Where was I?
Oh yes, just like you, here … and trying to make sense of it! My previous post set several hares running, so let’s see if we can catch up with some of them.
The Buddhist Higher Worlds (Learning, Realisation, Compassion) emphasise relationship, the core skill of a social species. The Lower Worlds (Hunger, Anger, Animality, Tranquillity) demonstrate disjunction, the breakdown of communication. What separates Higher and Lower is the difference between the collective and the individual. This gulf can be bridged, however, as Anger – to take one example – over injustice can lead to Compassion.
Snakes and Ladders, anyone?
Or swings and roundabouts. Did you know our power of speech is an evolutionary gain which increases the risk of choking? Thankfully we can use it to remind ourselves of the Heimlich Manoeuvre at the start of every dinner party …
I don’t really consider Buddhism a religion because it foregrounds the shared life in the here-and-now, unlike death cults which put individual salvation ahead of collective welfare. I Before We.
Perhaps the most famous example of We Before I is the stirring cri de coeur of the French Revolution – ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité!’ Unlike the Higher Worlds, however, these three beauties aren’t easy bedfellows. My liberty to do whatever I want, for example, can make a mockery of your right to be my equal. We may need some relationship counselling. Or maybe some helpful quotations:
‘Equality is the soul of liberty. There is, in fact, no liberty without it.’ – Francis Wright
‘Love is not accidental. Love can only exist with freedom.’ – Leo Tolstoy
‘Liberty is the mother, not the daughter, of order.’ – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
‘Who sees all beings in his own Self, and his own Self in all beings, loses all fear.’ -Eastern saying
Whoa, more hares disappearing over the horizon! That last quotation suggests we need more than just a little give-and-take. What’s required, it seems, is a radical change of consciousness. And who better to guide us than, gulp, a politician?!
‘The only thing we have to fear is…fear itself.’ – Franklin D. Roosevelt
It’s a frightening thought, isn’t it? Like Keep Calm And Carry On, it makes me wonder what they’re trying to hide …
Besides, what’s so great about Tranquillity? It’s one of those pesky Lower Worlds, isn’t it, full of zombies and yes-men? Far better to think for yourself, expand your capabilities and refuse to hate the unfortunate patsies and scapegoats they sling your way to hide their own incompetence and lies.
They? If I hate anyone, it’s those who get elected on promises of strong government and then dismantle safeguards against unfairness to favour their own kind. You know. Them.
But the bad old days of freemasonry and closed shops are long-gone, right? Surely no secret deal is safe in these days of WikiLeaks and world-wide web-sharing? We are entering, are we not, a golden era of openness and honesty in which we are all fellow-citizens of a world without borders or barriers or ignorant bigotry?
Hmm, could be … but in the meantime, dear Netpal, you’ll find my FacePaint Page under a sassy pseudonym with a pirated profile picture and a plethora of posts carefully curated to present a thoroughly positive image: witty, sophisticated, discriminating, intelligent, thrusting, upbeat … all friends selected, all nerds unfriended … a perfect shop-window for a world that’s open for business 24/7!!! 🙂
😦 Now I am frightened. Just looked at my FaceAche Page. My satire is uncomfortably close to the truth. Sometimes the internet resembles the aftermath of an explosion, numberless fragments flying around, a crazy chaos without context. Conventional media, caught up in the blast, dance to the same broken tunes. And you can find whatever you want unless you want to make any real difference to anything.
Too gloomy? I’d be happy to be proved wrong.
If you’d asked the Ancients to imagine a magical way of talking to everyone in the world, what might they say were its possibilities? A marvellous theatre or a great debating chamber? A gallery of wonders, drawn from art and nature? Above all, perhaps, they might have envisaged a repository of truth and goodness and beautiful flashes of insight – a pathway to enlightenment.
When I was a kid, giving little puppet shows to anyone who’d watch and listen, such a vision seemed to beckon. The other day I told my granddaughter, 2 years old, about toys I’d lost as a child – the little manikin out of a favourite forklift truck, a plastic crocodile floating into the overflow drain of a sink. She asked me to retell these two stories over and over. Then she devised a drama in which they were returned to me.
You know what? It worked. There they were.
When nature is broken, I wonder, can art mend it? It’s a question I’ll return to in my final post in this sequence … no guarantee of reader satisfaction, of course, but I can promise this picture clue will be part of the answer
Image: Dr. Odd