My Advice

A saddhu drinks from the Narmada

“What if you become a Catholic and it turns out the Orthodox are actually right?” Is the sort of critical question you could expect to receive from an early 00’s era atheist. And I think it’s a fair argument, when it comes to rigid religious practices that revolve around strict dogmatism. In a context where people bashed each other’s heads in over the question of whether Jesus had two natures, or one unified nature, it’s a legitimate point to bring up.

But as always, most of the 00’s era atheist arguments only apply against the religious context these people were brought up in. Another good one is: “Why would a good god send people to hell to suffer eternally?” I’d argue that the Dawkins type atheism is effectively a descendant of calvinism. Catholics don’t become atheists, they just lapse.

Most of these arguments don’t really work, when applied to pagans and esotericists. The smarter pagans will bring up that there are certain practices that emerged independently among different groups of people. An example is astrology. There are Indian, Islamic, Mesoamerican, Chinese and European forms of astrology. The idea that the position of the heavenly bodies can tell us something about what goes on in our own lives emerges independently in different parts of the world and appeals to people throughout history.

The atheists would argue that there is no plausible physical mechanism through which the planets could affect your life. But to this, many esotericists would respond that this is a strawman argument. The idea is not that the planets influence your life. Rather, the same patterns reveal themselves in the macrocosm as in the microcosm. A giant clock hanging on my wall doesn’t have the power to make me fall asleep, but it can serve as an indicator that tells me when I’m probably going to feel sleepy.

There are other practices you see emerge independently. Fasting is an example, a period during which people eat nothing, or eat sober meals, typically without meat. A lot of people say that after they stopped eating meat, they became depressed or felt tired a lot.

I’m sure this is true and I think if you look for a biological explanation you’ll find one. But personally, I think the reason is that metaphysically, you’re just not carrying your own weight when you eat meat. Hence in most traditions, people give up eating meat. Buddhists, Jain, Hindus, Eastern Orthodox monks, the Essenes, all arrived at this outcome.

The weird thing about meat is that it seems to taste better to humans, the more the animal in question has suffered. The dirty secret about grass-fed beef is that people just don’t particularly enjoy the taste of it: It’s said to taste worse, as it’s tough and low in fat. Rather, we put the animals through exaggerated forms of the suffering we endure ourselves: Fed food that makes them obese, stuck in overpopulated poorly ventilated buildings, kept from sunlight and nature. And whereas most people eat animals that were euthanized, aristocrats who have to fight in wars traditionally prefer to hunt. Eating these animals links you to them at a spiritual level and it seems to me you force them to carry a portion of your own suffering.

Another example of a practice you see emerge independently is ancestor worship. People in different cultures arrived independently at the idea that individual ancestors can be called upon to help you out, or that ancestors as a collective can help out their living descendants. The idea of a Guardian Genius is seen in multiple traditions too, to Catholics this is known as the Guardian Angel. Pilgrimages are similarly important in many traditions, Catholics actually inherited pilgrim journeys that began before Christianity began, like the Camino de Santiago.

I think that these practices, that convergently emerge in different traditions, have value of their own, regardless of whether you subscribe to all the various dogmatic and legalistic implications of the tradition in question. A Hindu Saddhu who walks along the Narmada, will experience something similar to a Catholic grandmother who makes a pilgrimage to Lourdes. An Eastern Orthodox monk who forgoes eating meat experiences something similar to a Buddhist monk in Vietnam who does the same. These practices give you insight into certain aspects of the human condition.

Within the Western context, the divide in how we think about reality is not so much between atheists on the one hand and pagans, Christians and esotericists on the other. Rather, the divide is between protestantism and its atheist, materialist and rationalist outgrowths on the one hand, with esotericism, paganism and assorted spiritual traditions on the other hand, with Catholicism being a big tent that extends into both sides of the spectrum, which makes sense when you consider the massive sway it has held over society for two millennia.

