The ego is a construct, a pseudo entity characterized by a boundless inability to empathize, which thrives on obsessive thought and shrivels in the light of observation, of consciousness. Ego is terrified by the thought of extinction and invents elaborate strategies toward safety: domination, superiority, violence, judgement. The non-pseudo self is accessible through presence, indeed is presence, non-verbal being, consciousness, where “safety” is felt/known in the recognition of absolute interconnection, where identification shifts from ego to essence, and empathy in the broadest possible sense is a given.
I am in the process of archiving my paintings, political cartoons and songs… and approaching some writing projects, seeing time as limited and wanting to sort things out… this is a kind of reconciling with death, with a limited life span, feeling a need to tidy up. On a more personal level I have changed (not eliminated… yet), as I have become aware of it, competitive, negative behavior in my relations with others and in my head. When I experience anger I am less likely to believe it, to act out. I am sometimes instead, the observer.
I tend to see what is difficult to change about myself a result of habit, years of “practice” behind the behavior so that changing it requires focused attention and awareness… specifically the mind-chatter behavior… my mind just runs constantly, habitually, and I find Tolle’s analysis that this is the root of dysfunction, persuasive, this is how the ego stays alive… and this is the beginning of consciousness when we become aware of our ego at work.
I basically come out of a leftist, materialist, existentialist stance. I had thought that the existentialist ‘level’ was it – the world is ultimately unknowable, we find ourselves in this scary, vulnerable situation for some chancy unpredictable length of time and then we die. I had dismissed my inherited religion earlier as so much wishful thinking and superstition. The optimum strategy came to me from Sartre, to be creative and take courage in the face of death and meaninglessness. He spoke at the United Nations once leaving a simple message:
1. Learn to think clearly 2. Think clearly about good and evil 3. Do good
So discovering something outside that ‘level’ surprised me, namely that we are not separate, as existentialism assumes. This came through experiencing being and feeling the connection called ONEness. At first I understood the second of Beyond War’s two precepts – War is Obsolete and We Are One, as referring to human beings as one species on one planet, that we need to expand our identification beyond just one nation to the whole human family to avoid extinction.
Eventually I saw the expansion of this to all life, then to all existence and finally to the primal consciousness or unified field of underlying reality. And Tolle’s refreshing clarity, to me, brought the exhilarating notion that the realization of enlightenment is not restricted to rare glimpses by rare individuals but is the natural state of being which we mask with egoic mind-chatter, the human dysfunction at the root of environmental degradation and war.
I just remembered this morning that phrase, haven’t heard or thought it in years. Someone on a head trip might be someone who is out of touch with their feelings and so insensitive to others. Under the influence of psychedelics people in the timeframe I’m thinking of were subject to good vibrations - music could send you into near ecstasy and a hug could feel soooo good. In the same way criticism or threats could bring scary waves of paranoia. Another drug term, mind-fucker, would be someone who exploited that vulnerability as a put-down artist, sadistically playing on people’s insecurities in order to feel a warped sense of superiority. Psychedelics would somehow jerk you into the present with a raw intensity where, seeing things for the first time, the world was a marvelous place indeed, full of absolute wonder and delight. And threats. Beauty was very much magnified or rather, the world was seen as it is, a wondrous miracle including the realization of one’s own being in it. One’s psychology was also magnified and being shaped by a dysfunctional society that experience was not always pleasant. If your self-esteem was low, whether behind the mask of arrogance or the mask of shyness, one could be subject to fear, paranoia and panic. In light of Tolle’s teachings I can now see the head trip language as referring to the ego created by the cultural belief that we are separate vulnerable entities, thus the fear. The bliss reported by many, however temporary, constituted an insight into the interconnectedness of all things. Feeling this interconnectedness produced the bliss or what Tolle calls enlightenment. The ego though, so established and dominating, and dependent on a belief in separation, could intrude into the well-being, distracting one from the interconnection conviction, sowing doubt and fear. An artificial altered state amplifies it but the same process is at work in one’s daily psychology. Just this morning I was in bed, waking up, realizing I was thinking thinking thinking and breathing very shallow, even holding my breath as I thought. At one point I noticed I was reliving a pleasant memory and feeling mellow then became aware of holding my breath, took a breath, became present, yes, then started thinking again, this time remembering a social blunder and exchanging mellow for guilt, embarrassment, self-attack and the physical pain accompanying those thoughts. Who is the attacker I thought? Ego. Be the observer I said, and say.
We face three threats to our longevity as a species and all grow out of the dysfunction of ego:
Global climate change will be minimally very disruptive and could escalate way beyond the worst case scenarios of only a few years ago: rising seas, epidemics of old and new diseases, agricultural catastrophe, shifting currents drastically changing climate, unprecedented refugee dislocations and more. On top of the climate change situation apparently chiefly caused by deforestation and the dumping of carbon into the atmosphere, there is the dumping of toxic chemicals into the air, soil and water, the loss of topsoil, the poisoning and depletion of the oceans, the extinction of species.
The planet, in some estimates, can sustain a population of 150,000,000 at a U.S. lifestyle. Obviously, at six billion and climbing, we are way beyond that and something’s got to give. The high-consumption portion of world population must make serious adjustments as must the population-escalating portion. The adjustments might be voluntary if the crisis is fully recognized, and soon. If not they will be involuntary.
Nuclear weapons, as well as other clever yet-to-be-developed (or perhaps just not yet public) Weapons of Mass Destruction, have the potential to kill millions and render large areas uninhabitable for long periods. The proliferation of these weapons is on-going and encouraged by intransigence on the part of the nations already in possession, hesitant to give up what they mistakenly view as security. Nuclear power plants are pre-positioned nuclear devices to a serious terrorist and helpful ingredients in the making of nuclear weapons. There are more than 10,000 nuclear warheads, some on hair-trigger alert and hundreds of nuclear plants with full-time cheerleaders committed to promoting the technology. Radiation is increasingly entering our planet’s life system. Radiation is a carcinogen.
