Jan 20 2014

Arguing from Weakness

A recent discussion on Facebook about the second Hobbit movie, to me, illustrates a fundamental flaw in the logic of those who would argue that the “holistic” lifestyle is inherently superior to the Big Bad Newtonian-Cartesian-Dualistic-Masculine Paradigm.

A woman in the comment thread had this to say about the movie:

I might have enjoyed the movie more if it didn’t feel like an onslaught to my etheric body…I had to walk out a few times – too big a screen for so much evil make-up and violence. I might thoroughly enjoy it on my home flat screen thou [sic] – it’s smaller.

An assault on your etheric body. Really?

This provoked the next logical question from me:

Shouldn’t one’s etheric body be strong enough to handle something as mundane as a movie?

I’m troubled by this idea that as one becomes more “in tune,” or “enlightened,” or ” in touch” or “aware” or whatever you want to call it, the world around them becomes increasingly intolerable.

During my time in grad school, I lost count of how many times I heard things like “oh, I can’t watch violent movies anymore” or “television is too overwhelming for me” or “I can’t meditate in that classroom that’s right next to the road – there’s too much noise!”

The person whose etheric body was being assaulted by Peter Jackson informed me that she had had a dream about the detrimental effects of movies and television on one’s etheric body, and that “as a dreamer…” (I just love that phrase, let me tell you), she had a special understanding of these things (or something – either she has since removed her comments or blocked me, can’t imagine why). This prompted me to ask her the following, to which I am still awaiting a response:

Thich Quang Duc

Thich Quang Duc

I see. Obviously, I know nothing of such things. It just seems to me that if one were to argue that they are so in tune with themselves and the universe, and one were to offer, as your website claims, knowledge that empowers and promotes personal growth, that one would hope that after 20 years, one would be able to weather such things as a make-believe film with “dark” imagery a bit more strongly. Otherwise, I can’t really see how this is all that desirable as “growth” or “empowerment” – if the resulting sensitivity that one attains doesn’t allow one to function as easily in the mundane world around oneself to such an extent that they find movies or presumably television, etc. to be such potentially crippling experiences. Put another way, if one were to look at the example of Thich Quang Duc (please, Google him, if necessary), I would suggest that the level of spiritual growth and strength he was able to attain may be more indicative of and desirable in terms of “growth” and “empowerment” than the kind you are promoting. But hey, to each their own. How is it “strong” and “empowered” to be so severely buffeted by the world around you? Just doesn’t seem that way to me. But again, what do I know?

Her website in question (I will refrain from linking it, because even though I’m a dick, I’m a polite dick) promotes her as someone “with almost 20 years of teaching women’s spirituality & personal growth.”

Too often, I am seeing weakness being marketed as strength. If your brand of enlightenment endangers me, or advocates anything less than the full embracing of life, and what it has to offer, then I fail to see the point.  Speaking from experience (my never ending desire to please a psychopath by engaging in endless “compassion”, “self-inquiry”, and “accepting that this is what the universe is trying to teach me right now”), this line of reasoning is dangerous. In my instance, it almost cost me my life.

That said, there are times for discipline, and asceticism. Lessons can be learned from both practices, but, a rigid path of self-denial is not the same as “empowerment” or “enlightenment.” Both can lead to intense personal insight and self-knowledge. They do not, however, grant you license to be smug.

In fact, the more you have to justify your actions and reactions, and base those justifications in your “practice” or “special knowledge” you have “as a dreamer…” , the less I am inclined to believe you.

I’m sure you believe your own bullshit, and I’m sure others do, too.

I don’t.

And I’m fine with that.

And, honestly, I don’t care if you didn’t like a movie, or a tv show, or a book, or a song, or a piece of art. In fact, I think it’s wonderful that you have an opinion.

At least, though, have the common decency and courtesy to just be honest.

You didn’t like The Hobbit. It has nothing to do with your etheric body.

I would have been fine with the first bit.

It’s when you drag the second bit in as justification that I’m forced to waste almost 900 words on a blog post.

One final friendly suggestion (and summary): If you’re going to promote how wonderful your paradigm, reality-tunnel, belief system, what have you as empowering, then it should actualy empower, and not reduce adherents to fragile frail little snowflakes who either (a) are no longer able to handle the world around them, or (b) are unable to respond to critiques and questions.

If you can’t back up your claims, why should I take you at your word?



One response so far

One Response to “Arguing from Weakness”

  1. Sethon 20 Jan 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Kevin this totally made me laugh. I remember in high school I made a conscious decision that instead of avoiding some experiences or (more in my case) thoughts because their content didn’t mesh with the life I wanted for myself, I would respectfully approach them without allowing them to overwhelm me. Later, during my studies of Buddhism in college, I recognized that this was essentially a practice of cultivating dispassion. Of course, this is even explicitly part of some esoteric practices, such as meditating on a human skull or disease or what have you. I felt, as you, that cultivating the type of external and internal life that I wanted meant the ability to be resilient and robust in the face of all the crazy and evil and weird stuff that happens in life.

    An analogy: would I want to be someone who, upon seeing a horrible car wreck, became completely unable to actually help because I was sickened by the sight of dismembered limbs? Nope.

    At the same time, I can speak the language of the person you mention, and might say that–in my view–a healthy practice would be one that doesn’t just make you sensitive in an etheric sense, but also provides a correlated strengthening of the astral body (body of desires/repulsions and sensation more generally) and especially the “I” (the recursively awake part of your consciousness), so that the increased sensitivity doesn’t rule you, but rather becomes an extended way of sensing.

    As for the Hobbit, I didn’t like it, but not for that reason! :-)

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