Have You Been Bamboozled?
“unSpirituality: Permission to Be Human” on AMAZON
Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
— L. Frank Baum
If you are a human being living on earth you have most likely been exposed to spirituality, in its many forms, through personal experience or by association. Even without affiliation, just by being human, you are exposed to an environment peppered with religious symbols, architecture and advertising; from churches, temples and retreats, to the heights of political power where public confessions are made and oaths are sworn to an invisible force called God. Even our media is filled with personalities who present spiritual ideas mixed with health and psychology. From the obscure to the blatant, other-dimensional ideas exist throughout our world creating a tapestry of paths for personal enrichment, enlightenment and in the case of religion—obedience!
Unlike religion, however, spirituality blends in with our society in a subtle, yet pervasive way. With spirituality, you can be a Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Scientologist, Shaman, Psychic, Energy Healer or Massage Therapist because a spiritual being is not dependent on a particular religion or vocation, rather, it is having a human experience so anyone can join the party. This is a step up from religion because it extends beyond the exclusive belief system of the group into the very fabric of society.
References made by believers, no matter how elementary, tend to refer to something unseen. These can be as simple as “your energy looks great” to “the spirit is guiding me.” As innocuous as these statements may appear, spirituality implies an alternate ‘external’ reality. But I find this assertion limited because it is based on dualism which is the belief in the separation of spirit and matter. It is based on faith and a spiritual story rather than modern Neuroscience and hints from obscure occult magicians from the past. And because spirituality is subjective and invisible, the unseen quest puts one on a never-ending treadmill in the land of mirrors. In this book I argue that this type of thinking is just another face of the old-time religion.
I spent decades in the religious and metaphysical landscape sampling the abundance of belief systems readily available to the eager seeker. Having been raised a Christian, the spirit-realm was introduced at a very young age. I assumed that a spiritual dimension outside of myself actually existed and when I grew into a cognitive adult, I took the bible at its word and became a missionary and evangelist. But when I put the biblical story to the test through fervent study and application, I ended up departing from the faith. My questions out-matched the confusing answers.
In my quest to understand who I was as a spirit and what my mission was on earth, I turned to the study of metaphysics from both the light and dark schools. Over the course of more than two and a half decades I learned from a variety of teachers who serendipitously graced my path at the right place and time. Eventually, I came to Sedona, Arizona to be in close proximity to the cutting edge of spirituality where my quest culminated in a “human” awakening. This journey is chronicled in my book: unSpiritual – A Spiritual Journey. The one thing I found in common from Christianity to metaphysics was the belief in an external dimension called the “spirit-realm.” This is a world filled with good and bad entities and an all pervasive awareness called “God” or “Consciousness.” But instead of dismissing the supernatural altogether, my search led me to redefining this magical realm from a natural perspective; for I had experienced the mystical in profound, unmistakable ways.
Like opening up Pandora’s box, my eyes freshly questioned why churches and temples were scattered across continents displaying symbolism that referred to the spirit-realm. Why do people feel the need to call themselves “souls” when their existence as living, breathing, human beings is evident? Why do some humans put more emphasis on the spiritual realm rather than the natural world in which they live? Is it possible that the concept of spirituality could be an addiction to the unseen—because it’s unseen? That the thing we cannot touch drives us crazy? Is the grass really greener on the other side of the natural fence?
I believe the answer exists in the misunderstanding of what we call “spirit” or “souls.” It began to make more sense to me that spirituality was actually —human psycho-emotional energy— homegrown from the earth; that is, a result of biology and evolution rather than a channeled force from another dimension. I turned my focus toward the ancestral animals from which we evolved as the true source of this fuzzy concept called a “soul.” It seemed there was little difference between “soul sensing” and “primate radar.”
I reached a point where I could no longer tolerate the communal denial prevalent in the spiritual community. I refused to swallow the stories of fantastic miracles and supernatural assertions so casually flung around. All these claims reeked of anecdotal evidence and wishful thinking. I came to the conclusion that no one had ever shown me a true alteration of the laws of physics. Oh yes, my life was filled with synchronicity and true miracles were occurring as I recovered and healed the lost parts of my inner world. But there were no “physics altering” evidence from the so-called new-age magicians who touted the “super” natural in their books and lectures.
