Thoughts

About my father ….

My story really begins with my father, who was the dominant figure in my early life. Nic Franzen was born in March 1911 in the town of Esch-sur-Alzette, the second largest in my country Luxembourg. The river Alzette, which gave the Luxembourg national anthem its colloquial name, enters the country from France and passes under this town as a small creek before heading north to the capital city and beyond.

Nic was the second of six children. He remembered a little bit about the Great War, in which our German neighbors crossed our country to attack our Belgian and French neighbors. There was no fighting on our soil as we did not have an army to oppose the Germans, but some action took place just over our borders. Nic was in second grade when the war ended in 1918.
I don’t remember him talking much about his youth and his first decade as an adult before the start of the second war in his life, World War II. His brief memoirs, which he recorded not long before his death in 1991, cover the period between the wars very sparsely. He did tell us his children some stories from the time in the late 1920s and early 1930s when he played dance music in local taverns on both sides of the French-Luxembourg border with his father, uncle and some of his brothers. He used to play the trumpet. By trade he was a mechanical fitter and welder. Sometimes he told us with some pride that he had read books by great philosophers such as Kant, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. He wanted to impress us with the importance of learning.
After France and Britain declared war on Germany in September 1939 my father and a friend went to the town of Audun-le-Tiche across the border and volunteered to join a unit of mercenaries that a French Army colonel by the name of Péricard was planning to assemble in order to launch suicide missions against the German armed forces. The unit was to be called “volontaires de la mort” – death volunteers. The plan fell apart when the colonel’s superior General Gamelin rejected the idea as “unnecessary.”
When World War II came to Luxembourg with a German invasion in May 1940 Nic was shocked to find that the country’s leaders around Grand Duchess Charlotte and her family fled abroad. I don’t remember him mentioning it but it was a stark contrast to the action of Charlotte’s elder sister Marie Adelheid, who as a very young head of state had stayed in the country when the German Army invaded in 1914. Marie Adelheid was later hounded mercilessly by politicians and the local press for being too friendly with the Germans, and abdicated in disgrace in favor of Charlotte. She briefly served as a nun in Italy but fell gravely ill and died of influenza at her mother’s residence in Germany before she reached age 30.
My father felt Charlotte and her cabinet had abandoned the country to save their own skins. He believed that had they stayed they might have been able to intercede with the Germans on behalf of the Luxembourg people to alleviate the harsh conditions they imposed during the occupation. Of course, perhaps Charlotte wanted to avoid suffering the same fate as her hapless sister.
Since his youth Nic had been fascinated by airplanes, and when the German Nazi Air Corps offered free flying lessons on gliders in 1941 he applied. He then went to a flight school in Germany twice for one month and returned with a license to fly glider planes. The following year he enlisted in the Luftwaffe, the German air force, hoping to learn to fly fighter aircraft. After going through basic training at Reims in France he worked as an aircraft ordnance technician at Juvincourt airfield near that town for eight months. Later he was assigned to the Richthofen fighter wing at Triqueville near the English Channel.
His dream was to fly the fighters he serviced but he learned that the Luftwaffe did not accept anyone over the age of 28 for pilot training. As he was already 31 at the time he was considered too old.
In his memoirs he wrote that he considered desertion when he realized his dream could not be fulfilled. However he did enjoy the adventurous life at Triqueville airfield, where they were almost daily under attack from British and American aircraft. He received permission from his superiors to build an improvised anti-aircraft weapon by attaching a 20-mm machine gun from a fighter to a tripod with a turntable bearing he had welded together. A hole was dug for him where he placed his device with boxes of ammunition. When his comrades were taken away to shelters before a raid he would stay behind and fire at the attacking aircraft from his hole in the ground.
Sometime later when their airfield was almost totally destroyed by heavy bombardments his unit was ordered to move to another location in northern France, and then another, and another. Nic wrote in his memoirs that because he spoke French well he was occasionally sent on errands to different places around France.
At one point he got orders to move to an airfield at Aix-en-Provence near the French Mediterranean coast. He wrote that he loved that area very much. One of his missions was to take 100 anti-ship bombs from the Paris area on a special train to Marseille, which took as long as 22 days because of sabotage of the rail lines by the French resistance.
In the fall of 1944, after Allied forces broke out from their beachheads in Normandy and in the south of France, his unit was ordered back to Germany. They stayed in a village north of Frankfurt during most of the winter but then moved east and south as they lost more and more of their aircraft. Finally, when they had no more planes, the remnants of the unit drove their trucks to Munich.
At this point there is a break in my father’s memoirs, where he mentions only that he escaped from American “detention.” He does not explain how he was captured by the Americans or where and how long he was held until he managed to flee. I remember him telling me the Americans did not feed him, and I thought he also said one or more of his fellow inmates were killed during the escape, but I am not sure memory serves.
Somehow he became a prisoner again on his way back towards Luxembourg but he didn’t explain in his memoirs who captured him or how this happened. After spending about two weeks in detention in Alsace, France he was taken in August 1945 to an improvised prison camp in Luxembourg guarded by young thugs who often amused themselves by mistreating the inmates.
The following month he was moved to the Grund prison in Luxembourg City, where he had to make bags with paper and glue all day. Soon afterwards he volunteered to join a prisoner bomb disposal squad. He and a few others were taken to Clervaux in the devastated north of the country, where the Battle of the Bulge had raged during the winter of 1944-45. As he was the only professional welder in the group he was assigned the task of cutting up disabled tanks and armored vehicles that littered the former battlefields in the area.
In February 1946 he was sent back to the Grund prison to make paper bags again until the following month, when, on his 35th birthday he had to appear in court before a special tribunal. This tribunal had to handle the cases of as many as 8,000 people accused of collaboration with the Germans, so the judicial proceedings were completed very quickly. My father was sentenced to an 18-year prison term, even though the court had testimonial evidence that he had never betrayed anyone to the Germans during the occupation, as others had done. In his memoirs he wrote that he believed some of those sitting in judgement or mistreating prisoners might have secretly collaborated with the Germans and betrayed others but were not found out after the war.
In addition to the prison term he was also divested of his Luxembourg citizenship and became a foreigner in his own country.
In February 1949 the Luxembourg government decided to reduce the sentences of collaborators like my father, who were tried immediately after the war and were given heavy prison terms even though there was no evidence that they had betrayed anyone to the Germans. Nic’s elder brother “Lux” (as he was known to us) had actually worked with the anti-Nazi resistance, and Nic knew others who did the same but he always kept that information from the Germans.
My father was conditionally released from prison at the end of March 1949. …. 

