You will recognize the title at once as a paraphrase of Voltaire’s famous and witty quote: “If God didn’t exist it would be necessary to invent him.”
What’s brought this up? Last night I watched a wonderful TV documentary on Arthur “The Once And Future King”, by historical presenter Michael Wood. Wood has some amazing magic that’s hard to fathom but he turns legend and history into stuff more moving and inspiring than anything Hollywood could ever produce (and NOT EXCLUDING Lord of The Rings, Avatar, Lost Horizon and all the other epics).
For example, Wood explains a super plausible hypothesis of the sword in the stone myth. He suggests it’s far, far older than the Arthur legend and rests on the “magic” of early smithing and how metal was brought forth from the ground, after heating in fire. Swords were cast in stone moulds! So when the cast was cooled and the mould opened, the wielder of magical knowledge really did draw forth a sword from the stone! Continue reading
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
– Carl Jung
The Guru says…
Here’s a brilliant application of the outflow equals inflow principle you can use right away! When friends, relatives, acquaintances endlessly carp about the same stuck complaints and aggravations, or dwelling just a bit too long on it, or are being just that little too self-righteous about things, it’s a sure give away THEY are doing it!
Shakespeare first said it with “Action speaks loudly in accusation”– meaning what people tend to rant about reflects their own guilt about doing the very thing they are complaining of [he actually had Hamlet say “Methinks the lady doth protest too much” but go with me on this].
David Hume, Scottish philosopher, got hold of it with: “We never remark any passion or principle in others, of which, in some degree or other, we may not find a parallel in ourselves” (Treatise On Human Nature)
I think it was Emerson who quipped “The louder he talked about honesty the more I was inclined to hide the family spoons”.
Freud revisited the idea in modern times with a book called “The Psychopathology Of Everyday Speech”. In it he explains how what we talk about, especially when it is repetitive, is a reflection of our own negative aspects of case or “stuff”.
From this book we got the term “Freudian slip”, meaning some verbal marker to our real hidden feelings. It is rather like a flag sticking up in the sand; when you dig down, underneath is a buried sewer.
In fact Freudian slips have come to mean only smutty innuendos, but as originally used, Freud intended any revealing talk. Continue reading
The guru says:
Let’s start this important section with what may arguably be the BIGGEST of all philosophical life principles. It lies behind all right thinking and all good (intelligent, moral) living.
Briefly stated, the law is this:
What you give out is what you get back
This appears in many forms, in many texts and religious creeds. You may recognize it in the Buddhist law of Karma or the Biblical phrase “As ye sow, so shall ye reap”. It is the philosophical or psychological version of Newton’s law of motion: action and reaction are equal and opposite. His mechanistic principle says you can’t push one way without automatically creating the counter-thrust.
There is a much slangier phrase today: “What goes around comes around”. All of these maxims and proverbs exist because we recognize that there is an important principle at work in our lives. The results of ignoring its presence in the fabric of the universe are inevitable confusion, dismay and negative outcomes.
Probably this law is even more important in its reverse statement:
What you’ve got is what you gave out! If your marriage is pretty poor, that’s because YOU are a pretty poor marriage partner (never mind the other person involved). If you are unhappy at work, YOU are an unsatisfactory employee. If people trick you with lies, it’s because YOU are not honest.
Stated this way, it is a very hard principle indeed to live by. Most of us would prefer to ignore it and blame all our troubles on other people. It’s easier that way. We duck our own involvement and fondly imagine that we are in the clear. Continue reading