Living in an Age of Desire and Anxiety

Overwhelmed by anxiety and image insecurity a friend’s 20-year-old daughter recently quit her university course and withdrew to her bedroom where she took to self-harming. Company and environments in which she felt emotionally secure became harder to find, until she stopped venturing out at all together. ‘Alice’ is one of a growing number of people, young and old, but disproportionately under 30 years of age, who feel unable to meet the expectations and challenges of contemporary life — whether real or imagined.
Precise figures of those suffering from mental health issues around the world are difficult to collect because many people, particularly in developing countries, do not seek treatment. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that globally 264 million people suffer from some form of anxiety disorder: around 5% of all women and 2.6% of men (this is probably inaccurate as men are less likely to admit feeling anxious for fear of being labeled ‘weak’).
What is causing this epidemic? Indeed is it possible to talk about ‘common causes’ or is each case unique?
Whilst human beings may all be ‘different’, as anyone who has travelled knows, the human condition is universal, and throughout the world people respond in similar ways to comparable circumstances, influences and conditioning factors. In addition to a shared nature all of us are increasingly subjected to the stimulants, pressures and values that are more or less the same. Individual cultures are being eroded, replaced by a standardized approach to living. This process of Cultural Homogenization is being brought about systematically using various interconnected tools of control:
At the heart of the conformity movement is the global socio-economic system together, hand in hand, with globalization. People everywhere are victims of the values promoted by the Neo-Liberal view of life. The volume of the materialistic mantra depends on where one happens to be living, but the doctrine and conditioning forces remain largely the same. The other primary factor is education; the basic principles of Neo-Liberalism – profit, i.e. success, individual ambition over group well being and uniformity, have permeated and polluted the classrooms of schools and colleges in countries throughout the world.
Add these pernicious factors together and it becomes evident that the ground has been laid for a particular type of global socio-psychological conditioning to take place, and in a way previously unheard of when societies were more autonomous.
Conformity and Desire
The fact that the human condition is universal, and the socio-economic structures that people are being conditioned by similar, makes it possible not only to discuss common psychological causes of anxiety, but to broadly identify the societal elements that create the circumstances in which anxiety and other mental health issues, flourishes. One could go so far as to say that when adopted – remembering that the process takes place unconsciously – much of the conditioning being poured into the minds of humanity make anxiety virtually inevitable.
This is no accident: an anxious, discontented population is the (unspoken) aim of the architects and devotees of the system; contentment, independence and mental equanimity are the enemies of Neo-Liberalism, because they reduce the desire for sensation and stuff, and the whole corrupt paradigm is maintained by limitless consumerism.
Everyone is subjected to the values, methods and dogma of the machine, but the under 30s, are more exposed to and it seems at greater risk from its poisonous impact. They face colossal pressures from various sources including family, the media (including online) and education – where conformity, competition and systems of reward and punishment pervade many institutions. This trinity of control is extremely unhealthy, creating the conditions in which comparison and imitation flourish and notions of superiority — resulting in arrogance and pride — and inferiority — feeding fear and anxiety, self-doubt or in some cases self-loathing — flower.
Anxiety flows from and is a form of psychological fear; psychological fear is woven in to the fabric of desire and is fed by insecurity, and the current socio-economic systems encourage both. Insecurity of all kinds is fed, from the insecurity of having a roof over one’s head, food to eat and in some cases, access to health care, to insecurity about whether one is good enough, the perfect daughter or son, clever enough, beautiful enough, tall enough, witty enough, etc., etc.
According to WHO statistics young women are particularly at risk of anxiety, and one of the most common types suffered relates to appearance. This flows from a wider stereotype of what a ‘successful’, desirable, complete, woman looks like. A recent report based on research conducted in 13 countries found that almost 70% of women and girls suffer from appearance anxiety as a result of reductive media images of women. Throughout Asia for example, cosmetic advertising all too often show images not of a healthy Indian or Sri Lankan woman, but of a light skinned model. This highly inappropriate representation is driving many women in such countries to use highly damaging (physically and psychologically) skin lightening or bleaching creams in an attempt to mimic the billboard beauty; in the process their complexion is often irrevocably scarred.
In Britain a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Body Image found that girls as young as five are worrying about their size and appearance. They state that, ‘body image dissatisfaction’ (BID) can lead to “physical, emotional and societal problems;” children suffering BID “are less likely to engage in learning and participation in school.” They lose confidence and simply give up. The report goes on to say that, “over half of bullying experienced by young people was because of appearance.”
The focus on appearance, on image, on achievement and on being a particular type of human being flows from a view that emphasizes ‘becoming’ as opposed to ‘being’. It is an approach that is tied to desire and functions in relation to psychological time. It is this movement in psychological time that allows the seed of anxiety to be planted and grow. The idea that one ‘becomes’ something – ‘something’ that corresponds to a projected and, because of fear, an embraced ideal; becomes happy, popular, married (preferably with children), becomes richer, more successful, etc., etc., gets the job, the car, the house, the woman, or man. The process of becoming is insatiable and therefore endless; an itch that forever demands to be scratched.
The projected image arises from a narrow idea of how life should be lived, what one’s aspirations and principles should be; it is an image spooned into the mind from childhood (as the APPG study found), directly and indirectly. And whilst independent thinking and creativity are warmly spoken of, the pressure to conform is intense ­– the media in all its forms and education being the principle institutions utilized in maintaining conformity. Far from stimulating creative thinking and cultivating an environment in which fundamental questions may be raised, in many countries education has become a powerful tool for conditioning the minds of young people and a feeding ground for the world of work. As Noam Chomsky has said, “Society simply reduces education to the requirement of the market. Students are trained to be compliant workers.” He goes on to state that “a deep level of indoctrination takes place in our schools.”
In addition to competition, reward and punishment and conformity the principle coercive element in maintaining the conditioned stereotype and causing anxiety is desire. Desire lies at the very root of the chaos and is the principle factor in the problem of anxiety.
Every aspect of the present system is designed to strengthen desire; desire for pleasure, desire to live a certain lifestyle, to look a certain way, to have whatever or whoever it is that one desires. Desire to be liked, loved even, ‘love’, (so the story goes) that is achieved by conforming to the prescribed pattern and thereby becoming likeable, or worthy of love. Love itself has been replaced by desire, pleasure substituted for happiness and freedom traded in for choice.
The main reason why desire is perpetually inflamed is in order to maintain the current socio-economic model, which depends on limitless consumerism for its survival. Secondly constant desire keeps the mind in a state of unease – of discontent. This suits the beneficiaries of the machine well, for in such an agitated state a population can be more easily controlled, and crucially, made dependent upon various remedial treatments; alcohol, medication — legal and illegal — shopping excursions, holidays and the like, all of which are provided by the architects of the system.
The result of this cocktail of conditioning is an environment of insecurity, suppression and anxiety. If anxiety flows from desire and psychological time, it is equally true that freedom from anxiety comes about when there is the absence of desire and from attachment to the objects of desire. Within the current socio-economic environment this difficult task is made even harder, but as long as desire dominates the system that feeds on it will be perpetuated, anxiety will persist and discontent and conflict, within the individual and society will continue.
https://dissidentvoice.org/2018/04/living-in-an-age-of-desire-and-anxiety/
April 2018

 

A Civilization in Collapse, the Dawn of a New Order?

