When I first started Mandtao I was more interested in science. Bruce Lipton’s discussion on genes fitted in with much of the delusion I felt about science. And then I came to a personal crossroads when discussing the movie of that name. If I ignore the context in which we live I am avoiding the real issue the same way as the intellectuals I criticised in the movie.
The original sound-byte for the blog was the point and wave. This is an important realisation that I came to when young and reading “Tao of Physics”. But did Capra fully embrace the notion of the system we were in? He discussed paradigms, and at the time the notion of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm in Turning Point rocked my world. But in the same way that the Crossroads movie blames society so did Capra.
What has made me reject the notion that it is society is the fact that in my 20s I came to these realisations, entered a world of work to some extent cognisant of Unity and Path, and spent my life battling. This conflict grew from a lack of willingness to compromise when I was right, an erstwhile friend correctly called me a “right f—er”. If I was right I stuck to my guns and alienated others.
The tolerant Buddhist in me now says that perhaps my attitude was wrong, an outsider causing alienation. Maybe? Or maybe it was aggression or belligerence on my part that caused the alienation. I was on the receiving end of alienation by idealists for 10 years. This alienation was caused by people placing political ideals before the interests of the people themselves. This lesson came to me most forcefully through an education I received working in the trade union movement backed up by some sound communist theory. It is not ideals we work for but the “Mass Movement”. Or much better Unity – the Path of Unity.
Unity in the 1% system sounds a contradiction in terms. When the concept of 1% first started being raised I read a Buddhist writing it is not 99% we want but 100%. I immediately thought what a dickhead, wonderful theory that has nothing to do with reality. These people, the 1%, have chosen to leave humanity. Their separation takes the form of greed at any price including the price of tens of thousands of lives. These 1% must choose to rejoin, it is they who are creating the problem, not those who are demanding Unity however forcefully. It is simple for the 1% to stop putting profits before people, their own material wealth before humane considerations of poverty, hunger and a “roof over the head”. Whilst their compromise might be seen as financially more substantive the reality is that there is no restriction on their choosing – other than their family. I compare that with myself. When I came to the Path – forced on the Path, not only did I face the wrath and ridicule of my family I also faced similar emotions from people around me. Still do. But with nearly 40 years of such conflicts I have learnt how to deal with them better, but mostly that means a form of separation. Such is a real irony, to gain unity I often separate. There is no doubt in my mind that any steps forward on the Path of Unity are taken because I am able to separate myself in retirement, something I could never do in the world of work.
The Path of Unity becomes that of sila – moral integrity, people before profits. Consideration needs to be at the forefront and such consideration does not exist in the minds of the 1% for whom profit at all costs is the reality.
For the majority of people the choice is neither giving up wealth nor a life of conflict based on what is right. Most people work within the 1% system of wage slavery, and the more fortunate spend the majority of their working lives doing something they can tolerate – or even partially enjoy. But what is significant about all wage slaves is that they have to compromise. When the 1% system pushes them a particular way, there is compromise. What the 1% system has developed is mechanisms that make these compromises palatable. The middle level exec does not kill Afghans, nor do they give orders to do so. Oppenhaimer built the bomb out of a genuine desire for knowledge. He compromised with concerns about its use, but there was a commitment to learning in what he did. But look at the results of his compromise. Do the inventors at Apple think about their own compromise for Apple’s significant military use? And Steve Jobs a Zen Buddhist?
The soldier kills the Afghan or pushes the drone button, but soldiers are groomed from early years to accept this. Is the university geek who builds components for the drone? Far from it, so they are kept from the front end, the battlefield, the place where people are killed.
Do the echelons of workers at Monsanto accept responsibility for the suicides in India? Of course not. No-one, not even the Board, told these farmers to kill themselves, but in each death there is a contribution from every Monsanto employee. It is the sum of the compromises that leads to policy that induces suicide, which compromise was yours?
It is by intention that most compromises are not recognised as disastrous, if we were all to be made conscious of the consequences of compromise then more would stand up for the 99%. How different are the people of Occupy? The endless letters from people who explain why they are 99%, is their story much different to yours or mine? I had a full grant and ended up with drinking debts that I was only able to pay off at work because I was on crutches for two months – and kept myself out of bars.