Marcus T Anthony
Most of you who read this are committed to some kind of psychological or spiritual process which you believe enhances your life. You probably like to think the world is also a better place for your doing this self-reflective work. Given this, let’s take this fantastic opportunity to expand our minds, hearts and souls. You might not share my idea of fields of consciousness. If so, just think “cultural mindset” or meme. It doesn’t really matter.
You know that there is a great opportunity for expanded wisdom and consciousness whenever your buttons get pushed. And these past few days there have been buttons pushed so hard they are melting. My social media pages have been doused in outrage after the result of the Brexit referendum.
Most of my friends are liberals. I adhere neither to modern liberalism, nor to conservatism, but I am attracted to the spirit of liberalism (You will find out what I mean by that as you read on). Despite my attraction to liberalism, it is obvious to me that much of what passes for liberalism in the modern world is actually conservatism dressed up as the former. There is an inherent degree of intolerance and bigotry which is commonly being expressed. Many liberals are inflexible, and deeply attached to ideals that they will not allow themselves to examine critically. If we really want to embody the spirit of liberalism, we need to admit that this is happening, and avoid being pulled into the wake of this ship of foolish people.
What is the spirit of liberalism? All ideals have an inherent consciousness field. In the case of the liberal ideal that mindset is typified by love, acceptance, compassion, equality, generosity and peace. It is no coincidence that these are also associated with the higher stages of consciousness evolution. Of awakening – or enlightenment, if you prefer.
Although conservatism is not intrinsically “bad,” it tends to be correlated with consciousness structures which resonate at a lower level. Moderate forms of conservatism can be quite “enlightened.” Yet far-right conservatism is associated with the very lowest expressions of consciousness: fear, intolerance, greed, projection of rage and shame.
No doubt your buttons are already being pushed – if not detonated – if you are a conservative, while liberals are nodding in agreement. Yet the truth is that liberalism has increasingly fallen to the far-left in recent times, and has also become infused with lower expressions of consciousness: fear, intolerance and irresponsible projection of shame and rage. It has become destructive.
The outrage that is being expressed after the Brexit vote is a wonderful opportunity for us to acknowledge this problem, and correct it if we so desire.
My Facebook page contains numerous examples I could put forward. One FB friend posted a map of Great Britain, highlighted in red and blue according to whether specific regions were “leave” or “stay” areas. He wrote: “Now at least we know where all the bigots, racists and fascists live. Let’s share this so that everyone will know.” Not surprisingly, some people who live in those places responded angrily to his update. So what motivated this post? What is the energy structure, the agenda that sits behind it? The answer is that it is the projection of shame; and shame is perhaps the lowest expression of consciousness.
The following poster has also been widely circulated on social media. Take a look at it.
Again, the essential expression is the projection of shame. It also recreates many of the problems that liberalism is supposed to stand against. It stereotypes the other, asking us to rage against a monolithic evil other who have to be eliminated. The actual point being made is naively simplistic, since it is unclear how many British people are critical of immigrants. Given that nearly half the voters elected to “stay”, it seems likely that well over half the population does not hold the said view. Further, nobody living in Britain today did any colonising. Those people are long dead. Many Brits did not even have ancestors in Britain during the colonial age. Huge numbers are from families that immigrated to Britain in the past century or so, including from ex-colonies.
Most notably, neither of the cases above systematically addresses any of the issues associated with the Brexit debate. They are not analytical nor considered. They are irresponsible projections, dragging all concerned down towards base expressions of consciousness.
So there are important things to be considered in this referendum. I have said that the expression of consciousness is important. Is the system also important? Yes, of course. But the level of consciousness that people bring to it is more important. For example, it is difficult to imagine a peaceful and integrated society emerging in the society we saw in industrial revolution England. Workers, women, and children were disenfranchised and exploited. Many men were terribly exploited too. The elderly were often put into labour camps if they had nowhere to live, where they usually soon died from exhaustion and depression. This was not a society where higher states of consciousness can easily flourish.
So which would be better for mind-soul expansion in Britain: leave the EU, or stay? I will just mention a few considerations here.