There can be little doubt that we are living through extraordinary times: barely a week passes without a major event of some kind occurring somewhere in the world. Politicians, lacking vision and principle, add fuel to the fires; ideologically constrained, corrupt and imprisoned within the designer pockets of their corporate benefactors they remain politically and morally compromised.
Many fear for the future, mainstream media stoke the pervasive anxiety, hope is in short supply and uncertainty abounds. This however reflects only part of the story. A number of things appear to be taking place simultaneously: Fundamental choices and questions are being laid before humanity, long held assumptions challenged, new possibilities unfolding:
The socio-economic systems throughout the world are in a state of disintegration: far from meeting the needs of the people these defunct models are the cause of many of our problems. Intense political and social turmoil is fuelling a dangerous movement towards the right and with it nationalism, intolerance and potential violent conflict. In parallel, but operating from a more unifying position there is the worldwide protest movement that has emerged since 1989; ‘People Power’ is a major force for good and an advent for substantive change. At the same time over the past 35 years or so there has been an explosion of what we might term ‘unexplained happenings’, described by many people as ‘miracles’. A taboo subject in a materialistic world which consigns wonder and mystery to the dark ages, yet, given the nature and scale of the phenomena, one that warrants acknowledgment and open-minded consideration.
In spite of widespread cynicism statuettes of deities weep – olive oil or blood – Hindu Gods across continents drink milk; patterns of light appear on buildings in Europe, America, Canada and elsewhere; enormous, intricate crop circles fill the fields of southern England; crosses of light adorn the windows of homes in America, New Zealand, India, Australia, Germany, Japan and the Philippines; huge star-like objects that move, change shape and color radiate the heavens, and sightings of UFOs are at unprecedented levels, something governments have not failed to notice, but consistently deny: Both The New York Times and The Washington Post recently ran stories about a $22 million US Department of Defense program entitled the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a five-year ‘black budget’ program to investigate UFOs.
These seemingly disparate threads are connected; they constitute alternate signs of and varying responses to the times we are living in, which are unique in many ways. We are witnessing the collapse of a civilization and the painful birth pangs of a new order. And whilst the responsibility for meeting the challenges of the time rests firmly with mankind, many share the view – albeit controversial – that we are not alone in this work, that a teacher or avatar is once again amongst us, working behind the scenes, waiting for the right conditions before emerging into full public work.
‘Share and save the world’
From 1984 until his death in 2016 British writer and artist Benjamin Creme travelled the world sharing information about the imminent coming of a teacher. According to Creme the World Teacher – the Lord Maitreya, “descended from His ancient mountain retreat on 19th June 1977 and [is] now in the modern world,” His ‘point of focus’ as He calls it being the Asian community of London.
Maitreya’s name, whilst being widely known in the East, will be new to many in the West. He is the head and leader of the spiritual hierarchy of this planet – something else that will be unfamiliar to most people. This large group of perfected, enlightened men, consisting of Lords of Compassion and Masters of Wisdom and their disciples, have lived in the remote regions of the world for eons; their existence was made known by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky when, in 1875 The Secret Doctrine was published and the Theosophical Society established. This phase of the Ageless Wisdom was followed by the Agni Yoga Teachings (14 books, 1920–1941), penned by various senior members of the hierarchy (including The Call, by Maitreya), and transcribed by another remarkable Russian woman, Helen Roerich. Then came the Alice A. Bailey books, (written between 1919 and 1949). A large collection of teachings given by The Tibetan Master – a senior member of the spiritual hierarchy – and transcribed by Alice Bailey, a British woman from a Christian background. In The Reappearance of the Christ and The Externalization of the Hierarchy The Tibetan gives detailed information about the emergence of Maitreya together with a large group of His closest disciples, the Masters of Wisdom.
At specific times throughout history a teacher has emerged to share His wisdom with humanity, this cyclic manifestation is known in the East as ‘The Doctrine of Avatars’, in the West as ‘The Doctrine of The Coming One’. Many people await the coming of a teacher now, as ‘The Tibetan’ puts it in The Reappearance of the Christ, “for decades, the reappearance of the Christ, the avatar, has been anticipated by the faithful in both hemispheres – not only by the Christian faithful, but by those who look for Maitreya [Maitreya Buddha foretold to come at this time by Gautama Buddha] and for the Bodhisattva [for Hindus] as well as those who expected the Imam Mahdi [Muslims].” The Ageless Wisdom Teachings recognize these to be names of one individual – the Lord Maitreya; He holds the office of World Teacher within the Hierarchy and embodies the Christ Principle or Consciousness, the energy of Love – He is The Christ, the Lord of Love, another troublesome fact for many Christians, who may reject the idea.
Maitreya is a teacher for everyone, not a religious leader and does not want followers; He is not a savior – if there is a world savior it is humanity itself.  He comes, He says to teach the Art of Self-Realization, and consistent with teachers throughout the ages affirms that humanity is divine. Maitreya and the Masters will work openly with humanity, offering advice and guidance; but it is up to us to act and rebuild our world – and quickly, for as He has said, “time is short indeed for the reconstruction of our world along lines more befitting man’s [mankind’s] true role and purpose. My task is to show you the way, outline the possibilities only, for by man himself must the New World be forged.” Maitreya comes into the world at what The Tibetan describes as “a unique time in more ways than one,” a time in which “new ideas are occupying peoples’ minds and new problems require solutions.”
The ‘problems requiring solutions’ are immense, interwoven and pressing: violent conflict, environmental catastrophe and widespread stifling poverty, are the most urgent crises facing humanity. All are rooted in the outdated Neo-Liberal economic system, which dominates all aspects of contemporary life and dictates the nature of the political landscape, including foreign affairs and so-called development. However, the underlying crisis facing humanity is not a political or ideological one, it is a crisis of values, a choice between principles of goodness – sharing, cooperation, selflessness and unity – and the perpetuation of materialistic ideals, which encourage competition, greed and division.
In one of the 140 astonishing messages given by Maitreya between September 1977 and June 1982, He asks: “how can you be content with the modes within which you now live: when millions starve and die in squalor; when the rich parade their wealth before the poor; when each man is his neighbor’s enemy; when no man trusts his brother? For how long must you live thus, my friends? For how long can you support this degradation?” (Message no. 81, 12th September 1979).
Do we want to continue to ‘support this degradation’ – to allow children to die of hunger and malnutrition in a world of plenty, to perpetuate war and division, to maintain an economic system rooted in injustice, which fuels the commercialization of all aspects of life and the commodification of everything and everyone? Or are we ready for something new, for an alternative way of living in which social justice and true freedom are the driving aims; a world in which the needs and rights of all people are met irrespective of their incomes; a peaceful world at ease with itself that recognizes humanity’s underlying unity and encourages true individuality?
The millions of people, young and old, who have been taking to the streets expressing their collective will have made their choice: They want to live in a gentler world where all people are valued, where no child goes hungry, nobody lives in poverty, where peace prevails and the natural environment is respected and cared for.
Like teachers before Him, Maitreya speaks for the marginalized, hungry and destitute, the vulnerable and violated. He comes to inaugurate a more just world based on perennial values of brotherhood, tolerance, understanding and cooperation. Sharing, He says is the answer to many of our problems. “Share and save the world,” He counsels. Sharing the World’s resources, the wealth, knowledge and skills amongst the people of the world, would allow trust to be established; where there is trust, relationships flower and peace becomes possible. It is a simple, yet profound idea that flows from the recognition that humanity is one; that we all have the same needs, the same fears and the same rights: The right to a decent home, to nutritious food, good health care and stimulating education; the right to live happy dignified lives free from fear and uncertainty.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/04/13/a-civilization-in-collapse-the-dawn-of-a-new-order/
April 2018

