Not having what you want won’t make you saintly. If you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t, you might as well go ahead.
It is safe to say that both mortification of the flesh and the stock market crash are manifestations of something. We learn by testing. We learn by trial, and in the past there have been trials of all kinds. Now we are putting our trade on trial. People want to feel safe and will create risk to test and see if they are safe. When you test the flesh, you can see that there is more beyond flesh. For me, it was my juvenile seizures, for others it may be something very different. It is like the wounded healer phenomenon. Often, we don’t know how strong something is until it falls apart.
If we want to feel safe, why test the limits when we already know we are safe? We don’t already know we are safe, and we teach each other endlessly that an ally can become an enemy. That resources can run out. That all we cling to can end.
Even an animal biting his foot off to escape a trap is spiritual. It often isn’t in the animals best interest to injure itself further. It is also a classic flesh/beast reaction. I would assert that beasts have the same dynamics we do. That it isn’t the nature of flesh to mortify itself. The beast that seeks to free itself isn’t necessarily doing so for a biological reason. They are an elemental consciousness. None would deny that your house pet sees and can respond to you, and wants things potentially. Even in the case of it being a non injurious trap, even spacious and having a source of food, your cat can get depressed, and animals can and do often fight against that. Your pet can get hungry and will be very motivated to eat. We aren’t different. Humanity exceeds the animal, but is this necessarily a virtue?
There is a disconnect between the “human” mind, and between other parts of itself. For example, we have impulses. Animal mating instincts, and yet we are told they are evil. Pair bonding among animals doesn’t happen before sex. Mating rituals are to attract the partner for the act. They perform mating rituals before sex and after, but the pair bonding comes from mating.
Is it the fear of Sodom and Gomorrah that provokes such accusations that animal instincts are evil? Ok, using the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the human case it isn’t the alpha male mounting the gamma that was the evil behaviour, it was the tendency to obsess. To take instinct and blow it out of proportion. The human thinking mind elaborates literally everything and makes its own problems. Then makes more by calling the problems evil and insoluble and demonizing the source. Sending itself spinning off into reaches of insanity. Evil in general is a human notion. In nature, when something has gone out of balance, other life tends to marshal in its own interest to counter the virulent behaviour. There is plenty of evidence that is happening even now.
Remember Machiavelli going on about the man and the beast and how through logic both man and beast have their realm. Machiavelli’s insights into human nature were true and still prove true. When the human mind gives no thought to its inner beast, that is when the beast runs amuck. When we say “those impulses or that feeling are sinful or beneath thought” then in fact they reign supreme. Just because we won’t think of it doesn’t mean we won’t act on it. Beasts think, though not on a human level, even animal behaviourists now acknowledge that. Why not make informed decisions?
A human that abstains from instinct cages the beast. A person that lets the beast run wild contradicts his own logic and has no centre, but life tends to not work in straight lines. Those are neat models to organize thought, but truth tends to be beyond them. The wild beast as man nurtures it has grown rabid. Insane from restriction.
Does that mean we must become hedonistic? We become hedonistic as an addictive overcompensation, not as an expression of our inner nature. I tend to be a very instinctive person. It is one of the aberrations of being “autistic”, but after satisfying lust, I find I need to cuddle for the emotional bonding. Is satisfying lust evil, and should I abstain to seek only emotional bonding? Is denial of the emotional component of lust a virtue? If so why? Perhaps the evil is in the derangement of our natures, not in their essence. Perhaps all that talk of the bodies wisdom is true, but distorted under medicines and conditioning and their logical elaborations. I haven’t advocated embracing licentious behaviour. I am saying that the supposed need for license to do it at all creates the issue.
“Spirit” in the euphemistic sense is the energy or force that moves us and can move us beyond us. Thus why one might crave mortification of the flesh. We have the idea of control and we adopt it not from experience, but from conditioning. Instinct and reason can and do align. I consider those high points of spirituality.
One might see mortification of the flesh as just another way to reconnect with spirit. It can be, but here the Manichean heresy kicks in. In Native American spirituality mortification of the flesh is practiced because it was seen as part of going deeper into life and experience. It was the vision quest. In Christianity, mortification was seen as moving away from the flesh. It has been my experience that that is a delusional notion. It is ego masquerading as piety. Desperation. To deal with a sin or error that originates in the mind, not in the flesh. God created the flesh and said it was good. This is even written in the Bible.
Our suffering doesn’t arise from craving, even Buddhism doesn’t say that. It arises from attachment, a.k.a addiction. Trying to do without knowing. Right action comes from right knowing and seeing ourselves as we are. The Buddha practiced asceticism. He gave it up and didn’t start a campaign against it. He just focused on the insight over the practices, function over forms. I see a lot of cenobites in this world today. Cell dwelling monks, and the tight little cell they are living in is their own heads. Everyone screams “I’m so lonely!” in one way or another, but are willing anchorites. They set themselves where they are out of their own lives, and into a notion of the right life.
Should you be of the world or in the world? You should be in the world as it is in you. The air is in your lungs, the waters in your veins. The human world doesn’t even exist outside of our own heads. We desperately try to make it and it falls apart, and we weep when that happens. I say rejoice. Life is still strong and can overcome our insanity. As above so below, as within so without. This is why life seems so strange. We have what was already in us, and we have what we took in from society. Our original nature is still there and stronger, so we constantly have to rebuild the former. And we rail against god and our ideals because we have to.
Always live locally, wherever you move to. Then you live. I always live non locally, so I am always home.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.