As I stated in the initial installment of this series, I find a lot of wisdom in bumper stickers and keep a list of them handy for illustrating and driving home points I’m seeking to make in casual conversation, or more public statements. Bumper stickers seem to have a marvelous ability to reduce a fact or principle to its essence and convey the result in a form that, though possibly provocative, is generally palatable and often quite amusing. As I’ve had a lifelong interest in metaphysics and spirituality, I find these pithy little messages particularly suitable for challenging fundamentalist extremism and separating genuine spirituality from religious facades and pretensions. So, here are some more of my favourites:
IF IGNORANCE IS BLISS, WHY AREN’T MORE PEOPLE HAPPY?
Of course, the obvious answer is that ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance of the truth of oneself, ignorance of the way life was designed to work, how can that produce happiness? Ignorance of what I call the creative process of life is antithetical to happiness; it results in misery and pain: physical, mental and emotional pain. And this is exactly what humanity is experiencing. The deplorable nature of the human condition is a dramatic testimony to ignorance, an abysmal neglect of the creative process, plunging the world into profound darkness.
Another familiar bumper sticker comes to mind in this regard: BEAM ME UP SCOTTY, THERE’S NO INTELLIGENT LIFE DOWN HERE. To this someone might respond, “What do you mean, no intelligent life? Look at the scientific and technological progress the human race has made. We have supercomputers, smart phones, satellite television, bullet trains, airplanes, submarines and electronic cigarettes. We have multitudes of libraries with billions of books storing massive amounts of information. We have Wikipedia and Google. We’ve put a man on the moon and have spirit and opportunity on Mars! What do you mean we’re not intelligent?”
There is a difference between IQ (intelligence quotient) and what I refer to as SIQ (spiritual intelligence quotient). The former has to do with “exoteric technology,” knowledge about things and how to dissect and manipulate things in the physical world. The latter has to do with “esoteric technology,” knowing how life is actually designed to work; it’s concerned with the meaning and purpose of life. While humanity has demonstrated a modicum of advancement in IQ (knowledge about), its SIQ lies inert in a deep cavern of darkened understanding. There has been an endeavour to climb out of this pit of spiritual ignorance with religious beliefs and practices, but these products of exoteric thinking have only served to seal human beings in their self-created tomb. RELIGIONS ARE JUST CULTS WITH MORE MEMBERS, reads another bumper sticker. How true. They have just served to separate human beings from the truth of love and the nature of creation. And also from each other.
I used to write and edit for a magazine called Ontological Thought. Ontology is a branch of metaphysics that has to do with the nature and science of being. Here is an area of esoteric technology that human beings might profitably study to begin to develop an SIQ. But mental study by itself will never yield the truth of being. I have discovered that there is one great principle that opens the door to truth, to the whole panorama of life’s creative process and ultimately to happiness, and it is simply this: “You only know what you express.” The truth of love, the Source, the divine fire, the magnificent riches of the creative process , the highest and finest qualities of true character—all these lie at the very core of my being. But I won’t know them and will remain in ignorance until I give them expression in my living, and only when I do so will I begin to experience a deep and lasting happiness.[Note also these related bumper stickers: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS NO MATCH FOR NATURAL STUPIDITY; NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF STUPID PEOPLE IN LARGE GROUPS; GOD WANTS SPIRITUAL FRUITS, NOT RELIGIOUS NUTS.]
I’M ALREADY AGAINST THE NEXT WAR
In the late 1960s, I was a very passionate protester against the war in Vietnam. As one of five charter members of the SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) in Colorado Springs, I led protest marches and addressed large crowds in Acacia Park in the heart of the business district. With the only printing press in possession of the local “new left,” I supplied all of the leaflets for these demonstrations. I also recall standing on the other side of a fence at Fort Carson, facing a line of soldiers and trying to offer them flowers while helicopters swirled overhead. I doubt that any of this actually contributed to ending the war. The only possible value it had was building a sense of community with fellow protesters.