Nic Franzen 1971-03 and 1991-03 -c

Nic Franzen at 60 and on his last birthday 20 years later — 1991.

1-Lux Nic Mett Fränz Colas Franzen 1928

Franzen dance music band 1928 — Nic is second from left.

****

 

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How I met the Unification Movement — part 1

INTRODUCTION

Like many people throughout history I have been on a quest: a search for an understanding of ultimate reality. This has been the fundamental theme of my life. After a long, meandering journey I have found an explanation that satisfies me but is difficult to use as a guide in my life. Along the way I have come across some other philosophies of life and learned very much from them. One in particular served me as a guide for many years and set my life on a course which I can and will no longer change: the Divine Principle as taught by the late Korean religious leader Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

I no longer believe in the Divine Principle and Rev. Moon, who proclaimed himself with his wife Hak Ja Han as the “True Parents” of humankind, essentially the one and only Messiah. In fact I no longer believe even in the God postulated by the monotheistic religions. My idea of “God” is quite different, closer to the reality I perceive and understand. But I am no longer alone and free to pursue my quest wherever it may lead me. I have a family and a responsibility that I cannot and will not shirk. My family was begun by Rev. Moon and is inseparable from him and the movement he founded.

Here, then, is the story of my meanders.

——————————————–

Chapter 1

New York City, Thursday, 6 March 1975. After a long flight over the icy wastes of Iceland and Labrador, this was Manhattan, a different world. It was after dark, on 42nd Street near Grand Central station, when I encountered what to me was a foreboding of Doomsday. The tall, dark buildings, the impression of decay given by the city’s famous potholes, and the steam rising here and there from pipes running under the streets reminded me of a haunting image I had in my mind of the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, which I expected to occur within a few years’ time.

It was a relatively warm night for this time of the year in New York. As I walked with my backpack on my back, I noticed a young man standing on the sidewalk in front of a small blackboard, alternately drawing and gesticulating rather wildly while he gave what seemed to be a lecture at the top of his voice. The funny thing was, there was no one listening.

Another young man stood a few meters away, apparently waiting for something or somebody, but he seemed to pay no attention to the first one. I looked at the blackboard but the figures the lecturer had drawn meant nothing to me. I caught the words “Last Days” in the stream of his talk, and then something about the Bible and a “Divine Principle.”

Tired as I was after the long flight, the man’s lecture seemed too arcane for me to be able to figure out what he was talking about even though his mention of the “Last Days” had intrigued me. Also, I was hoping to catch a train to Montreal rather than having to spend the night in New York. So I asked the bystander where I could find out about trains to Canada. “Sorry mate, I can’t help you there,” he said with an accent that didn’t sound American. He turned out to be an Australian who knew little more about New York than I did.

As I walked on, down Park Avenue, then over to Fifth Avenue and back up towards 42nd Street, I saw more young people giving lectures in front of blackboards set up on the sidewalks. Some of them had an audience, others did not. They all seemed to preach the same message and draw the same figures.

One of the city’s yellowcabs stopped at the curb in front of me and two well-dressed young women got out, one black, the other oriental. Both came right up to me and introduced themselves: Barbara from Guyana and Tamie from Japan. They asked me if I needed some help. I told them I was from Luxembourg and asked where I could catch a train to Montreal. Barbara said I had to go to “Penn Station” below Madison Square Garden. She told me they would take me there but could not because they had an appointment in the building in front of which we were standing.

She explained that they had to attend an important lecture about a new revelation about God and a new understanding of the Bible, and she invited me to attend if I was interested. I said I might be interested but first I had to find out about trains to Montreal, as I was hoping to catch one that same night. Barbara gave me directions to Madison Square Garden and both girls handed me their business cards, suggesting that I call them if I needed any further help.

I walked slowly down Fifth Avenue, lost in thought. Yes, this big city really conjured up the feeling that it was doomed, and the entire civilization that created it was doomed. It would all be annihilated in the nuclear war that I saw coming within a few years’ time. That holocaust had to happen — and I actually wished for it to occur. Because I felt that something was fundamentally wrong with this civilization. More than that, something was fundamentally wrong with humankind.

In my view, the earth and in fact the entire universe was a harmonious whole, like a gigantic organism within which every part played a certain role and all parts were complementary to each other. Only man did not fit into this harmonious whole. Man was like a malignant cancer that, though originating from the whole, spread uncontrollably and destroyed other parts of the organism. Man alone was going against the purpose and design of the universe, and modern human civilization represented a cancer that had grown to such proportions that it threatened to overwhelm an entire planet. It had to be destroyed. Actually, because of its inherent contradictions, it was bound to destroy itself.

But I believed there could be, there had to be, a new beginning — because the universe had brought forth humankind and it was thus meant to exist, but it clearly had somehow gone wrong. Modern civilization would be destroyed but there would be survivors in different places. Those people would have to live in nature and start anew, but they would have to avoid the original mistake that made man go in the wrong direction.

I felt that those survivors had to become completely one with nature, one with the spirit of the whole, the essence of the universe. And they should never ask the question “why?” To me, this was the root of all the problems. We had to attune our hearts and minds to the harmonious whole of the universe without ever asking why things were the way they were and why we were what we were. Asking “why?” somehow meant that we separated ourselves mentally from the whole — and that was what caused humankind to go astray.

Our ancestors in Stone Age had made this mistake, and the survivors of the expected nuclear holocaust would have to go back to Stone Age to try again. I was on my way to Stone Age. I was planning to go to a remote area in the wilds of British Columbia and to try to live in nature on my own, ridding myself gradually of all the implements of civilization that I carried with me to help me get over the initial shock.

