Intuitive Anarchy: Freedom from the Inside-Out

 

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Perception – Original Digital Composition

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

-Albert Camus

As a philosophy, Anarchy has many shapes and shades. In popular culture, it’s most commonly associated with rebellion, lawlessness and destruction. But in the real world, there are several dozen types, including Capitalist, Feminist, Christian, Naturalist and Pacifist, just to name a few. The one thing all have in common is a belief that authority-based hierarchical organizations infringe on basic personal liberty. Styles of opposition can range from the anti-social criminal enterprises such as depicted by TV’s Sons of Anarchy, to one of the many non-violent political strains such as Libertarianism (yes, Libertarianism is considered a type of anarchy).

A more in-depth look at the subject can easily be accomplished via web search. The point I want to make here is that despite all their effort at detailed analysis and explanation, intellectually based versions of anarchy are inherently limited. They may succeed in minimizing the effect of authority and control, but they cannot eliminate it altogether. For example, even if the federal government were reduced to the size of a deer tick, it would still have some degree of control. In truth, authentic freedom can’t and won’t be manifested as long as the focus is on ways and means external to the individual.

We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges!
In contrast to the common forms of anarchy, let’s imagine another kind which focuses on personal freedom in its most elemental form. This form circumvents every gear and lever in the social-political machine. Let’s call it Intuitive Anarchy, a term that expresses the notion of a totally different approach to dealing with authority. Instead of opposing it, Intuitive Anarchy bypasses authority altogether. And it is able to do so because it recognizes the intrinsic authority that all humans are born with, but which most fail to grasp. This basic authority, which could also be called original authority (some would call it original sin), is the true source of personal empowerment and freedom. It renders all external authority fundamentally powerless.

Original authority is only actualized by connecting with the individual’s inherent transcendent core. This transcendent core is not subject to, and more importantly, has no need to be subject to, “principalities and powers”. The transcendent core is able to nullify external authority because it is not controlled by ego (small self) needs. Its only desire is to experience connection with a larger, more inclusive identity. In contrast, the behavior of an average human being is motivated by the ego’s self-interest – what I want, what I need, what is mine, what or who I need to be protected from. The ego relies on left brain functioning to gather information and make decisions based on what it believes to be facts and reason. It deceives its host by planting the conviction that logic determines their choices when unconscious motivators are actually doing the work.

The transcendent core, on the other hand, connects us with a vast and far more reliable way of knowing – intuition. Even though intuition is available to all, it is not fully understood and accessible to most. Intuition is related to introspection and feelings, things that people (mostly men) work very hard to avoid. Traditional education trains the thinking mind, while failing to value and nurture intuitive sensitivity. Music and art classes, the closest the system has come to encouraging this side of the mind, have been systematically cut back or eliminated altogether.

The “F” Word
So why has intuition been relegated to the second tier? Because It’s easier for humans to identify with a physical object (like a possession), which is the currency of the thinking mind. Identifying with objects feeds the belief that all things are separate – I am separate from you and everything else that can be objectified. My feelings of separate-ness create the belief that I need to gain some measure of control over others in order to protect myself from them. If I were to recognize intuition as a valid method of perception, it would upset my ordered, albiet mistaken, world view and therefore be seen as a personal threat.

Intuition exposes the basic fallacy of the object-as-primary view. Intuition knows that everything is connected in a way that cannot be perceived by the senses, as Saint- Exupery expresses so well in The Little Prince when he says, “It is only in the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

A person’s true identity is not the physical body or the thinking brain (despite what Descartes believed: “I think, therefore I am”). Rather, identity is rooted in the transcendent core, through which access is gained to a limitless universe of perception. This is the source of intuition. And when the “I” of one’s core being is actualized, the way is cleared for authentic and incorruptible freedom – Freedom with a capital “F”.

This is anarchy in the purest sense. It is Freedom grounded in compassion for self and others – not tearing anything down, not trading one form of myopic politics for another, but simply having a level of self-awareness which gives an individual the ability to opt-out of playing the game as defined by political-social convention. It removes conflict instead of creating it. It knows there is nothing to fear when identity is grounded in the transcendent core of one’s being. This is what the principalities and powers fear most. They know that just one individual empowered by their inner authority is big trouble (eg. Socrates, Jesus, St. Francis, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, Gandhi).

The Razor’s Edge
OK, so Intuitive Anarchy is a way of accessing authentic Freedom. But how do we get there? How does one integrate with, and internalize original authority? Consider this verse from the Katha-Upanishad:

The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over, thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.

