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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Resistance Is Useless!

Lately the cosmos keeps smacking me in the face with the leitmotif of resistance versus change... Represented gaily (or Greekly) by the ohm and the delta.

After last week's all-night debate about Buddhism with Dan, Dingo and Jimi, this week started off with a critical reading of a couple of chapters from Eckhart Tolle's Power of Now. Tolle, a new age spiritualist who borrows heavily from Western Buddhism, endorses a personal enlightenment in which we eschew the painful past and the worrisome future and dwell entirely in the now. According to Tolle, we can all be happy as mollusks if we can transcend our "pain body" and our "fear mind" and other such loathsome pieces of ourselves. And when we transcend, we'll achieve a nirvana where expectations aren't part of our daily equation, where disappointment is no longer possible, where we embrace the eternal moment and bask in radiance of godly (pure) love. Okay, sounds pretty good on the surface.

According to his introduction, his own transformation occurred by grace. After being suicidally morose for most of his life, his mind just snapped one day. I guess that could happen if you've spent a dozen years (I'm guessing his depression started during puberty) as a desperately unhappy person. And I reckon that distancing yourself from your mind would seem like a good idea if it kept telling you things like, "You're a worthless turd who can't do anything right," or "Mary from homeroom will never love you because you're such a wuss," or "Why don't you burn down that prissy neighbor girl's house?"

"So what about those of us who have a happier relationship with our minds?" I asked Carole yesterday.

"Those kind of people probably don't look for books like this one," was her pithy reply.

So is misery a prerequisite for enlightenment?


Yesterday I went to see Aeon Flux, an arty science-fiction flick that attempts to expose the folly of creating a homeostatic society. Flux (meaning "constant change" and not coincidently the titular character's last name) is celebrated as a necessary ingredient for healthy living. Peter Chung, the creator of the original MTV Aeon Flux cartoon, has a clear vision of villainy: stagnation. When nefarious onanists seek to create a perfectly-balanced utopia, Flux is there to expose the corruption that thrives in such climates. Flux represents generational change, reform, revolution, risk of failure and most-importantly: growth.

The film resonates with me because of the truth of this argument, and I think it applies to the psyche as well as the polis. Flux in the mind is just as critical as flux in society. Eckhart Tolle and other spiritual guides are selling a kind of mental homeostasis. They promise a release from the chaos of life. Now we can check out of the bipolar daydream we used to think was consensual reality. But in doing so, we trade in our capacity for growth and change. I readily admit that the push and pull of daily living is difficult and, for many people, unbearably so. There are certain activities (sex, drugs and rock n' roll) that offer wonderful short-term reprieves from that stress. Perhaps reading Tolle is a similar experience for some. But I can't enjoy it because I can't accept the premise that there is a good, permanent, static solution. I think I need to accept change and all its painful consequences. Resistance is useless.

So I embrace the delta. And with it, I guess, the delta blues.
_Rants _Cinema

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At 12/04/2005 01:53:00 PM, Blogger Ned said...

My head now hurts, but I understand the search.

At 12/04/2005 03:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some how, it seems that the overall theme for most of us comes down to:
"Until you make peace with who you are, you'll never be content with what you have" Doris Mortman


At 12/04/2005 09:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Until you give a dumb sucka a proper beatdown, you'll never be able to accept the beatdowns life passes you like so many unwanted bags of salted peanuts on a airplane!"

"Yes... Beatdowns have genius, power, and magic in them. Pummel now!"

--excerpt from a conversation between Johann Goethe and Mr. T


At 12/04/2005 10:47:00 PM, Blogger walaka said...

You can't step into the same river twice.

--Heraclitus, 6th century BCE

At 12/04/2005 10:50:00 PM, Blogger diane said...

This blogspot attracts an amazing number of quotations. And I think I will eventually add one here.

Johnbai referred to the first noble truth of Buddhism about life being pain. Buddhism draws a distinction between pain and suffering: pain comes from experiencing life just as it is. When we try to run away and escape from our experience of pain, we suffer. When we can completely experience our pain with no thought of escaping the present moment, it is joy. And we do not suffer.

The last words of the Buddha were "Be a lamp unto yourself". There is only one teacher. What is that teacher? Life itself. Each one of us is a manifestation of life. Life is the only authority you need to trust, and this teacher- this authority- is everywhere.

And to give a nod to Western thought, and because I think it so relevant to our blogspehere, I quote my friend Aristotle, who thought that a friend is another self: "In loving you, I encounter myself".

At 12/05/2005 09:47:00 AM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

To all you quote monkeys I say:

"Life is bigger...
bigger than you,
and you are not me."

-Michael Stipe

At 12/05/2005 09:52:00 AM, Blogger Johnbai3030 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12/06/2005 12:09:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good quote Carole.


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