Friday, May 09, 2008

A narrow narrow path

You might think freedom should somehow mean the ability to go in any direction at any time. Does an expectation that will have you running into obstacles almost constantly really sound like a plan to experience true freedom? Quit worshiping yourself and come back to this world. True freedom begins as a narrow path that threads between not giving a damn what other people think of you and not giving a damn about other people period. Richard Feynman might have had a bit too much of the former. Most conservative pundits are busily cutting the legs out from under struggling humanity with their wild but unacknowledged surplus of the latter.
PZ Meyers and certain spiritual leaders like the Dalai Lama seem to manage the balancing. So might a small percentage of the hobos and superannuated hippies I have seen living hand to mouth in warmer places than New England. Since not all who have found this liberation are wealthy, we know the American myth that hitches prosperity to freedom, often forcing them to pose side by side in the same vacuous sentence, is false. At least the freedom it speaks of is a misapplied name.

Socialization in general and our civics curricula in particular have conventionally meant being taught in various ways that our freedom is an ideal that can never be absolutely achieved because we share the world with others. That implied balance of an individual's needs with needs of others and its manifestation as social contract is only the minimum necessary to prevent violent social collapse. It is an inadequate definition of freedom that seems only fit for the ego. Freedom for egos as enshrined in western thought is enslavement to ego.

My observation is that not only are freedom and prosperity not positively linked but that valuing prosperity conditions the mind to become an engine of striving. The need for one's prosperity becomes the justification for another's eventual loss of freedom. But to even start on that path, one surrenders their own freedom to their own desire. And that is a narrow narrow dead end.

Where does this path of true freedom lead? No place most of us want to go. The freedom from desire is not realistic...but seeing through desire is a kind of freedom. The end of the path might be freedom from self. And freedom from ego. I am not there yet. Maybe you can't function without all the attachments of ego...but seeing through them is a kind of freedom.

I have been watching myself getting more and more wound up by the politics and the denatured economics that cannot even frame or formulate a sustainable well being. I get to the point that I want to scream out corrections to the mistakes that lead our species to dismantle what should have been a permanent heritage of beauty and bounty on this earth. It was neither owed to us or made for us. It was just there because we were made by that bounty. We can do so much better. Every one of us has some reason for the things we choose to do or leave undone. Whether this is cause or effect of our belief that we are reasoning and reasonable beings, I do not care to sort out. The situation I find us all in is that we are far more irrational than reasoning. Our cleverness is the servant of something other than cleverness. In this, we are not free and cannot be. Thoughts timeless and clarifying may arise and tower over their thinker. We do not trust visions, nor should we. So rationality seldom persists. The visions slip through our fingers, get shredded by our tongues, seem like madness if we pursue too intently. We could be worthy of insights that arise in us if we knew they were in us but not of us and if we learned a language by which to test and share them. My screaming elicits resistance or is totally ignored.
My screaming lights things for an instant. My rationales catch your irrationalities like a flashbulb going off amid a melee in darkened room. A second later I too am one of the thrashing and flailing bodies taking blows in the dark from others blinded by the flash.

1 comment:

cul said...


Turbulent run the waters where the rivers cross.

Beautiful distillation. Made me cry.