One side of this spectrum thinks of reality as something that exists independently from the observer, that is governed by hard deterministic forces and can be thoroughly understood through systematic observation and acquired knowledge passed on by an elite. Atheism is ultimately merely a further refinement of protestantism, that sheds the last remaining irrational and mystical elements it inherited from Catholicism.

To the other side of the spectrum, the external world we experience can not be seen as separate from the internal world. The external world is not seen as a puzzle for us to solve, but more as a mirror, that reflects what goes on in our internal world. This side of the spectrum places more emphasis on the value of our subjective experience. You can measure chemical reactions. What you can’t measure, are the feelings they induce.

I’m obviously biased, I look more favorable upon Catholicism, than on Protestantism, at least as practiced by the common folk. The modern “Trad” Catholicism seen on the Internet is not really an organic lived tradition of a community. It resembles Calvinist sects in its appearance. I look even more favorably upon the Dharmic traditions, this is obvious.

However, I don’t think that atheism and protestant Christian traditions are bad. The suitability of a tradition depends on the context you live in, even though these traditions themselves won’t acknowledge this, similar to how a haunted house in an amusement park could not achieve its purpose of scaring you if it constantly reminds you that it’s fake.

Early 00’s fedoraist Internet atheism is a fine tradition to follow for teenage boys who grew up in a dogmatic evangelical American household. But it’s like a cast, within which the imprint of the tradition it revolts against can still be seen. In a similar manner, we can see within Christianity the feign imprint of the tradition it revolted against: That of the totalitarian rule of the Roman emperor.

The dogmatic protestant traditions themselves can be useful too, for people who need certainty in their lives. Consider the example of George W. Bush. He suffered from alcoholism, he drove drunk and was fined for it. He credits his faith in God with helping him to give up drinking. In his context, the idea that the Earth is billions of years old and we’re a random product of evolution would not have given him the degree of certainty and sense of meaning that would allow him to get his shit together.

Christianity is a tradition that branched off from Judaism 2000 years ago. There was a world that existed before it, in which people were born, lived their lives and died. And the organic living tradition that is Christianity is one I did not inherit. One of my friends says the only real Catholic is a born Catholic, I think this is probably correct. It has served humanity for better or for worse over 2000 years. But what isn’t working very well, is atheism:

The problem with the demise of Christian tradition is that you don’t really have anything new to fill the vacuum. Most people don’t have the ability to do much with the idea that our universe has no intrinsic purpose and our lives have no intrinsic goal. Teenage girls now invent new genders as if they were constructing a pagan pantheon or filling a heavenly hierarchy of angelic beings, but the result so far is not happiness.

The biggest problem humans have to solve in life, is the one most people don’t want to think about: The fact you’re eventually going to die. The solution to that, as I see it, is to learn to see yourself in others and the world around you. In the Bible, Jesus says that those who believe in him, will not die. You will live, even though you die.

How does that work? Does it mean you sit on a cloud in heaven forever with your friends and family (except the ones who did not believe in Jesus)? I don’t think so, that would not be a meaningful life. Jesus however also says that he will appear to people, as prisoners, as people in poverty, but they will not recognize him. And he says that the two most important rules to follow are to love God and to love your fellow man.

So to me, it seems this is the essence of the Christian tradition: The immortality it promises people is delivered by helping them to love the people they meet and the world they inhabit. If for example, you truly understand what an elephant is, then you can’t fear death. I fear the extinction of the elephants more, than I fear the end of my own existence.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll notice that I believe we’re approaching a cataclysmic disaster. It is not just the global sustainability crisis we’re dealing with, as we lose forests to droughts and agriculture, exhaust the last remaining mineral deposits in our Earth, as our soils are eroded and polluted with heavy metals, our aquifers depleted, our oceans acidified, and yes, our atmosphere is transformed. It’s also the fact that we created a new virus, SARS-COV-2, against which we deployed a vaccine that did not work. I think this will end our civilization, long before we burn up all fossil fuels. No human body is designed to be reinfected by this virus two or three times a year, but that is what these vaccines brought about.

