Monday, April 11, 2016

Monday Madness [Enlightened Compassion]

Hola mi Gente,
What I find interesting is Paul Krugman, an economics professor who won a Nobel Prize for his Keynesian economics, writing a series of articles attacking presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, for Sanders’ Keynesian economics and defending neoliberal Hillary Clinton -- this is your mainstream media at work.

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Stages of moral reasoning
Enlightened Service
People say, “I want love.” Take out ego (“I”) and desire (“want”) and what are you left with?

I work in the non-profit/ industrial sector and at the heart of that work is the mission is to work towards helping marginalized people to “empower themselves.” It’s a serious responsibility cutting across all levels for those concerned. After my own awakening, I made a decision to make service the centerpiece of my life’s mission, and I realized that not all of my motivations were as pure as I would like to think. There’s a dark side to service and I see it all the time, both within myself, and in my colleagues.

In Buddhism, there are different levels of generosity. At one level generosity arises from the desire to amass spiritual “points” for the afterlife or at some point out there somewhere. Some serve because they hope they will reap some benefits. Others do service, and this very much prevalent, because it gives them a sense of identity: “I’m a good person, see how I helped the helpless little natives?” Others serve because religious dogma dictates they do. These are the evangelicals who do service if you accept their God and beliefs. It may not be overt, but this kind of giving is coercive or at least transactional: the pressure to submit to their particular brand of dogma is there. There are many reasons, both good and bad, for service.

I think what’s as important as service is the motivation underlying the drive to serve. For the most part, service is flavored by the stage of moral development one is serving from. Service from the egocentric (I care for myself) stage will look and feel much different from service from a person who works from an ethnocentric (I care for my tribe, my country, my nation) and that, in turn, will be different from a person who operates from a worldcentric view (I care for all human beings, regardless of race, color, sex, or creed). Service is a tool and wielded by the misguided can do more harm than good. I can’t resist the cliché here that in the hands of a murderer, a knife is a weapon, but in the hands of a doctor, it is a tool for healing.

I’ll attempt a clearer example: Let’s say you are at an ethnocentric stage of development and you have a moment of awakening or spiritual experience of being one with everything, you might interpret that as an experience of oneness with a particular deity and conclude that no one can be saved unless they accept that deity as their personal savior (this is the “ethnocentric interpretation – you must belong to this one group in order to be saved). Have a spiritual experience at the ethnocentric stage and it will only make you more ethnocentric

See how it works? You can be at any stage of development, experience the same life-changing event and you will interpret it according how you perceive the world. Now, let me see if I can piece this all together. We all know examples of reborn Christians who have had very powerful spiritual awakenings; they glow, they are radiant, and they are often fascists. This is because they are still at the ethnocentric stage, and, bless them, think Jesus is the one and only way. But there is hope yet, research shows that the more spiritual awakenings you experience, the more quickly you move through developmental stages.

So, what the fuck does this have to do with self-centeredness and service, you ask? Well, the teachings of Jesus and others remain relevant today because of the emphasis on service, what I consider a form of prayer in action. Basically, my point is that it’s easy to utter prayers, doesn’t take much effort, really. However, when our spiritual life is about getting something or arriving at some destination, it reinforces the feeling of having a need -- of not being there yet. Wanting anything, including a mate, or spiritual enlightenment, works to solidify a universe in which you are missing what you want. It creates a universe centered on you.

The only cure for this endless and painful quest is service and gratitude, period. LOL… Fucked up, huh? I mean I always thought it would be Halle Berry, but she’s not returning my phone calls these days.

Here’s one level of service as described the Buddhist literature (and echoed in many religious disciplines): Enlightened service. Enlightened service only comes about from doing the inner work to the point where it takes no effort. If you put your finger in a flame, it takes no effort or willpower to pull it out. You feel the pain, and the action is spontaneous. When your sense of self expands to include other things and creatures aside from the sack of flesh you call “you” and expand your circle of life, you feel those close to you as you would yourself. 

When a mother sees her child in danger, standing in the path of an oncoming car, for example, she does not need religious dogma to know what to do. The intimacy she feels with her child makes her action spontaneous. As our ego membrane becomes thinner, and one recognizes that we are all connected somehow, all things become more intimate, and our connection to them is stronger. Everyone becomes a part of us -- one humanity. It is only then that we begin to embody Jesus’ teachings, or the Buddha’s, or Krishna’s too, and the teaching lives in us.

Service, enlightened service, is the only true prayer.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization… 

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