Madness you say? You would be not mistaken. All of this suicidal behavior is driven by fear which is created by the mistaken belief that we are not intricately interwoven into the web of life but rather are alternately masters and potential victims of an indifferent and violent order. The nurturer of this bleak view is the ego, a pseudo entity that will sacrifice whatever it takes to find momentary safety and maintain the illusion of its own importance and reality. How to escape Ego? See the next post and/or read Eckhart Tolle.
Interesting that there are literally dozens of right wing pundits with highly visible soap boxes from where they regularly condemn the “liberal” media. The liberals they attack, like Joe McCarthy’s subversives, are pretty hard to find. I suppose to them liberal is anyone who doesn’t slavishly, hysterically, promote their issues, which ultimately reduce to: the wealthy don’t really rule and it is good that they do.
The terms left/right are loosely bandied about in mainstream political discussion. Reading Michael Parenti I’ve come to the idea that the Right can be defined as pro-capitalist and the Left anti-capitalist. The sub-group, the religious right, is a staunch ally of the Right and is manipulated or co-opted by the dominant group. This is accomplished by exploiting the sub-group’s insecurity-driven desire, like their fundamentalist brethren across all ‘faiths’, to force their religious beliefs on others. The religious left is a sub-group of the Left but it comes to that position not out of exploitation by the dominant group but through an over-lap in values.
The heart of the U.S. Right is the tiny percentage of multi-billionaires and their closest associates who live in high privilege thanks to capitalism. A necessary percentage of their resources, in their view, must be expended to persuade as many of the other (lower) class as possible to invest emotionally in the system that serves them so well. To this end they maintain tight control over the media (through ownership), the congress and administration (through campaign contributions) and other institutional life by sitting on boards, tax-deductible gifts and various other strategies.
In the U.S., alternatives to Capitalism are discouraged by excluding such movements from the corporate media and by misrepresenting them on the rare occasions when they do appear. Extreme measures are relatively rare and unnecessary due to the effectiveness of the propaganda system. The murder of Fred Hampton in 1969 Chicago is a home example of what is more common in what is euphemistically called U.S. foreign policy.
To the uninitiated this may sound harsh but in a nutshell, the government channels aid, particularly military aid, to governments and elites who in turn provide a proper business climate for U.S. corporations, meaning, low wages, no or controlled unions, a tame media, access to cheap natural resources, and a military/police presence to enforce these policies against all ‘threats’. The home corporate media portray this arrangement in a way that assures a misinformed and thus compliant home population.
When you sometimes come out from under the trees and are surprised by a full moon, and you feel its presence, and your own in the pull of two forces, then are you in the moment and until fear pushes you back, you are en joy, the joy of being. We cannot successfully amass an army to oppose the momentum towards extinction but we can enter the moment where the answer to what to do reveals itself in clarity. No one is going to sound the battle charge, the bugle will not rouse us from our beds but in the luminous space where what happens happens, we will, grounded in the ONE life, whirl joyously in electron dance.
Members of Nuclear Watch South, three of us, were invited to do an information table at a Jackson Brown concert in Columbus, GA last month. We set up early, before the crowds, and attracted ushers, who were mostly retired military (Fort Benning is nearby). They were friendly but their views were about what you’d expect: pro-nuke, both weapons and energy, pro-war, both Iraq and Afghanistan (though Obama was too slow in deciding to send more troops). Of course they were anti-Obama in general (they were all white).
Unfortunately they merely paced about during the concert so never heard the lyrics to some of Jackson’s songs that would have challenged their received wisdom. None had heard of him except one retired firefighter from NY who was I suppose Libertarian. He was anxious to distinguish himself from the vets. He commented that Europeans are laughing at our healthcare debate. They know that single-payer is off the table, the system they have in place that serves them well.
One resuscitated the favored complaint that the politicians forced the military to “fight with our hands tied behind our backs” in Vietnam (hard to defend in the face of the fact that the U.S. dropped more bombs on Vietnam than were dropped on Europe in WWII). I asked him why he thought we were fighting in Vietnam. He said to stop Communism. I asked if it would be ok if the people decided to elect a Communist government. He hesitated but agreed that if they were so foolish well, let’em. I then told him about how the U.S. and its client in South Vietnam blocked elections called for in the Geneva Accords that ended the French involvement in 1954. Ho Chi Mihn was so popular that it was obvious he’d win any election unifying the country and this was unacceptable to the so-called freedom-loving U.S. government. Apparently you can elect any sort of government you like so long as it perpetuates elite rule. Any election with a differing outcome is “undemocratic” by definition. Thus millions of southeast Asians and 50,000 U.S. citizens died that a wealthy elite might rule over an impoverished population (and serve U.S. corporate interests, guaranteeing, cheap labor and access to natural resources – the template called U.S. foreign policy).
One exchange, getting heated, led to the following: Usher – “we should believe the president.” Me - “Even if he’s lying?” Usher - “Yes!” What can you say to that?
We were later ‘ushered’ backstage for a 15 minute conversation with the gracious rock star himself. He shared something he picked up on-line, that a Swedish 15th century galleon had been raised in Stockholm harbor. The state of the copper on board was forcing a re-evaluation of methods of storing nuclear waste since that stuff has to be isolated for time periods into the future greater than recorded history. You have to wonder why anyone would choose technology that leaves toxic waste around for uncountable future generations to safeguard when there are alternatives, particularly when those alternatives are cheaper, safer and available over a much shorter timeline. It may have something to do with boys and their toys - nonukesyall.org