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Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World

Edward Curtin

The condition of alienation, of being asleep, of being unconscious, of being out of one’s mind, is the condition of the normal man. Society highly values its normal man. It educates children to lose themselves and to become absurd, and thus to be normal. Normal men have killed perhaps 100,000,000 of their fellow normal men in the last fifty years. Our behavior is a function of our experience. We act the way we see things. If our experience is destroyed, our behavior will be destructive. If our experience is destroyed, we have lost our own selves.” R.D. Laing, The Politics of Experience, 1967

The artist is the man who refuses initiation through education into the existing order, remains faithful to his own childhood being, and thus becomes ‘a human being in the spirit of all times, an artist.’” Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death

Most suicides die of natural causes, slowly and in silence.

But we hear a lot about the small number of suicides, by comparison, who kill themselves quickly by their own hands. Of course their sudden deaths elicit shock and sadness since their deaths, usually so unexpected even when not a surprise, allow for no return. Such sudden once-and-for-all endings are even more jarring in a high-tech world where people are subconsciously habituated to thinking that everything can be played back, repeated, and rewound, even lives.

If the suicides are celebrities, the mass media can obsess over why they did it. How shocking! Wasn’t she at the peak of her career? Didn’t he finally seem happy? And then the speculative stories will appear about the reasons for the rise or fall of suicide rates, only to disappear as quickly as the celebrities are dropped by the media and forgotten by the public.

The suicides of ordinary people will be mourned privately by their loved ones in their individual ways and in the silent recesses of their hearts. A hush will fall over their departures that will often be viewed as accidental.

And the world will roll on as the earth absorbs the bodies and the blood. “Where’s it all going all this spilled blood,” writes the poet Jacques Prévert. “Murder’s blood…war’s blood… blood of suicides…the earth that turns and turns with its great streams of blood.”

Of such suicides Albert Camus said, “Dying voluntarily implies you have recognized, even instinctively, the ridiculous character of that habit [of living], the absence of any profound reason for living, the insane character of that daily agitation, and the uselessness of suffering.” He called this feeling the absurd, and said it was widespread and involved the feeling of being an alien or stranger in a world that couldn’t be explained and didn’t make sense. Assuming this experience of the absurd, Camus wished to explore whether suicide was a solution to it. He concluded that it wasn’t.

Like Camus, I am interested in asking what is the meaning of life. “How to answer it?” he asked in The Myth of Sisyphus. He added that “the meaning of life is the most urgent of questions.” But I don’t want to explore his line of reasoning to his conclusions, whether to agree or disagree. I wish, rather, to explore the reasons why so many people choose to commit slow suicide by immersing themselves in the herd mentality and following a way of life that leads to inauthenticity and despair; why so many people so easily and early give up their dreams of a life of freedom for a proverbial mess of pottage, which these days can be translated to mean a consumer’s life, one focused on staying safe by embracing conventional bromides and making sure to never openly question a system based on systemic violence in all its forms; why, despite all evidence to the contrary, so many people embrace getting and spending and the accumulation of wealth in the pursuit of a chimerical “happiness” that leaves them depressed and conscience dead. Why so many people do not rebel but wish to take their places on this ship of fools.

So what can we say about the vast numbers of people who commit slow suicide by a series of acts and inactions that last a long lifetime and render them the living dead, those whom Thoreau so famously said were the mass of people who “lead lives of quiet desperation”? Is the meaning of life for them simply the habit of living they fell into at the start of life before they thought or wondered what’s it all about? Or is it the habit they embraced after shrinking back in fear from the disturbing revelations thinking once brought them? Or did they ever seriously question their place in the lethal fraud that is organized society, what Tolstoy called the Social Lie? Why do so many people kill their authentic selves and their consciences that could awaken them to break through the social habits of thought, speech, and action that lead them to live “jiffy lube” lives, periodically oiled and greased to smoothly roll down the conventional highway of getting and spending and refusing to resist the murderous actions of their government?

An unconscious despair rumbles beneath the frenetic surface of American society today. An unspoken nothingness. I think the Italian writer Robert Calasso says it well: “The new society is an agnostic theocracy based on nihilism.” It’s as though we are floating on nothing, sustained by nothing, in love with nothing – all the while embracing any thing that a materialistic, capitalist consumer culture can throw at us. We are living in an empire of illusions, propagandized and self-deluded. Most people will tell you they are stressed and depressed, but will often add – “who wouldn’t be with the state of the world” – ignoring their complicity through the way they have chosen compromised, conventional lives devoid of the spirit of rebellion.

I keep meeting people who, when I ask them how they are, will respond by saying, “I’m hanging in there.”

Don’t common sayings intimate unconscious truths? Hang – among its possible derivatives is the word “habit” and the meaning of “coming to a standstill.” Stuck in one’s habits, dangling over nothing, up in the air, going nowhere, hanging by a string. Slow suicides. The Beatles’ sang it melodically: “He’s a real nowhere man/Sitting in his nowhere land/Making all his nowhere plans for nobody/Doesn’t have a point of view/Knows not where he’s going to/Isn’t he a bit like you and me.” It’s a far cry from having “the world on a string,” as Harold Arlen wrote many years before.

Maybe if we listen to how people talk or what popular culture throws up, we will learn more through creative associations than through all the theories the experts have to offer.

There have been many learned tomes over the years trying to explain the act of suicide, an early and very famous one being Emile Durkheim’s groundbreaking sociological analysis Suicide (1897). In thousands of books and articles other thinkers have approached the subject from various perspectives – psychological, philosophical, biological, etc. They contain much truth and a vast amount of data that appeal to the rational mind seeking general explanations. But in the end, general explanations are exactly that – general – while a mystery usually haunts the living whose loved ones have killed themselves.

But what about the slow suicides, those D. H. Lawrence called the living dead (don’t let “the living dead eat you up”), those who have departed the real world for a conscienceless complacency from which they can cast aspersions on those whose rebellious spirits give them little rest. Where are the expert disquisitions about them?

We’ve had more than a century of pseudo-scientific studies of suicide and the world has gotten much worse. More than a century of psychotherapy and people have grown progressively more depressed. Large and increasing numbers are drugged to the teeth with pharmaceutical drugs and television and the internet and cell phones and shopping and endless talk about food and diets and sports and nothing. Talk to talk, surface to surface. Pundits pontificate daily in streams of endless bullshit for which they are paid enormous sums as they smile with their fake whiter-than-white teeth flashing from their makeup masks. People actually listen to these fools to “inform” themselves. They even watch television news and think they know what is happening in the world. We are drowning in a “universe of disembodied data,” as playwright John Steppling has so aptly phrased it. People obsessively hover over their cell phones, searching for the key that will unlock the cells they have locked themselves in. Postliteracy, mediated reality, and digital dementia have become the norm. Minds are packaged and commodified. Perhaps you think I exaggerate, but I feel that madness is much more the norm today than when Laing penned his epigraphic comment.

Not stark raving screaming madness, just a slow, whimpering acceptance of an insane society whose very fabric is toxic and which continues its God-ordained mission of spreading death and destruction around the world in the name of freedom and democracy, while so many of its walking dead citizens measure out their lives with coffee spoons. A nice madness, you could say, a pleasant, depressed and repressed madness. A madness in which people might say with T. S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock (if they still read or could remember):

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons…
…And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker
And in short, I was afraid.”

But why are so many so afraid? Everyone has fears, but so many normal people seem extremely fearful, so fearful they choose to blend into the social woodwork so they don’t stand out as dissenters or oddballs. They kill their authentic selves; become conscience-less. And they do this in a society where their leaders are hell-bent on destroying the world and who justify their nuclear madness at every turn. I think Laing was right that this goes back to our experience. When genuine experience is denied or mystified (it’s now disappeared into digital reality), real people disappear. Laing wrote:

In order to rationalize our industrial-military complex, we have to destroy our capacity to see clearly any more what is in front of, and to imagine what is beyond, our noses. Long before a thermonuclear war can come about, we have had to lay waste our sanity. We begin with the children. It is imperative to catch them in time.

Without the most thorough and rapid brainwashing their dirty minds would see through our dirty tricks. Children are not yet fools, but we shall turn them into imbeciles like ourselves, with high I. Q.’s if possible. From the moment of birth, when the Stone Age baby confronts the twentieth century mother, the baby is subjected to these forces of violence, called love, as its mother and father, as their parents and their parents before them, have been. These forces are mainly concerned with destroying most of it potentialities, and on the whole this enterprise is successful. By the time the new human is fifteen or so, we are left with a being like ourselves, a half-crazed creature more or less adjusted to a mad world.

This is normality in our present age. Love and violence, properly speaking, are polar opposites. Love lets the other be, but with affection and concern. Violence attempts to constrain the other’s freedom, to force him to act in the way we desire, but with ultimate lack of concern, with indifference to the other’s own existence or destiny. We are effectively destroying ourselves by violence masquerading as love…We live equally out of our bodies and out of our minds.

So yes, I do think most people are victims. No one chooses their parents, or to be born into poverty, or to be discriminated against for one’s race, etc. No one chooses to have their genuine experience poisoned from childhood. No one chooses to be born into a mad society. This is all true. Some are luckier than others. Suicides, fast and slow, are victims. But not just victims. This is not about blame, but understanding. For those who commit to lives of slow suicide, to the squelching of their true selves and their consciences in the face of a rapacious and murderous society, there is always the chance they can break with the norm and go sane. Redemption is always possible. But it primarily involves overcoming the fear of death, a fear that manifests itself in the extreme need to preserve one’s life, so-called social identity, and sense of self by embracing social conventions, no matter how insane they may be or whether or not they bring satisfaction or fulfillment. Whether or not they give life a meaning that goes deep.

But for those who have taken their lives and are no longer among us, hope is gone. But we can learn from their tragedies if we are truthful. For them the fear of life was primary, and death seemed like an escape from that fear. Life was too much for them. Why? We must ask. So they chose a life-in-death approach through fast suicide. Everyone is joined to them in that fear, just as everyone is joined by the fear of death. It is a question of which dominates, and when, and how much courage we can muster to live daringly. The fear of death leads one to constrict one’s life in the safe surround of conventional society in the illusion that such false security will save one in the end. Death is too much for them. So they accept a death-in-life approach that I call slow suicide.

But in the end as in the beginning and throughout our lives, there is really no escape. The more alive we are, the closer death feels because really living involves risks and living outside the cocoon of the social lie. Mr. Pumpkin Head might seize you, whether he is conceived as your boss, an accident, disease, social ostracism, or some government assassin. But the deader we feel, the further away death seems because we feel safe. Pick your poison.

But better yet, perhaps there is no need to choose if we can regain our genuine experience that parents and society, for different reasons, conspire to deny us. Could the meaning of our lives be found, not in statements or beliefs, but in true experience? Most people think of experience as inner or outer. This is not true. It is a form of conventional brainwashing that makes us schizoid. It is the essence of the neuro-biological materialism that reduces humans to unfree automatons. Proffered as the wisdom of the super intelligent, it is sheer stupidity.

