Once we discover violence within, we may begin to observe the whole system of social conditioning; and perhaps we will recognize how punishment has been observed as another synonym of “justice.”
In general, in our society punishment is the settlement of an offense made by someone. Punishment increases, as the offense is deemed to be “worse.” Laws are in charge of judging the severity of those offenses, but the bottom line is that “eye for eye and tooth for tooth” still remains as the principle of retribution to compensate for a loss.
That principle of punishment is so ingrained in our society that even religions preaching peace, brotherhood, and forgiving another’s offense use the principle of punishment quite often in their philosophies and beliefs. Even “God” could be depicted as a vengeful being who supports a particular land or people over another.
Looking at the penal system in the world, we could see a wide variety of beliefs and approaches: From the popular “If you do the crime, you do the time” to a more restorative and rehabilitative system where the inmate is treated with dignity and high hopes to make him part of society again. The correctional system in Norway is well known for the later.
It could be easy to point out that the level of overall violence existing in a country, is proportional to the type of punishment that they will support. Violence uses punishment as another way of reciprocal violence under the label of “justice.”
When the collective consciousness is continuously fed with violence, there will be manifestation of it and retaliation in the form of punishment. It is interesting to look into this, for we could perceive how our conditioning will make us behave in violent ways even with our closest relatives and friends. When others do not behave according to our expectations, punishment is used to bring that person into compliance, although; our understanding of “fairness” and “justice” is biased by conditioning.
Someone stole a widget from a store. He could be penalized with jail time, a fine or even to chop that hand off. Very few will go into a way to rehabilitate that person and understand his circumstances. Who has the time in a busy society? Fear is the tool used to discourage the person from recidivism.
To understand punishment means to look into our own inner violence. That is the starting point. Someone harming another may be mentally ill or circumstances may be pushing that person. Rehabilitation is a more humane way to deal with violence.
If someone murders a close loved relative like your sibling, and you know who that person is; Wouldn’t avenging that person be the right action? Why is there the belief that by taking the life of the individual murdering a loved one, things will be even?
I could say through experience, that to deal with inner feelings of vengeance is the challenging part. That literally will poison us. Our inner violence will exacerbate and manifest. That is the hardest part. Vengeance cannot bring a loved one back, but it can destroy our own life; for our own violence will be completely unleashed and self destructive.
A “spiritual” person knows that we cannot take “justice” in our own hands. Humans do not have the power to decide over someone’s life and if we pretend to have it, consequences will be experienced. We know that Life is a gift, however; Life and Death are together. We can thank our parents for giving us Life as we have been told, but we forget that through that Life, there will be the experience of Death as well.
Life has its own “justice system,” which is not human: It never forgets and arrives at the “right time.” All we may need to be aware of, is what we keep in our hearts. If we keep the poison of vengeance, then the trauma that we will inflict into ourselves will make our life miserable. The emotion urging us to “get even” is the mind with its own conditioning, learned through living in a violent social system: “An eye for an eye.” Thus, we have the responsibility to look into this as we could experience the poison of vengeance.
We say “forgive and forget.” That is not for “normal” humans; but for those who are willing to go beyond their own little selves and open up their hearts to any experience that Life may bring. Experiences will not always be pleasant for we live in the world of duality; but for sure, those experiences will be exactly what we need to experience. This is not a matter of “luck” but destiny. It is not punishment but a test for growth. It is up to us to make it a lesson or a trauma.
There is a significant amount of information dealing on how to control thoughts, negative thoughts, destructive thoughts, etc. It is conspicuous, that most individuals are dealing in one way or another with mental issues.
There was one talk I heard on “Youtube” promising to stop negative thoughts by using a simple “technique,” a “method of self-inquiry” easy to remember.
These talks or books on controlling the mind have “methods,” “techniques,” which are mind constructs. In simple words: Stop your mind by using your mind. It is the battle of dividing the mind into two sides, the “good” controlling mind over the “bad” misbehaving one. Is that fictitious division possible? Only in our minds.