I felt that if I could survive like this for a year or so, then I was ready to become one of the survivors of the nuclear war to come — and perhaps even a leader of a new humankind. I was 24 years old and I believed the nuclear war would come in 1979, which was four years away. After spending at least a year in British Columbia, I wanted to make my way down to Patagonia, where I would wait for the holocaust to begin. The reason why I had chosen Patagonia was that I felt there would be less nuclear fallout over the southern hemisphere because most worth-while targets for nuclear strikes were in the north.

In front of Madison Square Garden I saw two blackboards like the ones I had encountered before. Several people were standing around either listening to two preachers who were lecturing about the Last Days or talking to others.

I watched the scene for a moment and then looked for the passage to the train station below the building. Just as I started moving toward the entrance an Oriental lady in her 30s approached me and asked if I was interested in science or religion. I said I was interested in both. She gave me a flyer and told me the people lecturing about the Last Days were speaking about a new revelation that could bring science and religion together for the sake of world peace.

The idea sounded good to me, and when she told me a little more about it I realized it must be the same revelation the Guyanese lady Barbara had mentioned a little earlier. I asked where she was from and it turned out she was Japanese, and her name was Noriko. I gave her my name and told her I had just arrived from my country Luxembourg but wanted to take a train to Montreal that evening or early next morning.

She said she hoped I could find the time to listen to a special lecture about the new revelation, which she called the Divine Principle, before I took off for Montreal. The lecture was going to be held in a building across Fifth Avenue from the New York Public Library, exactly the place where I had met Barbara and Tamie earlier.

I said I was interested but I needed to get information about trains to Montreal and to buy a ticket first. Noriko called a tall young man standing nearby and asked him if he could show me where to find what I wanted. The man introduced himself as Bill. He took me down to Penn Station, where I bought a train ticket to Montreal.

A little later Bill disappeared briefly and then returned driving a big Dodge van. Noriko and I got in and we drove to the building near the library on 5th Avenue, picking up a few other people along the way.

I don’t remember any detail but we entered a hall full of people, with a man in front who had just begun to give a lecture. From time to time he drew figures and symbols on a large board facing the crowd.

He explained about how God’s nature is reflected in everything through the dualities of internal character and external form, and positive and negative charges or male and female genders.

He said God was like a parent to us humans, whom He created in order to share his love. But, as told in the Bible, when the first humans fell away from their Parent He had to let them go their own way because He did not want to interfere with their freedom of choice. In order to win them back to His side He guided leaders He chose among them to set conditions that would ultimately prepare the way for a Messiah, a person who perfectly embodied God’s love.

This Messiah would have to find a perfect bride together with whom he would become the “True Parents” in reflection of God’s dual nature and lead humankind back to Him. The Messiah was Jesus Christ, but the people did not follow him, so he could not find a bride and had to sacrifice his life to become a spiritual guide and inspiration to the world.

Jesus’s followers the Christians then became the people through whom God worked to fulfill His providence to bring a Messiah who could become the “True Parents” of humankind. The Last Days prophesied in the Bible was the time when a new Messiah would appear with a new understanding of God’s truth, and this time was upon us. ….. 

I remember seeing many pictures on the walls of the man I later learned was Rev. Sun Myung Moon of Korea, the man who had discovered the Divine Principle, and I couldn’t help feeling even then that perhaps he was the one the people here believed to be the new messiah.

At the end of the lecture the speaker suggested there was much more to the Divine Principle than what he had just explained. He invited anyone interested in learning more about it to attend a weekend workshop in a beautiful place in the countryside on the Hudson River north of New York City.

Over snacks and drinks after the talk Noriko introduced me to a few of her friends who were all members of the Unification Church, the movement founded by Rev. Moon. Some of them asked me how I liked the ideas presented by the speaker, whom they named Mr. Barry. I said I thought they were quite interesting because they seemed to indicate a possibility to reconcile the Bible with modern science. Also, I liked the proposition that Jesus’ death on the cross was not God’s original plan.

When Noriko suggested I attend the workshop Barry had mentioned I told her there was a problem: I was allowed to stay in the United States only until the next day, 7th March. This was because the immigration official at J.F. Kennedy Airport who checked my papers stamped that date on the I-94 card that he stapled into my passport. He had asked me how long I was planning to stay in the US and I said I wanted to take a train to Canada either that evening or the following day.

When I showed her the form in my passport Noriko went to talk to Barry and others about it. Barry later came up to me and said my stay permit could easily be extended. He seemed quite confident about it, so I decided there was no need to worry and I could spend the next weekend in the retreat upstate on the Hudson, which he had called Barrytown.

I was told a bus would take people to Barrytown the next evening, so I thought I might have to spend that night in a hotel. Barry suggested I could stay in a house owned by the church in Manhattan, on 71st Street.

Late that evening Bill, driving his Dodge van, took Noriko, me and several other people I had met after the lecture to the house Barry had mentioned. The church members called it a “center,” and it seemed packed with mostly young people. The men and women were strictly segregated and lived on separate floors. I was taken to a large room where many men lay close to each other in sleeping bags on the floor. The ceiling lights had already been turned off, so it was fairly dark inside. I found a place in a corner with just enough space for my backpack and sleeping bag.

Early next morning we were all woken up when the lights were turned on, and we had to take turns using the bathroom and the few sinks where we could wash our faces. I talked to some of the men there, and when they found out I was not a member of the church they were surprised I had been allowed to spend the night there with them.

Noriko came to our men’s floor a little later to pick me up for a sightseeing tour of Manhattan. We had lunch in a Japanese restaurant that day and visited Central Park, the Empire State Building and a few other places around town. …. 

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My current idea of God in a nutshell

I believe God is everything and everything is God. God is universal consciousness, universal memory. We humans, collectively, are a spearhead of the evolution of universal consciousness, and each one of us is a facet of God’s character. There may or may not be other such spearheads in other parts of the universe. Time is the accumulation of memories in universal consciousness. Time appears to flow in one direction because memories cannot be erased from universal consciousness. I do not believe we as individual human beings are eternal in any way except that we continue existing as memories in universal consciousness. Upon final separation from our physical bodies our individual spirit or consciousness dissolves back into the whole from which it came and of which it always remained a part. It can be said that God grows through us, changes and learns through us — until we may be superseded by a higher intelligence. God is not good or evil in itself but through us God is both. God cannot change our world except through us…

 

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Fighting the Good Fight – or not …

 

The News World New York City April 29, 1977 edition

Our New York newspaper in April 1977

The following is excerpted and adapted from an entry in my diary for 4 July 2010:

… I have connected with many mostly American church members [= the Unification Church / Movement founded by the late Korean Rev. Sun Myung Moon] on Facebook. Some are old colleagues from my time in the USA (1975-1982).

