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Seeing the Illusion: Fear and Reward

by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff


“O my Lord, if I worship Thee for fear of hell, burn me in hell; and if I worship Thee for hope of Paradise, exclude me thence; but if I worship Thee for Thine own sake, with hold not from me Thine eternal beauty.”

-Rabia

For the spiritual traveler, in order to unlock what lies beyond everyday consciousness, a period of preparation is required. For a time everyday thought patterns must be suspended so the traveler can experience what lies beyond ordinary awareness. In order for a society or organization to flourish, people are conditioned into believing specific ideas and much of the day is filled with these thoughts. Because of the emotions attached to these ‘sacred’ ideas/beliefs, often the traveler is blocked by their external noise from going deeper and experiencing the inner, spiritual reality.

Fear & Reward

The following is the most common manipulation and illusion created by societal entities to control people and keep their presentation going. It’s a variation of the fear and reward manipulation which most education, social, business, religious groups are using. It runs something like this: look we have a potentially good thing going here (promotion, success, heaven) and if you want to join with us; then you are required to follow what we say to do. If you don’t want these rewards and join: remember you are doomed to either failure; a very hard time; you may even ‘piss God off;’ or become someone with little social status.

We live in a capitalistic society and most people grow-up believing- I want to get a piece of the action (money) - so I’ll follow along with the rules; it’s the same with religions and family structures. What’s put out there- here are the rules and expectations- accept or reject them; that is up to you, but if you reject them it’s a hard way to go without our help.

As I was growing-up, the American Dream went something like this: go to work for a corporation or large employer and they will take care of you financially- from cradle to grave; buy a house on credit- a 30 year mortgage, finance a car, get an education (student loan) and get married. That is the way to success and happiness.

Death of a Dream

Today many of the aspects of this dream lie about in ashes. Like millions of others, when I first had a family I bought into this dream. Yet over the years I realized that the only thing taking out a 30 year mortgage, buying things on credit did for me- was make me a slave to my work everyday and not complain- because if I complained- I wouldn’t get promoted, loose my job or appear un-American; after all I had to take care of my family and make ‘the monthly nut’ (bills) just like everyone else.

In America often we forget there are other ways to do things. Meanwhile my brother has built 2 homes with minimal financing; one of these homes in Mexico and the other in Idaho. Fortunately he has not been enslaved in this particular trap- helping the person who sits on top of the banking industry, mortgage financing scheme get richer. He tells me, that now in Mexico they have introduced installment buying and mortgages. Where this has been done, coincidently, there has been a tremendous growth in stress related or western illness and discontent (high blood pressure, anxiety and lack of work enjoyment).

Feeding the Illusion

The sad part of our western capitalistic illusion: the way to happiness is through consuming, owning and installment buying; is that it keeps us so very busy struggling to keep-up- we don’t see what has happened to us nor have time to express the inner person. The person who likes to sing, dance and smell wild flowers-that eternal child of the universe and spiritual traveler in all of us. We are too busy not wanting to miss all the new gadgets: flat screen TV, phone with the latest capabilities, and new car; we become over stressed working for these gadgets with different physical ailments and often traveling hours to our job.

Caught-up in the daily grind of working to pay bills, many forget life is a wonderful gift- filled with love, creativity, beautiful sunsets and people to love.

When we are immersed in this illusion and expectation that material happiness will be ours, often we shift off center and don’t have time for simpler, holistic things. In this age we are witnessing the collapse of many cherished institutions and beliefs- Governments, corporations, and standard religion cannot save us. Each of these structures has a vested interest in keeping the status quo and old system going; what will save us is that after the collapse of these structures, people will be forced to unite and replace these systems with others that work for the common good.

You know, it is possible to work together and solve complex problems, we see it every day: usually in an emergency situation or after a catastrophe of some sort; people show-up from everywhere trying to help.

Freedom from the Illusion

The best way to free people from their own expectations and an unhealthy level of selfishness, is to realize this trap, individually and teach others- it is in everyone’s best interest that people be treated fairly, fed, not robbed, cheated or raped. For you see, I am my brother’s keeper, because we share the same Father; and if my brother is not fed, one day he will be at my door, demanding what is his.

In the Far East, Terrorist Leaders are presenting the fear and reward manipulation in this fashion. We want to be good Moslems who do God’s Will; so we must spread Islam, fighting and killing those capitalists who do not believe as we do, and worship the God of money. Then our reward will be in heaven; today many are being brain washed into believing this terrorist ideology and manipulation.

Any person or society can use ideology to control people, particularly, when the ideology is exclusive and tied to the reward and punishment manipulation. In the world today, religion and nationalism are two very common and dangerous examples. We are right and they are wrong; and because we are right- the other must do as we say. Remember the task of the spiritual traveler is to see beyond ideology and manipulation, so, they are not controlled by these strong thoughts; being able to suspend them for a time, eventually awakening other forms of consciousness that arise from the mystical, spiritual part of our nature and reside deep within.

Freedom from Manipulation

As spiritual travelers, we want to freely choose actions; like paying off a 30 year mortgage, to make our lives more comfortable and enjoyable. We want our world to be a place where people are free to express the higher part of them self and are not controlled by what others think or say; having been taught to see beyond fear and reward- living a more complete life.

“Umar ‘Abul’l-Aziz once wrote a letter to Hasan al-Basri in which he requested some brief advice that would serve to guide him. On the back of the envelope, Hasan wrote, “O Commander of the Faithful, if God is with you, then what do you fear, and if God isn’t with you, in what can you have hope?”

-Hasan al-Basri

____________

Check-out my two books: Sufism for Western Seekers: Path of the Spiritual Traveler in Everyday Life and The Ferryman’s Dream. Both books are also in Kindle format and available on Amazon.com or local bookstore.

If you are interested in learning more about universal mysticism and Sufism contact: drbitkoff@yahoo.com.


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