The reason that ‘the system’ has so much power is that it is predicated on the need for armor, on the need to protect and look out for oneself (one’s self), if one is to survive. It makes it necessary to have armor on. The system protects itself extremely well this way. And since this society is expressly not oriented towards love and enlightenment, people do not know how to love. The ‘love’ that most people feel is not love at all but is something else—desire, lust, loneliness, blind passion, or any number of other things. People do not know how to love because they do not know what love is. They do not know what love is because love is not about ‘me’. And in this society, the self, the I, the ‘me’, is primary, and that which is ‘not me’ is secondary (if it’s thought about at all).
Those who (seem to) put others before themselves might come across, and think about themselves, as if they are selfless, but more likely than not, they are actually being selfish.
The only way to escape from this vicious cycle is to see that this duality on which we base so much of our philosophy, religion, values, and beliefs is quite possibly, if not probably, an illusion. To see the reality of this illusion is so fundamentally subversive to so much of what is today, that it is quite overwhelming. At least it is to me. The only way to understand love is to at least try to understand that real love ‘transcends’ this duality of ‘me’ and (or even more tellingly: ‘vs.’) ‘you’.
I want to try to be clear about this. What is the armor in the analogy above? The best way for me to describe it is that the armor is the ego and all that it spawns, meaning that it also has armor to protect itself not only from the world but—and this is complicated and important—from our true selves. This is why the analogy is not as simple as it might first seem.
I’m not saying we should all be hippies. Most hippies do espouse love, and I’m sure that many believe in the love they espouse, but I do not believe that most of them really know what love is, let alone know how to really love and be loved. Rather, most hippies (and pseudo-hippies) are products of their conditioning, like everyone else, just in a certain way. Underneath their own armor, they are the same as everyone else, with the same neuroses, the same human conditions, that require the right efforts to deal with and understand. As such, the point is not that I am saying that one should take off one’s armor, for that would be flippant. The reason it would be flippant is that to take off one’s armor is to ‘transcend’ one’s ego, and that is, quite complicatedly, the process of enlightenment, the process of self-awareness.
The reason it would be flippant is that while I know that this is the way to take off my armor, I do not really know how to do it. But, I do know that the first step is to understand what the armor is. How else can one possibly take it off?
As such, since the armor is the ego, hippies have just as much armor as anyone else—it’s just that the mask that their egos put on is one of ‘love’. And so the problem is even more complicated than it was before. Because not only do I know that to be happy I need to take off my armor, to live without the armor, and that if I take it off I might get stomped to a pulp, but also I have the problem that I don’t know where the damn straps are.
And that is sort of where I find myself now: fumbling for the straps.
But, I wonder what the point is of working so hard to find and undo the straps when, unless I want to go off and live alone on the top of a mountain, I will probably get pulverized when I do. I feel as if I have already had such a beating that I do not even really understand just how much of a beating I have had, and as such, I am still sort of reeling. I know this because of the sadness I feel, and how much I keep it at bay. Will I recover from this? I really do not know. I really don’t. And I don’t know the point of trying anyway. In the end, I am just a speck of a human organism on a planet out in the dark of space.
I know that part of enlightenment is understanding that I do not matter, but it is so hard to do that in this society when so many people do not understand what that means, and they fight against it because they need to feel that they do matter.
This is why the process of self-awareness can be dangerous, because there is not much support out there; there is, when you get right down to it, pretty much the opposite.
From my personal notes 8/13/00