Tag Archives: Donald Trump

The Two Paths You Can Go By

 

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.
And it makes me wonder.”
Led Zeplin, Stairway to Heaven.

We live in troubling times. Daily,  we twenty-first century hominoids are bombarded with disturbing news about the increasing number of perils that await us as individuals, and as a species. This is a volatile world, and we just have to live with fear and rage, knowing how it may all come to a screeching end at any moment. You want a disaster? Take your pick. North Korea is about to explode, and the kid-empower will take the rest of us with him. There are not only colluding Russians out to desecrate our precious democracy, but there are also them damn Nazis hiding under the bed. Indeed, the brown shirts are around any and every corner.

But even if Adolf’s latter-day descendants don’t dare show themselves, there are storms of unprecedented magnitude bearing down on us, threatening to blow away our houses and our existence. Then, if the gods disappointingly steer the typhoons elsewhere, we can still pop into the cinema where Al Gore will reassure us that the climactic end is nigh. And you betta stash some of that popcorn and coke, because it’s probably too late to do anything. Be careful on the way home from the movie, too, because we live in a rape culture (say some feminists) where a quarter of female university students are sexually violated before their leacherous professors let them graduate.

Finally, if all that doesn’t finish you off, you can just turn on the news and see for ourselves that Donald Trump, the man leading the free world, is Hitler incarnate. Such is the level of pure evil emminating from his black veins. This horror, the horror! And this is the tangerine tyrant with his finger on the atomic button! Oh, and he’s really, really stupid!

In such a world why would anybody even bother to get out of bed?

Let me confide in you that I wouldn’t get out of bed either if I believed this story. But I just don’t believe it. I reckon it’s mostly bullshit, the nonsense of click-bait journalists and bloggers desperate to get the hits necessary to generate a bit of attention or income.

And those foolish enough to click on such stuff mostly do so because the narrative is what they have come to believe. It’s what they want to hear. “Ain’t it awful! I told you so!”

Look, I know the doomsday story is really popular. It’s a ratings winner. And it gets all the awards at Golden Globes time, where some crusty celebrity (who has taken the precious time to leave her gated community to condemn leaders who build walls) will shed a tear for what has become of the world, and to rage against the monsters who lead it.

Meanwhile, what didn’t make the papers is the story about the old guy who walked down the street whistling, a skip in his step, smiling at babies and the pretty girls he knew fully well he shouldn’t be smiling at (because, as all decent human beings living in this rape culture know, only perverts do such things). That old bastard was enjoying himself far too much to make the news.

So… there is that other story – or those other ten thousand stories. They are the tales that I prefer to listen to. They are stories driven by intentional optimism. And by life itself. Not by the spin of media and social media and their enraged audience.

Intentional optimsm is the decision to be fully present in the real world of experience. And the decision to stay there.

The price to pay is a small one. Tune out of the electronic news media and social media and learn how to be present to life.

But make no mistake, this other narrative is not a story of delusion (relatively speaking, as compared to the doomsday narrative that we have all come to know and love). It doesn’t deny evidence or data regarding global warming, rape or political extremism.  But neither does it get sucked into the collective projections of the masses, preferring grounded experience. Instead it makes a commitment to withdraw from the fear-driven narratives and their doomsday noosphere and to make lived presence and intentional optimism the basis of life, whereupon an entirely new world unfurls before us as if by cosmic grace. The painful pasts and fearful futures that obsess the minds of the many suddenly disappear, seen as the illusions that they typically are. Abstract narratives are eplaced by the fullness of life.

And what is it exactly that becomes real? It is whatever arises in the moment. It is the mother and her baby that you stop to smile at as you walk home. It is the song you choose to sing, regardless of who cares to listen. It is the tang of the orange upon your tastebuds as you bite the fruit.

And in such moments these things are often joyful. And enough.

