Archive for the ‘Insight’ Category

My cultural transgression

Posted: 11/07/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight
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In this clip (see below) bell hooks discusses transgression initially in terms of rap music, then white appropriation and so on. As usual she is a walking enquiry (see this blogNowhere to hide“), and I began thinking of my own cultural transgression – involvement with black people. Was it a phase? I am not now living in a black community so in that sense it was a phase, but I am not living in a white community either. So was it a phase, and does that matter?

Ultimately my history with black people ended when I finished work, and decided to retire to Thailand to seek peace, a peace I soon found there – fundamentally in isolation. In a sense this peace is “outside community”, there is limited connection to my personal history, and limited connection to the community I live in because of my limited language. It means that I must find peace in who I am and peace in nature. I question whether there is peace with people – necessary support but peace?

When she spoke of transgression it was not a word I fully understood – when I looked into it I was surprised how little I had considered it given my personal history.

First of all this analysis might fall into the arena of sankhara – over-intellectualising, because I did what I did. But the purpose of any analysis has to be to see whether my actions were conditioned. Is my cultural transgression a conditioned cultural response? That reminds me of my father who claimed I would soon grow out of my socialism. That socialism was based in compassion, and compassion is not something I could grow out of – many do.

In my family’s white middle-class suburbia I knew of only one black person; he was in school, big and he was always fighting. Now in retrospect I am not surprised given what he had to put up with, but it just invoked fear in me. I met only one black person at university. She ended up being the girlfriend of a person in the hall of residence and she wouldn’t speak to me even though her hometown was 5 miles away and that meant I wanted her as a holiday friend because we were “uni”. It didn’t happen, I suspect I said something crass – racist – when drunk. The only other image of her I have is that she was nice and quiet.

When I first started work I met a few black people but they were not in my life. I do remember an incident in which a friend said that this lady would sleep with me. To me this lady was way too powerful and overbearing. She was overbearing, American, loud black and older (early 30s), by comparison I was weak, talked only when drunk, white, shy English, and young for my age at 22. I was also very sexually immature, she obviously wasn’t. I can’t remember what I said but I thought about it and weeks later told my friend I would, and was laughed at by my friend who said this lady had moved on.

My first real encounter with black people came in my first teaching job. Between the above immature experiences and starting this job I had hit bottom – Ch 21, and had spent 30 months resurfacing on the path. In the care home I had a passion for a black houseparent but again I was scared – and she had a boyfriend. I had several passions that year, and what dominated those passions was a complete sexual immaturity; I was scared of the black woman more because she was a woman than because she was black – I think. But she was black and beautiful, which mattered more?

At school I became more familiar with black people both as students and teachers, and as one black friend took the time to educate me I unlearnt a lot of my white supremacist conditioning (in this clip (4.33) see why bell uses this terminology). At the time I was an educationalist, and did not have a full view of education in terms of the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. I saw education as offering the possibility of leading out the true self, and I started teaching to see if I could do that. Because it was so soon after hitting bottom, spirituality was almost singular and the priority.

Once in the school I saw how unjust the treatment of the black kids was, and they became a focus. Because I saw the institution was contributing so much to the disadvantage I began teaching in the evening in a black community education project. This brought me into contact with black educationalists outside school.

Starting on the path I was desperate for experience. Although I was fortunate to have started on the path and therefore had some wisdom, I was socially and sexually very immature. This was not helped by the alcohol-induced view that I could meet people when drinking, anomaly when I thought of myself as spiritual.

After a while that desire for experience turned to women, and I fell in love with a woman (white) – for a number of reasons this didn’t work out after maybe two years. It was then I became interested in black women forming a close non-sexual relationship with a colleague. At the time my social life was also “around” the black community, and I was then continually seeking a black woman – between the drink.

As an after-school activity I began work on a magazine through the youth centre, and being disillusioned with education I took this up full-time producing the Young Journal. In my mind it was a magazine that could present the creative talents of black youth – without being focussed on music and hair. The content however was driven by the young people who came across the magazine so my bias doesn’t show in it.

Towards the end of the 3rd issue I started my tempestuous relationship with a black woman that lasted two and a half years and disrupted my life. This love ended the magazine and I was in Brighton working and trying to survive the relationship. With the magazine I had met people, mainly Africans, who put meat on the bones of my understanding of imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy – with limited emphasis on patriarchy. My understanding became far more international in perspective, and was evident in the political life I turned to. My time in Brighton was dominated by my love, the failed relationship and its aftermath, and I left for Africa. One friend gave me a nudge and a wink saying that once I had tasted chocolate … I don’t know but by then I was 40.

This friend might have been correct but in my mind there was experience and reasons for leaving Brighton with its relationship and aftermath. I had experienced black family life. Whilst in the relationship I had made my drinking far worse – because of my weakness, the particular black woman and her family, but in part I had enjoyed living with this black woman; she was the first woman I had lived with – when younger I had fallen in love but I was too independent to live with her.

So this brought me to dabbling in Africa. For half the men on the teaching programme relationships with black women became the focus of living there, for others it was travel; as were many, women and travel became my focus. However by then I was not drinking so women and travel were not enough, I did an M Ed, mid-life review and moved towards Buddhism.

But I dabbled with African women living with me – on and off for nearly 7 years, and because of their cultural upbringing this worked well 90% of the time and the other 10% was tumult. Although one time I was close, I never fell in love in Southern Africa, and moved away from Africa to private schools to try to get a pension. Once I left Southern Africa there were never any further relationships with women, although 5 years later I returned to West Africa to teach. Once I finished with that contract black people have been a rarity in my life.

So was all this transgression? On reflection I have always thought of my gender-type as “white man attracted to black women”; after the time I fell in love near 30, I have never had a relationship with a white woman. This is why it could be a gender-type so I think of it as more than transgression. But is it?

For 12 years I have lived alone in a country of beautiful women. I came here thinking that relationship could occur through religion, but there hasn’t been a glimpse. For 7 years after Southern Africa I wanted only meaningful long-term relationships, and it became clear that could only happen if I lived somewhere. But it hasn’t happened where I live. In my last job I enjoyed working with black people and the students although the school situation was horrendous – and that had some cultural origins.