It is almost frightening to see how fanatic and narrow-minded most of them are [in a political sense only; I know the vast majority are really good people in other ways] — from my point of view. When I was in the US, especially during the time (end-1976-1982) I was with the News World (New York daily newspaper launched by members of that church/movement — a forerunner of the Washington Times) and Free Press International, we had the feeling that we were in a war against communism. It was an intense ideological conflict from our point of view, whose seriousness and dangers most people outside our political community within the church failed to understand/appreciate.

 

We needed allies, like-minded people who were also movers and shakers in the political world of the USA, and in other countries, too. The USA was — to us — by far the most important country in the world, and we had to save her from the decadence and depravity that the leftists and communists propagated and encouraged in order to weaken and finally conquer her. America had to become the world’s greatest power by being both morally superior and much better armed and motivated — politically and militarily — than any potential foe or group of foes.

 

And there were always foes: evil empires (Reagan was our hero as president — even though Moon was jailed for a year and a half on his watch, for tax evasion), terrorists, etc. There was a sense of moral superiority, but our morality did not extend to the point where we would have disapproved of mass murder as long as those murdered were — or could be labeled as —  communists or leftists. It was thus quite alright for the US to have bombed Vietnam with napalm and Agent Orange or for Argentine, Chilean and Colombian generals to massacre thousands of suspected leftists and sympathizers. It was fine for death squads to torture and murder thousands in places like Colombia, Brazil or El Salvador — and many others — as long as the death squads could be somehow labeled pro-USA (mostly meaning fascist/oligarchist) and their victims leftist.

 

I was never enthusiastic about this but mostly played along, because, after all, I believed in Moon, his church, his mission and the importance of the USA in fulfilling this mission.

 

Today, of course, I stand more or less at 180 degrees to all that.

 

I feel the church has played a very nefarious political role in the USA by going to bed with narrow-minded, fanatic nationalist, elitist/oligarchic and militaristic politicians, and doing its utmost to promote causes such as those of the worst fascists. The idea from the church’s and also Moon’s point of view — of course — was always that those were people who were on God’s side in the larger scheme of things. They were people who had power, who could perhaps be won over to completely support the work of Moon — the Messiah — and ultimately turn the whole country around so that Moon would be recognized for who he really was. The USA would become — so the American members (we) hoped — the first country to officially recognize and follow the “king of kings.”

 

Today, I see on Facebook and elsewhere that American members seem not to have changed at all — not to have learned anything new at all. They are still fighting an intense ideological fight against the political “left” [and socialism  / communism] and the Islamic (primarily) “terrorists” [real and imagined] — and they still believe the USA is not armed well enough — both ideologically/morally and militarily — to fight its enemies.

 

What I don’t understand is how powerful this — to me, mythical, but to them very real — Satan and his legions still are. I thought Moon had conquered and subdued him [according to his own words], and Moon’s sons in spirit world were completely turning that realm upside down. How come, then, that this so-called Satan and his minions still have so much power that the world continues to be the mess it is — and spirit world seems in no better shape?

 

I have my own answer, of course, and I don’t believe in a spirit world as the Moonies describe it at all. To me, God has created and always played both sides, and we humans are very much part of both sides — “good” and “evil,” just as we are part of God [in essence I believe we humans, collectively, are a spearhead of God’s own evolving consciousness, which grows through us — although as individuals we are just temporary existences and will dissolve back into the whole when our bodies die].

 

The so-called “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil” in the Bible — that very name says it all: to God, originally, there was no good or evil, there was no moral sense. God himself or rather itself (to take away the gender) only “discovered” a sense of “good” and “evil” through us humans. He/she/it “discovered” how useful (from its own larger perspective) and — yes — exciting it could be to divide us between “good” and “evil.” 

1-The News World 19771218

The News World in December 1977

1-Noticias Del Mundo 19820611

Our Spanish sister newspaper launched in 1980 – Noticias Del Mundo

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More on God

Above Satpara Lake Baltistan late December 1987

… More about my idea of “God” (see post below on death and here about my view of God  ): I believe God, this one spirit or universal consciousness has basically divided itself into innumerable small parts by bringing about (in whatever way) what we regard as the physical universe with all the individual consciousnesses within it, each tied to a body of some kind or another.

We are really all one ― each one of us living beings and inanimate things is a part of this God ― but through our bodies we have the illusion of being separate from one another. When the bodies of us living beings fall away we return to where we came from and become one again completely with God ― the universal spirit. It is only the short-lived body of ours which makes us feel separate.

I cannot think of another way in which the world could be “just.” No concept of heaven and hell and good and evil that I have known would ever satisfy my sense of justice. For years I thought (the late Korean Rev. Sun Myung) Moon’s Divine Principle had the answers but I have concluded that it doesn’t. It is no better than some other ideas that do not satisfy me at all.

God is absolutely responsible for everything that happens in the universe — from the greatest, most beautiful thing or event to the most horrible monstrosity or atrocity — but we all share that responsibility because we are all part of God. God as a whole has thrived on the differences and divisions among us that lead to conflict — especially in us humans, the spearheads of the evolution of his consciousness in this world — and on both the good and the evil things we have been doing to each other in our bodies, which make us feel separate. But his/our consciousness is evolving. God is learning with us, through us.

In our primitive days, when we were totally unable to understand the reality of our ultimate oneness, God gave us myths including the Bible and all the scriptures, which were propagated by people inspired by “Him” (or “Her,” “It”) to awe us and make us fear, and to herd us together as groups and make us fight each other for his own pleasure. To explain this: I believe the deepest parts of our nature are the emotions, which we share with God, our source. Yes, I believe God has the same emotions, though from a universal perspective, since his “body” is the entire universe.

