It's all one song

HECKLER: They all sound the same.
NEIL YOUNG: It's all one song.
Year of the Horse (1997)
I am quite aware that most of the articles posted here on this website have a tendency to gravitate towards the same theme. If you've read one article, you've read them all. The reason for this is that once the common denominator in life has been discovered, everything is merely a riff on the same theme. All music is played with a combination of just twelve notes.

From one corner of the globe to the other, philosophers, mystics, and wise men, have arrived at the same understanding. They have come to recognise that every man is essentially two men - their authentic and their inauthentic self. "Every one of us human beings has two minds," explains the Mexican shaman don Juan in Carlos Castaneda's The Active Side Of Infinity, "One is totally ours, and it is like a faint voice that always brings us order, directness, purpose. The other mind is a foreign installation. It brings us conflict, self-assertion, doubts, hopelessness." It is two minds battling it out. Your dominant personality is not the real you. It is the you you think you need to be in order to survive this shared experience we call life.

In various ways the different cultures all teach that we must get to know the real self. Something is blocking the good in us. By means of some form of internal investigation, we must get rid of the old and allow the new - the real you - to thrive and live. They all include some form of spiritual awakening, a realisation. In Buddhism they might refer to the noble eightfold path, or the middle way, and man's journey to reach Nirvana - a profound peace of mind that is acquired with liberation. For the Hindu, this might be the concept of man becoming one with God, wherein the inherent divinity of man is recognised. The shaman of the Yaqui Indian tribe in Mexico talk about Infinity and total freedom. Infinity is the same as the Hebrew God, Jehovah. His name, for all intents and purposes, means I am what I am. It is rendered in the active state. Just a small example of the similarity between various cultures all teaching the same path if man is ever to experience the real life.

Jesus understood these truths. He tried to use terminologies an inquisitive Israelite could grasp: Prayer, instead of meditation; repentance, for the need to understand oneself; forgiveness, for the need to let the inauthentic go; death and resurrection for getting rid of the old self and allowing the new to live. It seems he had experienced his own spiritual awakening. No doubt Jesus had tried to explain his own revelation which later was reported as, "The heavens opened up and a dove descended." Intensely personal experiences conveyed by Jesus and subsequently turned into religious phenomena by a community that could not let go of the past. He said, "I was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," because he felt no reason to be concerned with other cultures. They would all discover their own version of the same truth, if they hadn't done so already. Even the Greeks had their Socrates, who had taught, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

The western world thinks it has a more superior grasp of these matters because it claims to have tested them scientifically, but all it has succeeded in doing is filling up books with a divers range of psychological problems, labelled and categorised, which may or may not be able to be treated with drugs. Cognitive therapy becomes just one in a number of ways that mental unease can be addressed. Our capitalist society has turned it into a multi-million dollar industry. It has incorporated it into the field of medicine and bracketed it under therapy and psychoanalysis. So now people are encouraged to "see someone" if they confess that they might be suffering from depression. They have managed to turn a yearning for the spiritual into a disease of the mind

Part of this is because we live in an age of litigation. No one wants to feel responsible for anyone else's well-being. They are not going to be held accountable should anything go wrong. You'll soon know who your real friends are if you try raising any touchy-feely subject matter. If they drop it like an unwanted baby, you'll know you're in the company of little more than an acquaintance.

After outlining what to look for in a therapist, Dorothy Rowe says, "There are such therapists around. I call them good friends."
Good friends let us be ourselves. Good friends are our equals, and when they help and comfort us we do not feel belittled. As children we were belittled quite enough. (The Successful Self)
M. Scott Peck would agree with this conclusion. In The Road Less Travelled, he states, "If we genuinely love our spouse, our parents, our children, our friends, if we extend ourselves to nurture their spiritual growth, should we be practising psychotherapy with them? My answer is: Certainly."

This is all in harmony with Jesus' reference to himself as a "physician". Today, however, nobody is in a position to imitate Jesus and his model as a physician because such a position has been hijacked by the professional sector. Today, Jesus would not be able to repeat what he was able to do in his own day. He certainly wouldn't be able to last two or three years doing it. To experience what Jesus might have gone through, try this experiment: Go into the town square, sit on a bench, and strike up a conversation with people. Gently probe into their lives. Get them to talk about themselves and their relationships, casually dropping in advice and suggestions. If you want to fast-track the process, make yourself a placard that announces, "Free Counselling," and simply be willing to sit and wait for the inquisitive to ask about it. How long do you think it would be before the authorities were alerted? Days? Weeks? Months?

You might be interrogated as to what qualifies you to offer counsel. Love? Compassion? These are not relevant qualifications. So, if you got the necessary qualifications could you then go out into the town square and offer counselling free of charge? You would come under fire for undermining those who charge for their services. Besides that, these days "free" tends to be synonymous with, "of poor quality". Jesus statement, "You received free, give free," is merely a testament to his bargain-basement pop-psychology. It is vulgar to get anything for free. The more one pays, the better quality one expects. We tend to overlook the fact that there are other ways to pay for something besides with money. How much in time and effort are you willing to pay to discover the real you?

Jesus supposedly was derided for being unschooled. He did not have the necessary qualifications. His method of lifting the blame from off the shoulders of people by telling them, "Your sins are forgiven" - in other words, "It's not your fault" - was not approved by the national board of directors. Even Christianity could not bear his lack of official qualifications and they get round this by saying he was qualified by God. Ironically, nobody can be qualified by God today without first passing through their theological colleges, thereby effectively returning us to square one, so that if anyone was to offer spiritual counselling they too would be derided for being unschooled.

The majority of mankind is out of harmony with itself. It is not in tune with God - Infinity, Allah, Brahman, the Spirit, or any other derivation that comes to mind. Harmonising is done one instrument at a time, and it cannot be put into the hands of a third party. You can only accomplish on your own. The way we do it is by listening to don Juan's advice to Carlos Castaneda:
  • Recapitulate: Like repentance, this is a life review. Don Juan strongly suggests making a list of every person you know and recall everything you can about them.
  • Make an album of memorable events. This is not just a nostalgic jaunt down memory lane. Your album of memorable events is "an act of war". You need to prize out the painful element, the aspects that contributed to creating the inauthentic you.
  • Already you can hear your own voice of dissent. You are telling yourself every reason why a recapitulation is unnecessary. This is only to be expected. Your inauthentic self knows that its days are numbered. It is the end of an era, the end of a system of things, and it will not give up without a fight. "Infinity always puts us in this terrible position of having to choose," says don Juan, "We want infinity, but at the same time, we want to run away from it. You want to tell me to go jump in a lake, but at the same time you are compelled to stay. It would be infinitely easier for you just to be compelled to stay."
  • Look out for the usher. You will suddenly and vividly remember an event from your life. This will be the breakthrough and it will contribute to unlocking all the rest. I like to imagine that the experience Jesus had as a twelve-year-old was his usher.
  • While all this is going on, build up a record of inner silence. As often as you can, sit in silent contemplation. Call it prayer, call it meditation, call it whatever you want. Every quiet moment counts as a contribution toward your record of inner silence.
As you can see, we have managed to return to the recurring theme, and I make no apology for it. For the sake of anyone who might happen upon this unassuming website, I'll keep on playing the same tune over and over.