Towards Freedom – Materialism and Possession

I think it fair to comment that a swathe of humanity is somewhat obsessed with material things; houses, ‘phones, cars and maybe even yachts. There is a desire for the less concrete material things, the man-made things, like position, status and kudos. These are the markers, the accoutrements of the show-and-tell story of success, material success. People attach a lot to objects and stuff. Some houses are brimming. There is a like of the shiny, the medals, the trophies of societal conformity. One can even have a trophy wife and post-nominal letters. These things can be taken away, an event which causes distress and suffering because of the attachment, thereto. People have possessions and are possessed by them. That which they are attached to has power over them. In the hunger for acquisition rarely does it occur that people are giving their power over to their possessions.

If you are to be free then the equation of freedom is that the fewer things that have material power over you there are, the freer you become. In the limit of no possessions, one might wander the streets penniless dependent upon the hand-outs of others. This, depending upon mind-state, is a state of powerlessness. This can also not be free, because of the dependency. Is there perhaps a happy medium? Well in a world where relative might operate, there is. One can have only those belongings which one actually needs and that suffices. Many acquire way more than this, perhaps in a vain attempt to satiate some hunger, some hole in being. Their “happiness” is correlated somehow, to number count of material accoutrement. It is straightforward to see that, in such cases, the thinking behind is faulty.

Even then it is likely that some degree of clinging to accoutrement occurs. This clinging is needy and not free. If one uses, with respect the needed things, knowing that their use is a temporary gift of the universe and without a sense of entitlement, there is less attachment. Non-attachment without respect is wasteful and profligate, it engenders a throw-away society. Non-attachment with respect is perhaps a hallmark of a free being. In this one has no belief that the universe owes us a living or anything much at all. Thereby one is grateful for the loan of the material things offered, yet not attached to having them.

Materialism implies a lack of spirituality, which comes in many flavours and degrees. Despite all the reason, logic and justification, many find that some sense of spirit is the icing on the cake of life. Without it life is incomplete, unfinished. In our times spirit seems to be dying in favour of material, it may be that this underlies the tremendous levels of world angst and anger. This is an opinion for you to consider.

There are many wise quotes that suggest materialism is a hollow path, that whilst shiny and bauble laden, offers no lasting happiness or peace. This gnawing materialism is insatiable; at the end of its rainbow is the pot of enough, which cannot be found because for those so oriented it simply does not exist. This elusive enough, often sought, can cause suffering. It is sought with the wrong mind-set and motive and ergo, is elusive.  There is a Buddhist expression which I am fond of; hungry ghosts. A ghost then is a being divested of spirit seeking always to quench a thirst and silence a hunger pain, in the netherworld of materialism. If you don’t believe in “actual” ghosts, perhaps you can see the manifest hungry ghosts walking alongside you on our streets? They are quite common, and they do come out during the day.

In order to walk towards freedom, it is necessary to reorient in respect of the material so that it all but ceases to have power over you.  Despite the prevalence of totems, relics and the like, they have no inherent power. The power is only in the mind of the reverential and acquisitional. This power is a mental construct attached by the being who holds it. These attachments can bind and hold.

Objects can be the talismans of memories, markers of stories and anchors of such. They evoke baggage and strengthen its hold. To be free of the past is to reconcile and dissolve it. To evoke and bolster it is unwise. In this respect sentimentality is a burden.

A major part of the obsession with materialism is, as I have hinted, this show-and-tell competitive social behaviours based in comparison mind and exploited by the advertiser. This fear of missing out on the latest grooviest thing is the marketer’s dream and a fundamental weakness in the herd of consumers. So many buy stuff they do not need so as to partake of a show-and-tell life. This to the extent of living beyond means in many cases. A trophy cabinet is of little solace when the creditors foreclose. You could say that this attraction to shiny baubles is a little primitive and yet pervasive.