And what is the sharp edge of the razor? Conscious Awareness. Intuitive Anarchy implies a capacity to actualize a level of being that, up till now, has not been experienced by most humans. It requires an evolved consciousness which is no longer trapped by ego attachments that typically create and feed the kind of social dysfunction which so far has defined the human condition. It’s a consciousness that radically alters one’s relationship with . . . well, everything!

Personal value is no longer derived from income, possessions or social standing. Ego-enhancing props lose all value, having been replaced by a conscious awareness that declines to judge self and others by arbitrary and meaningless standards. Artificial barriers between people, countries and races come down. The social darwinism which justified much of our care-less behavior is discarded and never again used to legitimize unscrupulous, deceitful and destructive interactions. Commerce becomes less preoccupied with profit by giving greater importance to the meaning and purpose of right livelihood instead. As the level of consciousness rises, so does the index of compassion and love. Fear is replaced by love as the primary motivating force in social and political activities. Love is Freedom, and Freedom is Love. And that is our salvation.

This level of being has long been considered the exclusive province of mystics and saints. We are now learning otherwise. Along with innate authority, humans also posess the innate capacity to actualize higher levels of consciousness. Nurturing that capacity is now the greatest need. Just as being born with the mental ability to do math (more or less) and speak in intelligible sentences still requires instruction and practice to become proficient, so too we’re born with intuitive ability, but may need guidance and practice to gain confidence in its use. There’s no great mystery; it’s really as natural as breathing.

Not Your Father’s Utopia
Skeptics will say this is just another version of the tired old utopian ideal. They take great pleasure in deriding the notion of a world populated by individuals who chose to live in harmony with each other and with the planet; who value simplicity and compassion over consumption and acquisition. Such thinking is casually dismissed as fantasy, not worthy of serious consideration.

But it’s not that critics don’t take the possibility of a real Utopia seriously. In fact, that’s the problem – they can imagine it all too well. Being able to forsee the implications of a workable utopia scares them to death. That’s because where some see a society flourishing with the applied principles of Intuitive Anarchy, (through simplicity, sustainability and cooperation) others see only limitation and infringement on their right to exploit people and resources to the fullest extent of the law – and beyond.

This is the great fear. They cannot comprehend how long accepted (and in some cases, worshiped) values of wealth and power could no longer be attractive for a growing number of people whose core values embrace leading lives of simple abundance and personal fulfillment. Indeed, an evolved consciousness turns the world upside down. It must appear as puzzling as a Zen koan – logic is no longer logical.

Postscript
Being reborn into a new level of awareness is challenging (the razor’s edge). Openly engaging the world as an Intuitive Anarchist who is empowered with original authority requires enduring the labor pains brought on by breaking free from the shell of self-imposed restraints. We mistakenly believe the shell is for our protection when all it does is limit our limitless potential. Salvation (Love/Freedom) can only be realized when the restrictive shell is shattered, and a truly Free being emerges. That goes for a country and a planet as well.

The energetic connection between everyone and everything is a basic universal truth. With humanity’s contagious collective insanity, that truth has been more burden than blessing. However, the underlying connectivity can also work for us. Those who undergo transformation influence others with their positively charged energy. Each person who awakens then adds to the momentum of our collective evolution in consciousness, and that makes it easier for others to follow.

The true founder of anarchy was Jesus Christ and … the first anarchist society was that of the apostles.

Georges Lechartier

 

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Conservatives Fiddle While America Burns

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IAmMuslimToo Protest in Times Square. Source: Reuters

A fiercely conservative editor at The Detroit News, had an interesting column in Sunday’s February 19 edition about the effect Trump’s travel ban is having on the local Muslim community. He pointed out that while the executive action has greatly increased the stress level of Muslim-Americans, it has also had the surprising effect of greatly increasing support for the community from outside. Besides Detroit, cities across the country are witnessing large numbers of non-muslims protesting the ban.

At first glance the column seemed to be about a silver lining amidst despair – you know, feel good stuff. Instead, it turned into nothing more than another excuse to lick old wounds from the beating conservatives took – at their own hands it should be noted – during the previous administration.

The writer deftly turned a reprehensible action taken by the current “so-called” President – which turned out to have at least one positive effect – and used it as a false equivalent to note the expansion of the terror watch list during the Obama years.

Here’s the problem:

Obama is no longer President!