All experience is in-between, not the most eloquent of phrasing, I admit, but accurate. Laing, a psychiatrist, puts it in the same way as do the mystics and those who embrace the Tao. He says:

The relation of my experience to behavior is not that of inner to outer. My experience is not inside my head. My experience of this room is outside in this room. To say that my experience is intrapsychic is to presuppose that there is a psyche that my experience is in. My psyche is my experience, my experience is my psyche.”

Reverie, imagination, prayer, dream, etc. are as much outer as inner, they are modalities of experience that exist in-between. We live in-between, and if we could experience that, we would realize the meaning of life and our connection to all living beings, including those our government massacres daily, and we would awaken our consciences to our complicity in the killing. We would realize that the victims of the American killing machine are human beings like us; are us, and we, them. We would rebel.

Thoreau said a life without principle was not worth living. Yet for so many of the slow suicides the only principals they ever had were those they had in high school. Such word confusion is understandable when illiteracy is the order of the day and spelling passé. Has anyone when in high school ever had Thoreau’s admonition drummed into his head: “The ways by which you may get money almost without exception lead downward. To have done anything by which you earned money merely is to have been truly idle or worse.” Of course not, since getting a “good” living is never thought to involve living in an honest, inviting, and honorable way. It is considered a means to an end, the end being a consumer’s paradise. “As for the means of living,” Thoreau added, “it is wonderful how indifferent men of all classes are about it, even reformers, so called – whether they inherit, or earn, or steal it.” Is it any wonder so many people end up committing slow suicide? “Is it that men are too much disgusted with their own experience to speak of it?”

What the hell – TGIF!

I believe the story has it that when he was in jail for refusing the poll tax that supported slavery and the Mexican-American war, Thoreau was visited by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, who asked him, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” To which Thoreau responded, “Ralph, what are you doing out there?” Today, however, most folks don’t realize that being outside their cells is being in them, and such imprisonment is far from principled. That’s not a text message they’re likely to receive.

I recently met a woman, where or when I can’t recall. It might have been when walking on the open road or falling in a dreaming hole. She told me “if you look through a window, you can see the world outside. If you look in a mirror, you can see yourself outside. If you look into the outside world, you can see everyone inside out. When the inside is seen outside and the outside is seen inside, you will know what you face. Everything becomes simple then,” as she looked straight through me and my face fell off.


  1. Let us not be intense and clever here.
    This is a gentle, contemplative and imperfect essay, just as this comment is so.
    Thanks Curtin.
    In a less imperfect contemplative mode, however, please consider that “the Tao” above is an absurdity for there were no upper case letters and direct articles in laozi’s time.
    In ignoring this lies the present collapse of the English word/world.

  2. Estaugh says

    Life; a phenomena which propagates by consuming itself? A power that exists outside of that which it animates?

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      ‘Life-a sexually transmitted disease with 100% mortality’.

      • (Humour aside) What your thinking – (or the thinking of the human conditioning in which you participate) has made of life is as you say. Thinking can be used to make the true seem false and the false true. The consequence is a mind of distortion interjected between the living and the recognition of ourself in each other and world. In this ‘gap’ is all ‘dis-ease’ dissonance and attempt to suppress symptoms that reinforces and makes error real in the mind of the believer in their separation as their personal or group salvation.

        Sexuality is life made manifest, but to limit the nature and interaction of sexual qualities, energies and relation to the physical act of conception is a filtered distortion of the movement of being that you are (that lives where you think to be).

        When thinking makes a hole out of a whole, everything for that one revolves around a sense of lack seeking to be filled. Here is the urge to union and wholeness blindly using its body and world to try to regain a sense of lost power, love or peace. The movement is true, but the filtering of the original belief in self-lack or self-wrong-ness or self-hate – (self-anything of a fear inducing and defining belief) – distorts the natural urge to communicate into body-terms – as the weaponising or marketing intent of a self-survival under threat. For to such a mind is even love treacherous and as like to turn to hate in a moment – and so love is seen weak, and hate is believed strong – but dressed in masking intention.
        When two separate ones ‘join’ do they not co-create a bubble for them as a stronger bubble of self-reinforcement against to otherness of a world?

        We could not enter or participate in the human world – which is a learned image, model or construct of rules and definitions running upon whatever Life Is, without a personal construct, thought system or ‘mind’. As such it is a vehicle or a tool for the purpose of experiencing and exploring and therefore learning or being transformed as an unfolding in time of who we are through the experience of contrast with what we are not – but have taken our self and world to be.

        The focus or vehicle is temporary by definition but its underlying purpose is not different from that I indicated above; “know thyself”. This operates in negative definition as the inability to know ANYTHING and therefore a ceaseless and exhausting struggle to assert a self-knowing over a sense of self-lack. But as the integrated extension of wholeness, “know thyself” is the essence of the two commandments Jesus made famous as the statement of true wholeness of being that waits on welcome, not on time.

        We are free by the nature of being to make loveless or self-life-negating shadows from fantasies of self-imaged inflation, but we are never free from the consequences of our thought and act – except in the magical redistributions of psychic energy that makes sacrifice of the part/whole to ‘play apart’ in dominion over. Which always becomes powerless under the illusion of becoming powerful. Narrative control operates then to assert, shout or enforce the lie at expense of true relation, with all the desperate conviction of Notional Security – ie life and death struggle.

        It is not the wicked that shall perish, but that ‘wickedness’ shall no longer finds a structure of support and cannot find a home or a soil in which to induce yours. The word ‘shall’ pertains to a decision and not a happenstance. While loveless thinking finds your allegiance and support, a loveless world shall be all the ‘meaning’ you get back. This operates a self-reinforcing loop excepting that beneath all else, you are a love, and have no belonging in such a world, in such a thinking mind. This can generate self and world hating drama – but that is just a persistence of the same as a way to ‘think some more’.

        The awareness of the framing of thought comes with persisting in the active willingness to truly live what is here and now to live. Responsibility for our consciousness is of a different order than blame-judgement for our behaviours.

        I sense that contract of agreement operates as ‘rules’ under much of what the world’s entanglement consists of, and also that beneath all appearances of the surface mind are likewise ‘agreements, rules, and correspondences of matching resonance that are largely UN-conscious or running as the habit that structures the surface mind.

        We are no only a ‘lifetime’ apart and alone, although we are each a unique expression of the underlying movement of the desire to communicate life – because life Is already a state of communication, regardless the languages of symbolic separation (and control) that we may identify instead.

        This post lived its unfolding of purpose in sharing a felt sense of worth. Not a weapon, ammo, shielding or asset and resource capture for a sense of self-lack – brought on by self-deceit. Truth is not only the pre-casualty that hate and war can be engaged as ‘sanctified’, but is substituted for, by a masking narrative. It isn’t just that we are being ‘lied to’ or induced to participate in complicity, but that we lie to ourselves and be-live it. Instead of invoking blame-hate and power struggle to evade or mitigate penalty, why not be curious as to what is true and LOOK at myself in act as a willingness for communication and re-integration to a wholeness I cannot ‘of myself’ put back together again.

  3. okulo says

    I have often scoffed at virtual reality and I’m only a partial and occasional user of social media but having suffered PTSD for forty years, about 37 not even knowing that that was what was wrong with me, my life and world have shrunk to the point that I exist in a set of Matroska boxes but even at the centre, I cannot escape the noise, the literal noise as well as the mental – even whilst wearing earplugs and ear defenders. I cannot physically contract anymore and as I started reading this article, I started to wonder if the only escape from my hell short of suicide is to plug into my own heaven. The mere imagination of this fantasy’s physical manifestation is a representation of hell.

    Having failed half a dozen times, barely a day has passed in four decades that I have not either thought of suicide or wished not to wake up and when the conditions of my existence, both inner and outer, deteriorate daily. The mental health care is there only for those who want to remain in prison, the psychiatrists only want to fix supposed chemical imbalances and the psychologists only want to train people to behave ‘normally; nobody I have spoken has ever had the slightest interest in investigating anything deeper other than to give it a new label.

    Somebody I hardly knew sent me a link to a booklet describing Dabrowski’s Theory of Existential Depression and apart from one or two brushes with insight over the years, the booklet was the only time anything I ever read got close to describing how things were for me and it nailed it. Unfortunately, nobody I have worked with has ever heard of it and when I introduce them, they haven’t the capacity to understand it. Whilst it explains a great deal, it hasn’t helped me escape the trap I am in.

    • Kathy says

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about your struggle with P.T.S.D . I understand completely where you are coming from having struggled with this affliction and phobias throughout my adult life. The thing that has kept me here is the wonder of life and the awesomeness of the natural world. I have not come across Dabrowski,s theory before so will try to find out some more. Thank you again for sharing. I agree that the psychologists are limited in there abilities to help. I hope you are able to find your own place of solace within this wonderful realm. Love and peace to you and I wish you well.

      • okulo says

        Sometimes I think that though very well meaning, many health care professionals actually have little concept of the mental health problems they are dealing with. It’s like, say, they understand the concept of gravity but not magnetism and that by following a process such as CBT all problems go away. Five years ago, in my local authority, the only option open to me (I was told, quite literally, that I could take it or leave it) was CBASP and that I could not even embark on such a programme without an SSRI prescription. I had just explained that I was reluctant to take another SSRI as I had experienced horrendous side effects from about eight different ones over the previous 20 years and reading the document they gave me about CBASP actually made me even more depressed as I could not find anything relevant in it and it was actually so oversimplified that the author could not recognise a pretty obvious contradiction in it; there isn’t a single approach that will fix everything/CBASP fixes everything.

        At that time, ‘mental health’ was a buzz phrase and seeing the words ‘Mental Health Awareness’ on balloons and key fobs was the most obvious indication that whoever was leading the campaign had absolutely no idea where they were going. The simplistic one size fits all approach is about as wrong as it can be with mental health but that was the direction they headed and the vehicle they were driving was CBASP.

        It wasn’t until a couple of years later that repressed memories pointed towards PTSD and I was eventually diagnosed by a veterans charity but after being referred back to the NHS, it was suggested that I should be treated with CBASP for depression. That feeling when having spent five years making tortuous slow progress and then find oneself where one set off.

        I just want somewhere quiet to live out my final 20 years or so but despite living at an address which delivery companies cannot find, I now have neighbours from hell who I think actually enjoy tormenting me – they know I have PTSD yet behave as if they really don’t give a toss. It’s clear when I mention this to whoever is examining my head, that they have no concept of the kind of torture this puts me through.

        • Okulo, you have real problems not just some fancy 20th century “existential angst”. People with real depression and other forms of mental trouble are found in many families. There is little or nothing the rest of the family can do, except support financially if possible, and show acceptance. Therapy and pharmacy can help but not much. Taunts from the minority of ignorant and unfeeling people in this world are a constant hazard for all of us. But all this can be borne with dignity. There is a popular book which might or might not help; anyway I found it a good read and cheap. “Depression: How to Escape from Your Own Prison”. Of course none of us can escape from our own prison; we can only learn to make the best of what we are allowed to have while we are around.

          Nobody knows why the world is constructed in this semi-random way, by God the Almighty Father to whom the Best is as the Worst, who created the Tiger and the Lamb. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.

