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CCism


Introduction

One day Gandhi was running to catch a train. Just as he jumped on, one of his sandals fell off. He quickly took the other one off and threw it off the train. His friends were baffled. If it is immediately obvious to you why he did that, you already understand the essence of CCism.

I spend much of my time poking holes in Christianity and to some extent Islam. People often ask me what I believe myself. Here is my attempt to formalise my beliefs. I have coined the term CCism (pronounced see-see-ism) to describe them.

After seeing how Christ’s gentle words lead to the inquisition and Moses’ and Mohammed’s to the murderous rivalry in Jerusalem, I wonder if it is at all wise to attempt to create yet another religion, even a very minor cult. Perhaps mankind is just naturally murderous and merely uses religion as an excuse.

So here goes, a new religion founded 2000-11-29. It is not really new, it borrows ideas that have been floating around for millennia. Most recently Stephen Gaskin has written about them, particularly in his book

book cover recommend book⇒This Season’s Peopleto book home
by Stephen Gaskin 978-0-913990-05-6 paperback
birth 1935-02-16 died:2014-07-01 at age:79
publisher Book
published 1976
It is a beautifully ethical book and reassuring to anyone terrified by these strange experiences. I’ve met Stephen several times. I am quite convinced he lives in a slightly different reality from most of us, where little miracles happen. My copy of this book has totally fallen to pieces I have read it so often. Stephen is a hippie guru. He argues strenuously for both inner and outer honesty and taking responsibility for the care of the entire planet. I have read my copy of This Season’s People so many times it has literally fallen apart. He founded a community called The Farm in Tennessee. He ran for US president in 2000. I met him several times when he came to visit Vancouver. Reality bends a little in his presence.
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Cosmic Consciousness

I seem to be a verb —
an evolutionary process —
an integral function of the universe,
and so are you.
~ Richard Buckminster (Bucky) Fuller (born:1895-07-12 died:1983-07-01 at age:87)

The central feature of CCism is, surprise, CC (Cosmic Consciousness).

Unlike the mystical cores of most other religions (e.g. nirvana, union with God), cosmic consciousness is relatively ordinary. Everyday people have experienced it, not just saints and sages. Most people are somewhat shy about talking of these experiences, but I suspect nearly everyone at least once in their life has a glimpse of it. (Use of the word their to mean he or she now has the stamp of approval from both Hansard and the New Internationalist magazine for use as the singular gender-neutral personal pronoun.)

When you are experiencing cosmic consciousness, it is as if you can feel everything that everybody is doing and thinking, including the plants and animals. It is as if you are the whole ball of wax. You come away with a deep feeling that we are all one. Commonly, you experience a watered down version of it when you merge with one other person, usually during sex or massage. It is as if you were a being with four arms and four legs. Sometimes you can move all four arms, sometimes you can just feel them.

This leads quite naturally to ethical behaviour. You act knowing we are all one. Whatever you do to someone else you are actually doing to a part of yourself, a part you temporarily, for some reason, that you cannot feel.

Tenets

Reality is that which doesn’t go away when you change your mind.
~ Phillip K. Dick (born:1928-12-16 died:1982-03-02 at age:53)
Here are the three basic tenets of CCism.
  1. Act as if you were in cosmic consciousness. Do the globally optimal thing. Do what works best for everyone, not necessarily that which conforms to some prescribed set of rules. Think globally; act locally. You are your brother’s keeper because you are your brother. Do unto others what you can do better for them than they can do for themselves.
  2. Tell the truth. Don’t mislead or dissemble. Don’t withhold important information. Never claim your speculation as fact. Clearly label it as such. When you discover you are mistaken, admit it quickly.
  3. On matters of fact, bow to the best scientific thinking of your age. Focus not on how reality should work, but how it does. Keep in mind that truth is provisional. It is only our best understanding at the time. Contrary to popular belief, doubt is a virtue.
You will note that beliefs that are part of most religions are conspicuously absent, e.g. It would be nice to be able to include these, but I simply don’t know the answers, so I have to leave them out.

Experiencing Cosmic Consciousness

I know of no way of reliably inducing cosmic consciousness in myself, though some people tell me that some drugs such as LSD (d-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) or ecstasy will often bring it on. It seems to just spontaneously happen when you are in a relaxed happy state. I suggest using Ken Keyes’ methods for reducing your load of addictive demands to get yourself primed.

Some use meditation to quiet the parietal lobes which is the part of the brain that tracks your location in space and time. When it goes to sleep, you merge with everything.

If you practice modes of thought typical of cosmic consciousness, it won’t be such a big leap to actually experiencing it. Just pretend/imagine you are already in cosmic consciousness and use your rational mind to tell you what sorts of thing you would be thinking, feeling and doing. Fake it before you make it.

I use an analogy. Sometimes my leg falls asleep. I don’t suddenly start treating it as alien, just because I can’t feel it. I would not dream of poking an ice pick into it. In like manner, in ordinary consciousness, your ability to feel most of what is going on in the cosmos disappears. You don’t suddenly start treating the rest of the cosmos as alien.