The answer may not be as simple as some liberals think, because big government can be hegemonic, striping people and cultures of their individual expressions. There is an argument that big business and the multi-nationals are benefiting most from the EU project, while the lower classes are being left off the map. It is these lower classes who tended to vote against it. In England, their lives were being increasingly controlled by a far-distant entity in Brussels, whom they had little connection with, or understanding of. In fact, there is strong evidence that this is the way the entire world is being structured. Wealth is being channeled into the hands of fewer and fewer people.
The liberal ideal is what lies behind the idea of the EU. A united Europe can potentially move consciousness beyond the dangers of nationalism and racism, and away from the tribalism seen during the World Wars. In its ideal expression, there is long-lasting peace and prosperity, with people free to travel across borders and mingle with whomever they desire. Trade barriers can be a thing of the past.
Yet there is the concern that a monolithic, centralised European government is a contradiction to the plural society.
There is an important consideration in all of this. Technologies and the internet are rendering centralised government less important. City-states may eventually replace nations as the most important economic and political entities. National boundaries are more fluid, regardless of what government we sit under. Kevin Kelly points this out in his excellent new book, The Inevitable. In the rage against the Brexit vote, maybe we are missing the big picture. Decentralisation of big government does not necessarily lead to fascism, racism, war. In fact the exact opposite may occur.
It all depends upon the expression of consciousness which we bring to the system. Whether there is an EU or not is not the most important thing. Both scenarios can have positive or dystopian expressions.
What consciousness will you bring to the subject?
Shaming the other
Shame can control people, but it can never heal. Shame is one of the most base levels of human consciousness, associated with worthlessness, guilt and self-loathing. It seeks to diminish or annihilate the other. The archetypal embodiment of shame is to be on one’s hands and knees, grovelling. This is the energy structure which you are attempting to pose on the other when you shame them.
There is another problem. Even if the shame is successful in controlling the other, that control will not last. The movement of consciousness evolution is towards gradually higher levels of expression. Thus if you shame someone and they assume the grovelling position, one day they will inevitably rise up through anger – and you had better watch your back.
Anger is of a higher energy than shame. Anger is actually empowering for those stuck in shame and guilt. Gandhi, MLK and Mandela employed anger responsibly (usually). But these men all embodied higher expressions of consciousness. Unfortunately, anger employed at a lower level of consciousness can be destructive. It wants to hit out, to beat, to kill, to destroy. If you shame most people, you don’t get Gandhian peaceful non-resistance (Satyagraha). You get a punch in the face. You get “F.ck you!” This is the inevitable response from many of the British who voted leave. And it is why shaming them is merely pouring petrol on to the fire. Shaming them is a stupid, destructive and infantile response.
Would any of the three great men above have responded to the Brexit vote in the way many outraged people have in the past few days? What would they have done?
The victim game
As I wrote above, the modern liberal tradition is founded upon noble sentiments. Compassion, inclusion, integration, equality. These are all noble ideals. They represent higher levels of consciousness. However, there can be problems with the way we seek to implement these ideals.
It is not possible to be truly compassionate at certain lower levels of awareness and consciousness. This is particularly so when we are coming from the victim state.
Perhaps the greatest obstacle to human consciousness evolution and awakening at this time is the victim mindset. The mental position can take very clear forms, such as when people lament “”Poor me!” “The world is so cruel!” “Look what they did to me!”
And liberalism as it exists today is trapping many in the victim state.
The victim consciousness field is of a low vibration. It lacks the willingness to introspect or assume responsibility for its mental or life experiences. Blame represents its essential relationship with the world, and with the other. Self-pity and the projection of rage and hatred are its natural expressions. It is apathetic, unwilling to move.
There is a payoff for all this, of course. One gets to reside in a self-made story with “me” as the star. The star victim, that is. It’s an easy ride. One does not have to do much. In fact, doing something may be undesirable, as this could shift the narrative, bringing the individual into unknown territories. Fear, uncertainty and the possibility of failure then emerge. So many simply choose to remain in victim.
The victim game always comes with an agenda, and that agenda is usually to shame and establish moral superiority (status) over the other.
