“Time makes ancient good uncouth.” ~James Russell Lowell
Ancient values have become obsolete. They are rotten fruit, slick and hazardous at our feet. We should proceed with great caution when walking over them. They might as well be eggshells. For the great majority are still under their spell. The great majority don’t see rotten fruit. They see preciousness. They see providence. They see answers. They see comfort.
Most people are so inured, so conditioned by outdated conditioning, that they cannot see their unhealthy condition. They cannot see how their comfort zone has closed in on them. They are crippled by cognitive dissonance, hamstrung by mortal dread, and paralyzed by existential angst. They cannot see the adaptable forest (nonattachment) for all the rigid trees (attachment).
So what can we do? How does a self-aware animal conscious of its own mortality respond to the overwhelm? How do we resolve outdated reasoning? Where do we go when religions fail us and “God is dead” at our feet and we hold the knife? What do we do with the corpse? What do we do with death itself? Should we even rely on any answer that might come from such questioning?
The short answer? The only answer is to keep the Truth Quest always ahead of the “truth.” The long answer? Please, read on…
From ape to man (Inventing God):
“There is nothing in the world more difficult than candor, and nothing easier than flattery.” ~Gogol
Candor, honesty, openness, sincerity, truthfulness: A tall task for an imperfectly flawed and fallible creature torn between finitude and infinity. Flattery, fawning, sycophancy, hypocrisy, dishonesty: An easy task for the same.
For thousands of years we, as a species, floundered on the easy path. And who could blame us? We rose up, fearful yet forceful in our fallibility, challenging the elements, the dangers, the thousand-and-one unknowns.
Ironically, what kept us physically safe is precisely what kept us spiritually inept: comfort. It was comforting to build shelter to guard against the elements and unknown dangers, yet it was blinding to build shelter against unknown truths.
And what was our most comforting creation? It wasn’t clothing. It wasn’t teepees or lean-tos. It wasn’t fire. It was God. The almighty comfort. The absolute placation. The ultimate projection of a scared shitless naked ape.
We are a stubbornly vain and imaginative species, and so we could not help but create “technologies of ecstasy” that could help us transcend our mortality, our boredom, our nakedness, our epic smallness in the grand scheme of things. And so, intolerant of reality and the mortality it imposed upon us, we created God, the ultimate technology. The absolute Somethingness that we ushered in to trump the absolute Nothingness of our own impermanence.
We created God to alleviate our death anxiety, to square the circle of infinity, to manifest unconditional love, to behold an infinite canvas for our art, and to have something to laugh along with at the cosmic joke.
But, and here’s the punch in the gut, having forgotten this, we have also forgotten the cosmic joke. We’ve forgotten how to laugh at it. Distracted by God, the ultimate red herring, we have forsaken our humor for hubris. And only a bold and dangerous act of self-overcoming can ever hope to get it back. As Aristotle said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
From man to Overman (Overcoming God):
“I want to teach men the sense of their existence, which is the Overman, the lightning out of the dark cloud man.” ~Nietzsche
Behold the lightning! The wakeup all. The herald of the Overman. It comes as a mighty howl from the core of mankind. It strikes like a cobra, sinking its fangs into the ripened fruit of truth which has been forsaken. It is thunderous, empowering, cataclysmic. It rocks all boats. It tests all waters. It flips all scripts. It turns all tables. It pushes all envelopes. It thinks outside of all established boxes. It topples all ivory towers. It stares into the void and laughs at man’s ineptitude and then swallows it whole.
The Overman allies with the void (shadow) with pluck and aplomb, with tenacity and candor, with fierceness and grace. This is how magic is made. This is how boundaries are transformed into horizons. This is how worlds end and begin. This is how shadows are inverted. This is how God is reinvented.
The tug-o-war rope between life and death, finitude and infinity, darkness and light, pain and passion, mortality and immortality are held taut between madness and genius. And the Overman holds the rope at both ends.
Indeed. Meaning, purpose, and higher values are the flowers that bloom from the mud of the void. It will take going through the underground of the soul, toiling through the muck and mire of the human condition, navigating the Underdark of our primal chaos, to discover the loam rich enough to regrow meaning and purpose.
We must dig deep into the humando of our humanity and strike the primal lodestone. Tapping the primal lodestone is the only way through to tapping the Philosopher’s Stone. As Nietzsche said, “Everyone who has ever built anywhere a “new heaven” first found the power thereto in his own hell.”
Everyone must build their own “heaven.” That heaven is each our own purpose. It is not built on wishful thinking, or pie-in-the-sky delusion. It’s built on the molten rocks of our own personal hell. It’s forged in the inferno of our deepest darkest humanness. Each brick must be dragged through the blood, sweat, and tears of being a creature first, a creator second.
That’s the Overman: a creature first, a creator second. Consummately overcoming itself. Sometimes even despite itself. Despite its own fallibility and imperfections. Despite its own projections. Despite its own self-pity. Despite its own placations. Despite its neediness and clinginess. Despite its codependence and attachments. It rises above and beyond. It forces its own mortal coil into a mighty halo, but then brings it back down in good humor and humility, again and again. Up and down. Death and rebirth. Ashes and Phoenix. Shadow and light. Hunger and nonattachment.
The hunger for the Truth Quest must never be forsaken for the satiation of the “truth.” The only rule is to keep questioning, keep churning the coals in the crucible, keep killing and recreating God, keep change ahead of choice, curiosity ahead of certainty, and transformation ahead of formation.
This is the only way to stay ahead of the curve. It’s the only way to guard against being cognitively stuck, psychologically tricked, spiritually hoodwinked, culturally conned, or politically bamboozled.
About the Author:
Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.
This article (Overcoming God: From Man to Overman and Beyond) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.