          • vexarb, While I don’t argue your experience, I do question your assumptions.
            If this prison was a falsely flagged identification, then all attempts to escape it only reinforce and compound and develop the consciousness and culture of the ‘prison’.
            Thus a human conditioning is set and accepted and reacted from as ‘the human condition’, and survival adaptations under such a sense of division and rules all work to reinforce the conditions upon which they have become dependent.
            An example could be ‘prison food’. The door to the prison was never locked but the conditioning that kept that door closed forced a seeking for substitutes for freedom, love, power, joy and etc – and these crumbs from the table become associated with an identity in fear of loss and protection against too raw an exposure to such fear – and so we settle for the devil we know, have appeased, aligned in and give due sacrifice to and perhaps believe we ‘love’ as in the Stockholm syndrome – for the allaying of the penalty of pain is then seen as a privilege associated with compliance lest the privilege be revoked.

            That mind is not your friend if you desire to be inspired rather than dispirited. Yet it speaks and runs as if for you and is perhaps our most cherished ‘possession’ for it it the root of a sense of persona-control amidst a chaotic triggering of imposed order over fear of total loss.

            As you allow others so will your own allowance grow. You set the measure by which your thought and experience frees or imprisons as does each for themselves. However we cannot give what we are as yet unwilling or unready to receive for our Good or truth cannot be forced upon us and nor can we force upon others or indeed ourselves.
            Guilt and fear operate the prison that can NEVER be escaped. But Jesus did not teach the foundation of a mind split off and desperate for fig-leaf prisons of protection.
            The attempt to get by magical association may bring temporary relief or release and so the fear-defined imagination is a state of perpetuating insecurity that demands sacrifice of the Living Now to maintain its ‘structural sense’ of defence – as a house of cards made of such complex levels and diversion of displacement and dissociation as to be un-entangle-able. For every apparent solution generates more complex forms of the problem.

            Whatever Is and whatever I Am – is prior to any thinking, imaging or self conceit and thus prior to our ‘experience of a self and world’. It is also simply true at the same time as I be-live whatever interpreted reality that I have accepted by reacting as if it is true.

            To ‘overcome the world’ is not to battle with its Principalities, as the temptation to righteousness drawn against perceived and believed evil, but to yield or release the will-to-personal-power to the only true power – for all else is the wish to possess or use it for personal agenda. What then of our personal sense, our human life, our relationships, endeavours, and unfoldment or discovery of life? It is in a sense restored us from a true foundation reflected in a healed perception, such as we are currently willing and able to accept.

            God doesn’t withhold All That Is – but while I want everything on MY terms, I effectively block and filter and distort my appreciation of Creation in myself, my fellow human being and the living world. The Self-deprived or blinded know not what they do – and are running on dead thinking that no longer connects to anything truly worthy of communion with.

            Hence they live in a depressing prison of loveless thinking that is not manipulatable into ‘positive’ outcomes but for ever shifting experiences that compound and reinforce the be-living of it as terribly real. One can die of loneliness – or rather choose death as escape from such pain but a sense of problem defined self can rise with you after sleep as if you haven’t rested at all! Where then is ‘everything made new’?.
            Releasing a negatively self-reinforcing loop is not something one can ‘do’ but that does not mean it hasn’t all the power You give it. the way of an undoing of error or self-illusion and conflict is very different. It will not fit or flow through the ‘old wine bottle’ mind, but abiding in such moments of active desire and willingness that alight in the ‘touch’ or glimpse of a quality of presence – without immediately feeding it to the ‘problem’ grows a different consciousness by persistence.

            We do not change the world first as if to attain the conditions where we can come out of defence or grievance and live, we live first, from a felt connection and communion with life that even a little willingness draws to itself.

            Do we actively or actually want to live?
            Not the narrative chatter of a fear of life as a self-protective gesture that effectively robs us of life while we yet live.
            Rather than fatalistically give power away to the Principalities of the world in a sense of making the best of what we are ‘allowed’, why not be curious as to attend and align in the true of the life you are given now and always now, and have obviously accepted at some level, or we would not be having this discourse. So instead of trying to manipulate our world, or our experience of the world, we can pause to notice instead of react. For we make our versions of self and world at a level that is then hidden – and in a sense we do thereby become ‘trapped’ or fixated and addicted in our own making for we made it by wanting it true and believing it – and as part of ourself given, we can own and accept it – because it remains within us. No one can release of change what they are unwilling to own. This is the apparent paradox of steering into the skid, because we cannot solve problems where they are not – and the mind of defence uses diversion in displacement to dissociate itself from cause. Even insanity and regressive degradation can seem a preferable option to overwhelming terror.

            Desire to live brought the unfolding to me of the ways I invite, induce or set myself up to fear – and all the reactive defences to fear. I cannot give anyone the desire to live, or the capacity to notice – because they already ARE THAT, but are actively covering over and ‘be-living’ their own journey of self-apart until they recognize themselves in another, and that light is the spark that grows to illuminate a different way of seeing and being that embodies ‘in the world but not of it’.

            The mind stands at the door as the locked door – perhaps with terror symbols or perhaps as a protection against the Master’s return – (Dont let the light back in – cover your eyes! The light is coming cover your eyes!).

            While your winning streak holds you attention, the world may seem to support who you think you want to be, but as all that changes only changes, and we stand in the wastelands of the ruin of our will, we are at the point of opportunity to question the thought that brought such results, right down to the ‘ground zero’ where no thought can stand. So instead of enforcing continuity of thought-objects persisting in time, with all its burden and loss in death and taxes, we alight in the Well being of a present willingness to listen, learn and do out from a fresh take instead of a mis-take.

            Non of this is coercive upon us – but our own coercive mind generates a situation of depleting returns such that we in effect force ourself to crisis of opportunity and need to know – rather than persist as if we know because the ‘problem’ defines us in such stark and seemingly unarguable terms. The answer may be obvious to the ‘problem’ seen differently. If you box yourself in, you will need a box to ‘get out’. But the door to Life is not closed now if now you will attend in Its terms – as you are freely willing to see or indeed be shown, because life is a gift – not a stolen self, nor an abandoned self who decides to limit to the ‘physical’ as a self-existing randomly encrypted causelessness.

            What if true Cause is never really in the past or at the hand of another but perfectly One with its Event or Instant of embrace? Can Presence release our past and unfold a future of aligned purpose in place of a fragmentation of consciousness in past and future rehearsals lived as real? Can we abide to be undone of an attempt to correct ourselves that usurped the already given grace of being and compounded a sense of unworthiness for love? For denied or hidden fear is everything we sought to cover over, repacked and give away as if to get rid of it. Toxic debts?

            Forgive us our debts as we forgive them that are indebted to us. This is not primarily about money or goods but of dishonouring acts and grievances. However, I don’t see we will get our ‘economy’ on a sound footing until we address the true currency of our thought – or indeed the lack of truth – in which case the recognition of the false AS false becomes the curiosity and freedom to uncover the true. This is the flip side of having ‘been lied to about everything’. And in all honesty, we participate in the lies we choose to accept even if under the cloak of plausible deniability.
            Blame does not operate a healthy or whole economy but disempowers and exhausts us – even while seeming to confer little winning streaks of ‘power’ meted out in righteous vengeance upon some scapegoat or pharmakoi.

            What goes around, comes around, so wake to give in the measure you would receive – as a worthiness for love’s awareness – or else you give the lovelessness that you accept as your allotted allowance.

            • @Binra. I think we are broadly in agreement as regards ends; must be, because in the end there can be only one One. As to means, though both Buddhist and Graeco-Christian mysticism share a commont Indo-European root (a dialectic of One vs Many, Good vs Evil) they diverge on the exercise of Willpower. Both in Greek and in Judaeo-Christian ethics, Good Will is essential to salvation of the soul and the fate of the Universe. It is a driving force.

              “In la sua voluntade e la nostra pace”.
              “L’amore que muove il sol e l’altre stelle”. — Paradiso

              One of the saddest things about clinical depression is paralysis of the will. And as you say, a loving attitude might give some relief from that paralysis. Feeling pity for others is better than feeling sorry for yourself: “If you find yourself with a choice between cyanide and self pity, choose the cyanide: it will kill you quicker and cleaner.”

              Religion — Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Communist, whatever — may be an antidote to depression; money is not. I was interested to see in the UN Report on Suicide, that I live in a world zone (Southern Europe, the Med and the MENA) characterized by superstition, low income — and low suicide rate.

              • Kathy says

                PTSD is not depression it is a natural reaction to trauma. It was first acknowledged as far as I am aware in world war1 but i am sure that it was a problem long before this.Wherever trauma and or war have effected the mind and its ability to process things that should not have to be endured. It is one of the most disgusting things about the perpetuation of war and the repercussions on the human psyche. It is also part of the reason that most are living a life of quiet desperation of traumas past down to them. Physical injuries mend and may disappear altogether after time but extreme trauma of the mind is much more difficult to heal and the younger these experiences have occurred the more difficult it is for the mind to process. At best you learn to manage and minimize symptoms. How will all these poor children caught up in war zones cope having seen such tragedy. My heart aches for them all. Survivor guilt and flashbacks of the horror will not disappear easily. This also applies to homes where children are exposed to warzone behavior from the very ones that should be safe responsible, and caring for them. There is a tendency for such trauma too, once absorbed manifest as fears and phobias in some but has the capacity to desensitize others to continue the behavior and inflict trauma on to others and perpetuate this into future generations. This is the sort of behavior patterns that drives the perpetuation of violence wars and trauma on to others and the wider world. This is something we should all strive against regardless of our religious, spiritual, philosophical or intellectual world view. . Is this not what keeps us down. It is not something that is limited to human existence as it manifests in abused and mistreated animals and it quite likely effects plant life also. Is this not physical manifestation of the lesson of responsibility that we have to all of creation. Is this not what all the teachings are about. To be free of imposing our traumatized will or failings onto others.. I have known horses who will tremble and become deranged at the approach of some one or something that reminds them of past trauma. Sometimes you can rehabilitate to be less effected but often you have to accept that this is part of who they are and love them and nurture their trust and accept their limitations and not push them. We all I feel walk this world as wounded healers. It is often the recognition of our fallibility and frailty and a recognition of this in others that enables us all to grow spiritually and elevate to higher consciousness.

              • My appreciation of you is regardless of finding agreement, I don’t seek to address the person so much as the underlying issues with you and anyone else who is interested. ‘Issues’ include the inherited linguistic structures that frame our perception and thus determine our response.

                The ‘territory’ of our being is the same regardless our filters of definition and interpretation.
                Sharing or opening to communication calls for reading the contextual meaning as well as the apparent face value of what is said. So I am not seeking controversy or to prove anything so much as an illumination of unconflicted being – oneness without a second. (I note that is a good definition for timelessness 😉

                The split mind can SEEM to substitute for the true will (or true desire) as a personal bias of wanting everything to be different than it Is. This is just another way of saying an oppositional sense of self arises in substitution for selfless awareness of being – which beholds and recognises itself Good. Not better or anything relative to ‘bad’, but true creation – which Is never outside the mind of the Creative. This is also expressed in ‘This is My Son in whom is my delight’.