If one looks ever outward to the material world for “happiness”, reward and acknowledgment, the inner world becomes barren and untended. There is no balance, no centre. It is difficult to be free when near perpetually off balance.  In this respect simplicity is a counterpoint to acquisition, where need as opposed to want or desire, is the basis of interaction with the material world. Not everyone can tolerate the idea of monastic sparseness, yet relative comfort without excess is liveable for most. And in not feeling owed, or attached, knowing that your tenure of goods is transitory not guaranteed, equanimity can be found. The concept of ownership and permanent ownership at that, is a human invention. Nature can at any time challenge human perceived ownership of goods and irrevocably so. This construct of ownership and possession is of human origin and thereby a part of the illusion of the common dream, the prevailing world version.  The mantram of “must have” is chanted daily by millions and it is not a mantram of peace or fulfilment. It is mantram of hunger. “Must have” is not free.

In order to be free, one must at least lessen the power which things and awards have over one. There needs to be a responsible lessening of attachment, perhaps in a stepwise manner. Slowly the umbilical to the world of materialism needs severed. To be possessed by possessions is to be hooked to them and their purveyors. And short of a full-blown exorcism it is best to wean yourself towards autonomous living and thinking. This addiction to materialism is powerful and it holds power over most.

The Stultifying Inertia of “Normal”

Cambridge Dictionary

have your cake and eat it (too)

to have or do two good things at the same time that are impossible to have or do at the same time:

You can’t have your cake and eat it – if you want more local services, you can’t expect to pay less tax.

Wikipedia

You can’t have your cake and eat it

You can’t have your cake and eat it (too) is a popular English idiomatic proverb or figure of speech. The proverb literally means “you cannot simultaneously retain your cake and eat it”. Once the cake is eaten, it is gone. It can be used to say that one cannot have two incompatible things, or that one should not try to have more than is reasonable. The proverb’s meaning is similar to the phrases “you can’t have it both ways” and “you can’t have the best of both worlds.”

For those unfamiliar with it, the proverb may sound confusing due to the ambiguity of the word ‘have’, which can mean ‘keep’ or ‘to have in one’s possession’, but which can also be used as a synonym for ‘eat’ (e.g. ‘to have breakfast’). Some find the common form of the proverb to be incorrect or illogical and instead prefer: “You can’t eat your cake and [then still] have it (too)”. Indeed, this used to be the most common form of the expression until the 1930s–1940s, when it was overtaken by the have-eat variant. Another, less common, version uses ‘keep’ instead of ‘have’.

Choosing between having or eating a cake illustrates the concept of trade-offs or opportunity cost.

———-

I’ll make a suggestion, and this is that the bulk of humanity is afflicted, to an extent, by the above syndrome, it wants to have its cake and eat it too.

What do you think do many people want to keep “their” precious cake and eat it?

A version of this is playing out in UK politics at the moment. Old people want to keep their capital, tied up in houses, and get “free” social care. They do not want fully means tested social care provision. A million quid house could pay for a lot of social care.

It seems reasonable to some that the old and rich get subsidised by the young and poor. It is a bit of a con…

If you look at the post two previous , seventy years ago, just after a truly massive world war, the Tibetan was hoping for a brighter less materialistic future. His hopes have not materialised. We are more materialistic than ever and now there is also a vast swath of the population obsessed by the plasticity of image.

Not only must we consume we must be seen to consume and in ultra-HD.

Over the last 18 months or so I have heard many, on the TV, say that they want to get back to “normal”. Let’s get back to status quo ante. But you can’t!! You cannot step into the same river twice and whether we wish to believe it or not the world will never be the same again even if there is a post-Covid time.

Trying to be normal is trying to remain stuck inert and unmoving. It aspires to be average. What were we before the pandemic? We were complacent and ill-prepared for a pandemic. Do we want to go back to this complacency?

People do not want climate change, but they also want to keep their highly materialistic and “normal” lifestyles.  Is that not another example of wanting to have cake and eat it too?

It is normal to demand a sunshine air miles holiday. When they change the travel traffic light list the great British public complains.

Do you want to have foreign travel and no imported coronavirus mutants? Cake?

It is not fair mummy; I can’t have both the things I want!!

There is a vague hope that technology will find an answer to climate change. Humanity has ingenuity, so it might help the problem.

Climate change is caused by materialism. It is not simply the fault of big companies, nor countries. It is OUR fault for being so materialistic. Herein lies the cause and perhaps the seed of a solution.

The economic paradigm of continuous growth upon which many western economies are based is illogical. Why? Because the planet is finite. This means that it simply cannot sustain continued growth ad infinitum.

