I remember a professor saying in a business class: “It is Ok to use people but not to abuse them.”
That saying lingered in my mind for many years. It rhymes; it acknowledges the fact that the means do not truly matter, but only the end result which in this case; is my own personal gain, my profit. That saying could be similar to: “It is ok to choke people, just don’t kill them.” Why do we use people for our personal gain?
For many, this way of operating in society is alright. “Everyone does it.” John may use Mary to obtain his own goals. Mary becomes a “thing,” an object and loses her essence of being a human. As a society we are used to use people to obtain what we desire.
In the “spiritual world” such behavior has a consequence. When our ego separates from another being, then the other is not important or less valuable than us. The degree of importance given to others changes according to our consciousness and moral values; but nonetheless using another has been a common practice.
If someone would like to progress in BEING; then that practice of using others to attain goals, needs to observed. When we are caught in DOING for the sake of our own achievement, then that observation may not matter.
I could become “friends” with someone just to gain a benefit. That is not truly friendship although it may look like. It may look like I love someone. It may look like I care. That sort of dishonesty is the one going on in our typical behavior in society. “It looks like” is preferable than the actual fact of BEING it.
Although out of such “useful” relationship many great things could apparently happen. However, the seed prevails and as the tree of using others grows, it will fall as soon as fully grown. For most, the line between using and abusing is only seen when it is conspicuous, so obvious as when the “friend” becomes dry wood and a fallen tree. Otherwise, there is plenty of time to “milk the cow,” while serving our purposes.
The business world may have its own rules which are many times conflicting with goodwill practices and care for others. The conflict going on in most human beings is whenever values are antagonistic of each other: My “progress” means destruction of “the” environment, for instance. We do not see that as “my” environment.
It is that greed, that selfish desire to enhance the “me first,” the one masked with pretty words and sophisticated ideas.
“Why should you care about conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” is the title of a current “news.”
“It is a corridor for pipelines taking oil and gas to world markets.” Forget about humans killing each other. Forget about the unnecessary human suffering. We do not perceive how that suffering will affect us, we cannot perceive the connection. It is all about geopolitical and economic considerations, not humans.
That is how any talk about “peace” could be mere lip service, when there is the ultimate motive behind: The pipes which are good for ME. That is the “reason” why I should care about.
Using but not abusing, all under the dignified label of “peace.”
Most individuals are aware of all the problems going on in the world: Global warming, poverty, wars, riots, human rights issues, animal right issues, inequality of wealth, tyrannies, social class issues, etc. All of those ‘issues’ have been created by society itself.
When some self-realized individual refer to our world as “ugly, cruel, violent, mad, etc.” Most individuals instantly dismiss that. Those words do not matter to most, for humans have created their own “heaven on Earth,” that is a little bit of hope of a “better future,” a mix of “let me get some wealth, power, and social status” and a sprinkle of believing that “we have plenty of time to live.”
The level of conditioning of most human beings is outstanding: Many were born to work repetitive, non-challenging jobs for most of their lives and their aim in Life is to “buy things,” and start a family just like themselves: Unable to observe the “Matrix” around them. Completely trapped in it. As long as there are countless ways to get entertainment, these individuals are “happy,” although; they will never know the actual experiential meaning of happiness.
Observe this: There are many people facing hunger around the world. Humans will not lift a finger to help “thy neighbor” unless there is money flowing. What is money? Fancy paper without real value, as it used to have when the World had the gold standard. Humans are so trapped in their own game of coins and papers, and will remain oblivious of the suffering of their own kind. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/09/world-richest-millions-starving-wfp-200918090724645.html
It is hard to convey to someone trapped in that game, about the intricacies of ego and greed; when their game dictates that “they must acquire and keep for themselves and only give when there is profit.” Their whole conditioning doesn’t allow them to see others as themselves, but there is a constant separation, a constant division which perpetuates suffering. It is “me” vs “you” and the “survival of the fittest,” just like those animals in the wild with the difference that for an animal there is no thinking involved; so there is no motive to kill and exterminate others. Their way keeps a balance of species within Nature. On the other hand, humans extinguish species. Humans have a clear objective, a plan and that makes their activity completely ego-centered, greedy for there is no harmony with Nature and the common good. Thinking is unable to feel harmony.
When we are so attached to this “game” we cannot become aware of what is going on. While in the game, we can only believe that everything will get better if the economic conditions are alright. We can only see at a superficial level. We believe that we can teach someone to be honest, to have values, when we are not honest. That is the greatest mirage. “Teaching” values is not the same as teaching math. I wonder why we haven’t figured that one out? We are immersed in the thinking “game.”
To observe society from a different perspective, we need to be outside the game. That observation requires solitude and independence from the influence of the “game” for a long time.
Someone who is used to eat sugar, may hear that sugar is “bad for you” but still eat it in many ways. When that person is no longer exposed to sugar for a long time, then if the person tastes sugar again, then he will be in shock due to too much sweetness. Similarly is the process of being able to observe the “game,” it can thoroughly be done once we are out of it. That step of courage isn’t made through joining a religion or some spiritual group. Life chooses the time, according to our readiness.
The religious world works exactly as society does. There are rules, regulations, commandments which are practiced and followed. From the religious perspective it could be said that their rules are “pure,” “spiritual,” etc. but that statement is merely a point of view.
Society has rules which are not labeled as “pure,” but as “good,” “moral,” “positive,” etc. That is also a perspective, although; it has been “bought” unobserved by the immense majority.
In both “worlds” there will be inner conflict as the validity of those rules have not been deeply considered by the individual but rather imposed from the outside: Whether that is “God,” or the “Government,” it is the same thing by all practical purposes.
