is the Disease of Disconnection
Last week, I shared the below graphic to show how I see meditation and mindfulness as a phenomenon that offers escape from the compulsion toward the self/ego/identity-fabrication that results in the imprisoning ME construct.
Though admittedly one person’s perspective and merely a stepping stone toward the much more complex notion of what meditation is, it was accepted with enthusiasm and much debate, some of which ventured into the realm of the socio-economic reasons why human beings need to meditate to become mindful in the first place.
Fretting-Regretting Consumer (Left) Mindful Meditator (Right)
Is it possible that we are drawn to meditation by a desire to reacquire a natural inclination to a mindful state of awareness we have lost? A return to Eden one might say.
How is it that submitting to the peace of the present moment has become something elusive and seemingly beyond reach of modern, civilized humanity? Shouldn’t we be predisposed to this disposition?
Does it really make sense that our seemingly default state of awareness is anxiety, stress and regret?
It’s weird if you ask me.
But you know what else is weird?
That’s weird too.
As someone formerly afflicted with careers in political science, journalism and advertising, I have come to believe that the reason the modern default modality of consciousness is a perpetual state of being anxious about the future, dissatisfied with the present and regretful about the past is because we are programmed by our society and its institutions to be this way.
In other words, people are conditioned, socialized and trained to be the exact opposite of what mindfulness implies and meditation achieves.
Why? To what end?
Well, Black Friday about sums it up.
Simply put, the individual with a mindful consciousness: the one who is intrinsically satisfied; the one for whom identity construction and longing for outside approval of that constructed identity has ceased to be the driving imperative of consciousness doesn’t NEED the latest version of the hippest phone brand to be satisfied with existence.
And so mindfulness is not preferred because it does not serve the interests of a consumption driven economic growth paradigm that likes its people perpetually
- uncertain about what they have achieved
- disappointed with who they are
- obsessed with who they should be
- preoccupied with identity construction, and
- seeking validation of that construct
so that they are always
- shopping, and
- working so they can shop
From marks in school to how current our phone model is to how our asses look in our pants, the preferred modality of consciousness — the modality that has been engineered to serve the interests of the few at the top — is that which constantly scans outward for approval of the ME construct and invests every waking moment stitching the outer clown suit of being piecemeal into existence using everything from political affiliations to the painstakingly selected brand of coffee one waves prominently about as one saunters into work each morning.
They want us fractured, disoriented and jonesin’ for the next thing that will make others stand up and take notice of how on-the-ball, ahead-of-the-curve, plugged-in, awesome-smelling, slick-operating, and blinky-trinky AWESOME we are!
All this, despite the fact that it’s impossible to ever hit all the targets that move ever backwards! For ain’t it the absolute truth that what’s nifty today is nasty by tomorrow?
Welcome to the hamster wheel.
What they DON’T want are the awakened ones. And especially ones who buy into that tree-hugging, hippy-dippy, kung-fu, one-with-reality hokum! Those ones aren’t shoppers. Those ones won’t stay chained to their desks.
In the fiction I write, I postulate that reductionism run amok — the needless and arbitrary parsing and delineation of reality by way of labels, categories, designations, measurements etc. is what separates us from grace. It is the primary theme of my work.
Rightly or wrongly, I propose that the grace of the oneness that emerges when we cease (as much as is possible for us) to draw lines and impose fabricated division on an inherently unified reality is what I call mysticism. And also, rightly or wrongly, I identify mindfulness as achieved by meditation as the condition of nesting in this unity of being and reality / perceiver and perceived.
I offer for discussion that the misery in our world results from holding ourselves in the state of exile from grace that manifests when, either by the wide strokes of the paint roller of religion, or by the fine-tipped pen strokes of science, we impose our swaths and scribbles upon a reality that rewards us most for doing no more than being with it as it is.
The lines are everywhere and without thinking too hard or meditating for too long, it begins to become obvious why they are there.
Divide and conquer.
The lines have become so pervasive we no longer realize that they are arbitrarily defined and thereby imaginary! Lines in the sand, all of them: shifting and insubstantial — though most certainly NOT inconsequential!
Lines between blacks and whites; between conservatives and liberals; between Christians and Muslims; between Americans and Mexicans.
They all divide though none of them are real!
Now let’s return our attention to the point of this article: that high, holy, celebration of consumerism: Black Friday.
We come now to lines upon the lines. As though there can never be too many bars in the cage. As though nations, races, religions, political parties, alma maters, and sports team loyalties weren’t enough, we are invited to the next level.
Mac-users and PC-users; Android-users and iPhone-user; this-kind-of-car-driver and that-kind-of-car-driver; rock and disco; Coke and Pepsi; My-watch-records-how-many-steps-I-take-guy and poor-me-my-watch-still-only-tells-me-what-time-it-is-MAN!-I-need-two-fingers-of-scotch-to-dull-the-pain-guy : (
We’ve succumbed to a civilizational enterprise in social engineering that has managed to make me-being-better-than-you even better!
All of this is why we are disconnected. All of this is why we are unfulfilled.
Because they want us shopping. They want us working. They want us warring.
To my point. Conspicuous consumption of junk we don’t need to preoccupy us with the construction of false identities we don’t need has become the cultural imperative of our civilization. And we do it all only because we don’t yet get that we don’t need to.
And we will continue to do it until, I would argue, we use the door off the hamster wheel that becomes more and more accessible to us all every day.
Meditation: the vast, silent, borderless way back to the embracing grace of a reality free from the arbitrary delineations that set us against one another (not to mention setting the constructed outer self against the inner relative absence of that notion).
So I invite you again to ponder the above meditation/mindfulness graphic — this time in the context of Black Friday and these two statements.
- Identity Construction has become the primary enterprise of beings in our civilization and the means by which they become trapped on the seek approval-shop-work-repeat hamster wheel.
- Meditating toward mindful, transcendent awareness beyond the ME construct offers the promise of moving through our programmed preoccupation with identity construction and stepping off that hamster wheel.