Unless we curtail our consumerism in the light of an ever-increasing population something will pop. I don’t need a crystal ball to see this, nor do you!

 It is not a case of IF rather a case of WHEN.

Do you want to have the very latest smartphone, foreign travel and no global warming?

Is this a very normal aspiration in our times?

Cake, cake, cake

The Present Problem of Youth {1947}

The world, as known to people over forty years of age, has crumbled and is fast disappearing. The old values are fading out and what we call “civilization” (that civilization we have thought so wonderful) is vanishing. Some of us are thankful it is so. Others regard it as a disaster. All of us are distressed that the means of its dissolution have brought so much agony and suffering to humanity everywhere.

Civilization might be defined as the reaction of humanity to the purpose and the activities of a particular world period and its type of thinking. In each age, some idea functions and expresses itself in both racial and national idealisms. Its basic trend down the centuries has produced our modern world and this has been materialistic. The aim has been physical comfort; science and the arts have been prostituted to the task of giving man a comfortable and if possible a beautiful environment; all the products of nature have been subordinated to giving humanity things. The aim of education, generally speaking, has been to equip the child to compete with his fellow citizens in “making a living”, in accumulating possessions and in being as comfortable and successful as possible.

This education has also been primarily competitive, nationalistic and, therefore, separative. It has trained the child to regard the material values as of major importance, to believe that his particular nation is also of major importance and that every other nation is secondary; it has fed pride and fostered the belief that he, his group and his nation are infinitely superior to other people and peoples. He is taught consequently to be a one-sided person with his world values wrongly adjusted and his attitudes to life distinguished by bias and prejudice. The rudiments of the arts are taught him in order to enable him to function with the needed efficiency in a competitive setting and in his particular vocational environment. Reading, writing and elementary arithmetic are regarded as minimum requirements, plus some knowledge of historical and geographical events. Some of the literature of the world is also brought to his attention. The general level of civilized information is relatively high, but it is biased and influenced by religious and national prejudices which are instilled into the child from his earliest years, but which are not innate. World citizenship is not emphasized; his responsibility to his fellowmen is systematically ignored; his memory is developed through the impartation of uncorrelated facts – most of them unrelated to daily living.

Our present civilization will go down in history as grossly materialistic. There have been many material epochs in history but none so generally widespread as the present or which have involved such untold millions. We are constantly told that the cause of this war is economic; that is surely so but the reason is that we have demanded so much of comfort and of “things” in order to live “reasonably well”. We require so much more than our forefathers needed; we prefer a soft and relatively easy life; the pioneering spirit (which is the background of all nations) has faded, in most cases, into a soft civilization. This is particularly true of the Western hemisphere. Our standard of civilized living is far too high from the standpoint of possessions and far too low from the angle of the spiritual values, or when subjected to an intelligent sense of proportion. Our modern civilization will not stand up to the acid test of value. A nation is today regarded as civilized when it sets a value on mental development, when it puts a premium on analysis and criticism and when all its resources are directed towards the satisfying of physical desire, towards the production of material things and towards the implementing of material purposes as well as towards dominating competitively in the world, towards the amassing of riches, the acquiring of property, the achievement of a high standard of material living and towards the cornering of the produce of the earth – largely for the benefit of certain groups of ambitious and wealthy men.

This is a drastic generalization but it is basically correct in its main implications, though incorrect where individuals are concerned. For this sad and dire situation (entirely of humanity’s own making) we pay the penalty of war. Neither the churches nor our educational systems have been sound enough in their presentation of truth to offset this materialistic tendency. The tragedy is that the children of the world have paid and are paying the price of our wrongdoing. War has its roots in greed; material ambition has motivated all the nations without exception; all our planning has been directed to the organization of the national life so that material possession, competitive supremacy and individual and national selfish interests would control. All nations, in their own way and degree, have contributed to this; none has clean hands and hence war. Humanity has the habit of selfishness and an inherent love of material possessions. This has produced our modern civilization and, for this reason, it is being changed.