Seeking Happiness Beyond Neo-Liberal Consumerism

Irrespective of nationality, religion, race, or gender; whether stinking rich, desperately poor, or somewhere in between, happiness is the one thing everyone is seeking – consciously or not.
The architects of the socio-economic system in which we live have devised a system that promises to satisfy this yearning. But instead of building a society at ease with itself, full of peaceful, happy people, collective discontent is fed, resulting in a range of mental health issues and in some cases suicide.
Happiness, according to the duplicitous devotees of Neo-Liberalism is to be found in the homogenous shopping centers of the world, the sterile holiday resorts and brash casinos. In things, in products and services that stimulate and excite: Happiness in this perverse paradigm has been replaced by pleasure, love exchanged for desire, choice substituted for freedom.
Echoes of happiness
Happiness that lasts is what we yearn for, not a transient state in which one feels the tingle of happiness for a moment or so, only to see it evaporate as the source of our happiness loses its appeal, or is exhausted — the holiday comes to an end, a relationship breaks up, the gamble doesn’t pay off, a new I-Phone or handbag hits the high street making the old one redundant etc., etc. We sense that a state of lasting happiness is possible but know not where it is or how to find it. The mistake commonly made, and one we are constantly encouraged to make, is to search for happiness within the sensory world where all experiences, pleasant or unpleasant, are facile and transient. The inevitable consequence of such shallow encounters with happiness is discontent and frustration.
Despite being repeatedly confronted with disappointment, instead of refraining from this never-ending quest, the searcher becomes increasingly desperate; a new relationship may be sought, a change of job or new home, more shopping outings, dinners planned, alcohol and drugs taken and so on into the darker reaches of sensory satisfaction and hedonistic indulgence.
Of course it is important to enjoy life, and yes, something resembling happiness is experienced on these excursions, but it is a happiness dependent on something, other people, and on certain elements being in place: take these away and the “happiness” very quickly evaporates. Such happiness is a mere echo of ‘True Happiness’, and one that carries with it conflict, fear and anxiety; this taste of happiness, functioning via the desire principle and the medium of the senses is relentlessly stoked by the exponents of neoliberal idealism.
The success of their divisive project, i.e., profitability, growth, development, progress, call it what you will, is totally contingent on consumerism and the act of consuming relies on and is the result of perpetual desire. To their utter shame, despite having a responsibility to create the conditions in which ‘True Happiness’, can be experienced, most, if not all governments collude with corporate man/woman to promote the unhealthy, materialistic values that are the source of unhappiness.
Desire is constantly agitated through advertising, television, film and print media; fantastical, sentimental, idealized images, of not just where happiness lies, but what love looks like, are pumped around the world every minute of every day. The aim of this extravagant pantomime is to manipulate people into believing they need the stuff that the corporate-state is selling in order to be happy. But happiness cannot be found within the world of sensations, pleasure yes, but not happiness, and pleasure will never fill the internal void that exists and is perpetuated through this movement into materiality. Pleasure is not happiness, nor does it bring lasting happiness, at best it creates a false sense of relief from unhappiness and inner conflict, a momentary escape before dissatisfaction and desire bubble up again.
Cycles of discontent
Nothing but discontent is to be found within this endless cycle of desire, temporary satisfaction, and continued longing. It is an insatiable, inherently painful pattern that moves the ‘Seeker of Happiness’ further and further away from the treasure he or she is searching for, creating disharmony and conflict, for the individual and society. Add to this polluted landscape competition and inequality and a cocktail of division and chaos emerges: Competition between individuals and nations separates and divides, working against humanity’s natural inclination towards cooperation, sharing and tolerance; qualities that were crucial in the survival of early man.
Competition fosters ideas of superiority and inferiority, and together with conformity, an image of ‘success’ and ‘failure’, of beauty, and what it means to be a man or a woman, particularly a young man or young woman, is projected and thrust into the minds of everyone from birth. One of the effects of this is the tendency towards comparison, leading to personal dissatisfaction (with myriad symptoms from self-harming to addiction and depression), and the desire, or pressure, to conform to the presented ideal.
At the root of these interconnected patterns of discontent and misery, lies desire. Desire not just for pleasure, but desire for things to be other than they are; it is this constant movement of desire that creates unhappiness and deep dissatisfaction. If desire is the obstacle to happiness, then all desire needs to be negated, including the desire for happiness. Perhaps the question to be addressed then is not what will bring lasting happiness, but how to be free of unhappiness and discontent.
In ancient Greece, where life was hard and happiness was widely believed to be reserved for those rare individuals whom the Gods favoured, Socrates (470 BC – 399 BC) proposed that happiness could be attained by everyone by controlling their hedonistic desires, turning their attention towards the soul and by living a moral life. His view finds its root in the teachings of the Buddha, who, almost 100 years earlier had made clear in the Second Noble Truth, that far from bringing happiness, desire is in fact the cause of all suffering, and further, that freedom from suffering and unhappiness is brought about when desire is overcome.
‘True Happiness’ is an aspect of our natural self; it will not be found within the world of pleasure and material satisfaction, comfort and indulgence. Such happiness is experienced when the causes of unhappiness are negated; when we cease searching, when we stop desiring. It is an inherent part of who and what we are, and, in principle at least, and herein lies the beauty and wonder of life, the possibility of unshakable happiness exists for everyone, everywhere, irrespective of circumstances.
October 2017
https://dissidentvoice.org/2017/10/seeking-happiness-beyond-neo-liberal-consumerism/

The Omnipresent Pressure to Conform

It was the school holidays and there were lots of teenagers in my local park. I sometimes spot them meandering home, but I rarely see them en masse as it were. Blind to the bluebells, peacocks and glories of nature all around us, they were glued to their palm-sized screens. What were they so engrossed in – some kind of game or trivial video, a map of the park perhaps, unnecessary given the proliferation of signs? Are they texting, e-mailing, or trawling through the Internet, or all of the above? If one did not know what these shiny seductive objects were, one might think that they controlled the person, rather than the other way round. And to a large degree they do.
For parents of teenagers, seeing groups of young people within a smartphone bubble, isolated from and, crucially, with no awareness of the environment around them or other people, is, I expect, commonplace. For me it was shocking. Equally startling and somewhat depressing was the herd-like behaviour. Where was the individuality here; has the uniformity of the high street or shopping centre, the café or restaurant, hotel or housing development infiltrated the minds of human beings, young and not so young? So it would appear.
There is tremendous pressure on everyone to conform to a particular stereotype, to be easily categorised as a certain type of person. The reasons are clear and predictably crude – to allow governments to build a database of who we are and what we think, and to enable advertisers to better target ‘consumers’. We’re no longer persons anymore of course, we’re vessels of consumption into which stuff, mostly stuff we don’t need, can be endlessly poured. The pressure to conform to a constructed ideal is perhaps most acute within youth culture; to look and dress in a particular way, act in a certain manner and want a specific lifestyle. Girls and young women are expected to be slim, beautiful, dressed in the latest high street fashions, which of course change with every season to maintain the consumer frenzy; they should be sexy and sexually active, glossy, as well as achieving high marks at school or University. For men or boys the predominantly macho image presented on TV, in films, video games etc., is perhaps even more prescriptive and inhibiting. The pressure is colossal: it is not accidental, and it is making lots of people, young and not so young, ill.
Independent thinking and creative exploration are key enemies of the forces behind this worldwide attack on true individuality, and so an assault on the creative arts is being waged in many developed countries. Under the spurious banner of ‘austerity’ and ‘fiscal responsibility’ – a set of far right excuses to justify decimating public services – funding to the creative arts; theatres, dance groups, Opera, ballet etc., is being slashed. The scope of work groups can offer is reduced, admission prices, already too high, increased, further restricting access to a predominantly elitist world. Education budgets are being attacked in many countries and art education (together with social science and physical exercise) in schools is the first to be axed or drastically reduced – despite the fact that it improves students’ academic results. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, “students who study art are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and 3 times more likely to be awarded for school attendance.” The problem with creative education from the point of view of those who want a drowsy, frightened population that won’t challenge the status quo too loudly or think of alternative ways of running society, is that it stimulates independent thought, allows for individuality and feeds anarchic discontent.
Conformity together with fear is the cornerstone of control, and the current education system in most developed countries drives both into children from beginning to end. Conformity and competition are built into the system; both are crippling and inhibiting, feeding fear, and conditioning the mind, not just for childhood and early adulthood but often for life. As Krishnamurti made clear in Education and the Significance of Life, “conventional education makes independent thinking extremely difficult. Conformity leads to mediocrity. To be different from the group or to resist [ones] environment is not easy and is often risky as long as we worship success…the search for inward or outward security, the desire for comfort – this whole process smothers discontent, puts an end to spontaneity and breeds fear; and fear blocks the intelligent understanding of life. With increasing age, dullness of mind and heart sets in,” and whatever fight there was in the man or woman to begin with is drained away.
Add to the inhibiting education environment in which many young people find themselves, a social media blanket of uniformity, mainstream media – TV, radio, crass gossip magazines, trashy tabloids and dishonest advertising selling a hollow materialistic life-style – and the many headed hydra pushing people to think and act in a certain way, begins to raise its ugly head above the sea of stress, self-harm, and suicide. The inability to express oneself’ naturally and freely for fear of being seen to be ‘different’, inevitably results in stasis of some kind, which may lead to so-called disruptive behaviour, or some form of disease, mental or physiological.
Of course we all need to live within the moral codes agreed by society, but psychological and sociological conformity has nothing to do with respecting the laws and traditions of a country: they are to do with control and fear, and with the rise of the right that is now taking place throughout the world, such suppressive methods are set to become even more intense. True individuality – the manifestation of our innate nature, not the distorted individuality that places selfish desire and ambition above the welfare of others, should be encouraged and fostered, and conformity in all its devious, pernicious forms called out and resisted.
April 2017
http://dissidentvoice.org/2017/04/the-omnipresent-pressure-to-conform/

 