                So Biblically a false will is expressed as a disobedience, an evil or source of evil, and a guilt receiving punishment (in like measure) – rather than a misidentification from which division, conflict, pain and loss generate a self in subjection and defence – railing at its fate, or trying to ‘love’ pain as sacrifice or self-denial, or recast pain in terms of denial, projection and dissociation as a further sacrifice of feeling and knowing for the sake of a personal sense of survival as a split off mind in attempt to maintain ‘control’ or indeed keep ‘face’.

                Depression – well we all have our own experience of stuckness, powerlessness, lack of support or connection in the terms we set, but the experience of will-lessness may be a great opportunity to stop trying to do what does not work.
                Self-pity was one of the first things I met in recognition that if I want to live, accept and share what life gives and Is, then I simply cannot afford it. It is a plughole down which energy (joy) drains away. And the play of the narrative is that you cant help it. In fact the whole play of a narrative sense of separation is of a sense of subjection (victimhood) that we do not recognize we have at some level set up.

                I can understand “I WANT IT THUS!” and I can understand that when our personal ‘will’ find itself unsupported, overwhelmed, rejected, abandoned, enraged or conflicted to paralysis, our separation script is triggered and our reaction reflects the particular facets of such interpretation to trigger different strategies of coping. The hurt or denied sense of self may refuse to move or allow movement until a deeper trust is restored. Rather than indulge the feelings that induce the thinking that feeds the feelings, we have to cut the energy of attention to that narrative and give focus elsewhere. In whatever way you can, find an object of your affection such as to extend a sense of appreciation rather than sink in a sense of a lack, wrongness of self, or victim. The power of your gift of attention and acceptance is no less in the negative than in the positive, but the positive rises from wholeness or silence as a true gift in which to re-member and re-align. All the attempts to magic our way out of what we are in fact accepting, and believing, by our action and experience, are avoidance and delay of the only thing that opens to peace – because we are no longer invested in conflicted futility as if it could be ‘won’. How you live your life in peace is not proscriptive but a freedom of being as the context of your experience instead of subjection to experience. But no one can or need understand more than the step they are taking gives them towards the next, and this is where the ‘define. predict and control’ refuses to move – because its seeks guarantees in advance as the ‘understandings’ from which to move. But life is not backwards.
                Your extending of worth, appreciation, recognition and gratitude is your OWN restored to your awareness.

                If you cannot turn to something worthy of your appreciation within the moment at hand, you may need to abandon any struggle and really feel all there is to feel in whatever comes up – so as to move or evolve the feeling to open wordless insight as to what the underlying issues, and self-definitions are. But in a way that harms no one – including yourself. The emotional result is always a result and not a true cause. But the true feeling being is not emotional reactivity – but a wholeness or flow of being that knows itself in its being with what is – as it is. There is no ‘head’ in this and so I write it to the intuitive resonance of a deeper recognition – while giving the head something to help it get out of the way – by functioning as a willingness of attention. Of course the head seems to have the power to invalidate, sabotage, resist and deny – because that is what we wanted to wield in defence of what we took to be our ‘will’ or ‘self’.

                Jesus – regardless of ‘religion’ demonstrated or exemplified NOT acting from the self-will but what he called the Father’s Will. This is the movement of the desire and recognition of wholeness of being – right where we are. He had a head start perhaps 😉 because we have to first recognize and release what seems to be ourself and no one can release what they are not the owner of. So if you notice what does not serve you truly and undermines your peace – own or know it in act and repent or change your mind by focusing where you are attending now instead of using a sense of oppositional wrongness to make a ‘self upon’.

                The paradox is that when your life is not all about you, it is restored you. As for suffering – perhaps it takes whatever it takes to break the spell. Negative experience can serve a positive outcome if you so decide. One even that touched me was a sudden shift from struggle to that of learning while I am ‘in it’ in the desire to one day be of service to others who are ‘in it’. This letting Life in, instead of believing I am all by myself and must somehow ‘do it’ by myself (or be invalid). ‘I HATE MYSELF AND WANT TO DIE!’ is another deep script of judgemental rejection. Look at the script instead of running it. By whatever means serves you that your imagination or need bring forth. You can only hate what you have judged against (in yourself first) – and be aware much of our learning was preverbal and ‘unconscious’ in its influence.

                True need uncovered is the true Will – be it – instead of trying to fit it into thinking. Why run on ‘thinking’ that hasn’t checked in at the heart? Of course one can only choose or accept differently in the grace of noticing. Blame driven thinking uses the glimpse to renew and reinforce its denial-script. Once you notice this you will not want it.

                No one in their right mind would behave as humanity generally does – and so we are wrong-minded and in need of renewal – not blame-hate. Means and end are one.

                • Kathy says

                  I do see what you are saying and at times even glimpse this and feel such resonance. Moments of suspension but they are sporadic. It feels as though falling from grace from time to time checks ego and prevents mistaking oneness for detachment iand delusion. But I can see this is also part of a fearful thinking process, Blessed be.

                  • As I see it any such glimpse of being is where the mind interjects in “I” thoughts as if to grasp, possess or protect the forms or experience in form – and that is the ‘loss of (awareness of) grace’, this is what the mind ‘does’ until we learn not to try to keep or use it for our personal sense but rather to abide in an intimacy of being in equanamity. Even to call beauty ‘beautiful’ can lose the quality of being it to thinking about it. So in a sense instead of getting we shift to relax or release the getting to a quality of letting into – as a receptivity that only moves when it is moved. And can only feel or discern the qualities of such communication by yielding the personal sense of (any attempt to) control reality.
                    I can only say I open to where the most ordinary moment is not other that an intimacy of being – of course there are no words and there are no end of words for being alive and at one with. But whatever framing of definitions and meanings we think in and perceive in the framing of, will filter or distort or rule out an undefended intimacy of being by the very attempt to use it – and as a result we are likely to interpret love as weak, fickle and treacherous, or ourselves as inadequate, unworthy or sinful. (The gamut of our ‘separation script).

                    Perhaps a key thing is to realise that ‘we know not what we do’ because our habitual identification within beliefs or ideas that are hidden set the terms of our responses – whether expressed or suppressed in act. So the core practice is not to try to boot strap our behaviours – though inhibition of lovelessness is necessary – but to become curious and attentive to the thoughts or beliefs we are (re) acting from in whatever relationship or endeavour we are engaged in.
                    I see this as ‘looking in while looking out – and yet looking out is through the acceptance within and so looking out Is looking in at one and the same instant. But of course if we have self rejection, we will find some reflection – even if it is not offered us we will find a way to interpret in reinforcement to what we have in that moment accepted and acted from as true. But in the moment of noticing – it may simply no longer have any status from which to be embodied.

                    If you suspect and believe someone has stolen something of yours and your mind pictures all the evidences or witnesses to such a conviction and you accuse and extend blame but then discover the item was in your possession all along but misplaced or overlooked must you not forgive them for what they have NOT done and yourself for what you projected out upon them? In life we each and all project our denied or rejected self ‘into’ the minds or intentions of others but experience it as if true. This is not to say another may not be in their ‘right mind’ but that unless we are in ours, we are as like to relate insanely too.

                    Blaming ourself for hateful thought is hardly our true sanity, but honest acknowledgement no longer tries to hide or self-deny in sacrifice by which to mitigate or offset guilt. the owning of something is the alignment of a self-honesty that is already tuned to something true instead of battling the false. Sure the ‘ego’ can fake the forms of anything – so how honest with yourself can you open to allow – and that is back to the undefended intimacy of being – for we can only embrace and be embraced from where we are – and not ‘when we’ve got ourselves sorted out’.

                    It is different from ‘working on ourselves’ and yet I expect that is what the term originally meant; the work of opening and abiding in self honesty and true desire which I may add is innate to the movement of your being and not a something special to add to yourself. We tend to have it backwards until we let life in rather than try to make it fit our terms and conditions. Life is not really ‘outside us’ but we have – for our own reasons wanted that so, and so we have to freely release our ‘exclusion zone’ to a quality of Communication we have forgotten but never truly lost.

                    Believed judgement of guilt or unworthiness for love separates to both save it from feared hate, and hide from such a shame. Isn’t that where we came in to a ‘Fallen experience of self, each other and life?

        • Kathy says

          Okulo, The nhs is more about medication and sticking plasters then real healing. I think there is so much evidence that SSRIs cause more misery and problems then they solve including worsening of symptoms. I would never take any of them personally. They dont even have enough understanding of how the chemicals in the brain function yet so how can they possibly fine tune such medication for an individuals safe usage. I am so sorry to hear that having moved you have neighbour problems . I know from my own personal experience how damaging this is to any possible peace of mind or breathing space and how this can lead to re traumatization and into PTSD flashbacks. I really hope that you are able to find some where, where you can experience a place of sanctuary It is so important for you to feel safe in your own home. This is so for every one but is especially important for those suffering from PTSD.There is one process that I think maybe helpful but I don’t know if it may be available in your area. It is the historical trauma program It is intensive and involves 1 group therapy and 1 individual session a week. There is a possibility that this may prove helpful for you. One of the things I have been taught that has proved helpful in this is the way that it treats and looks at all angles including the strategies you can use to help bring your self out of flashback mode and into the now by concentrating on your breathing and drawing your breath down in deep long held breaths from the deafram not shallow breaths into the chest. Allowing more carbon dioxide dissipates Adrenalin as apposed to shallow quick breaths which increase oxygen, increasing adrenaline production. Also the bringing your senses back into the now with touching something feeling something smelling something and tasting something. You may already know about these techniques. Take good care of your self. It is important to be kind to your self even if you do not feel that way at times. You are a special and integral part of this wonderful world . Love bright blessings and peace to you fellow traveler.

        • okulo says

          Thank you for the kind words.

          I find it hard to respond but feel that I have to. I’m sorry that I disagree with you, existential depression is not some fancy 20th century angst except that given the rise of humans’ awareness of the universe, it is very likely to be more prevalent. Nobody diagnosed me with existential depression other than me but it is as applicable to my situation as the trauma I experienced over a nine year period decades ago. They are not exclusive and complicate each other. The trouble I have is that the existential depression is beyond the scope of the mental health services and I have been told that the PTSD probably cannot be treated as the trauma was so long ago and over such a period (it was caused by physical, sexual and psychological abuse) that the military psychiatrist believes that the symptoms are ‘effectively personality based’, i.e. that’s who I am.

          I actually moved to my current address over eight years ago and the neighbours I have now moved in about two years ago. One of them, along with some of his family, are employed by my landlord and though I have raised the issue with my landlord, the behaviour does not get better. I recently heard from that they had been complaints about them at their previous address but I don’t know how true that is. There are other complications which make the issue too prickly to deal with and that I would prefer not to mention other than to say that they are not of my doing. Moving is financially and physically problematic but I have been looking into it albeit with low expectations. My geographical location also isolates me from my family and what few friends I have left.

          I would happily go to group or one to one PTSD therapy but I am unaware of anything in my area. I do see a clinician but they are away now until September. I have met with other sufferers of PTSD but whilst there is commonality, they seem to be like like magnetic poles and in my case, I find it very difficult to be around other military and ex-military personnel.

          For the time being, I cannot get out of my house and the only way I can cope is through sound management, i.e. ear defenders and/or earplugs.

