Political Liberty as a Spiritual Value
As published in EVOLVE Magazine
Vol 3. No. 3
Copyright 2004 James Wasserman
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had an abiding sense of God in my life — an unfathomable recognition of an Intelligence, Awareness, or Being that exists in some proximity to my own self or apparent self. In two of my books, I quoted the fourth century neo-Platonist Iamblichus who wrote, “An innate knowledge of the Gods is coexistent with our very existence; and … subsists prior to reason and demonstration.” Simply stated: it is self-evident that God exists.
I also grew up with a sense of responsibility for the world. I have always felt that I was part of humanity and our pathetic attempts to crawl out of the muck of our predicament. Poverty, hunger, selfishness, war, hatred — all seemed both of great importance and within my personal sphere of responsibility.
I entered Antioch College in the summer of 1966. It was a school on the forefront of the civil rights/anti-war movement, and the cultural revolution of sex and drugs. Antioch had a work/study program in which students worked in their chosen fields half the year. An activist lawyer with the cutting-edge SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) came to campus to speak. He was eloquent, and his talk enticed me into working for him as a volunteer research assistant that fall.
I was immediately plunged into a central hub of the New Left movement. While I remember Fannie Lou Hamer as a woman of particular warmth, nearly all the other luminaries I met filled me with despair. I realized my political work, at best, would merely substitute one group of power-mad neurotics for another. I mention in my book that during a rare relaxed private conversation with my boss, I asked his opinion about whether the anti-war movement was helping the communists, as many people believed. He told me he didn’t care, that he didn’t reject communism outright. I did, and departed soon after.
Meanwhile, my experiences with psychedelics were turning me toward that childhood awareness of a Higher Power whose presence was becoming increasingly palpable. I embraced meditation after reading Alan Watts’ Way of Zen. I came to believe that a refining of my own character was the first step in redeeming the world in any meaningful political sense (an insight that hasn’t changed in more than three decades, although my methodology has evolved considerably).
I began to study the literature of spiritual wisdom. I felt increasingly at odds with the demands of my college curriculum and left school in 1968. Thus began a period of travel and seeking after teachers. I was attracted to Western Occultism where I continue to remain firmly grounded as a student of Aleister Crowley and Scientific Illuminism. I accept the Book of the Law as the sole rule and guide of my life, and Liber Oz (the political program of Ordo Templi Orientis) as the most enlightened expression of political philosophy ever penned. (Liber Oz is included in The Slaves Shall Serve. The Book of the Law is available from New Leaf.)
In addition to Western Esotericism, my spiritual quest has included fairly extensive work with the disciplines of Surat Shabd Yoga and the Radha Soami Satsang; the practice of zhikr with the Sufis of the Halveti Jerrahi; and the taking of Refuge with Dudjom Rinpoche, before whom I swore the Bodhisattva Vow.
Throughout the decade of the 1970s, I remained heartily oblivious to politics. My life was that of a student of the Mysteries and of a young man learning his way in the world. I discovered my career path in the world of publishing and rose to become general manager of Samuel Weiser’s. I left in 1977 to found Studio 31 Book Production and Graphic Design.
In 1981, I developed an interest in firearms, occasioned by a series of unfortunate events that befell the spiritual group of which I was leader. I determined the best way to protect my family against certain credible threats was to invoke the sacred right of self defense as enshrined in both the Second Amendment of America’s Bill of Rights and Paragraph 5 of Liber Oz.
During my research into deciding which firearm to buy, I encountered the passionate concern of the gun culture for the rights protected by the American Constitution. As I became more familiar with their literature, I recognized that the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights had a profoundly spiritual dimension of which I had been previously unaware.
Then in August of 1992 I became ill and ran a high fever. Confined to bed, I saw a small article in The NY Times concerning Ruby Ridge, Idaho. Some 300 government agents were surrounding the home of a fellow named Randy Weaver. His 14-year-old boy had been shot in the back and killed by a U.S. Marshal, and his wife was shot in the head and killed by an FBI sniper as she cradled her baby. The Times printed a photo of some agents standing around Weaver’s property. One agent‘s back was turned to the camera and displayed the letters ATF in very large type. I realized immediately that such graphics were designed to lessen the chance of them killing each other when shooting their fellow Americans in the back. I searched for a clue to Weaver’s crime, and could only find vague suggestions of “weapons violations.” He was described as a neo-Nazi racist.
As a Jew, with one child of mixed race, neo-Nazi racists are not exactly my cup of tea. But I had this incredibly high fever. I lay my head down and closed my eyes. My soul literally entered Randy Weaver’s cabin, and my psyche became conjoined with his for a time. I experienced his torture through every fiber of my being. I came out of it and cried. I told my wife what a horrible thing it was to have your son and your wife killed, and all those murderers outside your home, publicly painting you as some subhuman scum.
The world seemed very different when my fever broke. I immersed myself in an attempt to understand what had happened to my country. After many months of sleepless nights and many thousands of pages of reading, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I knew I had to stop, and began to pull myself out of it sometime between mid-January and early-February of 1993. Then came Waco.
