7) Detach and Go Inwards|
This is the chapter in the manual where if I haven’t lost them already I am going to lose the activists. Activists must start to make an inner journey to regain their own spirituality and help others find the same – to end dispossession. I described the first part of the manual as outer engagement, and whilst in Ch 2&3 I focussed on approaches which are common usage for those on an inner journey – ego, enquiry and discernment, I did not push the notion that an inner journey was required in order to understand these approaches. At this point I make that definitively clear, for the activist an inner journey is essential.
What we have to be aware of is the absolute failure of political activism. In a way this is hard for me to say because the better people in my life have been failures by the benchmarks they use. So many of these people measure their lives by change, and in terms of the changes they want society is far worse. If we consider the Zandtao narrative:-
The power of the 1%-satrapy is far more than it was when I was young. The two “world” wars of the last century had far more deaths on our side (NATO) than recent wars, but the devastation of war in the Middle East that has produced such a flow of immigrants fleeing the wars we created (NATO) only rates in the consciousness of most people as an immigrant crisis. How completely conditioned most NATO people are that we can create a war, few of our soldiers die, and then we blame immigrants. It is a complete failure of a peoples’ movement that this is the state of consciousness.
What we have become is complete wage-slave consumers. My parents’ generation (I was born in 1952) had what Pirsig (“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”) called a Victorian ethic. They were not consumers for consuming sake, yet to me that is now what people are. They earn they spend. Advertisers create a fashion, and we follow blindly. This begins at school with teenagers imitating fashion icons from film, music and sport with the accompanying consumption associated. Pulp brands such as McDonalds and the coffee franchises dominate our high streets with foods that create health problems, and there is no discernment as to their health consequences; people are only concerned with consuming and being seen consuming such.
In the UK class benefits which were introduced post second world war, because those of the class remaining who had not been lost as cannon fodder could demand more as they could choose jobs, have all but been lost. Senior appointments within the system are made from the public school network, the state schooling is being privatised – providing shoddy education whilst they make a profit, and the NHS is being whittled away comparing favourably only with the travesty that is US health. Essential social services are undermined, there are not sufficient police to maintain law and order within our communities although there are sufficient to protect the property of the rich. Within our communities there are high instances of knife crime and other vicious murders alleviated only by the thought that at least the 1% have not got us killing each other with guns. As an activist who grew up with the optimism of the 60s I can only see failure – failure with techno-gadgets (consumerism).
We wanted to teach people about justice, we wanted people to get what they deserve in an affluent society, and what have we given to the young – apocalyptic fear. We grew up with the Cold War, and there was the fear of “Reds under the bed” and the occasional Dr Strangelove – frightening enough. What do we have now? If we look at the cinema now, our young expect to live through some sort of apocalypse caused by the climate, corporations, virus mutations from our science labs, AI devastation, or robot takeovers. As with Dr Strangelove such scenarios are completely realistic possibilities. This is the legacy of the activists of our generation. For me the contrast between 60s optimism and such apocalyptic visions cannot be any greater.
And yet as activists we pursue our same narratives – or similar. New generations of intellectuals present new Marxist narratives appropriate to our time, and carry these idealisms to the people hoping that they will imbibe them – in the same way I hoped they would imbibe 40 years ago. Some of course do, some victories are won, victories that hard-working comrades deserved to win, but comrade detach yourself – look where the 99% are. We have to see failure.
Yet now is the time we should be seeing success. There is rage around in the world, people are beginning to see the delusions that the 1% have created through neoliberalism, but instead of turning to compassion or some caring non-authoritarian socialism we have fascism appearing in all parts of the world. Is this not a failure?
I am not belittling the struggle, I am not belittling the hard work of comrades, I am not belittling the forces they are up against – the power and influence of the 1%, I am not belittling the sickness of these insane people, I am not belittling the extents these addicted people will go to just to increase their bank balances, but we have failed to convince people that they should care for each other. And we have failed to convince people that the governments of our country do not do this or if they are convinced we have failed to convince them to act on this. So whilst there is rage and struggle, there is dominant apathy.
So if any of the above analysis is true then we have to be looking for a new way, not repackaging the old way by some new narrative as if we were some marketing spin doctor.
