My meditation is still shot, at the moment treating a chronic lung condition is the gun – part of that condition is screwed-up sleep. When I have meditated it has seemed OK – clean mind etc., but it has not been satisfactory. In my life I have begun to feel more reusii – reclusive. I have allowed the fact that I am unable to be some sort of spiritual teacher to get to me. But I am not spiritually sound so why should I be one? And then I think of writing but I am not a “creative” writer – I don’t want to indulge an angst that to me is spiritually unsound. At times I think of getting into depression but fortunately that is not me. I am neither a spiritual teacher nor an indulgent writer but I write a lot because writing helps me express.
This is what this piece of writing is, trying to express about “understanding the chains”, writing about chains came to me in meditation this morning. I had been lying in bed for a while focussing on “Pure Mind”, I had begun to realise that my journey had stalled and that part of my reclusiveness was a form of anger, I was angry at the people I know for not wanting to learn from me, angry at the world that does not offer me suitable teaching, angry at the knocks of daily life because people I know don’t have sila and I stupidly treat them as if they do, and angry that my health was affecting me when in fact my health problems are minor. Rather than taking this as an opportunity to turn in and improve myself I had become an indulgent ego. Looking at Pure Mind was helping me see this ego.
It was not my usual ego, and it was associated with “non-self”. My last real Buddhist study was anatta. This anatta has a shapelessness to it, it means that self and ideas do not fashion life Being does – non-self. Just Be. That sounds excellent in theory if mind is pure but it’s also an open door for desire and indulgence of those desires – chains. My mind was not pure enough for anatta, and I had strayed into the indulgence I have just described.
Does this indulgence sound a problem? It was a reality because it happened. Was it the Path? No. So it was a problem.
There is always a problem. Birth ageing sickness and death, there is always a problem. The mind
This is a good subtle delusion. Learning what is is what we are here for, so why wouldn’t the habit of study be a good way? It has the appearance of a good way but the problem with study is that it can be study for study’s sake. Get up, meditate, study. Sounds ideal but if the study is dogma, if you are not directing the study, if the study is not leading to learning then this is not learning what is what. Blogs can help but as yesterday blogging per se has its delusions, likewise study has its delusions. It is direction that matters.
Have you studied this sutta? No study it. And this one? Study it. This one? You can fill your day, you can appear to be learning what is what, but in reality it might well be deluded – studying dogma is not necessarily learning. Direction is the key, so somehow your study has to be given direction by your meditation – your guide.
It could be that learning from books (or equivalent) might not be appropriate. I sometimes feel that the only place I can learn is in meditation, and sadly I don’t do that well. Genuine learning is not about dogma, it is about the insight that goes beyond dogma. For me the best place for finding that is meditation.
Yet in its place study is good discipline, overcoming the tricks that make study a delusion requires awareness. And in terms of direction Pure MInd could provide that.
Here is more on delusions that create chains:-
I began thinking about writing this blog (Sept 14) a lot in meditation but now I am doubting whether to start blogging again.
I haven’t blogged in a while as I now realise it has become part of a delusion, and it felt better to try to confront that delusion.
So how do I see what happened? I broke my wrist towards the end of April (2014) so physically that made blogging difficult. That forced me to stop. It kind of changed everything but really the wrist was only the trigger. I had been deluding myself that blogging meant something. What is a blog? It is articles or a diary stored online; that is all. It appears to be a lot more, and that is the delusion. There are blogs that are read everywhere, a bit like the number of followers. But that is shallow, cynically one might say the more followers you have the more shallow you are, the more complicit you are. Whatever my blogs are they are not shallow. Maybe I should note that shallow is the currency now – more than ever before, shallow and quick – twitter 140 characters. And usually completely meaningless – nothing to do with truth. Life in society appears to be enshrining all that is shallow and meaningless. Whilst war continues. Around the same time as I stopped blogging the Zionists started bombing, and the world let it happen. They bombed schools and meeting halls that were being used as refuges. These events are enough to show that western society is completely broken, ordinary people could not stop it because however intelligent they are slaves have no control. Few agreed with it perhaps even in Israel there was not a majority that agreed but it happened. That tells us what our democracy is – a total sham. I stopped following anything – out there, what is the point when that can happen? When America and Europe go to work those wage-slaves are paying for the bombing by Zionists of these refuges. That is so sick. Those wage slaves allow that to happen, can you blame them? Yes and no. Yes because if all the wage slaves downed tools it couldn’t have happened, and no how can you expect all of the western wage-slaves to down tools at the same time? In my union time members said that we signed a letter, what more did I want? Action is only meaningful if it has the results, there was no meaningful action in fighting this zionism.
I had no illusion it could ever be any different; this is the world we live in, it is what western governments are there to do. Syria and Iraq has developed into ISIS, and so we have more excuses for human atrocities. But the wage slaves carry on convinced that their societies are still the most moral in the world. Western wage slaves are duped by their propoganda machines, and there is little that can be done. It is hard for me to sit here and look at this. I have spent a life as an actvivist and a teacher – I am 62, and it is far worse now than it was when I started.
