Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Inventing Concepts: God, Love, and Poly Labels

Why is the idea of God so popular, so hard for societies to shake off despite the evidence? Like all ideas, “God” is an invention of human consciousness. Developed over thousands of decades by great and weak minds alike. “God” has taken on a life of its own (literally). But again, there was a time when our caveman ancestors weren't aware of the concept of “God.”

“God”—as constructed by the human mind—is the embodiment of superhuman qualities. Some noble, others not so much. However, like all concepts, if you ask 50 people what “God” is like, you will get 53 answers.
When you say you love God what does it mean? It means that you love a projection of your own imagination, a projection of yourself clothed in certain forms of respectability according to what you think is noble and holy; so to say, 'I love God', is absolute nonsense. When you worship God you are worshiping yourself - and that is not love."   J. Krishnamurti
For each individual, then, “God” is a projection of our best self. The person we would be if we weren't so … well, human. To that I say: What’s so wrong with being human?

Likewise, “love” is another attempt to label a human experience. We've all used the word “love” and we assume others know what we mean. To some extent, every individual has experienced love, or at least it’s opposite. But again 50 questions, 53 answers.

Even philosophers going back to the Greeks couldn't agree on the meaning of “love.” Plato said that love is beauty, and this is just as true today. And just as useful?!

So, then what does it mean, practically, for my life tonight when I’m making love or praying to my self-burlesqued deity? Like “love,” “God” is just a concept, constructed around a human experience. There is no reality of either to discover, no proverbial curtain to pull back and suddenly understand.

I have no problem with belief in “God” if that helps you. The same way I use the word “love” with my children and partners. But when I do, I’m aware that the “love” I feel for them is a pitiful attempt to label a human experience that can’t really be defined, contained or explained.

Understanding concepts in this way helps me to view labels as impermanent and inexact. It fills me with compassion for others, especially for people or ideas society labels as “evil.” Again, just a concept invented by humans.

It works the same with the labels we attach to relationships. I read a lot of static on poly boards about relationship labels: “primary,” “secondary,” “boyfriend/girlfriend,” “FWB,” etc. A lot of whining too about not attaining the desired label with a partner, or using the wrong label. Are “secondary” partners really secondary? And similar shit.

What’s important is that you know what your relationship is, where it’s at, where it’s going (or not going), what your partner thinks about you. If you need a label (or feel uncomfortable about an assigned label), it’s time to blow the insecurity whistle. Labels for people outside the relationship, who don’t know the intimate details. Labels carry no meaning of their own. It’s only the meaning we bring to them. Being upgraded from “girlfriend” to “ fiance” doesn't change your relationship one iota.

My recommendation: only use relationship labels when necessary, with the understanding that they do a shitty job of classifying your relationship. Otherwise, decide they don’t exist, end the conversation and start enjoying the human being next to you.