Archive for October, 2014

How to beat your flock into submission

October.31. 2014

Despots throughout history have understood the power of God to establish their legitimacy.

It’s uncanny, almost without exception, every ancient ruler was clued in onto this secret.

From the Egyptian pharaohs to ancient Chinese emperors to the later Aztec civilization, every despot worth his salt had claimed a direct connection to God, some even to the point of calling themselves “Sons of God.”

God is a handy tool.

Because if you have God on your side (or better still if you are God himself) no one will dare to question your authority.

It’s either obey me or suffer eternal damnation. (Yes, I know I’m simplifying things here. For ancient rulers, it was more about a mandate from heaven than any punishment in the afterlife.)

But as with every good racket, others soon began to discover the secret and of course, they too wanted in on the action.

And that’s how the phenomenon of “religious leaders” was born.

But these “religious leaders” were really political leaders operating under the cover of religion. What they wanted was political domination, not spiritual authority.

And they were smart; they took the idea one step further.

If God is so potent a tool, why not just dispense with the political angle altogether and go straight to God?

This was how one of the most bizarre episodes in religious history occurred, the Spanish inquisition. During those dark ages, the so-called leaders of the church assumed even greater power than their political leaders, the kings and emperors.

But those were the bad old days, you say, these days, we’re too smart and educated to be conned and subjugated like that. We can see through any would-be religious imposter.

But you would be wrong.

Everywhere in the world, it seems, religious fundamentalism is on the rise, dominated by a small number of clergymen, operating under the same self-righteous sense of infallibility and tolerating no dissent from anyone.

And seemingly smart and educated people all over the world are being hoodwinked by their propaganda, some to the point of giving up their lives.

Anyone who wants to study the methods of religious powermongers would have to study David Koresh, perhaps the greatest religious imposter who ever lived. (And yes, he too claimed to be God.)

I used to think that Koresh ruled over his flock through the sheer force of his charm and charisma, but after watching some TV documentaries, I’ve began to understand that his real weapon was fear. He instilled the fear of eternal damnation into his flock and from then, it was anything goes for him.

Truly, God as a tool to control and manipulate people is second to none.

It is more powerful than any army, more powerful than any ideology, more powerful than all the weapons in the arsenals of all the nations on earth.

Because you’re dealing with people’s souls and fears, mostly the fear of eternal damnation.

Because if a leader claims to have God on his side, any dissent against him automatically becomes a dissent against God, and who would dare risk the wrath of God by doing that.

It takes wisdom to recognize wisdom

October.30. 2014

It takes wisdom to recognize wisdom.

—Walter Lippman

The superior man when he hears the dao, practices it diligently; the mediocre man when he hears the dao, practices it sometimes; and the fool when he hears the dao, ridicules it.

—Tao Te Ching

Wisdom is hard to recognize, especially when one is not in a receptive state of mind.

I know, I’ve made the mistake myself more times than I care to admit.

How many times in the past had I heard some great piece of wisdom, and instead of learning from it, went on to ridicule it.

That’s why the quote from Mr. Lippman made such a strong impression on me. And why I instantly recognized the passage in the TTC as a commentary on some of my past follies.

These days, I try not to dismiss anything outright.

I weigh everything I hear.

There’s still a cynicism in me that tells me that most of what I hear is garbage, usually self-serving tactics and ploys to enslave you or your mind, or corporate propaganda to con and rob you.

But there’s another side of me that’s constantly on the lookout for wisdom.

And one thing I’ve learned is that wisdom is a lot rarer than garbage.

For every little piece of wisdom you gain, you might have to sift through a thousand pieces of garbage, but it’s all worth it.

Because wisdom has the power to alter your perceptions and change your life in dramatic ways.

Sometimes, all you need is that one small piece of wisdom to completely transform yourself and go from a state of abject ignorance to one of enlightenment and achievement.

So how do you know what’s wisdom and what’s garbage?

In their powers of transformation.

Wisdom empowers and uplifts you and those around you, while garbage brings you down and destroys you and those around you.

It takes all kinds

October.23. 2014

Reading the headlines today, I’m made ever more aware of how different people are—how different our priorities and outlooks on life.

Take for example the NY doctor who was just diagnosed with Ebola.

Why would anyone in their right mind go to some godforsaken country and help the fight against this dreaded disease?

Crazy, and look where this insanity landed him, in some isolation unit in a hospital battling the disease himself.

And then there’s this report of this man who went attacking some cops with a hatchet in NY.

Just goes to show how different we all are.

What would motivate one man to travel halfway around the world to help some strangers combat a deadly disease at great risk to himself and another man to go on a murderous rampage with a hatchet?

As they say, it takes all kinds to make up the world.

And it seems to me they’re mostly divided into two groups—those who build and those who destroy what the other group built.

Building is hard. It takes months, even years, to build a house or any other structure for that matter.

But it only takes a few minutes to bring it down.

So there’s no glory in destruction. Any fool can do it.

But to build something of value, of worth; that’s something else altogether and to do it with complete disregard for one’s personal safety for no other reason than to help your fellowmen.

That’s my definition of hero.

Here’s wishing Dr. Spencer a speedy recovery and thank you sir, for your service.