The cultural factor in any civilization is its preservation and consideration of all the best the past has given, and its evaluation and study of the arts, the literature, the music and the creative life of all nations – past and present. It concerns the refining influence of these factors upon a nation and upon those individuals in a nation who are so situated (usually financially) that they can profit from them and appreciate them. The knowledge and understanding thus gained enable the man of culture to relate the world of meaning (as inherited from the past) to the world of appearances in which he lives and to regard them as one world, but one existing primarily for his individual benefit. When, however, to an appreciation of our planetary and racial inheritance, both creative and historical, he adds an understanding of the spiritual and moral values, then we have an approximation to what the truly spiritual man is intended to be. In relation to the total population of the planet, such men are few and far between, but they guarantee to the rest of humanity a genuine possibility.

Will cultured people realize their opportunity? Will our civilized citizens embrace the chance to build afresh – not a material civilization this time but a world of beauty and of right human relations, a world in which children can indeed grow into the likeness of the One Father and in which man can return to the simplicity of the spiritual values of beauty, truth and goodness?

Yet, facing the worldwide reconstruction demanded and the well-nigh impossible task of salvaging the children and youth of the world, them are those today who are engaged in raising funds to rebuild stone churches and restore ancient buildings, thus demanding money which is sorely needed to restore broken bodies, to heal psychological wounds and to produce the warmth of love and understanding among those who believe that such qualities do not exist!

———–

Excerpted from:

Problems of Humanity – Chapter II – The Problem of the Children of the World 1947

By Alice Bailey & Djwhal Kuhl

Materialism and Spirituality

There are today three major human trends: First of all, a trend towards a spiritual and free way of life; secondly, a trend towards intellectual unfoldment; and lastly, a potent trend towards material living and aggression.

At present, the last of these innate tendencies is in the saddle, with the second, the intellectual attitude, throwing its weight upon the side of the material goals. A relatively small group is throwing the weight of human aspiration upon the side of the spiritual values.

The war between the pairs of opposites – materialism and spirituality – is raging fiercely. Only as men turn away from material aggression and towards spiritual objectives will the world situation change, and men – motivated by goodwill – force the aggressors back to their own place and release humanity from fear and force.

We are today reaping the results of our own sowing. The recognition of the cause of the problem provides humanity with the opportunity to end it. The time has arrived in which it is possible to institute those changes in attitude which will bring an era of peace and goodwill, founded on right human relations.

These two forces – materialism and spirituality – face each other. What will be the outcome? Will men arrest the evil and initiate a period of understanding, cooperation and right relationship, or will they continue the process of selfish planning and of economic and militant competition? This question must be answered by the clear thinking of the masses and by the calm and unafraid challenges of the democracies.

On all sides the need for a new world order is being recognized. The totalitarian powers are talking of the “new order in Europe”; the idealists and thinkers are unfolding schemes and plans which vision entirely new conditions that will bring the old bad order to an end. There is a constant demand for the Allies to state their peace aims and indicate clearly what adjustments will be made after the war, because a vision of the future world policy will help humanity through the present crisis.

Excerpted from:

The Externalization of the Hierarchy – Section II – The General World Picture

by Alice Bailey and Djwhal Kuhl

This written something like > 80 years ago.

Has there been progress?

Towards a New Dreaming {Rainbow Serpent}

History shows that all over the world people who imagine they know best have tried to foist their ideas, belief and culture on others who they deem are “below” them. They inflict themselves on others and cause havoc and devastation through their prejudice.

I have nearly finished reading “Mysteries of the Dream-Time” by James Cowan and was struck by this section. So I have scanned it and wish to share with one and all.

Can a Strongly Materialistic Society Stop Global Warming?

In my honest opinion, I doubt it very much, so no.

We may like to kid ourselves that our ingenuity will allow us to continue to exploit the planet and accumulate things. Our little tweaks here and there, might slow things a little. There are just way too many human beings, and we are such greedy bastards. The mantra is more, more, more. We must have the latest gadget phone thingy so that we can share fatuous software optimised photos of consumption with each other in a competitive keeping up with the Joneses manner.

“Look at me I flew to the Maldives so I can post a picture of myself in a £200 bikini.”

“I went to St Barts and wore a Rolex”.

This competitive consumption is a root cause of global warming. This acquisitional urge is an underlying malady. When will humanity understand the meaning of “enough”?  What is this elusive noumenon?

