April 1, 2016

Bonobos and Born Agains

In The Bonobo And The Atheist Frans De Waal puts forth the idea that morality antedates religion. Observations of chimpanzees and bonobos have led him to some very plausible conclusions about the origins of human morality.  He believes that the social hierarchy of these primates, with its system of behavioral inhibitions, speaks to what paved the way for human morality.

De Waal speculates that humans were plenty moral when roaming in small bands. However, as populations grew, religion came along to ensure that the enlarged numbers remained true to the established moral code. This larger scale of society needed a moralizing God to keep the people in line so one was fabricated by the most imaginative of the bunch. I am on board with most of what this author has to say. However,  De Waal's understanding of the origins of God is where I jump ship.

 It is possible that Moses saw what behaviors were helpful for his social group so he came up with the ten commandments. His insights into human behavior may have prompted him to serve as that voice of a moralizing God. However, Moses like all the other charismatic figures in human history who have founded the world's major religions and many of the minor sects, claimed that his message was in response to a mystical union with the Almighty. As if infused with a view from above, Moses had gained insight into what could correct the wrong in his society.

Typically the fruit of these mystical unions, like the one Moses had, is the emergence of a charismatic leader who feels qualified to speak about God's will for the people. This leader is able to stir up a religious impulse in the hearts of the people; he inspires followers and sometimes lots of them. I refuse to believe that religions arise merely out of  some kind of brain fart in the human primate. Having had a mystical union myself, I believe something else is going on here.

I, like Gopi Krishna who also had one and wrote extensively, believe that it has something more to do with the unleashing of a dormant evolutionary mechanism in the brain. Through a process of  moral perfection the human primate can trigger an actual rearrangement of  his neurology at the quantum level. If this transfiguration is negotiated successfully, one can actually encounter within the transformative energy that powers our very universe.

If we view the human as a creature in an organic predicament, it is not far-fetched to think of a mystical union as nature's way of correcting a maladaptive characteristic in the human population. A legitimate mystical encounter certainly has an impact on a person's neurology and can lead to powerful cognitive changes. So much so that we get an upgraded primate who is not only more aware of his responsibility to others but more conscious of his connection to the very quantum ground of his being. We get a hominid who has ascended the evolutionary ladder and thereby feels qualified to take on the voice of a moralizing God.

Faithfully yours

Sheila Banks

                                       Pic:Badhoo/Dreamstime.com


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March 18, 2016

Sounding The Trumpet

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce 
ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.” 
                                                                                                    Bertrand Russell

Just like our primate cousins, we humans are hardwired with a herd instinct. Because humans need to get along, we have an innate tendency to think and act in the same way as the majority around us. The human is a herd animal.  

Unfortunately critical thinking in the individual is discouraged because of this herd mentality. Like a flock of sheep, conformity gets precedence over individual discernment. We humans 
 easily can be steered down one path or another. 

Years ago while reading Erik Fromm's The Anatomy of  Human Destructiveness I was struck by what he had to say about human evil.  His research into the myriad forms of human destructiveness led him to conclude that laziness and a lack of responsibility are main drivers of human evil. But wait a minute. Don't these tendencies go hand in hand with our our herd instinct?


In the herd, the individual is not expected to take responsibility nor required to think. Sadly, it is this tendency that sets us up for influence by all kinds of demagogues. How far do you think Hitler would have got if his followers had not gone along for the ride and decided to question the righteousness of the fuhrer's plan?  

You don't have to look far and wide to see this herd mentality percolating in the very genes of Homo sapiens. One recent example is the celebratory mood sparked in the USA at the take down of Osama bin Laden.The herd instinct kicked in and any talk of sympathy for this foe's tragic demise was out of order.


And, I will never forget the images I saw on television shortly after 9/11. I witnessed imams and burka-clad women dancing with joy in the streets. I can't remember from which Islamic country the news report originated but clearly these folks were elated that their perceived "enemy" had taken a heavy hit. 


The herd instinct does exist in the human primate and is synchronously triggered with the rise of a demagogue to the top of the heap. As if spells are caste upon the masses, people's anxieties get massaged into campaigns of hate against a perceived enemy. But the truth is: there is no enemy. There are only herds and herds of unconscious human primates all across the globe.

I say unconscious because large swaths of humanity still harbour an "us versus them" mentality. The Sunnis versus the Shi'i, the Protestants versus the Catholics, whites versus blacks, Muslims versus Jews and so on and so on. Everybody wants the fruits of peace so they sit in waiting for someone magical to come along and save them. 