Am I any nearer answering the transgression question? To begin with I thought no but now I feel I am. At the time of hitting bottom I had rejected conditioning but I was still conditioned. This meant that transgression was still part of my privileged conditioning. I felt that I had the right to go out there and experience. It was never my intention to return to the privileged background that bell refers to, but there was still the privilege that I felt I had the right to go out and experience.

But one can’t ignore the fact that this is also nature’s path – young people going out and experiencing, getting old, reflecting and finding peace. But there is no doubt that I benefitted from privileged conditioning. I should also note that I was so immature that I was 40 before my desire for experience risked the world. In a way this was good because by then I knew enough of myself to be self-reliant instead of seeking solely from the community.

Cultural transgression is a conditioned response. Privilege entitles people to move out and experience the different, and once they have had a few knocks, return home and count the pennies. This is similar to nature’s conditioning. The young person leaves home gets some experience, and then returns to the womb-community recreating the family culture for a new generation. When I consider my early adult life in London, I think of people exploring – the 60s and aftermath, yet these people have turned back to their womb-community, and in Brexit voted with community. Emotionally that feels like a betrayal, but backs up bell’s view of transgression.

Sometimes social conditioning and natural conditioning combine and it is difficult to discern. One can never be absolutely certain where the boundaries lie, but it is good to investigate – learning that includes learning about our conditioning is the purpose. Thank you again, bell, for the spur to enquiry.

Below:- bell hooks gave a talk on Cultural Criticism and Transformation, and there are 8 parts to the talk. Unfortunately part 7 is considered unsuitable by youtube so you can’t find it. Part 8 starts on about rap music, and then about half-way through this clip she discusses the transgression of white people “getting into rap”.

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Brainwasheds

Posted: 29/06/2018 by zandtao in Insight
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“They refuse to see what they see hear what they hear because they are so brain washed and living in Trump and Fox [FAUX] propaganda and an alternate reality We could be at the brink of destruction and they still would follow him like the followers of Jim Jones.”

“Offer them all a free weekend in North Korea where everyone loves Trump & Christians plus the beaches are really nice”

I saw this meme on facebook, and picked the top two comments.

The meme and comments totally irritated me. Yesterday (Blog written two weeks ago) I watched coverage of the North Korea issue. All I saw was partisan ignorance. Ever since there was a DMZ Korea has been divided. Governments from both sides have continued the dispute by having war exercises. If you ignore the media and look for the truth, it was these war exercises that were isolating North Korea. I have no idea what was going on behind the scenes but ending war exercises was a very positive step, whoever made the agreement. It was positive for peace.

Here I heard Chomsky describing Trump as something like a public distraction that the media and people were deluded by whilst the powerful were digging away underneath.

What has happened since the election is increased polarisation, and polarisation is not a one-sided process. These comments are typical of the polarising positions.

Why is it that there are 30% following Trump “blindly”? Because the alternative that is offered has nothing for them. Why did so many vote for such a fool in the first place? Because the alternative offered nothing for them. There have always been racist sexist deplorables but not as many as 30%, why has this proportion increased? Until people answer this question and act on the answer, Trump is going to stay there. It is no good saying I’m right the other is wrong and having a pop. This mentality has been classified as “snowflake”, and has led to “others” not listening. There are a proportion of Trump supporters who are deplorable, and there are others who are not. How are these non-deplorable Trump supporters being addressed? As deplorables fools sexists and racists.

Why did these non-deplorables vote for Trump? Because the snowflakes and Democrats offered them nothing. Government is for all the people including white – described as privileged or otherwise. If snowflakes and Democrats continue to offer these white people nothing then Trump will stay in power.

Does this mean take jobs from blacks Hispanics or women? NO It means stop supporting the 1% and demand that the 1% return money to the economy so that there are more jobs. After the election some Democrats talked of this, and in the community some are doing this but the Democrat elite in the pockets of Wall Street have done nothing – and just “hoped ” support for Trump will burn out. It seems that it is not.

What is clear is that Wall Street Democrats would prefer Trump to the grass roots or Bernie. Until that is changed there will be Trump or similar.

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Ego, Self and Anatta

Posted: 27/05/2018 by zandtao in Insight, ONE planet
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These three words have multiple definitions and because of this there is confusion. In such cases it is always important to understand where your own “definitions” lie. In ascribing “definitions” to these words I have no wish to obviate other definitions and ways of thinking, just a simple effort to clarify where I am coming from.

I have to take as “assumed” what I wrote in the Ch22 on addiction, by assumed I mean that I don’t want to keep repeating myself – that would make these blogs more tedious than they already are. This meme taken from Buddhadasa’s teachings brings some clarity:-

Here we have three levels but they do not correspond to Ego Self and Anatta. Anatta and sunatta are similar, and could be seen as no-self, so this meme has effectively two levels self and not-self. Within the two tiers of self (self, body and psyche) are the ego and self.

This train of thought started when I was trying to explain about clashes of male ego to a Thai person. She did not understand ego but did understand atma or atta. In other words in Thai there was no distinction between ego and self. This makes sense to me because the ego and self are both formed by attachment to the khandhas – represented in the meme by body and psyche.

The situation of description concerning clashes of male ego also helped me come to an understanding as to an arbitrary distinction between ego and self, and that distinction is relating to society. An ego is something like a façade that we put out as a defence against society – hence male ego. This ego still comprises of the 5 khandhas but is more concerned with how we appear to society. Hence there are similarities to egotist and arrogant, and of course clashes of male ego are concerned with “handbags at 10 paces” ie superficial ego in society.

There is a tendency based on Hindu thinking amongst others to have a two-tiered approach ie just ego and self. This fits in with certain aspects of western thinking such as self-realisation. In other words, in this two-tier system the self is seen as the true you that has to be realised or actualised. As far as it goes this is fine, it is a way of thinking I worked with for years. For this approach people are searching for their true selves by trying to eliminate ego and finding something that is true underneath any conditioning that they unravel.

When bell hooks talks of self-esteem I would suggest that she is talking of this true self, and how this true self should be valued – self-esteem.

It would be reasonable to leave this consideration at ego and true self (not bringing in anatta). When people are seeking self-realisation and get close to their true self, then there is great understanding. But the problem is that there is still conditioning left – illustrated by the fact that people are calling it self. There is still some separation.

