Eastern Promises

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2 Responses

  1. Mihai says:

    Hard stuff here. Like you I lack any discernible solution to these problems- I even lack the descriptive ability that you displayed here in order to formulate the problem itself.
    I too am bound by the same contradictions. I am certainly enjoying today some comforts that were not accessible in the 90s, for example, and even less so to my parents’ generation…But I know that these added up comforts are what is killing us on the inside. We became complacent and forgot the One Thing Necessary.
    No, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t strive for material abundance and enjoy a contemplative lifestyle at the same time. It is an illusion to think that you can actualize all potentialities equally, at every level. To use an analogy: if you have abundant daylight in the lower hemisphere, you have polar night at the top.
    This would lead me into some other considerations regarding the nature of civilization in general, its archetypes and the fact that, from the beginning, it is indissolubly tied to a double-edged sword- one that defends and kills at the same time- the garments of skin mentioned in Genesis 3. But that some other time.

    Solution? In typical Eastern fashion I am inclined to respond: leave things as they are. But I know that it is impossible. Once you started down this road, you cannot stop mid-way. I sometimes secretly hope that things will remain just bearable while I’m alive and screw everything after that, though I realize that it is itself a nihilistic thought and besides things are changing so rapidly today that in a few years we might well speak of the “good ol’ days, two years back”- and I certainly do not hope for a quick death.

    Regarding what you said at the end about the western “civilized” man being just a surface appearance, I have an illustration. Some years ago, a friend was coming back home for holidays- by coach- and there was a German old couple on the same coach. He remarked that during the whole of the journey, they carefully gathered their garbage in plastic bags which they kept until they found a trash can where to throw them away. Once they were in Romania, they simply threw the trash on the ground without a second thought. My friend couldn’t resist so he asked them why they did so. Their answer was: “because here there is no one to punish us or fine us for it”.
    It speaks volumes about this superficial thing we call “civilized society”.

    PS: I hope that sometime during this life we can meet personally and discuss Eastern-related subjects- but not just the two of us- at least one bottle of wine will have to be in the middle. On my side, one can notice an increase of existential pathos, directly proportional to the intake of wine.

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