Path not fame?

Posted: 18/02/2018 by zandtao in Insight

Russell was talking with Simon Amstell, I found this talk interesting and worth listening to.

Before I go into the things that arose for me about this talk, I want to rant. And it is a rant I have never heard from others. Before I rant I want to describe an aspect of my life – partying. I have never enjoyed partying, I think this is because I was a drunk …. and then too old for parties. I can’t remember a good party, but I can remember glimpses of being at a party – none of those reflect great joy. I can however remember times when I went to the pub, played pool and felt good if I won a few games, or maybe got into a deeper conversation although drunk. I never did drugs so parties didn’t grab me that way. I did go to dances at uni/education college but not other than that. Parties were traps, they often went on late, and so I couldn’t get home because I was drunk – although I was used to taxis (see anecdote in comment).

So the party scene and clubs never got me when I was young and looking for entertainment. Now I watch TV, and I ask why are people doing this. I know why I did what I did – my addiction. But these parties, what are they? These clubs, what are they? Are they just things that people go to because parents say you can’t go? I watch TV promoting glamour, not only the glamour of celeb parties but the glamour of young parties. It is standard for a series to begin with sex, presumably that pulls people in otherwise why would ratings people do it. And then alcohol, glamour people are always drinking alcohol, not drunk – just cool with a drink. Glamour shows women strutting their stuff, immaculately prepared in clothes and make-up, and my base side just sees women dressed just this side of legitimate sexual provocation – no justification implied or granted in this statement. Women can choose how they want to dress within the bounds of cultural decency – this is a legitimate right, but why do so many reformist feminists decide that the way they want to dress is the way of male sexual provocation and fantasy. Why does a woman when she says she is looking good appear to be conforming to a sexual view of women? Why aren’t reformist feminists changing this image? Revolutionary feminists do. Where is the path?

But I look at these clubs, parties and alcohol on TV and I see tedium – addiction and tedium. Most of them are a prelude to some form of crime or relationship hell as well, and that is not just TV. These are images the establishment want to portray because they are about celebrity and money, system success can buy you this “fun”. It is conformist consumerism. Where is the path?

My first job was in computers in the West End of London. I was young and attracted to the glamour, but on reflection there was nothing I was attracted to other than hype – it was all media hype “up West” I had grown up with. I look back there was nothing going on. People want to believe celebrity and glamour means something is going on but there is nothing. Spirituality tells you there is nothing there. Putting sexual pleasure aside for a moment, a spiritual high, coming from the insights or “Eureka” moments of a good talk or getting into “dhamma” talking, knocks the spots off listening to dreary posing of young people strutting, intoxicated one way or another. Listen to Simon question running to the Eiffel Tower. Is this the path to the Eiffel Tower?

But when you are young you are driven by lust as well, that cannot be ignored, but if you are comfortable with your sex drive there is nothing better than “dhamma” talking …. a big “if” when you are young. There was a time when I was young when we said “Thank God the sex is out of the way now we can relate.”

But then I am here in Thailand, beautiful sea, pleasant environment – mostly pleasant society, and I just don’t understand why old guys are losing life savings trying to exploit the young and pretty (and vice versa). Where is the path?

My rant – get out of the clubs and parties. Sort your sex out and get on with the life of finding your path. And for me the only time I did get the sex sorted was when I was following the path. I occasionally found love with women (I am cis gen and hetero, are those the words now?), but in the end love came with the path. I fell in love but it didn’t work out, but that falling in love was the basis for my understanding that the path is love, I love now, and I am happy to love. The path is love, find the path.

This rant was prompted by part of the discussion between Simon and Russell where their lives were pre-occupied with sexual addiction – and Russell’s talks with Matthew Todd, and Russell’s fight with his own ego and celebrity. It is the norm to talk about sexual exploits, it is not the norm to talk about the path; if you keep talking about sex it is a problem, people measure each other by sex and not the path. Celebrity and addiction get bogged down in social expectation, forget all that, it is the path that matters. Russell and Simon are now in love (separately ), I hope their relationships work out. But if they don’t they should be happy they have found love. Love is wonderful, love is the path, and that love can be used for humanity – not just focussed on one person. [It took me 7 years to work through that after my love finished, but it was a turbulent love.] Now I am loving, and I question the social acceptance of all the men that they throw away their lives on pretty young Thais. They laugh at me and say I have gone wrong, been hurt or whatever. But I have loved, and I am loving – that is fine. I am not old struggling for an erection in bodies – and damaging hormones, old age is meant for contemplation and feeding back.