A process I use in workshops to induce a mild form of cosmic consciousness goes like this. I get everyone to sit on the floor close together. Then I explain that we are going to play a game. We are going to pretend we are one creature with many arms and legs, like a giant lobster or sea anemone. Then each person in the group, in turn, non-verbally, leads the entire group in a sort of dance/flow/mime. The rest of the group does not necessarily precisely copy the leader, but does a theme and variations, or simply something harmonious in tune with the leader who is completely free to compose and express his or her originality. Usually the process develops into some sort of primate grooming ritual with circular back rubs or back scratching. The result is invariably sheer delight and laughter, if not a gentle form of CC.

Another technique is to look at large colour photographs of the heavens taken through the Hubbell telescope. Get a sense of awe at just how huge the universe is. Look at each little dot of light and imagine all the intricate details of a sun and planets it might represent. Remind yourself that you are in integral part of this great cosmos. Carl Sagan has done some videos to take you on an imaginary journey round the universe that help generate this feeling of being at one with the cosmos.

Here is another approach to get you part way there. Recall than you, inside your skull, don’t directly see or hear anything. All you do is sit there and notice pulses coming in at different frequencies on your various neurons. From that flow of digital information you construct a sort of lucid dream that is your mental map of what you know about what is going on in the outside world. The accuracy of that map depends on your alertness and how preoccupied you are with your inner or outer world. What you see before you is not the outside world, but a map of the outside world and all of that map is inside you head; it is part of you. So in that sense, your experience of the world is all a part of you. Everything you directly experience is actually yourself, just as everything that happens in a dream is something you create inside yourself.

This worked for me; maybe it will work for you. Just sit quietly near some Hare Krishna devotees and listen to their rhythmic monotonous chanting. You can buy CDs (Compact Discs) of Buddhist monks chanting and playing their elephant-trumpets. CC happens when you relax and enjoy the moment, not plotting anything, just quietly feeling gratitude at being part of the show.

I can pretty reliably induce something close to cosmic consciousness in the participants during Living Love workshops using non-verbal processes.

Proselytising

If you proselytise, you annoy others. If you don’t, you potentially leave them stuck in a religion more cruel and illogical than CCism. Perhaps a middle ground is that it is ok to proselytise if the other person starts trying to convert you to their religion first. By religion I would include any life philosophy, including political philosophies such as Republicanism.

The ideal way to proselytise is to behave in an exemplary way. People will want to emulate you and will ask you to explain the beliefs that inspire you.

It is also ok to passively proselytise, e.g. by putting up a website. No one has to read it who does not want to.

Is it fair to teach CCism to children before they are old enough to be able to reject it? It would help inoculate them against the fear-based religions such as Christianity and Islam. The fairest way to do it would be to explain CCism to them, but to explain that it is just one of many life philosophies. When they are older they will be able to examine them all and chose one, or perhaps create their own life philosophy.

Keep in mind, it is extremely rare for someone to be converted to a new religion by rational argument. If there are ever any converts to CCism, most likely they will come from someone spontaneously experiencing cosmic consciousness and looking for a framework for the baffling experience. Without that personal experience, CCism is just so much mumbo jumbo.

One Nearly Immortal Life

In a very mundane sense, there is only one being living on planet earth. Consider the amoeba. They reproduce by splitting in two. If you look at any amoeba today it is billions of years old. You might in theory trace all the amoebae alive in the world today to a single ancestor. Thus in one sense there is only one amoeba, living in many bodies. If an amoeba dies, has the amoeba died? No. It is much like single blood cell in a human dying. If you follow back further you would probably find that other one celled animals all share a common ancestor with the amoeba too. There is only one life living in many bodies. Multicelled humans too are part of this single life tree. Our cells too grow only by splitting, but in more specialised ways, going through a minimalist stage periodically as sperm and egg cells. However, each of a human’s cells is similarly billions of years old, with an unbroken chain of cell divisions going all the way back through the generations of humanity. Oddly, even though the cells are billions of years old, the cells die within 100 years of birth, if they stay part of human’s body i.e. if they don’t leave it as sperm or as a completed baby. They have a built-in death count-down mechanism in each cell called telomeres. If there is only one life, living in many bodies in many forms, you, the primordial life, lives on even when your little human body dies.

Of course, even if our cells are all literally part of the original lifework, it does not necessarily mean all beings should normally share consciousness. However, that way of looking at things does emphasise our brotherhood with all life on planet earth and primes you for seeing us all as one.

Practical

If we are all one, it naturally flows we are all equal. There is no need to feel deferential toward anyone. The other is just you. On the other hand, there is no justification to feel superior to anyone either, even an axe murderer. They are just you trapped in a difficult circumstance with defective moral training.