Buddhadasa makes this clear by talking about “removing I and mine from the 5 khandhas”; self is still I and mine, no matter how true, soul or “essence” it is. In Hinduism this “self” confusion comes from needing something to transmigrate when there is reincarnation. But if there is oneness, no separation – just oneness, then there is nothing that is unique.

Some would argue that a self needs to exist to give volition etc. But examine the 5 khandhas (body – rupa, feeling – vedana, memory and perception – sanna, mental operations – sankhara, and consciousness – vinnana). What else is there in self? If each of these 5 khandhas carry out their function, what action is there that is not covered by these 5? In other words, why is there a need for a separate entity of self. As explained in Ch22 we build up self by attaching to 5 khandhas through instinct, and then as adults we cling to this self – our instincts – instead of just letting them go. The final step of this letting go is to let go of the self and just accepting sunnata.

Following the path can be seen as recognising the ego letting it go, seeing that self is also attachment to the 5 khandhas and transcending this self, just being sunnata.

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Dangerous Times

Posted: 26/05/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, ONE planet, Struggle
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We are living in dangerous times, I am so deeply afraid for the future; I see nothing changing for the better.

Where is the direction of Gaia, Mother Earth? Where is the direction to end war? Where is the direction to end wage-slavery?

Nowhere.

Where is the direction now? Increasing repression through repression on both sides. Repression helps no-one because it makes no change. It simply covers over the cracks, it Grenfells – gentrifies. This increasing repression is polarising society, and we are not examining this polarisation because we are stuck in our own media bubbles. Understanding through detachment has been replaced by repression based on positions – moral or otherwise.

This aspect of repression started with what Jordan Peterson calls PC-authoritarianism. This man is part of a right-wing egotistical freedom movement who are very dangerous, and has been rightly criticised here. But however sound the criticism it doesn’t matter, our world is polarised and what is said in the NYT does not matter to those listening to Peterson. And what is worse the world is moving more to sympathy for Peterson’s right-wing egotism because the finance is there to support Peterson and the IDweb. Meanwhile the 1% exploit through a Trump facade.

We have not learnt the lesson of PC-authoritarianism. I am going to examine how I see the personal history of PC. Back in the 70s racist language was common-place, at that time it didn’t matter to most people that this language was offensive – offensive language was used in the presence of black people and black people were considered to have a chip if they didn’t accept it. Slowly things began to change in that repressing racist language and removal of racist images improved the general ethos. But it was never meant to be censorship alone, it was meant to be a two-pronged approach in which removal of poor use of language went hand-in-hand with how racism was harmful for everyone. However there wasn’t much effort put into the educational side, and when Blair got into power there was increased repression on the language without any effort being made towards education.

When people are repressed there is a pressure situation built up because the source of the problem had not gone away. These repressed people were still racist. On the surface the problem of racism had been sugarcoated but nothing had been done about the squalid racist mire underneath. As a result when they started funding the alt-right, out came the racists again. There are now increased racist attacks, and racist intellectuals barely bother to disguise themselves as in the IDWeb.

I spent many an hour discussing politics with a neighbour. He did not disagree with any of the issues I raised such as war, exploitation wage-slavery, the 1%, Wall Street. However his mind was so warped with racism that he occasionally expressed to me concerning the difficulties of employing Aborigine workers, and how his liberty was infringed by regulations that protected them. He was also strongly against PC-authoritarianism. These combined were sufficient as he turned out to be a Trump supporter. In other words his racism mattered more than anything else except the PC-police. Of course this is an ignorant position but Trump’s backroom staff knew that the root issue was racism. All the years in which there was some form of PC-ascendancy nothing was actually done about racism, it was only repressed and it is now back in full force in some communities.

Racism is now so strong that this form of state repression is acceptable. Trump says that he would like NFL owners to drop players who took the knee. Now they have agreed that there will be a penalty if players take the knee. This is fascism:-

I first began this blog thinking about this meme:-

I first thought this was great, but then … Is the meme asking that the nephew be educated as to why repeated “no” is harassment or just being told “don’t ask more than once”? Then I began thinking about the relationship thing. Relationship is not about politics, I know how much I hated it when I went home and got it in the neck from a partner who was angry and treated me as a representative of patriarchy – I benefit from the privilege of being a member of the imperialist, white supremacist patriarchy but in my home I can offer empathy; I would however liked to have been me.

Now what happens to this “nephew”? Maybe he is down, maybe it took a great deal to ask. Will the girl think about it, realise she made a mistake and ask him out? Rather than an opportunity to warn the nephew against possible harassment, isn’t this an opportunity to help promote good relationship? Maybe the mother (of the nephew) could involve the mother of the girl in discussion about how to promote relationship.

I don’t want the nephew to ask again, I want a society in which relationship can be built. Can mothers teach daughters to ask a boy out? Can this be done without the girl being perceived as a “slut”? Can we help our young people build relationship?

Or do we remain slaves to sets of ideals which create separation?

It also made me concerned about that ugly brute, male lust. We have reached the stage where right-wing egotistical patriarchs such as Jordan Peterson are attaching blame to women because men not in a relationship behave badly (see NYT article). Peterson is at least recognising the problem in part – the ugliness of male lust. Where are men taught to deal with this? It is a horrible brute, variable in that it is not the same in all men. Some women equate this ugly brute with their own desire; this might be true as I have no experience of how a woman experiences desire – but equally women have no experience of this ugly brute. In relationship all matters need to be brought to the table, discussed, and a mutual understanding be reached. Bringing idealism to the relationship table does not help. If men with Peterson ideals expect women to return to being pliant kitchen chattels, there is only oppression. If women expect men to behave by following a set of rules that they create, there is no relationship. In a heterosexual couple there are two people of the opposite genders seeking to form a relationship, this can only be achieved through mutual love, mutual respect and mutual enabling. Leave the rule book where it belongs.

And that is the problem with our dangerous times, we are allowing ourselves to be dominated by rule books. We need to live together through mutual love, mutual respect and mutual enabling. And to paraphrase Paulette Jordan, love of Gaia. I wish her so much luck, how can she hope to bring Unity in times which have been so intentionally divided.