So Zandtao, look at your narrative. Nothing new there, you’re just a spin doctor. But I am not advocating a new narrative as a way of change, I am advocating a change of focus. As activists we must begin an inner journey, and when we are active within our communities we must advocate that our communities begin an inner journey. And if we journey to the inner landscape we have a completely new picture that can begin to unravel the 1%-satrapy bit-by-bit.
It still sounds like spin – a different narrative. But it isn’t because the way they control us is through conditioning. We consume because of conditioning, we are apathetic because of our conditioning, we turn to the right away from compassion because of conditioning. And where is that conditioning? It starts in the media, it starts in our upbringing, it starts in our schools but it can end - the result of our conditioning is inside our minds. Our inner journey can find that conditioning, once we begin to see conditioning we can see compassion.
Zandtao, what has this got to do with your narrative? And at the same time what can we do if we see conditioning? How does this become something more than psycho-babble? This will become clearer if you continue through the manual. We need first to consider what we are talking about in activism. In general at present activism begins with an aversion to conditioning combined with a desire to do something about what is wrong. Over time that activism becomes community activism or political activism in which the activist walks a tightrope of ego and opportunism. And perhaps eventually the activist is a community leader. The averse can become community leaders, and I have met many such good comrades. But this process is haphazard, is based in experience, and most importantly has not particularly been examined by those in the movement. In a sense when I began questioning the failure of the movement, I was led to questioning this personal development. For some comrades the answer is that they learn from within the movement, and that their direction is taken from the movement. In terms of ego this is of course sound but is that position sufficient? What more should an activist becoming a community leader be?
My answer – pathtivist.
But we have to arrive at that answer together. And that process of arriving starts with detaching and going inwards.
Before I am able to do that I have to talk about how we learn about these “things”. We have to understand that our conditioning does not prepare us for this, in fact the exact opposite it actively militates against the understanding of these “things” – especially from within the education system. To learn about them we have to suck it and see. In our education system we do not learn of an inner journey even though many teachers consider we do – that is their conditioning. Through education we are taught to analyse and for many that is considered an inner journey but analysis is part of sankhara – it is part of the egoic shell that makes up our conditioning. And to reach an understanding our journey has to go beyond conditioning, has to go beyond this egoic shell – go inwards.
For the averse beginning in activism they learn analysis. Older comrades talk about Marxism and using Marxism analyse the current situation. For some of the older comrades they develop a sense of insight concerning these “things”, they go beyond analysis without recognising the importance of this insight. Insight is an important process to develop because it is a process that has gone beyond conditioning; it is a process that has come from going inwards, intuitively going inwards. Such an intuitive approach is beneficial to the activist and to the movement but it is not necessarily perceived as a conscious approach. In pathtivism we want to become aware of such processes, learn for ourselves about them, and impart these tools for activism within our communities. We want to make these approaches conscious.
Before we can begin going inwards we have to overcome a major stumbling block that conditioning through science has given us. Where are we going inwards? For science there is a complete brain and mind confusion such that the question of where are we going inwards is a question without meaning. And as activists we should know that over time this confused state is something that has become wanted of us. They want us stuck in conditioning, clear analysis is not wanted but moving beyond analysis is not even recognised as a possibility in education except amongst the creative – and they are “marginalised wierdos” in education terms.
The very construct of moving beyond analysis has no meaning when there is a confused understanding of brain and mind. What we have to develop is an understanding that there is a physical brain, there is a mind, and they have separate functions. And it is in the functioning of the mind that going inwards has a meaning. Marxism as an economic science is sound analysis of economic factors but activism is concerned with human beings, community leaders, this is not simply analysis.
Now remember that in pathtivism we are focussing on removing the conditioning of the ego, an activist objective. A confused state of understanding of brain and mind can mean that we do not see any more than conditioning. An erroneous view is that with reference to conditioning there are two categories of people, those who are conditioned and those who are averse to their conditioning (but still conditioned). When we begin to accept that the mind is something that is more than these two states of conditioning, more than an ego, then we are ready to go inwards.