All that matters now is what happens next. Columns like the one cited here are nothing more than attempts to divert attention away from larger issues – a tactic that favored by conservatives in Congress, along with their band of merry apologists.

I realize that many Republicans were deeply traumatized by having to endure a President who didn’t fit the WASP standard – just as many of us now are with one who doesn’t fit the mental/emotional/decency standard. It’s amusing when the right tells liberals to “get over it”, and accept the fact that Trump’s the man now, when they themselves can’t get over and let go of their own painful memories.

The Detroit News column seemed to be taking the high road toward a deeper discussion about the ban, perhaps using it as an opportunity to discuss the unforeseen effects of government policies, whether one agrees with them or not. But it didn’t. Instead it lapsed back into partisan politics. (Of course having such a discussion means ignoring the elephant in the room that is Donald Trump’s mental impairment and the resulting dysfunction of his administration.)

But aside from the larger issues, it would’ve be interesting to know the writer’s opinion about the way this ban has resulted in renewed support for immigrants. Does he see it as a sign of hope, or as a threat? What’s being overlooked by people on either side? How do we uphold the democratic principles of personal freedom, life and liberty, while also securing borders? What does national security even mean? How does it relate to personal security? What if the greatest threat to both national and personal security is from within? We can close all the borders, chain the doors and lock down all the windows, but does that really solve the problem?

This is just me tossing out some of the things I’d like to see discussed apart from political ideology. But I guess that begs the question if it’s even possible.

Anyway, we could use more people willing to take on the real issues confronting democracy at present, and less misdirected chasing after phantoms from the past.

Addicted to Guns & Violence: America Needs An Intervention

Addiction isn’t about substance – you aren’t addicted to the substance, you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings.

-Susan Cheever

Guns, rights and regulations. A toxic threesome. With the possible exception of abortion, nothing in the US of A inflames the passions as much as the debate over guns and whether they ought to be controlled. Personally, it’s always been difficult to understand the level of affection many gun owners display for their weapons. I could never comprehend the manic resistance expressed whenever the subject of gun control would arise – that is, until I viewed it through the eyes of a recovering alcoholic.

The panic that can be seen in those who fear the loss of their weapon is like that of an addict who fears being deprived of his drug. Addicts will kick and scream, and do whatever it takes to protect their addiction. We will sacrifice all if need be, including our jobs, our families, our freedom, our sanity, and even our lives. We will lie to our wives, our children, and even our mothers. Woe be unto anyone or anything that comes between us and the object of our dependency.

I came across a recent online forum comment to be revealing:

“Face it, you like or love guns and accessories and make it your hobby and passion by choice. You travel the web and purchase books about firearms and ammunition and take frequent trips to the gun shop, gun smith and shooting range. You open your safe to clean your collection, check humidity, or to just plain show them off to your buds. Then there is the spending. You spend the unused part of your check each week, save up or sometimes dip into your savings for a new gun, accessories, ammo, or gear.”

The behavior depicted here could easily describe any number of addictions. Consider some of the common characteristics:

  • Obsession with an object, activity or substance.
  • A compulsion to engage in an activity, and finding it difficult, even impossible not to do so.
  • Engaging in a behavior even though it causes harm to self and/or others.
  • Denial that the behavior is a problem.
  • Ritualistic behavior involving the object or activity (like the trips to the gun shop and gun cleaning in the forum post).
  • Enabling oneself and others by associating with only those who share and even encourage the behavior.

And of course there’s the desire for the gratification (high) the behavior provides, which becomes an uncontrollable need.

Aside from genetics, two powerful contributors to addiction are the 2-headed dragon of power and control. Typically, we addicts display low self-esteem and suffer great anxiety about not feeling in control of our immediate environment. Guns enable some to feel more powerful; they feed a fantasy where guns are seen to provide an almost magical solution to any problem. In a multitude of ways, popular culture identifies the guy with the gun as the guy with the power.

Then there is the gratification derived from the act of firing a gun. Gun owners often talk about the pleasure and enjoyment they experience when holding and shooting a weapon. Another forum participant describes the activity with a feeling that borders on erotic poetry:

“My Super Blackhawk is not at all unpleasant to shoot. It rolls back in my hand, sort of tries to leave my supporting hand, and climbs near vertical with muzzle uppermost. And the target reacts in the nicest way. And this gun is indeed a pleasure to shoot.”

Like other drugs, possessing a gun provides the addict with an escape from reality and an easing of emotional pain. It may begin with the need for a momentary release from anxiety and fear, but it soon evolves into a dependency on the changes in consciousness and ritualistic behaviors that create a vicious cycle from which it is very difficult to escape.

