Contemplative fieldnote: Purity Bubbles

Contemplative field notes: Purity Bubbles

Roughly speaking, when bubbles burst, energy held up as tension and pressure differentials get released as a shock wave; pop!

The same things happen in psycho-social bubbles. This could feel pleasant, like when a child realises they don't have to enjoy the same things as their peers.

Collective delusions put a lot of stress on an individual, and in interesting ways.

When a person at the centre of a religious community builds cohesive tension with stories of purity — being free from the 'fetter' of desire and so on — this builds a sort of socially bound potential energy.

Then the inevitable happens and the leader is seen as being human...pop!

This is not peculiar to religious communities of course, but the example is particularly pronounced for its contrast and flagrant hypocrisy.

It is amazing that so many intelligent people get stuck in these collective delusions, but this is the power of psycho-social tension. This is pretty much a constant for humans. Being smart doesn't protect you from this.

If you find yourself in a situation where a collective delusion is popped without your consent, perhaps you can take it as an opportunity to explore your assumptions, and the ways in which social stories exert powerful tensions on your being.

A common pattern* is to sort of go through a process of picking off the more obvious strands connecting you to that social context, and then you begin to fall into some new gravity well, some new sphere which offers protection from the ‘terror of the air’ as Sloterdijk calls it.

(*You can have fun looking for examples of people hopping from disillusionment to re-settlement. A devoted Christian who realises that belief in The One True God wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and quickly becomes a True Believer in something like Atheism. A Militant Atheist, who becomes disillusioned with their faith, and becomes heavily involved with a Bhakti community, or sex magic, and so on.)

Perhaps Culadasa can take this opportunity to cast off the fetter of the fetters model, stop pretending to be anything but human, and enjoy the remainder of his life meditating, supporting sex workers, and giving meditation instruction to those who aren’t afraid of humans being human. I suspect it is better to just be human instead of reinforcing the delusion that purity is realistic or desirable; an ideal which inevitably results in compounding lies and disappointment.

I am not condoning bad behaviour as such. I'm saying that pretending that gifted religious teachers are pure, is a delusion, and I'm condemning those who willingly perpetuate that lie.

As that Zen bloke that people love to hate — Brad Warner — said, '...stuff always gets all caught up in religious ideas of righteousness and holy-ocity. Fuck that shit.' (Zen Wrapped in Karma Dipped in Chocolate. I got the quote from one of David Chapman's blogs).


More from Mi'sen