Real revolutions start and end with the self
19 Jan 2014
TODAY I MET A REVOLUTIONARY – who I shall call Mr. Radical – a man wanted to overthrow the current government and to establish a new government for the people and by the people etc. etc. Now that might be pretty radical to some, but it is still just another social configuration on a 3d space-time stage. But if the world is a giant shadow-puppet show being lit and orchestrated by conscious awareness, a truth put out by all the spiritual giants throughout history, then what exactly is so radical about overthrowing a government? Isn't it far more radical to overthrow the self?
Think of some of the abuses of government:
- Power: governments abuse their power; they overstep their remit. And so does the self. We try to control every aspect of our lives. Indeed, the self is a despot that thinks it rules like a god. There is nothing remotely democratic with how the self goes about controlling our lives.
- Greed: governments are notoriously greedy; politicians pay themselves ridiculous amounts of money for doing their job. The self is just as greedy: the self projects identity into many different aspects of our lives and then assumes ownership. And because it thinks it is so special, it takes all the kudos for any achievement and the largest slice of any cake on offer.
- Corruption: governments are known for their corruption, just as the self is. The self can be so easily bought by validation, that it is very easily corrupted. We are constantly on the outlook for ego-validation bribes, which we do not hesitate to accept.
- Hypocrisy: governments say one thing and do another. The self is like this too. We pretend that we are virtuous and love helping others when in fact most of what we do is ego-validation. At the end of the day, most altruism is validation of the virtuous ego.
- Incompetence: governments are astonishingly incompetent, just as the self is. We have so many false assumptions as to our own importance in the grand scheme of things, that we end up doing foolish things based on the false assumption that we are in control and that the world revolves around us.
- Vanity/Arrogance: those who work in government often assume huge self-importance, and quickly forget that they have been elected to office to serve the people. And this is exactly what the self does, forgetting that it is merely a useful tool for interacting with others.
- Secrecy: governments rely on secrecy to hide their dysfunction and conflicts of interest. Without secrecy, we would lose confidence in them. And the same goes for the self, which also relies on secrecy to maintain its illusion of control.
These abuses of government – power, greed, corruption, hypocrisy, incompetence, vanity, arrogance and secrecy – are all just reflections of the abuses of the self. So as long as we think of ourselves as selves, we will create governments that reflect the flows in those selves because governments are just distillations of the people.
So Mr. Radical, don't talk to me about overthrowing the government when you have not been willing to overthrow the conceptual self. What you hate about the government is exactly what you hate in yourself, but are blind to. Have a successful revolution, and you Mr. Radical will soon become the new despot for another radical to target.
You want to make a difference? Overthrow the self. Some might call this navel-gazing, but that is a standard opinion of anyone caught in the illusion of self and unable to accept the need for its overthrow. But many of our radicals have big personalities... many of them are completely caught up in validation of the ego, albeit a radical one.
And whilst you are at it, Mr. Radical, get out of those leather pants and jacket and put on something kinder. You might think it looks cool to be in leather and talk about world peace and government reform, but leather is the product of terrible abuse of other beings, and real peace begins at the dinner table.
So to be effective, real revolutions have to be grounded in the personal, for only from here can they have lasting far-reaching consequences. It is tempting to try to change the bigger picture first without consideration to the self running the dhow, but history bears repeated testimony that the revolutionaries of today just become the oppressors of tomorrow because the self remains intact and so the revolutionaries are just agents for a new flavor of ego, and all egos are pathological. That is why the word "revolution" is used: we are just going around in circles.
It is time to break free from the revolutionary cycle by deposing the autocracy of the self.