The truth is, the intensity with which some gun owners protest any change in laws affecting weapons and ammunition, speaks to the depth of their suffering. Indeed, they are suffering in bondage to a need which has taken over their lives. That’s what addiction is. However, as with other addictions, there is a way out. But first, the country as a whole has to recognize that there is a problem and decide to end the denial. Then we have to stop enabling the addiction.

We need an intervention for our country. We need to confront the truth about the culture of fear and violence which allows those addicted to guns to control both the narrative and the legislatures. We need to be honest about profit motives driving the resistance. The gun industry and their affiliated industries spend tens of millions on lobbyists who work to convince members of Congress that effecting policies contrary to the well being of their constituents is a good thing. We need to acknowledge the silent willingness on our part that allows communities to endure domestic terror. We need to face the fact that we’ve created a popular culture in which “the gun” has become an icon, a golden calf, an object of worship.

We all share responsibility for the problem. Even if we don’t exhibit the addictive behavior, or even own a gun, we are all complicit in the culture of violence that perpetuates it. If we watch violent TV shows, we’re complicit. If we see movies depicting violent behavior, we’re complicit. If we read material which glorifies gun violence, we’re complicit. In short, we’re complicit just by being consumers.

Recovering addicts know that healing begins with a shift in consciousness. That shift is what enables the ability to see the truth about their dependency and what needs to change. This is what we need as a country. While changes in the present laws are needed, we know only too well that such actions alone will not prevent addiction. What we need is a new mind with a new awareness, allowing us to see the truth about our collective dependency, and how much it controls our cultural values. Those values, and the behavior they condone, are a constant threat to the physical and psychological well being of everyone. If we refuse to face this fact, it can only become worse.

Such a shift doesn’t come quickly, but history proves how it’s possible. Shifts in consciousness brought about the democratic form of government, the end of slavery, and the Equal Rights Amendment.

The shift that ends our cultural dependency on guns will be monumental. It will mean having a willingness to release fear and the never ending need for self-protection. The common belief is that fear is caused by crime and violence, and not living in fear is the result of eliminating the cause. Bu,t in fact, it is fear that causes the crime and violence. Fear is a choice. Few would accept that truth. As long as we believe fear is the natural reaction to a fear-filled world, we can’t be free. When we become able to understood that fear is nothing more that a hold-over from our primitive brain and its instinctive fear response, we are free to chose another way to respond.

How can such a shift happen? In 12-step programs, the second step is key. It involves turning our lives over to a higher power. That higher power is never narrowly defined. It can be God, Allah, Spirit, Higher Self, the universe, or whatever force greater than oneself can be drawn on for help to make it through, one day at a time.

But how can the 12-step concept be applied to a culture or an entire country?

In addition to the higher power options already mentioned, there’s yet one more. Addicts who can’t relate to amorphous forms are told they can consider the group of which they are a member to be their higher power. In order to apply that to America’s addiction to guns, we would first have to admit that we’re all addicted.

Even if we don’t exhibit addictive behavior, or even own a gun, we are all complicit in the culture of violence that perpetuates it. If we watch violent TV shows, we’re complicit. If we see movies depicting violent behavior, we’re complicit. If we read material which glorifies gun violence, we’re complicit.

Here’s the inconvenient truth: we’re complicit just by being consumers of popular entertainment. My drug of choice is TV’s Law & Order, what’s yours?

The Christian Church In America is Dead – Donald Trump’s Election Proves It!

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Christianity is, I believe, about expanded life, heightened consciousness and achieving a new humanity. –John Shelby Spong

Christian churches in America are social clubs. We do a nice job of providing excuses for people to exercise their instincts as a social animals. There are bowling teams, softball teams, basketball teams, ladies auxiliaries, youth groups and various boards on which to serve. We put on nice pot-luck dinners and serve coffee after worship services where members gather to discuss everything, except the content of the holy ritual they just attended. We discuss the sermon by noting it wasn’t too boring, but the delivery could still use some work. We do a good job administering the rites of passage. Baptisms, confirmations, marriages and funerals legitimize our existence as religious institutions.

Indeed, the church should be a comfortable place where the soul can find rest and a sense of belonging. But it should also be a place where our human foibles are constantly challenged, where spiritual growth is actively encouraged, where comfort does not become complacency, where the status quo is continually examined and questioned. Are we transformed by our church experience to deal with these issues as the “New Beings” we’re supposed to be? Does the Gospel message really speak to the human soul? Or, is it just platitude – without any real practical application.

