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Written by: Jesus People USA    Posted on: 05/01/2003

Category: Cults / Sects / Non Christian Religions and Topics

Source: CCN

      P A S S I V I T Y  -  L E T H A L  L U L L A B Y       ---------------------------------------------------

"Once there was  fine warren on the edge of a wood, overlooking the meadows of a farm...

"One day the farmer though, `I could increase these rabbits: make them part of my farm- their meat, their skins.  Why should I bother to keep rabbits in hutches?  They'll do very well where they are.'... He put out food for the rabbits, but not too near the warren.  For his purpose they had to become accustomed to going about in the fields and the wood.  And then he snared them-not too many; as many as he wanted and not as many as would frighten them all away or destroy the warren.

"They grew big and strong and healthy, for he saw to it that they had all of the best, particularly in winter, and nothing to fear-except the running knot in the hedge gap and the wood path.  So they lived as he wanted them to live and all the time there were a few who disappeared.  The rabbits became strange in many ways, different from other rabbits.  They knew well enough what was happening.  But even to themselves they pretended all was well, for the food was good, they were protected, they had nothing to fear but the one fear..."

          (excerpt from WATERSHIP DOWN by Richard Adams)

A story of rabbits can easily be translated to men.  Our warren, too, is plush and secure, safe from danger, and insipidly deadly.

The typical would view of passivity is that is constitutes a positive force; a person who is passive is often described as "restrained" or "reserved."  Both terms, if not carried too far, are supposed signs of strength in character.  When passivity is seen in a negative light, it is often confused with indifference or apathy, neither of which are synonymous, but are often passivity's symptoms.

According to Webster's [Sixth] New Collegiate Dictionary, passivity consists "Not [of being] active, but acted upon; affected by outside force[s] or agenc[ies and] receiving or enduring without resistance or emotional reaction..."

A person "being acted upon... affected by outside forces" is one who allows circumstance and environment to dictate his state of mind.  The question is what the individual really is doing when he allows himself to assume a passive stance.  For that, we must look at some of passivity's fruit.


Psychologists agree that "the most prominent symptom of depression [is] passivity." (Psych. Today, June 1973, p. 45) Paradoxically, there is also a reversal of roles.  Depression can become a symptom of passivity:  "I existed in a state of complete nothingness.  My world was one in which passivity played the major role.  Depression was the stat I most often was in, because I felt unable to make and effort to overcome the barriers in my life."

In extreme instances, even suicide can be traced to passivity. The most graphic examples come from the insane world of the rock and roll star or film personality.  Freddie Prinze, of "Chico and the Man" fame, and Robert Lamm, from the group Chicago, both shot themselves in a seemingly irrelevant and unplanned manner.  It was report, however, that Prinze used to hold the gun he later shot himself with to his head and tell his startled friends that he was going to kill himself.  Then, laughing, he would put the gun aside.  In his life, fantasy became reality.

Janis Joplin, too, was a study in passivity.  At one point, when a friend confronted her about her heavy heroin usage, she offered this defense:  "I just did it to see."  "To see what?" "To see if I wanted to do it anymore."  (Janis Joplin, Buried Alive, Myra Friedman, pg. 388)

Keith Moon, the drummer of the Who, is the most recent possible suicide related to passivity.  He died by taking two handfuls of sleeping pills by "accident."  The Rolling Stone commented that, "It was in any event, and uncharacteristically passive end for one of rock's most flamboyant figures."


A major area in which passivity is encouraged is religion, especially the new religions of the East, as well as spin-offs from Christianity.  Men such as Sun Myung Moon, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and Edgar Cayce all encourage a passive mind in the search for God.  In a recent issue of People magazine, a young high school journalist penetrated the "Moonie cult," and described various techniques used to break down potential member's minds until they reached a state of uncritical passivity.

In Hare Krishna, on "is urged to act without seeking the fruits of his action." (Those Curious New Cults, William Petersen, p. 167)

Zen Buddhists have a poem that expressed the same idea:     "If you want the truth to stand clear before you     Never be for or against     The struggle between `for' and `against'     Is the mind's worst disease."

Along more occultic lines, Edgar Cayce was perhaps one of the more famous mediums.  He was called "the sleeping prophet" because of his allowing his mind to go blank and his apparent unconsciousnesses during "prophetic" utterances supposedly uttered by the denizens of the spirit would.  As cult expert William Petersen says, "Anyone who puts his mind in neutral should check to see who is behind the wheel.  Whenever Cayce went into a self-induced trance, he was at the mercy of outside forces."  (Those Curious New Cults, William Petersen, p. 58)

And it is ironic that out of six types of seances practiced by spiritualists, one of them is call "passivity."

Finally, there are the thousand and one forms of meditation being peddled by an assortment of gurus and psycho-analysts, from TM to Yoga.  Almost all of them rely on a mantra or some other form of chant to reach what TM calls "total relaxation."  This chant is extremely repetitious, often only one word and serves to slow down or even stop the mind's thought processes. (see Psychology Today, February 1978, p. 84)


Many psychologists support meditation techniques such as TM, claiming that they're beneficial.  Also the school of behaviorism (as taught by B. F. Skinner) teaches that men are controlled by their environment, which precludes any escape from one's lot in life.

Most (almost all) of modern philosophy encourages passivity.  Existentialism, harsh determinism, and even end-of-the-road nihilism, all leave little option as to passivity.  Consider one scholar's comments on Jean-Paul Sartre, the father of existentialsim:  "He says that we live in an absurd universe.  The total, he says, is ridiculous.  Nevertheless, you try to authenticate yourself by an act of will.  It does not really matter in which direction you act as long as you act.

