might then respond by saying that their belief (that is in question) has developed through a consideration of circumstances, upon choices made, and that they cannot choose to not believe what they believe because their belief is sound, and they would not want to change their belief. So then I would have to say that they have no choice in what they believe. The rebuttal then would affirm that for their present belief they have no choice because the choices made in the past have brought them to their current condition of belief, which is to say that our present situation is determined by our past choices, which is thus sound (or not sound, as the case may be with having an issue (read on; see below) but the point then for the response is that the belief that they have an issue, is sound) Well, I say, what prevented the past situations of belief from being chosen out of; at what point in time did you have a choice upon what you believe? And back: And why would I want to believe that I had or have no choice? And me again: in what way has your wants determined what you choose? So can you choose to not want what you want? The argument could go on and on, through many avenues and considerations, quite like Plato’s dialogues, but the pivotal response would inevitably arrive: Why would I want to choose out of that which has soundly brought me to my place of truth? And, why would I want to choose not to want what I want anyways?
This is the issue, isn’t it. Issues.
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Here is another way of looking at it.
The question I have pondered for a long time is: why wouldn’t I choose the ‘easy’ way; I mean, why wouldn’t I choose what is healthy for me, or ‘better’ for me? Why would I choose to make things difficult on myself? Am i not intelligent and sane? Now, I don’t mean this in the sense like studying and going to school to be an engineer might be difficult. Rather, I mean why would I choose to party real hard, too hard maybe, so I am incapable of studying well enough so I could get the career of my dreams? Well, the typical thinking goes to psychology: I am just fuckt up like that, like, something is wrong with me, like I have some issues embedded in my psyche or my mind that makes or compels me to make decisions that are not to my benefit despite myself.
I propose for this situation that the individual in question could not choose because she had no choice, and Christianity, the institution, and all Religion and spirituality in general, as well as psychology, the ‘science of mind/ behavior’, so to speak, develops not only in response but out of this apparent inability. I submit that the individual was doing all she could to do what was in her best interest, that in fact, she was doing what was in her best interest the whole time ( ill address the ‘best interest’ part later). Most if not many would say, that is because she does have issues. Ok; say I believe that I have issues. I reflect upon those times, or I resent those times because I come across thoughts that I had, or now have in me that were telling me that I should make the other choice, the one that at the time I knew was the right choice but did not make. I have an issue, and then I have an issue because of the issue, so I decide to get get help with my issues. I goto therapy. Over time I come to terms with my issues and get better – or maybe I don’t.
Never mind that many would argue that one does not ‘believe’ he has issues, he merely has issues; well, who is talking about what one believes? What issues are there if one does not believe that there are issues? The issues everyone else sees, or believes they see? The issue one has in-itself, or the issue that one believes everyone else does not have? But here, this is not a matter of believing, it is a matter of what is true.
The significant question has got to be: Why could I not just choose to leave my issues behind when I realized that I had them? Why would I sit in them when I know they have caused and are causing me all sorts of problems? The answer has got to be concerning belief, and not so much of what is reality and what I chose as a subject of reality; it can not be so much about what may be true of reality as much as one is involved with it. Perhaps it can be said, it does have more to do with what I am not choosing, but not so much as my issues have not been chosen in so much as they were thrown upon me: it is because my issues are informing me exactly as to who I am, and I cannot dismiss myself from my identity, nor do i want to. And, if i want to, I cannot. Hence the problem.
So I have to ask, against what am I having the cognition that I have issues? Exactly against the idea that allows me to know that I have issues. It is not some issue in-itself, as if there is some natural, ‘non-issue’ way, and due to this, I have some issue that is making me screwed up in my choices. Perhaps a person looks out into the world and sees that his life is not a picture that he enjoys, or perhaps he just feels wrong in his own skin. Again, the question must be, how could he be any different? Against or within this question lay the pertinent answer: in the past as different choices, or the future as a result of making different choices. Indeed; if such answers ( and so the question) were not salient, would there be an issue? And what is the past and future? Only an idea against which can have ideas about how one might have issues or not. ‘Now’ is not viable; in fact people will argue against my having an issue even while they will admit it. Likewise, those pictures and feelings one has of oneself and ones life can only exist in that they take form as ‘something that I am not’. I’m sure many are thinking that this is a most ridiculous notion, merely a conceptual game – but again, a ‘game’ as opposed to what? To what is Real? I say that it is just this game that we are all playing. In truth, such issues are entirely of one’s self, not put upon him by some separate force, but exactly the force that is that person entirely and absolutely, which has no true basis as a construction of outside forces. To bring in and reiterate what I have said before; in so much as I am an individual that has real issues thrust upon me, so much do I have faith, as well, am a subject of faith, and thereby do I look to solve my issues through faith, but ironically that faith that expresses my inability to choose to exit from them.