If we are all one, how is it we so strongly disagree on nearly everything? We all grew up with different parents who gave us different values. We all were exposed to different information. Each of us labours under the delusion we have the best possible handle on the truth and everyone else is mistaken. If every other person is you, you have to acknowledge you would agree with each other person had you their same life experience. Your views aren’t really yours, they are a fluke of your life experience. If you find some beliefs harmful, it makes no sense to beat people up for having them, but rather to change the conditions that foster those beliefs. So for example, I fight to keep Christian religious and anti-gay beliefs out of the school system. When I argue with the fundamentalists, I know how intractable they will be because, after all, they are just as stubborn as me because they are me, but with a different life experience. It is actually rather amusing.

If we are all one, why do we do so many things to hurt ourselves? Most of the one is not aware it is one. It thus tries to optimise only locally. It will for example consume non renewable resources as fast as possible. It will destroy the habitat of other species. It constantly seeks to enslave other lifeforms and deny them food. It will make a mess and imagine that there could be something else that will clean it up. It will attempt to create pleasure by creating misery for others. It is hopelessly superstitious. It is juvenile, short sighted, greedy, vicious, lustful and petty. It is familiar; it is us — life of earth. Cosmic Consciousness may sound very grand, but the average behaviour of the one is not very bright. However, when it wakes up to the fact that it is one, even for a moment, then its behaviour automatically improves by an order of magnitude, at least locally. Unfortunately, seeing this big picture can create almost unbearable despair. We are such a fuck up compared with how we could be if we acted in a more cosmicly conscious fashion.

When viewed from the perspective of cosmic consciousness, there is a lot that needs to be done. You can’t leave anyone out. Anyone’s suffering is all our suffering. It is hard not to get overwhelmed by global issues like hunger or ecological destruction, not to mention all the loneliness and heartache in the hidden lives of your friends and acquaintances. Happily, these problems aren’t yours to solve single handedly. The good news is that the right-minded people of the planet are more likely to spend time in cosmic consciousness, influencing the group mind of the planet, than the selfish ones. Or, put in a more mundane way, right-minded people are more co-operative and hence more effective than those working at cross-purpose selfish motives.

Your Life Work

Take an inventory of your talents. Do the planetary work you are best suited for, ideally the work that few others could do. Do the work you have most heart for. Take on a load that is appropriate. It is not globally optimal to take on either too much or too little. Keep your eyes focused on the task at hand. If you look too often at everything that needs to be done, you could fall into despair. Remember that you, living in millions of other bodies, is also doing the best it can too, even though it often does not always look that way.

Not all globally optimal work is grand and planetary. Often you can make as huge difference in someone’s life with very little effort on your part, just with a smile or a friendly word. Globally optimal work takes little out of you and delivers maximally to others.

Exercises

Cosmic Consciousness is no big deal. Work to feel comfortable with it. One simple exercise is just to take credit for the actions and moods of everyone around you. Think to yourself, "we are having a great time tonight". You can enjoy the fact that most of the people are having a great time, even if a few (possibly even including you) are not. You can enjoy your part in making the great time for everyone. Any time you see someone doing something out of the usual, say to yourself, "From the point of view of cosmic consciousness, that’s me doing that." Don’t over do this. Cosmic Consciousness is not the only point of view.

Rituals

You need some sort of ceremonies, festivals and rituals to provide cohesion. At the same time you don’t want to turn these into ropes that bind future generations in ways they don’t like.

You need ways of celebrating the usual life events, the beginnings and endings of relationships and lives. There could be a formal public relationship-ending ceremony to provide closure and to celebrate, bitch, laugh and cry. We could celebrate the key liberation struggles of history, such as Martin Luther King Day and Stonewall June 28, 1969.

Be Gentle With Yourself

Some people tend to be harsh on themselves and gentle with others. Some tend to be gentle with themselves and harsh with others. Some are harsh both with themselves and others. The optimal way to play is to be gentle with yourself and gentle with others too, since, from the point of view of cosmic consciousness, there is no difference. It is just as reprehensible/foolish to be mean to yourself as to be mean to others and vice versa. In particular, it is important to clean up your private internal dialog to learn to treat yourself politely and kindly.

It is obviously much easier to understand these things intellectually than to live them. Anyone reviewing my posts on the Internet will find ample evidence of that. But, again from the point of view of Cosmic Consciousness, that too is ok, since it is just us chickens involved. We collectively are just feeling our way as to how we want to be.

Caveats

This particular formulation of CCism is largely untested. Use it at your own risk. When in doubt about how to apply it, use common sense and act normally. My experience with it is that it generates an exciting, perhaps a little too exciting, life, but that could just be my medication.

Summary

Even if you are already committed to a religion such as Buddhism or Christianity, tenet (1) of CCism is probably compatible, though I’m not sure about tenets (2) and (3). Without feeling too wicked, you can have fun spending a day imagining what it would be like if you were in cosmic consciousness. Learn what you would do differently if you knew we were all one. It might even give you a deeper understanding of your chosen life philosophy.
consciousness
Karen Armstrong’s Charter For Compassion
reader feedback on this essay
Roedy’s personal philosophy: I talk a fair bit about cosmic consciousness in this essay
The Seven Centres of Consciousness

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