The Choice of a Future Beyond Left and Right

Every day we are faced with numerous choices, some relating to practical issues and others based on more complex psychological demands – how to react, what to say and do. Whilst on the face of it choices appear to have been made, in the main we react habitually; many if not all of our decisions proceed from the past, and are in fact unconscious, conditioned responses to the challenges of the day.
The world is beset with a series of unprecedented inter-related crises: the urgent need to establish peace and the environmental catastrophe are the two most pressing issues facing humanity, for in both areas there exists the potential for widespread destruction and potential annihilation. Then there is the worldwide refugee crisis, crushing poverty, hunger in a world of plenty and obscene levels of economic inequality, – the grotesque consequence of an unjust economic system that lies at the heart of many if not all our problems. In tackling these issues choices are made, the decisions we make based on these choices determine not only the present, but how the future looks, and indeed if there will be a future for mankind and the Earth at all.
Politicians make choices based on one of a number of impelling factors: ideology, self-interest, corporate dictates and occasionally what they think the electorate want them to do. Trapped in a net of ambition and conflicting concerns they are morally compromised; lacking principles and any real vision they are unable to meet the challenges of the time. Hope rests not with the current political class, who are not trusted and in many cases are despised, but with the people, with us, and with the manifestation of that inherent goodness that lies buried within everyone.
Choices based on selfish concerns and false conclusions have led us to the very brink of disaster. They have created and fuelled an economic system, Neo-Liberalism or Market Fundamentalism, which has overseen the commercialisation of every aspect of contemporary life. Financial profit is its driving motive and primary goal, no matter the consequences to people or the natural environment. Excess is encouraged, sufficiency dismissed. Selfish choices flow from the materialistic value system promoted relentlessly by powerful corporations that own everything, and yet want to possess more, to exploit every last drop, squeeze the Earth dry, strangle all goodness out of humanity, until one dark day there will be nothing left.
Competition amongst peoples, regions and nations is a cornerstone of the system; it is a crude method of motivation that has infiltrated all areas including education. It results, amongst other ills, in separation and division, inhibition and conflict. The values promoted, which are poured into the minds of everyone from childhood, seem inescapable: selfishness and a lack of compassion flow from this materialistic root. Happiness, which has largely been replaced with pleasure, is to be found, we are told, in the artefacts of life made by the corporations.  The whole pack of cards rests firmly upon a foundation of insatiable desire and the endless consumption that it spawns.
Despite the surface divisions and separations that exist in our world at the heart of things humanity is one, and, consciously recognised or not, people instinctively know this to be true. It is out of recognition of this essential unity that our choices must now proceed, allowing new values to evolve, from which systemic change can occur. A kinder set of values, with what Pope Francis described in a recent ground breaking TED talk, as tenderness, at their heart. Tenderness, the pontiff stated, “is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous men and women. Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of solidarity, the path of humility.” ‘
Tenderness’ is a thoughtful choice of word, encompassing as it does kindness, gentleness and sensitivity to the needs and concerns of others; it is a quality that suggests a commitment to harmlessness.
A major shift in attitudes is required if we are to choose ‘tenderness’ in place of indifference, and overcome the difficulties that face us; a move away from crass destructive patterns of behaviour towards inclusive ways of living that promote cooperation, tolerance and mutual understanding and inculcate widespread social and environmental responsibility. Such attitudes flow naturally from the acknowledgement that we are brothers and sisters of one humanity and the recognition that we have a duty towards one another and indeed the Earth itself.
The choices before us are not narrow political or ideological ones as politicians would have us believe – such moribund constructs belong in the past – they are choices of values; the individual choices we all make, large and small – in what we think and say and do – will decide the path we will collectively go down. Choose to ratify the way of life offered by devotees of the neo-liberal circus by acting in accordance with their divisive doctrine and allow for the perpetuation of selfishness and greed; witness increased, potentially irreparable destruction to the ecological patterns of life of which we are an integral part, and see even greater levels of inequality, social injustice and conflict.
Choose instead to see others as ourselves, – their needs as ours, the natural environment in which we live as our homeland, its well-being and integrity our responsibility, and all things are possible. As Maitreya has said, “The problems of mankind are real but solvable. The solution lies within your grasp. Take your brother’s need as the measure for your action and solve the problems of the world.” This is a profound message, made all the more beautiful by its simplicity. It purifies motives and negates choice; the only choice required is the initial one, which says: I will do all I can to meet the need or needs of another, no matter how small that need may be or what it may cost me. Having made such a choice, inclusive values such as sharing, cooperation and understanding follow quite naturally, and with every action that flows from this simple choice, the sense of brotherhood grows. It is from simple acts of ‘tenderness’ – large and small – that solutions to the challenges facing humanity will be found, not in the duplicitous rhetoric of ambitious politicians.
April 2017
http://dissidentvoice.org/2017/07/the-choice-of-a-future-beyond-left-and-right/

 

Death. Readiness Is All *

It is the one great certainty in life – the shared inevitability for all humanity, and yet death and dying is rarely discussed. In the west and Christian countries more broadly it’s largely feared, pushed away until the body falls into fragility, the urge to rest becomes overwhelming and we’re no longer bothered. Then death becomes a blessing, a ‘merciful release’ as a dear friend use to say.
Loss and Grief
There has recently been a death in the family. She had been ill with secondary lung cancer for over five years. It was said to be terminal and so it proved. The average life expectancy with that particular brand of death is five years, so it was expected, by friends and family and by her – although not accepted. She leaves a devastated husband, three grown-up children and three grandchildren, as well as a frustrated mother and forlorn father.
Two months or so before she died she was rushed into hospital crying with pain across her shoulders and back – areas harbouring cancerous cells, causing furious speculation that the cancer was active, and death was beckoning. A month later and further painful episodes saw her once again taken into hospital. There is nothing more we can do for you, said the oncologist.
A slight woman, narrow-minded with a fierce grip on life, a fear of death and bitter fury at ‘God’, and what she saw as the injustice of her illness. ‘Why me?’ ‘I’m a good person, it’s not fair,’ she shouted at the beginning and throughout her ordeal. As if anyone, anywhere, deserves terminal cancer. God was banned from her funeral – angry to the last.
Her children are, according to their grandmother, shattered some four months on. The husband is back at work, but ‘in pieces’. They were an extremely close family unit, supportive, lives interwoven. All lived in the same rural town, saw one another virtually daily, were dependent, and had not faced the reality of death.
Desperate and determined to stay alive – “well, she’s got so much to live for” ­– she had endured nine courses of chemotherapy. Six is usually all the body can take before the vital organs break down. Hair came and went, immune system collapsed, concentration failed, memory slipped, but not her resolve to live, to beat it. In the end the hand of death gently raised her from her illness and freed her from her pain. Healed at last.
She would not discuss death, what it is, or might be, how to live with it, how best to prepare for it – psychologically and physically. Talking about it would acknowledge its existence and invite the possibility, which has to be excluded at all costs ; certainly she thought so.
Death is generally seen as the opposite of life; something hurtful that will tear us away from loved ones; from her husband and children, grandchildren and comfort. It is seen as separate from life, divorced from the daily process of living, is cast in the role of darkness.
Death and the Soul
Death – physical death, not psychological death – is viewed as the Great Unknown:  well ‘nobody has ever come back to tell us about it, have they,’ runs the argument in defence of ignorance. Death is routinely feared, thought of as unfamiliar, total ending for the atheists, or eternal heavenly salvation for the orthodox believer – and both images are as vague and abhorrent as one another.
But if, as is stated throughout the ancient and indeed more recent literature emanating largely from the East, it is true that we have lived countless lives (as both a man and a woman), and reincarnation, or the Law of Rebirth as it’s called, is a fact, a basic Law of Life, then the experience of death and the process of dying, whilst not remembered, is far from unknown, or unfamiliar, and need not be viewed with dread.
In order to understand a little of death it is necessary to establish the constitution of the human being, so we can determine who or what it is that dies.
According to a wide range of enlightened teachers and texts from the Upanishads to Maitreya and all points of wisdom in between, mankind is nothing less than a spark of the divine – we are the Self, “an immortal being,” Maitreya states. The Self is pure awareness and reflects itself as the soul. It is the soul, that through an act of service and sacrifice takes incarnation again and again we are told, until matter is raised up as it were and reflects perfectly the will of the divine.
The nature of the soul is consciousness; the soul brings consciousness to the physical vehicle, which consists of three bodies: a mental body, an emotional body and a two-fold physical – dense physical and etheric physical. Ramana Maharshi describes consciousness as “the screen on which all the pictures come and go. The screen is real, the pictures are mere shadows on it.” The mistake we make is to believe in and identify with the pictures on the screen, whilst failing to recognize the reality of the screen itself. We are immersed in the illusion and suffer as a consequence: trapped in Plato’s cave, even when the shadow play is pointed out as such – as it repeatedly has been, we refuse to give it up. Making fear of death, which will tear us apart from all attachments, inevitable.
The soul comes into incarnation with various plans, which it seeks to work out through the personality. In order to do this, the lower vehicle – the personality of the man or woman in incarnation ­– needs to be negative to the soul, something it fiercely resists. The personality wants dominion over the life, and control has to be taken from it. The process is, as the Bhagavad Gita makes plain, a tremendous battle, and is fought out over aeons.
We identify ourselves with this body, with this particular life, or incarnation, but the soul, which is the divine intermediary, sees any one life simply as an expression of itself at a particular point in time, an expression that is more or less successful in demonstrating its – the soul’s – purpose or plan; a set of primary intentions that are consistent with the plan of evolution as creatively held within the mind of the ensouling deity (or God) of this planet.
What or Who Dies
The soul brings life to matter, animates form, and bestows consciousness. It is the soul that also withdraws life – consciously and deliberately. When this happens the physical vehicle decays and dies. The life, what we think of as our life, in this sense is not ours at all, it is certainly not ours to take; it is the soul’s. The incarnation is the activity of the soul and it is the soul that decides when it will end. Any attempt to intervene and impose our own will is a violation of the natural process of life and death.
The agency of death is generally disease and illness of some kind, together with accidents and violent incidents. These are the result of the action of the Law of Cause and Effect – a benign, non-personal, non-judgemental law, which has nothing to do with man-made notions of reward and punishment. A basic Law of Life, hard to comprehend but fundamental; despite what appears to us to be the injustice of illness and the randomness of tragedy, there is no punishment, nor is there reward; there is simply the inevitable working out of the law, the consequential energetic effects of specific actions or causes. One such effect is death; through the transition that we call death, certain energetic patterns are resolved and the person is freed from the particular cause that resulted in, e.g., secondary lung cancer. The healing may well be the death itself.
Every day we experience death, or a mirroring of death, when we sleep. As Alice A. Bailey writes, people “fail to relate death and sleep. Death, after all, is only a longer interval in the life of physical plane functioning; one has only ‘gone abroad
’ for a longer period.” Death cannot take life; life cannot be taken, life simply moves from one manifest form to another, from one state of consciousness to another, subtler, more intense state.
Dying is really a process of withdrawal from the physical plane, through the emotional and etheric bodies to the subtler planes of existence – one or other of the astral planes, or one of the mental planes. Then, after a period of rest free from the demands of the physical body, the soul once again is drawn into incarnation and a new life begins. This is repeated until one needs not incarnate anymore, one is free from the pull of matter – one is liberated, adept. This process of incarnating and withdrawing, growing and learning, according to the teachers of mankind has happened to us literally hundreds of thousands of time. As the Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 2 Verse 27) says, “certain is death for the born and certain is birth for the dead; therefore over the inevitable thou shouldst not grieve.”
If it were better understood dying would no longer be dreaded as it so often is. Death, Alice A. Bailey relates, “can best be regarded as the experience which frees us from the illusion of form.”
In the end she went quickly and quietly, a minor ailment triggered the final release; all tension and anger subsided, peace enveloped her and fear was washed away.
March
2017
* Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Act 5, Scene 2.
https://dissidentvoice.org/2017/03/death-the-elephant-in-the-room/