The thing is, so much as i may have issues, when I am able to fully concede to my issue, and thus fully accept it as me, it goes away. In as much as I deny or ignore it, it remains, and if I accept it, but not that it is me, likewise it remains. This is the presumed mode or operation of modern ‘psychoanalytic’ and/or ‘encounter’ therapy; when someone realizes whatever it is that has prevented them from ‘real-izing’ the issue (which is, really, a break from their usually reality), it is a ‘breakthrough’, like they have ‘broken through’ the facade of ‘their’ reality. And also, in this very same way, this is the presumed mode of the Christian problem, expressed in the above excerpts, that is solved through ‘belief’. In truth, this is to say of either solution, which actually is the same solution, either the issue still remains, but is accepted of oneself, or the issue is gone and so needs no acceptance; either way, the effect of the issue having power over or in ones life, is proposed as belief of the problem ‘no longer an issue’.
This is so much to outline the situation of human existence.
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The main problem that the excerpts shed light upon is that for most people, such a ‘breakthrough’ never occurs. (At some point I will address this issue). So far as Christ might relate to the human condition, people are unable to sufficiently understand, or believe, so to bring about a dismissal or relieving of the issue. Beyond the dogmatics of Christian religion, Christ is the figure or actual-symbol of the message that a person merely needs to fully accept, understand or otherwise come to terms with her or his situation as an existing being. In fact, one cannot merely ‘believe’, as if a choice can be made; one must actually ‘give up’ the ideal relation that establishes oneself in, as I have spoken about it, reality. Yet, within the belief of Christianity, the functioning thereof, Jesus is that element of oneself – a precipitate of sorts, of oneself ‘un-revealed’, so to speak, unto his inability – that holds the person back from making the breakthrough, which is to say, ironically, Jesus ‘fills’ in that place, aspect or otherwise resisting area of the individual that prevents one from ‘accepting the teaching’. Jesus is the bread, is the link between the ‘not being able’ and the sought after ‘wanting for’. His presence in position of interlocutor for the discrepancy is that part of oneself that is denied for the sake of having belief being effective as a belief of choice; in other words, the Christianized Jesus is choice objectified, is that boundary, that chasm, by which one may find oneself in the substantive echo, the ‘issue’ of not being able to believe well enough, such that one may then choose to believe what suits her the belief that belief is significant. Such it is that only with the presentation of Jesus do we have the situation of a “hard teaching” that no one can accept, except that one may then, for Christianity, choose to believe.
For Psychology, as it is for Christianity, one need only choose to believe. If I can choose to believe that a ‘discussion’ about the terms of my issues will allow my issue to go away, then similarly I can choose to believe in Christ, since I need only to address my issues behind not believing. But one need not choose; choosing is the problem. So it is that the problem of the apparent inability is taken as indicating course, and a method for discerning exactly where the inability resides within a psyche or mind or soul of a now real individual (one who cannot but have the inability) is drawn out through a method of finding truth; the truth is thus the way as well as the life; it is the only way to find truth, as it concerns the human life, the only life that can be for all humanity in reality. The method becomes the true method to find truth (of oneself). No more then must we choose because our inability to choose ‘the better’, the ‘not having an issue’, is found in the choice that is the method: we need not and can not choose our way out of the situation of reality that is the issue, we instead goto therapy and believe. The therapist works to draw out the issue, as a leech for the disease of the blood, by listening to the individual speak and directing the individual to possibilities within what the individual has said, possibilities that have arisen as the science of psyche has developed out of and due to the analysis of the inability to step out of the issue. At some point, hopefully, the individual ‘speaks the issue’ so to speak, and or comes upon the issue in relation to a meaning of what was being said about it, around it, or because of it. The issue thus ‘breaks through’ the ‘wall’ of the psyche that was created by the psyche itself to protect itself in the procurement of a proper reality from the issue, but it thereby effects or establishes a reality that is ‘off’. Thus the issue is responsible for reality, as reality is the issue. Like the tract responsible for ambergris, the psyche of psychology develops along with the issue such that the matter of expulsion of the issue becomes a disgustingly beautiful thing to behold, but likewise, we can be sure the functioning of the psyche will produce another issue in its procurement of reality. The truth of this method, and or the method for finding a method that works, is hardly chosen, it is taken in faith that it is true, and that its methods are real, at least. Hence the conventional bias that sublimates and or denies its basis of operation for choice and belief.
