Monday, March 08, 2010

The Flowering Self

"Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality." -Nikos Kazantzakis

One of the most life changing lessons for human beings is the realization that everything in life is a choice. From the moment we get out of bed in the morning, we choose who we will be, who we will present ourselves as to the world. We put on our clothes as costumes, as disguises, as props for what we want to convey and then we step out on the stage and perform to audiences of individuals all doing the same thing.

There's an absurdity in this behavior, an unconscious mocking of ourselves for playing along with a game that gets refined by whatever hands are currently pulling the strings. But the thing is, we give our puppetmasters the strings to control us with. It's our script they're using to control us. It's our fears, our biases, our intolerance, our judgments that create the strings for others to use on us. As a result everything we are is a costume someone else has dressed us in so we can perform in their version of reality.

The tragedy is that we aren't born this way. We came into the world as optimists, as believers in the theory of all possibilities that could be picked up, tasted and swallowed. The world revolved around our own vision of things. It took shape according to what we wanted from it, what we perceived as our place in its universe.

But somewhere along the way, the shaping of group consciousness took place and the individual self was subdued and steadily beaten down by tools such as religion, school, and that scourge of all decent humanity--consensus. We were no longer free to stick things in our mouth and taste at will.

If we tried to stray from the path set out for us, we were reminded of the perils in doing so because there were no good ways to say individual. Instead such people were described as anti-social, not team players, fringe dwellers, and lone nuts.

And yet we worshipped the cult of the individual, especially the rugged variety. It was a mythical cult that was and is still written about with awe, with wonder, with the sanctity of breath reserved for wondrous things and unattainable desires. It's like heaven and the old saying that everyone wants to go to there, but no one wants to die to get there.

We grew up worshipping the individual but feared him or her at the same time, and it's easy to understand way. Think of a herd contained within a wild pasture. See the comfort of knowing all the animals are in place. Visualize the ease of drawing a pen around them all in one flawless slash of movement.

Then imagine that one little sheep, that one individual little creature who never stepped outside the "taste as you go" school of life, but instead kept stopping, kept rewriting the plot to reflect changing consciousness, different realities, new ways of looking at the world. This little sheep became the source of all fear just for getting up in the morning and being his or her own sheep.

It is why churches came along and put controls on sex and love, two states that no amount of self-righteous pontificating can interrupt once they are set in motion. There's more rules for controlling those two behaviors than any other. But it is wasted effort, a moral version of beating one's head continually against a wall in the hope that the wall will collapse before the head does.

It is why forests and all wild nature was either destroyed or put under control of some entity that wanted to either exploit it or preserve it by keeping anything but sanctioned and approved individuals from it.

The control freaks saw that Nature was far more powerful than humans, far more powerful than any deity. They saw it had the ability to capture, to hold in its grasp and transform the ordinary in us to the extraordinary that goes beyond self. Once that metamorphosis took place, they knew control was a lost cause.

It is also why any kind of substance that allowed mental escape was controlled and either outlawed or puritanically dispensed at high cost. Drugs were designed to put people in a state where there was no disturbing reality, no too obvious change from one mood, one truth to the next. Variation of mood, of being, of relating was seen as wrong. Stability of existence was seen as a positive instead of the most spirit killing weapon ever devised--other than religion.

And it was especially why hate and division was always promoted over love and tolerance. Like those penned up sheep, humans wer easier to control if they were all hungry, tired, horny, and ready to be eaten at the same time. It was far easier to pipe canned entertainment into the pen than it was to hand the stage over and invite something new to emerge from the chaos.

But within that stew of overly simmered sameness, there was always the sheep that strayed outside the herd, the one that was a bit odd, who preferred the taste of flowers instead of grass, who gazed at the sky and saw clouds and birds and tall mountains instead of some scolding, foul-tempered deity.

That was the one I wanted in my life. That was the one I wanted teaching me. That was the ones I wanted to love and call friend because he and she were what gave meaning to my life. But more than anything, I also wanted to be that for them as well because without the circle that leads us back to each other, we don't really exist as authentic, empathic human beings.


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