Communique 10-19-2020 "We Feel And Know That We Are Eternal" –Baruch Spinoza
By Philip Drucker
We Feel And Know That We Are Eternal –Baruch Spinoza
Ever have one of those days where you wake up thinking about Baruch Spinoza? Interesting fellow to say the least. You must admire anyone who by the age of 23 managed to get himself excommunicated from the Amsterdam Portuguese-Jewish community for “abominable heresies” and “monstrous deeds.” They had a way with words back then, didn’t they? You might be asking yourself what it is a young man had to do in 1656 to receive such a harsh sentence. His offense was in short, he dared to suggest that the identity of God and nature were one.
Spinoza also suggested organized religion was nothing more than organized superstition. I’ll take a guess the elders didn’t quite cotton to that idea. Nope, none of that new-fangled rational basis test type of thinking for them. If it was good enough for Moses it was good enough for them. Did I mention the rabbis placed a couple of curses on Spinoza for good measure? Good times to be sure.
According to Spinoza, reality exists in understanding attributes and substance, with God being a substance expressing an infinity of attributes, each one expressing an infinite and eternal essence. How the human mind perceives God and/or infinity is through thought and extension.
In Spinoza’s world, we humans use our thoughts and extensions thereof to identify modes of metaphysics, being and existence. Spinoza identifies and equates God with divine attributes that are revealed to us through the study and understanding of get this, the nature of nature. Deus sive Natura (God or Nature), are one in the same and are not subject to separation or division, only categorization as an infinite or eternal mode (big picture), and finite or temporal modes (little picture).
So, you might still be wondering what had those 17th Century theologians who exiled Spinoza from their community knickers in an ontological knot? It could be his rejection of classical theism, specifically, the notion that God is the creator and hence the master of a universe subject to governed by what I would term divine sovereignty. This could be a problem for the devout as from a practical viewpoint, God and nature, including mankind, are all one in the same, cannot be distinguished from one another, and hence, equal.
One can only imagine what trouble the idea of equality between man and his maker would have caused Spinoza in the 1600s. I believe it would be fair to say it was the kind of statement that got your heretical butt cursed and excommunicated, but fortunately, not sentenced to ritual stoning or burned at the stake. We’ll leave those for the non-witches of Salem, who BTW were not all women and not burned at the stake, but hanged for their acts of, well, being women for the most part. But that is another story for another time.
There is also another aspect of Spinoza’s theism that strikes me even today as the untenable views of a heretic to your average modern day worshiper. Are you ready? God wants you to be happy. I don’t know about you, but for this I can’t imagine how Spinoza escaped having his works destroyed and the very mention of his name made into a sin of immeasurable proportions and akin to calling upon the devil himself for spiritual deliverance. Of course, that would be more like learning the blues, so let’s put that aside for now. Let’s talk about Spinoza’s insistence on happiness, or if I may add my two cents in service of our current situation, happiness through the application of ultimate equality in thought (mind) and body (action).
Time to lay down the boogie and here it is. Trump supporters are like children. Near as I can tell, they are constantly seeking approval. From mommy, from daddy, from their pastors, their preachers, their rabbis, their imams, their neighbors, the guy on the radio selling fake gold coins and deodorant. Remember Rush and his legion of ditto heads?
How many times did I hear from his supporters he says what I’m thinking? This to me was the moral equivalent of admitting you are a racist, but too cowardly to speak for yourself. Here’s my question. You the follower of a fat, stupid carnival barker whose only “gift” was telling you what you wanted to hear drug addled jacked up high school dropout. Did it make you happy?
Were you pleased when Trump won? Because let me tell you again, straight out, the fat fascist finagling four flusher you have all bowed down to and placed upon a phony pedestal of piety has been a one trick not so golden pony the whole time. This con man has played the dangerous ace card no person of morality or integrity in a position of influence should ever bet on, much less make it the center place of their warped and twisted agenda designed to divide and ultimately destroy.
He makes it OK to hate and through your hate for your brothers and sisters, you will somehow find peace, contentment and yes, even a place in heaven for it is the way of things. But it’s not. Do I really have to tell you the way to eternal grace is not through genocide? That bad acts can never in and of themselves earn you any credit toward the Kingdom? That love and understanding do not come from the barrel of a gun?
Spinoza, along with Rene Descartes and Thomas Hobbs (not Calvin) are the big three philosophers who stressed reason and rational thought as the basis through which we could learn, experience and grow into the persons we were always meant to be. Imbued with a spirit of kindness, care and empathy. Enlightened and aware. Honest, honorable and complete. I hold these truths to be self-evident. Why do you fight your true nature?
Does it make you happy to see children kept in cages for no reason other than the color of their skin? Did it make you happy to see a child of 17 murder two protestors for exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech? Did it make you happy to see us abandon our allies the Kurds so King Trump could sidle up to dictators and possibly get a hotel out of the deal? Does it make you happy to see the rich get richer? The poor get poorer? The numbers of sick, infirm the dying and the dead due to the Covid-19 virus get higher every day? Does it make you happy to be an accessory to lies, disinformation, murder, mayhem, injustice and terror? Well, does it?
After four years, you must at least have a glimmer that it is a game that cannot be won for the approval game is nothing more than a never-ending series of demands for loyalty along with requisite acts of ever deepening desperation, depravity and disgrace? In all seriousness, ask yourself before all is lost. Would you kill for Trump? Would that make you happy? If so, please tell me, how do you sleep at night? I know I couldn’t.
For Jaime Carlos-Casillas. (Einstein got it right!)