Maitreya: The Coming One for all Humanity

Bombarded with one negative news story after another, many people feel a pervasive pessimism close at hand. Fear and mistrust, uncertainty, are some of the results. Debilitating conditions, which sap the joy out of life, and strengthen materialistic demands of escape: alcohol, drugs and endless consumerism, which in turn feeds climate change and ecological destruction.
Largely unreported by mainstream media, an extraordinary, albeit controversial story has been spread far and wide over the last 40 years, by Benjamin Creme: A remarkable man, he died on 24th October 2016, aged 94. He would probably have described himself as an artist, a painter, and although he continued to make artwork well into his 80’s, he will undoubtedly be remembered as the man who prophesised the coming of Maitreya the World Teacher.
Crème said his task was to “create the climate of hope and expectation into which Maitreya may emerge.” He did this by travelling the world, giving public talks and media interviews, writing books and editing Share International magazine. Millions of people heard his message, were inspired by the information, touched by his humility, humour and common sense. Many of course dismiss the story; those most offended are usually fundamentalist Christians, who have a particular view of Christ and a body of theological doctrine to defend.
In my experience Benjamin Creme’s information is completely true; his sources genuine, their counsel wise. It is a message of hope, which, if legitimate, constitutes the single most important event of our time, is deserving of our attention, and for the curious, open-minded investigation.
The choice is ours
From the early talks in 1974 Benjamin Creme repeatedly spoke of a world divided along two distinct lines, with two groups battling for the minds of men; seeking to determine how we live, what type of civilisation we inhabit, what values colour our societies. With each passing year the divisions have become more clearly defined, the advocates and alternative ways more visible, the choices before us plainly revealed.
Whilst subtleties exist, broad generalisations can be made and serve to define the nature of the choice: There are the reactionary, nationalistic forces, that seek to maintain the status quo and see the answers to today’s problems in the ways of the past. And standing in a different place, despite ‘the polls’ and outward signs, is a much more significant, if less politically powerful group – the majority of humanity. Social justice and freedoms of all kinds are championed; cooperation, tolerance and understanding promoted.
Maitreya will galvanise and inspire those calling for change; He will voice the concerns of the many, the marginalised and exploited, those living in destitution and stifling poverty, suffering abuse and crippling hardship. In message number 11, made on 5th January 1978 (one of 140 messages given between September 1977 and June 1982), He outlined some of his concerns: “Throughout the world there are men, women and little children who have not even the essentials to stay alive; they crowd the cities of many of the poorest countries in the world. This crime fills me with shame. My brothers, how can you watch these people die before your eyes and call yourselves men? My plan is to save these, my little ones, from certain starvation and needless death.”
He has not come to establish a new religion, nor is He interested in attracting followers; He is a teacher in the broadest sense ­– for all people. His core message is that humanity is one, and says that the answers to our problems are really very simple; “share and save the world,” he advocates. “Take your brother’s need as the measure for your actions and solve the problems of the world,” He counsels.
The Son of Man
Throughout the ages a teacher has come forward at certain specific times; “whenever there is a withering of the law and an uprising of lawlessness on all sides, then I manifest myself. For the salvation of the righteous and the destruction of such as do evil, for the firm establishing of the Law, I come to birth age after age,” Krishna said in the Bhagavad Gita (Book IV, sutra 7 & 8). Now is such a time.
All religious groups await their particular Teacher; Christians expect Christ – usually seen as Jesus Christ; Hindus look for Krishna; Buddhists await Maitreya Buddha, Muslims, the appearance of the Imam Mahadi – some believe He is already here; and Jews, the Messiah. Students of Esotericism, as Benjamin Creme was, understand these various titles to be different names for one individual – the Lord Maitreya, the World Teacher and Head of our Spiritual Hierarchy. He prefers to be known simply as The Teacher.
The existence of the spiritual hierarchy was first made known by Helena Blavatsky, author of Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine, published in 1875, and co-founder, with Colonel Henry S. Olcott of The Theosophical Society. She spoke of the existence of a group of perfected men, who, together with their disciples, form the spiritual hierarchy. This large group, Creme states, are the “elder brothers of humanity, [those] who have gone ahead of us in evolution.” They are, “the custodians of the evolutionary plan of planet Earth”, and have been so since the very dawn of time. The Hierarchy constitutes the “inner government as it were, of the planet.” They live in remote regions of the world, mountains, deserts and forests, far from the chaos, noise and pollution.
Following on from Helena Blavatsky’s groundbreaking work, from 1920 to 1941 another Russian woman, Helena Roerich, worked with certain senior members of the hierarchy and facilitated the writing of the Agni Yoga Teachings. Then came an extensive, highly detailed body of work transcribed by Alice A. Bailey, a British woman, from strong Christian roots. Bailey served as the amanuensis for one of the Adepts known simply as The Tibetan, from 1919 to 1949.
Details of the structure of the spiritual hierarchy are laid out in the first book penned by Bailey – Initiation Human and Solar, and in The Reappearance of The Christ as well as The Externalisation of The Hierarchy, we find information about the emergence of Maitreya. The works produced by these extraordinary women form individual parts of a series of inter connected, sequential teachings. Benjamin Creme’s writings and talks follow on, in planned order. The ideas espoused should not be understood as challenging existing religious notions or philosophical theories of existence, but rather as underpinning them.
The spiritual hierarchy is known by various names: the Great White Brotherhood, The Society of Illumined Minds, the Masters of Wisdom and Lords of Compassion, of which there are three. Maitreya is one of these Great Ones as they are known and, for the last 2,150 years (approximately) has held the office of World Teacher.
He embodies the Christ Consciousness, or Christ Principle – the energy of Love. Maitreya is, Alice Bailey relates, “that Great Being Whom the Christian calls the Christ; He is known also in the Orient as the Bodhisattva and as the Lord Maitreya.” He is the great “Lord of Love and of Compassion” as the Buddha was the Lord of Wisdom.” He is the Christ for this planet, a fact that many Christians will no doubt struggle to accept. He is the Master of all the Masters, and to Him “is committed the guidance of the spiritual destinies of men [mankind]. He is the World Teacher for this coming cycle; He is the Coming One”.
Humanity is One
According to the Ageless Wisdom, all the great teachers throughout the ages have come forth from the same centre – the spiritual hierarchy. Like teachers before him, Maitreya explains that mankind is divine: “I have come to teach the art of Self-realization, which is neither an ideology nor a religion, but benefits people of all religions and those who have none.” You are the Self he says, a divine being; “Suffering is caused by identification with anything and everything which is not the Self. Ask yourself, “Who am I?” You will see that you are identified either with matter (the body), or with thought (the mind) or with power (spirit). But you are none of these.”
On 19th July 1977 Maitreya descended from His Himalayan mountain retreat and came into the everyday world, Creme relates. In the years since, He has been gradually emerging stage by stage; a planned process that will lead to “the Day of Declaration”, when Maitreya will present Himself to the world via the media. This momentous event is thought to be very near; in a message given on 31 March 2016 Maitreya Himself said, “the time is close indeed when all men will recognize My face and respond, it is the truth…Soon humanity as a whole will awaken to My presence and will accept with all willingness the transformation of this, our world.”
The groundwork for His open work has been laid: His priorities and the seeds of His teachings have been given out, accurate forecasts of world events made, a plethora of miraculous signs, from patterns of light and images of deities that weep, to healing wells and moving ‘stars’ in the skies have been seen. He has appeared to individuals and groups – notably in Kenya in 1988 where he appeared ‘out of the blue’ during a service conducted by the healer Mary Akatsa in a shantytown in Nairobi. Over 6000 people witnessed the event, many where convinced they had seen the Christ and called out His name; Photographs were taken by the editor of the Kenyan Times.
Maitreya comes to advise and to teach: Benjamin Creme says that in the first place “we will find that he will lay the emphasis on the oneness of humanity, on the fact of the human soul, and on the need for sharing and right relationships. He will teach, again, the Law of Cause and Effect and its relation to the Law of Rebirth, showing the need for harmlessness in all relationships.” He will guide and inspire humanity, and, together with a relatively large group of His closest disciples – the Masters of the Wisdom, He will show the way out of the myriad crises facing humanity, encouraging a new imagination to tackle the systemic problems and the interconnected environmental catastrophes.
But we must be open-minded, ready for change and prepared to listen; we are the ones who will make the needed changes, not Maitreya or the Masters; changes desperately needed if we are to eradicate poverty, bring about social justice, save the planet and create peace. How, Maitreya asks, “can you be content with the modes within which you now live: when millions starve and die in squalor; when the rich parade their wealth before the poor; when each man is his neighbor’s enemy; when no man trusts his brother? For how long must you live thus, my friends? For how long can you support this degradation?”
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/03/maitreya-the-coming-one-for-all-humanity/
March 2017