But I think the solution to make peace with this, is to recognize yourself in others. Not just the elephants. You have to love the hedgehogs, the squirrels, the rivers, the mountains, the redwood trees, the stinging nettles, the pigs, both feral and domesticated, the alligators, the rats, the mice, the spiders, the tiny bits of moss and lichen on the trees. These are all expressions of divinity.

You’re not going to figure this out by reading my blog, or by leaving angry comments on it, explaining how I misunderstand everything and claim to have knowledge I don’t have. This is a protestant way of thinking, the idea that divinity can only be found through reason, through a correct understand of the world, that the senses have no role to play in this. Even if I explain it to you, my words won’t mean anything to you. Instead, I think your best option is to turn off all your screens, take a friend with you and go out into nature. That’s my advice.

39 Comments

  1. The more I think about it, the more hilariously retarded your syncretic notions were from the other discussion. The god of the bible only tells the readers about a million times to have no other gods and to partake of none of the rites or practices of other gods.

    You really have invalidated all claims to having any insight to provide about the christian religion.

    • Then what are you doing here? You gain some sort of pleasure from reading the blog of a retard who is wrong about everything?

      • It’s still a fine blog, he’s just insulting you a tad.
        You’re a good lad, with brain cells and sometimes a solid sense of humour.
        Fucko is a good lad too. Some of the other commenters are too.

      • You’re not wrong about everything, you’re right about a lot of things. I try to make a point to tell you when you’re right. Sometimes you’re the most insightful guy I even read. It’s a shame to me that you’re so wrong about such an important area, which is why I point it out – the goal isn’t to harm you emotionally, it’s to help you understand it and fix it.

    • >The god of the bible only tells the readers about a million times to have no other gods and to partake of none of the rites or practices of other gods.
      Good first step. Now do about twenty minutes of research and you can start to understand what actually happened as opposed to what the scribes recorded. Look into, for example, the actual origins of Aaron’s staff and the clumsy way the recieved text tries to hide it. Learn about The Dead Sea Scolls and what the original version of Deuteronomy was like (I’ll give you a hint: compare 4QDeutj and the Septuagint’s version of Deuteronomy 32 to that of the much later Masoretic Text our modern Bibles are based on. Look into the Jacob cycle and why there is so much disagreement between sources as to what happened, and why the story would need to “deal with” a name like “Bethel” in the first place.

      You might understand whatever version of Christianity you were raised in. And perhaps none of the commentary above is relevant to whoever set up that particular version. But you do not understand any of the history that lead up to that point. You cannot, because to learn it that would cause you to doubt some of your dogmas. That’s perfectly alright, everyone has some strategy (I myself have clearly fallen into the foolish Post-Enlightenment trap of “dissect and study everything until it is dead and then pretend that if you can just put it back together it will live”). But do not be suprised when discussions between people who do do the research or do the thinking through dismiss you.

      “Insight” is measured not in adherence to public dogma and obvious phenomena, but in an understanding of private relations and background dynamics.

  2. How many ancestors will the average person have over the course of 2000 years?

    Assuming an average generation of 30 years, you would have more than 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 ancestors (100 quintillion). A hundred million times as many humans as have ever lived (100 billion).

    This paradox can be explained by realizing that as you go back in time, even just a few hundred years, many of you ancestors are repeated over and over again in your family tree due to the marriage of close or distant cousins. For example, going back only 350 years, Jurgen Moll shows up 6 times in my tree.

    You likely have less than 100,000,000 unique ancestors living 2,000 years ago, instead of the mathematically calculated 100,000,000,000,000,000,000.

  3. Cult of ancestors and heaven/hell are psychological defenses from the fear of dying. I will not fully die, someone says, I will live in the minds of my descendants/in heaven/in hell worst case.

    Re: meat. Since going vegan on Dec 9, I feel less energy, especially in the last three weeks or so. This may be a deal breaker as I need to function, write substack posts and operate my small real space business.

      • Well, I *HOPE* that I take too few calories because I am also trying to lose weight. My BMI is 27.1 and I am trying to get it under 25.