This is a recognition that is not even talked of amongst traditional activists, however it is an intuitive recognition by those comrades who have developed insight. And it is significant that traditional activism does not include the creative or the spiritual within their understanding. People who are creative and spiritual are part of the movement and can act accordingly. Because religion can function as bolstering the system or even worse amongst the Christian Right in the US or “fundamentalists” in Islam, it is dismissed as an opiate or a means of conditioning. That aversion is not beneficial to the movement. A similar aversion exists with regards to the artist/creative. Such people are often considered indulgent and ill-disciplined. By the very nature of their art they are individualists so are not considered part of the movement. But this aversion fails to recognise that with art and creativity comes compassion, and that compassion is the same compassion that brings the caring element to those who have become averse to conditioning. I should note here that not all those who are averse to conditioning are compassionate, for some their aversion can be based in self-interest - the system is not just and I want more, and that egoic greed has been a stumbling block within the movement.
So accepting a confused understanding of brain and mind is part of our conditioning. And if we begin to accept a different functioning of mind and brain then we can answer our question of where can we go inwards, because that answer is in the mind. We can inwards in the mind. Suck it and see. Activists, does it make sense to you that there is a mind that functions not simply in conditioning? Reflect on that, take a moment and reflect on that.
If you are still here then activists we are going to go inwards in our minds, and the more we go inwards the more we will see the shallow hollow constructs that make up our conditioning. And once we unravel our conditioning then we are free to begin real questioning – and free to be so much more.
What have we done so far? We have accepted that there is a mind where we can go inwards. There are some comrades who have developed insight, I have not discussed how but have noted that these activists have done that through experience and clearly have more to offer, and I have brought up our aversion to creativity and spirituality. Is there more to creativity and spirituality? Part of the conditioning of the dispossessed is an alienation from spirituality, and creativity is a way of regaining that spirituality. And we will learn more of insight when we go inwards.
So when we go inwards what are we looking for? And the answer is simple – empty space. When we go in we look for empty space, and be in silence and still in that empty space. For the averse this is a ludicrous contention, what has this got to do with the 1%-satrapy and the suffering caused? And for many on some form of spiritual path this is a rather blas? statement to make given all the spiritual systems people are encouraged to follow. But in truth going inwards is simply about being in silence inside the empty space in our own minds.
And for those open to this approach there is a recognition that being inside in silence in empty space is far easier to write than to accomplish. For a pathtivist this going inwards to be in silence in empty space is simply following the path, and again this is far easier to write than to do. For some people the mere suggestion of going inwards is enough to trigger this return to what is natural – being in silence, and for others maintaining that state might also be relatively easy. Not for me. I was fortunate in finding the path as described in the Treatise Ch21, but after the upheaval I lacked discipline and was not always close to the path. Meditation was what brought me close and throughout my discussion of the inner journey I will be discussing how meditation can be used, and in my case how I integrated the meditation with an understanding of mind that can help prevent conditioning – for me an important strategy for the activist.
This is the approach I take for the dispossessed, those of my culture whose tradition has taken them so far from the path and Gaia. But for those indigenous living with the land finding their path and following it might well be very different. That is for them to decide. When I hear of indigenous practices such as ayahuasca, I understand them as being indigenous ways of following their own paths. Their traditions and lifestyles are in harmony with Gaia, so why not? I just don’t know. To know that is not the purpose of this manual, this manual is about pathtivism, and is addressing activists within the tradition of the dispossessed, within the 1%-satrapy.
Living with the land is a cultural approach, and it was not part of my culture – not part of the culture of the dispossessed. After my upheaval (Treatise Ch 21) my compassion started me writing but chose teaching as my community response. Because of the failure that has seen the increasing entrenchment of the 1%-satrapy and its neoliberalism, the choice of education as a means of change was also a failure. Education could be a way of creating change but this is well known and the 1% have established mechanisms to ensure that education provides what they want – wage-slaves and consumers (see Matriellez). Although writing is concerned with creativity and education it is still part of the dispossessed culture, it can also be diverted through the need for money away from the path. What I am driving at is the need to live with the land, a choice I did not make, if you are not living with the land you are compromised by the 1%-satrapy through the need to have money. Walking the tightrope of sufficiency within a dispossessed culture is difficult, I suspect that living in harmony with the land would be a much more natural way. Now that I have seen the failure of the movement and the failure of choosing a job to enable change, living with the land seems the only lifestyle choice. In terms of the struggle amongst the dispossessed, pathtivism or similar under the guidance of indigenous wisdom offers a way forward for a struggle which is stuck in idealism, stuck in a tradition that is destroying Gaia.