So, I’ve decided to do a fast for Ramadan. It’ll be a modified version though – liquids only during working hours then an evening meal (no breakfast or alcohol). I reckon that’s pretty radical, even though it’s not exactly how a Muslim would do it.
Partly for spiritual reasons and partly for a health refresh. I could do with a detox and shedding a few – ahem! – pounds. Spiritually, I want to be alerted by the hunger pangs to contemplate helpful stuff, though I haven’t yet pinned down what that might be.
I was thinking about contemplating how one can live fearlessly in a culture that is built upon a framework of control by fear. I was also thinking about the concept of being more like a child and wondering what that meant, and what Jesus meant when he said that unless we become like children we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. I looked for inspiration but most interpretations of Jesus’ words seem to have been done by Christians!!! They seem obsessed with being downtrodden by a terrorist and skew the interpretations of his words accordingly.
I understand it to mean that we need to free ourselves from the tyranny of dogma. I think it’s about going back to a time before we starting believing in shit about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Adam and Eve were ejected from the GoE for tasting the fruit of the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. In other words, they were innocent, then they were corrupted by an idea of wrongness and then they felt self-conscious and so they covered themselves up. Physically it’s about putting clothes on; psychically it’s about hiding our naked soul and raw emotions under the disguise of civilized behaviour. This disguise is our ‘ego’ or ‘personality’.
To express ourselves freely and live joyfully as we did as young children means not being afraid of the censure of others. We learn early on about being afraid. We learn that love is withdrawn when we don’t behave according to the dictates of others. We learn that life isn’t for enjoying – it’s for doing things properly. We learn that love must be earned by performing certain ‘tricks’ that mark us out as the civilized rather than the savage. We learn that we are unacceptable when behaving freely and that we must endeavour to craft ourselves into a creature (a robot) that others will deem acceptable. We learn that we must earn our right to exist. We learn that we must always be in a good mood so that we are amenable and entertaining company. We learn that the world isn’t interested in our pain and distress – it makes us unlovable in others’ eyes and deserving of their scorn – of punishment (aka ‘correction’) even. We learn to shut up and pretend.
We learn about the concept of unconditional love. And then we learn that it’s a myth. We learn that love is conditional in a non-negotiable way in a society of intolerant civilized humans (Gregory David Roberts: “Civilization, after all, is defined by what we forbid, more than what we permit.” in Shantaram). We learn that humans are selective in who they choose to love, that human love is exclusive and divisive. We learn that people believe that being polite is the same as being loving, and that they are only polite to people they deem worthy of being treated with good manners (‘criminal’s and the ‘mentally ill’ being examples of the undeserved) (I would argue we’re all mentally ill, anyway). And we learn that, even for the line-toers, politeness will be withdrawn in the blink of an eye if we step over that line.
So… even politeness is conditional.
We learn that Civilization is a place of tolerance, acceptance and good manners only for those who toe the line. Is that really love? Is that really living up the principles of Civilization?
So, to be like a child I think means to find our way back to the time before our hearts were broken and our spirits subdued by the cruelty and artefice of human society, to find our way back to the garden, to undo the belief that we are low-lifes… feeling like Gollum, pretending (and failing!) to be saints.
I think probably we all feel like we don’t fit in. But it is not we who are the ‘wrong’ shape – it’s society that is the wrong shape for human nature. It’s not fit for purpose. We’re trying to make something work that is unworkable and many can be astoundingly cruel in the process… dangerously so.
We must free ourselves from editing our existence in order to conform to others’ dictates about how we ought to behave. We must stop constructing our existence around winning the approval of others. Those who would judge us unworthy of their love are hard-hearted – but we would do well to remember that they were once innocent children ejected from the garden and now are lost in the wilderness of corruption, fear and hate.
I am reminded of two songs, one by Ray LaMontagne, the other by Joni Mitchell. A hybrid who go something like this…
“How come I can’t tell the free world from a living hell?… it’s just man killing man killing man killing man… I swear I saw the bombers… and they were turning into butterflies… we are stardust, we are golden and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden…”
So, we can free our souls from the imprisonment of the illusion that we need to be someone in particular in order to be loved. That might mean giving up on the dream of being loved by mortal humans. It might mean walking alone among the crowd of desperate vampires and switched-off zombies (the walking ‘dead’, the anesthetized) that make up the society of civilized humanity, but perhaps we can be consoled by the thought that there might be someone whose, or something that’s, ‘love’ (whatever that is…. ‘acceptance’?) is a given and does not depend upon how well we perform the party tricks of civilization… those tricks that allow us entry into the in-crowd… something nebulous…. a concept… somewhere outside the psychic landscape of the cruelty of broken-hearted humanity… outside the matrix of harsh criticism and intolerance where we are osctracised if we don’t play the game (not just any game, though… the right game)… something we might call ‘god’ for want of a label that helps us share our conceptual world linguistically?
So, my non-Muslim fast might be an inspiration for me to contemplate being loved (aka accepted unconditionally) by God, that the harsh judgements of corrupted humans cannot tarnish that love, and that they are likewise loved though they do not know it (if they did, they wouldn’t be so harsh to others). I reckon that’s what rites like Ramadan are all about.
Thoughts for the day (expect randomness as I will add as I think of things):
Inside the matrix of human society, the love of others must be earned and our existence justified; in other words, we must earn our ‘right’ to exist… or compensate for it. Outside this matrix, we have just as much right to exist as any other entity in the universe… and… our existence is equally purposeful…. and pointless.
Inside the matrix, non-compliance of others’ wishes is met with disapproval and we are often rejected when we don’t fulfill others’ criteria for what makes us acceptable to them, and worthy of their love. Hmmmm… are we then enslaved by our addiction to the approval of others? How easy it then is for them to control us to ensure our compliance because we fear their censure. To what extent do we live our lives around the avoidance of disapproval? And I suppose those who work the hardest to impress people have a greater anticipation of censure.
So… The Matrix is a system of behaviour control via mind control via emotional manipulation… and we all buy into it… we believe the hype that we’ve created some sort of superior way of being that sets us above (ie, makes us holier than)… the natural, savage world. Oh dear, oh dear, what a sorry bunch we are.
Outside that matrix, meanwhile, entities are neither judged nor punished. Outside the matrix, things just are.
We neglect our souls in our efforts to comply with protocol. We enslave ourselves to a cruel idea. It’s a necessity, though. It’s about survival. It’s about adapting to the environment.
Our soul is the secret we’re afraid to tell the world about (but long to).