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Matthew Fox

psychedelics. I’m wondering, have you ever had any experience with a psychedelic?

Matthew: No I haven’t, because I’ve never felt it necessary. I’ve gotten high on all these other things; music and nature and ideas and friends. However, some of my best students are people who got into spirituality initially through some kind of drug. The best student I had who I taught years ago, got into spirituality through drugs and she ended up becoming a nun.

In my tradition as a Catholic we drink wine which is a drug, and Jesus drank wine. So even in Christianity in it’s more classical sense, there has been acknowledgement of the role of drugs.

I think that the idea that religions were founded from people on psychedelics is hard to prove or disprove. It’s like any other initiatory spiritual experience, the question then becomes where do you go from there? I tried marijuana in the sixties and it didn’t do anything for me.

Rebecca: You didn’t inhale.(laughter)

Matthew: I tried.(laughter) But I would say that if you had been taken to a sweat lodge when you were sixteen, you probably wouldn’t have needed psychedelics. Also you need to consider that when the ancient people were doing drugs, it was within a ritualistic context.

Rebecca: You talk in Original Blessing about the need for a personal relationship with God, yet when many people think about that idea it’s often anthropomorphic and sometimes trivializes the experience of God. Do you believe in a personal God and if so how does this belief act so as to encompass the vastness of spiritual experience?

Matthew: I reject the notion of talking about God as a person, but there’s a difference between talking about God as a person and talking about God as personal. The term I use is pantheistic – everything is in God and God is in everything. That’s pretty intimate, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to find our own way and do our own creating. I see the universe as a Divine womb and we’re all swimming around in this soup.

I think eyes are very revealing. I was with a student who was dying of AIDS about two years ago. He had beautiful blue eyes and just before he died, his eyes went totally black and he sucked me into this vortex. This is just one example of the presence of the Divine showing itself through people.

Eckhart says, “the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.” So when I used to look into the eyes of my dog, I saw so much mystery there, so much more than he could tell me or wanted to tell me. I see things in eyes that are mysterious and unfathomable.

Rebecca: So it’s personal, not personified.

Matthew: Not personified and not private.

David: How do you define God?

Matthew: Never.(laughter) It’s sad that we put `in God we trust’ on our bills and our missiles and bring God down to our projections. Aquinas has a great line, `God is the source without a source.’ When you see God as a vitality and energy, you question about whether God is personal takes on a different dimension. Is energy personal? Well, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. John Muir said, `the best name for God is beauty.’ During the Cartesian era, during the enlightenment, beauty was lost as a theological category. However, the last time we had cosmology in the west, in the middle ages, they called God beauty.

David: But doesn’t defining God as beauty create a dualism? If you have beauty then you must also have ugliness, and is the ugliness then not a part of God?

Matthew: Another part of beauty is terror. The world isn’t pretty, it’s beautiful. Awe is a mixture of terror and beauty. You say that the opposite of beauty is ugliness. Right. I would say that all injustice is ugly, sin is ugly, tearing down the rainforest is ugly. To me, beauty is not about perfection, there’s beauty in imperfection. If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice it’s knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully.

I think this is part of the false consciousness of the culture. We think that beauty is having a perfect body with all the cosmetics in just the right place. You have to go back to nature to realize what beauty is.

Rebecca: Isn’t part of the mystical experience, seeing the beauty in things that have appeared ugly to you before? Seeing the Godhead in even the lowliest form?

Matthew: That’s right. I think the only ugly thing is human sin. Nothing nature makes is ugly.

Rebecca: Could you talk about some of the practical applications of Creation Spirituality?

Matthew: Much of our society is run on Fall/Redemption ideology. Health care is run on the idea of bringing in outside intervention in the form of surgery and drugs to heal your body which is inert and passive. That’s the basic teaching of medical schools. It’s not about the original blessing that our bodies are. Our bodies want to heal themselves, they have intrinsic power to find balance but they need some help when they get wounded.

Education runs on the same ideology. The idea of education is to force ideas into people’s minds when our minds already desire to learn. We desire sex because it’s fun, it’s good for the species, and in the same way we want to learn because it’s fun. But education has taken the fun out of it. We’ve taken the awe and mysticism out of our work.

Psychology is another area. Instead of asking what your problem is psychologists should be asking, where is your Divine energy and why is it being bottled up? I think there’s a very important shift going in all of our work and this is how we’re going to effect history. Creation Spirituality has to be brought into all work: into politics and business, into art, education health care.

Again, I think that ritual is the key. It provides the energy and courage for people to take risks at work, to reinvent work which is not pessimistic or patriarchal. Pessimism comes from the repression of creativity. If we’re honoring creativity then all our work rules will become very different.

Most people are frustrated at work or don’t have any, not because there’s so little work to do, but because we’re still thinking in terms of the Industrial Revolution and factories and control – Fall/Redemption ideology.

David: What do you personally feel happens to human consciousness after biological death?

Matthew: Well, I don’t think that any beauty is lost in the universe. Hildegard of Bingen says, no warmth is lost in the universe. Einstein said, no energy’s lost. I think that the beauty hangs around. Rupert Sheldrake would call this the morphic resonance and the Christian tradition would call it the Communion of Saints, the East might call it the incarnation.

David: Do you think that there’s an aspect of yourself which still contains some of it’s individuality and continues on?

Matthew: I wouldn’t put it that way myself. Eckhart says, `when I return to the source, the core, the fountain of the Godhead, no one will ask what I’ve been doing. No one will have missed me.’ What he’s really saying is that there’s no judgment.

Rebecca: Are you afraid of death?

Matthew: There was a time when I was afraid.

Rebecca: Was the loss of your fear a sudden transition or a gradual one?

Matthew: I think it was kind of gradual. I suppose it had something to do with facing death so many times too and experiencing other people’s death. Part of coming to terms with death is experiencing the pain and sorrow that can occur in life and thinking that it can’t be much worse.(laughter)

Rebecca: What’s your take on reincarnation?

Matthew: The way I look at it is this. There’s a shadow side and a good side to it. There is a certain complacency to the idea of reincarnation. It’s like, oh well, we’ll work it out next time around. Gandhi was told by his Hindu followers that he didn’t have to worry about the untouchables because next time around they’ll get a better deal. But this wasn’t enough for Gandhi, because of Jesus and the West, and he demanded justice now. I think there’s a certain cop-out, especially among wealthy, comfortable westerners who are into reincarnation because it gives them an excuse not to get involved to fight injustice.

On the other hand, I think reincarnation is really interesting. It’s certainly more interesting than heaven. We’ve made heaven absolutely boring – who wants to go there?!(laughter) As a westerner I talk about the bridge between the East and the West around reincarnation. One is the Communion of Saints. I’ve experienced Eckhart and Hildegard. This morphic field is for real. Secondly there’s this tradition of purgatory. When purgatory is cut out from the Fall/Redemption ideology, it’s not about punishment, it’s about learning to love.

Rebecca: What difference does it make to a person’s life whether they believe that heaven is here and now on earth, rather than out there in some distant future time?

Matthew: It makes a lot of difference. For one thing it puts you in a non-dualistic state of consciousness, which is the key to realizing your connection to the divinity in all things and time, past present and future. It opens you up to ecstasy now! If you don’t make love with the Divine now, then are you going to do it later? Jesus said, the kingdom of God is now. Why wait around?

David: What role do you think consciousness

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