1984 has arrived. If you haven’t noticed, you are the frog about to be boiled to death as the water you are in has slowly and imperceptibly heated up over your lifetime.
After the horrors of the second world war, an unprecedented stretch of 50-60 years inspired Western countries to embrace the principles of liberal democracy. Prosperity ensued, and with increasing numbers of humans on this planet we faced globalization. Liberal democratic values meant that we opened the door to multiculturalism like never before. There was a sense of importance about knowing the truth.
Unprecedented advances in science and technology amidst a population explosion with insatiable needs, have now seriously jeopardized our ecosystem. Greed has lead to economic polarizations with an erosion of the middle class, the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. By opening our borders to other cultures and people in need, many have started to feel that their values and culture became compromised and watered down. With their cultural identity and economic stability threatened, many people lost faith in liberal democracy and are looking to strongmen to put the genie back in the bottle and deliver the good old times of strong national identity and economic prosperity. Meanwhile, strongmen are dictators with no regard for truth, freedom or people’s wellbeing, as they take control through ultra-nationalistic or ultra-collective agendas over what they perceive to be the chaos of democracy.
Strongmen heading up nationalistic political trends and their supporting crowds are now emerging everywhere, seriously jeopardizing liberal democracy and ushering in dangerous dictatorial tendencies. Trump has just publicly admitted that he has the right to interfere with the judiciary. Make no mistake, no country is immune to what happened in Nazi Germany, including the United States and Canada. Trump symbolizes everything that can be wrong in a society, and we should not forget that Trump can only occupy the post he does when a majority of citizens collude with what is emerging now as a collective psychological madness, which includes ‘pathological lying, habitual and institutionalized corruption, dishonesty, serial groping, casual racism, glorification of violence, winking to Nazis, laziness, impulsiveness, childish tantrums, bottomless ignorance, vanity, insecurity, vulnerability to flattery, bullying, crudity, indifference to suffering, incompetence, rabid narcissism, chaos in the White House, attacks on America’s allies and support for its foes, contempt for experts and for expertise, for truth and the press, for norms and conventions, for checks and balances, for limited government, for the very rule of law’ (adapted from Andrew Coine: The virus of Trumpism and his infectious moral failings – Globe and Mail, Saturday, February 8, 2020).
In China, technological surveillance has now reached Orwellian proportions, allowing the ruling few to monitor their citizens’ every move, and categorize them according to a scale that quantifies their devotion to party creed. Depending on the score, their freedom to move around, do business, prosper professionally and take advantage of life’s opportunities is strictly controlled, curtailed or enabled. All over the world, through technology our children have lost the skill of sitting still, reading extensively and reflecting on the complex narratives of human history, thereby discovering where truth and lie are. Nonsensical information bits that can be combined in any which way one wants are now the currency of our short attention spans and impoverished faculties of reflection. The narcissism of social media makes it now possible for everyone of us to become legends in our own minds, believe them and mistake them for reality or truth. People are losing their faculty to discern truth from lie. Even more worrisome is the trend to not even be concerned about or interested in truth – all that matters is to feel ‘I am right’.
And we are guilty of destabilizing our planetary ecosystem and raping our very mother earth, which sustains us.
In medicine, evidence-based science is forcing us to be treated like robots and machines, thereby robbing us of the huge potential for healing embedded in the vast complexity of our brains and minds. A shocking case in point: In the new insurance- and money-driven medical industry psychiatrists are not trained in psychotherapy anymore, and they are unable to see patients regularly and do psychotherapy with them. Psychiatrists are only there to consult and prescribe medications. Psychotherapy is relegated to professions that command lower fees and don’t even have the kind of extensive training psychiatrists used to have in the past. The mind, never mind our deep nature beyond mind, are not topics of conversation anymore. Human beings are encouraged to become robotic machines with disembodied beliefs if they so want, without having anywhere to turn to for wisdom. Our wise women and men are temporarily becoming extinct.
As mindfulness meditation made its way from Eastern cultures to the West, it got hijacked by the rational mind into a discipline to achieve gains of several sorts, from relaxation to stress reduction, better health, better professional productivity, symptom relief etc. In other words, in the West meditation became like medicine a tool to do good things for the bodies and minds we objectively have. What got lost is the fundamental principle of working with our subjective experience of being alive in all its forms, thus exploring and practicing how to gain access to the body and mind that we subjectively are. The physical body, which is amenable to scientific analysis and which we attempt to fix through medication, surgery and other interventions, is the body that we have. The somatic body that goes beyond the objectively quantifiable, and that we subjectively experience as who we are, I call the soma that we are. Karlfried Graf Duerckheim originally made that distinction by using two different words for ‘body’ available in the German language. He called the body that we have ‘der Koerper, den man hat’, and the soma that we are ‘der Leib, den man ist’.
The collective insanity I described has its roots in the human mind and how we use it. Mind-boggling scientific and technological advances, combined with lifestyles that have become increasingly remote from nature, rely on brains that have been trained to curtail their vast (right-brain) potential, and cultivate the narrow belief that nothing else but left-brain rationality, practicality, functionality and productivity matter. This alienation from dimensions of existence that are not rationally, verbally or otherwise graspable, results in clinical symptoms of anxiety, depression and stress, which can only be addressed by re-connecting with the whole complexity our brains and minds have to offer, and not just a part of it. Ultimately, we are now challenged to reclaim our full potential as intelligent, sentient beings by imbuing science with sentience, remove the mist from mysticism, relinquish the tyranny of words and reconnect with the wholeness of full presence.
Originally, in Eastern cultures meditation was steeped in the exploration and knowledge of the soma that we are. This opened the door to vast possibilities of healing beyond the rational, scientifically known body that we have, by giving us access to the nameless, timeless and transcendental essence of Being. It is this dimension of Being and transcendence we will learn to reclaim and I will focus on in the upcoming winter/spring sessions of the Mindsight Intensive – not only because it involves teachings that are being lost, but also because lack of access to this dimension can cause seemingly intractable symptoms and suffering. These can be mitigated and much better managed, when we know how to access what lies beyond the rational, problem-solving mind and tap into the vast, open plane of infinite possibilities of energy flow. We have to learn to relate to nothingness and emptiness as the vast context of existence.
Copyright © 2020 by Dr. Stéphane Treyvaud. All rights reserved.