Of Love,



I wrote this short essay for my dear friends who are on intellectual and emotional overdrive these days, and who shower me with all sorts of comments and questions on current events.
December 2016

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Find me a form of government where an elite is not controlling the masses.

It is a common feature of all societies, be they primitive or advanced, human or animal, that rule is exercised by an elite. The question with elites is not whether they are good or bad: they are, and will always be. A similar discussion can be had about Nature: is Nature monstrous, or generous; is Nature insensitive, or loving and caring? Nature is -- and does not need our epithets. Since it is impossible to assign a qualification to nature, such as good or bad, or cruel or generous, my bias is to assume good and generous, although I welcome those who believe otherwise. People call me a naive optimist, and I'm happy that way.

Back to government. Once in power, an elite wants to extract a rent from their hard-fought situation of dominance. That tendency is inherited from nature, and there is nothing good or bad in that. A pack of wolves, or a pride of lions, exacts a rent on herbivores; but that ecosystem is remarkably balanced, reaching an equilibrium where none of the parties crosses an invisible set of boundaries. Now enter greed -- that remarkable human invention. Greed is not easy to define; and it does not plague all humans equally: some are almost immune to it, while some are living for and by it. Greed is perhaps an intrinsic by-product of human consciousness, a tendency to define myself as what I have rather than who I am. Nature, on the other hand, is strictly concerned with being rather than having. So in human affairs, greed being what it is, rents always tend to increase. It's a runaway situation that cannot last. Unlike in nature, human affairs are inevitably drawn to a loss of equilibrium. Thus the dynamics of History. Sic transit gloria mundi, as the Romans said.

Now about elections. In light of the above, voting one faction out of power does not solve much, if anything. It perpetuates our mediocre state of affairs called democracy (I agree there were worse systems). The sad truth is that greed pervades all factions. Social democrats and Conservative democrats, aka the Left and the Right, fare identically when it comes to greed. Ironically, each side believes that the other side is evil (a religious attitude, rather than a rational one: you easily detect those militants when any discussion degenerates into insults). A simple test is as follows: if someone harshly judges, or condemns, the faction on the opposite political side, they're just as bad as the ones they condemn. The real immune system of a democracy is made of a handful of good independent women and men.

I was totally candid as a young man. My first realization came after attending a so-called Earth Day, in a beautiful and green park that I loved for its peace and cleanliness, in the seventies in California. One day a huge crowd of fanatics wearing uniforms (blue jeans, tee-shirts) rushed into it, chanting hateful slogans and behaving violently against other uniforms (the Police). After the parade, those affluent kids left the park littered with broken glass, garbage and filth, and probably prolonged the night getting drunk or high. The trash was picked up by other uniformed people -- mostly migrants working for the city. That deplorable scene vaccinated me forever against militants of any shade who do not practice what they preach. It took National Socialism a decade to self-destruct; it took International Socialism seven decades to self-destruct; how long until Universal Socialism wrecks the planet?

I once read a short book by Scott Peck ("People of the Lie") where he tentatively defined evil as laziness. I took it as "laziness to control one's greed", or a failure to keep greed within reasonable bounds (for totally doing away with it is utopia). Of course it can be explained in broader terms as a laziness to love -- a lofty definition with which I wholly agree, but for the present discussion, laziness to control one's greed is sufficient.

Control greed did I say? The only hope is a grassroot transformation of the way we think.

Certitudes or methodical doubt, in religion, in politics, in the sciences, occupy our minds during our youth with the illusion that we make things happen. With age we realize they are nice, but limited.

Spirituality is neither certitude, nor doubt.

It is the realm of the paradox.

Or at least it looks so to the Western mind. Western thought is imbued with dualism. Dualism is the idea that things come in pairs - and they usually do - but that they are opposites, mutually exclusive. A is A and B is B -- but A cannot be B and B cannot be A. Mix it with rationalism and you have the explosive cocktail of the the modern world. While binary logic works wonders in math, science and computing, it does not apply to the human phenomenon, where the essence is spiritual. If you strictly apply rationalism to humans, you end up with a barbaric utopia -- a dystopia. The gory images of 20th century brutality are a terrible testimony of retreating religion being replaced with political arrogance using rationalism as an excuse. Western thought needs to rediscover that A can be B, and B can be A. Call it holism, New Age, or any insult that logicians use, it remains that the essential nature of life is holistic, interconnected. Spiritual.

We never understand nor explain the spiritual, for if we did, we would own it. It takes humility. To the arrogant filled with the illusion of knowing, a spiritual pursuit may even appear risky, a risk of losing certitudes, un-learning, or "letting go".

We are at the same time Agnostics, Shamans, Druids, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Atheists, Christians, Muslims, believing that God is both in anything and out of anything, everywhere and nowhere. We are all and everything. In spirituality, we are atheists and believers at the same time. Who has not marveled at a morning dawn or at a blooming flower, at the taste of a fruit. We are left and right. We are feminine and masculine. We are rich and poor. We are bohemians and bourgeois.

Spirituality is a paradox to those not yet in a spiritual pursuit. But to the journeyer, the humble pilgrim in the quest for enlightenment, spirituality is a gradual illumination. Spirituality is a lifelong journey with compassion as the compass. A compass magnetically drawn to True Love.