A related problem is that identity politics tends to impose victim and persecutor narratives upon entire groups. The intention is a good one – to get the society to take note of past and present oppressions, such that the dark story does not repeat itself. Ideally, the oppression ends and the victim and oppressor can then be equals.
The problem is that some groups identify very strongly with the victim identity they are assigned. They may develop a deep collective apathy, blaming others for their situation, refusing to take responsibility for their situation. Outsiders may see this, but identity politics prevents the truth from being spoken. In fact the truth is often punished. To point out that an oppressed group has developed a regressive consciousness structure is to invite immediate criticism, even ostracism. So the victim narrative often goes unchallenged. Meanwhile the “persecutor” group begins to feel aggrieved. They are blamed and shamed for the situation. They become angry, resentful. Aspects of victim consciousness may then break out in that second group. “”We are the real victims here!”
The agenda of the victim is to retain victim status while shaming the other so that all remain trapped in the narrative, at lower levels of consciousness expression. This is not smart.
What we are seeing in Europe is following this narrative (and also with the rise of Donald Trump). Many lower class white people have not prospered under the current system. They not only do not get the goodies, they are told they are bad people. Middle class whites may engage in virtue signalling, shaming their own people (in reality the disgruntled, silenced lower classes).
Morality is the preferred weapon of choice for modern liberalism. These people are good, those people are bad. What he is doing is right, what she is doing is wrong. Again, there is a noble motivation in this, but individuals given status within the system tend to take this position and assume moral superiority over others. The result? You guessed it? Shame and blame. “You are a racist, bigot, fascist!” So we are back to square one as the system stagnates at lower expressions of consciousness. Healing and resolution are impossible.
No doubt many of you reading this are already steaming at the ears. No matter which group you belong to, you probably either see yourself as being right, or being the victim. The real victim, that is.
A possible solution
What can be done about all this? Should we scrap the whole system and just say “”Everyman for himself?” “Everywoman for herself?”
The only genuine way to address what is happening while elevating our consciousness is for us to introspect, and to examine the shadow. The shadow is our unexpressed and often unacknowledged darkness: rage, shame, guilt and so on.
Once the shadow is seen, then what? The answer is that we gently and loving develop a relationship with it. If we judge the shadow (shame it) it will not heal, and it will tend to run amok. This is why shaming entire groups is counter-productive. It locks all into a base level of consciousness.
When we integrate the shadow our consciousness expands. The light we bring to the darkness is healing. That light attracts more light, more prosperity. It is its own reward.
Given that the existence of the shadow is not well understood in today’s world, and that the work required can be frightening and demanding, it is not likely that your school or organisation is going to be embracing these ideas anytime soon. We will have to do the work ourselves.
Now, you might protest. “What about me and my people! We are oppressed! We were raped, murdered, humiliated! F.ck you and your privilege!” Well, that is an acceptable choice on a universal level. God is not going to punish you. Your tormented consciousness field will be its own punishment.
I am not telling anybody what to do. That is not how it works at this level. People can be invited, but they must not be coerced to do this kind of work.
You can work in groups. Many (including me) have done this, and it can be very tough work: highly vulnerable, naked, frightening; yet uplifting stuff. When I worked with my group we had a very deeply introspective process. We learned to channel each other’s shadows: the hidden parts within. Can you imagine being totally vulnerable and transparent before other men and women, unable to hide anything from them? It was often terrifying.
In fact such nakedness is how we are before God, and also before higher spiritual entities. They can see right through us. There are no privacy laws with spirit!
Alternatively, you might simply prefer to work with a single teacher. This may be suitable for those who find the group exposure too much.
Ultimately you will be able to do it yourself, at will. The work is actually quite simple. Just allow all that is within you to express itself. Give it a voice. Let it rant and rave and bawl. Lovingly witness it all without judgment. Don’t believe a word of what the shadow says, just feel its pain. The emotionality is the only thing that is real here. Then return to presence.
We are all liberals, all conservatives
The truth is that in a certain sense all of us are both liberals and conservatives.