Now, I think, the time may be coming when those myths are no longer useful. It is time that we humans outgrow them and look for the truth behind and beyond them. Most of all I hope we can truly become aware of the reality of our original and ultimate oneness.

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Life After Death

I have thought about the concept of a spirit world. Do I believe there is a world of spirit where we/our souls go after we die? Do I believe we have a spiritual body in which our soul/spirit resides for eternity and which resembles our physical body as it is when we are young and healthy? — No, I do not believe this! — This does not mean that I believe it is impossible.

I think that when we die – when our physical body dies and decays – our spirit dissolves in the ocean of universal consciousness, which is what God is to me. However, there remains a residue of a memory within God – a memory of us as we were when we were alive. As I have written before (see below about time and here about my view of God ), I believe time – the “flow” of time – is really an accumulation of memory or memories within God. It expands ad infinitum, which is probably also why our universe seems to expand. When we die, then, the memory of our life remains as part of this ever-growing universal memory. In this way we will continue to exist – but we cannot create new things or learn or grow because we will no longer be conscious as a separate entity. We will be fully assimilated or merged into the whole whence we came, a grain of salt dissolved in the ocean – still salt and still contributing our specific flavor to the ocean – at least to the tiny part of it that we have been able to influence during our lives – but no longer a separate entity and no longer able to expand our influence.

I may be wrong, of course, but it would be very hard if not impossible for me to return to a belief in a spirit world like that described by Unificationists and others such as Swedenborg.

————————-

From a post I wrote in 2008 (elsewhere):

Time – an accumulation of memory in universal consciousness; not entropy

Recently I read an article by a scientist who proposed that the “flow” or “arrow” of time is basically the growth of entropy, including decay. When you pour milk into a cup of coffee, for example, it would be extremely difficult to go back and separate the milk from the coffee. The same applies if you try to rebuild an organism that has completely decayed.
I propose a different explanation, though I don’t have the scientific knowledge to back it up: the direction of the “flow” of time is determined by the accumulation of memory in universal consciousness. Everything is memory / universally stored  information, which keeps increasing with the passage of time and can never decrease (otherwise time would “flow” backwards). Even the mysterious dark energy and dark matter that seem to fill our universe may be a store of memory. We carry the memory of our ancestors within us – even though we are mostly not aware of it. Memory is the imprint that everything leaves on universal consciousness or god (see my posts about god/universal consciousness below). – Unlike the scientist who believes the flow of time is the growth of entropy, I believe that entropy is only something like a side effect – it is inevitable and it always distorts or degrades memory to some extent, but it is not a dominant aspect of reality.

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My view of “God” as it has evolved

DSCF0118

Diary entry 26 April 2008:

 

Recapitulation of my ideas about god: What monotheists refer to as “God” is — to me — universal consciousness, the cosmos as a whole, the “sum” of all consciousness. God is in everything and everything is god. We humans are the highest level of consciousness on this planet earth — as far as we know — and we represent the highest level of the evolution of god here. On our small “island” in the cosmos god evolves through us, changes through us. If our “island” the earth is unique in this sense, then we humans are the spearhead of the evolution of god itself. God is not in any way greater than the cosmos and did not “create” it, and cannot exist separately from this cosmos. In fact, if we are unique — which seems unlikely if the cosmos is as we perceive it (see my post below: “the universe and us”), though certainly not impossible — then god is dependent on us to a great extent.

God has a “personality” of its own, and each one of us humans — and every other intelligent being that may exist elsewhere — represents an aspect of the “personality” of god. Each one of us reflects a facet of god’s nature.

If the cosmos itself “emerged” in some way through a Big Bang or something like it, then god was the internal essence that “emerged” with it, as did what we know as the laws of nature. The cosmos was not “created” based on any design but emerged and evolved through a process of trial and error, “guided” by god’s evolving intelligence based on the organization of memory. The emergence of life on earth and its evolution was also “guided” in this way by god. Humankind is a product of this evolution, taking consciousness to the highest level known so far on earth.

I believe god inspired man to create religions, spiritual teachings, etc., because it wanted to find a way to guide or even control humankind.

(More on 29 April 2008): This is also the reason why humans and just about everything else tends toward forming hierarchies and pecking orders. God needs hierarchical organization in order to be able to exploit and control “created” beings. And what we have come to regard as “good” and “evil” are just different ways of looking at things from the larger perspective of god. God has traditionally favored the strong, the top of any pecking order hierarchy, because he draws the greatest pleasure from that type of organization of both living beings and inanimate reflections of his consciousness. Is god, then, like a human in his feelings and behavior? I say, absolutely, yes: at least on this earth, our tiny part of the cosmos (=>“the universe and us” and “the end of religion” below), god cannot be otherwise, because we are this way — we reflect god’s nature and god is no greater than us as a collective, and no better.

More to come …

Here are my answers to two questions about the post above:

It is still difficult for anyone to imagine that god is just as “evil” as he is “good.” I think that is the case. My point is that god has encouraged both in humankind and has enjoyed setting one against the other, using hierarchies to form opposing groups centered on rival leaders. But god evolves and changes through us, as I have emphasized. And despite appearances to the contrary I believe we are very slowly moving towards a better world with less conflict and violence. Perhaps I am naïve, but I am quite sure that god cannot change the world to good. We can. There is no hope for us if we do not believe in humankind. God and the natural world has no meaning without us or some beings like us — it might as well not exist at all.

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By hierarchies I mean hierarchical-type organization as such, and what is known as “pecking orders” in particular — where the strong, wily (cunning) and/or violent generally dominate the weak. It is dominance by one or a few over others — especially systematic dominance. But it also includes implicit hierarchies where, for example, many people follow a spiritual leader (say, Jesus), who then dominates not by force but by love (if you can use that word in this sense) or the power of inspiration. God encompasses both great beauty, goodness and gentleness as well as their counterparts ugliness, evil and violence — just like we do. It is not that I am making god seem human but rather that I believe we humans are simply a full reflection of god: here on earth we represent the spearhead of god’s evolution, the highest point of consciousness that god itself (or him/herself) has reached. God cannot be different from us here – that is, from humankind as a whole.