What good people have to realise politically is that being correct is nowhere near enough, having good ideals is nowhere near enough, having compassion is nowhere near enough. The point is that the 1% have the power and money, they can pay for any form of violent support for what they do. Antifa can be squashed any day they want them to be squashed. The only power that we have as people is togetherness, black and white together, women and men together, using rules to divide us even if these rules might be correct only works in favour of the 1%. Science has proven climate change for decades, the Koch brothers have “faked” climate denial in just one. Who is winning? Find ways of working together. Unity for Gaia.

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Love and Self-esteem

Posted: 19/05/2018 by zandtao in Insight, Struggle
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In the car I have been listening to bell hooks, such an interesting writer. I have downloaded a series of audios on bell hooks – it is readings from several of her books. I had to check the USB because I wasn’t sure even though what was being said sounded like her. But there is a problem, unlike Russell’s conversation podcasts there is too much content for when I am driving.

But it is about love and self-esteem, and she said “go back to your childhood”. This is a strategy I like, and on love and self-esteem again I feel incredibly lucky. I have to assume as context what I have described in the , in this case especially Ch 21 – My Path. I am unwilling to be specific about my home as my mother would not have liked it, but I can describe it in general as I have in being middleclassed as described in the chapter on My Path. Characteristics of being middleclassed are emotional repression and a focus on education leading to house car and education for children. As I have said previously, from my upbringing I emerged middleclassed but, significantly, relatively undamaged and with sufficient bits of paper for passports into life. When I look around this is more than I could have asked for.

In terms of self-esteem being middleclassed makes it easy to understand. I had the arrogance of academic success and as the middleclass straitjacket only really measured this my self-esteem was well intact.

As for love, self-love and other issues that Bell discusses, in my childhood these were de rigueur. In middle-class homes there was love but it was not expressed as emotion, passion; it was expressed as the straitjacket. The first thing I did when I hit bottom was to run back to the straitjacket, this is what being middleclassed provided. When I went to uni I questioned this straitjacket because I was beginning to remove it, but now I don’t – it was a comfort. I cannot advocate the middleclassed home but all-in-all it served me well.

With regards to teen and young adult relationships I was incredibly shy and awkward – undoubtedly in part a product of being middleclassed. In my early teens I dropped opportunities for relationship learning until I left new possibilities behind as too difficult. At uni I was drunk and most undesirable. At these times wanting a relationship was a conditioned thing, it was expected to have one; the “alpha males” I looked up to at that time flitted through relationships (people I later derided as Martin Smoothchatter). I say this in part was due to my being middleclassed but I also feel the path saved me – no idea how the path did it. I can think back to times where my awkwardness prevented me from relating to some wonderful women, but women who that underdeveloped self would have adored and left that adoring self very distant from the path.

In terms of self-esteem I had that in spades because all that mattered was education. Self-love never rose at that time because I so identified with the self-esteem of academic success. But then came the upheaval that started me on the path (again I refer you to Ch 21 for details). As path is unconditional love, this of course changed everything – including with regards to relationship. I became the wandering compassion at the time confused in terms of conscious awareness, but driven by path I was just learning. To begin with love of an other wasn’t the priority although the conditioning to have a relationship was there, I still had the conditioning of the cosmic love of an other. This conditioning confused me especially as in terms of the world I was so immature but the path priority drove me through the conditioning; I still had my awkwardness that prevented formation of relationships.

Once I settled into teaching a self formed. This self was based in the path, I knew who I was and relationships happened because of who I was – the self that the path had formed. There were two women I loved, and they are important in understanding the love that is now me – now part of my path. My first love happened when the woman was still in a relationship. You have to remember that I was immature and did not understand the world. The three of us spoke about this love, my lover’s relationship fizzled out, and this erstwhile lover who I thought was a friend didn’t want to know me – I am sorry it was my immaturity. There were further barriers on my lover’s part in this love, and by the time she really started to respond to my love my love was waning. And my path and independence took over until the relationship petered out and she left London.

My second love was an absolutely intense disaster that I described as worse than Peyton Place. I deeply loved this woman and I got absolutely hammered by pain. By the end of the relationship of nearly three years I was very much an alcoholic – the relationship did not cause the drug dependency but made it worse, much worse. When we separated she still agreed to see me, but very rarely and that petered out after a further 2 or 3 years.

With both of these I had deeply loved an other, but neither lasted a lifetime. Love however did. I had experienced love and that experience meant I knew love, love was always there. And that love can best be described by this Eckhart Tolle meme:-

It was only when I was mature (since retirement) did I realise that I was grateful for how I came to know love. The pain of the second love had been internalised and lasted a long time. Maybe 8 years after the start of that relationship I was in Nyanga and managed to dig out a significant part of that pain, relived it and let it go. And then maybe three years ago I finally came to the realisation that I had loved, love was in me and that I was grateful for the women I had loved – especially the second one.

To return to Bell’s books. I never really had self love. Because I started on the path so young, there was the love that belonged to the path. The path and conditioning and lust took me into relationships (2 significant loving ones) – my path had not matured enough to go beyond this conditioning; remember, this is how I describe path:-

I never loved when I was still relating to self-esteem. When that self-esteem blew up in the upheaval there was path, I never had to love myself as Bell describes. Path is unconditioned love, to think about loving it is a dichotomy that just doesn’t apply. I developed a love of others, but the love of self didn’t apply because the path was beyond self – anatta – no-self. I can relate to the love Eckhart describes but Bell’s descriptions are based in self and in terms of love I bypassed that self mostly – I of course had self in other ways as described in Ch22 on addiction.

The following is speculation as I did not experience it. I want to try and relate to what Bell says – as she is my feminist guide. Because I was middleclassed I grew up with self-esteem but I was completely awkward – lacking in any self-esteem in terms of relationships. My conditioning turned me to drink at uni, and relationships became secondary. I had many passions, a combination of conditioning and intellectual constructs that I should love, and occasional near misses where I was lucky that my awkwardness did not allow adoration. And then came the path. I never needed self-love because I had the path. Self-love conceivably is a stage before anatta. Many never move to anatta, and self-love is an important instinct for survival as Bell describes. For me this is conjecture.

Because I loved, once the pain had passed there was conscious love in me; love that was always there emerged without much pain – intense pain for a short time.

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Reason and Decency

Posted: 16/05/2018 by zandtao in Insight

A friend recently lamented the loss of reason and decency “The most depressing thing politically for me is the retreat from reason and decency in current events”. This friend has always felt there are closer links between reason and action than I do.

