Deprogramming ourselves

Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Good morning.

How was Monday? 

(I appreciate this blog covers many timezones and, so, you may have to wait a while to answer that Q. or it may even be the early hours of Wednesday 😂.)

If it wasn't obvious, I've suddenly discovered a whole host of new images on Unsplash (textures and patterns) and I'm loving the dreamy feel. I will return to the sunsets, pictures of nature and a few industrial ones, but this is where I'm at right now.

As an aside, this wasn't the topic I was going to write about; I want to save it for another time. It's something I've briefly touched on before, namely you're perfect. And yes, I'm deadly serious. I don't know when I'll write about it but right now it doesn't look anything like that— wow, what an understatement! — but I don't think we can call these times unprecedented qua human beings.

Instead, I decided to touch on the above subject, which follows on from my last few posts about why we do what we do without (apparent) demur — i.e. we follow a well-worn path of going to school, getting an education, finding a job, settling down, trying to do well in our job/career, enjoying our lives🙄, retiring and then...well, there ain't much time left, not that you don't want to do a lot of living.

I should say, in case someone calls me out, that to suggest we/I/you can deprogramme ourselves is antithetical to the notion that we're not in charge of our needs, wants, desire, choices and especially that we will our will. (To be honest, perhaps because people aren't that interested, I was expecting more push back on the free will and choice trope. But then again, perhaps you don't feel that it's an either/or situation.) In any event, assuming we even notice the depth of our social conditioning, at what stage (if ever) do we look up from the well-worn path of our parents and theirs and say: 

What the hell is this all about?

I don't know. 

Sorry, I keep ducking my own questions but I genuinely don't know. In my case, as I've said ad nauseam, I had to endure a serious, life-threatening whack to the head before I even considered: a) I might be human; b) there was more to life than making partner in a law firm; and c) work wasn't that important — but of course, secretly I'd always known that. Only then and upon reading the Heart Sutra — emptiness is form; form is emptiness — did I break open my cold exterior, show my real self to the world and awake from my narcissistic torpor. How sad is that? And I sure as hell wouldn't recommend it to anyone. In fact, looking back over the last decade, I'm convinced that absent said intervention, I wouldn't have been cast adrift from my faux Temples of  Doom.

Thereafter, it was like I was in freefall, supported by an unquenching desire (from whence it came I don't know) to answer that interminable question set me by my then spiritual guide:

Who am I?

In the end, having attended many spiritual talks (some were way off the woo-woo scale), read all the classic spiritual texts and a few exotic ones to boot, gobbled up hundreds of hours of YouTube footage of (amongst others) Alan Watts, Osho, Tony Parsons, Robert Adams, Rupert Spira and Sydney Banks, I (no, not the egoic 'I' but the wide-open connected version — yes, there's a difference) dropped away or at least I lost any interest in my old, f*cked-up life. At last I could see how much I'd swallowed the materialistic, 20th Century Kool-Aid trying to climb the greasy pole of success in order to please everyone else. To be honest, I felt sick. Worse still, that I'd pi**ed my life away doing all the wrong things.

But I wasn't finished — not by a long shot.

In fact, I think I'd replaced one form of materialism (work) with another — i.e. spiritual materialism as the late Chögyam Trungpa would say.

For now, I need not go any further. There is more I could say, but the point of regaling you again with my spiritual backstory is simply to illustrate one key point: if we never examine the unexamined life how will we come to question the extant (worldview?) narrative that says you have to become something to be something vs. being who you actually are all body, mind and soul — my version of true self. 

I suspect that few people are willing to question things as deeply as I suggest if only because, and this is pure conjecture, they either think that they're in charge and simply aren't doing enough of the right things, or their programming runs so deep that it would be virtually impossible to force a wedge sufficient to let the light in on their soul. 

Actually, looking again at that last paragraph, I can't possibly know the reasons why so few people appear to want to break the bonds with their social conditioning — which isn't, of course, all bad — and look elsewhere to answer some of the bigger questions of life — e.g. Why am I here?, What's my purpose?, Who am I? Anything I do say therefore is no more than speculation and should be taken with a big pinch of salt.

Where does that leave things?

Again, it's a good question.

If I can posit this. Life is life and it's ending (as we all know) one minute at a time. There is only this moment and trying constantly to make things better isn't a bad thing per se, but at what stage do we or should we look up from our endeavours and ask what it's all about? Whilst I don't want to suggest that we make our lives too solipsistic, there must come a point where we look inwards and ask, perhaps, why our thoughts, feelings and emotions seem to have such sway over us, when they only account for such a small part of our lived experience. If nothing else, and this is always a good discipline, we might ask if any of them are true — and I don't mean the superficial yes they feel right but to ask if they are actually true. If you can go a bit deeper, you might want to ask if you're actually in control of anything in your life, and if you are or believe you are, why can't you make things the way you think they should be. And then, well I think that's enough for now.

What am I really inviting with this post?

If anything, it's to stop running on empty and just sit with whatever is arising. Sure, it sounds like a complete waste of time but trust me, if there's one massive hole in my life experience it's the fact that no one — not a single person — ever invited me to sit down, shut up and just consider what was actually happening in the moment. If they had, I'm quite sure (if nothing else) I wouldn't have been so uptight, working myself half to death in the search for a chimaera called happiness.

Anyhow, thank you for reading.

Have a wonderful day.

Take care.


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