We are conservatives in that we want our mental narratives to remain unchallenged. Our biological hardware has evolved to detect threat and danger at a physical level. However, over the last few thousand years we human beings developed an extensive and abstract mental world. Now that same survival-inclined biological function is employed in the mental realm. We are on the alert for mental threats, those who might annihilate our opinions, beliefs and ideals. There is an innate tendency to strike out against them. So it makes no difference whether you support the EU or are against it. Your mental hardware will tend to defend against – and attack – those who disagree with your ideas.
Yet in the end we are all liberals, too. Love, compassion, forgiveness, and peace are natural expressions of our higher states of being. This is true even if you wear a tattoo of Putin, Trump or Tony Abbott. All people seek love and acceptance, and ultimately peace.
So it is true that the ideals of liberalism represent higher psycho-spiritual states than that of the cognitive functions that tend to underpin conservatism. But as I have shown, another truth is that modern liberalism can easily become self-deceptive, wrapping darkness up to look like it is the light. And what we might consider to be conservative ideals (at least some of them) can also be held by those with expanded consciousness. For example, being entrepreneurial and money-oriented is neither intrinsically good nor bad. The healthy expression of the conservative mindset is typified by willpower, individualism courage, determination, generosity and future-vision. Its negative expression is what gets the bad press: segregation, xenophobia, selfishness, materialism, disdain for and violence against the other.
You see, the mental world is somewhat limited. We like to see things in black and white. The EU is good. The EU is bad. Those who oppose it are bad conservatives. They are fascists and racists. Those who support it are naïve liberals. And so on.
Any ideal can be infused with the energy of “fascism”. And modern liberalism is not immune from this consciousness structure.
If we consider ourselves to be genuinely committed to higher expressions of consciousness, we have to begin to loosen attachments to ideals, and instead learn to read the energy of people and situations. Words can deceive. Therefore the acknowledgement of the consciousness expression contained within an individual, group or idea should be the first consideration. Only then should we determine whether the speaker’s ideas and actions are aligned with those ideals. If we do not do this, if we espouse liberal ideals while our minds are infused with rage and blame, we are spiritual frauds. Spiritual fraudulence is common. We all do it. This is because of the nature of mind.
To minimise the power of mental projections over us, we can apply the following means.
- Acknowledge that your feelings are the primary evidence of your consciousness state. Your thoughts and words are secondary, so learn not to identify with them. If you are speaking words of love and tolerance while all you want to do is strangle the other person, the truth is that in that moment you are out of alignment and frauding. Take a little time to centre yourself, or better still, just pull out of the situation if you can.
- Do not engage other people’s projections, or at least minimise your exposure to them. If you repeatedly stare into the mental projections of others, you will become lost there. Never forget this. At a practical level, stay away from emotional projectors on social media, or in the real world. Whether they are conservative or liberal, or agree or disagree with you is irrelevant.
- Make presence your default state of being. Learn to connect with your body and breath so that you can return to presence at will. Then you will be able to pull out of dramas and projection exchanges immediately, when you choose. This is where your true power lies.
How to be a conscious liberal
The reason I have become increasingly critical of modern liberalism is because it is often about projection of the shadow. It often creates hierarchies which permit shame and blame to be projected at some groups, while forbidding the same to be done to others. In other words, it is now recreating many of the problems it has sought to alleviate.
The principles of liberal tradition are noble, and represent higher stages of consciousness. But they cannot be forced upon people. They emerge naturally when one embraces the shadow and assumes responsibility for one’s emotional life. This is the key to the true unification of Europe, and of the human species. Not the policing of borders and the outlawing of thoughts and opinions, but in the natural flowering of connection that deep presence permits. The border might be open and the foreigners may be pouring through, but if we cannot be present with them and see beyond our mental frameworks and narratives, we can never truly receive them.
How does this work in practice? Presence is the key. When you are present and in a state of deep connection with the body and the place where you find yourself in the moment, you are automatically free of the narrative of your mind and your past. This includes the past of your people. But are you willing to let that go? There may be deep attachments to such identities – as well as the narratives you personally adhere to and impose upon others. If it is a victim narrative, you might ask, “Why should the other people just get away with it without paying?” (You have just identified a revenge drama). If you identify as part of a persecutor group you might say, “It’s our fault. We can’t just walk away from this!” (Self-flagellation founded on guilt).