        But I am losing weight slowly so I do not have a big calorie deficit.

        • Mike Tyson’s BMI was about 31 when he was at his athletic peak, Seb Coe’s was about 17. They were as healthy as oxen in their younger days, they are still alive now and in fine health. People have very different builds. Ask yourself, can you run or swim well, how many pull ups can you do, do you feel great, are you full of beans? A BMI of 27 might be just right for you.

          • I am not super athletic because my foot was broken in 2022, and I cannot run, jump, or walk long distances. I want to start exercising more and actually want to retire soon.

    • Are you supplementing with selenium? I was a strict vegan for 19 years, and the first few years were miserable but then I realized that I had to supplement with selenium; it is crucial. But you must not overdo; too much is toxic. One Brazil nut a day will do it.

      I had loads of energy and my bloodwork was good when I was vegan, but I was technically overweight. Maybe that is unavoidable.

      I did have the K2 issue, which is why I now eat pasture raised eggs. I can’t take K2 pills since they raise my blood pressure (that is not rare). Natto would be a better choice but it is ridiculously expensive.

    • Hello, you may want to look into a different form of B-12 than you’re taking…Some people assimilate Methylcobalamin more efficiently than Cyanocobalamin.
      As well, it can be difficult for some people’s bodies to assimilate B-12 in pill form, a sublingual form works for some, but many are only helped by weekly injections of B-12 (most any GP can do those.

      If you try all those, and still feeling less energy than needed, you may need to give up on vegan, and find a balance that works for you. I’ll share my experience:
      In 2011, I ended up in the hospital with Anemia resulting in the need for transfusion with two pints of blood, without which I would likely have had a severe heart attack. While in hospital, doctors really worked me up, testing for every possible cause, yet finding nothing physically wrong. It was determined to be dietary in nature, and I was put on Iron supplements.

      However, on being released as I looked over my blood work, I noticed that my Iron levels weren’t that low, but my B-12 was…So, I started researching, and it turns out, the body needs a significant amount of B-12, in order to process Iron!
      But that’s not the ‘last word’…
      …Because, I had been troubled by inexplicable degrees of fatigue most of my adult life. But it was not until I ended up in hospital and began researching nutrition, experimenting with various dietary ‘forms’, and correlating info with my own memories (as well as other’s case histories), that one day I finally had the following realization – backed up by more than a few scientist’s findings, as I discovered:

      Some people, due to various genetic & epigenetic factors, simply cannot function optimally without at least some meat (or at least eggs) in their diets.

      Conclusion being: I now eat at least one egg (Organic, “humanitarian pasture raised” – yes, that’s a thing) per day and as well, at least once per week, I eat a serving of Organic, grass-fed, humanely ‘processed’) ground beef.

      Because you’re a man, you may find that you need to consume a bit more than I do…it’s worth experimenting with…
      I do hope you fine this information helpful.
      My apologies Rintrah, for going off topic – to you, I will say that I feel what you posted above rather profound and in no small degree lovely.

      • Yes also chiming in (off-topic of course) but meat really is good for you. As the author admits, not eating it can lead to lower energy, depression, weakened concentration… because meat and especially beef has some of the highest concentrations of the vitamins you need in order to function.

        I personally don’t revel in the fact that the factory conditions are pretty poor. At the same time, I think that most of the ‘grass-fed’ stuff is probably the same meat but in a different package and with some dye. It’s like in the Simpsons where there are different flavors of beer all coming from the same tube. Without there being some kind of regulations (probably not gonna happen anytime soon, let’s be honest) you can either admit to being human or take the monk path.

          • I wouldn’t know TBH, never tried bison meat. I stick to beef pretty much. The key (I think) is to avoid buying from areas where there are a lot of people concentrated and so the supply might be a bit worse; higher quantity means lower quality.

