emotional and intuitive understanding of art.
We live in a world of consumption and materialism, where the needs of the soul are ill attended to. An endless swilling of things — consumer products — is substituted for a real connection with life and Being. Even when we get together with others, it is, seemingly, to consume. In training ourselves to be efficient swallowers, we forget to be everything else.
The idea that we need to contribute is a quite different one. If we contribute an emotional and intuitive understanding to one another, we feed each other something much better than crème brûlée, or sirloin steak. We feed each other compassion and loving kindness.
We have the opportunity to feed one another with these foods at every moment, yet we always forget. Perhaps the idea of self remembering ought first to be a remembering of these two qualities, which every human being is gifted with a capacity of expressing. It's all too often that we pick up the intellectual and emotional cudgels we equip ourselves with and use those in our dealings with others; intelligence and sensitivity fails when the senses are blunted by the act of swilling.
Mindfulness is insufficient when it is limited to remembering that I am. What I need to remember is this capacity for compassion, an intelligent compassion that is born of a real inner conscience. There has to be a wish to be, of course; yet that wish to be has to be aimed at something greater than myself. If the soul doesn't receive the right food, it is malnourished and it grows crippled and bent and doesn't attend to these questions.
We ought to have a love and the zest for life that goes beyond the material. It ought to begin in our right valuation for life itself; not a valuation of us, of who we are as individuals, but a valuation of the world and what it is, collectively.
The corporate world, the manufacturing world, the external world of things and appearances, is incapable of addressing these issues on its own. It has grown up in a peculiar vacuum where it seems to think that it can exist on its own without any underpinnings; but the action is completely hollow, and it is increasingly recognized that a society without values, inner values, is not a society at all. It is a consumption machine, mindless and destructive.
I inhabit the corporate world and the manufacturing world, and I interact on a regular basis with younger people in China (at this writing, I am there yet again) who have grown up in a world that emphasizes production and consumption only. They are looking around at each other and realizing this isn't enough; they live in a society that stripped itself of the attachment to tradition and inner value that is so necessary for growth and life. So they are poised on the cusp of a moment of introspection that may lead to something new; a moment that the entire world actually needs to come to.