          • Kathy says

            Okulo I do so hope that you manage to sort out your housing difficulties and find some where that gives you sanctuary.. All things are transitory and .good things often come out of the darkest times. You are in my thoughts and my prayers.

        • Also, is mental illness caused by a chemical imbalance or is the “imbalance” the result of trauma, brain damage, immune and digestive abnormalities? Treating chemically not always the best route, herbs/homeopathy can help sometimes. And, engage with them,

          • Stress or strain of intense or chronic persistence activates the bio-chemistry of the sympathetic nervous system and the capacity of the parasympathetic to balance, repair and renew is worn down such that a fear-based loop runs a self reinforcing script. Nutrition does come into this as do toxins – but these are also and perhaps firstly at the level of thought – but to uncover that may need a dietary discernment to clear the brain fog. One has to work with the evils of the day thereof to uncover the way to live this day well. I was going to say ever day – but that sets up something that I don’t feel to insinuate. Living this day well – and this moment well is aligning in the well of being or the well being. It is also the release of the emotional reactivity to what is not here now – so as to open what is here to the eyes to see it.
            There is always another way of looking at whatever it is we are perceiving or believing. The lock down into a narrative identity reaction is a dissociation from the energetic honesty of what is actually moving and being here. No blame for trying what didn’t work, but no call to persist in it either.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      The concept of ‘ existential depression’ seems quite tautologous to me.

  4. Great article for its provocation of thought.

    I have always called the slow suicide you speak of as ‘slow death by minimum wage’ and the more rapid form of it, ‘Murder’.

    Yes, you are a product of the menticide, and complicit in a corrupt system, but there is plenty of hope and many methods to regain your pissed on spirit. It is simply a matter of speaking and acting truth to power.

    Many insights in this article here and an explanation of the murder charge…

    And here is the close of the article, you can do many of these things by not exposing yourself to the evil powers that be but the sooner you can do that the more empowered and alive you will feel.

    “What To Do…

    • First and foremost; work to deprogram yourself from the brainwashing. Be more skeptical and question all authority. Turn off your TV. Garbage in equals garbage out. You do not need to fill your head with the incessant deceptive harangue of corporate others trying to sell you their products and services or ideologies. Corporate media will rot your brain faster than a venomous snake bite.

    • Second; realize that this is the few rich and powerful self anointed elite and their administrative class against the rest of us. We are many, they are few. [If you are a member of that jivey league, college educated, self anointed elite snob administrative class, go look in a mirror.]

    • Recognize that you will not make positive remedial change within their system. Recognize that your local elections, like here in Saint Augustine, are all about the criminal Vanilla Greed for Profit administrative class fighting over their local crumb supply even as they are enveloped by a greater more evil force, Pernicious Greed for Destruction Xtrevilism. Those in either criminal group do not give a rat’s ass about you or your friends or your family. Their insular arrogance and internecine bickering is now so pervasive that they no longer even take the time to give lip service to the wants and needs of the common person. It is all about them selfishly fighting over access to your wallet and controlling you. Yes, it is disheartening to learn that you have been deceived by those you have trusted for so many years and that you are living in an illusion, but the sooner you accept and embrace the reality the better off you will be.

    • Shun the corrupt self anointed elite class corporate system as it shuns you. Work outside the crooked system to make a more moral and positive world. Morality is what it is all about. We do not need a hierarchal system that is ruled by the few. We need instead a one for all and all for one levelocracy. A system of direct democracy where we send messengers bound to convey our local will to a minimalist central government charged with the protection of the greater commons, rather than sending crooked unbound representatives controlled by deceptive lobbyists that thwart our local will when sent to a centralized pack of gangsters. Consider having nine regional Presidents rather than one President, with a system of shared emergency control. Our Constitution and its Bill of Rights and our ‘rule of law’ are like corrupted software that is out of date. They need to be upgraded to be made more inclusive and eliminate the corruption, not by crooked politicians, but by you and your friends and neighbors.

    • BOYCOTT the vote. A boycott abstention is in reality a vote of no confidence in this crooked government. That is why they are working overtime in this election cycle to get out the vote. They want you to validate their criminal control. Don’t do it! A vote for a lesser criminal immorality is a vote for criminal immorality.

    • BOYCOTT those who oppress you. You don’t have to buy from the greedy merchants downtown who have denied you opportunity. Support other working class businesses.

    • RESIST ANY erosion of your Civil Liberties, no matter how small. Work to protect and grow the public commons.

    • Get Solvent ASAP. Avoid sorrow don’t borrow! The thirty plus year bull bond market (all the bubbles that have caused the turmoil domestically and in foreign countries around the globe) is unsustainable. DO NOT get caught with your pants down. It is possible that 100 trillion dollars of phony derivative fiat credit/money could disappear globally overnight. There will be NO chairs left when the music stops playing. Until that time continual global rolling bubbles in specific countries and sectors of the economy (especially oil and finance) will be used to justify austerity and sequestration (cute little euphemisms for screwing you financially and draining your resources) will be increased. Focus your efforts on becoming self sufficient and support community programs and others that do the same.

    • Take a world view and expose corruption and the phonies amongst us, You do have a civic responsibility to yourself and to others to make the world you live in sustainable…

    The good captain realizes that she is not only responsible for her ship’s safety but she is also responsible for the quality of the water she navigates in… a responsibility that goes beyond mitigating the negative impacts of her own vessel… a responsibility that includes insuring that other vessels do the same… a responsibility that extends to safeguarding all creatures, great and small, whether sea based or land based, as they all contribute to the quality of the water… it is wise to realize that even the most seaworthy vessel will eventually founder in a polluted sea of slime, thick sludge and debris…

    • Study and learn. You are what you have been through, but now and the future are up to you.

    • Stay positive — we can do this!

    Express love and sharing with those who are genuinely kind and giving, shun and castigate those who are not.

    Life’s great, stay busy, have fun!
    …and peace to you all!”

    If you want some further insights into the mechanics of present evolution check out my Deceptionology thesis.

    Free Assange! Pitch a bitch now!

  5. Something this does not really address is the pain of being awake to reality, being forced by economics and relationships into complicity with its insanity and having to live with the guilt and hypocrisy. It is near impossible now to make an off grid crust or find an off grid home. The awake are twice prisoners.

  6. Neil says

    “If you don’t have a sense of humour, it just isn’t funny is it?” — Wavy Gravy.

  7. The underlying issue that I see, is of a consciousness predicated upon denial – and the protection of that denial from exposure. This is a ‘split mind’ in concept as a sense of ‘separateness’ or segregative sense of self in image (and thought) that runs as a reversal of cause and effect.

    A subjective dissociation from Presence is a mind in its own spin. The Prodigal spin may set of with seemingly full pockets, but the very idea of taking a LIVING inheritance as a personal power, or creation, is running off with a COPY – in image and form that runs the program of going forth in division, in conflict of an alien will as a kind of living death or unawareness of Life regardless it is our true Inherence and thus beyond our capacity to edit or change.

    The abandonment of the Living is the cost of a world in which a sense of personal power deconstructs to its predicate in powerlessness. And yet the meek shall inherit the (Living) Earth because only the truly receptive can recognize, appreciate and extend gratitude for the true of creation – and even our ‘miscreations’ are an alloy of love and hate such as to contain elements of the true over which a false has been asserted or imposed.

    Jesus talked of letting the dead bury the dead and called to Life now – not after you’ve sorted your self or world out.
    Mixing the living idea with dead concept is a self contradiction or doublespeak at the foundation of what we take to be consciousness and assign it to subjection under a body in a world it thought to ‘rule’ or judge.
    Yielding up or pause and desist of such ‘consciousness’ or thinking-reaction is the Silence of being that seems to be nothing but is really no thing and yet the source and nature of all things as facets of Self without other.

    These words and phrases are only invitations to catch yourself in the act of thinking yourself the doer.

    The attempt to private self-creation can be pointed to with “I WANT IT THUS!” – for in every disappointment, failure or betrayal, this ‘hurt’ rages at a reality that seems to have denied or deprived or deceived it. I suggest we are at the mouth of a cave receiving our own echo – but once identified in grievance we can no longer join the dots of consequence to cause – and instead attack ’causes’ OUT THERE which are effectively our shadow of denied or unowned Self.

    I cannot judge another’s choices. But in my own I see the seeming choice between the willingness to Live – as an embrace of all that Life Is – and the fear of loss of a life that possesses me in the very grip of the attempt to possess it.

    The latter paints itself into a corner as a matter of course, and the former illuminates the picture, as the awakening recognition of what you thought you were.

    Heaven and Earth as separate/split states shall no longer seem to be.
    The tool of the thinking mind has created a ‘world’ of learned abilities from a sense of need-lack. What is called to wake is unified purpose in place of conflicted or split mind or … releasing the fruitless and futile attempt to be what we are not.

  8. Big B says

    Like Ed Curtin, I perceive an ongoing crisis in the received and ubiquitous (pan-cultural) social constructionist consensus reality. Like Catte, I believe it has outlived its evolutionary usefulness. ‘Evolutionary’ is a moot point: the modern psyche is a behaviourist and hedonically reflexive relic of the late stone age. The Paleolithic root cognition that perceives threats everywhere – and is permanently preparing for ‘fight or flight’ from our perceptual stressors – has seen a psycho-linguistic apotheoses. It has been rendered neo-Absolute and (textually and grammatically) essentialised – by language, trans-generational acculturation, and pan-historic miscognition – into an ersatz immortal personal and socially constructed Individual psychology and philosophy. The cult of personality of the individualised Self is the faux-theocentric ‘New Religion’. Its extended and reified Individualised mind extends into – and depends upon for its dominance status – on an acquired and fetishised materialistic accumulation. The more one has: the more one Is …but it is the desire for materialistic consumption – not the consumption itself – that drives the cannabilisic Cult. You could – and I would – say we brought capitalism with us from the cave …and it will take us to the grave …born[e] in our root materialistic mindset. In as much as the individualised and commoditised Self is an artefact of the modern materialistic consumer-capitalistic society: that society is an artefact and artifice of the individualised Self. It is but a pan-historic way of seeing and reflexively and hedonically responding and acting. There are other ways of cooperatively and inter-dependently seeing and acting that with a paradigm shift in perception could easily replace it?

    And what of the way of seeing and acting according to an individualised Self? Buddhism shows that such a Self is the fundamental perceptual category error: from which the entire phenomenological spatio-temporal causal nexus appears. Self is nothing but the reified and hypostatised conceptualisation of the lived experience: which has habit-forming accumulated reflexive and reflective qualities. These (karmic) qualities are psycho-linguistically constructed (semiotic – textually built from signs {lakshana}). Being semiotically constructed; they are inferential – not originally ‘known’ or part of the lived experienced. Being an inferential adjunct or psycho-cognitive overlay to the Experiential (which condition and dominate the experience – changing its character and nature to the individualised Self-experience). These hypostatised mental formations (samskara) are devoid of self-nature (anatta); momentary and impermanent (anicca); groundless and ’empty’ (sunyata). Being a groundless cognitive thought-process – literally of an ex nihilo inter-subjective individualised Self-creation (bhavacakra) – it is subject to causes and conditions of arising; continuation (of Becoming); and cessation. Thus, this groundless psycho-cognitive process is subject to change, modification, and eventual permanent cessation. With that change of mind: we can build our new world – not tomorrow – but today. Look around, all I can see are its green shoots…

    We live in a psycho-linguistically enabled thought-prison – to which we own the keys. The perceptual walls of which collapse whenever we actually see swifts on the summer breeze: or hear the song of the trees gentle motion in the cooling harmony… that sibbilant whisper is not for the end of humanity: but for the start…

    [MM: how do I say ‘start’ in Persian?]

