Chris Hedges latest essay, This time We’re Taking the Whole Planet with Us! is as concise and clear and exposition of our predicament as you’ll find out there.
Two things stand out. They give and then take it away. In his narrative, they take away and then try to give. I’ve brought up this same point as a sign of the difference for us “this time.”
The Easter Islanders thought they were the last remnants of humanity on a world that had been otherwise lost beneath the waves. Seeing themselves as the last chance, they still went ahead as they did.
This time, as his title declaims in the language of a psychopath in a thriller, it’s global. The stakes are there for anyone to see and there are no refuges outside of magical thinking; from raptures, to survivalist compounds, to colonies on Mars, to the singularity.
I’ve argued that the global nature of our awareness is a new twist, something that holds potential for a way out of the traps we’ve fallen into in past collapses. It’s not just the Easter Islanders or a fevered dozen drunk with power and lack of sleep in a bunkered conference room under the Kremlin or the White House who’ve conflated the end of their particular fantasy with the End of the World. From each pitiable suicide on up to the ends of the mass-murdering kind, the descent into a fractured certainty and the violence that erupts from its “voices” always leads to a similar conflation of the fruits of their particular ego-driven fantasies with EVERYTHING! The next step is always there too, as certainty comes to its natural conclusion, “The only thing I can be sure of is destruction.” “Death is sure.”
In following the leads into David Bohm‘s work, I’ve stumbled upon Krishnamurti. I am new to them both. I have no “history” with whatever controversies have swirled around their lives or their writings. I don’t know the gossip. I expect there is some. I did stumble upon a series of long-winded video “debunking” rants by someone who was disturbed in his sleep by what he heard them mumbling in the next room.
There are incredible insights in the little I’ve seen of David Bohm’s work. His synthesis of scientific and artistic practice through his study of creativity has literally filled in most – if not all – the blank spaces in my own investigations into these subjects. What had been a series of tentative pokings in a dark room with uncertain footing has now been illuminated for me. I need to take in what he’s written and find how to embody it as I proceed.
With Krishnamurti, and so far I’ve only seen him in the context of a dialogue with Bohm – the kind of dialogue Bohm wrote about, and I’ve been looking for and pointing to as in this example with Dougald Hine and David Abram. Krishnamurti had a wonderful presence. The way he reaches inside for the consequences surrounding a statement, and the way he picks his way through the sloppiness of language when crafting a reply, are helped immeasurably by Bohm’s careful “scientific” desire to keep the conversation as approachable as possible to a non-spiritually inclined listener. The way their conversation combines a true authority that compounds each of their own authorities is one of the greatest strengths behind this type of dialogue.
As I’ve tried to say here, I’m just touching the surface of Krishnamurti’s work. I’m driven by Bohm’s alliance with him, and by his natural charisma(?) – not sure what to call his bedside manner. As with Bohm, I see glimmers here of how so much of what I’ve been after is already there in what he has done.
The central point as I see it now has to do with clarifying the place of Being versus Becoming. I’ve long been caught-up in striving. I’ve long felt these efforts have had a high degree of compulsion in them. I’ve become squeamish about how I use the term, trying to couch what I’ve held as useful striving in a variety of synonyms – A similar, though more complex case has been my distinction between efficiency and effectiveness. I’m still not sure how that one will shake out after all this!
Krishnamurti sees striving as caught up in the maintenance of difference. That the desire to become is to use time as a mechanism to distinguish a fragment of the whole from other fragments and to intrude with will to make a change. – This is a crude, rough approximation throwing his constructions willy-nilly into my own language seasoned with impatiently collected Bohm!
I hesitate to even do this! I keep thinking if I wait a little longer I’ll be more clear…. Somehow that smacks of becoming… so I keep pushing to just let what comes out be.
Since writing Mastery, Not Control I’ve been measuring everything against the need to break with the old ways. I’ve been exasperating, myself and others, with an ever-widening definition of what the old ways cover! Bohm and Krishnamurti are talking about this exact thing! Bohm repeatedly alluded to a sense of urgency he had. It doesn’t surprise me that one of the greatest minds in Twentieth Century Physics would have sensed urgency in the 1960’s through the 80’s! Hell! as a little kid in the 1950’s I felt that way! It’s more surprising and to the point that it’s taken me this long to find these guys since they’ve been so efficiently buried by the cultural systems they were criticizing way back then!
Let’s get back to Hedges for a moment. He’s trapped within the stage where we are so impressed with evidence that is so compelling and at this point ubiquitous, so that we cannot imagine that if we can only make the case a little more clear surely everyone will “wake up!” I’ve spent a long enough time in that, I can’t blame him! What’s saved me might be that I’m just not as good at it. I haven’t had a persona build up around my efforts to do this that has rewarded me materially for maintaining this stance. – Please! This isn’t sour-grapes!
This is the point at which I find my own and the efforts of all of those I care for and admire to be bogging down. The closer we come to the conclusions of our searches the harder it is to let go of the vestiges of what Krishnamurti and Bohm call our brain’s conditioning or programming and let in the workings of mind.
Here is why I find their work so compelling. They are talking about what happens next. They have brought the study of phenomena, perception, measure, and experience from both the height of the western model, in Bohm the physicist; and the eastern model, in Krishnamurti the spiritual seeker – this is a gross simplification! – and reached that next level of synthesis.
The place of tragedy. The uselessness of polarity and division. The need to let go of striving as the way to be. And that in this activity there is both the necessity to right-action for its own sake and also the only possibility for that hope beyond hoping I’ve been struggling to formulate since starting Shoal Hope.
This is a “report from the front.” It’s garbled, disjointed, possibly hopelessly confusing. I’m sorry for that. It’s certainly incomplete!
I put this out because it fits the driving intention behind this blog. That it be a record as well as a scratch-pad for the state of my concerns.
2 thoughts on “This time it’s global!”
Letting go of striving is a tough one. I am in the process of becoming a sleeper again, after decades of insomnia. Yet there can be no striving to sleep… the more one strives, the more one fixates on recipes of sleep experts, the farther away one is from sleeping soundly.
I suspect it is the same in other areas of life. Letting go. Surrender to being here now. It’s an alien shore for me. Yet, here I am and intend to stay.
Yes. Thanks. A while ago, I decided that given my near perfect inability to do anything constructive about the predicament we have made for ourselves, certainly nothing on a scale that anyone a quarter mile away might notice, that grieving was the most appropriate response. I really don’t know much more about it than that, except that grieving can take many forms, and is enhanced by music and dancing. And that the attitude of grieving can inform and enrich the act of work, whether it be creative or simple maintenance. Reading this post, and jumbling it together with your notes on futility, I’m hearing something similar. So keep it up, this helps.