Uncreative creative

Posted: 27/02/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight

I have listened to Raoul Martinez’ TED talk, and am not sure where he is going with regards to “creative freedom”.

I have a sense of nihilism similar to Yuval but for different reasons. Firstly I completely agree with the premise on the conditions – with proviso. The lottery of birth applies conditions – causes and effects – that lead inevitably to a life with actions that respond to the cause and effects. Theresa May is who she is due to conditions, as is Joe Nicked and Mary Twouptwodown. Given this where is responsibility? Nihilism says that the responsibility lies completely with society. According to Raoul our morality, responsibility and therefore blame are completely driven by conditions. His talk seems to be suggesting this.

I want to compare this with the conditionality that I understand from Buddhism, and the Buddhism is important because it answers more questions than Raoul throws up. Consider my Buddhadasa meme:-

What is different firstly is that Buddhism describes the constitution of a human through the aggregates, the 5 khandas, rupa – body, vedana – emotion, sanna – perception, sankhara – mental proliferations, all activated through consciousness – vinnana. This begins with causes and effects from birth. Through attachment by consciousness repeated patterns of behaviour start to formulate a self, and through repeated conditions a self is formed, and this self, built from responses to conditions, is what we call I. Ignoring the dogma I come from conditions, this is exactly what Raoul is saying.

But a key concept of Buddhism is anatta – no self. We have a self built up from conditions, so what is no-self? This comes from the understanding that through meditation and detachment we can unlearn the conditioning, and live according to nature. Through meditation and mental discipline we can control our minds so that there is no attachment, and by doing this we can “connect” with sunnata – this is “no-self”.

This of course is a big difference to the nihilist position that there is only conditionality. But what are the implications of this for Raoul’s conditionality?

Now Raoul talks of morality and responsibility being a product of conditions, but the question is then “how much is this affected by sunnata?”

At the same time if we say that the individual is the one who applies mental discipline to self to achieve the connection with sunnata, then we are back to the position where the individual is being blamed for moral decisions and irresponsibility.

In fact I think the position is balanced.

In societal terms it is unclear what enables people to develop the mental discipline to connect to sunnata. Through Buddhism and paticcasamuppada we learn how we cling to the conditions forming selves. But in this clinging there is little choice, choice coming from overcoming ignorance and applying oneself at the point of contact (phassa) to avoid attachment and clinging.

But what does this mean politically and socially? If we are ignorant of the social process of conditioning, we will be unable to detach from it. If we don’t develop the abilities of detachment we cannot see beyond conditioning.

But so far Raoul has not considered this. By accepting the nihilist conditioning position, he is arguing that society is unjust by treating people as if their conditioning is an “equal burden”, and that because of this equal burden we should all be responsible for our actions. Jeanette Dumpedoin and Theresa May have equal burdens and should be equally responsible. This is an acceptance of privilege that I feel is totally unjust, yet it is society’s approach at the moment.

The situation is more serious because of course heavy burdens produce social consequences that impose on others in society such as criminality leading to imprisonment.

Because most people do not address the issue of conditionality, the issue of “burdens of birth and upbringing” or in reverse the issue of “privilege”, all people are treated with equal responsibility, and crime and judgment is evaluated based on actions and not “burdens or privilege”. This is unjust.

There is a clear way out that will never be accepted – end of accumulation. I have a view of nature that if other factors were equal nature could provide for us all. Whilst there would always be varying levels of burden based on different personal factors and abilities, those levels would not provide the same unmerited burdens that exist for some in our unequal society. Based on my experience as a teacher I have no hesitation in saying that burdens are not merited, many moral people are poor and equally immoral people are rich, there is no relationship between wealth and morality, equally between wealth and compassion, and the same with any other virtue. Wealth is based solely on “having money” whether from birth or from accumulation in life, and such possession has no virtuous component. In fact if wealth is not inherited there is a good chance that wealth has not been gained through virtue but avarice. Ending accumulation means some form of redistribution, and that is not likely to happen.

Education might help. This education would make people aware of the conditionality and helps people with the mental tools, discipline and detachment to go beyond the burdens. But society is far from accepting the Buddhadasa meme and its consequences.

So what are Raoul’s solutions? He discusses the possibility of creativity in part 3 “The Fight for our Freedom” in his book Creating Freedom. In Ch 8 on p493 of 1107 he says:-

I find this a dead end. In this description there is no creativity that is beyond conditionality. The important attributes of value and creativity come from the conditions of identity and choice. In other words Raoul sees creativity as part of conditionality, and that there is nothing beyond conditionality. This is a complete tie-breaker for me.

I have an idea that this view of conditions without a “beyond”, without an essence that is in some way distinct from conditions is similar to the existentialism of Sartre, but I don’t know enough about both to be sure. I mentyion this because it is an aspect of division that I have hated throughout my life. Because of my upheaval and emergence on the path I have always recognised the requirement of some spiritual component, I now use the Buddhist description sunnata – I could use essence. Whilst I feel that essence is compassion and therefore socialist, the division caused by the intellectualism that describes “religion as the opiate of the masses” only meant that spiritual and socialist did not work together. I remember a recent Buddhist meeting in which I described existence of suffering, the first Noble Truth , as part of the political system, and was told that was not the way it was usually taken. Whilst I agree it is not usually taken that way, that is a limitation Buddhists place on their approach, all conditions contribute to our suffering including the political system we are a part of. An unnecessary division. Whilst the roots of all major religions are caring, the mainstreams of those same religions have been diverted from socialism, a system at whose roots is caring for all. As with all divisions the only people who benefit are the 1% because whilst we argue they continue to accumulate.

I am disappointed that Raoul does not include “beyond” in his approach to conditionality, an approach that has been established for 2500 years and includes far more people than the few who are aware of Raoul Martinez.

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Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

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