Monday, February 4, 2013

Our Inner State

It's striking to me, how little of contemporary culture's artistic effort goes into presenting or investigating  man's inner questions and his inner condition.

There is, to be sure, a small cadre of individuals investigating such questions; but the vast majority of our cultural exchange is an outward one, about outward things. Even supposedly spiritual movements such as the evangelical and fundamentalist movements within religions have turned themselves outwardly in every way, ignoring the deep inner questions that need to be addressed in any real spiritual quest. Instead,  we are treated to faux religion. Spiritual figureheads and institutions fling themselves into exclusively outward quests that, paradoxically, create even more confusion, instead of casting light on where we are in ourselves, and what actually needs to be done.

The arts have a chance of illuminating man's condition, but only if they address inward questions, and only if they do so in ways that reach the deepest parts of our psyche. Arts such as television miniseries that address an endless treadmill of sensual and horrific outer events can't go anywhere; all they do is tell us that life is difficult and confusing. You can have 10 million different varieties of this, but they are always the same.  Have you noticed recently that Hollywood is now making exactly the same movie over and over and over, with exactly the same music, the same scenes of stuff blowing up, and the same actors running around with fake guns in their hands? Popular culture and the arts have devolved to the level of the assembly line, and an endless series of parts are being stamped out by a mindless machine. The workers in these media mills get page huge sums of money, and stagger home at the end of each day feeling they've done something significant; but what?

You'll notice that there are absolutely no popular cultural vehicles that truly investigate the spiritual condition of man—on television or in the movies. "It won't sell," modern marketing says — yet I think that human beings are actually desperate for something with actual meaning in it. That is, a meaning tied to something deep within us.

 This desertification of the arts was not always the case. Before man's obsession with technology and the ability to manipulate the material world conquered him, there was an ongoing inquiry about the inner state, framed in the questions of the great religions. Less and less of this preoccupies us; we'd rather poke at our iPhones.

Yet everything about the outer world that shocks and frightens us comes from inside us; the outer world that we create emanates from exactly what we are inside, and is in fact a mirror of it. We look in the mirror, and we don't like what we see; but we have disassociated ourselves from the fact that we are the actor, and outer life is only the mirror. It's someone else's outer life we believe we see; it belongs to politicians, or bosses, or spouses; to shooters, players, crooners, and agitators. There is an illusion taking place here, but the outward world is not what is illusory. It is our belief that it is an outward world that is the illusion. In fact, it's a direct reflection of our inner state.

 It's strange that the whole world acts as though the outer world just popped into being magically and drives itself, as though it were not the inward state of man that creates it. So little attention is paid not just to mental health, but to spiritual health — real health, as opposed to indoctrination, programming, and outright evil that poses in the name of spiritual health. We have institutions that provide "health care," but when was the last time you saw any of them do anything but treat physical symptoms? The real things that trouble people, their emotional turmoil, the questions they have about why things are the way they are, don't get treated. You can't take pills to fix these things; all the pills do is bury the problem under a deeper pile. There is a deep-seated malaise at the heart of our cultural, social, and personal institutions, and it all begins with the personal ones — because every cultural and social institution emanates from the personal inner states of those who populate it.

 It is probably too much to ask, that an art emerge which asks real questions of us, about who we are, and reaches into the ancient cultural heritages we have been given to help investigate those questions. Mankind spent ten thousand years or more developing tools to help him understand his world, his inner world, and develop a relationship to it; but if we do not reach into the traditional, and discover the esoteric, or inner, values that each one of the great traditions brings to us, we throw our birth right and our heritage away.

Things are deteriorating. Anyone can see that.

Now is the time for every good man and woman to stand up within themselves and make an effort to Be in a way that is, as Mr. Gurdjieff might have said, "becoming to three-brained beings."

Only after we do that can we bring this effort to the outer world and speak of real things, which is what it needs.

May your soul be filled with light.

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