"You see an old lady and if you help her safely across the road you have 'authenticated yourself.'  But if you choose to beat her over the head, and snatch her handbag, you would have equally have 'authenticated yourself.' ...you just choose and act."  (The God Who is There, Francis Schaeffer, p. 24)

The normal individual is reduced to bumbling along, making up his own ethics as he goes.  For many this task proves a bewildering one, and so ethics goes in the garbadge along with absolutes.  Of all the myriad paths open to the individual, passivity is by the far easiest and safest one to travel.

Passivity's greatest damage is done within the mind of the individual who is ruled by it.  Thus, what starts as a self protective mechanism to avoid injury or perhaps just an easy out from responsibility turns into a bondage that ultimately destroys the human personality, crippling the individual's ability to love or to care.

"To love at all is to be vulnerable.  Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.  If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal.  Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket of coffin of your selfishness.  But in that casket--safe, dark, motionless--it will change.  It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable."  (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, p. 169)


Can passivity be overcome?  The emotions that may lead to passivity (depression, insecurity, apathy) are themselves debated; are they integral parts of each person's makeup, or are they forces that can be separated from the personality?  Some say the latter.  "Unlike a spectator during an abduction, we do not seem to have the option of abandoning our pasive stance and getting involved; for what would it be like for us either to help hinder the depradations of our moods and our unconscious processes?"  (Mind, July 1978, p. 393)

Is this really true, or are human emotions sxtraneous to human behavior?  The ancient Greek philosophers such as Socrates and Plato believed the mind was of ultimate importance and emotions not even secondary, but rather a hindrance.

Both of these views end in passivity.  The first claims it as an inescapable fact of life, while the second denies passivity's existance.  neither actually deals with it.

We must put on that "renewed mind" and our thoughts must be transformed.  This goes beyond Norman Vincent Peals and his "Power of Positive Thinking," and into a realm involving cost.

The Bible points to commitment as the vital ingredient and to attain this commitment we need God in our lives, and Jesus Christ, who was God on earth in human form, is the lone gateway to Him.  Passivity is only logical if we have no reason for life or hope, but if Jesus is a changer of lives, we must face that fact and accept or reject His offer.


Just as there is a real, living God, the Bible also points to the existence of Satan.  Not symbolic, not imaginary, but a real spirit orchestrating evil through the whole world, Satan is the one who perpetrates and encourages passivity.  It gives him an opening through which he can pour all the thoughts he pleases, paralyzing our will and leading us by the nose into bondage of sin.  Passivity itself is sin, for it is the door that allows Satan entry.

Rather than allow Christians to attempt answering Jesus' challenge of discipleship, Satan uses passivity to encourage our gliding along on the circumstances of the moment and evading the issue.  He wants no struggle to understand or grasp the truth, but rather a submissive acquiescence to "things as they are."

Rebellion and passivity go hand in hand.  So often, we "turned off" our parents, teachers, or evan our friends by retreating into its embrace.  In situations that put pressure on us to grow, or problems that challenge us in their complexity, passivity becomes the best non-narcotic escape to "tune- out."  If passivity is linked to rebellion, we must realize the seriousness of this in God's eyes.  "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft."  (I Sam. 15:23)

Many who are under passivity's bondage attempt to escape through prayer, fasting, or reading the Word.  This is missing the point.  "There I was, at a Christian college, and my spiritual life was at a complete standstill.  I wasn't even conscious of any passive stance within...I suffered from a spiritual malaise, a deadness that tormented and frustrated me.  I read the Word trying to break free of something I didn't even understand.  I would sin, but rather than repent and simply obey God next time.  I attempted through 'being spiritual' (reading and praying) to come around.  Part of it was that I didn't know about passivity, and part of it was that I wouldn't have chosen simple obedience anyway."  (See I Sam. 15:22)

We need to gain a true hatred for passivity; not just an intellectual assent to its destructive qualities, but a heartfelt revulsion for the role it plays in subverting any fruitful relationship to Christ.

Martin Luther, when being actually visibly confronted with Satan, understood this hatred perfectly.  He hurled an inkwell across the room at the devil, and although Satan obviously suffered no harm, the point was made.  Martin Luther loved God and hated the king of the fallen angels and fallen men.  Just as Luther made his point, we must make ours.  This crucial, for without an understanding and hatred of passivity, it will continue to reign in our lives, perverting our personality and causing our soul to agonize in its emptiness.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see illustrated perhaps the most titanic struggle a man has ever waged against the numbing paralysis of passivity.  "And being in agony (of mind) He prayed (the) more earnestly and intently; and His sweat became like great clots of blood dropping down upon the ground."  (Luke 22:44, Amp.)

Even when motives are right, a person can fall prey to passivity.  "Many people who truly desire to follow the Holy Spirit and who have given up self- will and personal ambition are people who can get into a state of a passive mind because of misunderstanding.  They don't want their own will, the don't want their own thoughts, and so they God to do their thinking for them.  But God doesn't do your thinking for you."  (Jack Winter, Dimension Tapes, SIJW 7)

Ultimately, every man will meet with passivity.  He can either deal with it through a living relationship with Jesus Christ, or he won't deal with it all.  He will become passive and he will be overcome in the end.  Consider what C. S. Lewis writes in his book "The Screwtape Letters:

"You will say that these are very small sins...It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effects is to edge the man away from the Light and out into nothing...Indeed the safest road to hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, sof underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts..."

Whether it is to be this road or the hard but exhilarating mountain of reality in Christ, we choose it.  And sometimes not choosing is the worst choice.

Jesus People USA 4707 N. Malden Chicago, IL 60640

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