Perhaps many individuals are interested in “easy methods” to stop even for a little while their abusive minds. Yes, we can force ourselves to “remember” something such as a mantra, a phrase, even “God,” and experience that our rush of thoughts, have diminished or stopped. However, such person still has mental issues, those are still unchanged. The mind represented by the “I” is being forced to comply to what it has established itself to be “good,” desirable.
I find the same “methodology,” when men are looking to “improve” their sex performance (last longer.) They may find information in the Taoist tradition or in Tantra; but many are not interested in exploring the extent of those traditions; they just want the “method,” the “technique” for sex right away. That is another characteristic of an ill mind: Forget the process and cut to the bone, for “I” want results now; whereas Life works through gradual natural changes.
Nevertheless, the “I” has found a problem and wants the “solution” now. This practice of forcing an outcome in ourselves without looking at the big picture, is detrimental to our well being.
What is the “big picture”? The mind and sexuality are not isolated manifestations in a human being, there is interrelation. Those changes happen according to the level of consciousness of an individual, what he IS. Those are mere consequences of BEING something thanks to psychological traumas, repressions and violence as such; any self-study, any self-observation and acknowledgement of the whole human experience will bring change.
Otherwise; individuals may find a temporary solution but that is a bandage in a deep wound. Can a disturbed mind find a solution by using that same mind? No.
How not to use the mind then? That question may change our approach. Let us meet Awareness. There is not much that I can say about it, or to define it, but we could try a brief description.
When we become conscious on how our mind moves, what triggers it and how the mind relates with emotions and feelings. Those are “steps” in awareness.
Most do not want to bother with this self-study, but rather want for someone to give them the “answer,” the “technique,” the “method” and follow it, hoping to “solve” the particular issue. At least, that is the theory.
The mind is not an object to be defined. There is nothing concrete about the mind other than the fact that we experience it on a daily basis. I could read a self-help book on how someone dealt with his ill mind, but there are many blanks in that explanation that we will need to discover ourselves. Self-awareness, observation are the main “tools” for that. There are no shortcuts when dealing with our inner world.
If we are not aware, we will totally identify with the contents of the mind, going from “my” mind to finally completely identifying with it, and saying: “I.” It is that small step in identification, the one offering more problems to us.
In my own experience, the best setting to start our own mind observation is Nature. We may need the supporting environment and sensory upliftment brought by Nature. Outside the world of “progress and madness,” we could take our minds away from its dull, repetitive environment and that newness will allow us to sense better what is going on.
Emotions are expressed in our bodies but the mind triggers the recognition; thus emotions are strongly related with the mind. However, feelings are pretty distinct. Take the feeling of joy or peace. Those are states of BEING which are not necessarily related with the mind.
It is in the experience of feelings how the mind could be recognized and left aside.
I discovered benefit in listening to music without lyrics, instrumental music.
That will bring feelings. The mind has no opportunity to enter in the appreciation of music unless we compare, or if we try to explain or describe the sounds through words. Lyrics in music will bring words and consequently, the mind.
Most are so disconnected with actual feeling, believing that they are feeling when in fact it is the mind processing words and describing a feeling to itself to make us believe that we feel. The well known phrase: “I THINK I love you,” speaks for itself. How is love related with thinking? Can the mind ever know what love, a feeling is?
Reasoning kills our feelings. Thus, the mind kills our feelings. Without being able to feel; there is no opportunity to go beyond the mind.
The question: “Are you happy?” May seem something intelligent to ask, but the first question over that question is: “What do you mean by happy?”
“Happy” may seem for many as the state of elation and bubbly-ness portrayed by actors in some TV commercials. For others, it may be a state of contentment in life: Something “healthy” were the ups- and- downs are taken in stride and the person is ready to move on, while looking forward to the future.
The first thing to observe is that such a state is not permanent. It is short lived for most. Some may say that they know a particular “saint” who was living in continuous bliss day after day. I am not talking about people with the ability to BE in a different dimension, in some trance. Although those people are physically here, their consciousness is in another place. Probably a “happy dimension.” I am referring only to this state of duality, this “reality.” Secondly, when that state which we label as “happy” is not, then what remains? Unhappy? Yes, by definition. However, in “reality” there could be many things in between.