To me there has been a retreat but not from reason and decency, that I never considered was there in politics, but a retreat from paying lipservice to these values. I am no defender of Clintons or Blair but they would pay lipservice to values.

I consider my people “nice white people”, and I have never considered that reason and decency to be characteristics of their voting patterns. Far from it their votes are based on fear delusion and lifestyle. They are frightened of change because they see change affecting their lifestyle, and believe traditional parties will provide economic stability. How they rationalise their voting when it comes to Trump and Brexit I have no idea.

Let me be clear, within their families and communities these “nice white people” are decent. As I have pointed out their voting is not reasonable, but other than politics I feel you could appeal to their reason. How do we encourage these people to change their voting patterns? These “nice white people” have always been in bed with war but they are now publicly in bed with deplorables – I understand that Clinton tactic that badly backfired. I don’t understand why the “nice white people” in the community I grew up in are not ashamed to be associated with deplorables. As I am not afraid of change I don’t understand why they are so afraid, but I do know they are.

I don’t understand how these “nice white people” accept moving away from paying lipservice. Maybe it is because they are older and still feel the fear of the Cold War, something I certainly grew up with. Maybe “Reds under the bed” is still attached to Corbyn and social activists. Maybe they see the deplorables as a passing phase.

I recently met an alt-right, and his mindset completely turned me. He was lacking in humility, compassion or any desire for human spirit. Whilst my community’s voting patterns are despicable, these are not people who lack compassion provided their lifestyle is not under threat. This alt-right guy threatened that. But ego-driven financial upstarts have always been accepted as a necessary evil by my community – I guess they somehow feel the system controls them. But this borderline-deplorable doesn’t in any way represent the people I grew up with. They would help each other, I don’t see this alt-right being helpful. Maybe he helps alt-rights.

Nice white people have a loose and varied relationship with religion, and this religion does provide some level of decency within the community – if you ignore their voting patterns.

As described in Ch 24 I do not see existing political activism having a future. The reason of right view cannot combat power. There might be a possibility of appealing to compassion and decency to change voting patterns, however their media will never accept that Corbyn is decent because he is lefty – a modern-day red under the bed.

Changing political activism from appealing to greed is not likely to happen, and if it does it will take time. My “nice white community” would always say they are compassionate – although that compassion does not extend to welcoming non-white neighbours.

The sentiments of my friend’s description of retreat I would agree with. How much worse the world will be without politicians having to pay lipservice to values I don’t know, but for me the world has changed for the worse in the last two years. Non-white communities in the West are suffering more harassment because decency is not publicly required – it used to be required publicly by PC-authoritarianism but censorship does not bring personal development as can now be seen.

But the real suffering in the world recently has been in the Middle East, I have no idea whether their suffering has worsened in the last two years. I fear it has.

I would support any calls for reason and decency to become mainstream even if it is hypocritical lipservice – I would support small mercies.

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Freedom has always been a right-wing issue but it confuses because right-wing freedom is not genuine freedom. Right-wing freedom is concerned with the demands for no restriction on the ego. Genuine freedom knows that the ego has to be disciplined INTERNALLY – not politically or governmentally, but these right-wing egotists are so addicted to their egos they do not see what is happening and are usually not interested in self-discipline – just blaming others for their ego being restricted.

Everything about me says there should be free speech, it is up to the individual to discern their own truths. As a principle this is great, in practice it produces the deplorables. And amongst the deplorables are people who would commit crimes against others based on racism, sexism, homophobia etc. As Liv (SVU) would say there are hate crimes.

Unfortunately PC-authoritarians have had some power recently -contributing to the creation of a backlash. Previously there was an unofficial code of conduct between left and right in which “decent” right people restricted the deplorables – as well as authoritarian liberals restricting them. But Trump and Brexit have undermined this code of conduct, and deplorables are coming out of their cesspits. Across the board there needs to be agreed limits to free speech to restrict hate crimes. Ideas should not be restricted but speech that leads to crime needs to be. For example I think Jordan Peterson is dangerous and PC-authoritarians would like to silence him. The success of people like JBP is an indictment of our education system – especially as our education system employs him. But he does not directly call for hate crimes and as such he has the right to talk, sadly the state of awareness of people at the moment means that he has a large audience.

General awareness of the 1% has increased so the genuine left-wing analysis of the 1% and its manipulations is now more common currency. In other words some of the analysis of these right-wing intellectuals started on the genuine left.

One scenario might be that when these intellectuals actually started listening they were ashamed and embarrassed at having been deluded. To overcome that delusion and to retain their arrogant egos they claimed the understanding of deep state and 1% as their own. But some of these types of intellectuals are not overly-educated, not overly-discerning. They don’t have the questioning and understanding of the manipulations of the 1%. Their egos demand of them that they have developed a new philosophy. This new philosophy assigns blame in the wrong areas because they are being manipulated. On the genuine left there is a clear analysis. It is not identity politics, it is not we are right others are wrong. It is just class. The 1% are exploiting people, our class, we must unite. No excuses, no blaming blacks, women, LBGQT, it is the 1% – be clear. Rabid individualism demands freedom for their egos, freedom from repression, freedom from regulation, freedom from government, and this freedom has no direction, no compassion, no humanity, just freedom for the ego. Because the ego has blocked off their compassion, it is just freedom to be headless chickens.

As an example of the less educated headless chickens I recall a year discussing politics on-and-off with a neighbour. He agreed with some things but showed racism towards Aborigines and Muslims; he also showed anger towards PC-authoritarianism. It was clear some of his views were right-wing and I tried to warn him about media he was listening to. Then he turned out to be a Trump supporter. I was horrified and we now don’t talk – down to me. How did I miss it? I feel his racism and anger at the PC-brigade made him Trump – I often have to listen to white people being racist in a limited way and in the past that racism had never been manipulated into such right-wing extremism as Trump. His evaluation of the sources of the problems as being 1% were in agreement with mine. How can he not see that Trump is a 1%-puppet? I still don’t know. But after I stopped talking with him, I went back one time and asked about Trump. He told me Trump was still learning and give him a chance, but he blamed the Democrats for the failure of Trump’s health care. This is the power of the media he watches. He evaluated the state of the world in the same way as I did – he feared it was getting worse and saw foreign interference as a problem. How did he then accept Trump? This is the power of the media he watches.