  4. Maybe you could explore paganism vs the all-powerful Abrahamic sky god more fully?
    A pantheon of gods with petty human traits might seem silly but on a deeper level not so, as it grounds us more fully in nature.
    I’ve always suspected that monotheism is possibly the worst idea Mankind ever came up with but I can’t articulate it as well as you.
    I remember seeing some ancient graffiti scratched into a wall by a Roman depicting a donkey nailed to a cross, mocking Severanus and his “god.”

  5. The irony of the modern atheists who sing the praises of eternal progress is that they have reinvented Christianity. Christ’s return has been replaced with the belief of an imminent singularity where super smart robots will be our salvation. Getting eternal life has been replaced with the belief that we will be able to upload our consciousness to a computer.

  6. There’s scant evidence that factory-produced meat tastes better. Yes, it generally has more fat, and fat often improves flavor. But there’s more to flavor than fat. Wild birds and wild game are more flavorful than the typical roast in a grocery store. Barnyard chickens like my parents had are also much tastier, and definitely make for better chicken soup or stew than store-bought ones. Their superior taste is probably related to them being more nutrient-dense.

    I only bring it up only to suggest there may be less to your point about humans, or at least the latest crop of humans, preferring their steak to have suffered for the privilege of landing on our plate. I really think people are repelled by such a notion, and it has driven some to abandon meat eating.

  7. Dearest Rintrah: As someone who has devoted a substantial portion of my days to an academic study of the Bible, the hope of immortality imperfectly outlined in the New Testament is that all creation (including all humanity) will eventually be redeemed in a new world that God will establish in an altogether separate plane of existence. In my judgment, the accounts of certain NDErs of a heavenly earth in which even the smallest blades of grass feel palpably alive approximates this vision. One of the great tragedies of Christianity is that even the religion’s most ardent believers are scandalized by such a cosmic vision of redemptive love, which isn’t confined to an “elect” few. Ideally, the prophetic challenge of 00s-era atheism could’ve served as a catalyst for theological reform among certain Protestant strains, but the relevant traditions were too proud and seem to have not learned much from that time.

  8. Speaking rationally, the ‘polycrisis’ aka ‘overshoot’ aka ‘the sustainability crisis’ (or whatever other term for it) should by rights take everything down, if this lab created virus and “vaccine” for same, or some other disaster, don’t get there first.

    But that’s the rational mind speaking.

    If it were all just down to reason, then on balance of probabilities, we probably shouldn’t even exist at all.

    Q: How many disasters have we survived?

    A: All of them.

    As confounding as it may be, the empirical evidence points towards God loving everyone and not letting us die out.

    At least until God decides that it’s time to pull the pin, which it seems none of us can predict given the long line of failed predictions.

    I know, I know. . .

    God loves us. . .

    How disappointing 😛

  9. All prior predictions of doom have failed, so it’s time I gave mine: our civilization isn’t going to end any time soon because God loves us too much to see billions of us die.

    The horror!

    I hope I didn’t just jinx us (or perhaps I hope I have).

  10. As always, a couple of hidden gems in Radagast’s rant:

    Quote:

    the solution to make peace with this, is to recognize yourself in others.

    Unquote

    You don’t have to love the hedgehogs, the squirrels, the rivers,

    You just have to stop mercilessly harming and killing them.

  11. Even if we were to accept/dismiss astrology as essentially bunkum, anyone who makes fun of women for being into it is spiritually homosexual. At best there’s truth to it and it’s harnessing their characteristic sense of wonder and intuition, at worst there isn’t but it’s a cute, precious, feminine behavior that you’d find endearing if you actually liked women.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go6ARH4xBcU
    “Stop thinking you need a woman who is too rational for astrology, cause you know who’s going to be too rational to believe in astrology? A man. A man with Asperger’s. If you want someone who is too smart for things like astrology, then go find a man with Asperger’s and start dating him.”

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The patients in the mental ward have had their daily dose of xanax and calmed down it seems, so most of your comments should be automatically posted again. Try not to annoy me with your low IQ low status white male theories about the Nazi gas chambers being fake or CO2 being harmless plant food and we can all get along. Have fun!

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