Now that I have said all this, the reality is that it is important for our societies to acknowledge the unresolved energy structures within them. There is something somewhat similar to the idea of collective karma which seeks resolution. There are bio-fields embedded within societal dramas; deep pools of emotional energy that remain locked into the collective shadow of peoples, cultures and countries.
What is to be done about this? The answer is that it is the same as what needs to be done with the healing of your personal emotional body. You feel and witness the shadow without judgment, loving it, allowing it to be what it is. When we release judgment, blame and guilt, we transcend the karma. Given that these emotions and attitudes tend to arise within the mind periodically, there may be a need to observe them more than once. They may not simply go away. You just have to be responsible, much in the same way a parent has to look after a troublesome child.
Then there will be socially responsible actions that need to be taken by governments and citizens to ensure the wrongs of the past are acknowledged and addressed.
Unfortunately, unless you are a black, transgender, sexually abused dwarf with a disability, there are times when you will be identified as part of a persecutor group. Worse still, some people will abuse the situation to attack you and your group. Yet if you approach this mindfully, you will acknowledge the truth behind narrative, even as you refuse to buy into any “drama” that is associated with it. Compassion (rather than anger) will tend to follow.
Once we assume responsibility for the shadow, many of the same liberal policies and ideals which may have been applied unconsciously or imperfectly will automatically be applied more responsibly, and at a higher level of consciousness expression. Healing will follow naturally.
Do we really need a centralised government in Europe? In the world? Truthfully, it might help in many ways. It may help economically, in terms of facilitating free movement around the globe, in the exchange of cultures and ideas… Yet all these things can still remain even if governments are less centralised. And as humanity awakens more, there will be less requirement for control and power organisations like the EU.
If all parties simply assume responsibility for their projections, regardless of race, sex, nationality or station in life, Europe and Great Britain (and the world) will eventually unite as a New Earth, as Eckhart Tolle might call it. Whether your government sits in Brussels or closer to home will not be that important. No government can remove the power of an individual or group that is committed to awakening.
So it is that you don’t have to wait for any government to give you permission to release your story and embrace presence. You can also release your idealism. You won’t be needing that. All you have to do is have a high enough intention, and also have the understanding of the process required. Then follow through and do the work.
Are you ready, willing and able?
The fact that it is so very difficult to offer any critique of the problems within western liberalism without being targeted for “punishment” by that system is evidence that it has become a kind of hegemony in itself. Most sensible people avoid challenging political correctness. Any attempt to challenge the dominant narrative on racism, sexism, discrimation and so on can incur swift and dramatic consequences for the worse.
If policies are implemented at the systems level without a congruent shift in consciousness, many people will tend to return to the very behaviours and attitudes the policies seek to change. There is an obvious self-contradiction in employing a process with inherant intellectual violence to try to dissuade people from being intellectually violent.
Many of the problems we are witnessing today with the rise of conservative sentiments may be insolvable at the level of mind. This is what we are seeing with the backlash against liberalism, as evidenced by the relative success of conservative politicians like Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump and recently with Tony Abbott in Australia.
I believe that the problem is not just the internet or social media, as some have argued. Nor is it that all conservatives are simply stupid. The conservative backlash emerges from the inherant violence of the mind, something that no enforced liberal “machinery” is going to shift, as long as the policies merely target the human intellect.
What we are seeing is the limit of the idea that all you need are more rules and more education and more policies to shift things. Many people are rebelling against political correctness and against not being able to speak their truth.
A good example occured in the news here in Australia yesterday. According to a Fairfax media report, a caucasian student at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia is being sued by an Indigenous worker after he complained on Facebook about being removed from a computer lab. The room had been reserved for Indigenous students (but not signposted as such). According to the article, his error was in criticising the university policy for “segregating” students according to race. There is no evidence that he used any abusive or racist language, yet he is being sued under the racial discrimination act.