But this is only a part of the delusion, this disillusionment is just perhaps the most gross. It is done under the guise of religion. And so I examine my own religion – Buddhism. I don’t mean my own practise here but what Buddhists allow. Since April I have turned back to Ajaan Buddhadasa and begun studying him again. He is my teacher, I now have no doubts. But he cannot be a teacher of westerners, of eclectics, of dabblers, they must find their teachers elsewhere because Tan Ajaan applied his wisdom by going through Buddhism and then going beyond the dogma. I have a limited knowledge of the dogma so am able in some ways to follow what he is doing and to some way go beyond. I feel about his teachings that it is necessary to have got into the dogma first before going beyond it. His conclusions are universal, his pathway is through Buddhism.
Since April I have written blogs – but not put them up, have begun work on the 4 Noble Truths but not put it up. And I have stopped work on Createspace. So the issue is blogging and writing. What is the point of blogging and publishing? In the older days there were fewer books, the distribution was less controlled and maybe people who had something to say were read. Now with the cult of celebrity, more than ever before reading is channeled. People don’t only read these charicatures but as a media of educating books appear to have effectively gone. Do people stumble across books of erudition now? Is that something people now do? Maybe they stumble across erudite blogs? But even that I doubt, the media industry channels all this. My blogging and writing was about getting it out there but getting it out there has been disallowed. At least for me getting it out there has been totally ineffective so it has not been attempted since April.
About the chains of writing I have to accept now that given the people I know there can be no discussion of real issues so I have to write for myself.
I have never really considered that “getting it out there” has ever been effective for me but I continued to do it even though I knew that. The change came when I began to ask why was I blogging. It is my duty was perhaps a summary of my answers. Is it still my duty? Yes. So where is the disillusionment? Why have I stopped? The internet has never been effective for conveying truth. When I was young the people from the Arts Centre took me onto the Path of Truth with hours of conversation long into the night. I don’t know what we talked about, we were exploring truth through our conversations. We used books, we spoke about the erudition in books. But the teaching was person-to-person, direct deep teaching can only occur that way – meditation is better of course. If we heard K at Brockwood and even if we fell asleep in those tents there was personal communication, far more than if we had never been and just listened to his tapes – and then it became reading online etc. The internet has tried to replace that, only young people can tell me if it has succeeded; it has not beaten the young people of Occupy. When my political bones reawakened 5/6 years ago I studied Hillary Clinton at the CFR. “And thus it came to pass” could be a summary of what she said, and amongst it was the necessity to control the internet. But control does not mean “repress free speech”, ineffective “free speech” has always been the neoliberal way of control. No, the issue of control of the internet was to monitor the free speech and ensure it was ineffective. This is what has been done, and when Edward Snowden spoke up he was hounded.
But these internet issues are only a rehash. I have always understood this in many ways. So where is the disillusionment? And I am not sure of the answer to this except to say that in some way I believed I was doing something. “You never know who is listening or reading” was the carrot, the reality should be measured not by such chimeric benchmarks but by response and engagement. Who replies? Who actually engages with what you have said? Who actually attempts to determine the truth through your writing? And the answer to those questions is no-one. Whilst I had the occasional responder and some limited communication, no-one was engaging with truth through what I wrote. It became part of an internet dialogue, just another rung on the ladder that goes round the houses instead of entering to find the truth. I am convinced there are many who write their own truth on the internet but once truth or insight is written it just becomes another idea to be bandied around, intellectually perused and effectively controlled by the internet without any effective practise. I deluded myself that I was doing something – but I was not.
I use the word truth, Tan Ajaan describes Buddhism as being “learning what is what” – truth is “what is what”. There is much I have done in my blogs towards describing what is what, however it is necessary to note there are two whats:- the what that is internal and the what that is external. How much have I developed in both? I have no doubts at all that Buddhists in general confine themselves to what is internal, and equally socialists or anarchists confine themselves to what is external. Throughout my life I have oscillated between the inner and outer, I suspect recently I have focussed too much on the outer but learning what is what is about both. The main thing I took away from Suan Mokh was how much politics were displayed in Tan Ajaan’s dhamma hall, and then compare that with the derivative Suan Mokh in Bangkok where I could see none. And of course the Suan Mokh of now allows Suthep to be a monk, a man who “allegedly” indirectly caused deaths of 4 and who perpetuated Thailand’s exploitation of its peasantry recently – and who allegedly indirectly caused deaths in 2010 .