All of the claims regarding levitation, bilocation and inter-dimensional travel (to name a few), appeared more subjective than actual and gave way to a wide range of interpretation. I mean, if you see a footprint in your front yard just after your guru from India said he visited you through the astral realm, wouldn’t it be more interesting if you turned your camera on and asked him to do it again? Of course, it is easy to talk about esoteric feats (pun intended) but much more difficult to deliver the real-time “visual” evidence. And this is why the invisible functions just like the imagination. Why not just show people the miracle rather than talk about it?
Validating subjective imaginings through interpersonal relationships seemed to be the function of much of the faith-based spiritual community. However, I am not saying there is no real healing in this arena. I have experienced many transformative moments in the context of subjective fantasies and metaphysical musings which increased my understanding of the inner world, or as I prefer to call it, “the bio-imagination.” This reinterpretation of the inner world is the focus of my philosophy.
I challenged common people and spiritual leaders about their super-natural story. I asked them if they could demonstrate miracles before my eyes, but none could. Instead, I got a set of excuses that reduced the omnipotent spirit down to human time tables. It appears that “god” or “spirit” only conducts miracles in certain situations under certain conditions. And most, if not all miracles appear in the eye of the beholder as from another dimension outside the body, which is of course—invisible. And because it is invisible, who’s to tell it is none other than our subjective environment of feelings, memories, images, fears and fantasies we experience in and around our body every waking and sleeping breath.
I also noticed with most people that the imagination was generally experienced somewhere in the head (image), and spirituality (feeling) was felt in and around the body. So I decided to put them together as one current of energy called the “bio-imagination.” And when I did that, a lot changed. I got more results from my inner work by switching from a dualistic viewpoint of matter and spirit to a bio-spiritual current of energy. What this meant was the entire body was the creator of what spiritualists called auras, the field, channelled energy, etc. This realization brought me to a deeper understanding of the dynamics of our biology and its subjective relationship to nature. Instead of alternate dimensions outside of ourselves how about deeper dimensions within that reveal the treasures of nature? I arrived at the gates of perception holding the keys to the mystical realm we assign to spirit. For indeed, “the kingdom of heaven is spread upon on the earth and men do not see it” (Gospel of Thomas 113)
If you have felt something fishy might be going on with the spirit-realm or have arrived at a place where you are sincerely questioning your spiritual experiences, then this book is for you. It took me decades to consider the question “have I been bamboozled?” Is it imaginable that all of this matter and spirit dualism is a cultural hangover from our superstitious past? Could it be that the archetypes and inner self reflections are no different than the gods, demons and spirits that some believe are real? Is it possible that human biology is the creator of spirituality and the natural world its playground of perception? Is the real reason why the answers to our questions act more like a carrot on a stick than a satisfying meal be because we are looking in the wrong direction?
I concluded that human primates were ghost makers, phantom producers, magicians on the highest level able to fool even themselves with their own magic and even create self-inflicted booby traps they can’t unlock.
When I started entertaining these thoughts, I was led down the road of scientific research and deeper occult studies. For the first time, I set my eyes on the sciences around evolution. Rather than trying to validate the spirit-realm, I challenged every claim I could find. What I discovered, while the little dog called “curiosity” pulled away the curtain, was the human primate behind the Great and Powerful Oz.1
I found a consistency in my new line of study that led to the natural world as an explanation for what we have traditionally assigned to the “super” natural. Spirituality made more sense in the context of feelings and imagination within a virtual bio-world, than the stories of reincarnated souls and afterlives.
It occurred to me how important it was that our internal world be approached from a place of curiosity and wonderment as a living-informative-process. An environment that is taken seriously as a bio-spiritual Eco-system. Where the language of archetypes and the movement of energy is understood like music and art with the full spectrum of sound and color; and where its reflective nature is as clear as a reflection on water.
The soul-body split also sheds light on a well-known phenomenon called cognitive dissonance, which is the feeling of discomfort one gets while holding two opposing beliefs at the same time—I am a human, but I’m not really a human, I am a soul. I assert that this soul emerges from our biology and that we truly are bio-spiritual animals.
Christopher Zzenn Loren
One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.
— Carl Sagan