“You, on the other hand, are a creature placed in charge, and a particle of God himself; there is a bit of God within you.
When you eat, bear in mind who it is exactly you are feeding. When you have sex, reflect who you are during the act. In conversation, exercise, discourse – do you remember that it is God you are feeding? God you are exercising? You carry God around with you, and don’t know it, poor fool!
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What are we anxious about when we graduate a young man from school and out into the real world? That he will make mistakes, eat poorly, have sexual affairs, humiliate himself and go around in rags, or else affect the latest fashions. And why? Because he is ignorant of his personal god and does not realize who goes with him when he leaves school and his former friends. Yet we indulge him when he writes to us to say: ‘I wish you were here with me!’ You have God there with you – Who else do you need?
Epictetus, Discourses, ca 130AD
“Arguing that you can’t have racist views since you appreciate other cultures, or even have a partner or friend of a different ethnicity is about as valid as saying you can’t be sexist because you like women and are married to one. It just doesn’t work like that. And exoticism is a thing too, not seldom used to mask or justify racist attitudes.”
Funny. Reading one of the most renowned reactionary bloggers talking about how things used to be so much better, how we used to feel safe (when we were kids) but now worry about our own walking to school (Yes, it is different being a parent and not a child…), and how all men used to be proper virile men, I come to think of the contemporary protests in the press when they built the Grand Theatre in Gothenburg, in the late 1850s. It was the first official building outside of the city moat, and the press protested fiercely as by going there it would expose the fine folks to all sorts of dangers, and with the harsh elements threatening their health and clothing. It was thus doomed to fail as people would just not want to go.
This theater, which the brave, fine people would not dare to visit in the late 19th cent was built a 100 meters outside of the city moat. Time for all of us modern snowflakes to man up.
“There lies great danger in any religion that promises end of the world and restored Paradise, as they essentially, at their core, are death cults, with acolytes waiting for and wanting an end, with a deep longing to see events unfold that trigger this apocalypse, even seeking to actively create or trigger those events, to bring on their saviour and a new, better world to replace the one we live in.
It is a very fundamental, human desire for a better world, but a mutated exploitation thereof, which instead of making this actual world we live in better, requires for the ‘true believers’ to fulfill the ultimate prophecy by making the world worse, to instigate cataclysmic violence and evil, so that the divine will, in reward of their sacrifices, steps in and gives relief to the faithful martyrs. And this drives reactionary extremists at all levels, be they terrorists, neo-fascists, corporate leaders or top level politicians.
This can be balanced by a requirement of proving one’s humility and kindness to become worthy of entering paradise, but too often is not, and especially not against the unworthy unbelievers, who to the fundamentalists are almost everyone, but a very select few, with only those deemed worthy being shown respect and kindness.”
“Really wish I could learn to always savour instead of just eating. And this is true for everything in life. But incredibly hard to remember. Too often I don’t really use my senses, just numbed to the now, with my mind on something else instead of the moment.
Staying in the moment for the most of the time is so hard. And you realize how much you miss out on experiencing in those glimmering and intense moments when you do. And trying to experience things as they are constantly. It is incredibly difficult to really do.
It’s the same thing with our vision. I remember how magical the world became when I praciticed painting, how I suddenly became so conscious of all the colours of our reality. It was like becoming a child again, experiencing everything for the first time. We lose so much by becoming used to things and getting complacent and not really sensing or appreciating them. Goes for people too.”
“About 20 years ago I witnessed an episode that has stuck with me ever since, as I thought it was such a poignant example of the complex and contradictory nature of the human soul.
While browsing rental videos at the store around the corner I overheard a middle-aged man talking to the clerk, asking if the thriller he was holding in his hand was any good, and the clerk answered; “Oh yes, it’s fantastic! You have to see it! It is brilliant!” The man then asked if the clerk thought it’d be suitable for his young daughter’s all-girl birthday party, to which the clerk responded “Hell no! They cut fingers off of little girls in it.”
Similarly, I remember the documentary I saw about the travelling cinemas of India, where the owners for the last 70 years have been driving their buses across India showing big screen Bollywood movies to people in villages who have never seen a movie or even read a book before. In such villages violence is extremely rare, and in some cases the cinema owner was struggling as these people were so shocked by the comparatively mild violence they saw in the movies that they literally felt physically ill, and in some villages everyone walked away, incapable of continuing watching.
This has stuck with me ever since. It is interesting how we can condition ourselves and what our “root state” of being is. There is a potential hidden there, if hard to reach.
This of course also has some interesting consequences and follow up questions:
First of all, since that root state is always under threat from those already conditioned to the use of violence, protective counter-violence will likely always be necessary, and in order to preserve that root state for as many as possible, others will have to submit themselves to a conditioning for threat and use of violence, serving as police or soldiers, thereby, and by necessity, choosing to become less sensitive to it.
Second, while according to research, movies and games do not directly cause us to commit crime, it quite clearly can function as propaganda, and desensitizes us to the use of violence, while it also, at the same time, can sensitize us to the threat of the same. And, large parts of the world has been doing this for the last 60-70 years, with ever increasing brutality, exposing even young children to it.
Third, what are the effects of large scale conditioning of the citizens of a society to the threat and use of violence? Those effects are bound to be of great interest for exploitation by political and particular financial forces, as fear. e.g. can be used both to control people, to pacify as well as to instigate them, and to boost sales of various forms of protection, and to motivate temporary and permanent infractions on the citizens’ freedoms and rights.
Photo by Amit Madheshiya