The world of duality doesn’t allow for some state to “always” be there, but whatever is experienced and the intensity of it, will also be experienced in the opposite side; that is how some “religious” individuals came up with the idea to avoid pleasure in order not to experience pain. In theory that sounds great, while in “reality” that is utopia.
It is interesting to observe that humans ask such questions as if the feeling (happy) or the emotion was something that could be caught in a word, defined. No wonder many individuals experience the word to be the thing.
“Yes, I am happy.” (Even though, miserably content in mediocrity by living the same old thing, day after day, some may confess afterwards.) Routine brings that sensation of “happiness.” That sensation is all we have, then to equate that to the label “happy,” will make us think that we have arrived. The magic of words.
Are you happy? “Yes, but I still need to reach some important goals in my Life.” That person is equating reaching goals with happiness. That sort of individual is caught up in “HAVING” things as proof of happiness.
“If you are happy, happy, happy clap your hands”… That is the DOING person, the “success” story.
But the million dollar question is: “How do you know if you are happy?” A very silly question indeed. Nevertheless; people want to know, which ones are the “signs” of happiness, for them to use the “happy” word and proudly define themselves as “happy.”
Have we observed that so far we have been exercising our minds to try to figure out an “ideal”?
The ideal is “happy.” The figuring out comes through the questions: Are you that? How to get there? Why do you feel happy? Where to get happiness? What are the signs? When do you become happy? Which is greater happiness, this or that?
All of that is completely, utterly senseless.
When we are living fully, there is no questioning. The mind is quiet. It is not trying to arrive to some place, looking for more to be fulfilled. Thus, the “problem” of happiness resides only in the mind.
All the questions above, all the explanations and ideals about happiness are just mind made.
The mind cannot be satisfied for one of its tasks is to always want more: More things to have, more things to do, more to BE. Our society promotes that view which is all mind, that is why; many are stuck in a rut of doing things that they do not enjoy for the sake of achieving something which the mind through its conditioning, values. Out of that, the question of happiness arises. It is not only DOING, but HAVING and BEING. The 3 most basics forms of identification of the mind are continuously challenged to obtain more thus; greed, ambition, fear and anxiety are born as offsprings.
The mind then invents “happiness” as the cure for those mental ailments. That is the mind’s solution. Isn’t the word “solution” familiar to us? It is the opposite of “problems.” That is something our minds have learned to match. Use the opposite word to cancel the other: Non-violence cancels violence, solution cancels problems. We are good to go. Just make up a “rational” list of “to do” items to “achieve” the goal.
In the world of words, the word SATISFACTION has greater and deeper meaning than the hackneyed “happiness.”
Satisfaction brings a sense of fulfillment, that is living Life without the goals to achieve something and the search for praise and acceptance from others, or to find the idealistic “success.” Satisfaction is a quality of BEING, in harmonizing with “what is.” At the end of our lives, we may want to reflect on satisfaction. Observe all your experiences and get the taste of that particular, unique flavor interpreted by “you.” There is no search in satisfaction. Life brings the ingredients, we make the juice; while happiness for most, is a continuous never ending search of ingredients.
Here is the amusing paradox: The mind searches for happiness, but no-mind is the one finding it …without searching for it, and without knowing what that is.
I could write about hope. I could say that things will get “better,” and that we should have clear “objectives” in our minds to reach them. Isn’t that what most individuals are desiring? After all, we need something inspiring to get ourselves motivated and “become something” in Life and “earn” some serious income, start a family, buy property, etc. That is, to repeat the conditioning one more time.
Why is it so hard for most of us to take a look at “what is”? Why is it that we rather continue dreaming with something that isn’t? I understand that we need a “goal” something to strive for; but isn’t that at the same time some form of diverting our focus from what is, and little by little become self-centered and isolated from everything else?
“What is” may not be what we desire. It may not be part of our goals in Life, but anything we build without considering “what is,” will be like a card castle. Even though an amazing feat to build, it will fall easily for there is no strong foundation.