Faithfully yours,

Sheila Banks 



                                                             Pic:Marti/Dreamstime.com



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February 25, 2016

The Sobering Facts

Heart-wrenching is a suitable descriptor for the case of drunk driving currently being covered by the major news outlets in Toronto. Three young children and their grandfather were killed by an impaired driver in 2015.  Needless to say, the parents are grief-stricken beyond belief.

The court proceedings for this case are winding down now. The lawyer in defense of his client summed him up to be a very good person who simply made a terrible choice.  But, he is not alone in his bad decision to drive under the influence. The latest figures crunched by the police tell us the number of impaired driving violations are on the increase.

In spite of public education campaigns and police spot checks there persists those who drink then drive. And, on top of that, there are those who insist on texting, shaving and make-up application while behind the wheel. These people, and there are lots of them, just don't get it. They act as if they are immune from reality. They, in fact, haven't recognized the truth about the human's humble position as a primate.

We know that distraction of or giving alcohol to a chimpanzee will impair the animal's ability to perform complex tasks. Why then would we think this principle does not apply to our own human case? We just have to look at the carnage and anguish brought about by impaired and distracted drivers to know that it certainly does.

Faithfully yours,

Sheila Banks

                                                            Pic:Localist/Dreamstime.com

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February 3, 2016

Happy Birthday Bob

The picture of me below is at The Bob Marley Museum in Kingston, Jamaica last February. I gave them a framed copy of the poem below.   I penned this tribute to Bob Marley a few years ago.

For The Love of Bob
 We heard him sing songs of freedom
as he fueled the fire of a roots revival.
Marley was the Jamaican messenger
who was guided by the wisdom of the Bible.

We know he was a creative genius.
Through music, he proclaimed God's word.
Bob Marley was the musical prophet
and creator of the sweetest vibes on earth.

We listened as he spoke out for justice.
Yet, he encouraged only peaceful means.
Just thank Jah he walked among us
and healed many with his soulful beat.

Amazed at how his reggae moved all the people,
as he swayed both black and the white.
Bob Marley was the musical prophet,
a human conduit for divine love,
and Jah's light.

There's a lot more to it. 

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January 25, 2016

More Knuckle-Dragging - The Holocaust Deniers

It was 71 years ago this week that Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. To commemorate this event the United Nations has chosen January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This day should be a reminder to all of how deluded the human animal can get. However, there are those who want to pretend it never happened.

I say to hell with you and your nonsense. Those who refuse to believe that the holocaust happened during the second world war are in denial about Homo sapiens'  animal nature. All one has to do is tune into the daily news to see how vicious the human primate can be. And, those who want to carry on with this scapegoating of the Jewish people just don't have insight into how they are continuing to behave just like our closest primate cousins, the chimpanzees.

I really can't understand why these holocaust deniers believe what they do. It did happen. My father, a Canadian soldier stationed in Europe at the time, witnessed it himself.

Faithfully yours,

Sheila Banks

Pic: Holocaust mass grave site

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December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas


I hope you have found something in this advent series. I look forward to presenting you with more food for thought in 2016.
         

Faithfully yours,
Sheila Banks

         
       Happy New Year


                                                                                         Pic:China,Elen/Dreamstime.com

There's a lot more to it. 

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December 24, 2015

Day Twenty Four ~ The Cosmic Christ Is Coming To Town

"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." 
                                                                                                            The Gospel of John 14:6
                                                                                                            Jesus Christ

Over the centuries the above quote from the gospel of John has been used by some followers of Christ to legitimize their misguided sense of religious superiority. If the truth be known, up to date scholars doubt that the historical Jesus actually said these words. Furthermore, evidence points to the likelihood that this gospel was written by a number of authors rather than a single person. Nevertheless, we do have this book in the New Testament because a group of ancient people wanted to tell us something important  about the Jesus phenomenon.

Jesus came bearing a message that has the power to alter the destiny of humankind. His message has universal significance because it is all about the human primate learning to tame the beast within. It matters not if you are a Jew, Muslim, Sikh or other as we are all children of the living father. Our species is on an evolutionary trajectory which requires all of us to make the holy wisdom of Jesus the Christ a part of our consensual reality. 


Happy Holy Days 2015

Faithfully yours,
Sheila Banks
                  Pic:Monika Wisniewska/Dreamstime.com
There's a lot more to it. 

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