What good does it do to be against the next war, or the current war, or any war? To be against anything is actually a form of war. There may be no guns, bombs or other weapons involved, yet it is the very attitude of opposition that delivers a vibrational current of destruction, an influence that not only does violence to others but also to the person from whom this current emanates. In fact, if we could somehow visualize all of the havoc caused by negative attitudes such as hate, resentment, jealousy, etc., I think we would be horrified. The first step towards genuine peace on Earth has to do with the dissolution of these attitudes in human hearts and minds.
I recently read an article by a woman who had a degree in “peace studies” from a recognized university. Is peace a subject that can be studied in a college course of instruction? I have a hard time wrapping my head around this. Peace is an attitude, a quality of character that can be expressed in living. Gandhi is noted for saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Similarly with peace, if someone wishes to see it in the world, it must be embodied in living. This is the fundamental starting point. The only way to know peace is to be peace.
There is another bumper sticker that reads: WE NEED A DEPARTMENT OF PEACE. I don’t think so. This seems to suggest that politicians and officials in the defense department could somehow achieve peace. Bureaucratization and militarization of peace has never worked; it only produces a temporary cessation of hostilities that isn’t really peace at all. The end never justifies the means; if war is the means, how can the end be peace? I would also note that most of the wars in human history have been religious in nature. Why? Simply because religious beliefs can do nothing but divide people and nations. Surely, it is time for these mindsets and the institutions they have produced to dissolve.
A statement made by the Buddha that could well be made into a bumper sticker reads: PEACE COMES FROM WITHIN. DO NOT SEEK IT WITHOUT. Humanity has been seeking it externally, for thousands of years, to no avail. Peace begins in the stillness of individual hearts and minds. The song written by Jill Jackson and Sy Miller in 1955 still rings true: LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH AND LET IT BEGIN WITH ME. The truth of who I am, the centre of my being is at peace and this peace may be conveyed into my world through the quality of character that I express. Everyone I meet and everything I encounter is consistently blessed and uplifted. I never oppose anything, including war. I’m not on Earth to be against anything, just to be for life.
GOD LOVES YOU! AND I’M REALLY TRYING
Any person who makes this statement is obviously out of touch with the truth of his or her being. In true identity there is union with the truth of love at the core of being, and that love flows automatically to everyone and everything in the environment. There is no trying involved. And yet the world is filled with people, especially religious people, who are trying to be good—good Christians, good Muslims, good Buddhists, whatever. This trying is based on the assumption that they’re not already good, and must strive to measure up to some concept of goodness manufactured by the mind. But the truth is that we are already good, indeed we are perfect at our core, and we only need to activate that perfection.
In his essay “O Holy Night,” David Karchere writes this about “trying”: “There are parts of a human life, particularly a religious or spiritual life, that are characterized by aspiration and trying. When a person feels separate from that reality of love, the reality of their own being, when they make an attempt to somehow be that reality in their life, it comes out as aspiration and it comes out as trying to be something, as if you were not already that reality that you are trying to be. Our life should not be characterized by trying to be something that we are not. The whole purpose of our life is to wholly be who we are and embody who we are. What would it mean to give up a life of trying, and instead of spending a life trying to become something that you are not, spend a life of embodying who you are?”
Even more absurd than trying to be something I am not is trying to be something that I already am! Yet how many on a spiritual path are engaged in this pointless exercise? It all springs from a persisting separation in consciousness from the truth of identity in God. The statement GOD LOVES YOU! AND I’M REALLY TRYING is obvious evidence of this separation. Clearly, if I accept identity in God, and God by definition loves everyone, then I love everyone. No problem! If it’s not a bumper sticker already, I would nominate this accurate statement: BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.
BORN OK THE FIRST TIME!
Yes, once is enough. There is absolutely no need for me to go through the birth process again. The Christmas holidays always remind me that every human being on the face of the Earth is immaculately conceived and has a life ahead of him or her to unfold and reveal that immaculate nature. Yes, there’s a gradual awakening to the reality of this divine origin, but since it’s been there from the beginning, there’s certainly no need to somehow recreate or revive it in some kind of second birth.
Jerry Kvasnicka, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, has had a varied career as a youth minister, a radio news reporter, a writer and editor for several magazines and journals and a custodian with the Loveland, Colorado school district. Jerry currently edits and writes for the mind-spirit section of the online magazine The Mindful Word. He has lived at the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community in Loveland for twenty-five years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.