Clearly, both parties identify themselves as victims. The caucasian student believes that he has been discriminated against by being forcibly removed from a university space because of his race – then being labeled a racist and sued for criticising the system. We may assume that the indigenous worker feels she is the victim because of the long history of racial discrimination in Australia. By my estimation, both have legitimate grievances. The problem is that at the level of mind, each sees the other as the oppressor, and they are hitting out against the perceived enemy. This is a strong tendency of the human mind, one most likely it is rooted in our biology, our evolution.
Modern liberalism has the unintended consequence of encouraging people to identify with narratives of oppression. It encourages many to be angry, and to blame others and the system. This is despite the fact that the ideals of liberalism are well-intended. They appeal to justice and equality for all. Yet human beings prefer the victim identity to that of the oppressor. When the system labels them the bully, they get angry and lash out. When they are labelled the victim, there is a tendency for them to assume an attitude of moral superiority and to project shame at the “oppressors.” The accused then hit back, and round and round we go on the carousel of postmodernity.
What is to be done about this?
I have a suggestion which I believe would greatly diminish the tendency for mental projections to escalate into intellectual and sometimes physical violence. What if both parties in the QUT conflict had the capacity to witness the contents of their own minds, including the narratives of power and oppression which emerge from their worldviews? What if mindful reflection was their initial response, a state initiated before any further mental attitudes or physical actions took place?
Based on the Fairfax media report it appears neither the caucasian student nor the Indigenous worker have the skills (or intention) to assume responsibility for their projections.
The current Neo-liberal system encourages the Indigenous worker to pursue an unnecessarily aggressive action (litigation) against a person who is merely criticising a university policy. Once societies begin to become tightly controlled by such liberal ideas they tend to re-establish an hegemonic narrative, and those who challenge the narrative get punished (mostly they just stay silent). The presence of Donald Trump is in part a reaction to the powerlessness that a certain segment of the American population (mostly working class) feels under such a system. Is this one of the factors which leads them to reject the liberalism?
Meditators and practitioners of deep presence know from personal experience that the majority of human confict and “drama” emerges from mental projections. Yes, there is such a thing as “the good fight.” Yet the desire to fight an “other” is often completely unnecessary. Instead we can either walk away or engage the other in presence. Presence bypasses the hostility the mind tends to generate when it sees itself as being wronged.
Whatever legal or practical systems we lay down to solve the problems within our institutions and societies, none will ever be perfect. There will always be people who are inconvenienced or wronged, even by the most well-intentioned policies. Indeed, as a friend of mine used to say, solutions are problematic. It is irrational to believe that policies in themselves will ever resolve all human conflict. Yet what would greatly assist us as we all live and interact within such systems is the ability to be present to the mind and it’s projections. It would cut out the drama, leaving us with more time and energy to address the problems that are truly important. Is being asked to leave the Indigenous computer lab really that important? Does having your lab policy criticised on Facebook really require the racial discrimination act to be invoked? What about most of the things we get worked up about each day? I will leave it up to the reader to decide for yourself the answers to these questions.
Extreme liberalism can be just as hegemonic as extreme conservatism. Both represent a kind of intellectual violence, and that often escalates into more overt forms of violence. Both ideologies tend to operate under the imperatives of the mind.
I believe that if all people had the simple capacity for embodied presence and to be able to witness the projections of the mind, the ideals of liberalism would follow naturally. Then there would be no need for the enforced hegemony liberalism has come to represent for many.
In my ideal world, both liberals and conservatives would introspect to acknowledge to what degree they have become attached to an inflexible and intolerant worldview. They would then be able to assume responsibility for the intellectual violence that their projections create.
But how can this be done? This blog post is not the place for such practical details. More about that later. But I will grant one hint. You won’t transcend the current system by surfing the comments pages of most social media sites and firing off angry responses to other people’s online projections.
I am under no illusions that mindful attention will automatically solve all world problems. Nor should we desist with implementing sensible “liberal” policies to help address the problems we see in the world. Policy can help illuminate the dark spaces where inequality and injustice reside. Yet I believe a greater capacity for mindful attention can make a real difference in the way people respond to such policies, in real life situations.