Well it's time I sat back at the keyboard and starting churning things out. There are only about ten million things I'd love to talk about, but I have to start somewhere and do what I can.
One thing really on my mind as of late is the idea of myth and metaphor. The natural world is a very complex place and throughout human history we have used myths and metaphors to explain the natural world and Man's relationship to it and to each other. So we have developed two sets of lived in realities. One I will call nReality, the Natural reality, things that exist beyond the human realm. A tree is a tree no matter what we call it or what myths we build around in. The other is mReality, the Mythic/Metaphorical reality, this includes things that do not exist without human creation. Democracy, money, economics, technology, etc. are things that do not exist except for the fact that we (humans) have created them. Without human beings nReality will remain, but mReality will not.
Religion has always been the mainstay of mReality, but since the Enlightenment it has lost its prominence as the prime creator of myth and metaphor. (I won't go into this today, but the decline of religion and the rise of rationality is a very interesting topic to explore in relation to the mReality of the modern world.)
One of the main myths to rise out of the decline of religious dominance has been that of capitalism, the free market and the democratic nation state. It is important to remember that these are all human creations. While their development may have been inevitable outcomes of human social progress, they are not creations of the natural world. They can be made and unmade however we choose. These are not Universal truths or laws. The strength of these types of religious and mythic belief systems lies in their ability to usurp nReality. The myth becomes the truth, and the truth becomes the myth. And just like the religious dark ages we find ourselves in a new dark age, one where we believe more in our myths than in our reality. To question the mReality is to question life itself and to be branded a heretic, (or in these days, a terrorist or the like) and ignored or cast down. So public discourse comes down to debating the merits, virtues, methods and systems of mReality whilst completely ignoring nReality. So we live in an economic system predicated on infinite growth while living in a finite reality. We place the having of money as the great determiner of value. We accept artificial rules and limitations on what it means to be a living being and live a meaningful life. We accept these things because we have been raised and taught from birth that our mReality is nReality.
Mythic systems are important, I'm not advocating we rid ourselves of myth and metaphor and go live an animal existence, but we can choose the mReality we live in and it is important to understand what myths we live by, what they mean and what effect they have on our lives and the biosphere we live in. I see Sila (morality as taught by the Buddha) as an important lens with which to view our mReality. So let's quickly run through the Five Sila and see how they relate to the Western civilization mythos that dominates the globe in our current era.
1)To abstain from killing any being.*
Does our mReality break or follow this rule? Worldwide wars for profit, drone killings, support for dictators, police states, etc. Then take a look at agribusiness, the energy industry, computer systems, wage slavery, sweatshops, etc and see how much harm our way of life does to living beings.
*Now this one is a little tricky, and I could probably devote a few thousand words to it and my views on omnivorous or vegetarian diets, but I will say that I interpret this more as "do no harm to other beings".
2)To abstain from stealing.
Our entire economic system is built upon theft, in all its myriad forms. (Once again a huge topic I will hopefully approach at a later time.) But for one example, lets look at loans. Say you want to buy a house, so you decide to take out a loan for $100,000. Current fixed rate on a 30-year loan is 4.46% (I got all my numbers and calculations from here: http://www.bankrate.com/calculators/managing-debt/annual-percentage-rate-calculator.aspx) By the time you pay back the loan the bank will have received $182,406.71. That is $82,406.71 more than what the bank loaned you in the first place. And where does that bank get the money from? Because of our system of fractional reserve banking, a bank only needs to have 10% of the money for a loan as actual reserves. So the bank has $10,000 and can then loan you $100,000 and you will end up paying back $182,406.71, a profit of $172,406.71. And how do you pay back this loan that was comprised completely of fictional money? You pay it back through your labor. Through your own hard work you make the banks fictional money real and pay them for the privilege. But how then can a bank loan all this fictional money, don't people need assets to put up against a loan? The bank can use your future labor as their 'asset', this allows them to loan out money they don't have. This is theft. Our labor is being used to make real certain fictional assets of the banks and we have no choice but to consent to this version of mReality.
3)To abstain from sexual misconduct.
Once again you see this happening all the time and being supported and endorsed by our mReality. Just look at sexual abuse in the military, in schools, prisons, etc. Look at the sexualization of increasingly younger women. Look at the media and pop culture.
4)To abstain from telling lies.
Just watch the MSM, listen to NPR, listen to anyone in the government, academia or the corporate world give a speech. Propaganda is the art of telling lies and our entire media culture is one of mass propaganda.
5)To abstain from all intoxicants.
Pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco, designer drugs (I don't include marijuana, psilocybin, or shamanic drugs in this and if anyone is interested, will explain later. Or just read Food of the Gods by Terrence McKenna) we are constantly inundated with various forms of intoxicants. The reason this rule exists is that being under the influence of intoxicants makes it much easier to break the other parts of Sila. It also removes oneself from nReality and places you closer to mReality. Just look at how many times alcohol plays a part in violence.
So our current mReality gets a 0/5 as to how it follows Sila. Not a good scorecard for creating a just and equitable world for all living things. Now this isn't to say that this is a current phenomenon and we have lost our way from some Golden Age. But we can change, we don't have to keep following the same mReality that is devoid of any morality, that denigrates Love and Compassion while glorifying Greed and Violence. And this change is necessary. We have reached a point where our mReality has become so dominant that we will sacrifice nReality in order to maintain our mythos. Money will no longer serve people, people will serve money. The biosphere isn't a place we live in, it is a thing to be exploited. These ideas, and their worldwide proliferation, are a sure and easy path to extinction.
Well that's all I have for this morning. I hope this spurs some thinking and discussion. Please let me know if you would like any clarification or expansion on certain ideas. I am new to this writing thing and might not be communicating as clearly as I would like.
The apparatus of our enslavement is the tool of our liberation.
May all beings be happy.