“Greed is Good” quoted the Wolf of Wall Street and Uncle Boris.

If humanity fails to learn from the current situation the simple lesson that it is One Humanity, One World and in a very real sense One Life, what will happen? It will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis until it destroys the planet completely. What we see now are but the subtle and minor harbingers of crises to come. These a like the appetizers.

We can bemoan our ruined wine harvest, berate the government for inadequate flood defences and insufficient firemen and water to put out the blazes. Where will the money come from? There is not much left in the coffers due to Covid.  

Or we can recognise that the change starts at home and actually do something about our orientation towards life. Ease off on being such vampiric consumers sucking the very blood out of the earth.

Humanity imagines that it can have its cake and eat it. No need to change, consume, consume, consume. There is always tomorrow.

I was joking with the wife that I might invest in a Dutch dyke building and land recovery company. That should provide revenue until the world burns and drowns.

In thirty yeas time I probably will not be here.

What will 2050 look like?

I’ll wager living on this plant will be much harder by then.

We are simply unwilling to imagine it. We must have our fortnight in the sun.

Unless insatiable humanity learns the meaning of enough, we are up shit creek, in a barbed wire canoe, without a paddle!

Hmnn..

Most continue to cost up the solar panel arrays.

The Present Problem of Youth {c.1947}

The world, as known to people over forty years of age, has crumbled and is fast disappearing the old values are fading out and what we call “civilization” (that civilization we have thought so wonderful) is vanishing. Some of us are thankful it is so. Others regard it as a disaster. All of us are distressed that the means of its dissolution have brought so much agony and suffering to humanity everywhere.

Civilization might be defined as the reaction of humanity to the purpose and the activities of a particular world period and its type of thinking. In each age, some idea functions and expresses itself in both racial and national idealisms. Its basic trend down the centuries has produced our modern world and this has been materialistic. The aim has been physical comfort; science and the arts have been prostituted to the task of giving man a comfortable and if possible a beautiful environment; all the products of nature have been subordinated to giving humanity things.The aim of education, generally speaking, has been to equip the child to compete with his fellow citizens in “making a living”, in accumulating possessions and in being as comfortable and successful as possible.

This education has also been primarily competitive, nationalistic and, therefore, separative. It has trained the child to regard the material values as of major importance, to believe that his particular nation is also of major importance and that every other nation is secondary; it has fed pride and fostered the belief that he, his group and his nation are infinitely superior to other people and peoples. He is taught consequently to be a one-sided person with his world values wrongly adjusted and his attitudes to life distinguished by bias and prejudice. The rudiments of the arts are taught him in order to enable him to function with the needed efficiency in a competitive setting and in his particular vocational environment. Reading, writing and elementary arithmetic are regarded as minimum requirements, plus some knowledge of historical and geographical events. Some of the literature of the world is also brought to his attention. The general level of civilized information is relatively high, but it is biased and influenced by religious and national prejudices which are instilled into the child from his earliest years, but which are not innate. World citizenship is not emphasized; his responsibility to his fellowmen is systematically ignored; his memory is developed through the impartation of uncorrelated facts – most of them unrelated to daily living.

Our present civilization will go down in history as grossly materialistic. There have been many material epochs in history but none so generally widespread as the present or which have involved such untold millions. We are constantly told that the cause of this war is economic; that is surely so but the reason is that we have demanded so much of comfort and of “things” in order to live “reasonably well”. We require so much more than our forefathers needed; we prefer a soft and relatively easy life; the pioneering spirit (which is the background of all nations) has faded, in most cases, into a soft civilization. This is particularly true of the Western hemisphere. Our standard of civilized living is far too high from the standpoint of possessions and far too low from the angle of the spiritual values, or when subjected to an intelligent sense of proportion. Our modern civilization will not stand up to the acid test of value. A nation is today regarded as civilized when it sets a value on mental development, when it puts a premium on analysis and criticism and when all its resources are directed towards the satisfying of physical desire, towards the production of material things and towards the implementing of material purposes as well as towards dominating competitively in the world, towards the amassing of riches, the acquiring of property, the achievement of a high standard of material living and towards the cornering of the produce of the earth – largely for the benefit of certain groups of ambitious and wealthy men.