It is this balance of eschewing delusion between inner and outer that needs to come under question. How much of my inner life is deluded? Previously I have promoted the notion of enquiry – asking questions. Whilst this notion of asking questions can apply to both the inner and outer, I did ask more questions about the Inner than I have removed inner delusions. The problem with the inner delusions is that they are fixed ideas, belief systems. Over the years I have removed much of the miseducation that contributes significantly to the external delusions and I also believe I have removed many of the internal delusions of miseducation. The problem is that I have replaced the delusions with new ideas and belief systems that in time become delusions. A lynchpin of enquiry is not to hold onto ideas or belief systems but this is hard. When a truth, fought for and determined in adversity during adulthood, becomes a delusion it is much harder to eschew it – especially if there is a spiritual component to these beliefs. Are aliens or lizards a delusion? Try telling the followers of David Icke. Many young people follow Icke whose essential truth dismisses many of society’s delusions, the delusions that prop up the 1%. I feel he has gone too far although I accept I could be wrong. I have never seen an alien or lizard masquerading as a human. Until I do I cannot believe it. How many people have seen them? Until you have it is a delusion. It is a theory, it is an idea set, it is unreal.
I fell for a Buddhist delusion, a delusion that most Buddhists fall for to this day – reincarnation. Early on in my blogs I developed intricate idea systems concerning reincarnation based on texts I had read and what I thought made sense – I deluded myself that intuitively my idea system made sense. But I have no proof. Until I have proof it is a delusion. I am not saying there is no reincarnation, I am just saying I don’t have proof and I don’t believe in theories. The miseducation of my youth was built around theoretical constructs that bore no relation to practice, typically that education is “leading out the true self”. The main tenet of our education system is that we educate to provide “educated wage-slaves”, and we delude those educated into pretending they have a choice of career when in reality workplace life is just wage-slavery to create profits for the 1%. And Buddhists are the some of the easiest to delude with this. It is our minds that make us unhappy – true. It is how we see things that causes unhappiness – true. It is our desires that make us unhappy. If we see our jobs as being something that can make us unhappy they will, if we take the positive from our jobs we can be happy. This is what Buddhists do, and are happy. But the Buddhist jobs are the same jobs as others who are wage-slaves. The reality is that we are all wage-slaves who make profits for the 1%, any other assessment of the workplace is a delusion. It is necessary to accept that reality and detrmine how much we compromise with that slavery when it is part of a 1% system that causes so much death and destruction in the world. Remember Buddhism is compassion, ending suffering. If our jobs make us happy and yet the world is suffering, are we Buddhists or are we exploiters?
But delusion is not just about accepting dogmas or fooling ourselves into contributing easily to wage-slavery. It is much more than this. How many tricks do we fall for? Can we ever be sure that what we believe, what ideas we hold to, are true?
In the last couple of days I have begun to look into “a state of non-delusion”. In Buddhism we have a “state of non-attachment”, and there are many teachings about this including the patticasammupada or dependent origination to help us achieve that state. There is also a “state of non-delusion” to work for. I suppose it is taking the “state of enquiry” further. We must continually ask but maybe more. We are always accepting illusions in a similar way to having our cravings. It seems we need to accept illusions in a similar way to fulfilling desires. Desires happen, we must not attach to them. Illusions come. Let them go, and try to hold onto a state of non-delusion.
Does compassion bring chains with it?
For me in Buddhism compassion is centrally fundamental, the Pure Mind is a Compassionate Mind, the Pure Being is a Compassionate Being. But what does this mean?
One repeated meditation I picked up on the way is:-
May all beings be free from suffering, and that this freedom from suffering is compassion. This fits in with the 4NT which is all about freedom from suffering:-
1) Recognition that there is suffering
In the world there is suffering. Since this is so, the socio-political system that we live in is suffering. Most people do not draw this conclusion because the Buddha described the 4NT 2500 years ago. Birth, ageing, sickness and death are dogmatically described as suffering, if you like the characteristics of suffering. Whilst these characteristics are true now, we must also use our minds to analyse what else is suffering now. If all around is suffering then the political-economic systen has to contribute to that suffering because it governs the way we live. For me these eco-political chains are the external source of suffering, and as a compassionate being I must seek to unlock these chains.
For most in Buddhism this suffering is seen as a lack of control of the mind. Whilst I agree with this, as Buddhists we cannot ignore the 4NT, and in Magga there is strong eco-political direction:-
Cut the table here
What comes under sila is directly connected to our economic action, especially action and livelihood. When you consider the Unity that is Gaia, can any Buddhist say that working in our economic and political system is part of genuine unity?
When the monks want to discuss having the right state of mind to accept the livelihoods that we endure in the current system they are helping people, but at the same time they are ignoring the more fundamental question:-
According to Magga can our system be considered right?
