Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Zeitgeist Challenge Part 1

The Zeitgeist "Challenge" Part 1

What's this about?

I am interacting with some people on-line (a Mountain Biking forum on the website).  I was given an honest "challenge" of sorts...

"I see that you are definitely one of the faithful but please just watch Part 1 (The Zeitgeist Movie) and please let me know if you can disprove anything they are saying. There might be some discrepancies but I just don't like to see people eating up everything their "religion" tells them"

Part 1 of the Zeitgeist Movie is two hours long, so this may take a while...I don't know how many "parts" of my article there may be by the end, but I've only viewed through the 15 minute intro and decided to break this into digestible "chunks".  Thank you for the "challenge"...for making my brain work!

Intro - The Zeitgeist Movie/Movement

The Zeitgeist Movie

Zeitgeist Movie Transcript

Part of the "Statement" from the Zeitgeist Website:

"'Zeitgeist, The Movie' and 'Zeitgeist: Addendum' were created as Not-for-Profit expressions to communicate what the author felt were highly important social understandings which most humans are generally not aware of. The first film focuses on suppressed historical & modern information about currently dominant social institutions, while also exploring what could be in store for humanity if the power structures at large continue their patterns of self-interest, corruption, and consolidation."  

It certainly sounds like an honest and noble cause motivated by a desire to reveal truth.  I like it.  Isn't that why I speak to people about what I believe the "truth" is?

I move on over to The Zeitgeist Movement a stand alone website "The Zeitgeist Movement" where I find a lengthy statement about the Goal of the Zeitgeist movement.

"We intend to restore the fundamental necessities and environmental awareness of the species through the avocation of the most current understandings of who and what we truly are, coupled with how science, nature and technology (rather than religion, politics and money) hold the keys to our personal growth, not only as individual human beings, but as a civilization, both structurally and spiritually. "

"...where negative social consequences, such as social stratification, war, biases, elitism and criminal activity will be constantly reduced and, idealistically, eventually become nonexistent within the spectrum of human behavior itself.

This possibility is, of course, very difficult for most humans to consider, for we have been conditioned by society to think that crime, corruption and dishonesty is "the way it is" and that there will always be people who want to abuse, hurt and take advantage of others. Religion is the largest promoter of this propaganda, for the "us and them" or "good and evil" mentality promotes this false assumption."

"In turn, once we realize that it is science, technology and hence human creativity which creates progress in our lives, we are then able to recognize what our true priorities are for social and personal growth and progress. These points denoted, we can then see that Religion, Politics and the Money/Competition based Labor system are outdated modes of social operation, which must now be addressed and outgrown. Our avocation is to achieve a social system which operates without money or politics, while allowing superstition to work itself out as education flourishes. It isn't the right of any person to tell another what to believe, for no human has a full understanding of anything."

Sidenote:  Within the "Goals" statement...I read "It isn't the right of any person to tell another what to believe, for no human has a full understanding of anything."  The statement seems self-disqualifying.  How can the Zeitgeist Movement claim "It isn't the right of any person to tell another what to believe, for no human has a full understanding of anything."...yet the rest of the Goal Statement states so clearly that the Zeitgeist Movement is the only way to cure all the ills of society?

What stands out to me?  OK...the Zeitgeist Movement proposes that "religion" is one of a few key factors that has contributed to many (if not all) ills of society.'s a cool thing, I agree with this on many levels.

The Zeitgeist Movie

So...the movie starts with a three minute philosophical/spiritual statement by Chögyam Trungpa, a "Buddhist meditation master, scholar, teacher, poet, artist, and a Trungpa tülku." (quoted from Wikipedia )

Here is a little background I dug up on Chögyam Trungpa:

"His controversial career is characterized by his style of "crazy wisdom" by his Western followers. Physically weakened by years of heavy alcohol use, he died in terminal stages of heart failure at the age of 48." (Wikipedia )

"Shortly after his move to Scotland, a variety of experiences, including a car accident that left him partially paralyzed on the left side of his body, led Trungpa to the decision to give up his monastic vows and work as a lay teacher. This decision was principally motivated by the intention to undercut the temptation of students becoming distracted by exotic cultures and dress, and by their preconceptions of how a guru should behave. He drank, smoked, slept with students, and often kept students waiting for hours before giving teachings. Much of his behavior has been asserted as deliberately provocative and sparked controversies that continue to this day" (Wikipedia )

