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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Living Religion XI: Beauty Is Found In Shoddy Truth - How We Look Away And Impoverish Ourselves


If you do not follow somebody you feel very lonely. Be lonely then. Why are you frightened of being alone? Because you are faced with yourself as you are and you find that you are empty, dull, stupid, ugly, guilty and anxious - a petty, shoddy, secondhand entity. Face the fact; look at it, do not run away from it. The moment you run away fear begins. ~J. Krishnamurti
Krishnamurti's "style" of presentation can be mercilessly negative. If I am to quote him, as I've done here, I can easily sense the unwelcome tone to his message, and it brings me to wonder just why I continue to be attracted to such an "inefficient" manner of proselytization. Is there a value in it, intrinsic to what appears to be a pre-emptively self-defeating vehicle for having a conversation?

Something Better

The classroom of the "enlightenment game" is lopsidedly populated with students who are in love with a dream. It's a natural thing - the very allure of something "wonderful," just over the horizon, is likely the first mover of our hunger - a hunger for Truth. Indeed, something "wonderful" is implicit in the message of the vast majority of those who monger "enlightentment," whether the purview is monotheistic traditions that speak of heavenly repose, those than contemplate transcendence of the messy duality our minds make of the world, or even the paganist ideals of harmony in the dance of life, once a truer understanding of our relationship with the Mother Gaia is perhaps achieved.

The inescapable truth is, however, that the very pursuit of something better requires an unholy schism within the self. One must, at the very minimum, contemplate a "me now" vs. "me later" platform from which to proceed. "I am this and I will become that." It is this objectivization that lies at the core of the dissonance our self-awareness brings in the first place.

The Necessary Curse

By what diabolical purpose does Nature (or God, if you must) justify cursing us with this unnecessary self-awareness, that so much of the "something better" industry is vested in transcending? I, of course, have no idea about the self-awareness of other creatures, but one must assume that there are forms of life about us that do not suffer the ill-effects that come with this sentient modeling of our world and ourselves in the picture-show that our thoughts bring us. Yes, on the one hand it brings us the sublime manifestations of Shakespeare, but there is no denying the suffering that "I am this and I will become that" brings to our experience, be it borne in war or simple individual angst.

"Why?" is a child's question, however. As he is forbidden to importune the cosmos on this matter, the adult can merely say that this is where we are. We have plenty of stories that comfort us by explaining (rather emptily, at the end of it), that one has to fall down before one feels the joy of standing up again, and so therefore this curse is really a blessing, this delicious opportunity of salvation after the fall. I can possibly entertain the idea that this is much richer way of being, experientially - but since the eschewing of temporal experience is so fundamentally intertwined with attainment of "enlightenment" ("something better"), it could very well be that the the universe's progression into sentient self-awareness might be an "oops" in and of itself - some kind of apogee of extreme manifestation that the gravity of Truth will gather back in again.

Shattering our dreams of angels.

I Can't Look Away
Because you are faced with yourself as you are and you find that you are empty, dull, stupid, ugly, guilty and anxious - a petty, shoddy, secondhand entity.
Now that's just mean, right?

Well, let's just pan back from the focus on the self for a moment, and take in a bigger landscape. Have a look at America, at a bigger sense of "self" that we (Americans) all share. To be fair, one can even widen the scope to the entire planet and our (Her) humanity. There is plenty of bashing that can be done, whether within my "shoddy" self, my shoddy country, or my shoddy world.

Even the patriotic defenders of our collective "virtue" are aware of what I might mean by "shoddy," even as they may vehemently disagree and accuse me of all manner of negativity and subversion. No need to go on about the corruption and violence that we embody in our own world, countries, neighborhoods, homes - indeed in our very heads.

We know it's there. I can't look away, and neither can you (or the patriotic defenders, for that matter.) There are all kinds of mental games we can and do play with it, the most robust of these being some variation of placing blame on someone/something/somehow, which of course inevitably brings its own contribution of violence to feed and perpetuate our shoddy nature.

The Krishnamurti Scold

Is it smart to explain to yourself, in stark and unforgiving language, that you are wrong to your very core?

No, it is not smart. It is necessary.

When we imagine something better ("The Secret"), we set ourselves up for another round of denial and escape. Rather than being forced into the honest action that springs forth from a true realization of my nature, I instead contemplate dreams of personal evolution, "I am this I will become that." We embark on long oceanic journeys to New Worlds where our paradise might be found, we dream of space, we "conquer" ugliness that we've disowned and projected upon the other, and when we arrive at the promised land we find to our chagrin that we have brought along a troublesome passenger.

Wherever I go, I bring myself along.

Beauty Is Found In Shoddy Truth

In spite of all of K.'s Herculean efforts to not blow smoke up your ass, there is an implicit promise in all of this - that there is perhaps some worth in becoming a wiser, more intelligent being. At the very least a certain placidity is assumed, the peace of a soul that has come to terms with its true nature.

It's important that we shut up about this, however. Our very nature impels us to grasp the at the tiniest glimpse of the shiny, so eager are we to acquire a new house rather than to clean up our own.

I will not feed that urge here, except to say that any salvation is denied to she who refuses to sit with the Truth. Oh alright, I cannot resist - there is a Beauty in knowing oneself, because only in this does one see the absolutely sublime fact that we are indeed all in this together.

So, you want to be better? he asks. Clean up your room, and maybe we can talk.

[Some may want to catch up with parts I: On Belief, II: The Self, III: Discerning Good - Where Does It Reside?, IV: Discerning Good - What Is It Good For? , V: The Urgency Of The Sacred, VI: Deconstruction And The Ecstacy Of The Aporetic Oscillation, VII: Walking The Walk, VIII: On Judging Our Fellows, IX: The Fallacy Of The Goal and X: Benefficiency And The Blinking Red Self-Bullshitting Meter.]

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