Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Way to Abundance

I'd like to remain on the topic of shopping with a couple of quotes. The first, according to my new policy (announced yesterday), is from my new book:

One of the favorite techniques that a collective ideology will employ on us is to present seemingly simple and positively shallow statements of what it refers to as Fact, and then arrange these statements in a logical, syllogistic order that defies examination or debate, such is the apparent power of its compelling, A-to-B-to-C logic. See, for example, if you can detect any weakness or fallacy in the following argument:

“I am insufficient.” That is to say, “I can't do or accomplish everything that needs doing or creating in this world; I am born into this life dependent and needy, and remain so in one way or another throughout my life.” This is what I call the “premise of Lack”.

“I must therefore go outside myself to obtain what I lack.” Or, I must externalize my sense of lack—blame it on someone or something else. In any event, I am taught to strive for what I am told that I lack. Perhaps I lack education, or social standing, or fame, money, certain possessions or entitlements—the “stuff” that is lacking varies, but the deep projection of Lack is always there. You can already see the seeds of emotional consumerism in this statement.

“The world cannot provide for everyone—the proof is in all the Want that we see around us. Therefore, I must struggle against others to obtain what I lack.” In other words, I can only achieve or obtain prosperity, abundance, happiness, etc., at the expense of, or ahead of, others. Thus in our so-called civilized culture, we occasionally witness mob scenes at shopping malls in which consumers trample their neighbors to beat them to an advertised bargain.

Incidentally, we see this phenomenon enacted fairly regularly in our society, most recently in an alarming mob scene over some old Apple laptops. It all boils down to a kind of addiction, which is insidiously reinforced within our culture. Thus, our second quote, from Ernest Becker, from his masterpiece, The Denial of Death: “Modern man is drinking and drugging himself out of awareness, or he spends his time shopping, which is the same thing.”

The Wal-Mart culture is a culture of addiction. As I mention in my book (drawing upon Karen Horney's insights from Neurosis and Human Growth), it is the mechanical mutation of a natural need (for food, comfort, nurturance of body or mind, etc.) into a claim—a neurotic demand made by the loud and rigid voice of ego. It is no wonder, then, that a Wal-Mart culture is so defined by misery and death (mainly among the clientele and the hired help, but also even amid the opulence of the corporate family itself)—it is fueled, after all, by the pale energy of inner death. Its obsession with, and addiction to appearances thinly veils its essential inner vacuity.

When all we know is claim, we can never understand a gift; when possession absorbs us, abundance is lost amid the crush of competition. The grasping hand of possession, once denied, easily becomes a fist; it can no longer receive but only punish. It's one thing when it is isolated to the mall; but when it becomes embedded in a society and its laws of both religion and state, then the trouble really begins. We've been governed by that trouble for nearly five years now.

There was a woman comedienne (Joan Rivers, I think), who once said, "when we talk to God, it is called prayer, but when God talks back to us, it is called schizophrenia."

This joke does an excellent job of pointing out the trouble with religion: it makes itself (and anyone who listens for the voices of the quantum realm) crazy in the eyes of the collective. I get this all the time, most recently from the lady I wrote about earlier this month, who wondered if I was being "scientological" for using the I Ching the way I do. And then there's the O'Reilly crowd that would brand one such as I as a tree-hugging freak who hates America, Budweiser, and football (two out of three ain't bad, Bill—but I still love America). So the equation of mysticism and spirituality is a real problem, and it becomes an enormous problem when it gets tangled up in Law. If you'd like to get an idea of how big a problem, just watch for the next "Justice Sunday."

Moses was an avowed mystic, for example, and we are to this very moment still struggling to get out from under the massive stone tablature of Commandment that his mysticism dropped onto our heads. Hell, we're still arguing about it in our highest courts and legislatures, not to mention wasting valuable air time in the media over what should be a dead issue.
To me, the ultimate in spiritual understanding is the realization that when a bush burns, nothing comes of it but smoke and ashes. Then it's simply a matter of clearly sensing that they too, are alive with consciousness.

So if you wish to come to know yourself and the universe a little better, open your clenched fist. Let Wal-Mart go on without you (you don't have to "boycott it"—just let it go, that's all). See what happens as you relax the inner grasp of claim and let it unfold into the open palm of receptivity. This is the way to Abundance.

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