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Publications Book Reviews
Fearless Living in Troubled Times . . . or, How to Get Out of Hell Free
by J. J. Hurtak and Russell Targ
Reviewed by AnaLouise Keating, PhD on June 1, 2006
Especially since the attacks of 9/11, those of us watching U.S. media or listening to the Bush Administration’s speeches have been bombarded with messages about good and evil in which the United States battles an amorphous terrorist threat that might emerge anywhere, at any time. This post-9/11 world is filled with clear-cut choices: You are either a patriot or a traitor, either “for” the U.S. government or against it; there is no room for paradox or ambiguity. In The End of Suffering, Russell Targ and J. J. Hurtak associate this type of dualistic thinking with unhappiness, fear, and other forms of suffering; they claim that if we can change the way we think, we can end most suffering. As Targ explains in the preface, “Our usual black-and-white dualistic frame of mind almost inevitably creates suffering for ourselves and others because we seriously misperceive reality, polarizing it into incommensurable opposites, and therefore we experience delusion. But once we learn to shed our conditioned awareness and move our consciousness to what the Buddhists call naked existence, we are finally able to experience our lives free of habitual conditioning.”
The authors associate binary thinking with the Aristotelian logic that has dominated Western thought. According to Aristotle’s law of the excluded middle, a statement is either true or false (either A or not A). Describing this either/or system as “the law of separation,” the authors maintain that dualistic logic is too limited and leads to a restrictive understanding of self-identity. We define the self too narrowly and ignore both our expansive consciousness and the many ways we are interconnected with all-that-exists. They write, “Since Aristotelian logic focuses mainly on externalized observation of ‛facts’ and ‛figures,’ when this system is applied to the individual, a split takes place between the ‛I’ and the ‛other.’ ” This self-other division leads to many forms of divisiveness: “Two-valued logic gives rise to lack of empathy and fear of the other, whether it manifests as a Christian Crusade, an Islamic Jihad, or plain old-fashioned Western imperialism with its extermination of indigenous people.”
Drawing on their considerable experiences as a physicist and pioneering psychical researcher (Targ) and as a social scientist and Judeo-Christian-Buddhist spiritual teacher (Hurtak), the authors use quantum physics, the theories of Nagarjuna (founder of the Madhyamika, or Middle Way School of Mahayana Buddhism in the second century CE), and other texts from Buddhist, Hindu, and Judeo-Christian religious teachings to challenge our habitual conditioning. For example, unlike Aristotle’s binary system, Nagarjuna’s “four-valued logic” allows for increased flexibility where “statements about the world can be: (1) true, (2) not true, (3) both true and not true, and (4) neither true nor not true.” Translating complex theory into accessible prose, the authors couple this flexible logic with discoveries in nonlocality, remote viewing, reincarnation, and other indications of “nonordinary awareness.” By so doing, they offer a vital alternative to the dualistic logic so prevalent today.