Russell Brand’s public persona does not interest me to say the least, I feel that all people should be considerate and Russell publicly has not been – I accept addiction as an explanation. It also appears that Simon has done some of that. Because I was out living life when I was young – mostly drinking, I never got hooked on TV although when I stopped drinking I watched too much TV when resting after teaching. Once I left the UK, I enjoyed natural beauty and when not doing that and teaching I wasted time in front of the box. I have never watched Buzzcocks – I find it pretentious, so Simon’s raison d’etre of knocking pretention here for me is just part of the celebrity fix that TV is. This talk with Russell is the first time I have heard of him. To make meaning of this talk I had the time to look him up because there were some interesting things said. I found the knocking pretention part of the problem, but his stand-up routine was funny – but just seemed a cry for help.

I was so pleased for him that he found Ayahuasca – I note Rupert Sheldrake went there as well (see this warning – meditation not ayahuasca).

Even with both claiming some allegiance to the path, I see wavering. Will I/won’t I commit to the path? I can observe now but cannot be critical for them at their age. I was so fortunate to find the path so young, but my immaturity was an issue that eventually became resolved only through my second childhood. At their age I was just going out to Africa, and the path was only there in the background, having found it and got sucked into education.

But the path demands commitment. There needs to be work – money coming in, but fame and glamour – drugs – have nothing to do with the path. Money gets in the way of the path but is a necessary evil. Accept that. Sorry, I’m being didactic. I should be asking questions not making demands – are the fame and glamour just addiction? Are you committed enough to the path? These decisions are yours, I apologise for the pontification. Slap my judgmental wrist.

Being judgmental leads me to another criticism, Buddhists are not necessarily vegan. The question of meat comes from the 5 precepts in which respect for life is one. There is a strong logic that respect for life means not eating meat, but many Buddhist monks in Thailand don’t accept that. I understand the vegan push. I have been vegetarian most of my life, but for medical reasons am now eating meat.

I respect life but am forced to eat meat – see explanation 1 and 2. For most westerners healthy eating often means abstaining from meat – as with Simon. As a result such mindful eaters pressurise abstinence and the ending of the horrific practices of the meat industry, there is not a real drive for healthy meat eating – not a misnomer although I might have said so a year ago. My biggest concern at the moment is the level of chemicals involved in meat production. I think my way out might be Halal as there are nearby Muslim communities. A brief study of Halal indicates that it is healthy, geared towards the natural but I am unsure how much their natural production rejects chemicals.

Up until last year (4 months ago) I would have absolutely supported Simon’s vegan approach. It follows Buddhist principles of respect for life, but it does not mean Buddhists must be vegan. Watch his movie “Carnage” – no “legal” link, it is funny. I also note that the Buddhist book he read about the monkey mind was Tibetan. I am not decrying Tibetan Buddhism, I have made my choice, but Buddhism is a very broad church so broad that some Buddhist churches have a tenuous relationship with what the Buddha taught. That is not a reflection on “Taming the Monkey Mind” by Thubten Chodron that Simon read.

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  1. zandtao says:

    At the beginning of the love of my life (referred to above that took 7 years to get over) I was at a party. I was the most distraught I have ever been in my life because of a complicated situation with her – a situation I was not able to cope with, and instead of curling up and crying, I went to a party. It was a black party on a Saturday night, so it was only beginning by one or two. I had tried delaying the drink but began at 11. By 1 I was completely drunk and out of it because I was so distraught. After 2 I remember nothing.

    Only after did I learn what happened, and I felt so embarrassed. Apparently I was just a total mess – doing no-one any harm but a complete mess. My friends (their party) arranged for someone to take me home – an hour away by car. They got me home, and couldn’t get in – coat and keys left at the party. Party and back again all without any memory, and I didn’t even know the person who drove me.

    I moved away because of the “love”, lost touch with some good people, and to this day completely regret. Parties and me just didn’t mix. They might have been OK if I didn’t drink but stopping drink at 35 I was just not interested in parties.

  2. zandtao says:

    The upheaval that might be awakening was huge. I walked around as if I had cracked the whole world yet I walked around lost as well The nearest that comes to how I felt is in the 5 gateways It is now 40 years later, I am still learning, and there are many around who know far more.

    Do you know the path?

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