Yet the practice of Buddhism tends to ignore this. And this is a huge problem, should this fundamental question be ignored? Coming to terms with this question is a battle of compassion. Russell B calls for revolution but tends to ignore the suffering of his call. Marxists accept the suffering of a revolution as being less than pre-revolution suffering. Whilst there are some positives post-revolution, the overall hegemony is so strong and the revolutionary countries are pulled back into that hegemonic suffering. I could go on and on discussing this, being active in this, because my compassion pulls me into the political struggle. But is the struggle a delusion? Ultimately the answer is yes on an individual level. Freeing ourselves from suffering on Magga means freeing ourselves from attachment to this delusion, yet every ounce of my compassion for other beings draws me back. How much suffering this is.
People must work together, and this communal imperative has been expropriated by the 1% to cause a huge amount of suffering. As a Buddhist this has to be a fundamental pillar of their analysis of “what is what”, otherwise we are avoiding. To be aware there is no other way of seeing the way our system is. But the power and influence exerted by the 1% institutionally forces the formal sangha away from this pillar. Is the institution detached from the power and influence? At first glance you might say no because people choose their contributions. But there are various political mechanisms that on deeper analysis have to bring this into question. The 1% control politics, and their means of controlling the people is through politicians. Politicians make rules such as charity status, and one condition of charity status is no politics. Isn’t discussing the fundamental pillar breaking charitable status? I am sure it would be seen as so if the institution were to effectively raise the discussion.
When the monk counsels the business exec in such a way that allows them to feel they are following the tenet of “right livelihood”, the monk is being disingenuous. Yet this is a right action of the institution. This anomaly is accepted for the greater good and the survival of the institution. Is it right?
In this discussion I touched on the Bodhisattva vow. Here is a wiki description:-
“In Mahayana Buddhism, the bodhisattva vows to work for the relief and liberation (nirvana) of all sentient beings as long as samsara persists.
This can be done by venerating all Buddhas and by cultivating supreme moral and spiritual perfection, to be placed in the service of others. In particular, Bodhisattvas promise to practice the six perfections of giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom in order to fulfill their bodhicitta aim of attaining enlightenment for the sake of all beings.”
Putting aside the issue of unproven reincarnation, for me there is boundary of consideration:-
Who do we put first?
I have always taken the Mahayana position as putting people before yourself, but the above quotes don’t say that. I have always been Theravada because I accept that working on the Path requires compassion for the suffering of others. But that is little different to the Bodhisattva vow.
A question that arises for me. What is samsara – cycle of birth, death and rebirth? Not interested in intellectual discussion about reincarnation, what is the result of such?
However “the Bodhicitta aim of attaining enlightenment for the sake of all beings”, what is that? Look at the practice – “the six perfections of giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom”. Well this is Magga without the right intention and right view but of course that is only a semantic distinction, the wise will do all. I aim to attain enlightenment for the sake of all beings, not sure what that means. Getting bogged down in Mahayana dogma – not fruitful.
This has clarified some things for me but reads totally useless for anyone else. Within the blog posts some people might be able to discern stuff but based on posts like this who could see a teacher. The post has helped me, it probably will not help others. If I want to be a teacher I need a new strategy, but primarily I need students.
Ishmael by Daniel Quinn
A book I read when younger and liked a great deal was “Ishmael”. I have also since watched the movie “Instinct” several times, a movie loosely based on the book “Ishmael”. What I remember from it was “Givers” and “Takers”.
The book was good enough to be worth a revisit, and I have now found it on part of a trilogy so I am going to try for three. The first more trivial point is “reading”. Nobody, close followers, will note that I have not reviewed “Homage to Catalonia”. This book is enjoyable but I haven’t finished it. It is giving me a real view of the “revolutionary” as I had hoped. But as with books they tend to be of the author’s current interest at the time, whilst I am reading Orwell his view of revolutionaryism is not taking me over 24/7.
The second point concerns Ishmael/Daniel Quinn. I am not certain whether his book totally embraces the need for socio-political awareness. This is very important because the 1% enjoy deflecting the truth, and it requires concentration to focus on the need to highlight the power, influence and inhumanity of the 1%. Categorising people as Givers and Takers is a fair categorisation but place that in the context of the 1%-paradigm – are we 99% Givers and 1% Takers? There are undoubtedly more Takers than Givers but of the Takers less the 1% would they be Takers if not for the paradigm. My answer to that is not 100% “Yes” but I have no doubts at all that these “indoctrinated takers” would number well over 50%; straightforwardly there would not be so many Takers if it was not a Takers-paradigm to suit the 1%.
In the current stage of social chaos, increasing wars-for-profits and environmental catastrophe-for-profit focus is necessary. Intellectuals especially suit diversions. If an intellectual can say the fault is takers they will say so because they can keep their jobs, if those same intellectuals are honest analysing the proper context of the 1% reality they will have no job. This is the meaning of compromise.
To the book:-
First thing I note, it was Takers and Leavers – not Takers and Givers, the emphasis of my memory was on that of Taking!! To begin with I noted I read the book maybe 30 years ago, but that doesn’t fit with the age of the book which appears to have a publication date of 96 suggesting I read it when in Africa at the time of my mid-life re-evaluation.
