The world pays no mind to what we think makes us happy. Do we even dare to say what makes us happy? Are our thoughts even ours, or were they surreptitiously planted by ministers of propaganda? This might sound far-fetched, but fools scoff at being shown who they really are. That’s how ignorance reinforces itself. Ignorance behaves like a parasite that obstinately stays alive no matter the deadly strain put on the host. Ignorance turns us into empty vessels too. As hollow and vulnerable beasts, we allow our base desires to dictate our words, our choices, and our likes and dislikes. We need to watch out as this can be exploited. Armed with this information, knowledgeable men mold our desires to a form they deem appropriate. What’s more worrisome is that they could, at their discretion, even implant new desires, new desires as in new opportunities to exploit. That’s why it’s more important than ever to master the self. Our world disseminates half truths and outright lies. The same world jams honest transmissions expressing pure truth. As long as we’re slaves to our desires, whether sexual, social, financial, digestive, or psychological, we’re apt and ready tools for powerful men of industry. Only when we once more value virginity, restraint, and temperance will we earn our emancipation from this fallen world.
Light, as it penetrates our lenses, makes our sight possible. Keeping this in mind, let’s be honest with ourselves. Let’s truly see the world as it is. We can observe the light flickering, warping, and waning. What happened? Did a thief capture the light? Or was there always some sacred cow blocking it? Government may have subdued the violent, impulsive beast in most humans but even in the midst of an abundance of information, the human intellect is reverting to a state of proud, corrosive ignorance. Maybe the degeneration exists for a valid reason. Maybe it’s an accommodation for an oncoming dark age. We do have our own preferred methods to shape the world to our liking. Indeed, society desperately needs reorganization. Today, humans inflate their egos with toxic lies and engorge their bodies with toxic junk. The human mind is deteriorating. Our potential to self educate has never been greater. Though instead of expanding their minds, many humans react to unfamiliar ideas, new perspectives with vitriol and ad hominem attacks. This behavior is symptomatic of broken lenses and faltering light. We’ve made progress, but we still have much ground to cover to improve the human condition. What have you and I done lately? What have we done to restore the light and repair our lenses?
Beware of choice. Due to its nature, we’ve all played Caesar and crossed the Rubicon. Sometimes there’s no rolling back our decisions, no undoing our actions. We can carve out a path that cannot be unmade, and this might cause tremendous regret. Regret motivates us to fix the situation. Though it’s insane trying to mend broken glass with our hands. The glass shards cut, our frenetic hands bleed, and the glass cannot be unshattered. Our familiar days will fade in memory. The ramifications alone compel us to make sure we’ve chosen right, to make certain we’ve broken the glass for good reasons. As the glass cannot be pieced together, we must accept the consequences no matter how dire and sorrowful and prepare ourselves for the next series of choices. Even declining the offer to choose is a choice. Even committing to the safest choice can spawn a whole host of troubles. Not all choices can redesign, rebuild, or demolish our life as we know it but as we press on, be warned. The doors from our past may become permanently sealed shut.
To be truly alive is to turn toward death without cowering. This means locking eyes with the abyss without fleeing. For sense’s sake, where do we think we’re going to go? There’s no secret escape hatch. There’s no bright exit sign. There’s France, Egypt, Tibet—these places might invigorate us. Foreign countries can impart the culture we’re so eager to experience but in the end, does it ever satisfy? So pretentious are we when we immerse ourselves into unfamiliar environments. As I’ve mentioned before, there is only one God, one story, one place to be. There’s nothing new here. The inviting, exotic lands only fully captivate the ignorant. The pretentious traveler answers the song of the beckoning sirens. You answer that call, and you’ll find yourself wandering in the desert.
There is nothing interesting left to vocalize is there? Every spoken word is a rotten platitude and every sound, a loop of wailing infants. We like to play the role of the enlightened master. We like to talk about ourselves. We share details of where we’re from, how we earn money, and where we’re going. We say all this as if it matters. We delve into the sordid details from others’ lives. We use the details to weave an intriguing story, shattering the monotony tugging at our core. The consumer drones cried out for an adventure and willed it into existence. The universe acquiesced to our wishes. Now we have our credit, debt, and usury. Now we have our streaming images to catatonically stare at. We press power on our devices to lose our power. By pushing play, those images stole stealthily our souls. This is our story; do we want to abandon it or help write it?
There was a crazy-wisdom teacher in India named Saraha. He said that those who believe that everything is solid and real are stupid, like cattle, but that those who believe that everything is empty are even more stupid.
-Pema Chodron from Start Where You Are
Is the mind meant to swing like a pendulum from one extreme to the other? If it truly was, then destroying in the name of God would be the pinnacle of existence. We would take on the burden of defending Him as if He needed a feeble human to do so. We would supplant Him. We would worship the same gods we’ve always had: money, power, status, sex, and self-glory. Even the ones who realize the absurdity of condensing the world into two choices ensnare themselves into the same trap. Which is it? Good or evil? Love or hate? Mercy or severity? Apparently we’ve gotten carried away with Zoroastrianism. “Since I’ve been awake,” they would smugly say. Declaring that they possess the gift of sight is ultimately a declaration of blindness. This behavior parallels the way the masses don’t even bother to examine the world in which they live. They reach a consensus that life is more important than objects and yet, brands, franchises, and corporate tribes still rake in millions and billions. Will we then avoid brands at all costs, even refuse to wear a t-shirt that’s violated with a huge logo but was given away for free? Do we see the trap for what it is?
I can acknowledge my faults. I’ve made claims without the support of thorough and meticulous research. Thank God for libraries but unfortunately, knowledge monopolists stow away our researchers’ work for profit. Databases, such as JSTOR, guard these bits of information as if they’re weapons, as if they can degrade truth itself and reduce it to a commodity. By examining my own writing with an unbiased, critical eye, I’ve discovered that, in the age of hyperbole and moral disintegration, truth seeking presents a daunting challenge. This is why we each have our own path. You cannot take my word as unadulterated, absolute truth, and I cannot believe your every word unquestioningly, without analysis, without inspection, without suspicion, and without deliberation. We must leave our minds as open as our lungs are to the air. We’re all grappling with incomplete information and we cannot, while we sleep, register every bit of existing knowledge in our neural database. However, hubris, like a reassuring whisper, tells us otherwise. Hubris is a conniving, deceiving phenomenon.
There’s a pervasive myth infecting our impressionable minds today. Corporations feed off of this myth, advertisements prey upon it, and the populace panders to it. This myth compels us to buy into fleeting, shallow trends and to sell our moral character. This myth urges us on to sacrifice our capacity to feel for others; it lulls us into a restless sleep. This myth is thinking positive, thinking positive as a strategy to obtain what you want. Whether it is an executive office or a place on stage, we’re told that if we just want it enough, our dreams will materialize. If only we’d believe, we can escape. If we believe, we can leave the gang of peasants and join the ranks of the privileged, the famous, the wealthy, the beautiful, and we’d finally be complete. We wouldn’t have to look at our sagging, wrinkled faces anymore or report to our narcissistic superiors. We’d finally be able to scorn the peasants from our own seat atop the teetering empire. Everything is possible but only if we think positive and believe that we’re special. Nevertheless, with a false but convincing hope, we do what we’ve always done – work at menial jobs that don’t engage our minds and buy gadgets to bury the meaningless pattern of work, buy, work, buy.