Can we learn to live without violence?

The philosopher Gurdjieff thought so. And promoted the practice of “self-remembering” to help us achieve it.

“There are moments when you become aware not only of what you are doing but also of yourself doing it. You see both ‘I’ and the ‘here’ of ‘I am here’- both the anger and the ‘I’ that is angry. Call this self-remembering if you like.”

I can tell you here that I date the ignition of my own inner journey towards self-mastery to the discovery of this practice in Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous, back when I was 26 years old.

When we don’t practice self-remembering, then we cannot help but tend to project our own unrecognized inner violence out — either by actively doing violence to The Other, or fearing violence from him or her — or both. Indeed, it appears that such mental projection is what makes us “feel more alive”! Having been taught to live exclusively in our “minds,” to believe the Cartesian dictim “I think, therefore I am,” we are deadened to the pulsing sensations within our own bodies — not to mention within the body of Mother Earth! In other words, according to Gurdjieff, only when we gradually learn the practice of self-remembering, can we begin to feel our own very real woundedness, our pain. 

The interpersonal situation on this planet appears to have devolved so quickly and thoroughly during the past year that a  post I found on facebook this morning feels like a healing balm:

And I think back on the movie I saw yesterday, “La La Land,” which held a full house audience in a spell of total wonder, so perfectly and beautifully — not to mention cleverly, with great finesse! — was it crafted, despite there being 1) no violence and 2) no “hot” love scenes.

“What? Audiences flock to see this kind of movie? No Way. We’re just too cynical for old-time musicals.”

Oh yeah?

Go see this movie on the big screen. I’m deeply appreciative to all who made this beautiful, bittersweet balm to the wounded soul in all of us which has been pummelled by unremitting images of violence (if not the real thing!) — and not just bashing someone’s head in or shooting him dead, not just child and other rape or “gaslighting,” but of continuous violation of privacy via surveillance, mind control, via MSM “news,” video games, tabloid trash talk and porn on TV and other screens.

Meanwhile, just so you know La La Land didn’t cement rose colored glasses to this 74-year-old furrowed face, here’s one overview of our — possibly unprecedented — national distress.

By way of backstory, remember  Karl Rove‘s audacious claim during Bush Jr’s ascendancy?

“We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

I imagine every Empire that ever thought it had reality in its back pocket, has endured its extended moment of 2016 truth.

2016: The Year Washington Lost Its Mind

December 31, 2016

by John Wight
2016: The year Washington lost its mind

Seismic is the only word to describe 2016, especially when describing the US-Russia relationship.

Paraphrasing Gramsci, it was a year in which we witnessed the dying of the old world and the birth of the new. By no means, however, has the birth been painless. And nor is it complete.

Western hegemony – geopolitical, military, cultural, and economic – has never been so fiercely contested as it was in 2016. Surveying a year in which anti-Russian hysteria became the new normal in Washington, London, and Paris, not to mention across Eastern Europe on the part of governments for whom Russophobia was deployed as a convenient scapegoat to deflect from their own political and economic shortcomings, we are reminded no empire ever forgives its defeats.

If this past year was anything it was the year in which the final nail was hammered into the coffin of neoconservatism and its masters of the universe conceit. It saw humanity travel full circle from the starting point of the boast by US academic, Francis Fukuyama, that the demise of the Soviet Union heralded the End of History, wherein Western liberal democracy had triumphed and would now reign supreme forevermore.

Those who allowed themselves to luxuriate in this conceit have just lived through a year of unparalleled agony and anguish, defined by the collapse of this liberal order under the weight of the misery and despair it succeeded in sowing over the past decade and more at home and across the world.

For the first time since 9/11 – when war without end was declared by Western hawks in the cause not of security, democracy or human rights, but instead domination, hegemony, and unipolarity – their project of regime change was thwarted in Syria, though not without huge cost and suffering. It is a seminal defeat marked by the liberation of Aleppo, which was followed by trilateral talks between Iran, Russia, and Turkey with the objective of bringing the conflict to an end.

The exclusion of the US and European powers from these talks was hugely significant, evidence that solutions to crises created by Western hegemonic policies are increasingly to be found in the East rather than the West.

The election in November of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States, following in the wake of Brexit, confounded a Washington political and media establishment that had grown complacent over the years in a bubble of self-aggrandizement in which they had become detached from reality.

Indeed, their inability to come to terms with the shock was such that rather than look to their own failures, they sought to scapegoat Russia as the primary cause. Never mind the millions of Americans who opted to vote for a maverick billionaire businessman rather than a machine politician whose record has been a monument to mendacity. No, Trump’s election had nothing to do with them. It was all Russia’s doing.

In what can only be described as an insult to those voters and their democratic rights, no sooner had the election result been announced than the forces of hell were unleashed against Moscow, accused of hacking the DNC and passing the results on to Wikileaks, whose release of the so-called ‘Podesta emails’ provided not only the American public but also the entire world with an insight into the inner workings of what passes for democracy in Washington.

Just think about this for a moment. Russia, according to the DNC, Clinton’s supporters, the CIA, and many more besides, effectively forced millions of Americans to walk into a voting booth and vote for a candidate whose suitability for office was considered so outlandish that he was ridiculed throughout both the Republican primary process and ensuing presidential election campaign thereafter.

Such a rendering is so desperate and deluded it could only gain traction in a period of huge and momentous transformation, such as took place over 2016, involving the decline of what is and the rise of what will be. Over the past year the resulting flux and discord succeeded in turning rational human beings into irrational and paranoid wrecks, the very people who found themselves being swept away in the currents of historical change.

It was a year in which we witnessed countries responsible for the destruction of entire countries lecturing the world on the meaning of democracy and human rights. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, was depicted as an amalgam of every James Bond movie villain this decades-long movie franchise has unleashed. Meanwhile, rather than the largest and most populous country in Europe, with a history as rich in culture and civilization as any on the planet, Russia was reduced to a vast criminal enterprise as part of the same exercise in demonization.

It is recorded that in 476CE what was then known as the Western Roman Empire came to an end, after a century of successive ‘barbarian’ invasions finally succeeded in bringing it to its knees. The symbols of Rome’s power – in the form of the emperor’s imperial vestments, diadem, and purple cloak – were sent to Constantinople, the seat of power of the eastern half of the empire, to bring the curtain down on its 1000-year history. It was proof that no empire, regardless of its economic and military power, lasts forever.

Rome fell for the same reason that all empires fall over time – greed: greed for wealth, for power, and for domination. Our time is no different. The economic crash of 2008 was the result of greed in Wall Street and the City of London, the twin engines of Western economic growth and hegemony over so many decades. Allied to the triumphalism with which the demise of the Soviet Union was met in Washington and across the West in the early 1990s, the result was overreach.

In 2016, we witnessed the culmination of what has been a slow but inexorable decline in the West – a political order with no answers to the crises that they in their ideological fixation with domination and hegemony have caused. Blaming others rather than look in the mirror and accept responsibility was their only answer.

As the Roman philosopher Seneca reminds us, “For greed all nature is too little.”

Western ideologues take note.

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1 Response to Can we learn to live without violence?

  1. Joy Shayne Laughter says:

    Oh, yes — As the Roman philosopher Seneca reminds us, “For greed all nature is too little.”

    I copied down a line from D.H. Lawrence’s “Etruscan Places” yesterday: “To the greedy man, everyone that is in the way of his greed is vice incarnate.”

    Which describes Trump as well as the freaked-out mainstream politicos! I have a feeling we are definitely moving away from the neocon/lib calcified norms and will create new global relationships from the rubble.

    Thanks, Ann!

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