Have you ever taken the time to think carefully about Ralph Waldo Emerson’s often quoted words of wisdom? If not, it’s worth doing so now:
A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall.
Here’s the standing joke. Anyone who’s always consistent is consistently wrong half the time. As archers know, if you’re left of center, aim right. When right of center, adjust by aiming left. Otherwise, you miss the mark.
In any case, inspired by Emerson’s words, Henry David Thoreau chose to live like a sage, in seclusion, simply, close to nature, engaging in carpentry and other manual work to survive. He felt the same powerful need we have today . . . to get free of cultural-conditioning which suppresses awareness and full expression of our true nature.
In the year 2000, I outlined a set of essay sketches. This one, to the point of “No Either-Ors,” is a favorite:
Divisions go wide on the surface of the Life Wheel, but also go deep. A common excuse for bureaucratic incompetence is, “The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.” On a personal level, the right brain doesn’t talk to left. Head and heart are out of synch.
We also say, “She’s all in the head, out of touch with her (e=energy level) emotions.” Deeper still, we observe, “He acts without conscience.”
Folks in biblical times lived closer to nature than most do today. That’s why their teachings often mirror the same wisdom found in the Book of Change. For example, according to King Solomon:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up.
Sages of every time and place observe this dance of duality. The pairs of opposites sometimes balance and blend, other times clash or separate.
With their wisdom, it’s possible to steer nature’s energies. Sailors, for example, harnessed shifting winds to safely reach their destination.
Today, however, lacking natural common sense, political elites have led the world dangerously adrift. Divided between extremes, all sides clash mindlessly against perceived enemies. Partisans defend group members, right or wrong.
We seem hopelessly polarized. Any superficial excuse will do. Gender. Race. Religion. National origin. Class. Political affiliation. The list expands into trivia. Favorite sports teams. Fashion preferences.
I’ve already told you what I think of this suicidal, genocidal madness. The only one who benefits from unnatural warfare is the Evil Emperor. Hidden in the invisible realms which science tells us don’t exist, this dark-side entity manipulates us like powerless pawns to our mutual destruction.
Now don’t get me wrong. As Solomon said, there IS a time for war. There’s also a time for the breakdown of institutions which no longer serve their intended purpose. The year 2020 is such a time.
But let there be some balance, some common sense, even in the midst of orchestrated chaos.
I have a major problem with people who sit passively on the sidelines, as if they were helpless victims, unable to make a difference in political outcomes.
I admit I was once of them. But OA set me straight.
I believed, thanks to Sunday school, that Jesus was sweet and nice, as I should be too. He loved little girls and boys (and probably puppies). He was exclusively kind and gentle . . . well-mannered, you might say.
WRONG. Jesus fully lived all sides of Natural Law. OA reminded me of the best known example: overturning the money-changers’ tables in front of the Temple at Jerusalem. He had harsh words for hypocrites.
Bottom line: Jesus wasn’t a wimp. Neither were I Ching-savvy Shaolin monks, who protected their monasteries with Kung Fu.
I’ll also confess, I was brainwashed in university to believe in self-righteous non-violence. Taking up arms to defend myself and protect those I care for would be immoral – not to mention impolite. (That’s someone else’s dirty job.)
Now, I’ve already written half of the story in Gandhi’s Way Out of Madness. Here’s the other half.
Yes, non-violence was a brilliant strategy. It mobilized the masses. Natives succeeded in driving the hated British enemy out.
But then it backfired. Indians brothers and sisters turned that same hatred on each other. Muslims battled Hindus in civil war. They split a unified country in two. Relocation took an unspeakable toll in death, pain and suffering.
The yogic principle of non-violence (satyagraha) was a great idea in Gandhi’s head. Weaponized, it was a powerful political tool.
BUT – –
Non-violence was only an idea. An empty, pretty thought. It wasn’t understood by the people. Like pawns, they followed instructions. But commitment wasn’t alive in their hearts. It wasn’t internalized at the deeper, e=energy level of the Life Wheel.
So after Gandhi’s mission to oust an external enemy was accomplished, natives didn’t practice non-violence at home. The country exploded.
The blessing hidden within 2020’s hard lessons is the opportunity to fully recognize the horrific consequences of wide-spread, half-assed behavior, along with the option to heal ourselves. Make ourselves and our country whole again. Unified.
Yes, there are significant wars to be fought. The deep and abiding war between good and evil is the best example. HOWEVER, irrelevant distractions — surface-level differences — aren’t among them.
For the sake of human survival, know the real enemy and pick your battles wisely, guys!