Yet we all know life is not always “happy.” We all experience a full range of emotions, including fear, anger, sadness, guilt, shame and so on. Intentional optimism doesn’t reject those. It simply addresses their root cause and permits them their natural expression (perhaps crying if you are sad). If action is needed, such as acknowledging that loneliness is creating sadness, then one commits to such action (for example, developing more warm relationships). If addressed in such a way, all such feelings pass in time.

The best thing is that this other story that we can choose comes with a very different attitude, and typically a different experience of life. You don’t live in fear of expected doom. You don’t blame anyone or anything for what is missing. You are just thankful to be here, now. There is little need for affirmation, visualisation, or imploring prayer to the deity. Instead there are words that form spontaneously: “Thank you. I love you.” Such words have more power to transform the world than any social justice narrative one can possibly imagine.

Thus there is a generosity of spirit that seeks sharing of experience.

Will the world be here tomorrow? Will you and I be here tomorrow? To be honest, I just don’t know. But one day soon, and in but the blink of the cosmic eye, the sun will rise and both you and I will not be here. That is an absolute certainty.

”But Marcus!” I hear you say. “My world is going to hell and you just don’t care!”And you would be (mostly) right. Unless you are my wife, someone I’m directly involved with or some twerp knocking on my door trying to sell me some contraption I don’t need, your hell is none of my business. I can’t save you from your misery, and even if I could, I’m too busy having a good time of it to give it much thought.

So am I against social activism? Against seriously tackling political and ideological extremism? No. Not at all.  If we are to consider this from a spiritual perspective (and I realise most people won’t) an essential aspect of engaging such problems is the consciousness that underpins that activism. Social activism can be like the “liberalism” that often drives it. The latter is a nice idea, but not actually commonly practiced – not even by liberals. As far as I can tell a great number of social activists in 2017 are too busy being morally superior and beating up enemies to actually demonstrate the justice and compassion that their souls (and all our souls) call them to actualise.

Human societies need people to develop good ideas and sound policies to create preferred futures. That includes having to deal with the darker side of human nature and of human propensity. World and local leaders do have to deal with psychopaths, extremists and despots, including those within our societies. My main point here is that working at the essential foundation of problems – their expression of consciousness – can help all of us make more intelligent and wise decisions. It can enhance insight, where upon we can pull out of the psychic dramas that we are so prone to engage in if we do not bring things to full awareness. If we fail to assume responsibility for our fear-based projections, we may fail to tackle perhaps the most essential aspect of the problems we experience. We may end up creating conflict and suffering – a kind of self-fulling prophecy.

What I am saying is that the most logical attitude to take in this mad world, under most circumstances, is this. Stop judging and condemning everyone as stupid and immoral. Instead, give thanks, dance and celebrate this moment of existence that the cosmos has very generously granted you.

Yes. Let us give thanks. Let us forgive those fucking Trump supporters and those fucking libtards. But most of all, let’s love everyone and anyone who is so generous as to cross our paths and smile, who cares to talk to us or just be present with us for a moment in time. For this moment in time is all any of us have.

Who knows, maybe in a day or two I’ll be singing a song, dancing in the park with some old Chinese ladies here in Zhuhai (South China) or helping myself to a nice big piece of chocolate cake… and I will look up to the sky and see a large missile with a beaming image of our Dear Leaders Kim Jong Il or The Donald on the tail. There will be just enough to to think “What the fuck was that all about?” before every molecule in my body is incinerated. Maybe the Nazis really will ride into town upon their murderous tanks. Or perhaps the damn Commies will ride in upon black horses, with a bare-chested Vladimir Putin leading the way.

And that will be it.

But at least I’ll know that I stood by what was of the greatest importance for this spiritual journey as an individual, and for this human species. I will know that I refused to live in fear, anger and blame. Not even for a good cause. I will know I took the time to share a little joy and laughter with just a few other souls. All without charging a cent.

And that will be enough.

Marcus

 

 

Why Are You So Angry?

Social media is a good barometer of what lies within the collective human psyche. On the comments sections of blogs, news sites and web sites of all descriptions, the human population freely deposits the contents of their minds. Because many of these comments are anonymous, or delivered to people they don’t know and will never meet, people are more likely to be open about the thoughts that are actually running through their minds.

