Sunday, 25 September 2016

Being ill-at-ease in the present moment

Do you ever suddenly feel compelled to:

-glance at your smart phone, to check the news perhaps
-eat some junk food
-drink an alcoholic beverage
-smoke a cigarette or marijuana
-watch TV
-catch up on social media
-play a video game
-get angry at someone
-take a opioid related pill of some sort
-drift off into a fantasy, perhaps about being rich and powerful

-purchase a commodity

If you answered yes to any of the above, you may be suffering, at least some of the time. Also, you are 'normal' in this day and age, where I say normal as in common or average. All the scenarios listed above originate from feeling ill-at-ease in the present moment. Engaging in any of the behaviors is a desperate escape tactic. Why would anyone not feel at ease in the present moment? And how do these escape tactics work?

Not feeling at ease in the present moment is an unnatural state that is conditioned by living in modern western neoliberal civilization. The basic unease can be caused by unresolved feelings from difficulties in childhood, yet rather than dealing with them directly through psychological or spriritual means, the system directs people to escape through distractions instead. Engaging in the distractions usually means spending money or consuming more media propaganda messages. People must be conditioned this way by the system because happy people who are at ease do not spend, and consumer spending is critical to prevent the economic system from collapsing.

People in our society are taught from an early age that striving and earning money with which to buy things is of utmost importance. This puts people on a hedonist treadmill that never ends, because people can never be satisfied for long with commodities. Finding satisfaction in things is the collective delusion our society suffers from. Real satisfaction in life is found outside of the consumerist system. But no one really dates mention that in the media, lest they lose their precious advertiser clients. The side affect of all this striving is unhappy people and a trashed planet.

Ingesting a psychoactive substance like alcohol or caffeine or any drug appears as a way to get into a more peaceful mindset. The mind says, "If only I had [this], then I would feel okay". As for consuming media images from a smart phone, or a video game, or a television program, it has a two-fold function of acting like a drug, and also distracting you away from the reality of your life. Having a daydream is along the same lines, although you provide the imagery yourself, rather than from a digital screen. Finally, getting angry at someone is in it's own category, though the fundamental function is the same. By getting all amped up about a perceived injustice, you generate a sense of pseudo-aliveness from the feeling of superiority over the target of your anger and the self-righteousness of punishing on them.

But why bother with these cheap temporary tactics that all have at least some negative side effects each? Just meditate on the fact that life is how it is, however it is. If you see life how it truly is, you are freed from a delusion of thinking it would be better some other way. You will be able to spend more quality time with your family as you will be less focused on escaping to your phone while you go through the actions in body only of being with them. You will save money by not needing to upgrade your computer to play the latest game. You will have less resentment towards you as people receive the brunt of your anger less and less often. The planet will get less polluted with packaging garbage if you stop trying to buy your way to happiness.

I would like to point out that it is not the necessarily always a sign of fearing the present moment to partake from the list above. For instance, if you go to your friend's house and he offers you a choice of craft beers, you would accept one gratefully not out of a desire to escape a feeling of unease. Some careful self-reflection is needed at all times though when accessing items from the list as to your true motive.

If you look at indigenous societies, there are little known instances of their having hard-core drug addicts or members who just wanted to watch plays or accumulate material possessions. They had a different ethos than us. Perhaps if we as a people change our ethos to one of appreciating the present, planning ahead less, focusing less on our material condition, striving less, and fostering relations more, we would lessen our suffering.

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