Distractions, divisions and depressions

Man, I see in fight club the strongest and smartest men who’ve ever lived. I see all this potential, and I see squandering. Goddamnit, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables; slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our Great War’s a spiritual war… our Great Depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

– Tyler Durden

Distractions, divisions and depressions are some of the primary ways in which we are kept under control, living in fear and complacency. They are not only barriers to reclaiming our rightful power as people, but also barriers to our higher potential and spiritual evolution.

Distractions

Attention is the currency of the twenty-first century. It has been said that ‘energy flows where attention goes’. Attention is the most powerul form of energy available to people, and the way we direct our attention determines where the energy, capital and power of our society is focused. Organizations – whether they be corporations, governments, schools or institutions – hold most of the economic and political power in our society and derive their power from being able to harness diffuse energy (money, labour, raw materials, ideas, information) and focus it toward specific ends. Think about it: what is an organization other than a complex system of collecting, processing and directing energy? We as individuals can have this same power if we organize our attention. The only thing preventing us from doing so is distractions. Distractions come in many forms such as mass media (and television in particular), advertising, celebrities, gossip, popular entertainment, professional sports, crises, tragedies, wars, terrorist threats, and so on. They scatter our attention like a radio tuner jumping between frequencies trying to find a clear signal. They pull our awareness in many directions and divert it away from the meaningful issues which have a great impact on our lives toward meaningless dramas and trivia. When attention is scattered among many objects, its power is greatly diminished and remains shallow. Like a laser beam, attention derives its power from focus. Only when we learn to direct our attention toward a single object and hold it there for a sustained period of time will we be able to see and understand things deeply and make lasting changes where they are called for. The abilities we develop in meditation are not limited to the time spent in meditation but are essential for dealing with all kinds of situations both large and small.

Distractions keep us from being FOCUSED. Without focus, the power that ordinary people have is very limited. By holding our attention on our biggest challenges and opportunities one by one, we can harness enough energy to make a difference. Rather than being distracted by the latest financial scandal or environmental catastrophe, we must look closely at the global political economic system in detail, piece by piece, and keep watching and learning until we can see the patterns in events and discover the systems, rules and incentives that cause these outcomes to arise in the first place. What happens at any given moment in time matters much less than the patterns that repeat over time, yet we tend to make a big deal out of specific events – oil spills, terrorist attacks, major crimes and so on – for a little while until we lose interest and momentum and return to our distractions. In a certain sense, even elections are a form of distraction. Every couple of years, we get excited by the campaigns, the candidates, the attack ads, and hot issues, and we go out and vote and then forget about democracy until the next cycle rolls around. Elections do not solve problems; only sustained attention, creative thought and persistent hard work solves problems. The major problems we face today – massive wealth and income inequality, environmental degradation, depleting resources and civic apathy toward politics in general – are not situation-specific but deeply rooted chronic problems, and they will not be solved by a quick fix or a miracle solution. Each one will require the sustained attention of many people working in unison.

Divisions

The powers that be have trained us to emphasize the differences between groups rather than the aspects that we share in common. We hear all the time about the different groups of people in our world and how we have such a hard time getting along. We compare and contrast ourselves based on race, religion, nationality, gender, political ideology, social status, class and income level, to name just some of the major fault lines. We hear about the ‘clash of civilizations’ and are told to prepare for war lest we find ourselves attacked first. These divisions seem very real on the surface level (i.e. the sensory world) but are ultimately just masks for Being. They are nothing more than filters through which we see the world, historical directionalities of consciousness based on local space-time context. They make the world a colourful and interesting place but when taken to be irreconcilable boundary lines rather than other valid perspectives they become sources of tension and conflict. Looking even deeper, we are divided within our ourselves, with the body, heart and mind pursuing different and sometimes mutually incompatible goals. Ken Wilber has written about the nature of divisions and has much more to say than what is written here.

Divisions keep us from being UNITED. As a species we face many great challenges at this time in history, and we have little hope of rising to overcome these challenges unless we begin to work together in a cooperative fashion rather than tearing ourselves apart by ruthless competition. Energy spent fighting other people is energy that could be spent finding solutions to our common problems. One first step toward reclaiming our power is to stop playing the game of ‘us and them’ and hating the other. We must take the wisdom of Henry Hazlitt and look beyond the interests of one group to find what is best for all groups, and beyond the immediate concerns to the long-term interests.

Depressions

Our economic system feeds on depression. It relies on a mass of people chronically dissatisfied with their lives, who seek outside for some sort of savior, quick fix or miracle cure that will finally lift them up and give them the feelings of satisfaction and security they crave so much. People who have found true happiness and meaning have very few needs beyond the basic necessities of life, and generate not nearly enough aggregate demand to sustain the perpetual growth model of ever-rising corporate profits, stock prices and dividends. No, there must be a deep sense of depression and deficiency implanted into people in order to get them to work themselves to the bone to pay for their new cars, condos, clothes, computers, cameras, cellphones and other consumer commodities, assisted by easy access to credit of course. People are not only made to feel depressed about their personal situation but also the world situation. Manufactured wars, catastrophes, and sensational news stories brought to us by major media networks provide a never-ending parade of disasters which over time create a sense of futility and hopelessness. “It’s no use trying to change things; the world is messed up and always has been. Here, watch this sitcom and forget about it.” Ever notice that most of the stories on the evening news and in newspapers seem to be bad news stories? What a way to get people to disengage. Meanwhile we wage a war on drugs – a silly cowboy charade of good guys and bad guys – while being supplied with drugs through illicit channels (street drugs) and licit channels (prescription medications, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, fast food) which keeps us wired up and working hard and ensures a fresh supply of addicts and their inevitable counterparts, law enforcement officials and government programs.

Depressions keep us from being ENERGIZED. They lower our core vibrational frequency to a level that is associated with pain, hopelessness, stagnation, and a sense of futility. By allowing ourselves to remain depressed and dissatisfied we make it hard for anything positive and transformational to enter our awareness. The way out is to refuse to play the victim role. We cannot control everything that happens to us but we can always control our reaction to events and situations. We have the ability to pay attention, take perspectives, reframe situations and use them to become stronger, deeper, more fully developed human beings. It is up to us to make this choice, not once but over and over again until we lose all fear and see every experience as an opportunity to rise above our limitations and expand our world.

Stop being distracted and FOCUS.

Stop being divided and UNITE.

Stop being depressed and ENERGIZE.

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~ by spiritualseeker1 on March 20, 2012.

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