There is no “absolute,” no “perfection”

November 2007 diary entry:

I continue to believe that we — humankind — must outgrow religion and all of the things that have divided us in such a way as to lead to war. All of our religions, which have been the foundations of civilizations, have tended to divide us because they have led us to use force against each other in the name of a god or gods. There are always “chosen” ones, favorites, or the “good” in religion as opposed to the others, the “bad” or “evil.” I do believe in an ideal of “goodness,” which we have been developing. There is no absolute “good.” There is no absolute anything at all. We are striving towards a goal that can never be reached — but which is nonetheless a worthy goal. Our understanding of this goal, this imaginary and forever unreachable “absolute” goodness, is evolving, and so is our ability to put this understanding into practice. But we must come to realize that the universal consciousness, the fundamental essence of the cosmos that we like to call “God,” is in itself neither good nor evil, and cannot move our world towards goodness without our help. — We have to begin by thinking and feeling as “we,” “us,” including all humankind; and beyond that all living beings, to a lesser extent.

The Biggest Lie  (from a post originally written in July 2010)

We have been cheated, in a way. We have been living with a big lie: God. – But we have willingly participated. The lie is our lie, too. We have been happy to be deceived by God, because it is comforting to believe in a great supernatural power that is on the “good” side – which is always our side, because no one believes they are bad. Even the worst criminals and mass murderers believe they are “good.” They may admit mistakes – like most everybody does – but they always believe they are fundamentally “good.”  However, the “good” can really exist only if there is also an opposing “evil.” We do believe in an “evil” but it is always someone else – just like God wants us to see “evil” as something entirely separate from him.

Yes, we are all part of this deception or self-deception. We participate willingly, most of the time. – But then we cannot separate from this God and his deception. This God leaves us some breathing space, some room for maneuver, some space for us to think for ourselves, because he wants us to grow, to improve, and he grows with us, improves with us – through us.

We are, all of us humans without exception, part of this God. We are really, ultimately, one. The whole cosmos is one, but we and any other intelligent beings that may exist are the most important elements of this one. The one, as I have said again and again, grows with us and through us.

I think perhaps the Buddhists have the deepest understanding of this oneness, this monism, this interdependence. The accounts of Buddhists I have read – such as those of the French Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard – give me the impression that they have a much better and clearer understanding of the importance of oneness and interdependence than any Christians I have met, including the Moonies. Moon’s teaching has many good points, for sure, but I regard it as deficient in the sense of explaining the real God, and misleading. I think Moon himself does not want to acknowledge the fact that God has deceived us by making us believe in an “evil” that is not of him. Moon’s interests are better served if he just ignores this – and I tend to believe he knows that very well. This would be the element of hypocrisy in Moon that I feel has been touched on indirectly by Nansook Hong, the ex-wife of his now-late son Hyo Jin.
Of course, it is clear that – ultimately – we will have to work with God, no matter how much he has deceived us. We are inalienable parts of him and he is totally in each one of us. We are really one. My contention is only that we have to grow up to be aware of the reality of God – not the fantasy we have believed in for so long. – And the reason we have to grow up this way – with this understanding – is that it is the only way God can continue to evolve – and, indeed, grow himself. As I have insisted many times before: God evolves through us (and any other beings at the highest levels of consciousness) – he grows through us

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The End of Religion -updated

Diary entry Sunday 7 May 2006: It’s been over a year since I wrote in this diary . Nothing dramatic has happened. My thinking has continued to evolve, because I keep learning. The more I learn the more I see that there is so much more to learn in the subjects that I find most interesting: philosophy, human history, cosmology and geography.

Since the tragedy of 9/11 – 11 September 2001 and the American reaction to it I have found it hard to concentrate on subjects other than the current political, economic and military situation in the world. But I have read some books and many commentaries that have given me new insights on how the world – and the USA in particular came to that point. I have also read a few interesting texts on philosophy and religion/atheism that have given me food for thought. I don’t know anybody who would be open to discuss with me my ideas about religion – or even interested in the thoughts I have expressed in my Internet “blogs” (taken mostly from my diaries):  http://diamir.blogspot.com , http://erwinfranzen.spaces.live.com  and  www.geocities.com/erwin51lux .

As my thinking has evolved I have come to feel that I have simply gone way beyond anything that could be called religion, and I am no longer challenged by religion at all. Religion – even in its broadest sense – is no longer of any interest to me because I now believe it is primarily a device that has been used to control people through fear and to impede the evolution of our minds. It is true that religious people have helped greatly at times to advance human morality – but even though it was undoubtedly important to put forward those ideals, most efforts to put them into practice led to the worst disasters and human atrocities that the world has known. The ideals were always turned into ideologies based on disastrously false premises. Why did this happen? But also, why can the vast majority of humankind apparently not live without some kind of religion?

I continue to be challenged by atheism. I do believe there is something we can call god – though a very strange one – but other than as an answer to the above questions I have almost no arguments to support the notion that a god exists. I simply don’t feel comfortable with the positions of the different forms of atheism. But I have no answers for atheists and no “defense” against their arguments.

Continued on Wednesday 10 May 2006 at 03:00 a.m.: Somehow I still do believe in the existence of a “god” even though I have no strong argument – much less proof – for this. As my earlier diary entries indicate (see my posts about god and the universe below), my idea of “god” has evolved very much over the past 10-12 years as I have gradually weaned myself away from the ideology of (the Korean “Rev.”) Moon Sun Myung’s Unification Church – the Divine Principle – and beyond that the whole idea of religion itself. I still think that there is something like universal consciousness and that that is “god.” But I believe, as I have explained in my diary entry of 6 April 2004 – which is my post “Thoughts About God” below – that this god has a personality of his/its own, like a human being. And to me the most important idea about this god is that he/it evolves. He/it evolves and changes together with us – and whatever other “intelligent” beings may exist in other worlds – and in fact through us. Universal consciousness to me means that everything – including inanimate objects – is conscious on some level, and of course human and other “intelligent” beings are conscious at the highest levels. The sum of all consciousness is god, but he/it is more than the sum of the parts and therefore he/it (I don’t want to imply -with “he” -that god is male) has a personality of his/its own. We have another name for god that I think is quite appropriate: “Mother Nature.” — Whimsical Mother Nature – that is god. But we cannot separate from this god – unlike what the common idea of Mother Nature implies – because we are a vital part of him/it. But the idea that this god is to be worshiped is a holdover from the days when humankind was even more primitive than it still is today. Religion – and especially the idea of worshiping anything – really should belong to earlier ages and should be banished from our evolving society. As long as we continue to be bound to such ideas we remain extremely primitive. It is utterly idiotic to worship god, or anything else, though I think god – just like our kings and queens of the past – enjoys being worshiped.

