What if the frontier on which we must forge a new path is the inner frontier? What if the broken, shattered, and destructive systems which have enslaved us are every bit as much outside as they are cages within our minds, daily disrupting our ability to autonomously self-regulate? What if the rifts in the fabric of our being were tears to which we could lovingly attend with care, instead of cowering beneath like one of Cyclops’s sheep? What if we took back the image of perpetrator, untied ourselves from the role of victim, and sought healing within the blessed confines of our own bodyminds? What if the collective sleep, the one which lulls us into worthlessness while simultaneously stoking the incessant fire of desire, were alchemized in your very bones, instead of villainized, demonized, weaponized as everything wrong with the World At Large?
I propose an inner work revolution. I say that the revolution will not be externalized.
The systems are broken. We have known this. We have known this at least since that campfire you sat around with your friends that one time, when you sang songs and passed around some beers and caught a glimpse of what a life lived close to the earth might look like.
We have known this at least since the invention of ADHD, a diagnosis which says even though human beings have been learning, growing, creating, and evolving for millions of years without a problem paying attention, the problem of attention must be a problem with you, you who are small and want expansion, stimulation, and play. No, the problem cannot possibly be that we are trying to take the full wavelength of your brightness and shove it into a shoebox in a column inside a larger row inside a larger concrete cell. No, the problem cannot possibly be that this model of education literally stunts your growth, the roteness of arithmetic the cultural binds which keep your being from ever finding its natural shape. No, the problem cannot possibly be that we care more about your productivity than your capacity for awe. None of those things could possibly be the problem, because the problem, quite clearly, is your inability to concentrate. The problem, quite clearly, is that you can’t sit still inside your shoebox inside your column inside your row inside your cell. This is your problem, not ours. Clearly.
The systems are broken. We have known this at least since our food was taken out of the ground, placed into glass test tubes and then tossed onto an assembly line. We have known this at least since our bodies, fed only with facsimiles, began to bloat and break down and crave literal poison in lieu of nourishment. Since the toxicity of our flesh began to infect the transmitters of our brains, our fundamental neurochemistry unassailably altered by the toxic concoction of swamp water flowing through our veins, while all the while the medical establishment chirps on about the erroneous disconnection between mind and body and nutrition is just a front word that advertisers rely on to sell whatever mono crop needs moving. We have known this.
At least since children being sold into sex slavery have we known this. At least since the steady erasure of the Old Growth forests, the coral reefs, and the systematic slaying of those kingly creatures of the wild which have survived only because of their deep fear of us. At least since mushroom clouds and concentration camps and arms dealers and wife beaters have we known this. Surely since then have we known this.
Surely since the culture became a killer and the dominant species was not human but robot. Surely since then, we must have known—didn’t we know?—the brokenness of the system? Did we not see the inherent flaw in medicating away the psychological symptoms of unrest which are actually just a perfectly natural experience of human suffering codified as pathology in a diagnostic manual? Did we not know that suicide should never, ever be one of the primary causes of death of a species? Did we fail to see the cracks in the notion that a life is only worth what it can add to the global economy? Or did we miss the fact that when a young man goes to a psychiatrist asking questions about god, and life, and death, and what it all means he’s given PROZAC and told not to question such things? That when a young woman tries to break free from the enculturated pathogen that her worthiness is only skin deep by controlling what she eats—her anorexia a small rebellion against the world which cannot accept her for the passionate being that she is—we watch in fascination as she wastes away, demonizing her for becoming the victim of a story that we ourselves perpetuate?
Did we not see the flaw in the thinking that family is equal to secrets, the wreaking ball of life which deals only in lies? Did we not see the disservice rendered upon our children when we taught them to sweep it all under the rug? Or the trauma in controlled normalcy?
You see, these systems are broken. And they have been. At least since the first Yapok tree fell in the Amazon basin. At least since the first septuagenarian paid to fondle an 8 year old Thai boy while on vacation. At least since the West separated from the Earth by declaring mind over matter, insisting that all wildness be tamed.
The brokenness of these systems is by no means a revelation. There is very little new information there. And railing against the systems is far from a new way of fighting.
These toxic rivers of consciousness will not become purified by fighting. We’ve been fighting. The cleansing needed now is of the psychic self, to rid ourselves of the polluted build-up from lifetimes lived believing the lie that we are anything other than intrinsically part of a whole. We must stop making it about the brokenness which we already knew existed, and turn instead toward tending the little corner of reality to which we can only ever actually tend, to saving the only voice we can only ever actually save.
I propose that it is through a profound, radical acceptance of self that we actually have a chance of coming out the other side of this thing transformed.
Because as these systems crack and crumble—as they already have been cracking, crumbling—there will be need of new life. If we each do not learn to meet the throbbing, living, life-sustaining substrate of our own unique being, how are we going to foster it in that which emerges on the other side of this pandemic? If we don’t know how to hospice the death of our own staunchly held falseness, how to root down into authenticity & divorce ourselves from addiction to pretending, how the fuck are we supposed to let the self-same falseness die in the world around us? If you can’t admit the truth inside you, will you be able to recognize it when it blooms in front of you?
This is why I say that the revolution will not be externalized. It’s time to seek within, to dive deep into the beauty & terror of our own individual psyches—separately but not alone, never alone—to alchemize the unfathomably destructive disconnection from Self which got us into this mess in the first place.
The revolution is one of connecting to Self, to That Which Is, so that when the time comes to rebuild the world in the small, painfully insignificant way that we will each be able to, we know from where to source its creation.