Searching for Peace in a Troubled World

Throughout his Christmas message and in keeping with the hymn of the time, Pope Francis repeatedly called for Peace in our World. “Not merely the word, but a real and concrete peace” brought about by changing those attitudes, patterns of behavior and socio-economic systems that bring about conflict. Peace not simply in relationship to armed conflict, but peace for all people in a range of situations.
“Peace to our abandoned and excluded brothers and sisters, to those who suffer hunger and to all the victims of violence. Peace to exiles, migrants and refugees, to all those who in our day are subject to human trafficking. Peace to the peoples who suffer because of the economic ambitions of the few…. [and] peace to those affected by social and economic unrest.”
Ending War
If we are to find answers to the many crises facing humanity, we must first end conflict and establish peace, – within ourselves, our communities, between groups and nations. It sounds like a platitude but it’s the simple and urgent truth – we must learn to live peacefully together.
Since the ‘Cold War’ ended in 1989 violent conflict had been decreasing, but according to the Global Peace Index (based on: ‘the level of safety and security in society; extent of domestic or international conflict; and the degree of militarization’), in 2016 this trend was reversed, albeit marginally.
Terrorism, they found, is at an all time high, battle deaths are at a 25-year high, and the number of displaced people is greater than it’s been for sixty years. The ‘impact of terrorism and political instability’ measure was the area with the most severe levels of deterioration: Deaths from terrorism increased by 80% compared to 2015, with 94 of the 163 countries surveyed recording at least one terrorist incident, and 11 countries suffering over 500 deaths, compared with five the previous year.
In addition to the heightened terrorist threat, of significant concern is the US military build up in the South Asia Sea, where China is being encircled (see, ‘The Coming War On China’ by John Pilger). As well as the concentration of NATO forces in Eastern Europe, where Russia is being contained – or threatened depending on your point of view. Whilst American and allied nations paint China and Russia as the aggressors, such US sabre rattling is provocative and increases, rather than defuses tensions.
The Roots of Conflict
So in the midst of a world in turmoil and transition, what do we need to do to create peace? What are the causes of conflict and the obstacles to peace? In order to approach these questions it is essential to understand the relationship between society, in all its forms, and the individuals that make up society.
Is society and all that takes place within it, something separate from us, or, as the great Indian philosopher J. Krishnamurti repeatedly said, we are the world and the world is us; “our problems are the world’s problems.” It is a statement of fact that in many ways is self-evident; there is violence and intolerance within society e.g., because we ourselves are violent and intolerant.
Any change within the world is therefore dependent upon there being a change within us; “to put an end to outward war, you must begin to put an end to war in yourself.”  One follows, and flows from the other.
Recognizing the inter-relationship of the individual and society opens up other enquiries, chief amongst them what we might term agitation, or elicitation.
A multitude of qualities and tendencies rest within all human beings – some good, some not so good, and whilst we accept the logic of Krishnamurti’s assertion, it must also be true that the nature of the society within which people are living, its values, beliefs and methods, encourage certain attitudes and types of behavior. Therefore the ‘question of peace’, and how it can be realized, needs to be approached both from the perspective of the individual and his/her role and responsibility in bringing it about, and from an understanding of the collective atmosphere within which we are living, and how one impacts on the other.
Injustice and tension
We live within a world fashioned by certain structural constraints, political, economic and social systems (including religious), ideologically rooted, promoting certain values. Ideals, many of which, feed selfish attitudes of ambition, and self-aggrandizement that in turn strengthen divisions and engender separation. And is peace possible in a world where such attitudes are encouraged?
These systems have been designed in an attempt to order society, to exert and maintain control, and, so the models proponents maintain, to establish practical methods of meeting humanity’s needs. These needs are universal: Food and water, shelter, clothing, health care and education, all of which are decreed to be, not simply needs, but rights – Human Rights, and are enshrined as such (articles 25 and 26 UDHR). But, much like peace, these dedicated ‘Rights’ remain little more than pretty words upon a dusty page of exploitation and apathy.
In every country in the world such Rights are dependent upon the size of a person’s bank account. If you happen to be born into a poor family in either a developed or developing country, and/or are part of a ‘minority’ group, your rights will be denied or restricted; if fate decrees you live in Sub-Saharan Africa or rural India e.g., the chances are food will be scarce, housing basic, health care and education poor or non-existent. In contrast, if you are born into an affluent family, why the world and all that is in it, is yours. The wealthy live in complacent bubbles, and have little or no idea or indeed interest in how the majority of people exist.
The prevailing economic system has allowed for the concentration of wealth and with it political power, into the hands of a hideously wealthy elite, whilst condemning billions to lives of poverty and suffering. Income and wealth inequality is greater than it has ever been, a recent report by Oxfam revealed that “ the world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population [3.6 billion people].” Can there possibly be peace in a world where such inequality exists? 
This division of men, women and children based on money, privilege and social standing is totally unjust. There seems to be an assumption amongst the privileged that those living in the developed nations are entitled to be as greedy, selfish, rich and powerful as they like, whilst billions live in crushing poverty. Such inherent injustice is a cause of tension, resentment and
conflict – all of which run contrary to the cultivation of peace.
These feelings of hostility have been suppressed for years, for generations, but are now beginning to surface as anger and frustration directed towards systemic injustice, and governments that have constructed policies for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many.
Neo-liberalism is the inherently unjust and blind system – devoid of compassion. It promotes the decrepit idea that some are more deserving than others; some are entitled to live lives of excess whilst hundreds of millions literally have nothing. It pollutes democracy and relies on voracious consumption, which is poisoning the planet, for its survival.
Social injustice promotes separation and works in opposition to humanity’s underlying unity. It is one of the principle causes of conflict, and if we are to inculcate peace it is a poison that must be driven out of our world. This means we need to design new, just systems, which work for everyone; economic and political models that hold as their principle aim the goal of meeting the needs – addressing the Rights, of every human being.
To achieve this requires nothing more than the principle of sharing being firmly planted at the heart of human affairs; sharing of the world resources, including food and water, as well as the skills, knowledge and technologies, amongst the people of the world – based on need. Making sharing the guiding ideal of systemic change will allow trust to flower, and where there is trust peace becomes possible.
Change of Heart
In order for sharing, along with cooperation, tolerance and understanding, to fashion the political, economic and social systems and thereby create the conditions in which peace becomes possible, a major change in attitudes is required. A shift in consciousness that allows social responsibility and a new imagination to flower, because as Krishnamurti states, “to bring about peace in the world, to stop all wars, there must be a revolution in the individual, in you and me.”
A revolt against ingrained, selfish ways of thinking and acting is needed to bring about such a movement, and fundamental to such a change is the recognition that humanity is one.
We are brothers and sisters of one humanity, and when this underlying unity is sensed the focus on the individual self, with its various self-centered constructs, begins to fade. Harmlessness and responsibility for the group, which is humanity, is fostered, allowing peace within to grow. As the Dalai-Lama states, “what leads to inner peace is cultivating a compassionate heart.”
New systems that take the fear and uncertainty out of life, and unite people instead of dividing, will aid such a shift, but as Krishnamurti made plain, an economic revolution, “without this inward revolution is meaningless,” and would probably not take place. “For hunger is the result of the maladjustment of economic conditions produced by our psychological states: greed, envy, ill-will and possessiveness.”
An ‘inward revolution’ that recognizes our essential unity, dissipates selfishness and allows for peace of mind to quietly settle, will lead to a revolution in how life is organized, and will quite naturally lead to peaceful relationships within individuals, amongst communities and between nations.
January 2017
http://dissidentvoice.org/2017/01/searching-for-peace-in-a-troubled-world/