Yet these are the things and ideas that have held up the evolution of our society towards the higher planes where we will become so sensitive and attuned to each other and the spirit of the whole – including god – that the very idea of hurting another being or of fighting or war will seem completely outlandish and impossible. We will no longer need to kill or destroy living beings in order to feed our bodies because we will be able to get our nourishment from inanimate matter. A stone is conscious because of the reality of universal consciousness, but a stone is not a living being that feels pain when its shape is changed. We will be able to “eat” stones – to derive our nourishment from stones or create it from hydrogen, etc. In today’s reality all this seems crazy – but I think this is where we are going. — I have too little time to analyze and correct my thoughts before committing them to paper – so they are not always logically consistent…

More about god from an email I sent to a friend on 16 May 2006:

… I think I never went as far as you did in having deep spiritual experiences, though at times I certainly felt something like what Einstein called the "cosmic religious feeling." I know other people who have gone much further.

In my view now – as it has evolved over the years – the evil we perceive is as deep within ourselves as is the good. Both come from a god who should not be regarded the way we have learned to regard him (it). This god itself has only gradually – and together with our forebears and us – developed an understanding of certain things as good and others as evil – a process that will likely continue for eons to come. This is why I deliberately put the very word god in small characters (though not consistently so). I don’t want to capitalize that word so as to avoid giving the impression that it is something to be worshiped – because all of us who have grown up with religion have a one-sided, false view of god as an all-good father (and mother) of the world but what I consider the real god is also the same as "satan." The most important point about this god is that it evolves through us – it can only change towards good through us and together with us (and all other intelligent beings in the cosmos – if any). We and this universe are like the body of this god and it cannot have a separate existence without this body, yet neither can we and the universe exist without the mind of god, whose consciousness makes all of this possible. Consciousness=existence and v.v. When I use the word "creation" (a word I really don’t like because it implies something impossible such as making something concrete out of nothing) I mean a process of changing elements of the body of god, bundling parts of its energy into different forms of matter and making new things out of existing material. If we worship this god we behave like stupid children. It is high time we started growing up in that sense.
Of course, just like you I don’t believe in "evangelizing," proselytizing. I don’t believe in religion at all anymore – any kind of religion, other than Einstein’s "cosmic religious feeling," which is within ourselves because we are god and god is us. God is no better and no greater than us, because he (it) exists through us as we exist through our bodies. I am telling you these things simply because in telling them I have to formulate and clarify them in my own mind and thus I can come to understand them better myself.
Anyway – I feel we have to grow up and to grow out of religion…
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Correction/Clarification added on 2 December 2006: After reading more from others on the subject of the above text and thinking about it I now feel that I used some inappropriate and misleading terms. In talking about "religion" above, what I really mean is a dominant religious or pseudo-religious ideology (e.g. including communism), not what is commonly described as faith. I am not against religious faith of any kind that inspires a culture, only against ideologies of any kind that come to dominate cultures. To the extent that organized religions have indeed dominated cultures or civilizations I would want to see an end to those religions. I now feel, however, that my use of the term "banish" in the diary entry in saying religion "should be banished from our evolving society" was inappropriate because it implies, wrongly, that I would advocate some kind of forceful action to rid society of religion as such. I believe in Einstein’s "cosmic religious feeling," together with Bertrand Russell’s vision on his 80th birthday: to "care for what is noble," beautiful, gentle, and "to allow moments of insight to give wisdom at more mundane times," and to work towards creating a society "where individuals grow freely, and where hate and greed and envy die because there is nothing to nourish them." To those things that have to "die" I would also add arrogance — the feeling of superiority over others as individuals or groups of any kind that appears to give one or one’s group the right to dominate them. This probably comes from one of the base aspects of god that I described in my 2004 entry "Thoughts about god," and that we will have to change as we evolve with god to higher levels.
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More, adapted from a message to a friend on 27 December 2006:
… Even though I do respect the position of atheism because it is most logical I continue to feel that there is something else. But this something else is INSIDE, NOT BEYOND this world. This god, in my view, is inside us and inside everything – and it is not outside or beyond our world and our universe. If our cosmos could be said to have had any beginning at all, then this god began with it and could not have existed "before" the cosmos. And it grew and changed and evolved with the cosmos, because it IS the cosmos.
 
More, from a message to another friend on 3 January 2007:

I tend to think that people who have died continue to exist in some way, but not in a heaven or a hell. I feel everything and everybody that ever existed did not just come and then disappear completely — they are like imprints on this universal consciousness or god or whatever you want to call it, and as such they are eternal. And I don’t believe time is really as it seems to be, leaving everything behind at some point. Nothing is really completely left behind. We and the cosmos carry everything and everybody with us into the future forever. So nothing and nobody is "just gone."