We don’t look because we don’t want to feel pain. That looking is not only about what is “out there,” but mostly what is “inside,” for as we “know” that which is within; we will see it out there too.
We are society. Every single one of us is part of it, thus the pain of society is also my pain. We need courage to look, for pain will not go away by focusing on some ideal or objective.
In Life, typically we don’t consider the collective. We only care about individualistic views; that is why; it is difficult to work towards the collective good.
“My pain,” “My depression,” “My violence,” we want to “solve” that. It is difficult to observe that those are part of society as well.
Our minds cannot grasp Life paradoxes. Although we are individuals, we are one unit called humanity. We may have different experiences which make us different; but that “difference” paradoxically, is the one that will make us also the same.
These are exciting times. Not because of what I can get out of it, but because these times will be challenging. That is another way to look at things.
We may see that all the security that we thought our structures brought, will fall apart.
We may see that to be “right” is no longer valid and that will not be “wrong.”
We may see that emotions will rule over reason and logic.
We may see that a new form of dementia will be confronting our highly conditioned, structured minds; for the mind had had its due time.
The most exciting part is that none of those items will be the product of our willful direct DOING, these things will just happen, they will just BE.
As our society has created psychological isolation between humans, where we can only see “me, I and myself” as the center of the Universe; what is coming will break that apart; just like what
“Covid” did to our highly routinized lives; then perhaps we could finally challenge the conditioned notion that “I am the master of my destiny” and observe that “I move together with everyone else.”
I cannot help but observe human misery as “what is” there (wars, hunger, corruption, widespread violence, despair with some shades of gentleness, goodwill and joy in the human psychological rainbow) which is mine as well. All we need to do is to read the current international news.
Is there a “bright” future for the new generation to come? Shall we sit and think of “solutions”?
No. Times are not calling for that sort of “action.” We had plenty of that: Superficial solutions brought about by the same mind that created the issues- a greedy, self centered, violent mind.
Times are calling for us to become AWARE on how humanity, society is in “me.”
“Action” is in transforming what is in “me,” rather than selfishly pretending to “change the world.”
When we become aware of violence as one of the main human energies surrounding our planet at this time, then we understand that a “normal” man is unable to avoid it. After all , it pervades the collective consciousness. It is in the air.
The origin of violence is in the experience of psychological pain.
A person has many experiences in Life. When a particular experience has been oversized and we are unable to assimilate it, that experience becomes a trauma. That is psychological pain.
Consciously or unconsciously, we “protect” ourselves from experiencing that again, as if we could have complete control in Life. So we wear and “armor;” that is we close ourselves to experience newness due to fear of feeling pain again.
Many could affirm that fear is the main cause of violence, but we can see that fear is a reaction coming from psychological pain. We fear that which we know. What we know is the experience of certain pain. We cannot fear the “unknown,” but we fear to lose something or to repeat a painful experience of the past.
Observe how racism may start: We feel comfortable around individuals who we have determined to be “alike.” The most superficial basis for this are physical characteristics. Perhaps we suffered the pain of being left out, or the pain of not belonging. Fear then appears when I reject what is there (I don’t like it,) which is manifested as violence many times. Observe xenophobia (dislike or prejudice against people from others countries.) Our tendency is to generalize and put certain individuals in the same basket. Fear arrives when we feel threatened. But what is the cause of that emotion? Psychological pain. We experienced uncertainty, lack of security or we want to cling to that which is known to us to maintain our perception of security. We are unwilling to try and discover something new. We have closed ourselves to Life.
When we perceive something strange, unusual, odd; we fear. Our sense of security has been challenged. We don’t want to lose what we value which is understandable; however, the reaction is completely irrational for we are assuming that unless we do something radical to that which our minds have identified as hazards, we will lose, we will feel pain.
Thus, the expression of violence is completely irrational in the light of the existence of human laws and social procedures. We fear that those procedures will not be followed.
When we lose our openness to Life, we shrink our sense of enjoyment. We are busy walking around with an armor as we perceive Life as something risky, a menace.
