We are lost without sincerity. To be immersed in lies; to constantly dissemble; to be treated as an object for someone else’s purposes; is to find our selves in the utmost precarity.
An apocryphal tale whose source I can no longer remember sticks with me. It’s of a moment of first encounter between a North American and some “Discoverer,” some hell-bent treasure-hunter arriving on these shores with visions of gold and spices and slaves to be had. The chief is summoned. He takes one look at this alien visitor and strikes him dead with his ceremonial club.
His only comment, “He was insane. Now he is at peace.”
Rufus T. Firefly scuttling center stage to make his pronouncement….
There’s always a hidden glee behind the crowd’s reaction. “Before, I had to hold it together. Now? I can let go. A free pass. No resort is too extreme. We’re at war.”
The next stage is the rush to, “Get in the fight!”
After all, “It’ll be over by Christmas.”
Attention is Compassion
One of the first things we encounter on beginning some form of meditation, any way for us to empty out the rush of unbidden thought and pause to see what might lie behind it all, is the question of compassion.
Does this come directly from our confrontation with attention in and of itself stripped of means and ends? Is it because we are led to the question by those from whom we seek counsel?
Peeling away layers of Ego I found anger and disappointment blocking the way to compassion. There’s another block hiding beneath them, contempt.
We see it all around us. This is a society choking on contempt. Every faction and group is held together by the contempt in which it holds the rest.
The path to anger, to disappointment, to hatred passes through contempt it seems.
There is a pressure on every interaction we have. A push. Sometimes an impatience to get to a result. Sometimes a leeriness that we are being manipulated. Sometimes a form of disappointment in advance, an expectation that things will not go well.
Taken together we might call the result anxiety. Meta-worry another cause to add another layer, we worry about being anxious….
We resist exposure to what we don’t want to see, to hear.
“There’s enough violence!” We might cry. Why expose ourselves to more?
Is it exposure to violence – in the sense of being in the presence of violence, taking part, being victim or victimizer, complicity? Or is it an awareness of our immersion in violence – violence that is at once ubiquitous and also quite specific in origin and intent? Which of these are we resisting, violence or an awareness that shines a light on our complicity that we fear?