Civilization in Transition, Uncertainty and Opportunity

British filmmaker Adam Curtis recently released his new documentary ‘HyperNormalisation’. Brilliant in parts, this ambitious film reveals an image of a civilisation in turmoil. It shows how duplicitous, inadequate politicians have repeatedly deceived the public over the last forty years, and how their actions have caused increasing levels of chaos in the world, which they are unable to resolve.“We live in a strange time, extraordinary events keep happening that undermine the stability of our world,” the director declares, and yet, “those in control seem unable to deal with them. Nobody has any vision of a different or better kind of future.”
That we are witnessing a crumbling civilisation in terminal decline is certainly true. It is not, however, the end of the world as the prophets of doom would have us believe, but the end of an age or cosmic cycle, that of Pisces, and with it the collapse of a worn out civilisation, itself the product of certain influences. A 2,000 year-old civilisation increasingly dominated by an unjust, unbalanced economic system.
Decay in all we see
These are times of transition, of uncertainty and opportunity, as we move from one cosmic cycle, Pisces, into another, Aquarius. From one civilisation imbued with a particular set of ideals and values, into a new, potentially more just and peaceful way of living. The current structures – political, economic, religious and social – that govern our lives are dead or dying: they no longer serve the needs of humanity, and whilst politicians (because they are not directly affected) and their benefactors seem largely blind or ignorant to this fact, millions of people around the world recognise it and are crying out for a radical shift in approach and a fundamental change.
The economic crisis that started in 2008, and is, according to many economists and observers, yet to run its course, was perhaps the most severe symptom of systemic disintegration, certainly in the West. But instead of seeing the crisis as an opportunity to redesign the world economy, all efforts were made to save the banks and shore up the existing unstable, unfair system.
The neo-liberal model that politicians and the ruling elite were so terrified of losing is inherently unjust and has caused extreme levels of wealth and income inequality – both amongst individuals and countries; inequality, which continues to grow, concentrating wealth and with it political power, in the hands of fewer and fewer people. It is a model that sits at the poisonous centre of many of the world’s problems, from trafficking of persons to homelessness, armed conflict and hunger. It is an extreme product of the ideals of the past; ideals of individuality that have given the world a great deal, but ideals that have been distorted and perverted, encouraging selfishness and division instead of true individuality and mutual responsibilty.
Symptoms of decay and desperation are all around us, loud, ugly, and often violent. All forms of ideological extremism, religious, political and economic have increased, fomenting intolerance and prejudice, causing division, conflict and anger. Reactionary, manipulative rhetoric feeds intolerance and bigotry; dishonesty and mistrust is mainstream – ‘Post-Truth Politics’ abounds – and the space for alternative ideas, open-minded discussion and fundamental change is closed down.
In opposition, and in response to the emerging ideals of the time, growing numbers of people are uniting, organising and acting, these groups are mostly, but not exclusively dominated by young people. Many recognise the urgent need for systemic change, as well as the necessity for a shift in thinking in which we move away from competitive individualism and greed, to a realisation of our essential unity, and consequently greater cooperation and sharing.
Some have been expressing their frustration and anger at the polling booth. Brexit in the UK and the rise of Donald Trump in America are two prominent, and to many perplexing, examples. Actions undertaken by large numbers of people who feel ignored, exploited, and betrayed by corporate-aligned governments and the market driven policies they have adopted. By voting in these ways, and no doubt more will follow around the world, people are sending a strong message that change is what they want, albeit a distorted message inhibited by seeing such change in terms of manipulating the existing model.
Others have been taking to the streets: since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 unprecedented numbers of people, often but not exclusively young, have been uniting and demonstrating. It is a global movement, uncoordinated but connected, with common issues and demands: social justice, political freedom, an end to the power of institutions such as the IMF and World Bank, and to be listened to by arrogant politicians wedded to banks and corporate money.
The response of the political class and ruling elite, both to displays of ‘people power’, and the failure of politics and the economic system to meet the demands of the time, has been feeble and reactionary. Fearful of loss of power, lacking vision, imagination and understanding, politicians have resisted change, ignored the people and attempted to apply worn out remedies to patch up a dying system and maintain the status quo. “Rather than face up to the real complexities of the world [the politicians and financiers] retreated….” Adam Curtis states, and “constructed a simpler version of the world in order to hang on to power.” A complacent construct rooted in the past, which offers no solutions to the calamities of the day.
False World
The ‘simpler version of the world’ constructed by politicians and bankers, defines life in purely materialistic terms; it is a false and ugly place, where most people are consigned to second or third class living, and human dignity is squashed. An extreme form of capitalism, which the Indian writer Palagummi Sainath calls Market Fundamentalism, is the ideological framework of this divided world, where compassion is driven into the shadows. It encourages the worst aspects of human behaviour and has reduced us to greedy, materialistically obsessed individuals driven by selfish desire. Discontent, anxiety, depression, suspicion and hate are some of the myriad consequences. These in turn fuel a range of social ills from drug and alcohol dependency to suicide and violence.
This cynical view of life is in direct opposition to human nature and those inclusive ideals of goodness being championed by many. Within the illusion divisive values are promoted, competition championed, and everything is seen as a commodity to be exploited and profited from. It is an unsustainable ‘dream world’ as Curtis describes it, one that has “allowed dark and destructive forces to fester and grow outside, forces that are now returning to pierce the fragile surface of our carefully constructed fake world.” Forces of ideological totalitarianism, distrust and hate; forces that must be countered by tolerance, understanding, cooperation and compassion.
Such perennial values need to be at the heart of an alternative economic system designed to meet the needs of all, for food, shelter, health care and education. A system predicated on the underlying unity of humanity with sharing, social justice and environmental responsibility at its heart.
Building the New
Although on the chaotic surface the reactionary forces of the world appear to in the ascendency – the election of Donald Trump being the most recent sign – there is an unstoppable current for real change sweeping through our world. It is simply a question of when that growing force for good will dominate not if, because with each passing day the energies of the new grow, and the forces of the past weake
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Out of the debris of the old we will build a new civilisation, and whilst the responsibility to create a different way of living rests firmly with humanity, many believe we are not alone in this work. Consistent with what is known in the East as ‘The Doctrine of Avatars’, or ‘The Doctrine of The Coming One’ in the West, and as has historically been the case at such a juncture, a teacher and guide is close at hand. The World Teacher, by name Maitreya, foretold to come at this time by Gautama Buddha 2,500 years ago and awaited by all religious groups throughout the world – albeit under different names (the Christ, Krishna, Maitreya Buddha, the Imam Mahdi, the Messiah). He has been prophesised to emerge now together with a large number of his group, the Masters of Wisdom by writer and lecturer Benjamin Crème.
Maitreya, according to Crème, is emerging gradually, and will inspire us to construct a new and just world. A world where peace is a reality and war becomes a distant memory, where everyone has a decent home and nobody goes hungry or sleeps on the streets; a world where good health care and inspiring education is available to all; a happy world in which space exists to question and enquire, to explore the mysteries of life and to realise our true nature.
http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/11/civilization-in-transition-uncertainty-and-opportunity/