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Ask Rumi or Omar Khayyam, Brenda. You see ‘green shoots’, but all I can see in Austfailure is a cohort of dead souls spraying moral and spiritual Roundup on everything in sight. I assume you live in Old Blighted, B, where I spent a lovely year some time ago, feeling very much at home, my ancestors having lived there for centuries. I still feel a certain subconscious dread when alone in the forests here, as the wind makes the eucalypts sigh, moan and howl. I found the UK a horror show of nastiness towards the poor, sick and downtrodden, but life exceptionally pleasant, with the museums, galleries, plays, concerts and recitals, not to forget the gardens, just so long as the money held out. And I look now, at the tragi-comic horror of May hanging on by her talons, just as Turnbull is here (with the fakestream media doing every dirty thing to try and cement his power, as he practises one-sided class war and redistribution of wealth to the rich)after he spent two million of his own considerable fortune to just get back to power, and ponder not just whether we will survive (long odds against)but whether we deserve to.
      Having worked with the public for many years, and enjoying a chat, I have unmistakeably witnessed the collapse of group sanity and decency. Years ago, the old, the relics of WW1, the Great Depression and the less elderly WW2 veterans, were a doughty bunch. On the whole decent, not avaricious, interested in the world, self-effacing, co-operative etc. There were many exceptions of course, among the traditional and hereditary parasite classes and certain religiously brainwashed groups, particularly the semi-fascist Catholic Right, but a general social decency reigned.
      This period hit its zenith under Whitlam as PM, an intelligent, highly learned, moral and forthright person. His Cabinet was full of great individuals, and even the Liberals and Country Party, as was, were not as viciously loathsome as they are now. But Whitlam’s reign coincided with the great oil shock and global recession, and the Right, led by the emergent Evil of the Murdoch hard Right hate-machine (still spewing raw detestation of everything not to Emperor Moloch’s liking)simply refused to allow Whitlam to govern. After every dirty trick in the book, they were joined by the US Reich, who used its long-term asset, Kerr, to oust Whitlam, and the rest has been an ever accelerating slide into the sewer of greed, hatred of the other, social sadism and groveling obeisance
      I actually think that a few people are beginning to wake to the truth, too late of course, but even the NFF, the ‘farmers” lobby, have deigned to ‘accept’ ‘most’ of climate science, after decades of ferocious resistance and abuse. Quite a concession, driven by ever accelerating climate and weather instability, and undoubtedly preparatory to sticking their paws out, as ever, for more public moneys, but the farmers’ putative political party, the Nationals, remains viciously, moronically and insanely denialist, fanatically hateful of environmentalism, pro-coal and anti renewable energy. And elsewhere a dullard disinterest reigns, one furthered by the fakestream media sewer that either still totally denies the ecological Holocaust, as in the Murdoch cancer, or simply ignores it all, as if it was a matter of no great interest, besides tax cuts for the rich, penalty rate cuts for the rabble, and the mounting racist hysteria of the anti-China campaign ordered by our Masters in Thanatopolis DC. Very shortly there will be some horrific weather disaster or catastrophic climate shift, and the proles will finally awake, and then it will be on for young and old, as they used to say. I see the prospects of this country, or yours, reacting to an accelerating fall towards destruction in any rational or humane manner as less than zero.

  9. Hugh O’Neill says

    Dear Ed, please forgive my insensitive remarks earlier. I had not realised it was yourself writing. If I were to think deeply about the meaning of life, I would go back to the poem quoted by RFK when he announced the death of MLK. He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.” The blues ain’t nothin but a good man feelin bad.

    • Greek poet Hesiod said it nearly 3000 years ago, that we must continue to strive, since that leads to our betterment.

      • ManFromAtlan, thanks for the quote from Hesiod. Looked it up in Brainy Quotes:

        “Badness you can get easily, in quantity; the road is smooth, and it lies close by, But in front of excellence the immortal gods have put sweat, and long and steep is the way to it.”

  10. Harry Stotle says

    “For human nature is such that grief and pain – even simultaneously suffered – do not add up as a whole in our consciousness, but hide, the lesser behind the greater, according to a definite law of perspective. It is providential and is our means of surviving in the camp. And this is the reason why so often in free life one hears it said that man is never content. In fact it is not a question of a human incapacity for a state of absolute happiness, but of an ever-insufficient knowledge of the complex nature of the state of unhappiness; so that the single name of the major cause is given to all its causes, which are composite and set out in an order of urgency. And if the most immediate cause of stress comes to an end, you are grievously amazed to see that another one lies behind; and in reality a whole series of others.

    So that as soon as the cold, which throughout the winter had seemed our only enemy, had ceased, we became aware of the hunger; and repeating the same error, we now say: “If it was not for the hunger!…”
    ― Primo Levi, If This Is a Man / The Truce

  11. Harry Stotle says

    I was an avid reader (and admirer) of RD – yet he himself was depressed, probably alcoholic and abandoned his first family (leaving his wife and 5 young children).

    If Ronnie can’t work it out then what chance for us, eh?

    • Harry S. I venture to guess that most of us would have a good chance of not becoming an alcoholic parent who, after abandoning a spouse and 5 young children, would go on to write books of advice on how to develope a healthy psyche.

      “Oh, Tupper, philosopher true / Here is a health to you / A publisher looks / With respect on your books / For they do sell, Philosopher True”. — WS Gilbert

  12. Gary Weglarz says

    An inspiring essay that touches many of us who have struggled at some point(s) in our life with coming to terms with living connected to the rather insane alienated state of “normal” that is modern existence for most people. Strange how some commentators see the questioning of such “normality” by the author, or a Laing, an Ernest Becker, a Thoreau, as somehow a bad or neurotic thing. I can’t really imagine how I would have navigated my own path without such thinkers sharing their own questions, fears and observations about what we in the West were becoming as we built empires upon war, greed, racism, materialism and endless violence.

    Laing’s observations that the modern “normal” person is much more dangerous than the diagnosed schizophrenic continue to ring true. It is as Laing pointed out the “normal” men who will launch the missiles and drop the nukes from bombers – all just “following orders” no matter how totally insane those orders might be to anyone capable of their own critical thought process. Until we take our last breath we have the opportunity every day to decide whether to face our fears, the world’s madness, and to live authentically, or to live instead in denial, living essentially a life of existential bad faith, a sort of death in life. I’ll take the suffering and pain of facing the modern world over denial and avoidance any day. I appreciate the author delving into regions most wouldn’t dream of going.

  13. Thank you!
    It’s actually quite thrilling to come across an article which can kindle thought-provoking discussion like this.
    The world really needs it.

  14. mike lovar says

    Being grateful for the miracle of being here to experience the world can be enough to feed our hungry souls Some are too busy dying to survive too stop and wonder. Some with the time are too busy with themselves to stop and wonder. Whether it’s hardship or ease that gets in your way try to let go and let your soul speak to you. With time and practice it will say “thank you” to life if you allow it. From deeply difficult personal experience I;ve learned it does help. A lot 🙂

  15. Hugh O'Neill says

    I was quite happy, until I started reading this paean to misery and was considering slashing my wrists towards the final paragraphs…If I were a psychologist, I might say; “Get a life” but since I am not, I shall attempt some compassion. I have clearly been very lucky in that I learned long ago that ego is indeed the enemy; if I contemplate my navel, then introspection is a toxic spiral. After 17 years of hating my job (because I thought that it was normal to hate one’s job) I worked for 10 years on sailing ships, often for 12-16 hours a day primarily looking after others’ welfare. I had no time to notice my own physical or mental status; for the first year of the job, I could barely sleep for joy. Thus losing oneself in taking care of others (for me) was key. And then I became a father and found others to care for beyond just me. I am also fortunate not to have to live in [the rotten state] America which is the major source of the author’s psychoses. One cannot judge a man until one has walked a mile in his shoes etc. and I would probably be just as depressed. So what was my key to happiness? Forget self, fight for what is true, right and just – irrespective of the slings and arrows. Never give up hope: “One man can make a difference, and everyone should try” Look for heroes. Emigrate to NZ, where our MIC is insignificant and our PM has just had a baby.

    • Good to know how happy and self-sufficient you are, but telling others suffering from depression or suicidal impulses to “Get a Life”? You really are an arrogant ignoramus. Here:

      New Zealand’s overall suicide rate is similar to the OECD median (11.8 deaths per 100,000). New Zealand’s youth (15–24 years) suicide rate was the highest among the 34 OECD countries, ahead of Finland for males and Korea for females.

      • Hugh O’Neill says

        My profound apologies. I was shooting from the hip and should have paused to weigh the possible effects of my stream of consciousness blather. My brain chemistry may be unusual because I have many times felt that I was so happy, I could happily die. This is the last thing that anyone not similarly wired needs to hear. Introspection was never my strong point, and I dislike solitude, and crowds. Loss of self through service to a higher cause may well be a rare privilege. I doubt if I will rage too much at the dying of the light because my Irish inheritance is comfortable with death. The only regret is that you’re not able to partake in your own wake – always the best craic.

        • NP, Hugh, and I apologize for responding the manner I did. A Toronto mayoral candidate I knew committed suicide off of a bridge years ago and this tuned us all in to the dangers of anti-depressive meds.

          Yes, we should all have traditions that make us comfortable with death, a party being perhaps the best of them 🙂


    • Interesting how two different people can experience the same article as á ‘paean to misery’ or an inspiring pointer to the future.
      I suppose it boils down to how much damage has already been done to the soul by the usual culprits (media, politicians, robotic employers, etc.) since childhood, but I considered this to be a well-supported and highly relevant article in favour of waking up and getting to know one’s own mental environment better.
      The ego, like any other natural endowment, offers us choices, and there is ‘good’ ego and ‘bad’ ego, both of which need to be weighed up and put in their place before we can chart a decent path on our forward evolution. At least to my mind, ego is a much more complicated matter than being merely selfish.

      • Hugh O’Neill says

        Quite right. Mea Maxima Culpa. I did not mean to offend anyone but clearly have. I shall try and think before writing next time. Pax vobiscum

  16. Kathy says

    I was brought up to believe that life was our way of learning how to be. That we experience what we need to learn. To bale out on this would mean we would need to return until we learned what we were here to learn. The fact that this is such a beautiful and magical world has saved me from giving in. That and the pain it would cause to other people. The article was thought provoking and raised the one truth we can be sure of, that inevitably we are all on a long road to death. It is all a suicide curve in the end because we all have to except our mortality. The problem is that life without meaning becomes shallow and in our shallowness we seek affirmation to allow us some sense of existence. If we are not learning what we need we are taking what we want and being taught falsity. The more we want the more we take. The more we isolate our selves from the wonder of the world we inhabit the more we choose false idols and material possessions. An iridescent due drop glistening in the early morning sun or the diamonds procured with blood. We crave a reason to live and get lost in our false narrative in this hierarchical and self obsessed plastic construct of reality. The less we see the true beauty of the world the more isolated we become. It is no surprise that a life of serfdom and drudgery in a system that keeps our life vibrations down also leads us to a loss of self. and a long drawn out desperation This is how we remain enslaved. This is how we are in danger of losing our souls and becoming automatons I.M.H.O.