Now here was something into which I could really sink my teeth — no more neo-Nazi racists. The Branch Davidians were an offbeat group of religious people, following an obscure and unknown doctrine. They were led by a charismatic and inspired biblical scholar who played rock ‘n roll, loved firearms and custom cars, and practiced a series of mysterious sexual teachings. I became fixated on Waco.
Miraculously, rather than going into a mental hospital during the 51-day siege, I was inspired to reread Atlas Shrugged — a book I hadn’t read since I was 14. It helped to contextualize the sense of extreme alienation I was experiencing. I came at last to understand that the entire goal of my spiritual quest was Liberty. I had used every technique I could find to maximize my Liberty — from meditation, ritual magick, sex, drugs, and sobriety, to personal economics, and career orientation. I realized I was now being directed to explore political liberty.
I began to study the American Constitution in some depth. I learned that it contained no platitudes. America’s founders sought real world goals like common defense, general welfare, and the assurance of unfettered individual rights. I learned that under America’s constitutional system, our political rights are God-given. They are “unalienable” — incapable of being surrendered or transferred. They are protected from the state by a series of restrictions on the state. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are essentially a series of “Thou shalt nots” directed at government. “Congress shall make no law …”
I saw that in both the Book of the Law and America’s founding documents there is an implicit recognition of the divinity inherent in each human being. The Book of the Law states “Every man and every woman is a star” — “thou hast no right but to do thy will.” The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” The goal of a society built on such principles must be the encouragement of maximum individual liberty for the most unfettered growth of human potential.
Over the years since 1992, I became increasingly aware of the antithesis to this libertarian, individualist conception. I began to study the UN model of political control, the collectivist vision of the nanny state epitomized by the phrase, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” The UN claims that among its goals it seeks to eliminate war — for the first time since some post-monkey grabbed a rock in anger. It further declares that it desires to help people practice tolerance and learn to live together as good neighbors — despite the millennia of religious and philosophical teachings that have failed to achieve these utopian pipe dreams.
I learned that the UN political model offers a series of “alienable” rights — or privileges — that can legally be taken away whenever the state decides. These so-called rights appear on the surface to be fairly civilized. After all, they were modeled for propaganda purposes on the U. S. Bill of Rights. (Although you can bet your blue helmet there’s no right to self-defense. Perfectly embodying the police state or military dictatorship, the only armed people are police, selected bureaucrats, and soldiers.)
There are also no “Thou shalt nots” applied to governments that adopt the UN agreements. Instead the language reads, “Everyone has the right …” But, when you look more closely into those rights, every single one is subject to the review and approval of the state. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights goes on for 28 Articles that describe everyone’s so-called rights. Then, toward the end comes Article 29, which reads, “In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.”
The language of this caveat must be understood as the conceptual antithesis of unalienable rights. Here’s what I mean by conceptual antithesis. Quoting The Slaves Shall Serve:
“True individual rights are inviolate. If I have the right to free speech, you have the right to free speech. My rights do not lessen or negate your rights. If I can be armed, you can be armed; if my house is secure from warrantless searches, your house is secure from warrantless searches. Privileges are different. If I have the privilege of free speech, you can tell me not to say things that bother you. If you have the privilege to bear arms, I can tell you not to own scary looking ones that make me feel anxious. If I have the privilege to be secure in my home against warrantless searches, you can perform “sneak and peek” secret raids, or tell me that since I live in public housing, or am driving my car on a public road, you can search my apartment or vehicle anytime you decide.”
This led me to ask the inevitable question:
“Who, in his right mind, would be supportive of a political system
that intended to replace his unalienable rights with alienable privileges?”
My book reproduces several of the founding documents of the UN and invites the reader to compare their language with those of the American system and Liber Oz, also included. It reprints a plan offered by President Kennedy in 1961 — and never refuted since — in which America’s military weapons are pledged to be surrendered to UN control. This is not a paranoid fantasy. It is the published policy of the U.S. State Department.
* * * * *
It troubles me that many people following spiritual pursuits are guilty of burying their heads in the sand. (I know the position well. I voted for the first time at age 36.) However, it is not enough to be prancing around a Magical Circle or meditating in a candlelit room. Just look at Tibet, an exalted spiritual culture laid waste by Chinese communist genocidal hordes. The Tyrants are silently erecting the walls of our cells and forging our chains — while we stand lighting our incense. There have been many theories advanced to explain the karmic workings of politics on earth, but slavery is hardly a model to be embraced for either our spiritual work or political aspirations.
I believe the American Constitutional model offers the best hope of human freedom on earth. It is the only political system — besides that proposed by Liber Oz — in which the natural rights of the individual are recognized as superior to either the will of the majority, or the whim of the state.
The battle between the forces of tyranny and the legions of freedom is in full swing today. Those of us who seek freedom are bucking a tide so enormous it seems to be swallowing the entire world. However, I believe we will triumph. The desire for freedom is perhaps the key spiritual component of our species. My book offers a number of suggestions for further action in support of individual liberty, along with an annotated list of the 50 best books I’ve found on the subject. My fondest hope is that these ideas may find points of resonance within readers sufficient to encourage each to meditate on the personal value he or she places on freedom, and to act accordingly.