However the tea is prepared, the primary ingredient is always water. While we can live without tea, we can’t live without water. Likewise, we are born free of religion, but we are not born free of the need for compassion.
I’m not talking about God, Allah or Buddha, but about developing a better society, which all revolves around education. We need to think of belonging to one human family. If we can do that, there is a chance that by the end of the 21st century we can create a happier, more peaceful society. This depends on what we do, not on who we pray to. We need to work hard with self-confidence. The 7 billion human beings alive today are our brothers and sisters; therefore we need cooperation based on trust and self-confidence to create an open, compassionate, harmonious society. Here in Ladakh you have long been living in harmony, you must work hard to keep it up.
~HH 14th Dalai Lama
“My grandfather asked me not to be disappointed.
Whoever is disillusioned dies inside.
He said: it is urgent to live enchanted.”
— Valter Hugo Mãe
We live in a time of conflict and upheaval. People are both frightened and complacent. Regimes around the world are flirting with authoritarianism. Fascism is on the rise, even in America, especially in America. The seeds were always there. It’s not unexpected. Our democracy was always unfinished. A large minority never wanted it in the first place.
What’s in our heads and hearts will out, though. Our religion and education don’t teach us how to think for ourselves. We think we’re better people for accepting that the stories we’re told are true. Questioning is not encouraged. If our social conditioning weren’t so childish and tribal, if it at least it had a sense of connection to nature, we might not be destroying the natural world.
Our feeling of being at war with everything makes us dangerous to the rest of the planet and now those chickens are coming home to roost. We are dangerous to ourselves. We are in a karmic feedback loop. We are eating ourselves. We have an unusually high number of people who are deranged, enraged and well armed. Looking for who to blame, they identify “the other,” those who look or dress differently.
A society built on exclusion and punishment is primitive, no matter how sophisticated their technology and machines of war. A sophisticated society knows the value of a broad sense of connection, of empathy for all others including other species.
Our education neglects a vision of connection and promotes competition instead. It’s very shortsighted. We are sold a vision of life like a prizefight, like a football game, with winners and losers. It’s very hard to step out of this game even when we keep losing, but especially if we happen to win. Win or lose, however, we keep trying to imitate the winners, blaming ourselves when we can’t pull it off.
Enchantment and respect for our mysterious existence is somehow all too rare in the world we have made. Our cultural construct is mechanical and devoid of soul. No society has existed very long with that mindset. The people go crazy.
Death is a natural part of life, but wanton destruction of life is an illness. Our culture has a soul sickness, a mental illness, that is impossible to heal on an individual basis as long as it is sustained on a collective level. We still don’t have the necessary aggregate number of people who have stepped away from that system who might change it for the better. Ignorance and indifference keep it in place.
We need a kind of education of the heart. We need a sense of magic and enchantment. It needs to be pointed out to our children that care of the soul is the foundation of a good life, that we suffer when we are isolated from others. At the logical extreme of rage is an ignorance of yourself that is violence. In a society that values money over everything else, there will be violence and unnecessary suffering. You can bet on it.
The world of enchantment is very different from the world we now live in. Only we can change that.