I am now disappointed with the book. It does bring into question the way man has become distanced from Gaia, this is good questioning. It focuses on war and the resulting effects of lack of biodiversity, these are all good points. As a writer he makes these points as revelations*&*, but those revelations feel tame to me, obviously they didn’t at the time because the book impacted on me. He does reach the fundamental point that man is part of Gaia and not separate from it, this is integral to sociopolitical awareness but it is far from new – maybe it was new then.
But his book describes effects culturally, using Mother Culture as the enemy. This I cannot forgive. To describe in terms of culture does not look at the impact of power and influence. The 1% have accumulated wealth at the expense of humanity and not because they are typical people. Throughout my life I have met those who struggle and more importantly those who have given up. It is an important facet of the neoliberalism (which is the Chomsky word for the 1%-system) that people feel powerless to change. Yes there is the 1%, but it is not only the 1% but the many collaborators and compromisers with varying degrees of complicity who make up the Takers. And of Taker culture there is a high percentage who detest what is happening in their culture. To describe these interlacing dynamics as Mother Culture without making any reference to them does make Quinn a darling intellectual of the 1%.
It reminds me of how divisive the word “culture” is. On my travels I met people who defended their culture especially in the Third World. Attacks on culture and race were corollaries of the 1% drive for profit however much it appeared differently. Perhaps the hardest battle within the struggle is to make people see that they are all 99%, and that the divisions of gender race and culture are tools of the 1% to cause division. The lack of awareness of this in Ishmael is a major flaw, and in me at the first time of reading.
The Story of B by Daniel Quinn
As can be seen from the above review I am now disappointed with the context of Ishmael but it was Quinn’s first book. Where did he move with his analysis …. of Gaia? I don’t have high hopes of this especially as I have not previously read this. Maybe it will be a revelation like Lila.
Note:- Pirsig is the business. First Zen rocked my world but I couldn’t get into Lila. Now Zen seems tame compared to Lila, both are brill.
I began reading the Story of B, and realised that it is liklely to be spiritual – Laurentian priest after all. So what about the 1%? And then looking at this I have to ask “What did Pirsig say about the 1%?” It is still however an important benchmark but in itself is worth clarification. Perhaps one of the most important splits the 1% have succeeded in fabricating is that between the internal and external seekers of truth – a split that Russell Brand has avoided interestingly enough. The need to find your Path and the need to struggle against the 1% are not separate, they are part of the same one truth, the Truth of What is. Spirituality is the journey to learn “What is” and political awareness is concerned with examining what our society is and deciding how to act in terms of equality, democracy, fairness etc – in other words to decide how to act as human beings based on what society is. There is a sad reality of an intellectual split. Spiritual people make the journey inwards and often fail to act for justice within the society they live. Political people do not go in, and spend the time battling with each other about ideas and how they must fight for ideas – an external battle. Because they have not gone in they spend their lives focussed on ideas that reside in the external, they lack the measuring stick which comes from following the Path, a Path that brings a recognisable Unity. Personal growth (spiritual growth) leads to socio-political awareness if the spiritual journey does not get blocked by adherence to a particular dogma. This is why the 1% make sure that spiritual dogma is hamstrung from being active in society – church, charitable status etc., sadly the only action the 1% needed to take to prevent the socially aware from going inwards was to make them intellectuals so that they become bogged down with surface intellectual wrangles. I suspect the Story of B will not raise the power and influence of the 1% or bourgeoisie but that does not stop it from having value in terms of the spiritual-political spectrum that is the Path linking personal growth and socio-political awareness.
Eduardo Galeano has died.
He wrote the excellent book:-
“Open Veins of Latn America”
It is an erudite work that places the importance of the exploitation of Latin America into context. Without Spain exploiting South America the UK would not have the gold and wealth to have established their colonies.
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
As is now my practice I am writing how I feel about the book before I start. To show how little respect I have shown writing in the past I have not read Orwell; at least I think I have not. “Down and Out in Paris and London” has always been a reference – beggars expect you to give them something, they don’t know who is giving. This lack of gratitude stuck in me, if there is no gratitude then what value the gift? Giving is wonderful but no gratitude makes me think the giving has no meaning. I don’t think I finished the book. 1984 I have seen the movie, I think I have read it but ….
Why am I reading this? It follows from Russell. Orwell fought in the Spanish War, a class revolution, a regime change, what meaning is this? At the same time my two years in the CP I worked closely with a comrade who had fought in Spain. I was in my 30s, he his 70s. People in the movement warned me against him, against his ego, but I worked with him. Spain has always been a flag that comrades like him wore with pride, what does it mean? Hence this book.