The “breakthrough” of Psychology is the “bread” of Jesus of Christianity extrapolated in time’s discourse for the incessant and persistent inability or refusal of humanity to come to terms with its own existence. It was the same in the supposed time when the Gospels were written, as it was for Dostoevsky’s time, as it continues to be for our time. Nothing has gotten better, no one has gotten closer for all the ‘progress’ we might purport. I submit, just as many believed then as now as with those doing therapy now – so it seems.
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The mid-20th century notion of Existentialism, as coined by the thinker Jean-Paul Sartre, is the expression in its explaining of the condition of not being able to relinquish such an identity. The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, whom Sartre called the first existentialist, was the first (it seems) Western, or maybe also ‘modern’ thinker to come upon the point of contention in the way I am presenting it. They tell of the motion of existence, possible ways of situating existence in reality, which is to say, discourse, and the process whereby human beings come to terms with such an understanding. The proposal can be seen as ironic; people either are in bad faith, or they find themselves in a situation of ‘bad faith’; this is the process of conventional faith on one hand, and faith in doubt on the other. With reference to John (above, and please keep in mind that I am not advocating believing any type of dogmatics), when a person finds themselves in a situation of existence, they then realize the paradox of the “hard teaching”, and they become unsettled. They come to have ‘angst’ or become ‘anxious’ because the certainty of reality is failing, and this person either falls back into discourse of the real, or they fall onward in truth. If the latter, such angst leads to ‘despair’, and despair then is the harbinger of the ‘breakthrough’. Ironically, then the person finds that what they saw or knew of reality is no longer real.
And again, and to reiterate; the problem is precisely that understanding this process does nothing to bring it about; actually, understanding this process works to prevent it from occurring; for our examples, understanding how and why therapy operates, and that Christianly speaking, that our sinful nature can be solved through Christ; both resolve in a capacity for belief. The truth of the matter at hand is ‘hard to accept’, I would say ‘offensive’, so this state of innate human offense is solved conventionally by belief; this is summation of the presentation of conventional history. Understanding the issue only functions to bring it back around so it remains, and understanding this further tends to keep it cycling. This is the same problem of reality, what I have called “conventional methodology”. The means and manner by which reality is established and maintained is due to the overwhelming predominance of human beings who cannot let go of their ‘real identity’, even when it is plagued with issues that hinder ones ability to function. The recourse to this plague, this dis-ease of what is real, is to reify that the problem can only be found in what is real, namely, methods.
This is why and how the message of Christ became the institution of Christianity that allowed for Western Psychology. One merely needs then to believe; one needs only to repent; one needs to pray; one needs to confront their issues; one merely needs to get real with oneself; the real answer is always one needs to do something differently. Thus Christianity (of the West), sewed its own predominance; Catholicism let to Protestantism, because the Catholic way was not doing the trick. Protestantism lead to modern ‘philology’, as if we just need to study more and find the true meaning; this lead to the current Western philosophy, and this brought psychology. Round the time of the rebuking of supernaturalistic metaphysics, maybe circa 1750, and into the 19th century, we see a split in method. Protestantism developed all sorts of sects; Transcendentalism arose, as well as all sorts of Spiritualism, culminating in a profound polemic of Atheism and Magic, this last most significantly of the scholarly sort that seeks the truth through study, Alistar Crowley. Though this is admittedly quite a rough description of developments, all seek to reconcile that which is most insistently discrepant: the problematic real individual person.

It also is significant that the concepts of individualism, freedom and capitalism all came about at a time when the Christian sway was evidencing a profound failure: A state founded on the idea of the free and equal individual under the law, and the law as merely a device of negotiating individuals, individuals with pronounced and apparently unsolvable issues.

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