Limited by the self
The other important way in which people are limited is by their own highly individualised and complex limitations. These are the limitations that they either put there themselves or that have been put there by others and/or arisen through a combination of circumstances and people - in other words, this is the burden of the past operating in the present and being perpetuated in the present. I have studied various forms of therapy, reality therapy, narrative therapy, a long time ago I studied Chinese medicine, how the energy flows, what impedes the flow of energy, how can we make it flow again.
I came to the, perhaps some would say not very useful or practical conclusion, that what stops each individual person from being what they could be, doing what they could do, is a combination of external political and economic forces which are perpetuated by those who have most to gain from them, who are most advantaged by them, patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism and so on; and their own internal forces, the pain or humiliation they have suffered, encountering death at an early age and not being able to process it. Again what could follow here is an interminable catalogue of everything that haunts and impedes each individual person and prevents them from being what they are, from being in the world authentically, and more importantly, ethically.
Everyone is unique and every single one of us needs, craves, yearns for, is longing for individual attention from an other and that attention needs to be respectful, authentic and unconditional. We need an other (a human being is preferred but we can make do with a dog) to give us 100% of their attention. The shorthand for this is ‘love’ but we don’t know what love is. If there is one thing, one idea, which is talked about all the time, about which more movies and books and songs have been and continue to be written and produced than anything else and which is more misunderstood than anything else; it is love. What do we really mean by love? What we are longing for when we want to be loved, is respect, attention, engagement with an other. Why, when there are so many of us human beings, plenty to go around, are so many of us so desperately lonely, so alone in the world that close to a million of us feel compelled to kill ourselves every year? (Let me just say here, as an aside, that if you want to kill yourself, please investigate how to do it ethically, painlessly, in a dignified way? Maybe you want to talk about it? I am available.)
What I would say in response to that is, there is a problem, an error, with the way humans perceive themselves and each other as well as all the other non-human beings and things in the world. This has crept in over time, there were a number of errors made over time, one of the most crucial by a bloke called Descartes who spent too much time in a hot room and when he came out he said, Cogito Ergo Sum, I think therefore I am. WRONG! What he should have said, what would have been much more useful, would have been, I think therefore I am not. This is what I call the error of the self.
This is not a new idea, I always have people tell me that some of what I am saying is actually a Buddhist idea or it’s Zen or it is what Krishnamurti said and I say yes ok and thank you - but now is the time to leave all of that behind. There is nothing to be gained by saying you’re a Buddhist, or any kind of religion or spiritual tradition for that matter. What is required is something entirely new, something which we create together, something which is relevant to us here and now and which we will have made, are making, now, for ourselves and each other and which is a response to what is required here and now.
Surely that is obvious. Why would we spend our precious time pouring over historical documents, or listening to what others who have spent their precious time pouring over historical documents claim to have learned form them? The problem is obvious, if you will just look at it. But the solution is less obvious. The solution is immensely complex and very time consuming to implement. It will take generations, many generations, to implement. But if you see it, you see that it is the only thing to do and the only time to do it is right now. If you don’t start right now, this moment, what are you doing?