To follow a structure is considered of great value. We are taught to identify ourselves with a system, a philosophy, a team, a guru, a god. As a matter of fact, “success” of any system is based on observing how many followers that system has. In that world, the collective consciousness of the masses is very important, but the ability of the individual to observe inside and act accordingly is disparaged.
Under those circumstances, we have created an ideal of spirituality based on the value we give to the teachings and experience of someone else deemed “elevated” or superior. The authority.
Nevertheless, those teachings are interpreted by followers in different ways. Thus, the need to standardize teachings became important to keep the structure simple; although the intrinsic value of the teaching, which needs to be dynamic to change according to circumstances, is missing.
Therefore, we have “spiritual individuals” with utmost rigidity. Those who believe that to follow an ideal is more important than to assess the individual circumstance given by life.
To look inside requires freedom from the structure of systems. Many disenchanted former followers of structures; will take the path of apparent self-observation and rejection of external authorities. However, we cannot pretend to act in an authentic way in society or a religious setting, while we are utterly conditioned by them. Deconditioning is the single most important item to be able to observe different perspectives. After we have done this “homework,” then we could be able to observe, become aware and act.
Thus, there is value in being a follower, but that cannot be the ultimate. There is also value in acting freely, but that could be a greater illusion when we have not gone through the “process” of deconditioning.
“God/Government says and I do,” may sound like a great act of abnegation, but we forget that this authority who speaks/ writes to the masses, will not be able to fit the particular individual circumstances.
If the authority says/writes: “You should never kill” then questions of interpretation will arise: Could I go to war in the name of saving “my” country? Could I kill someone out of self-defense in all circumstances? Is it alright to kill other species to eat and survive or the law of “you should never kill” applies to this?
Some would like to go into philosophical, moral and even scientific discussions to answer these questions; that is to answer an ideal with another ideal. The masses want the “easy steps” to remember “how to act” and not to make “mistakes.” Any answers will create further religions, more philosophies, beliefs and so on.
That is our world of beliefs, ideals and conditioning. Few individual authentic actions, but lots of rehearsed, conditioned ones.
What could be the word to sum up all the experiences currently going on in our planet, the Earth?
Love? Peace? Happiness? Hope? Understanding? Animosity? How about violence.
At this stage in my own evolution, I am observing all of that violence within. Perhaps, that is the “reason” why I pick the word violence among all the other labels. Through the experience of violence, I have been the tyrant and the submissive peon. Once one side is experienced the other side will follow, for that reason; submissiveness is passive violence.
Violence has been with us from time immemorial. A culture conquered another through violence. Then, there was violence within that conquered culture. A gender subdued another through violence. A race proclaimed its superiority through violence. In society, we clash with one another and use violence to “win.”
Violence is not just physical, but that is the most obvious and grotesque. We could insult one another, we could look at someone in a despicable way. We could say things with irony, sharpness, dryness and sarcasm. We could speak with a tone of voice meant to overpower another. To take advantage of another, is violence.
Then, we could go into the “subtler” aspects of it, the ones which not too many could observe: I could compare a person with another. That is violence for I am not respecting their unique individuality. I could teach someone that respect means to infuse fear to others, that is violence. I could “correct” someone by putting down their ideas, by letting them know that “I am right, you are wrong;” that is violence as well. The key to understand violence is in being aware of the sensation, the internal emotion, the feeling which it brings. Many times it could be perceived as a “current” over the head area. That will change our facial expression. Definitely, the first sensation will be “closing up” or clenching up. Most will feel their stomach areas tighten up. If we are able to observe this emotion, open up; let the perceived violence go through you and outside you. Thus, it is not necessarily an action the one which defines violence, but rather the engine of it; is the sensation we have inside.
There are countless ways to express violence, even while “making love” (which by the way, is the most common.) Violence is everywhere and “I” am part of it. Do we see the enormous significance of this?
How can I love and feel peace with violence within? The conditioning of using violence is overwhelming. Isn’t the “alpha male” the archetype of violence? However, we could observe that the media almost worships that “winner” image.
No wonder we are violent. That trait could be desirable for those in society who are looking to get ahead, to dominate others and show them who “they are;” it is desirable for those who only care to “look out for number 1,” nevertheless; that sort of enhanced ego, cannot harmonize with the common good. There are consequences for behaving in such selfish way.
I recall: “ A violent man does not die a natural death” Tao Te Ching – Ch 42 or in a Christian way : “… and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7.
Despite all the religious and “spiritual” teachings, violence endures. It toughen our hearts, it creates psychological pain which in turn will be a traumatic experience lingering in our beings for as long as it needs, until one day we realize it is there, ready to heal into its opposite, that is Gentleness.
Authentic gentleness is not the “practice” of a violent person. Gentleness is the outcome of lack of violence.
It is a wonder how religions and spirituality have named the capital sins, the main vices, etc. as important to eradicate; however, we are not looking good enough at the obvious violence.
We want to deal with our ego, to become “better,” but we have a hard time recognizing what that ego is.
It is way easier to start with violence as we can smell it. However, we may need to be aware that if “I” try to stop it; “I” will inflict violence on myself. It is not by rejection or suppression how violence will subside. It is by being aware of it, through watching it in ourselves and fully realizing what it is and what it does to us.
“Non-violence” is non existing in a violent being, thus; we can only “practice” it, which is truly the rehearsal of a script.
To meet violence only with some defined “non-violence,” is to take the process of understanding violence in ourselves, in a trivial way. We could DO actions which seem non-violent, but when we ARE violence we cannot get away from the fact of who we ARE and thus, we only cover the reality of ourselves with the veil of “good deeds,” until we have the fortitude to look inside.
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.
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.”
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.