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      How are you coping with the reality that humanity has more or less destroyed the beautiful Earth’s glorious Life, and will take themselves with the other dead species and devastated biospheres sometime in the next few decades?

      • Kathy says

        I try to keep a level of optimism as much as I can.
        May be our planet holds a greater capacity for regeneration than we give her credit for. It has been found that around Chernobyl a vast growth in vegetation and animal life has happened since the disaster. It is humans who have the problem in going there. Plants and animals having shorter life spans are not effected in the way that humans are. I am a strong believer of Gaia as a self healing planet theory. That said It is saddening and depressing that we exploit her so mercilessly. In case it wasn’t clear I prefer the magic of a fleeting moment of the light catching the dew over the idea of steeling the earths treasures and the monitory exploitation of mining for diamonds. My point was that these are the choices we are faced with. Either we see the real value and beauty in life or we become immersed in the artificial and material world we create at the expense of the real world. It is part of the problem that we cant find the balance to live in this world without taking advantage of it. But then the ones who control the resources of the world are responsible for the enslavement of the people and foster the desperation that keeps us held in passive abusive existence with our selves, each other and the earth.

        • @Kathy. To have lived was a privilege for which I am grateful (to Whom, I do not know). Gaia and the rest of Her children did without me and my kind for billions of years, and I agree with you that they would not miss us if we self destructed. (Though some of the white mice and laboratory guinea pigs might miss their food and shelter). But I venture to guess the species homo sapiens sapiens will even survive our present attempt at collective suicide by eating meat and burning carbon to excess.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          I’m happy to hear that you are an optimist. We need them, but we also need action, soon, to disempower the destroyers of Life on Earth, and change course 180 degrees. The world will certainly restore itself, eventually, after our disappearance, but unless the sane and non-destructive people do something very soon, then the Trumps, Mays, Murdochs and the capitalist metastases will set back Life on Earth millions of years, and exterminate humanity in the process.

    • You invoke the ‘certainty’ on which a world of division was made and be-lived unto death.
      The mind of a separateness from life WOULD be consigned to live under the shadow of ‘death’ if it were truly alive.
      Learning how to be is – in this world – learning how to be who you are not.
      The ‘subjective’ sense of self is also objectionable. This ‘consciousness’ is creative in the same way a split personality is a defence against terror.
      “No man walks the earth in armature (form) but has terror stalking at his heart” ~ ACIM.
      This is to say that terror of attack, pain and loss operates the gatekeeper of a world of ‘separateness’ or separate and conflicting powers. The personality or masking mind operates a mitigating of fear and pain and self-justifying of hiding or withholding true from a life that seems alien – and a sense of being a stranger in a strange world. This is the result of a withdrawal of love – not least from the conviction that you are loveless or indeed evil or without substance or validity and defended against the exposure.

      The quote ‘everything is backwards’ is a great wake up call to see the next step; for we are looking THROUGH a lens of reversals where true cause is denied or hidden and falsely flagged to symptoms or even to diversions from symptoms that are too easily traced back to cause.

      It is simpler to describe this as ‘fig-leaf thinking, believed and enacted as real’ than to even sketch the complex of defences that are themselves defended in fragmented multi layered mutually reinforcing reinforcements. There is no way to break down or break through but that we become blindly captive to the persist the very thing we say we hate – but secretly keep.

      Of course the surface narrative runs on plausible deniability and of course it is quick to rage when ‘threatened’.
      What I appreciate in the general article is the linkage between our consciousness construct and our perception and reactions or behaviours.

      Garbage out is faithful feedback to garbage in.
      The template or model or broadly shared sets of definitions that we operate under or indeed the operating system that what we take to be our mind operates upon in in terms of – is corrupted.

      Sweep out your Temple from the recognition of what truly belongs.
      While that teaching example may have upset a few moneylenders for a day or two – its import is not directly to the politic of the world-construct but to the Word by which we live and GIVE or extend meaning to each other and to life as we accept for ourself – for these are one – and the attempt to split off from a Living Inherence is of a wish to deny the true while playing in ‘oppositional mind’. And the attempt to raise Cain upon the death of the Abel is the development of self-assigned worth at cost of ability to recognize anything truly worthy. The isolation of such a ‘consciousness’ in seeking its private gratifications is worshipped as power over life – feared as death or worse.

      The slow suicide is the inevitable unfolding of a mis-taken self identifiction, that is given full reinforcement as mental, emotional and physical experience. The dis-integrity of a unified field to a polarised play of mutually excluding opposites is ‘effects’ blind to their true cause that see the dominion, or subjugation of the other as their necessary existence. This is to accept definition and identity in terms of who you are not – and whom you hate and fear. This is a reversal to the natural extension and sharing in who you are. To recognize a malware or phishing ruse and choose NOT to be baited is to be free and open to the movement of a true appreciation – which is not truly IN the framing of the world nor attacking, demonising or oppositional to it.

      ‘My kingdom is not in the world’ but an ‘inner’ perspective even in the moment of its seeming. Not inside persons so much as inside time and space in which personifications image the energetic qualities and communications of being. There is no ‘outside’ to existence nor point of leverage upon it. You do but unto yourself and me. I do not have to share in or support your choices to extend a recognition of innate worth and thus grow and strengthen it in us all.

      Give as you would in truth receive – and receive only as you are willing to give. I don’t feel to recycle toxic debt as if to get rid of hate to others and world – and so what comes to me is mine to undo.

        • @Mike Lovar. I think Binra’s first sentence (in reply to Kathy) is a Zen Buddhist aphorism in the style of Finnegan’s Wake: “You [Kathy] invoke the ‘certainty’ [so-called, because it is an illlusory certainty] on which a world of division [Samsara, the illusory world of separate things] was made [by ‘you’ in your present incarnation] and be-Lived [James Joyce pun on be-Lieved, because ‘you’ believe in ‘your’ illusory separate life] until death.

          And I think Kathy’s reply is a Christian or Ancient Greek or plain common sense negation of all this negation: we live within our skin but for others.

          (With apologies; just trying to help)

        • Confusion is not my intent but it can arise from trying to force meanings (into old thought systems).
          If you have some resonance and curiosity enough to want to clarify any point then ask and receive, but if the whole is obscure, then perhaps the approach is part of the result?
          I generally see that when I approach anyone or anything with a preset expectation, I meet some sense of miscommunication. Such is the nature of a pre-judgement or mind filter.
          I am not suggesting you ‘should’ abide in what I write in willingness for meanings to rise to you that are yours – but that is my own act – of abiding in willingness or desire to know and moving what moves me.

          You cannot BE separate from All That Is – but you can experience your self as IF you are and you can reinforce that belief and experience with others who share the underlying purpose.

          We may ‘see’ this in a number of ways, one of which is the awareness of a temporary sense of existence – divorced or cut off (abandoned or rejected) from the Timeless or Always that is like to a Field of embrace where existence/awareness rejects nothing that it is and knows nothing that isn’t.
          Judgement is a substitute for innate discernment – or a cover story for a dramatis personae.

          Oh I see this is replying to vexarb and not mike – but it is to the attention that alights here.

          RE Samsara: The character in the movie is not the writer of the script. If you release the struggle within your character, you will meet and pass through to the script and uncover the scriptwriter which is not a persona – but of course embraces all of its creations. IN the sense of the Fall or the Separation; the lie and the father of the lie. But in the undoing of the false is another script already running – as the healing, or reintegration of one mind unto itself. You can divide and rule out mind as if to have your own – but if you knew what you do, you would not be able to want it. Hence the ‘survival’ of the mortal sense depends on NOT knowing what we do, and that is achieved by ‘certainties’ acted from and never brought to question – because to do so is to risk losing our invested ‘certainties’ and so – as you know, we are ‘too big to fail’.
          Yet do we not have experience of a different order if only glimpses – where the world of form is so aligned to being that it is transparent to a wordless recognition or felt quality of presence – until and unless the mind interjects a sense of possession or control. Well regardless of the mind that paints and frames its own argument, are you the being of recognition or the mind of an apparent interjection? I say apparent, because it has only the power you give it by reaction. What if the ‘interruption’ was equally embraced as the conversation – such as to be integral to the event? Are we not predicated on fantasy or imagined outcomes that leave us dis-appointed over and over again? And often heartbreakingly so. What would the Presence of true being create as my experience if I did not interject/assert my own fantasy or derivative adaptations to the failures of the world to meet me on ‘my’ terms?
          Isn’t that question another way of saying, ‘I am listening now, please show the way’.

          I don’t see it matters how or whether we ‘say it’ so much as the territory awakens beneath the personal sense. The temporary alternative is to persist in the assertion of narrative identity. Slow suicide within the abandonment of the living world. I see this as a choice and I reflect it as a choice – even though it runs as a habit that is given power to false frame or deny our apparent choices.

          “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I ever had” – Mad World (Tears for Fears)

          • @Binra. Buddhism is probably the most coherent formulation of the mystic striving toward Oneness with The All, and the most compatible with the implications of quantum physics. Nevertheless, I will not reject the fate of finite creatures, their struggles, their joys, their sufferings, as illusory. My concept of the Mystic Vision is taken from The Paradiso, from which Dante looks down at the Earth:

            “this little threshing floor that makes us all so fierce”.

            But the smallness of the threshing floor does not negate the greatness of the struggle, which is the Cosmic struggle between Good and Evil, nor the greatness of our personal responsibility in that struggle..

            If I am forced to retreat from the Christian position on Authentic Life, I shall retreat no further than Homer on Basic Life:

            "Like to the fly which lands on a bald head, and is slapped away, and lands again,
            So with these heroes in their struggle before the high walls of Troy".

      • Kathy says


        I assume that you are responding to me. Firstly if I can make clear. Although I say I was bought up to believe and see in a certain way that does not mean that this is what I think now. It is that all of our philosophies and religions or belief systems colour our existence and have an impact on us and how we navigate our way in the world. We are all trying to find our way. Some of us are sure and some of us struggle. Some of us don’t even want to engage at all. In my experience of life although I do not know about the concept of returning again and again to this earthly realm, I do see some insight in the learning to be, aspect and not as you suggest, a learning of how to be who you are not. If a sense of self is objectionable it is so because we are made flesh and have to live within this earthly realm in the skin we were given. We are all sometimes victims to our ego and hubris. Even when we are trying our best we can succumb to our folly’s, ego and mental anguish . It is part of our human experience. In the nature of just being I can only explain this in the context of riding horses and feeling totally at one with another being. When every part of you and the horse are attuned together it is a magical experience and you lose awareness of where one begins and the other ends. As soon as you think wow this is good you lose that to pride and detachment and you are no longer in tune. If you are lucky your horse wont throw you off for your arrogance. Pride comes before a fall. This is the context of being I understand. Living life with out pride and without ambition or competitiveness but to become at one with in the world and to dance through the pain of existence with out ego or malice in chi. I am only mortal but I strive to become a better person. Life throws up many struggles of survival and my heart goes out to all fellow travelers who fall by the way side from time to time.