There is one character a writer wants to be but can never be – a revolutionary (Warren Beatty in Reds; in this I am a writer. A revolutionary has to be committed, without doubts – or so they are perceived; to kill for a regime change. A soldier is indoctrinated, everything they learn makes them a soldier, almost without choice. But a revolutionary has to reject all the doctrine, has to develop his or her own, and then fight a war based on that understanding. A writer can never do that because a part remains detached. A writer remains dual; part can immerse and experience, but part naturally sits back detached observing. For me that detached part always said peace. No matter how much the 1% takes I know that the mass movement does not perceive the 1% as enemy. And for me it has to be mass movement and not Bolshevik. I also know the 1% will never allow the mass movement to unite, or if they do it will be because they have sufficient military to defend (with technology it is not now the number of soldiers that matters – just a few committed). I want to see what Orwell’s revolutionary is.
Revolution by Russell Brand
How one appreciates a book depends on where you are coming from and why you are reading it. Together with how it then impacts gives a more complete understanding of the book.
I have mixed feelings about Russell Brand. I have seen the Paxman interview where he comes across quite well, and I have seen the occasional other thing where my feeling is similar. He first came to my attention to use his vernacular as a complete dickhead over Andrew Sachs. I watched some of his comedy where he presents himself as a drugged-up stud and being OK with that – not impressed and not that funny.
I had downloaded the book to read a while back then I saw that he was the fourth most influential thinker or something like that. Mmmm. And yet he says the right things – awareness, politics , the 1%.
I must also point out that I am probably jealous, I would like to have people listen to me the way they listen to him. Yet that is not true. I want people to listen to me and then use what they have heard to question themselves and find their Paths. Enough preamble!
The first thing I note is that the book is written within the paradigm that is 1%, no book of understanding written in this day and age can be anything but. When I read religions that discuss dogma and have not re-evaluated based on the 1% or some version of the Marxist paradigm bouregoisie and proletariat, I see avoidance and self-interest. And perhaps a tactic, to keep people on board they avoid the truth that the necessary confrontation accepting the 1% paradigm brings.
I liked his style of writing. I compare Russ’s literary references with that of a South African deliberating on British 18th and 19th century lifestyle; a contemporary book referencing Corrie seems much more sensible. The content was mostly terrific maintaining the 1% paradigm throughout, and finishing with a spiritual conclusion of love is very ennobling.
His ego is a real downer, something he would say but I would question how well he has internalised that. IN terms of revolution ego is extremely important, the ego wants revolution, it wants to be a leader, it wants to be rabble-rousing, attacking horses in Trafalgar Square, whatever. It is this ego that makes the book unbelievable. But of course I would say that growing up in a revolution, listening to Wolfie, or later listening to Tracy Chapman.
He does not make much claim to political analysis, and his conclusions are more observational than analytical. These observations carry with them the truth, and perhaps that is what I like most about the content. But in terms of the title there is very limited discussion. His book might have been called “before and after the revolution” because his discussion of regime-change would best be described as flawed. He does not discuss power and might except for one minimal note that the police and army are part of the proletariat, and so will join the comrades when they rise up. We need only to look at the wya the police dress now to see such a vast change in 50 years. The police in charge of kettling have so undergone indoctrination there is no way they will join with the people. And as for the military what conditioning they now undergo must be horrific, for such people to accept the feeble excuses that are now offered as excuses for war.
Yet in one sense Russell is right. If the revolution is to succeed then the forces that support the 1% have to join the revolution, and that would have to include the forces of the private militia who are charged with the personal security of the CEO’s.
I am pleased that such a book has been written. I have no idea whether he is a populist icon as I do not follow the current UK/US culture that well. I note that HHDL asked him to lead a Buddhist youth conference in Manchester, and as I trust HHDL’s judgement this means something to me.
His spiritual journey confuses me. Undoubtedly he is on the Path somewhere, and because he has chucked drugs and alcohol it makes me think he has hit bottom somehow and come out of it. He talks well spiritually but I do not feel a spiritual depth. Now ego of course explains this. In my own case I consider my first steps on the Path to be at 23, yet at 36 I was an alcoholic. Not until I meditated daily did the journey take any real hold, and to be found I had to accept sila as a prerequisite. I do not know Russ but I don’t feel his spiritual jour ney includes sila whatever else he is doing. This is a weakness, and it is ego that prevents sila.
If this book is what the young are reading there is great hope.
This is the second book of J M Coetzee’s I have read, the previous one was “Waiting for Barbarians”. I found that book interesting because of the lasting impression as to the way it attacked apartheid from within; in truth I can’t now remember how he did that though.
My brother’s ex also flagged this book – not surprising she was born in South Africa so there is a common link there – I have not read all her choices.
I found the book interesting to read – read it in 2 days. The themes of academia, relationships with students, the daughter living near Grahamstown strike chord. I have an “Old Man story” about my car breaking down in King Williams Town. I have very little sympathy with the character, David Lourie. To me he appears an academic who has had every opportunity to learn and has avoided most. Typically intellectual he lurches from one situation to another applying his arrogance and ignorance. I would love to think that was the purpose of the author but sadly I fear not as too often I feel the author is sympathetic.