For him Crooked Hillary is far worse. I dislike Hillary because she is part of neoliberalism, and I am never going to know whether the name “crooked” has any legitimacy. For me democrats are still backing her, and that shows me how neoliberal the machine is; crooked or not politically she should be dropped. However much she has been smeared, there is no compassion or decency, but as neither value matters she might still be running. Of course neoliberals choose Trump over Bernie, they cannot have Bernie – and maybe there is no-one else.

Unity is a key flagstone as a left-wing platform as compared with the freedom of the individual on the right. I call for compassion to be another to counter the ego but it surprised me that JBP actually comes out against compassion. Compassion for me means freedom from suffering for all. Whilst we have a 1%-system that restricts global resources because of their personal accumulation (1%), what nature would provide for 100% has been greatly reduced by this accumulation and so created confrontation (people fighting for the limited cake). Such confrontation leads to individualism as each fights for the cake. These individuals believe they gain more by their own greed than any disciplining towards compassion or acceptance of collective agreement.

There is an international dark web and Jordan Peterson is listed on a website – features prominently. These people are not uneducated, in fact the opposite they are overly-miseducated and driven in part by their academically successful egos. They are sufficiently coalesced that they merit discussion at the New York Times. Here is a clip from Films for Action, I didn’t like the clip but it is suggesting that this IDWeb is a collection of people whose commonality is they don’t like Marxism.

Being intellectual and knocking Marxism has always been there, it is this ego and right-wing freedom. When I was an activist I always accepted as representative to do things in terms of my role and not because I believed them, comrades like me referred to this as discipline. In the spiritual world we need control of our egos and this is referred to as discipline. If there is no discipline the intellectual goes off all over the place, and that appears to be the IDWeb. Marxism is about the class, and the class does not put intellectualism first. The class for me is about compassion, and this means freedom from suffering for all. Hence the conflict for the IDWeb. It is quite understandable to consider that these intellectuals would appropriate some left-wing ideas such as deep state without having the consistent base that is class analysis. This is an intellectual approach.

It is worth talking here of “collective anarchism”, a term I came up with in The Arico Chronicles. It amuses me that I came up with it in fiction but the notion that collectivism and individuality needs to have a yin-yang relationship is reasonable. The political theory anarcho-syndicalism has a similar ring. Individual rights have to be protected, are not being protected under PC-authoritarianism which is little more than censorship, but in the end freedom from suffering-for-all has to be the objective – NOT freedom for the individual especially the individual ego.

There is the Dark Money Network and the IDWeb, the connection is that the 1% does not want Marxism and collectivism. How the money flows where, I don’t know but it does – it has to these people are there. If there is an anti-class confusion then the money has done its work. It is all very frightening:-

We are people we are class we share compassion. Activists, be compassionate first

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2B an activist?

Posted: 22/04/2018 by zandtao in Insight, Struggle
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Activism is a phenomenally-important issue. Compassion means ending suffering, so as compassionate beings we have a duty to decide how we are helping end suffering.

As a Buddhist this issue came to me as what am I doing in retirement and the related question of putting on robes. Just before I retired I resolved it as “if I was learning in retirement then no need for robes”. In retirement I gradually became a writer, and that is activism – despite a very limited audience.

When I was debating this decision (with myself), an abbot said to me that his monastery provided a refuge from daily life, and that was worth doing. I didn’t disagree with that but we can’t all be abbots. Buddhadasa was a great teacher, we cannot all be Buddhadasa.

And that brings me to this article. Eckhart Tolle is a great teacher but not all people who follow the path can be great teachers. Not all Buddhists can be monks, and so we arrive at the question of activism because there is a duty in compassion to contribute. In the interview all the required discussion is there.

I start with this “Conscious awareness, conscious living, is the ultimate activism.”, this is undoubtedly true. But I now want to refer to 24 in which I discussed the path and activism. Addressing activists and the failure of activism currently I put forward the following:-

If you note who I am addressing (activists) this fits completely within the sense of the interview. On an individual level we have to work towards conscious awareness – follow the path. But in terms of activism there needs a change in approach as discussed in 24. My short but important spell in political activism made me completely aware of the problem of egotism. The left stupidly divided itself (and that is before the right tactic of lumping PC liberalism in with the left), the argument between commies and Trots highlights this. In my own political activist development I recognised the importance of unity, and I knew already how divisive the Trots were. Initially they were trying to work with me, use me, but when my need for education turned me into a commie they ostracised me and the more understanding I got through good Marxist education the more I eschewed them.

Now although my path brought me to activism to enable more people to follow the spiritual path I still fell into this trap. After the education I left the commies and joined the “George Cooper” party. Sadly he wasn’t far from death, I think I read online somewhere that he died in 94 (my activism was 1987-1992). George was a mass movement activist, he did not hold to theories (I am sure he probably had during his life) he just organised – he told me once that the nearest description would be anarcho-syndicalist. In general I would say that communists just see themselves as organisers but because of the prevailing divisions being a communist was divisive on the left. At the time there were three communist parties in the UK. I have forgotten the letters. One was trying to get elected, one was supporting the Morning Star, and one was holding to the need for revolution (NCP). I was in the NCP and there were great activists there but membership was maybe 600. In total the membership was definitely less than 5000, and there were three parties. Commies, look at that isn’t it ludicrous that commies have three parties and yet they regularly spoke of Trots causing splits?

Now all Trots and Commies. Please look at the state of the movement. Funding has produced a division of the class that has allowed Trump and Brexit to happen. Where has all your organising gone – my organising gone?

At the time I was politically active I was not too spiritually active ( 21) so I got too sucked in. If I had been active longer – after joining the George Cooper alliance, I might well have moved towards the kind of path activism ( 24) I am now promoting:-

But there is one important point about activism – genuine left-wing activism. Whilst these activists hold to Marxist theories they put people first – at least their theories do. They are compassionate and want to end suffering. Unfortunately the way our conditioning goes ( 22), the set of ideals (sankhara) we picked up in miseducation becomes replaced with a set of ideals of Marxism, and that compassion can be hidden by the addiction to sankhara – egotism.

But these activist-egotists have already touched their compassion – presence (to be fair there are some trade unionists who are only in it for their ego and greed). These are important people to work with in efforts to promote the path – conscious awareness.

