Choice and “The Good Life”

We are always trying to change the outer condition, in order to change the inner condition. We are always doing this with very little success for our quality of life. We develop mechanisms to save time at work and at home, so that we will have more time to live “the good life.” However, we rush around day to day, we buy the new thing, because the old one is obsolete. In our society, there is immense anxiety, in part, because we have accepted endless choice in the place of freedom. Endless choice in inane matters is not freedom, it is compulsion and madness.

The over-the-topness of our world often creates such remarkable tension, unhappiness, and a profound sense of boredom, in the first-world citizen, that it often feels preferable to lull ourselves into a hypnotic state, moving from entertainment to entertainment. The dominant aesthetic of this entertainment is instant gratification.  Our neuroses make it very easy for our choices to be driven by market influences, rather than our choice driving the market.

Under this aesthetic, all people, information, and activities are a commodity to consume. Even eastern spirituality is not exempt from this type of consumption, in many cases modes of spiritual materialism strengthen the capitalist assumption. We can see this in the proliferation of self-improvement methods that hit the market every day. In a frightfully uncertain world, this gives us the feeling of control and predictability, which adds to the first-world citizen’s false sense of security, and this only furthers our guilt for not fully engaging in the reality of our times. When one method of happiness fails, we seek the next, assuming it is the fault of the the method and not ourselves. So, our methods of escape and self-improvement are not successful, because they are born out of our cultural anxiety.

Transformation occurs by rigorous self-reflection, a capacity unique to our species, which peels away our layers of personal, cultural, and specie-al  identification until we realize our underlying sovereignty. We have to undertake this each for ourselves, because if we turn this task over to anyone else, we open ourselves to brain-washing that can lead to authoritarian abuse. In this sense we are not the victim of abuse, but rather, by our own actions, we have turned our brother or sister into the authority and given them the opportunity to abuse power, an opportunity humans have been known to take.

This line of thinking can be taken as a sort of victim blaming, but what I am talking about is the inward establishment of soverieignty, and I fully acknowledge that in some circumstances in our world that asserting this sovereignty is an offense, to certain parts of our society, that is punishable by death.

And of course it is our choice whether to take on such a task or not.

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