Is Something Amazing Afoot? Miracles and the Gradual Emergence of Maitreya

To claim that miracles even exist in our world, dominated as it is by materialism and greed, and to then speak of the imminent coming of The World Teacher, a Christ figure, who will inspire humanity to build a new and peaceful civilization, is to risk being branded a deluded dreamer. So firmly has cynicism and fear gripped humanity, so successful have the narrow conservative forces been in extinguishing any sense of wonder and open-minded enquiry that it is virtually impossible to discuss such fundamental, fascinating matters.
‘Impossible Happenings that Happen’
In Skopje, capital city of Macedonia, there is an 18th century church called St. Dimitrija’s. Its walls are adorned with magnificent fresco paintings that the passage of time had dulled and obscured. Not any more. In April 2012 the icons began shining with colour as if freshly painted. The murals are ‘cleaning themselves’; “it is really a miracle” – Father Dimce Mallinov told Associated Press. “It started Sunday [8th April 2012] in the central part of the iconostasis (a wall of icons and religious paintings), the golden colour is very visible and the phenomenon continues…first a red colour appears which turns golden…You can see the icons clearing up from top to bottom,” said the priest.
At the beginning of this year, January 8th and 13th, people in the American states of Hawaii and New York photographed what they saw to be nothing more than a beautiful sunrise. The photographs, though, document extraordinary images in the sky. Huge golden fiery crosses and enormous ‘angel like’ forms hovering on the horizon. Amy Langley, a former photojournalist, said the angel form “is only in the photo, it looked like a normal giant pink sun [when taking the picture].”
Freak occurrences, tricks of the light, natural processes, or something more magical and awe-inspiring that mean something – signs perhaps.
These extraordinary accounts are just two of the many miraculous happenings which have taken place over the last 40 years or so. Unexplained events that are occurring in ever-growing numbers all over the world, which many of us believe to be signs of the presence and imminent emergence of The World Teacher, – or ‘Coming One’ to use Christian terminology.
A teacher is expected at this time – albeit under different titles: Krishna, Christ, Imam Mahdi, Maitreya Buddha, – by all the world’s religions. According to the Ageless Wisdom these are, however, all names of the same individual: Maitreya – foretold to come by Gautama Buddha 2,500 years ago; who said that another great teacher, a Buddha like himself, would come at this time, by name Maitreya, and he would “inspire humanity to create a brilliant golden civilization based on Righteousness and Truth.”
The task of telling the world that Maitreya is in our midst has primarily fallen to British artist and writer, Benjamin Crème. He has been lecturing, writing and publicizing this most controversial and challenging challenge information since 1975.
Signs of Something Wonderful?
In order to establish a miraculous benchmark of some kind, it’s worth including the Oxford English Dictionary definition of ‘miracle’. It comes from the Latin miraculum, meaning ‘object of wonder’, and is described as ‘an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.’
According to Benjamin Crème, Maitreya descended from his mountain retreat deep in the Himalayas and came into his ‘point of focus’ in the world on 19 July 1977 – ‘like a thief in the night’ – and had been gradually emerging, step by step.
Since that time the scope, scale and number of miracles reported worldwide has grown exponentially; “extraordinary seemingly impossible happenings, but happenings which happen,” as Crème puts it.
Lets start just after Maitreya came in the 1980’s and attempt to chart some of the most significant miracles from that time onwards. We will miss most perhaps, but the point is to illustrate the staggering variety of unexplained phenomena and highlight the fact that amidst the chaos of extremism, social injustice and economic uncertainty, something extraordinary – unreported by a deeply cynical mainstream media – is taking place in the world, and is a cause for great hope.
Crosses of light began appearing in 1988 in California, and are still being discovered all over the world.
The first documented Cross of light appeared on 27th May in El Monte California. The Pasadena Star News carried the story, saying, “residents reported seeing a cross shining through a bathroom window of an apartment in El Monte.” Within days of the first cross being seen, 12 more crosses appeared around the Los Angeles area. Since then they have sprung up in Canada, France, England, Japan, New Zealand and the Philippines; as well as various states of America, including Knoxville Tennessee, where crosses forty feet tall suddenly appeared in the windows of the Copper Ridge Baptist Church. Hundreds have now been seen.
In a variation on this particular miraculous theme, on Easter Sunday 1991, a pre-digital picture was taken of a cross-adorned piece of glass in the Philippines, when the negative was developed, the image of a hand showed up in the glass.
Patterns of Light: beautiful patterns of light, without any discernable source started appearing on buildings and pavements around the world in the late 1980’s, and continue to adorn office and apartment complexes across Europe and America.
In the 1990’s stories about a ‘Mysterious Hitchhiker’ began circulating. A man, or sometimes a woman dressed, in white takes a lift, tells the driver that the return of Christ is imminent and, whilst the car is still moving, promptly disappears. During one month in 1990, a New Zealand newspaper, The Christian Challenge Weekly, received a dozen reports of “angels” taking lifts with Christians and informing them about the imminent return of Christ before mysteriously disappearing from the car.
There have been dozens of reported visions of the Madonna and many accounts of weeping statues and images: Since June 1981 to the present time, six children in the village of Medjugorje in Bosnia have been experiencing visions of the Madonna, who, they claim, gives them messages; Share International relate that in 1986, “an old Coptic church in a slum suburb of northern Cairo became a place of pilgrimage for thousands of Egyptians when numerous visions of the Virgin Mary were reported.” On 17th December 1996 a huge figure (two storeys high) of the Madonna appeared in the windows of an office building in Clearwater South Florida, and remained there until 2004, until ‘vandals’ smashed the panes of glass containing the head of the figure. “The iridescent figure became an international religious icon that drew hundreds of thousands of people,” reported the St Petersburgh Times.
In what is claimed to be the greatest global miracle, (i.e. one that occurred simultaneously around the world), the ‘Hindu Milk Miracle’ of 1995 saw stone Hindu deities ‘drink’ milk that was offered to them. “In temples and in houses and village huts, statues of the elephant-headed god, Ganesh, and Shiva, the destroyer, were drinking spoonfuls of milk,” The Independent reported in September 1995.
The Herald for Maitreya
The ‘purpose’ of miracles has always been to engender faith and wonder. The function of the hundreds of recent unexplained happenings, witnessed all over the world, is, Benjamin Crème makes clear, to act as signs of the presence of Maitreya. To create a sense that, ‘something extraordinary is happening’, and thereby cultivate a state of expectation and hope.
In December 2008 Crème announced the latest and potentially most spectacular ‘sign’: “four great ‘star-like’ luminaries of gigantic power”,
would, he forecast, be seen throughout the world. The purpose of these ‘stars’, is to act as ‘a Herald for Maitreya’, in a similar way, but this time seen throughout the four corners of the World, as the ‘star of Bethlehem’ did at the birth of Jesus.
It “looks like a star,” he relates, “only bigger and brighter and nearer, tremendous brilliance and changing colour and moving, but it appears as a star.”
Beginning in Jan 2009, and continuing until today, sightings of these ‘stars’ began being recorded. The ‘celestial phenomena’ have been seen changing size, colour and shape, and moving; behavior that suggests these beautiful, unexplained objects in the skies are not real stars – which, as we know are set in space millions of miles from earth, and certainly do not move, or change shape.
Sightings have been reported from Norway, Costa Rica, USA, Ukraine, Japan, Britain, Turkey and scores of other countries. Video recordings have been taken and up-loaded to You Tube, newspaper and TV reports published.
Proof or no proof
Clearly lists of unexplained happenings prove little or nothing: skeptics will question them, cynics dismiss them. Those cited here are but a small selection of what is a seemingly endless catalogue of miraculous events that have occurred over the last forty years or so: events that at the very least demand our attention and open-minded investigation.
By themselves these ‘impossible happenings’ do not confirm the view that many of us share, that the World Teacher is in our midst, but taken in conjunction with other significant events: the worldwide social movements calling for freedom, justice and social unity, for example, as well as the various sharing initiatives and widespread environmental awareness, suggest that something is afoot – a fundamental change of some kind. A shift in consciousness we could say – slow but growing. A movement away from the selfish individualistic approach of the past – still prevalent, but waning amongst large groups of people – to a way of thinking that places the needs of the many above the endless desires of the few. As Maitreya Himself has said, “there is a growing sense of hope, a likelihood of change, a response to My Presence, creating thus a point of stillness in the tension.”
The emergence of Maitreya into full public work is an event of profound importance, and far-reaching significance; depending how humanity responds, it could, and hopefully will, inspire us to transform life on Earth. Creating, under His guidance, nothing less than a new civilization, a simpler yet infinitely richer life; a just and fair world in which, as Maitreya states, “men can live in peace; can live free from fear of themselves or their brothers; free to create from the joy in their hearts; free to be themselves, in simple honesty.”
http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/03/11/is-something-amazing-afoot/