Sedation, sedition, materialism, mysticism

Isn’t your bed just the best place in the world?
Such a simple thing, yet luxury unimagined by the countless ancestors that foraged in dark forests and sheltered under damp animal skins. In comparison we have it pretty good, yet in 2017 (the most recent I could find) more than a quarter of England’s population were medicated for anxiety, depression and pain.

Of course recent events haven’t helped.

Back in the day there was a news story about polar bears in a German zoo endlessly pacing around their enclosure. Kept in captivity and denied vast territories to roam, they became stressed and began to behave oddly. It helped to start the debate about the conditions animals are kept in. But do we recognise when our environments are stressful? that whilst roofs, hot water, warm beds and abundant food are great, they soften us and can lead to idleness and fretting. Without downplaying working two jobs at the minimum wage in order to make ends meet, is it possible we’re better off when up against it, busy, purposeful and hopeful? Referring back to the last post, Maslowe’s hierarchy of human needs suggests people naturally approach love, esteem and self actualisation when their bellies are full, but the stat’s suggest bigger bellies and sedation might, for many, be an end in themselves.

This weekend I went to a shamanic festival where songs, chants, dances, yoga asanas and rituals were held to celebrate the new moon and the connectedness of existence. It made me wonder how people will reflect on this time of political turmoil, economic collapse and scarcer food and shelter. I remember once pulling up beside a yoga cafe in Rishikesh high up on a bank of the Ganges. So as not to risk restarting the temperamental old bike I was riding, I left it chugging away as an old Enfield does, whilst I asked about a room for the night. When I returned, I was accosted by a little French fella in a loin cloth who berated my inconsideration and interruption of his peace before disappearing back into the riverbank. Satisfying Maslowe’s higher needs and seeking spiritual progress, doesn’t seem to require much material (camels and needles come to mind). Which is handy as it implies we don’t need expensive, resource intensive and environmentally damaging lifestyles to make progress. Wouldn’t it be good to hear more about such lifestyles in commercial media, or isn’t that how the capitalist, materialist world works.

I’m with Bernardo kastrup in seeing the limitations and subjectivity in our sensations, perception of reality and scientific materialism. The nature of “reality” is surely far beyond what our limited senses perceive and our little monkey minds can comprehend. There’s more than we can know out there, and our progeny will surely smile at what we believe today, just as we do at our forebears.

But that’s not to say much hasn’t already been done toward seeing “beyond the veil”.

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