Where is The Beauty of Life?

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Painting by Carole Bressan

“ Much anxiety surrounds the question of how good the next generation will be at math; very little around their abilities at marriage or kindness. We devote inordinate hours to learning about tectonic plates and cloud formations, and relatively few fathoming shame and rage.

We are, in terms of wisdom, little more advanced than the ancient Sumerians or the Picts. We have the technology of an advanced civilization balancing precariously on an emotional base that has not developed much since we dwelt in caves. We have the appetites and destructive furies of primitive primates who have come into possession of thermonuclear warheads.

There are few catastrophes, in our own lives or in those of nations, that do not ultimately have their origins in emotional ignorance.” — Alain de Botton


‘As an instinct, the creative is a necessity of life, and the satisfaction of its needs a requirement for life. In the human being, creativity like the other instincts requires fulfillment. According to Jung’s view of man, activity and reflection are not enough, there is a fifth component(instinct), as basic in man as hunger and sexuality. the quintessentia of creativity’. — James Hillman

“We were not meant to live shallow lives, pocked by meaningless routines and the secondary satisfactions of happy hour. We are the inheritors of a lineage rippling with memories of life lived intimately with bison and gazelle, raven and the night sky. We are designed to encounter this life with amazement and wonder, not resignation and endurance. This is at the very heart of our grief and sorrow.” — Francis Weller

We call our civilization “advanced.” Is it?

Do we call it advanced because we disregard everything except our tools and possessions? Comparing our leveraged power to exploit nature and wage war with so-called primitive cultures that work diligently to keep themselves in harmony with nature, we’re judging our stature with blinders on.

We are completely blind to the connectivity we inhabit. That blindness is a kind of spiritual primitivism. It’s lack of depth creates a kind of infantile fiction that seems normal to us. We judge other cultures by our fictional yardstick and find them lacking. The irony is lost in translation. Thinking outside our conditioning is reserved to a few Casandras warning us of an approaching terminal point, a crash and dissolution of our way of life.

Those rare souls possessed of a spiritual 20–20 vision are speaking their truth, but even those of us who are listening are in doubt as to what to do or how to change things. We are overwhelmed by all the factions, belief systems and “isms” that we hardly know where to begin.

I think it’s best to start close to home, inside our own selves. Our way of seeing, our thinking and feeling, our standards of judging, our imagination of the world and our role in it is where I would start. Our world is created and agreed to by a kind of hive mind. Our individual participation is the crux of the issue. If we become aware of the shallowness of our culture, we are implicated in that shallowness. We have tacitly agreed to be shallow.

Self awareness shifts the burden of responsibility from “out there” to “in here.”

That’s the one thing we’ve been raised to side-step. That hidden injunction against self insight is our culture’s fatal flaw. Most critics of our system tinker around the edges, but fundamental change is what’s needed. Will complete collapse have to come first, before enough of us will consider another way?

A society deprived of a sense of connection to the web of life and to the binding principle of love is fated to collapse. That’s where we are now.

I don’t know anyone who’s certain of the outcome, but if enough of us evolve from the inside out, I think we have a chance.

One more little quote:

Three years ago, the Dalai Lama said to a group of us, “We must all realize that the human race has created a situation in which its extinction is possible. Those of us who understand this must prepare ourselves and others for the very worst, while continuing to work tirelessly for the very best.

I hold in my consciousness two previously unimaginable opposites; on the one hand the possible even likely extinction of humanity and on the other, the potential for our unimaginable birth of a new embodied divine humanity, the mutation realized and resplendent.”

Andrew Harvey, The Great Event: Dark Night and Rebirth

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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