"In general, I think that nearly all of what passes for “crazy wisdom” and is justified as “crazy wisdom” by both master and enraptured disciple is really cruelty and exploitation, not enlightened wisdom at all. In the name of “crazy wisdom” appalling crimes have been rationalized by master and disciple alike, and many lives have been partly or completely devastated. (Andrew Harvey)

His wife Diana Mukpo summarizes: 'Although he (Chögyam Trungpa) had many of the classic health problems that develop from heavy drinking, it was in fact more likely the diabetes and high blood pressure that led to abnormal blood sugar levels and then the cardiac arrest'. One of his nursing attendants reports that in his last months, he suffered from incontinence, distended belly, discolored skin, hallucinations, varicose veins, gastritis, and esophageal varices -- classic symptoms of terminal alcoholism and cirrhosis -- and yet he was still drinking heavily." (Wikipedia )

Why would I point out some of these things about Chögyam Trungpa?  Two reasons.

First; one of the stated goals of the Zeitgeist Movement is to tear down "Religion" as one of the oppressive strata of humanity, yet it uses the statement of a Buddhist Monk (a religious man...right?) to open the movie.

Second; imagine if I created a movie to support what I believe.  Why my faith if accepted and followed by everyone on the planet would move to eventually eliminate 
"negative social consequences, such as social stratification, war, biases, elitism and criminal activity", yet I opened the movie with a statement by Tedd Haggard (a big money, meth smoking, gay prostitue using "Christian" preacher).  Wouldn't you balk from the get-go at the hypocrisy?

Here is the opening statement by 
Chögyam Trungpa:

"Spirituality is a particular term which actually means dealing with intuition. In the theistic tradition there is a notion of clinging into a word.  A certain act is regarded as displeasing to a divine principles. A certain act is regarded as pleasing for the divine … whatever.  In the tradition of non-theism, however, it is very direct — that the case history are not particularly important. What is actually important is here and now. Now is definitely now. We try to experience what is available there, on the spot. There is no point in thinking that a past did exist that we could have now. This is now. This very moment. Nothing mystical, just now, very simple, straight forward. And from that nowness, however, arises a sense of intelligence always that you are constantly interacting with reality one by one. Spot by spot. Constantly. We actually experience fantastic precision, always.  But we are threatened by the now so we jump to the past or the future. Paying attention to the materials that exist in our life — such rich life that we lead — all these choices takes place all the time, but none of them regarded as bad or good per say — everything we experience are unconditional experience. They don’t come along with a label saying ‘this is regarded as bad’, ‘this is good’. But we experience them but we don’t actually pay heed to them properly. We don’t actually regard that we are going somewhere. We regard that as a hassle. Waiting to be dead. That is a problem. That is not trusting the nowness properly that what is the actual experience now possesses a lot of powerful things. It is so powerful that we can’t face it. Therefore, we have to borrow from the past and invite the future all the time. Maybe that’s why we seek religion. Maybe that’s why we march in the street. Maybe that’s why we complain to society. Maybe that’s why we vote for the presidents. It is quite ironic. Very funny indeed."

Spirituality: "the quality or fact of being spiritual.  predominantly spiritual character as shown in thought, life, etc.; spiritual tendency or tone."
Intuition: "direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension. pure, untaught, noninferential knowledge."

Would you agree that it does not matter what I believe, it does not matter what Chögyam Trungpa does not really matter what anyone believes for that matter unless it is based on fact, not intuition.  We can't all be right can we?  The only thing that matters is the truth.  Say Chögyam and I stood atop a 2,000ft cliff and we both had to jump to jagged the rocks below - if Chögyam's intuition told him that he would float down and would land gently...and I said...the laws of physics tell me that we'll both be smashed to bits...what matters?  intuition or plain fact?

What would matter?  Truth would prevail - we'd both me stains on the rocks below.

The faith I based on evidential truth.  So, I disagree at the outset that "Spirituality means dealing with intuition" least in my world view.  The framework of truth that I rely on is built upon historical, archaeological, prophetic, even eye witness accounts of fact (or at least that's what I believe thus far).

Let's continue the movie...and see if the claims in the movie can shred...or at least tear at the fabric of the truth I believe.

-- To be continued --