        • @Kathy: “I am only mortal but I strive to become a better person. Life throws up many struggles of survival and my heart goes out to all fellow travelers who fall by the way side from time to time”.

          I rest in appreciation of what you shared. I also pick up on your ‘skin’ or conditioned sense of being.
          I hear you and join with you – but not as “only mortal”.
          Perhaps beneath what seems to be a sympathy for other ‘separated and mortal failures or fall-offs’ is a true a deep compassion that embraces rather than rejects (separates) in forms of ‘better and worse’.

          My willingness is in opening perspective (compassionate embrace) in place of polarised conflict of pain and loss.
          Thinking operates within a framework of accepted but perhaps unconscious assumptions.
          I don’t think in terms of a better or worse person so much as a truer or more consciously aligned sense of being.
          The fear of being nothing, or fear of being a hateful unworthiness of being drives the attempt to become something in our own right – but I do not exist in my own ‘right’ so much as in relational communication.

          Self-inflation sets up the false sense of self that must fail. When ‘failure’ is recognized as a valid feedback and not a condemning definition in self-lack, a different self-sense can be received. Until then all the king’s horses and all the king’s men…

          I write to the issues as I feel them, beneath the appearances that present. A lot of language is shorthand that lost touch with its original meaning. But y/our original nature is only lost sight of or covered over – not least by fig-leaf thinking. (Ref to the Fall from grace to hidden shame)

  17. This is an essay that brings one back to a place in the mind which most of the time is forgotten.That place is the self that has always been.The person who makes themselves,makes the world makes life,works hard making an image which can become the future. When you feel powerless ,thats when there is no point. Its a good struggle.

  18. Big B says

    Admin: thanks for posting this …it’s like everything I have been thinking about for forty odd years.

    R D Laing (and Gregory Bateson inter alia) were a yuuuuge influence on my formative years. Not least in that we were born a few miles (and 35 years) apart. Laing always reminds me of Yossarian’s predicament in Joseph Heller’s ‘Catch 22’. The authentic response to the Social Lie is trauma, madness, and if, in acceptance, slow suicide. But it is the world that is mad; not us. Our response is rational and sane: grounded not in delusion or paranoia – but in authentic Beingness. To coin the title of Laing’s biopic: it’s ‘mad to be normal’ …and to acclimatise and acculturate to the mad (samsaric) world is to invite the creeping madness in.

    So we invent a false consciousness persona – a safe ‘Homeworld’ – to be a padded hedonic self-prison to insularise ourselves from the inherent violence and trauma (of the communal ‘Lifeworld’)…but in doing so, we also diminish our (infinite) freedoms and the authentic experiential of Life. Kierkegaard identified this as the root of our Anxiety: our existential angst.

    So how do we open back up to the Experience; whilst remaining psychologically protected from the Absurd Madness? Laing explored the phenomenological approach of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, and Sartre:

    “Our behavior is a function of our experience. We act the way we see things. If our experience is destroyed, our behavior will be destructive. If our experience is destroyed, we have lost our own selves.”

    Here, I must, hopefully constructively, slightly disagree with the author: “the essence of the neuro-biological materialism that reduces humans to unfree automatons” is at best, a partial truth.. Our neurophenomological nexus of seeing and acting can set us free. Because of the biological property of neuroplasticity: we developed language, and we can change our mode of being. It is determined only in the sense that we want it to be, through want of the specific knowledge required for liberation. We are not automata: we can change our way of seeing; our behaviour is not fixed and permanently determined at all (though, karmically, it can be).

    That our experience is a function of our neurobiology was the life work of Fracisco Varela, together with his teacher Humberto Maturana (and by an amazing act of synchronicity: I just happen to be re-reading their “The Embodied Mind”). Our experience is not reducible to biology; nor is it different from it. There is nothing metaphysical; Absolute; or Uncaused. “What we cannot see, we cannot see: so it has no reality for us”; is how Varela eloquently put it. There is nothing outside of our experience. This may seem like a damnation to some: but if you contemplate it deeply, it is the only liberational and soteric (salvational) state. We humans are unique in that if we do not like our experiential world: we can change it.

    Varela was influenced by the Dalai Lama: co-founding the Mind and Life Institute. Which brings me to my own School of [no]Mind – Yogacara. Yogacarins like Asanga, Vasubandhu, and Dignaga expounded phenomenology centuries before Husserl et al …and they did it from a liberational approach: not from a remedial and restorative view to accommodate to the psychosis of the world – but to change it …by changing ourselves (neurophenomenologically). This is what sets them apart from the entire canon of Western psychology and philosophy: the praxis of liberation (Yoga – union – literally “yoking together”). The methodology is beyond the scope of a comment: but it is quick and effective of lasting change. Response times of 40 minutes have been measured in the lab.

    We are the enactive consciousness of the world: or a part of it. Our experience is trans-subjective: not isolated and individual as the received consensus leads us, wrongly, to believe. The experiential being inter-personal favours cooperation and empathy. All phenomena, including that which I call ‘I’, are interdependent and causally linked in a vast web of ‘interbeing’ (to coin Thay’s phrase). We exist to manifest this holistically: and it begins with our way of seeing, acting, and Being …and it begins Now!

    If that is not a reason to stay sane, I do not know what is? With no disrespect to anyone who succumbed: do the Survivors not owe it to each other …to build a new world to honour those who went before? I think so.

  19. Sadly, I think the problem lies in the split between the spiritual/feeling and rational/analytical minds in society that occurred after the 50’s, made worse by the onslaught of chemicals, brain damage, and general hopelessness and anger. If somehow we could armour ourselves against this!

    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Humanity’s insanity is being manifested in a group, coerced, mass suicide of the entire species, a global Jonestown, being achieved by total ecological destruction. A sixth mass extinction, certain to be the worst, deliberately imposed by that fraction of humanity, who in their psychopathy, worship a Latterday Moloch, the Holy, Infallible, Market. The Market, of course, is nothing but the expression of the money power of the psychopathic elites, and money, ‘wealth’, ‘capital’, call it what you will, is nothing but the dead stuff that was created from millennia of war, looting, slavery, wage slavery and the destruction of Life on Earth. It is that succubus, that old hag, that is crushing Life to death across the entire planet.
      I am pretty convinced that one aspect of the growing mass psychosis, so marked in the West and in the demented horror of the Anglosphere in particular, is the sub-conscious realisation of the Death of Life across the planet. Those with minds, consciences and sufficient courage KNOW that Life is being relentlessly destroyed by dead souls like Trump, May, Murdoch etc and their minions and millions of brain and soul-dead followers. But many, many others, despite being too brainwashed or existentially fearful to consciously acknowledge the rapidly approaching end of our species, feel it in their being. The web of Life is not external to us-we are part of. And when it is being ripped asunder that tears great shards from our souls and our ‘peace of mind’. I expect a great awakening, soon, but only to fright, horror, terror and vengefulness. That is our nature, or that of many of us, and the real human demons are sure to exploit the coming rage to set the human beings against one another, as they always have done, to divert their attention from the real architects of our auto-genocide-the rich capitalist parasites and their political, business and media stooges. I recommend gardening as a good way to re-connect with Life, while patiently awaiting The End. Tamam Shud.

  20. Ah, Alienation right up there in the first s.ntence from RD Laing. And Prufrock. Take it from there.

    Alienation, Ambivalence, and Angst — the three A’s of the 20th Century. I had them — I suppose we all had them, like the Measles, Chicken pox and Scarlet fever — but somehow I escaped reading the heavy books which analysed them: books like The Outsider, Nausea and The Divided Self; and found a lot of fun instead.

    Is Life worth Living? I suppose that depends on the Liver. (boomboom)

  21. Willem says

    I liked the essay.

    Reminded me of the following conversation in Kurt Vonnegut’s slaughterhouse 5

    “How’s the patient? [the colonel] asked.
    “Dead to the world.”
    “But not actually dead.”
    “How nice – to feel nothing, and still get full credit for being alive.”

    It also reminded me of Kant’s essay on enlightenment, which essay I had to read when I was still in school and which essay I found and find incomprehensible, probably because in the end Kant has to honor King Frederik (the Great) as ultimate benevolent being.

    But in the beginning of the essay the professor from Konigsberg is spot on where he says that:

    ‘Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred immaturity. … Sapere aude! “Have courage to use your own reason!” — that is the motto of enlightenment.

    Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a portion of mankind, … remains under lifelong tutelage, and why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as their guardians.

    It is so easy not to be of age. If I have a book that understands for me, a pastor who has a conscience for me, a physician who decides my diet, and so forth, I need not trouble myself. I need not think, if I can only pay — others will easily undertake the irksome work for me. That the step to competence is held to be very dangerous by the far greater portion of mankind … quite apart from its being arduous is seen to by those guardians who have so kindly assumed superintendence over them. After the guardians have first made their domestic cattle dumb and have made sure that these placid creatures will not dare take a single step without the harness of the cart to which they are tethered, the guardians then show them the danger which threatens if they try to go alone. Actually, however, this danger is not so great, for by falling a few times they would finally learn to walk alone. But an example of this failure makes them timid and ordinarily frightens them away from all further trials.’

  22. The Idiot Savant says

    This article is senseless and devoid of value – there is no worth in reading it – one is not better for having read it – it is delusional – life is borne of death and death is the consequence of life and will be repeated interminably for those who are either unable or unwilling to free themselves from transmigration within the lower paths

  23. Thank you for posting this rather unconvential view of life, and death, not something you would ever read on the Guardian, that is for sure!

    In my view, the root of suicide is having nothing to live for. This is one great advantage of having children, as they need parents, and being one gives every reason to continue living. I am a parent and thus suicide is not something I would efer consider but there are other factors as well as to why we have this life and what we are supposed to do with it.

    I live in Japan. When I first came here, I remember someone saying to me, ‘ego is ugly’. That really struck a chord. Ego is ugly. The idea that we are separate from what surrounds us is ugly. This simple statement actually resonated deeply with me.

    I see life as being like electricity, one thing that all devices that use it share. The electricity running a light bulb and the computer I am using now is actually the same power. Life is probably the same. The life of an insect and my life, may well be the same thing, but the devices are different. I think we need to experience what our life is, inside of us, to find meaning. Then, we can see events unfolding as oppurtunities to learn, as we know that all devices have a beginning and an end, and we are all simply devices in the larger scheme of things.

    I would never consider suicide, as I have never felt such deep despair, though I have had hard times. But, knowing that I am going to die anyway, inevitably, has always made me understand that if I really want to die, I just have to wait for when it happens, but in the meantime, why not make the best from what is there and learn from it?

  24. Fair dinkum. says

    Erich Fromm and Ramana Maharshi both spoke of ‘Being’ rather than having or achieving.
    Therein lies the rub.


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