There is another theme close to my heart or another part of the body, the power of sexual desire in men. As a Buddhist that desire is part of desire in general that causes suffering – 4NT, but he describes a Kenilworth dog who gets beaten every time he expresses sexual interest until in the end he “beats himself” for his desire. Without women understanding, is this not the male condition? There is no excuse for violence against women, rape or any of the extreme sex-crimes, but without empathy for what men have to deal with sexual relations can never be resolved.
The character Lourie sees himself as a bad man, and he is as he has no aspirations to nobility – as is the norm, but his actions throughout are simply “normal”. It is perhaps sad that he is so normal given that he is an intellectual, how close intellectuals are to the Path of Intelligence I never know but intellect of course is a big barrier to truth.
This book did not have ennobling in its spine, I would like that as a characteristic of books I read.
It is a couple of months since I have read this but am putting in an entry as a matter of completeness.
I picked this up from my brother’s ex’s Goodreads review, and was interested. This was about Southern Africa and I lived and traveled in parts of Southern Africa. I was a white teacher in a black state school in Botswana, not a private school so I never had a job where I completely lived with the whites.
This book is about whites, it’s about Rhodies. I think the author is a Rhodie and K, the soldier, was a Rhodie. In 6 years I spent much time in Zimbabwe. I traveled to Matobo regular weekends camping, spent time at Chimanimani and Nyanga, and Bulawayo was my big city from Francistown. But I never knew Rhodie. I met white guys camping. In Chimanimani I had a pleasant chat with South Africans who discussed their regret at what they did in townships when conscripted. At Mashvingo I met a South London guy who had attended a school I had taught at (different time) in South London. He lived in South Africa and was the nearest I really got to insight into whites in the region because he had chosen to emigrate to South Africa to earn a living – escape the blacks of South London.
Rhodies were around quite a bit at Matobo. Sometimes I would travel with a black girlfriend so that setup a barrier, at other times they kept to themselves. Similarly Afrikaaners circled their cars separating themselves from others there.
As a final note however living in Thailand I avoid tourists. My routines don’t meet tourists even though I consider I am civil when talking with them and would always help. Am I that different?
I found the book depressing. The situation, white oppression, was burned deep within both author and the soldier. For the soldier the oppression was far worse because being part of the oppressed had taken him to killing blacks – and consequentially friends being killed by blacks. Like in Israel the soldiers were not involved in a liberation struggle, these were just killers and being a killer when you know that the killing you do is not morally justified has got to eat inside something rotten.
Western soldiers have got to be similar. The struggle against Vietnam beat up the American people as soldiers were at first convinced by indoctrination about the war and then slowly truth invaded and ate the soldiers up and then the people up. In Africa the indoctrination of the whites teaches that the black man is inferior, and this became a justification of ritual murder during conscription. After the end of legal apartheid a black friend and I travelled from JoBurg down to the Eastern Cape. My friend withdrew from all the whites as he found them racist, I found them making an effort but they would still say to me that British blacks had to be better than their blacks. Soldiers might go because of “American Sniper” but they have got to have had questions thrown at them. Deep inside they must feel the truth but the weaponising shell of miseducation through community and schools provides the outer fortress presented most of the time. Such men have got to be defeated like K even though the society within society they live in provides a fortress against truth.
In K being a soldier evidentially burnt his soul, many soldiers met have been deeply harmed but the fortress remains intact.
I have started reading. I have always read as study, comparing others’ Path to my own to sharpen my understanding but I have not read for reading.
It started with Cheryl Strayed. I watched Wild, mainly because I imagined Reese Witherspoon in choosing this movie had more to offer than her fluffy but sometimes amusng roles, I was right and enjoyed the movie.
But it was a movie, maybe a movie can show depth but a book certainly can.
I also watched Tracks, in fact I now recollect that Tracks came first – tracks led me to Wild. But for some reason I read Wild first – probably because I found Wild for free.
I enjoyed reading both books, and would recommend the reading of both but they both left an emptiness.
I have walked, walking was my escape when young – before I lived in places where walking is not easy because of the heat. I have walked many of Cornwall’s paths, Devon, Somerset, Glencoe, the Dingle, Dorset, Tenby, up in the lakes a bit, Pennines quite often, Corsica, Bordeaux – especially when young, thank you, teachers Butterworth and Blenkinsop. When I travelled I walked. My most memorable walk was the religious walk around Lake Namtso – many years later, but not for the same reasons. Walking was finding my Path. I remember the Ardennes, at the time of reading Castaneda’s Journey to Ixtlan. There walking led me to feel the Path, trust myself, and avoid roads as safety. Walking was spiritual, finding self or as I would better describe it now searching for non-self. Walking had depth, it turned a limited loneliness into understanding alone, it was as if steps pounding away from civilisation allowed wisdom to enter.