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The Universe and Us

February 10, 2005 diary entry:
– When I think about what we call the universe I wonder whether such a thing really exists or is perhaps no more than an illusion. Yes, we have cosmology and we imagine that we know something about how this so-called universe was formed and what it is like at this time — and we even have ideas about its future. We believe we can see and measure distant galaxies and we also believe we have found other planets — thinking there must be some out there that are not so different from our little "island," the earth.
But how far have we gone until now? How much of this "universe" have we been able to actually explore rather than just look at from a very great distance with our telescopes and other devices we use to capture electromagnetic waves/emissions? We have actually traveled as far as the earth’s little moon and sent small remotely-guided spacecraft to explore some other planets and their moons within our solar system. Compared to the size of the universe that we believe we are seeing all around us, the tracks we have made so far are infinitesimal. For all we know from actual exploration, the entire universe might as well be just some kind of illusion projected onto a canvas that surrounds our solar system. We have really explored nothing at all. In that sense, we are really extremely primitive. In many other ways too, of course.
Our own imagination has raced very, very far ahead of us in the sense that we can envision spiritual and material things far beyond our present practical ability — but it is still grounded in and to some degree bounded/limited by our miserable, primitive reality. We can dream of a world where war is a distant memory but we are very far from being able to fashion one.
As I have explained elsewhere (in earlier diary entries), I believe there is a "god," a single being that encompasses the world we know. Actually, my idea is pantheistic. I believe that that being I call god is the world we know. The world is a living being. Of course, as I have just mentioned in talking about the world "we know," there is likely to be very much more to this world that we don’t know, since we have explored so little and are still so extremely primitive.
And, as I have noted before, what we like to call "good" and "evil" are simply aspects of this god, who I believe is evolving with us and through us.
For most of my life now — since March 1975 — I have been associated with a religious/political movement founded and led by the Korean Moon Sun Myung, also known as Rev. Moon. In recent years I have mentally separated from this man and his movement but have kept some ties to it because my wife remains a loyal follower and I do not want to break up our family (with 3 children). Moon is certainly a powerful and controversial figure, and in order to separate mentally from his movement and his world view I sometimes had to emphasize the negative aspects of what he is and does. I had to portray him in a bad light — to myself mostly. I think I have now reached a point where I can be more objective. At the same time I am aware that it is only natural for me to resist the notion that I have basically wasted my life by following a false belief and ideology for such a long time. However, I do see a lot of good in the teachings of Moon, even if I believe — as I most certainly do now — that his basic premise is false. He portrays god as absolute "good" and man as "fallen children" of this perfect god, who need to "restore" themselves to their originally-intended position with the help of a "messiah," who will establish the "kingdom of heaven" on earth and in the spiritual world. I, on the other hand, believe that both "good" and "evil" are part and parcel of this god himself (or itself), and that he needs man to evolve in what I can only hope is his favored direction of "goodness."
[For my view of god see: "Thoughts about God" and "Blasphemous Ideas… Y2K" below, also "Harmony and Chaos… 1996" and "First Serious Doubts… 1994" further down]
Moon teaches goodness, and he has some interesting, even valuable, things to say. But he also strives to dominate the world. There is perhaps potential good in this but I also see much potential evil. We cannot allow anyone to become king of the world. There is no way any single human being or human family or nation or race could ever be trusted to such an extent. I certainly believe that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely…. (could not continue as I was interrupted at this moment).

  — Addendum November 2005: So who or what is Rev. Moon? Five years ago I suggested in a message to a friend that he was "god’s favorite toy of the moment." It remains to be seen whether he is indeed the top favorite toy of the moment – but he is certainly no more than that – a toy. I do believe Moon is absolutely serious about what he does, so I don’t agree with those who describe him as a simple fraud. He truly believes that he is the messiah – there is no doubt in my mind about that – and that is why he is so good at making others believe… You may understand what I mean when you read more about my view of god in the posts below, especially "Thoughts about god."

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Thoughts about God

Written down on April 6, 2004:
……
My view of god? … if he (it) is indeed a single being — which is quite likely — then he probably created this world for his own fun and enjoyment. I believe we do reflect his nature and therefore we can conclude that he must be similar to us. He has had so much fun in sharing our joys and pains, and in torturing us (and all plants and animals, etc.) — or having his temporary favorites among us torture others — that he is, perhaps, beginning to become bored a little (or at least I hope this is the case) and may be ready for some change a few hundreds or thousands of years down the road. I believe there was an inevitable element of uncertainty*, of unpredictability, when he created us or rather had us evolve from nature — which is directly subservient to him. [*I believe there was and is no way for god to avoid this uncertainty; it is fundamental]. Possibly he brought about (I don’t like to use the word "create") other beings in other worlds (planets) who are similarly endowed with an element of uncertainty. This uncertainty will hopefully allow us, someday, to make god happy by changing the world/worlds he – um – created (that word again — it’s hard to avoid) in such a way that there needs to be no more suffering at all (including by animals, plants, etc.). I tend to think that there is an inclination in this direction, which exists in us humans and may ultimately come from god (although we could easily be deceived by him in this sense). At any rate, my idea is that we would ultimately change god himself and that that is what he wants, because he evolves through us. He made us in order to evolve with us and through us. Originally he had fun with a world that reflected his base aspects and required a kind of roller coaster ride for god to enjoy both the greatest pleasure and the deepest pain of the living things he had made. The world was made in such a way that one being obtained great pleasure by inflicting excruciating pain on another — tearing it to pieces and devouring it. This reflects the "dark" aspect of god’s nature. The "light" aspect of his nature is found in the beauty and the joy and love that all beings can also experience. But the two go closely together. Underneath the greatest beauty, inside the greatest joy and deep within the greatest love there is always an element or a latent potential of darkness and pain, torture and suffering. There is never anything that is just totally beautiful, joyful and loving. The very joy we feel and the beauty we see can only grow in a soil of darkness and suffering. This is the nature of the world and a reflection of the nature of god. We can understand beauty and joy only because we also know ugliness and suffering. Love and sex in many ways are close to hatred and torture. That is god’s true nature. But — and this is a big "but" — there is this element of uncertainty, this element of chaos, of entropy, this clear evidence that god left — or had to leave — a loophole, a part of the universe that is not organized. This, also, must reflect his nature. And there is indeed, in human beings at least, a clear inclination towards beauty without ugliness, joy without or beyond suffering, and love beyond hatred. Again, god’s nature must be at the origin of this, too [or maybe this is just my hope]. Yes, god is "good" and "bad" at the same time, but there is just a tiny little extra grain on his scale on the side of "good." This is my idea of god. This extra grain is at the heart of the evolution of man and the development of his — and (hopefully) god’s — sensitivities towards his fellow beings — human and other — that allow us to envisage a (probably distant yet attainable) future when there will be only beauty, joy and love all around, no more grounded in their current counterparts. Don’t we all really strive for this? But we are having so much trouble because our feet are still stuck in the mud of ugly pain, the soil in which we have grown…

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