Where are we going?
When things are going well in ‘our’ world, there is an understandable tendency to assume that a generally benign evolution of civilisation is taking place, one in which we play our part, however small, being a kind of swimmer who lives and dies within that flow of slow progress.
But when we are faced with the kind of politics, violence and social upheaval we are surrounded with at present, we find ourselves questioning the assumptions of the good times. These are certainly not good times, not when measured against a yardstick of caring, kindness and any semblance of equality. They may be good times for the relative few who ‘own’ the planet, but they are not so for those who care about the general welfare of mankind. The general system we call capitalism has carried us far into the expansion of our world, and produced wonderful systems and things, but now seems to be falling from its own, autonomous ledge into an unknown abyss.
This is not a political website, though, as directors of the Silent Eye, we are free to express our own, often strong, opinions.
Normally, I would not begin a post with the above sentiments, but I have begun to see a strong spiritual thread in the events around us, and on a global scale.
The human has a psychology. The concept, given to us by the early pioneers like Freud and Jung, is based on the fact that we form a ‘self’ which governs our actions at a different level to our biological survival mechanisms, though it derives from them, in its primitive stages of individual development. This multi-faceted self is what psychology addresses in its treatments. For other schools of teaching, such as the Silent Eye, the elements of this self are the starting points in the individual search for a deeper identity – one without the limitations of the egoic nature we wear during the day.
The self forms by separation. We are born a part of the world. Though seen by our loving parents as separate, that is not our experience. Reaction is the key to our development. Reaction forms from pleasant and unpleasant organic responses and an increasing need to choose the pleasant. Eventually, this reaction become a ‘thing’, a centre for our experience; and the brain turns it into a self. The attributes of this self are ‘groomable’ to make us fit better into the world by conformance and intelligence, which grow together until they are challenged by the individual who comes to see their unhappy limitations.
Sadly, this thing at the centre, this ‘us’ is little more than a machine of reactions, a composite of our personal history, conscious of its vulnerability but intent on its own survival at the centre of things.
So here’s the link to our civilisation: nations have ‘selves’, too. They are made up of the collective selves of the individuals, just as our own bodies are made up of the trillions of cells that have evolved to work together to provide us with an aware and sensitive vehicle. The human self or ego has its parallel in the society where we have our lives. We are a part of it, dramatically linked to its essential health in a way we cannot yet see, but our spiritual qualities of essence, kindness and selflessness do not flow into us through the ego – they come from beyond it. In the same way, the outer, conditioned responses of the individual within a society do not represent the potential inner state of that nation; or group of nations, that make up a country or continent.
The lowest levels of control centre on violence. Violence generates fear, which conditions group behaviour. Is it more violent to have a war or to find that the wealth of a society is concentrated in the hands of a few? There are many forms of violence, and we need to take a fresh look at them and empower ourselves to feel true, moral outrage, again or we will sink beneath the sea of despair that threatens to overwhelm us now.
I am not an advocate of revolution. It solves nothing. I do, however, believe in the power of the deep, collective mind to link with others of like intent in the throwing off of old ideas which have become morally and spiritually bankrupt. What is seen in truth is seen differently. That action of truly seeing is its own light and its own motive force. Quietly and without violence, it reveals what can no longer be hidden; and in so doing shows a pathway to a different future.
In this lies hope, and hope is so very needed in these dark times. We were never society; that is an invention to help us manage the collective. We were never a body, that is a collective to allow us to experience the trials and joys of matter. We are, singly and collectively, an un-cageable creative individuality whose existence is part of the unfolding of the universe – our aliveness ranges from atom to cell to human to planet, and is something that will not be denied… We were born to share it because we are it…
Stephen Tanham is a director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, a not-for-profit organisation that helps people find the reality and essence of their existence.
His personal blog, Sun in Gemini, is at stevetanham.wordpress.com
Image: Sweetheart Abbey, near Dumfries, Scotland. Taken by the author.