What then, is the most common mental state exhibited in the cyber world of today? The answer is straightforward. It is anger and blame.

People are angry at the government. They are angry at organisations. They are angry at those who disagree with them. And they are just plain pissed at the world.

This intrigues me, because the truth is that most of these angry people have never had it so good. For the most part, their lives are comfortable and free of physical threats. They are prosperous.

A century ago our ancestors had to walk to the local shop to get milk or ride a bicycle. The poor souls. Many unfortunate men died face down in the muck at the Battle of the Somme, screaming for their mothers as they sucked their last breath. And a century before that we had no penicillin and no antibiotics. Many people never made it much past forty. Most of the world’s population were peasants.

So what is it that people are so enraged about on social media today? Well, just looking through a few posts on my Facebook wall today, someone is angry people merely “tolerate” her kind. She wants real respect! Another is angry at Facebook because they apparently track people’s data. Then we have the usual rage at the stupid white man, Donald Trump. I don’t even remember the reason.

And then there is the person who is enraged because other people are enraged about a politically incorrect statement made by a left-leaning late-night talk show host who is normally enraged only at politically correct targets. But he slipped up this time. So the social justice warriors are now out to lynch him. Nobody is safe, it seems, from the anger of the masses.

Oh, the indignity of it all!

Step back for a moment and look at this clown show. Most of the teeth gnashing and projection of rage and shame is completely out of proportion with the issues that are being projected against.

More crucially, all this rage has made us forget how incredibly prosperous most of us actually are. We have lost the capacity for gratitude. In large part this is because media has become focused upon the darkness, and education has become focused on oppresssion and injustice. In the former case the intention is quite deliberate (to get you to click), while in the latter case the well-meaning leftist ideologies on human liberation have morphed into a hyper-critical obsession with oppression and injustice.

What you focus upon expands. It is a law of perception.

There is another reason why we should be grateful. We live in an age where we have masses of spare time, and where the amount of information and wisdom regarding psychological and spiritual well-being is at staggering levels. There is a veritable smorgasboard of professional and self-help wisdom available for anyone cognizant enough to turn on a smart phone or a computer. This humble blog is just one example.

Ultimately it comes down to this. There is one reason above all others why people are so angry today. They want more. They live in a society where gratitude has been forgotten, and where they are constantly reminded that they do not have enough. Are not enough.

The belief that you are not enough is psychological and spiritual suicde. The foundation of peace and presence is knowing that you are already enough. Already a magnificent being. And that you don’t have to become anything more. You don’t have to achieve anything. Your don’t even have to heal. Even as a wounded being, you are still an expression of universal perfection.

No, I am not saying you should not seek healing for your pain, nor that you should net seek to achieve, to create things that bring you or others joy and happiness. I am just saying that you are already enough. And nobody can actually take that perfection away from you. Not the government, not the conservatives, not the liberals. Not even Donald Trump.

You don’t need to be angry anymore. Not about these things. Sure, there are things and people that are justified causes of anger. But this post is not about those people and things.

Ironically, the human potential movement has inadvertently exacerbated the general sense of lack, the pervasive misery that defines much of life for so many of the people of today. Even as that same movement has granted people an expanded sense of possibility, it has instilled a sense of entitlement in many. Many people begin with a subtle belief that the world owes them a living, that just by being here they are entitled to things. But that is not how the world works.

We see this most notably in the university students protesting that professors are not granting them safe spaces, while believing that any given obstacle they encounter, any given failure, is the result of the actions of an oppressive other (usually another race, gender, sexual orientation, social construct or ideology). This may lead to a delusional mindset which lacks reflection and personal accountability. It is fundamentally infantile.

You better figure that one out, and quickly.

The actions required to shift towards gratitude and away from a scarcity mentality are simple. Give thanks for what you have on a daily basis. Remove your focus from the locales which support a culture of blame, shame and lack. Be present to the world and to others. Gratitude and love are spontaneous states of consciousness which emerge from presence. You don’t even have to try.

