“We live in a society that wants to label you with a color, sexuality, religion, or ethnicity. It divides us, but it also allows us to find pride in our identity.” – Logan Browning
Identity is the main concern. Most everyone is looking to identify themselves with something greater than themselves, whether that is an ideal or something tangible. Some identify with gender and among that group there is an identification with color of skin. Then, there are further divisions, further ways to label people and in turn, the most oppressed groups will fight back using their recognized “proud” identity as a shield. As our consciousness enhances, we will start peeling the skin of the “onion,” that is all those things which could be perceived with our senses, as we could identify those as external layers protecting an inner core which could give us another identity. To illustrate, if every human being was like a shoe, then divisions will be made regarding colors, shapes, heights, materials, etc. Most individuals are not programmed to look for the common identity, that is of being a shoe; but rather their minds will go into subclasses, sub-groups which will create animosity, separation among them. A “human being,” is the common identity; although there are more universal ways to identify ourselves even beyond that. We may need to “peel the layers of the onion” to find out.
“There is no dignity when the human dimension is eliminated from the person. In short, the problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person, but that it shows far too little.” – Pope John Paul II
Through pornography the human identity is objectified to only concentrate on pleasure as a repetitive, addictive sexual arousal. A porn actor/actress is then just a “merchandise” to obtain sexual pleasure from it; not truly a person to relate with. That conditioning will extend to regular human relationships.
Our society sells that “merchandise” legally for huge private profit, as there is a massive addiction to that pleasure. Not need but addiction.
Human sexuality as the outcome of the feeling of love has been distorted into a narrow door of only mental sensual pleasure. That is, the potential of what human sexuality could be when soul, mind and body are connected, has been ridiculed into an addictive mental game. Thus, the pursuit of pleasure becomes the addiction of the mind which is then exploited for profit. The end result is that this addiction will take a person into levels of neediness and dependency which deteriorates his identity as a human being. That person becomes a puppet of society believing he has the ability to choose, when is truly dependent on his regular “fix.”
“According to the prevailing view human sexual life consists essentially in an endeavor to bring one’s own genitals into contact with those of someone of the opposite sex.” ― Sigmund Freud
That is the extent and objective of human relationship by many humans at this time.
“It is the duty of every thoughtful Indian not to marry. In case he is helpless in regard to marriage, he should abstain from sexual intercourse with his wife.” – Mahatma Gandhi
So much for Gandhi’s non-violence. Repression is the messenger of violence.
“I don’t even call it violence when it’s in self defense; I call it intelligence.” ―MalcomX
When someone attacks without apparent cause and there is no time to think, the immediate reaction to preserve life is natural intelligence to survive. But when someone expects to be attacked at any time and fear is inside, his action will be violent. That is not intelligence; for who will knowingly put his life at stake in the hands of another? Contrast the above quote with this one by Jose Marti: “An insatiable appetite for glory leads to sacrifice and death, but innate instinct leads to self-preservation and life.”
Angry impotency circulating in ourselves when we cannot change ourselves or another to fit our demands, will be expressed as what we call violence. The history of known humanity could be defined as utmost violence. Reading about the life of Malcom X we could easily observe that violence had surrounded his life experience: A silent witness of violence since childhood.
Understanding and goodwill does not arrive through violent means, but on the contrary the angry impotency to get even at some point by means of revenge, will be the outcome.
Self violence is expressed through repression or even through our perceived need to conform. Guilt or shame could be ways of self violence as well. Those emotions could be confined at one point, but will explode and could be used to hurt another.
The practice of “Non-violence” is another form of violence. Why? I could oppose without physically hurting another, but the intention to become a force against the wish of another force will be there; then, our actions will have that violent shade. We need to observe that a violent man cannot be ‘non-violent.’ It is not just about one action or two of pretending, but violence is in our BEING and will come out in our words, our demeanor, in our thoughts. Life has shown that those who have been violent by using the force of the collective consciousness to obtain their ideals, will have themselves a violent end.
A violent individual does not bring compassion to the world by practicing ‘non-violence.’ That individual needs to acknowledge that violence within and then heal it. As violence is no longer within; whatever he does, will be spared from the pungent smell of violence. Every significant change to change our world, starts within.
“Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” ―Thomas Jefferson
How was it possible for empathy to be out of our system? At what point did we lose our ability to sense and feel someone else’s suffering? How could we talk about love when there is no compassion inside?
A Savage cannot stop being a savage by a new law or the practice of a new fashionable spiritual attitude. A savage has to be able to see himself in the mirror of a relationship with Life. Through that awareness, change could be. Until then, a human being will relentlessly exploit anything he thinks he needs to become “better.’
“Women endure entire lifetimes of these indignities—in the form of catcalls, groping, assault, oppression. These things injure us. They sap our strength. Some of the cuts are so small they’re barely visible. Others are huge and gaping, leaving scars that never heal. Either way, they accumulate. We carry them everywhere, to and from school and work, at home while raising our children, at our places of worship, anytime we try to advance.”― Michelle Obama, Becoming
Violence also exists in the relationship of men and women. The use of physical strength to subdue another is a savage way of relating. When a man uses that biological advantage to subdue, humiliate or degrade another; that man is a complete coward. Unfortunately many societies have supported that cowardice by labeling that as a ‘compliment’ from one gender to another. However, a sexual advance under that circumstance is not a compliment but a lack of respect, for whenever we think of another as an object to satisfy lustful mental desires, we do not care about the person but only about ourselves.
A coward will look for ways to express that violence with those who have no chance to defend themselves. ‘Compliments’ coming from such individuals are merely a show of their own shallowness.
