Reading about the downfall of Arius and Arianism in the early period of the adoption by Rome of Christianity can really make a person cynical. You have all these religious officials and theorists debating something as if it can be proven by debate to be one thing or another which it cannot. It seems Arius believed that God the Father and the Son of God, Jesus, were two separate entities. The First Council of Nicaea probably did not want to authorize the veracity of such a belief because it seemed to go backward in the direction of polytheism from which Rome under Constantine’s influence was trying to escape. As Constantine had gotten rid of the tradition of separate governing of eastern and western Rome and consolidated power to rule all Rome under his own hand, after thrusting upon Rome the stateless religion of Christianity, it is understandable how Constantine would prefer to adhere to monotheism to cement his being seen as the mortal incarnation of a God, or more specifically, ‘the God’; one can intuit how much easier it is to assert this power if one doesn’t have to ask which God the emperor thinks he is the incarnate version of.
It is not that Constantine concerned himself with religious truths, because it is clear he was something of a psychopath, having executed his wife and nephew both after his own conversion to Christianity. If one thing can be gleaned from Constantine’s historic conversion of Rome to Christianity it is his opportunism; what was good for him was good for Rome, at least it seems this is how he saw the world. One wonders would Constantine have been at all moved had he been able to see the future and the darkness into which he was plunging the world by moving from polytheism to monotheism and with it such narrow interpretations of divinity that would be used to cause so many people so much suffering throughout the middle ages. The men of the church debated spirituality as if it could be discovered like a science, rather than experienced and lived. Certainly someday it may be possible that metaphysics and physics will merge; it is now possible to use entheogenics like DMT, ayuhuasca, MDMA, etc to experience the spiritual world and leave the physical body to interact with the deities and other spirit beings that do exist. These men, most of whom were ascetics of one sort or another, were having none of that though. They felt some conclusion could be reached by arguing with each other, and more disturbingly they felt an accurate conclusion would result. They seemed not to understand at all that spirit cannot be reached through intellect; clearly if this were possible the human experience would be utopian by now.
Still, so many centuries later, scholars are still at it, evidenced by the existence until recently of the so-called Jesus Seminar where scholars deemed worthy of respect vote to find a consensus on the actual sayings and deeds of the rabbi thought to be the biblical Christ. I feel humanity will remain lost as long as it pretends that one can ‘think’ one’s way to any kind of conclusion about spirituality or the spirit world that does in fact exist. What is clear is that our hearts dictate the difference between right and wrong in the world, between what we feel is good, and what is evil. When a child cries, we don’t lift it up to our heads and think really hard. If they wake from sleep in the night, we don’t throw a calculus textbook in the crib to quiet them, we pick them up and hold them close in order to transmit love to them, which children experience as calming unless they are in some kind of pain. In my experience of spirituality, the deities are a kind of spiritual parents that transmit love, an overwhelmingly powerful love that has to be experienced to understand. Children generally are capable of receiving this transmission directly apparently up until their late toddler years; there has been a large amount of documentation of children speaking about talking to deceased family members and to the Gods directly in many different articles over the last decade. Something happens in the brain to cut off this form of communication with the spirit world between the ages of three and five, apparently, but it can be reached in adulthood by the use of entheogenic drugs. Other forms of reaching spiritual connection that have been attested to include meditation, fasting, yoga, strenuous exercise, and even sexual release. I am convinced, however, that though we have been led for the last two millennia by scholars, their proselytizing is mostly empty, or wildly deficient at best. It is clear to me that, if anything, the Gods speak to us through our ‘hearts’ and ‘feelings’ and that intellectual debate is almost certainly the least spiritual activity through which to touch divinity. This can be evidenced by the fear we feel in confronting scholarly interpretations of the divine, and the seeming belief implicit in culture that these are scholarly endeavors at all. My own spiritual experiences underscore the complete opposite; they have taught me that the Gods are accessible to every human, that love is the main constant in the universe, and that intellect is almost useless when it comes to spiritual matters. This is why I am such a skeptic about so many experiences of divine revelation in religious texts and folklore, because when one experiences entheogenic drugs one realizes they act on completely different mechanisms in the brain that make normal thought processes and most physical activity completely impossible. They simply do not use the same parts of the brain that are useful in normal day to day functioning. In my opinion this is not an accident, because we are not capable of using those different processes at once, and to try to do so would cause the kind of disasters that happen, for instance, when people try to drive cars after reaching alcohol inebriation. It is clear we are supposed to be in a safe place in a still, quiet posture when interacting with deities. When I read that someone was just going along with their day and ‘the voice of God’ suddenly intervened into their consciousness, I rarely believe it. Even the Gods, it seem, believe in safety first; this is what convinces me that the term ‘religious scholar’ is almost an oxymoron and that scholarship and academia need to let go of the stranglehold on spirituality which they have held for two thousand years, to the clear detriment of humanity.
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