And at the same time they are trying to hold back the ravages of the 1%-system. Are monks who are just trying to meditate actually holding back these ravages which are causing suffering? If we study Eckhart at home and go to work for our money, are we holding back these ravages? In my life (born 1952) the suffering has got far worse, in the 20 years since “Power of Now” was published the suffering has got worse. In the last 7 years alone (since Occupy of 2011), it has now become publicly acceptable to be racist and sexist, and cause violence to each other in protests (Antifa) (I note it was always acceptable for supremacists to be violent); and with all the public turbulence Syrian air strikes are carried out with barely a whimper.

In joining the commies I did something else – I learned. Through their education I began to understand the suffering that was caused, and how it was caused. Prior to this, in my life that was just compassion-as-teacher I was not aware of the suffering. In Brixton because of the alienation that the SWP-Trots caused in me in my first job it took me a while to begin to understand the suffering. I started as a non-political anti-racist, and then started to become politically aware. Then I became more aware as an activist. All of this is discussed by Eckhart in the interview, but I want to emphasise the understanding of suffering that comes from activism. We live in a society that hides the suffering it causes, activism clears the veil. But without conscious awareness, being an activist will usually make you part of the problem.

Awareness of our own suffering brings us closer to following the path – conscious awareness. Doesn’t awareness of the suffering in the world also bring us closer to the path. Whilst conscious awareness has to be concerned with our addiction to self – egotism, exposing that addiction to the suffering that exists in the world has to increase awareness. Shutting ourselves away from the suffering does not end suffering. There is a balance between our need to develop on the path – develop conscious awareness, and our duty to help end suffering. Being active in helping end suffering through activism might help develop conscious awareness, I might also make us part of the problem. It is a dilemma od the path that we need to live with.

I have a propensity for activism, this I recognise as a bias. The path is first, we need conscious awareness. Our compassionate duty is to end suffering, it is important for us to come to terms with how we deal with ending suffering.

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Osho and Bhagwan

Posted: 10/04/2018 by zandtao in Freedom, Insight, Struggle
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I am not a fan of Osho. I examined his work several years ago (1 and 2), and I have no reason to change. There are great teachers around for whom there isn’t doubt such as the Buddha, Eckhart Tolle, why take the risk of teachers who present questions about ego.

When I criticised Osho I was not using his history as Bhagwan because I was unable to be certain enough of what I was reading. There was a recent Netflix documentary series, “Wild Wild Country” (6 hours plus of fascination), that gave me sufficient certainty, and there is much that documentary brings into question.

I am not a fan of “following gurus”. In the Kalama sutta the Buddha spoke of not believing him, learn for yourself. I believe the Guru tradition asks followers to trust the Guru completely, I don’t have objections to many Guru’s teachings but I try to learn for myself. I also understand that a Guru has a responsibility for all those s/he teaches. When I look at this documentary series I am always asking when did the Bhagwan take responsibility?

I have the feeling that the series is well researched and accurate, but it is the media so I can never be sure. My first question is why did the community go to Oregon, why did they leave Poona, India, in the first place? The documentary suggests there were doubts about the Bhagwan when he left Poona the first time. But why the inimical community of Oregon?

Was it respectful to establish such a spiritual community in a US backwoods traditional Christian community as Antelope, Oregon? As the US worships the power of the buck, by their terms it was legitimate but I don’t think so. Where should they establish a commune? Don’t know, a very different question.

My interpretation of the series was that there were no doubts that the Oregonians escalated the issues, and then the US legal apparatus continued the escalation. Firstly the Oregonians attacked the community on the land use issue, the response of taking over Antelope was based on this. And then there was the bombing of the hotel that led to arming the Rajneesh community. I have no doubts who were the aggressors. But then the responses – no excuses, especially from a Guru.

The whole documentary was absolutely fascinating. I was alive during all of that and yet I knew none of it.

What struck me so strongly is the love these Sannyasins had, but wisdom – I don’t know, wisdom seemed not to be valued. I rarely meet spiritual people where I live, but those I do are ex-Bhagwans. They have some sense of being lost, perhaps because they never broke the chord of Guru following, I don’t see them as “complete” – one was clearly disturbed. If I had gone East to the Bhagwan just after my upheaval – just starting on the path (never crossed my mind then), I could imagine I would have been completely enraptured as well. A frightening thought, and a warning about such a powerful Guru. I will not pick up an Osho book, I would not know where he would be sucking me the wrong way.

During the documentary there was a movie shown the Christian Oregonians, the sexual practices frightened them. This movie, Ashram in Poona, can be found here 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

I found this movie frightening, throughout I was thinking they were playing with stuff that should come out naturally over time. It is the same feeling I have about LSD and, I think, ayahuasca; it jumps the gun. But this approach was definitely directed spiritually – so risky. Sure there is energy, sure there are emotional blocks, this is part of life and we must find ways of releasing them. But we …. If it is a technique, if it is laying-on of hands (transmission?) then maybe we aren’t ready, aren’t equipped. How many of those Sannyasins were sorted, were able to cope with life? Was the rest of their life just dependent on the Bhagwan experience and that they were always harking back to it rather than moving forward?

In the documentary there was an old white Oregonian saying that the Rajneeshis were just looking for God. Well it’s the same thing. But is the way the restrictive Christian right have found God in America any better? At least the Bhagwan wasn’t funding global war or attacking women.

I have to point at something which is so important in teaching – sila – moral integrity, the backbone of any teaching must be sila. Especially when people are coming from western societies this sila is so important, as the West doesn’t necessarily provide any. Immediately the Oregonians would say the Rajneeshis have no sila because of sexual misconduct (one of the 5 precepts) – their view of the promiscuity. I am unwilling to comment on this because although it appears there was sexual misconduct it does not appear that their sexual conduct was hurting them. But I don’t know. The ex-Bhagwans I know are open to question concerning sexual desire – many expats are in Thailand in the game of mutual exploitation of younger women. The Rajneeshis in Oregon seemed genuinely happy amongst themselves, this does not indicate misconduct. But I wasn’t there, I don’t know.

But definitely spirituality requires a moral backbone – sila, and from what I have seen Osho offered none. That is sufficient for me not to go near Osho’s teachings given so many other alternatives. Energy without sila is dangerous.