A compliment when accompanied with a legitimate expression of admiration and a notch of elegance will be well received by most.
The master and his disciple were greatly amazed, observing a formation of new born ducklings following their mother duck, near a lovely lake.
The master said: “Life has a hierarchy. In the human family, parents have their position and it needs to be respected by offspring during their parents lifetime. Respect means acknowledgment. A family decision which does not consider that hierarchy will have consequences which could be even assumed by later generations. Our genealogical family past stays with us. It is the inheritance from our ancestors. In society we have been taught to consider wealth as the only type of inheritance that we could have inherited from our ancestors, but that is only the more superficial layer.
Society in general gives more importance to wealth, power and influence. Television, movies and news are the means used to indoctrinate those values to unaware individuals. It is taught that an individual ought to be successful in society. Success is defined by the amount of wealth a person has obtained; for that person can buy influence over others, power over many and has the ability to dictate what society adopts. The common good is easily forgotten as each individual is out for himself, his beliefs and his success creating conflict with another.”
The disciple said: “ Master, there are spiritual groups suggesting not to watch television at all.”
The master replied: “Television is neither good or bad. Most unaware individuals cannot recognize the messages. They end up adopting what represents economical gain for few and in time that becomes normal, accepted by them, the new normal. Have you observed that?”
The disciple responded: “Yes, master. I recall watching some TV programs from the 70’s and 80’s. It was very unusual to see killings in them in such a graphical way as it is shown today. It appears that the most sanguinary, brutal and hideous a scene of crime is, the better.”
The master replied: “The level of sensibility has been modified, to create a sadistic pleasure where violence is expected. It is like adding one more teaspoon of sugar to a glass of juice every now and then. Eventually a person becomes used to violence and expresses it in every aspect of living. Violence becomes an addiction which is exploited for the sake of profit. Diabetes is one consequence of consuming too much sugar, but the consequence of being fed with violence is oppression, control, unconcern and disconnection with other living beings. That is why, some spiritual groups may suggest that Television is evil, but that is a reaction to try to protect unaware individuals. However, these same individuals will be repressed in following that. Repression eventually will explode and indulgence will be greater than before. The individual needs to become aware by himself. Then, conflict is not.”
The disciple inquired: “What do suggest to do master, to be out of that loop?”
The master said: “Drink juice without sugar for some time or drink water instead. Experiment. Self willingness without external coercion or fear, shows individual readiness for change. It is in that experience how an individual may discover his sensibility through his own experience. That is the adventure which few are willing to take. Most are told what to do and even though they feel to be free to choose they cannot, for their conditioning is very strong and is part of them. A human being is not violent unless he is afraid. Thus, fear is fed in many ways and the ways to solve that, always point to some form of violence. As the individual becomes heartless, the doses of violence is regularly increased to keep the business going. Become AWARE and the solution arrives by itself.”
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.
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.
In Spirituality, to know means to live the experience in awareness. Humans live many experiences without awareness, thus; there is no consciousness of the significance of their own thoughts and actions. It is merely an automatic response like a physical reflex which in spirituality is known as conditioning. We are not free when conditioned.
“Spirituality” means to become aware of the experience of inner conflict; the continuous division between the Observer (“I”) and the observed (world.) The conflict arises when the observer seeks to conform to an ideal, what “should be.”
“When there is conflict there is a waste of energy. Conflict being: I must control fear, I must run away from it, I must go to somebody to tell me how to get rid of fear. All those are factors of wasting energy. If you don’t waste energy, and that only takes place when the observer is the observed, then you have immense energy to transform what is. The very observation is the energy that transforms that which is.”
Public Talk 3 in Ojai, California, 10 April 1976
Practically; how the above works?
In a heated family discussion where most of the “covers of an educated individual” are gone, we could OBSERVE the scenes.
Typically, we could OBSERVE two related emotions: VIOLENCE and FEAR. When we perceive those 2 emotions, we are able to change by allowing the current of those 2 emotions to go through us without further energetic consequences. Otherwise, we are unaware and the opportunity to OBSERVE gets lost in our attempt to defend the “I” or to take sides by JUDGING the scenes and picking the “right” side and the “wrong” one. Emotionally, that means that we RESISTED ( we felt insulted, misunderstood, etc) for we had the need to DEFEND the “I” or the side that we considered to be “right.” That resistance feeds the energy of violence and fear in that environment, back to ourselves. Again, energetically; we can either let the energy go through us (observer and observed are one) or let the energy to stay with us (observer and observed are different.) Most individuals will go with the later. This is not a “choice” that we need to make. This is only a matter of awareness.
Therefore, for most conditioned individuals the OBSERVER is different than the OBSERVER.
“When the observer is the observed, there is only the observed, not the observer. When there is division as the observer and the observed, there is conflict and the desire to control, suppress, conquer. That is a waste of energy. When there is only the observed, not the observer observing that which he is seeing, there is energy to go beyond the observed, beyond what is. So it is very important to find out how to observe. Don’t go to classes or some community to learn how to observe or how to become sensitive. For God’s sake be simple. It is very important to understand this for yourself, not from my explanation. See it for yourself. Then the conflict in yourself comes to an end, and you have no violence. The truth, the understanding, not intellectual but the fact that the observer is the observed, brings about a totally different freedom in which there is no conflict whatsoever.”
Public Talk 1 in San Francisco, California, 20 March 1975
If we understand the above only intellectually, we will not change at all. It will only be a fancy piece of information to display in the next spiritual gathering. If we have experienced this through Life itself; the above will only put words to an already lived experience. Then, we “know.”