This is a drastic generalization but it is basically correct in its main implications, though incorrect where individuals are concerned. For this sad and dire situation (entirely of humanity’s own making) we pay the penalty of war. Neither the churches nor our educational systems have been sound enough in their presentation of truth to offset this materialistic tendency. The tragedy is that the children of the world have paid and are paying the price of our wrongdoing. War has its roots in greed; material ambition has motivated all the nations without exception; all our planning has been directed to the organization of the national life so that material possession, competitive supremacy and individual and national selfish interests would control. All nations, in their own way and degree, have contributed to this; none has clean hands and hence war. Humanity has the habit of selfishness and an inherent love of material possessions. This has produced our modern civilization and, for this reason, it is being changed.

The cultural factor in any civilization is its preservation and consideration of all the best the past has given, and its evaluation and study of the arts, the literature, the music and the creative life of all nations – past and present. It concerns the refining influence of these factors upon a nation and upon those individuals in a nation who are so situated (usually financially) that they can profit from them and appreciate them. The knowledge and understanding thus gained enable the man of culture to relate the world of meaning (as inherited from the past) to the world of appearances in which he lives and to regard them as one world, but one existing primarily for his individual benefit. When, however, to an appreciation of our planetary and racial inheritance, both creative and historical, he adds an understanding of the spiritual and moral values, then we have an approximation to what the truly spiritual man is intended to be. In relation to the total population of the planet, such men are few and far between, but they guarantee to the rest of humanity a genuine possibility.

Will cultured people realize their opportunity? Will our civilized citizens embrace the chance to build afresh – not a material civilization this time but a world of beauty and of right human relations, a world in which children can indeed grow into the likeness of the One Father and in which man can return to the simplicity of the spiritual values of beauty, truth and goodness?

Yet, facing the worldwide reconstruction demanded and the well-nigh impossible task of salvaging the children and youth of the world, there are those today who are engaged in raising funds to rebuild stone churches and restore ancient buildings, thus demanding money which is sorely needed to restore broken bodies, to heal psychological wounds and to produce the warmth of love and understanding among those who believe that such qualities do not exist!

——————————-

Problems of Humanity – Chapter II – The Problem of the Children of the World

Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul

Portcullis Agenda

In a land not so far away

the fortress of tradition

built high on a hill

is Unassailable

 

A bastion, a thousand years

in the making

made firm in the minds

and concrete in the heart

 

Where the once pioneers

now circle the wagons

at that first hint of smoke

on the horizon

 

Where pound signs

are weaved into

the very metalwork

the portcullis of all Souls

 

Bound tight and concatenated

in the restraints of materialism

locked in the stocks

and pelted with cabbage

 

That great dominatrix

whips and dresses in a gimp suit

as the stiletto heels

grind sharp into the flesh

 

The standard of hypocrisy

flies against the winds of inclusion

should that inclusion mean, change

and put a halberd to the status quo

 

The reliquary of heroism

fades, merely a jar of ashes

where dreams go to die

for sake of precious personality

 

The cold chain mail suit of Egotism

deflects the arrows of Hermes

the messenger of the Gods

and temporary fame brings a permanent famine

 

The tin-pot eyes of I

stand upon the shoulders of the brave

to the battle cry of;

“What is in it for me?”

 

The world inspects its navel

and limits the circumference

the circumference of being

Not in my back yard!!

 

The spiral of evolution

implodes into the Ego

battening down the hatches

until the Pale Rider passes

 

The Drifter welcome once

has now served and must pass

so all can get on with the very magnificence

of their own existence

 

Kwai Chang must pick up his flute

and his cane if he is able.

The aeon of selflessness

has now faded under the harsh sun of

 

Deal or no deal?

The money lenders now Own the Temple

their mendacious bile of 

false happiness, poisons people  

 

And the Slaves all sing

the mournful spiritual

“What is in it for me?

What is in it for me?”

 

These pecuniary whores

of a modern Babylon

are but Harlots who sell their Souls

for glamour, a car and a flat scream TV

 

What is in it for me?

What is in it for me?

———————-

 

 ” And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,

    Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;

    We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;

    Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;

    And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,

    And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.”