The Christian church in America is not what it confesses to be. It’s like a shell washed up on the shore. It displays a solid exterior, but internally it is devoid of the material needed to sustain viability. In other words, it’s dead.

Missing The Mark
The ultimate proof of this moribund condition is the election of a President who fervently embodies anti-Christian beliefs and attitudes. His “Two Corinthians” comment aside, as president-elect, he didn’t even bother to feign a religious life or knowledge of Christian principles. His expressed values and attitudes embody the concept of missing the mark, which is the original meaning of the word, sin. We won’t attempt to enumerate his transgressions here, since nearly every word and action bears witness. His contempt for Christian values is palpable.

If churches were truly alive with the Holy Spirit, they’d have mounted a response so loud and vehement, the candidate would have been quickly dismissed. If Pastors took seriously their prophetic responsibility to speak for truth, their voices would have shaken churches from Spokane to Cape Cod. If individuals and congregations were actually infused with Christ consciousness, they would have reached out to enlightened the better angels of all Americans.

So where then was The Conference of Catholic Bishops – the same Bishops who otherwise never hesitate to declare positions on doctrine? Pope Francis was clear about his misgivings concerning the candidate, but aside from criticizing Trump’s comments on immigration, the Conference was shamefully silent.

And where were the family values-centric Evangelicals? Why were they silent about the President elect’s adultery and his amenability to sexual assault? Is the fear of changing cultural norms so great these Christian leaders would subvert their basic principles to the point of enabling one they would normally dismiss without a second thought? Does bondage to their doctrine, which prohibits abortion and denounces homosexuality, override reacting a greater danger? If so, it is a shameless betrayal of the one whose example they profess to follow.

A Symptom
That being said, the Church’s failure of conscience and responsibility in the recent election, is merely a symptom of deeper dis-ease. The real issue festers below the surface. It is a systemic dysfunction that dooms any effort to positively transform the human heart. With the exception of a few little known protestant denominations, Christian churches remain enmeshed in a world view, theology and religious language that has not changed in five-hundred years.

It is precisely this cultural dislocation that is responsible for the church’s present state of impotence. The election of Donald Trump is symptomatic of that impotence – the inability to confront fear and intolerance with a theology (language & symbols) that effectively expresses the ideals of love and compassion. Even if good intentions were present, the means to effectively act on them is not. It’s like trying to power a modern high-speed train with steam. No matter how much is generated, the train simply will not move.

The Church needs to find a new voice – a new theology – one that speaks to the spiritual and emotional needs of people in their present context. Musty vocabularies and dust-covered symbols can’t meet the need. The hierarchical model, on which churches were structured for centuries, may have provided an effective way to exert control over clergy and congregants, but it is not consistent with Gospel teachings. Monolithic organizational structures are antithetical to the new understanding of the God/human relationship that Jesus brought to the world. Instead of following the corporate concept of bigger is better, churches need to become smaller, with as little bureaucracy and paid staff as possible. Using 12-step groups as a model would be a good start. The minimalist self-supporting structure has worked well to keep groups focused and effective in their mission to aid the spiritual growth of recovering addicts.

Either Or
And so, the Church is left with a choice. It can either upgrade its software (theology) to become more user-friendly (relevant), or stay with a comfortably familiar but no longer effective way of doing ministry. Choosing the later means running the risk of empowering more like Donald Trump – or worse.

The spiritual needs of mankind haven’t changed in two-thousand years, but the way to nurture those needs has to evolve. It’s impossible to say whether or not the Church’s having a voice that speaks to the spirit of the present day would have made a difference in the election. Nevertheless, it can be assumed that a Church which is more fully engaged in its mission to live out the Gospel would have responded in a way that was more attuned to its core principles.

The Gospel message calls for living at a higher level of consciousness, in a state of grace, with unconditional love, forgiveness, charity and peace that passes normal human understanding. We need every bit of that right here and now.

So everyone who proclaims love and forgiveness to the world, is one with the Spirit and holds the peace of eternity in their heart. –Matthew 10:32 (RNV)

From Fox News to Fake News: Propaganda vs.Truth and The Struggle to Save Our Cultural Soul

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Modern Wasteland

People need good lies. There are too many bad ones. -Kurt Vonnegut /

Politics, Money and Culture
Politics, money and culture have become bound together in an immense Gordian knot. Many accept this perverse relationship as normal. However, it is not normal, and the co-mingling has produced an intractable force which exploits society’s willingness to substitute pleasure and power for value and meaning.