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I have previously described the path as going beyond conditioning, I have also described it as the path of compassion, insight and creativity. It is not narratives we need to understand, follow the path.

So far I have looked at narratives and have seen that the manipulators of the 1% can condition based on any narrative. A narrative is a set of ideas describing a situation. Finding a new narrative is not a revolutionary act because it is simply a set of ideas – khandhas. What matters is the power. For conditioning of the narrative to happen there needs to be power, and that power provides an object of desire. People desire that object, maybe money from a job, they become addicted to that desire – because of what the money can buy, and we have the conditioning that can be recognised in any description of paticcasamuppada or the 4 Noble Truths. Addiction – desire and craving – is at the basis of this Buddhist dogma, I am simply describing how this conditioning is developed in daily life. But it is the same dogma, the same description, the same process; addiction .

In this addiction blog, I have gone into detail with addiction and how it can be understood in terms of the two Buddhist dogmas paticcasamuppada and 4 Noble Truths. Overcoming addiction is not easy but it can be done, but the first step is to recognise there is a problem. In this same blog I discussed addiction to self, few would see this as a problem, but that is the nature of addiction and the first step is recognising we are addicted to self.

To reiterate here is a short description of the process of being addicted to self. I start with what I call the Buddhadasa meme:-

Now body and psyche refer to the khandas. Body – rupa, and psyche – feelings (vedana), perceptions (sanna) and mental constructs (sankhara); with consciousness (vinnana – also a khandha) these are the basis of human ontology. Events can fit into these categories. Conditioning is a natural process. An event happens and consciousness attaches to it. Babies like (desire) suckling and enjoying mother’s milk. Adults like (desire) having money to buy a house. Conditioning is not a process that is inherently evil, it is natural.

But when we are considering narratives, there is a process that is human – how the powerful give their power to the narrative. This is a function of the desire of the powerful. This power is nature’s power but it has accumulated through wealth to a few, and they decide when to give power to the narrative.

It is relatively easy to understand addiction because we know of and have seen many examples of addiction to substances. But we do not understand addiction to self. In part this is because we do not understand the formation of self. And this comes back to the khandhas again. As we like different events, that like becomes part of who we are. As a baby we like suckling, we desire suckling, we cling to the mother’s breast. At that time suckling mother’s milk has become who we are – as a baby we selfishly want mother’s milk. Then the power, mother, says enough is enough, and no more self. We don’t question this analysis of self, but we don’t recognise that this process of desire-clinging-becoming self is the natural process that applies to all events. And more importantly we don’t realise that we can be weaned off this addiction to self. Babies don’t choose to dump the breast, power decides for her/him.

When we consider the human self of the adult, where is the power that decides? Consciousness. Consciousness can decide to form self or break away from self. But that consciousness is not “on its own”. Always sunnata is with us, always the path is with us, but if our consciousness is always stuck in the body and psyche then we just continue to create self – we are addicted to self. The word for consciousness not being stuck in body and psyche is awareness. Somehow consciousness recognises that it does not have to stay attached to the body and psyche, attached to self, and it starts to follow the path. We could visualise that awareness is when consciousness becomes attached to sunnata but that visualisation is confusing if we take it literally as that sort of attachment can never exist.

It is much better to talk of this as following the path, the path of compassion, insight and creativity, and as it is a path that is not addicted to self it is a path that is beyond conditioning.

Let us consider the new narrative again. Naomi describes the situation at the moment as having a potent vacuum, as an indigenous activist I accept her judgement – with my age and where I live I cannot judge. The essential word here is potent meaning power, and power governs ideas.

I surmise that the need for a new narrative is being driven by the realisation that automation will drastically reduce employment thus ending the essential of consumerism – the consumer. The zombie idealism of the current consumerism will continue to lurch for as long as it can because the accumulators will not relinquish power. What will replace it will be some compromise that will enable their continued accumulation – they have more invested in there not being an apocalypse than most people.

Hopeful people, Naomi, want a new narrative but with narratives having no power in themselves such narratives will simply be the “same old same old” conditioning as they have been since tribal times. The powerful want a narrative that allows them to continue accumulation. They will then give power to this narrative, conditioning will follow, and “same old same old”. If a new narrative can give them the same accumulation their desire would be happy, and they would give power to the narrative. Is there such a narrative?

But remember narrative is a khandha – sankhara. We attach to a set of ideals, it becomes part of self and we become addicted to it. As an activist, of course you must engage with the process of changing the narrative in the hopes of participation enabling a better narrative. But narrative is part of the addiction, narratives create the conditions, the process is conditioned, and the conclusion will be conditioned. Because of addiction that is how we all, including the powerful fit, into the narrative.

For people the real hope lies in going beyond conditioning, following the path. Following the path does not mean the end of making better changes of the narrative, but it gives greater power, it gives resolve, it gives strength and conviction, and it avoids the attachment and disappointment of windmills.

It is pleasing to see Naomi as an indigenous activist talking of oneness, similarly with Russell, but the best thing for progression in all human movement is the path that includes recognition of oneness. Naomi you have grasped this because you describe indigenous movements as being driven by love – indigenous love of the land. This love of oneness is being sunnata, it is Gaia, and indigenous culture is much closer than the miseducated “European” culture. But love is not restricted to indigenous movements, love is the path.

Despite the potential “hippy” labelling the best way forward in terms of the narrative is not to promote a new narrative but to promote following the path. This is not some loose airy-fairy impractical naval introspection because it is the path that goes beyond conditioning. However the narrative is resolved, following the path will enable people to deal with the conditioning that results from any new narrative.

There is talk of revolution. In Marxist terms revolution means change of ruling class from bourgeoisie to proletariat, in non-Marxist terms revolution can just mean a change of government created by violence. Violence is not the answer. We live in a world that is controlled by violence. The powerful have not only accumulated money, their power also means control of violence through the military, even more so with the privatisation of security. To seek revolution through violence is now self-defeating and akin to suicide of ordinary people by the oppressive violence (cf suicide by cop). Do not seek suicide by the powerful, there is no future for anyone there. The revolutionary path is to go beyond conditioning. If you don’t accept the conditions they offer, what can they do. If they take away your house you go somewhere else you still have your path. When your path gives you strength in adversity people will see, and then they will see that the path s what they must follow. The path itself is revolution, and is not violent.

A political maxim:- detach from desire and follow the path.

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