I chose walking without backpacks so I never understood the importance of Cheryl’s battle with the monster; in the Dingle I paid for a company to arrange taxis for my backpack. I have been in the desert, several times in the Wahiba, what I drove through in Botswana and Namibia at times might be classified as desert but I never had desert experience there. Being in the Wahiba was being in the desert but I never did it alone – driving wth friends including a camel-ride. I never had Robyn Davidson’s depth of experience of being out there on her own. I read with great anticipation for the insights that must have grabbed her; I was disappointed. In truth her book was not a transcription of a diary but a recollection, and there were recollections of depth. But I did not get a step-by-step intro-journey that dug out the torment of “civilisation” and brought out the freedom of Path. They were there but not the steps, despair, tears, discoveries. There were occasional ecstacies in the minimal, but they seemed lacking in recollection, it was as if the being shared was the only way I could appreciate it.
Because I am not waxing lyrical does not mean the books aren’t worth reading, please read them – please walk on your own.
I was left with a “gender” question, is there a difference in women and men on such journeys of isolation? This search for depth? Both Cheryl and Robyn were defeating a challenge. I have met men going up mountains with the only purpose of reaching the top, not looking for depth, so maybe the question is not appropriate?
“Wild” book by Cheryl Strayed – an Oprah book!, “Wild” movie with Reese Witherspoon. Cheryl Strayed at Google authors
“Tracks” book by Robyn Davidson, “Tracks” movie with Interview with Robyn Davidson Snippets – Robyn Davidson lived under some kind of tutelage with Doris Lessing – I wrote to her out of the blue and Doris said come, and wrote Tracks. Had a reknowned affair with Salman Rushdie – appropriate snippet?
|Readability||Personal Growth||Socio-political Development||Ennobling|
|Scribbling the Cat||Alexander Fuller||Link||
|Disgrace||J M Coetzee||Link||
I listened to this commencement address speech from Jim Carrey, enjoyed it, and found it inspirational. But underlying his speech there could well be an enormous delusion.
I have never been a Jim Carrey fan, I didn’t find his humour funny. Before listening to this address I had picked up that he had gained some kind of awareness. Good for him.
Then I listened to his talk, and could only think you have picked up good stuff but you are heading for a crash.
I have just had a crash – deservedly so because I don’t know my place. Over the last few years I have grown a sense of invulnerability. It started when I retired early, began to devote myself to study and meditation to a certain extent, and began my diet. The improvement in my health was inspiring, I became Dr Zandtao and treated myself – apart from visits to natural medicine, massage and acupuncture.
I moved to a house in the country – a house in fruit-growing land, and I am unsuited to this lifestyle – except I love it. I cannot fix most stuff, I tried growing and failed, things around the house go unfixed because I don’t know the tradesmen to get up here. Round where I live I have one neighbour who is a friend, I don’t know others. They leave me alone which is fine, there are smiles and greetings but no more – my fault I only speak minimal Thai.
Things started to go awry with the hormones. I developed symptoms of andropause. I assessed that the mb diet did not contain enough fats, changed towards the Mediterranean Diet – Perfect 10, and have felt some improvement in my biorhythms. But the lack of day organisation threw my meditation, and I let myself get out of harmony. And then the big crunch, I sprained my wrist; this culminated the crash – I hope it has come to an end.
A sprained wrist sounds little. Very painful but I assumed it would be a period of time and then it would be back to normal. Foolish. I rested a month, then went for treatment with a good guy for another month, and it is taking a long time. I cannot guarantee a 100% movement. I think the sprain occurred as a consequence of a bigger problem.
I have been driving a motor-bike, it is common here. I had moved to driving a Honda 500 – heavy, and with the sprained wrist I am scared to get on the bike. Living in the country the road access to my house is difficult and without the wrist controling the bike is difficult. The fear has led me to the realisation I need to drive a car; I had been blase enjoying riding the motor-bike, now I am scared. A sensible fear, my body is too old to be playing like that. A big change.
The food, the meditation, the bike, the hormones are all indications of what that fool called arrogance – only it is not arrogance. There is Nature, and there are our places in Nature and we have to harmonise. And this is Jim Carrey. He is in a great place now, and I am a bit envious. But he is not in harmony, he is in the bells and banjoes. Will this wear off? Buddhism talks of this. The world is dukkha, and if we control our minds and accept this then we can have enjoyment. Our minds being in good places bring enjoyment. My mind wasn’t. The arrogance I was criticised of was not about the usual arrogance, it was about my place. Studies, meditation, eating had taken me beyond my place, I was out of harmony. The sprain as a result of losing meditation etc. has brought me down to earth with a bang. This does not invalidate any of the learning, it just means knowing my place. I have to learn about knowing my place.
Where Jim Carrey is at is wonderful, good for him. Will he have to know his place?