Besides having aesthetic value, the arts are legitimately used to raise awareness and help resolve issues that affect society. But they are also used as a means for achieving crass political ends.

Politics (the act of influencing actions and policies for the purpose of gaining and keeping power) has become like something straight out of a Kurt Vonnegut novel. Current events bear an uncanny resemblance to the writer’s comically addled characters and absurd story lines. The line between reality and satire has become so blurred, it’s sometimes difficult to tell which is which. Add to this the current phenomenon of “fake news”, and another layer of insulation distances the public from the whole truth.

Culture (the self-expression of a society through the humanities and science) has become a debris field, contaminated by an unending stream of success-toting false prophets, and littered with victims of the insatiable appetite for money and power. Culture ought to be a beacon of truth, creating a vital mythology of place and time that speaks from and to the human soul. Politics/government can be used to either empower or hinder society’s engagement with that truth.

The present reality is a Political-PopCulture, a toxic symbiosis, with each using the other as fodder for propaganda to further cynical purposes and selfish ends. What the Political-PopCulture presents as truth is a fraud. It is the arts in service to aggregated power. That same power props up and manipulates a pseudo-culture based on fads, appetites and the lowest common denominator in social craving – all done to sell the latest non-essential or worthless superficiality.

In reality, this is censorship. It represents the suppression and subversion of authentic self-expression.

Media Mania
Having a constitutionally guaranteed free press is supposed to mean having access to media which is not restricted by censorship in political, ideological or cultural matters. At its best, it would empower authentic self-expression by exposing the fraud created by those in power. But the powerful know that suppression of a free press – which includes creating media outlets which blatantly present propaganda as fact (Fox) – is the most effective way to manipulate public opinion.

Special interests also work hard to prevent transparency in government. We know from history that governments which lack transparency are in for trouble. And our recent history has demonstrated a disturbing aversion to the disclosure of “secret” information (Edward Snowden). Thus the question: just what is “big media” ignoring or being restrained from reporting?

Ironically, a seemingly simple idea like government of, by, and for the people will mean different things to different people. The Tea Party member in Kansas and the Democratic Socialist in New York have very different interpretations. Even as ideologies debate the definition of “person”, Citizens United endows corporations with personhood, which further erodes the ideal of a representative government already under siege by special interests and big money. It’s all good for the Political-PopCulture and its beneficiaries, but it is soul-killing in its effect on society as an organic system.

The appearance of what’s called alternative media (not to be confused with the Alt-right), including citizen journalism and collaborative journalism, is one response to what some believe is the sell-out by big media outlets to the power brokers. Many are militantly iconoclastic with distinct axes to grind. Some have been exposed as fronts for the fake news movement. It’s too soon to know how effective these alternatives will be in the long run. Personally, I have found value in some, but absurdity as well.

Loosening the Knot
“Turn on, tune in, drop out” was a phrase popularized by Timothy Leary in the 1960’s. He spoke about using psychedelic drugs to gain freedom from a sterile, conforming and ultimately fraudulent culture. I’ve been thinking about this phrase in connection with political pop-culture. I see a link, but in a nuanced (and a less drug-induced) way – and it may offer a way out of the conundrum. By flipping the phrase to drop out, tune in, turn on, we just might have a pathway.

First, drop out of the Political-PopCulture. Refuse to be seduced by the lure of an easy, mindless, synthetic, and superficial way of life. Reject group-think. Refuse to blindly follow the lead of the pseudo-culture’s manipulation.

Next, tune in to a more mindful, sustainable and authentic lifestyle. Nurture the nonlinear right side of the brain. Take responsibility for one’s own physical, mental and spiritual health. That includes the community – as in neighborhood, town, state, country and planet.

Doing the first two things gives individuals and communities the freedom to turn on their innate creative core. It inspires and encourages innovation in the search for ways to solve problems which don’t do injury to self, others or the planet. Cultural expression is free to take form organically, without being shaped by the influence of political agencies whose only interest is in perpetuating themselves through their soul-stealing fraud.

Admittedly, this is a streamlined solution to a complex challenge. It’s one of those simple tasks that are difficult to do. It requires nothing less than reprogramming ourselves after a lifetime of relentless cultural conditioning. It requires letting go of long held cherished beliefs. It means realizing that we have been mislead by people and institutions we trusted implicitly. It also means being willing to forgive those people and institutions in order to move on and accomplish all the great things of which we’re capable.

A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people. -Mahatma Gandhi

A Myth in Pursuit of Happiness

How Pursuing Wealth for Happiness and Security Assures Having Neither

The man knew what he wanted and went out and got it! Walked into a jungle and comes out at the age of twenty-one, and he’s rich!

Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.

Show Me The Money!
Is it true that anyone living in America can get rich? A popular myth* promoted in everything from best-selling books to TV sitcoms says that it is. We are told that America is the land of endless opportunity, and anyone who works hard can come out of the jungle rich. There is even the suggestion by some that refusing the call to passionately pursue wealth is un-American.

The reality, however, is quite different. The promise of untold wealth – and the personal power that supposedly comes with it – is dangled like a carrot on a stick, enticing the aspiring rich to keep focused on reaching for something the already rich know full well is forever beyond their grasp. The myth, therefore, is part of an elaborate deception, a con.

While it’s true that many people do rise above humble beginnings to attain a degree of wealth and social standing, it is not at the same level as the few who inhabit the mountain top. It’s known that even among the rich there is a wealth hierarchy, as evidenced by the disdain “old” money displays for “new” money.

The success and endurance of the myth and its associated con is based on embedding the idea that all one needs to be happy is lots of money. And while people will sometimes pay lip service to this not actually being true, no one actually buys into the transparent denial. And how can they in a culture that lusts after lifestyles of the rich and famous, and values wealth above all else?

Ironically, the Declaration of Independence originally contained the phrase, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of wealth”. Why then was “happiness” substituted instead? Coulld it be the founders had a flash of insight, recognizing that while happiness could include wealth, it didn’t exclude other definitions? It’s unfortunate that for many, the original sentiment remains the only meaning.

Oh, Those Fatal Flaws
But upon even just a cursory inspection, three fundamental flaws underpinning the scheme are exposed. First, the numbers themselves reveal that relatively few can ever actually achieve great wealth (apart from the fact that by global standards the average American is very well off). Most Americans have become aware of the 1/99 ratio of rich to not rich that represents the stark reality.

Second, not everyone is driven to become monetarily rich. As previously pointed out, there are those who have an entirely different definition of wealth and seek riches in other forms, such as art, knowledge, discovery, promoting a cause, the satisfaction of helping others, etc. Some even see earning money to live as a needless distraction from more important pursuits.

The third and most basic flaw in the myth gets to the very heart. There is a quote attributed to Author, David Mitchell: “Whoever dies with the most stuff wins”. Whether it’s stuff or money, this sums up the attitude of many regarding what they understand the purpose of existence to be. But why is that? Where is it written that the meaning of life is to become as rich as possible? On what stone? The Ten Commandments? The Bill of Rights? The Hollywood Walk of Fame?

Fact is, the closest we have to authoritative guidance on this issue comes from the world’s great wisdom traditions (religion and philosophy), and what they have to say directly contradicts the myth’s rationale. These traditions tell us that acquiring wealth is not the goal of human existence. Enlightened teachers from different times and cultures have emphasized this truth over and over. Along with iconic literary works, fine art and music, these wisdom traditions have cast light on the deepest needs and desires of the human soul.

What do they tell us? The quest for material wealth is a misdirected attempt to obtain the most basic of human needs: love and security. The myth suggests that the need for love and security can be satisfied by having lots of money. However, this is based on two mistaken beliefs. First, by itself, being wealthy may induce admiration in some and idol worship in others, but it doesn’t guarantee being genuinely loved by anyone. Second, it assumes that wealth can provide everything needed to live in safety and security.

A Simple Truth
What nullifies these beliefs is their looking to a source outside the self to provide that which only the self can do for itself. Any admiration that’s derived from status is only skin deep – and no amount of money can guarantee complete and total security.

The neurotic need that seeks approval from external sources is the result of not loving and accepting ourselves unconditionally, flaws and all. If we are not at peace with ourselves, no amount of fame or fortune is capable of filling the gaping hole.

Real security is an inner sense of well being which has nothing to do with external circumstances. The fear that lies behind an obsession with security is a subconscious fear, fueled by feelings of insecurity. Those feelings result from a false belief that by ourselves, we are not enough. From this comes the need to order and control the environment as a way to compensate for the feelings of inadequacy, and convince those around us that we have value (importance) as persons. We believe these feelings have to be hidden from view, lest the truth about not being worthy is seen by others. We can use a variety of methods to hide our insecurity, but covering it over with heaps of expensive and extravagant stuff appears to be the one preferred.

If we don’t understand that real security is found only as a by-product of complete and total self-acceptance – and the indomitable confidence in ourselves and the Universe that comes as a result – there isn’t a fortification in the world that can protect us from whatever fear we imagine. We may not be perfect, but we are enough! When this truth at last sinks in, the need to hide parts of ourselves from the world no longer exists, and that’s because we no longer believe anyone else’s opinion of us determines our value.

Author Mark Boyle experimented living for three years without money and reports the surprising effect it had:

More than anything else, I discovered that my security no longer lay in my bank account, but in the strength of my relationships with the people, plants and animals around me. My character replaced sterling as my currency . . .  My moneyless economy was one in which helpfulness, generosity and solidarity were rewarded . . . I realised I was capable of more than I ever imagined.

This eloquently stated example points to another popular but erroneous belief – that money equals freedom. In fact, real freedom is being liberated from limiting beliefs that interfere with the ability to live a full life with love and joy – on one’s own terms. Real freedom is being secure in the ability to serenely meet life’s challenges with confidence and creativity.

In Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman, Willy Loman, the play’s central character, is consumed by the quest to become rich. He accepts the myth, buys into the con, and is ultimately destroyed by his obsession. In the end, the ideal of wealth and social approval upon which he had based his life, eludes him. He then chooses to blame himself for his perceived failure, rather than accept the possibility that the real problem lie with the goal of his quest. If he only knew the real treasure was within himself. He had it all along. And so do we.

*”Myth” as used here is the popular, albeit, incorrect definition: an idea or story that is believed by many but which is not true. It is more correctly understood as a cultural construct which uses analogy and metaphor to express an otherwise inexpressible truth that arises from the supra-consciousness of individuals in a given society, and which is only accessible through intuition.

Donald Trump And The Forbidden Planet

forbidden
Source: Google Images

Watching the Donald Trump reality tour lead up to the election has brought to mind one of my all-time favorite sci-fi movies. It’s not difficult to see the drama being played out between Trump, the Republican Party, and the American public having a curious similarity to the movie plot.

Here’s a quick synopsis of Forbidden Planet, the classic from 1956: (Opening graphics look familiar?)

In the 23rd century an expedition from earth travels to a distant planet to learn what became of a previous expedition. They find a survivor, a scientist and who tells them about a highly evolved race (the Krell) which once inhabited the planet, but had mysteriously disappeared. They learn of an enormous atomic powered machine built by the Krell and capable of materializing anything imagined. Thus, it is possible to form and project matter with the power of thought.

But there’s a problem (no doubt). While projections could result from thoughts in the conscious mind, the same could be spawned by the unconscious mind. While the Krell built a culture which on the outside appeared orderly and beneficial, inwardly there was a massive amount of pent-up destructive desire which coalesced in the society’s collective unconscious to create an “Id Monster”, an indestructible energy force which inevitably turned on them and ultimately wiped them out.

Using the film as an analogy, the GOP then represents the Krell and Donald Trump is the Id Monster, the manifestation of the Party’s repressed dark side which cannot be contained or controlled. The harder the party has tried to hold it back, the bigger and more powerful it has become, until finally bursting forth with full defiant, unapologetic, narcissism. It first appeared diffusely as the Tea Party, and now in concentrated perfection as a supremely destructive force.

Just as the Id Monster was created from the Krell’s own repressed but powerful desires, Trump is a monster of the Republican Party’s own making, created from the energies of its entrenched destructive impulses, buried beneath the veneer of respectability. Publicly, the party uses words designed to convince Americans it really is about inclusiveness and concern for the wellbeing of all. But a leopard can’t change its spots, and the repressed side of the Republican psyche remains.

Behind closed doors, in the belly of the base, the same old GOP lurks, stubbornly unrepentant, hostile toward those who are different, afraid of change and anything that departs from the “way God intended”. It’s here, where the party’s collective unconscious has coalesced to bring forth its own version of the Id Monster. The Donald has become a force unto himself. He cannot be controlled and all attempts to eliminate him have failed. He has become a poison for which there is no known antidote.

This is reminiscent of another sci-fi classic – Alien. There’s a scene where it’s revealed that Ash, the ship’s science officer, is actually a machine which has been instrumental in bringing a murderous creature on board. Before being terminated by the crew, he informs them that the monster they’re dealing with is hostile in the extreme and also indestructible. His last bone-chilling words are, “You have my sympathy”.

Same goes for America.