Of course, many of us will choose to keep being angry at things that are fleeting and illusory. And that, too, is our right. But what is the price that we will pay? The cost is our connection to this perfect moment in time. To our peace. To the love and gratitude that is our essential nature.

At an even deeper level, many of us have a deep-seated rage at God and the world, a destructive anger which leads us to reject the world, its people and our very lives. This is true even for many who do not consciously believe in God. That will be the subject of my next post.

Marcus

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Master of the Mind, Champion of the Soul

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Listening to the Monsters

What if instead of trying to change others who hold different views, we simply chose to listen to them? I mean, just stopped telling others what they should be thinking and feeling, and were just present with them? What if the goal was not to change others, but simply to understand them? How might our own ideas and opinions change, including our perception of those others? How would the world change, and our relationship to it?

Liberalism, as was classically defined, was about inviting others into our space. It was about empathy and compasssion. It wasn’t necessarily about agreeing with them, nor ignoring their shortcomings or any relevant problems. But it wasn’t about labelling and condemning them. It was about listening. Can we really say that we have a healthy “liberal” discourse today? Are we really listening to others?

In the past few weeks I have seen quite a few idealistic folks imploring their social media friends to join them in spreading “the word.” The main idea is that these are extraordinary times, and this requires extraordinary action.

I have not heard a single person inviting others to listen to those they disagree with.

In fact, in the age of social media personalisation algorithms, many people are simply unaware of what that “other” side thinks or feels. This is because their voices are never heard. Or, on the rare occasions they are heard, they are not listened to.

I have never identified with a particular political party, but I have definitely identified with classical liberal ideals. I still do. I am an advocate of freedom and equality, including equality of responsibility. But I would not call myself a “liberal” in the current political climate. What I see coming from liberal commentators in the media and liberal media today typically violates classical liberal ideals. There is almost no desire to listen or empathise, nor to create spaces for open communication. Typically, current liberal discourse dehumanises any individual who disagrees with any of the tenets of leftist progressivism, by labelling them fascists, racists, sexists and so on. This has driven a vast gap into our political discourse. And in doing so “liberalism” has shot itself in the foot.

We see fascists everywhere.

I am not going to outline all those liberal tenets here. But let me just say that even as it preaches tolerance of race, gender, sexual preference and so on, today’s “liberalism” is typically intolerant of ideological, philosophical and political diversity. It often crushes dissent via a culture of blame, shame and fear, reminiscent of Maoist China. Most problematic is that in many left-leaning media outlets, free space is given to individuals who are extremely intolerant and even violent in their dialogue. Probematically, these same outlets often censor any criticism of this intolerant dialogue.

Needless to say, this says nothing about the role that the political right is playing in all this. But if even “liberalism” cannot find the capacity to listen, we shouldn’t expect to find such a capacity elsewhere.

Still, there are indeed plenty of moderate thinkers on both sides of the political divide (which is not so black and white, at any rate). But they are increasingly marginalised. In part this is self-censorship, as the consequences for dissent within this system can be swift and permanent. The power in our universities and much of the media lies with the left, so the left has a special role to play in correcting the current imbalance.

Jonathan Haidt is a sensible and considered voice on how this tribal political division has come about. He argues that we do not have much “liberalism” today. He prefers the term “illiberalism,” because the left has betrayed its own ideological roots. He too invites us to begin listening. To be more humble.

What would happen if you took a week, or even a month away from your favourite media outlets and commentators? What if you stopped posting on the internet and instead tuned in to listen to those who hold different opinions from you? Perhaps you might find the monsters aren’t so monstrous. They might even turn out to be human.

This is exactly what I have done in the past six months or so, and it’s why I have posted far less on this site, and other social media outlets. I feel I have a much greater empathy with those I once disagreed with, as well as a greater appreciation for the kinds of criticisms that I once saw as “wrong.” Perhaps the young Asian man in the video below is someone you would never normally listen to. It might be a good start. But don’t let me limit your choices.