Our capacity to feel pleasure diminishes greatly, thanks to the armor made up of perceived painful situations.
No wonder the collective consciousness have determined that pleasure has to be regulated, that is within certain limits known as “acceptable.” Pain on the other hand, is open in all known forms. Even the psychological pain of the saint is considered “good.” Our society thrives on pain for our capacity for pleasure is small. Why?
When the mind is constantly busy with thoughts of survival or profit, we have little space left for other experiences. We are not at ease. There is fear in the air. The shadow of pain overwhelms our conscious thoughts and expands into the collective. Then, the cloud of pain increases until it suffocates those unaware.
Pain expresses inwardly as fear and then it manifests into violence. Repeated violence dulls our consciousness and our capacity for fulfillment. Violence will damage our subtle energetic channels and as a consequence we will no longer feel joy.
Most individuals only “talk” about joy or fulfillment but they do not have the capacity to feel its full range, due to the atrophy caused by violence.
As we can see, it becomes a vicious cycle, where pain and fear grows and so does violence.
When a person is ready to face those painful situations, the opportunity for healing arrives and then violence will subdue.
To be “violence free” is a work in progress, as this may take some time. We need to remember that healing is not immediate. It has a process and this may need to be nurtured and acknowledged.
Violence surged little by little in us. Likewise, it goes away naturally a little bit at the time. Without awareness, we will only know it is there when it spills the glass and makes a mess.
A serious seeker will recognize how violence shapes his own Life and will follow the steps to understand it; that is, he will go into those traumatic painful knots in his life, in order to harmonize within and with others.
Do we see violence within? Are we aware of it? There is a difference between seeing it and being aware of it. When we see, when we look, there is language involved to label and make sense of that which we are looking. We wouldn’t know what a “rose” was without classifying it, we couldn’t communicate that to others and ourselves without a label: “rose. I have seen a rose.”
Language is thought. The gist of thought is to separate, classify, analyze, dissect, compare. Thus, when we “see” violence, we separate it and compare it with something which we consider “non-violence.”
That idea is merely another thought. Then the mind comes up with a “solution.” What is that solution?
We ought to “practice” non-violence; which is just an idea.
The above, is what our society does on a regular basis. It is very superficial indeed. We want to “practice” an ideal, something floating in our minds and put it in “practice.” But we cannot.
BEING violent does not change through a behavioral “practice.”
If we observe a man hitting another, we label that as “violence.” Our solution is that man should not hit another man. That behavior, is the manifestation of violence; however, the root is still there, ready to manifest in another way: Let me hit an animal instead. Another law appears to protect animals. Violence continues to escalate: Then, let me hurt myself. There is no “law” against that.
Many individuals DO that (self-violence) on a regular basis: We hurt ourselves emotionally when we resent or make a trauma out of life. Physically; when we do not care for our bodies and psychologically when we continuously compare with others then; we cannot help but hurt others as we live in relationship. We are not isolated islands separated by the immense ocean. We are the ocean itself.
Do we see this cycle?
Looking at violence is not enough. Making “laws” is not enough.
Become aware of violence: When I push myself because of the idea of “winning” or “no pain, no gain.” When I compare myself with others and want to “beat them,” we are being violent. Society may give me a “medal” in certain “games” but, violence is there. Otherwise, why is winning so important when we are “playing” in goodwill?
When a child does not want to do what we grown ups, ask them to do. How do we react? What is the sensation coming out from us? When we belittle someone, what is the experience? Yes, the ego may feel “superior.”
If person A does not want to comply with the desires of person B, what is the solution? Although the “solution” is important, more important is to be aware of the sensation, the feeling coming out from us during that time. That is the path to understand violence. Are we clenching our teeth to avoid fighting? Are we repressing the sensation? Are we sensible enough to perceive how that repression is hurting our internal organs? Are we aware of the trigger and the whole motion of violence?
Are we watching the commentaries of the ego through the mind as the situation takes place? Are we aware on how those commentaries remain even days after the fact?
Do we see the importance of BEING AWARE?
