#5178 – Sunday, March 2, 2013 – Editor: Dustin LindenSmith
New Orleans-born author Nic Pizzolatto has scored a critical hit with his new HBO series called True Detective. He also seems to have some sort of grounding in nonduality, judging from the following dialogue between the characters played by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, which was excerpted on a recent episode of NPR’s Fresh Air podcast. It’s impossible not to trip over the nondual references made by the (admittedly nihilistic) character played by McConaughey:
McConaughey: “I think human consciousness is a tragic mis-step in evolution. We became too self-aware; nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. We are creatures that should not exist by natural law.”
Harrelson: “Huh. Well, that sounds god—-ing awful, Rust.”
McC: “We are things that labour under the illusion of having a self. This accretion of sensory experience and feeling, programmed with total assurance that we are each. Some. Body. When in fact, everybody’s nobody.”
H: “I wouldn’t go around spoutin’ that sh– if I was you, people around here don’t think that way — I don’t think that way!”
McC: “I think the honourable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand-in-hand into extinction. One last midnight, brothers and sisters, opting out of a raw deal.”
H: “So, what’s the point of gettin’ outta bed in the morning?”
McC: “I tell myself that it’s to bear witness, but the real answer is that it’s obviously my programming. And I lack the constitution for suicide.”
H: “My luck I picked today to get to know you. Three months, I don’t hear a word from you, and now I’m begging you to shut the f— up.”
That kind of deep, radical advaita teaching doesn’t ring quite as true when delivered in McConnaughey’s slow and sexy drawl, but I appreciate the implied shout-out to the nondual perspective in a popular TV drama. I’d love to ask Pizzolatto about his own personal spiritual and philosophical background.
Comedian and Emmy-award winning comedy writer Greg Fitzsimmons posted the following tweet that garnered some attention for him, not all of it good:
Religion is to spirituality what astrology is to astronomy and what curling is to the Olympics.
He debriefed that tweet with one of the world’s funniest humans, comedian and actor Andy Kindler in one of his recent Fitzdog Radio podcast episodes. His first lesson learned from the event: you can’t tweet something that bashes the Olympics, during the Olympics. People just don’t appreciate it.That particular episode had me laughing out loud quite hard in several places. It’s as though you’re overhearing an intimate conversation between two of the funniest and most quick-witted people you know. Kindler also goes on four hilarious riffs that cut up Jimmy Fallon’s new Tonight Show; Bill Maher; Jay Leno; and Adam Carolla. In this episode, they also discuss the existence and nature of God; unlike many stand-up comics, these two aren’t devout atheists.
On my own Twitter bio, I admit that I listen to comedy podcasts for emotional comfort, but occasionally they stray into the spiritual as well. A recent episode of comedian Marc Maron’s WTF podcast featured an interview with heir to Dr. Bronner’s Soap Company, David Bronner. (Note: This is NOT the same person as David Brenner, the popular 80s TV comic.)
The Bronner family (originally Heilbronner) have been soapmakers in Germany for generations. One of David Bronner’s direct ancestors, Emanuel Bronner, founded the Dr. Bronner soap company out of his house after emigrating to the US in 1929 from then Nazi-ascending Germany. Despite (or perhaps in part because of?) having lost his own parents in the Holocaust, Emanuel developed a sort of spiritual creed called All-One-God-Faith that drew broadly from esoteric Jewish, Christian and Muslim teachings. He developed thickly verbose, prophetic-sounding text to fill out the space on his soap labels, some examples of which I’ve managed to find online. I’ve made cuts to his voluminous verbiage to highlight the nondual themes that jumped out at me.
“WE’RE ALL ONE OR NONE!” “THERE IS NO GOD BUT GOD!” “TEACH LOVE THY ENEMY!” “LISTEN CHILDREN ETERNAL FATHER ETERNALLY ONE!” Israel-Moses-Buddha-Jesus-Mohammed: ONE! ALL ONE!
1st: If I’m not for me, who am I? Nobody!
2nd: Yet, if I’m only for me, what am I? Nothing!
3rd: If not now, when? Once more: Unless constructive-selfish I work hard, like Mark Spitz, perfecting first me,absolute nothing can help perfect me!
4th: Only hard work-God’s law can save us, but if we teach only our clan? We’re all hated then! So, we must teach friend & enemy, the whole Human race, the full-truth, hard-work, free speech. press-&-profitsharing Moral ABC’s All-One-God-Faith, lightning-like, 6-billion-strong, for we’re All-One or none! All-One-God-Faith, WE’RE ONE! ALL-ONE! EXCEPTIONS ETERNALLY? NONE! ABSOLUTE NONE
!5th: Whatever unites mankind is better than whatever divides us! Yet, if absolute-unselfish I am not for me, I am nothing but classless, raceless,starving masses, never free nor brave! Can I teach the MORAL ABC’S ALL-ONE-GOD-FAITH, that lightning-like unites the Human race! For we’re ALL-ONE OR NONE! ALL-ONE! “LISTEN CHILDREN ETERNAL FATHER ETERNALLY ONE!” EXCEPTIONS ETERNALLY? ABSOLUTE NONE!
6th: Absolute cleanliness is Godliness! Balanced food for body-mind-soul-spirit is our medicine! Full-truth our God, half-truth our enemy, hard work our salvation, unity our goal, free speech our weapon, All-One our soul, self-discipline the key to love, uniting All-One above! Above! For we’re All-One or none! As teach for 6000 yrs. astronomers Abraham & Israel: “LISTEN CHILDREN ETERNAL FATHER ETERNALLY ONE!”
7th: Each Each day like a bird, perfect thyself first! Have courage and smile my friend. Think and act 10 years ahead! And the man without fault? He’s dead! Do one thing at a time, work hard! Get done! Then teach friend & enemy the Moral ABC that unites all mankind free! Uniting One! All-One! Face the world with a smile, life is always worthwhile!
It’s not too hard to dismiss these as the ravings of a lunatic, or at least someone in the throes of psychosis. On his Wikipedia page, it indicates that Emanuel Bronner was indeed once arrested and placed in a psychiatric ward. Having said that, it’s not much of a stretch to see that he clearly drew a nondual, unifying theory from amongst what he perceived to be fundamental tenets of the world’s major religions. During Marc Maron’s interview with David Bronner, it was made clear that David still supports the entire underlying philosophy that Emmanuel first laid out. Bronner was also the inventor of the fire-extinguishing foam most commonly used in all chemical fire extinguishers.
You really owe it to yourself to download one of the PDFs of the various labels, which are objects of art in themselves:
There’s also a direct link to a high-res version of the Peppermint Soap label here: