My biggest thing is trying to increase my level of awareness; that’s both awareness of my environment as well as self-awareness. Without either of these we condemn ourselves to ignorance. When someone is ignorant they lack the ability make a decision or a choice, and without the freedom of choice what are we?
So what constitutes raising ones awareness? I used to think that being ‘informed’ was the same as being aware. So I would keep up with the news, and the latest technology – I would find out the events and stories which were occurring in town. Another favorite, was to keep up with the latest developments in science as well as politics.
The more I knew about what was occurring in the world, the more aware I believed I would become.
It took me many years to realize that even though I was ‘informed’ I was still pretty damn ignorant. Even though I knew what was going on in society, I really didn’t know much about what was going on with people. You see, like many others I had been fooled into thinking that people and society were the same thing!
What was it exactly that I had spent so many years becoming informed about? I can recall my informed state covered a number of things; the passing of new laws, the discussions of political parties, the never ending wars, developments within the education systems, corporate buyouts, industrial news, the state of the economy, an infinite variety of disputes – I could make an endless list. Naturally all these things have one thing in common; they are all components of society.
So – all very well, I had spent my years being an informed member of society.
But…where was my awareness of people?
Was it actually helping me in any way to know that Enron had got involved in a massive scandal? Or that Microsoft were being taken through the courts again for yet another case of monopolizing? Did it really teach me anything or improve anyones life to know that Joe from Lancashire had just been sentenced to life imprisonment? These things were all the trappings of society – and knowing about them didn’t make me a better person. The knowledge did serve one purpose however; it helped make me a more effective member of society, which in turn helped me to keep my little area of society’s wheels greased. All the while I knew what was going on in society it was easier to ‘fit in’.
Still the question came; “How is this actually helping anyone?”
Eventually through the accumulation of seemingly disparate events I came to the realization that society has very little to do with people. It became glaringly obvious to me that society was like a machine, and we all had our part to play in keeping that machine working. My information gathering was helping me to keep informed about the machine, but it really told me little about its operators. And that thought struck another nerve. Is that all people are? Merely parts of the machine of society?
From that moment on I swore to keep a clear distinction between people and society. If someone worked as a dustman, that told me quite a bit about how they interacted with society, but it really didn’t tell me much about them as a person. So – I spent a fair amount of time in limbo; how do you figure out anything about people?
Well in the end it was all pretty obvious – you start with yourself. What makes me tick nad what make me react in the way I do? What is my belief system (BS!) and why do I have it? Of course these sorts of questions lead you back to society in order to get answers – established psychology for example; but these answers weren’t very satisfactory – they all fitted a little to neatly and conveniently into the system of society. But it was a reasonable place to begin.
Eventually my quest led me to esoteric knowledge as well as the forefront of scientific thinking. Those two areas seemed to mirror each other in very precise ways, and so a new path was set out for me.
Society actually understands very little about people. In fact that’s the way it likes it; ignorance greases the wheels of society. We perpetually spend our time looking ‘out there’ at other people and at the mechanisms of society, this is the distraction of which nearly all the mystics speak. It is the Maya of Hinduism and Buddhism. It is the Reality Tunnel of Timothy Leary.
What is it distracting us from? Simply put; society distracts us from us. Without an understanding of our self we are utterly lost, and have no chance of learning anything of value in life. Once we understand self we can being to understand others, and from that we can build community. And from community should evolve society – yet somehow society has become first and foremost in everyone’s mind. It is the beast that has gotten out of control.
Life isn’t about control or anarchy, neither is it about order or chaos; it is simply about claiming your self. Here’s a little task; for the next week see how many things distract you from learning about yourself and your place in life…