Violence brings more violence in unaware individuals. They may think that they are “fighting back,” defending themselves. They may think that it is “reasonable” to fight back, but there is another side of reason that we haven’t looked at: The egoistic reasons of the mind. The one offending others and the ones defending use those “reasons” quite often. The end result is more violence.
How is it possible for a mind whose primary objective is to divide, to consider the common good?
“Spirituality” has been known for not being able to come up with “real” solutions for the problems in society, but perhaps we are missing the point: Violence has been inside man. No matter what we do from the outside, violence will be there. Thus, it is the task of every “reasonable” man to become aware of that; for until we become aware of that violence in us, it is very little that could be done as a “solution” for society. Even after so many laws to prevent violence; there is greater violence.
Society is “us” and so is violence.
Let us imagine that lions could think like humans do. Then, lions will have problems when living in society of thousands of lions, due to their violent ways. They need to become soft, gentle, mild. What a ferocious, aggressive lion could DO to become nicer citizens?
Let us push our imagination: Let us say that lions have religious inclinations for they realize that they need some “self-help” guidance and want to be “good.” Wouldn’t a lion as it is now, be considered a “sinner”? Living in society with other lions must be hard for them as they want their own territory and want lionesses ( at least a couple of them) there, only for them. Lions will fight and kill any trespassers and are constantly looking out to expand their territory. Let the female do the hunting and take care of the cubs, while a male lion rests and procreates…
What is the “solution” given by society in such dilemma?
Lions need to be more like rabbits. Seriously: Rabbits do not kill each other. Rabbits do not even eat meat! Rabbits are gregarious and helpful to each other. They are “good” citizens! Therefore: Follow the rabbits! DO as they DO. That became the moral law in that society, the striving ideal to pursue!
Similarly, that is the extent of our education and religious/ moral teachings. We need icons, figures and examples to follow. We are taught to copy them. Effort is in copying. Therefore, to “be good” in our society is synonym with copying a behavior.
When we want to become “better persons,” we copy. We DO as some icon DOES, but a lion cannot BE a rabbit! They can only fake to be one.
As humans we are not taught to OBSERVE our nature.
How can we pretend to self-transform without even looking at our own nature?
When looking, hopefully we are not following what society has to say about our nature. We shouldn’t be interested in labels such as “sinner,” “saint” or “impure.” There cannot be OBSERVATION of what IS, if we bring labels we wish to avoid or comply to.
We wish that a “system” could change the nature of a human. We even fight to demonstrate that a particular system (religious, political) is better than others. We don’t OBSERVE, we are not aware that any system depends on how human beings interpret and executes that based on what he IS. What a human IS drives any system to become “good” or “bad.”
But, many who have never “tried” OBSERVATION could wonder how just observing can make any change?
If a lion accepted its nature, it would be interested in preserving its life. It would experience that colliding with another lion would be detrimental for both parties. If the lion was aware of the experience, there would be automatic change without having the need to copy the iconic rabbit. But, if the lion didn’t have conscious awareness while going through the experience of fighting, the outcome would be a fearful lion or a cocky one. In that lack of awareness, to preserve ego is first. Life in community is secondary. That is how many are into the “economy” (obtaining wealth endlessly) rather than preserving Life.
Many go through life lacking conscious awareness while unconsciously manifesting their savage way, even though knowing, that this is counter productive. At the end, life is a fight for them. It is not something to relax and enjoy, but to fight for, to display the power of their egotistic minds.
Acceptance of our own nature is first.
Lions are needed in Nature just like rabbits, however; transformation of nature is “good” when it is natural. Otherwise, it is forced, it is fake, it is hurtful. Thus, Observation, awareness of who we ARE brings that change for it is natural. It is a personal journey.
Nevertheless; in a world where everyone is at a different stage on their own personal development, many are not ready yet for awareness; for they require the hand holding of religious and political systems, until they grow up and realize themselves, how artificial those are. We could observe then, the need for those systems and accept their role in society as sources of external reformation. The “revolution” is not in revolting or opposing, but in allowing all players to play their own roles.
That integration with all that exists, could be a glimpse of a growing awareness.