the way we are

BLOG the way we are

broken eggshell
it seems to me
that the description of our world
as an asylum, a hospital, a prison,
is a fair one.

everything tells me
there is something terribly wrong
with the way we live now,
that this is not how we’re meant to live.

people behave in unnatural ways
ways detached from reality,
from others, from themselves.
it’s as if reality is too terrible, too hard,
more trouble than it’s worth.
so we live in these imaginary places,
in our heads,
in our stories.
it’s safer here.

i can imagine how it was
to live in a primeval world,
a world where our senses and instincts held sway,
a world of astonishing colour, and surprise,
a world without politics, without scarcity
without fear.
a world that just was.
and of which we were, from birth, a part.
accepted, loved, honoured.
even by those who would devour us.

our intellectual and emotional selves
are a natural evolution:
more thought enables us to innovate,
to survive in places we are not naturally endowed to live.
more feeling enables us to care —
and when times are challenging
those who care will outlive those who do not.
now we are smart, and fierce, creatures,
evolved, grimly, to survive.

but that intellect can also imagine
things far more fearsome than other creatures,
and can make those terrors a reality,
while those sensitive emotions
can make those terrors unbearable.
unintended consequences,
enough to suggest that nature made a mistake with us,
a big enough mistake to usher in
the sixth great extinction of life on Earth.

so here we are, as we wait to discover
what we have wrought.
out of control, over-bred,
damaged by stresses we could not foresee,
self-imposed, and self-compounding.

all creatures value freedom above all else,
even above love.
in a world of horrific overcrowding,
constrained to live in a social compact
that inhibits us everywhere,
that deprives us of everything in life that’s natural,
we have ceded all our freedoms
for survival:
obey, or die.

hence the asylum: deprived of freedom
we quickly go mad:
we kill, wage war, sacrifice our souls,
pray to gods of suffering,
eat our young.

so what are we to do?
inure ourselves, become machines,
live in our heads, suppress our feelings,
do what we must,
keep our heads, enough to help others,
to be of use, while we wait
for a salvation beyond hope?

or walk away from civilization,
be selfish, find oasis for ourselves and those we love
and live as free and natural lives
as can be found in soils untouched
by the asylum, as humble models
for the seventh world that will arise
with our demise?

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8 Responses to the way we are

  1. Excellent, Dave-We are all seeds for something else–Hegel said so and it seems true. Thank you for this helpful blending of head and heart, and the question you are living.

  2. vera says:

    Nothing selfish about it. The oases are the future.

  3. John Graham says:

    Excellent bit of writing, Dave.I’ve often thought that you’ve got “walking away” all wrong as the dream you seem to set yourself on. When I think “walking away”, I think The Story of B, though I don’t know if Quinn calls it that. It’s something quite different.On freedom – interesting that Beth mentions Hegel. I’d highly recommend Rudolf Steiner’s “The Philosophy of Freedom” – don’t worry, it’s devoid of “New Age crap” you might associate with him, and manages to work rigorously at the head level, and through that to the heart level.

  4. Chaitanya says:

    Hey Dave, simple, yet powerful writing ! But let me be the Devils advocate for a moment.What guarantee that living a life “where our senses and instincts held sway” is a life of “freedom” ? Seriously. We look at all the non-human life around and romantasize that as “freedom”. But has anyone looked into their consciousness and checked whether *they* think they are “free”. maybe they feel extremely constrained in their consciousness too.I think where i fundamentally disagree with your thesis, is that i think civilization is just a symptom. You seem to see “civilization” as a cause. “if only we could go back, and live freely with just senses and instincts”. In anycase, i don’t believe its possible to live that life as a human, civilization or not. Its like turning the clock of evolution back. Thought and emotion, are hardwired into us. When there is thought, there is time. maybe thats why its so hard to live in “now time” as a human.maybe life itself is fundamentally “unsatisfactory”, and its impossible to find freedom amidst impermanence ? This is the Buddha’s thesis. maybe the way to complete freedom is to simply alter the way we “see” things (the structure of consciousness), rather than trying to find it in sensual, intellectual, or emotional pursuits.To me, the anti-civ crowd merely address the symptoms. Buddha’s philosophy addresses the root cause of human predicament.

  5. Chaitanya says:

    correction — To us its Buddha’s “thesis”, a mere concept to intellectually play with. To him, its a fact as clear as daylight.

  6. vera says:

    Um. Dave… of course Mother Culture would object most strenuously… get religion, get with it, get going, get to meditatin’ more, get distracted, get focused… but never ever walk away from civ! :-D

  7. Paris says:

    The only suffering from consciousness comes from human crimes: pollution, mass destructiun of biosphere, genocides, slavery, drugsLiving in now time have NO power to suppress the physical pain from poisons tearing our flesh and neurones apart. Living in now time is a good idea for starving suicide, obvisouly dying is an ideal way to walk away from civ by meditating for eternity. But NO thanks.

  8. anonymous says:

    “All that is subject to arising is subject to ceasing.”

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