Book Review: The God Who Screwed Up Sometimes
Just read this very interesting book. Here’s my review. This will appear in the Spring issue of Diamond Fire.
THE GOD WHO SOMETIMES SCREWED UP, Ian Lawton. Rational Spirituality Press, www.rspress.org. 327 Pages. Paperback. $12.95, £7.99.
This well written and interesting book is a memoir on two levels. The first level is where he recaps his physical life, his parents, family, his early years as a motorcycle and auto racer, his loves, his career, his moves etc. I learned a lot about racing from reading this (I had no previous knowledge). He makes you feel the thrills and chills of a race – and the dangers. Some of the Britishisms were hard to navigate, but I’m sure that British readers of my work complain about my Americanisms. He gets a pass. But the second level is by far the most interesting. Here we see the evolution of his thinking. He goes from pure 3D materialist to a lofty spiritual consciousness. It is well worth reading the book just to read the final chapter.
Really this is a book about the Laws of Mind (he calls it the Law of Attraction) and his adventures in dealing with it. Everyone who embarks on this most exciting journey experiences much of what he experienced. I liked his discussion of how he used creative visualization to win races. Now, these techniques are mainstream in the athletic world. But when he was doing it, it probably wasn’t mainstream. I was a member of a tennis club for a few years. It is a posh kind of place. I joined for the amenities – the pool, the gym, the whirlpool, sauna and steam rooms. I was probably the only non-tennis player in the club. What struck me as I got to know people is how many of them understood the use of creative visualization to improve their game. But I always wondered why they didn’t extend it further into other areas – like dealing with their injuries and health problems. If creative visualization could improve their physical game why couldn’t it improve their injuries and overall health? No, they never extended it that far and when I mentioned it, they looked at me as if I was from Mars. But our author did extend it to other areas.
The spiritual path is highly individualistic. While certain broad principles can be explained, every person “treads the winepress alone”. So it is not unusual for spiritual people to have disagreements on minor matters. Much depends on the temperament and karma of the individual. Some will get results one way, some another. Some like chanting and sound, some like color, some like the reading of philosophical and spiritual tomes, some like doing yoga or tai chi poses, some like the stillness of meditation, some like ritual etc. etc. etc.
Speaking of Karma. If I understood him correctly, he seems to deny it altogether. He feels it is an abrogation of personal responsibility. It is true that some people use it as an excuse, but properly understood Karma is not the abrogation of personal responsibility, but actually the affirmation of it. Just the opposite. We are not only responsible for our lives in the present but also for all our previous existences. Karma means that we are responsible for every thought, feeling and action. Each of these has consequences. In many cases people do not know they made any mistake until they experience the returning karma. Thus, karma can be said to be the ultimate Guru.
Karma also needs to be understood as more than just the consequences of one’s actions. Karma has a “momentum” to it. Habits of thought and feeling have a momentum. And these are generally the root cause of physical pathologies. If these momentums have been built up over many years (and often many lives) they are extremely difficult to break. They can be broken (using the Laws of Mind or the Law of attraction) but not so easily. It takes time. A train going 100 miles an hour in the wrong direction can’s just be stopped instantly. Nor is it advisable. There would be a terrible wreck. No, first we stop giving it gas, stop energizing the train, we slow it down, slow it down, gradually, safely, and bring it to a halt. Then we can turn it around in the right direction in a safe way.
The NOW also needs to be understood better. He seems to claim (if I understood him properly) that everything is happening in the NOW. All past lives, all history, all the future events are happening now. This is true on a certain high level of consciousness, but not as he believes it to be. Lets see if we can give some examples. The adult can look at his life and see all the events of his life in the NOW. It doesn’t mean that they’re happening now but our observer is seeing them in the NOW. He doesn’t suddenly become an infant or school child (though he might experience some of these feelings). Being in the NOW doesn’t mean that we lose the “sequence” of events, only that we are in the now observing them. The Historian can see the whole sweep of history – the whole evolution of a society – in one act of cognition. He is in the NOW, in the present, observing this, but the sequence of events is still what it is. We are not cave dwellers in the NOW. But we see it in the NOW. In this NOW the Historian can see the trends of the future too. The NOW is important in the sense that NOW is the only time changes can be made. Only in the present.
There is much more to be said about this.
He considers traditional spirituality poppycock. Now its true that there is much poppycock – human accretion and superstition attached to it – no question about it. But the Eternal Verities never change. We only dress them in different verbiage, and emphasize different things, in different ages. We used to talk about God, now we say “consciousness”. We used to talk about “prayer”, now we say “setting intentions”. We used to talk about the Laws of Mind, now we say the “law of attraction”. We used to talk about the “higher self” – “superconsciousness” – “christ consciousness” – now we say “super soul”. The verbiage doesn’t really change anything.
Tradition is merely mankind’s solutions to certain problems. In spirituality, tradition just needs to be cleaned up a bit and understood better.
There are many people who are offended by the word God (really he’s getting a bum rap and needs better PR) and offended by traditional religion. This book is for them. Very well worth reading and studying – especially the last chapter. The Higher Ones have provided a path for them and this seems our author’s mission. He is not just “talking the talk, he is walking the walk”.
I personally enjoyed it because it is good to have contrasting positions to challenge your thinking. (I did agree with much of what he says.) It forces you to go deeper.