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Culture and Counterculture November 27, 2010

Posted by ekarlpierson in 21) Culture and Counter-Culture.
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PARTICIPANT: I have a difficult time with the idea of rejecting ideologies, authority, institutions, culture and so on. What would be left? What do we do, start a new society? Become total heretics like the Unabomber and move to a cabin in the woods?

WW: People seem to have difficulty with the idea of seeing differently and then leaving it at that. Must we jump ahead to society and behavior? We have developed a lifelong habit of methodology that is trying to find a cure, trying to find a solution through society and behavior. We want an exoteric solution to an esoteric disorder.

I’m not saying that problem-solving is useless effort. If we didn’t try the problem-solving approach, we probably wouldn’t do much of anything. What I’m saying is: see differently first, and then problem-solving can be a secondary thing. The problem-solving approach is usually accompanied by the struggle toward the ideal. We have an expectation based on the ideal, and the ideal either doesn’t come to fruition or we set up a new ideal to surpass the first one because it’s seldom enough.

I keep saying that I don’t like to give advice. Giving advice would be to jump ahead and try to force attitude or behavior. Don’t you think attitude and behavior would take care of itself if a person saw differently? Maybe if you saw things differently, you would see that much of the world and its chaos is not as chaotic as it has always has appeared to be. Maybe the real “what is” is not the “what is” that you’ve been seeing. Could it be that if you saw non-fragmentally you could respond or not respond as necessary without a dictated behavior? If you ran away from society or tried to build a new one, wouldn’t you be right back to square one, trying to do things backward again? We’ve talked about doing this backward, but we have a habit of moving back to that. Trying to change circumstances or behavior to affect attitude has been the world’s dismal foundering. Even when it appears to have been successful, and it could be argued that modern culture has a measure of success, people still have attitude problems and virtually no one sees differently. For that matter, society, which is another way of saying other people, for the most part doesn’t really give a damn about how you see things as long as you get with the program and exhibit the correct attitude and behavior.

How do we handle this duality? How do we handle our perception of the way things are versus our image of the good? How do we see the fallacies of the world, which are also the fallacies of self, without condemning, justifying, or changing it? Okay, I’ll give advice, but not advice as it’s normally thought of. Become a covert operative. Yeah …a spy—one who looks and acts like everyone else, but underneath it all it, you’re a sneaking spy. The awareness function must become a covert operative both outwardly and inwardly. No one else need know that you are doing this. Of course, if any one knows of it, it won’t be covert, will it? Throughout the vast majority of history, the only way one could study this line of teaching was covertly. To do otherwise could have put a person in grave danger.

It can be a bit fun to be a covert operative. You could attend the meetings of various organizations and pretend to be one of them. Political party meetings, clubs, churches, it really doesn’t matter. Churches are the most interesting to me. I participated in a Sunday school adult Bible study at a church that I had never been to before. After the class was over, I was approached by a couple of gentlemen who asked me if I would teach one of their Sunday school classes. They obviously had no idea that I was an undercover operative. I didn’t take them up on their offer.

Watch what the assimilated group members say and do. They’ll reinforce each other’s ideas of the world that none of them have thought of reevaluating. You’ll see them struggle toward the ideal, not having a clue that it is only an illusion. You’ll see them complaining and demanding and blaming who or what is at fault. On the other hand, they’ll quote the authority, feign sweetness, try to act so-called good, even blaming themselves. You’ll see the picture of man played out in the group. It’s really quite fascinating to see the way group members say and do things that match up with the three segments of the awareness function.

Back to the question of culture. Is there anyone here who’s old enough to remember the beatniks? I remember hearing about beatniks and asking my mother what they were about. She said they were people who rejected normalcy. It struck me as odd that they rejected normalcy, but then turned around and formed their own subculture and all looked the same. At least that was the way they were depicted in newspaper cartoons or television. The stereotype was that they wore black clothing, goatees, and black or horned rim glasses and maybe a beret. Stereotyped or not, there was a counterculture that was all their own. To a certain degree, they identified themselves as being different from the common crowd by their dress, speech, or activities. Someone couldn’t work as a Wall Street broker and be assimilated into the beatnik movement. What was the point of rejecting society if they formed a counterculture? My mother had a saying for such things. She said it was “jumping from the frying pan and into the fire.” I don’t think she realized what a great analogy she had come across.

The beatniks didn’t have all that much impact, but then came the hippie movement. It was a huge movement with much more of an impact, but they fell into the same trap. If people were to identify themselves as part of the movement, they had to adopt clothing, speech patterns, and mannerisms of the counterculture. It was easy to identify someone as a hippie or pseudo hippie, though I suppose they were all pseudo hippies. They traded one form of normalcy for another form of normalcy.

In both of these cases, the beatniks and the hippies, their mess was a result of working backwards. They saw that something was wrong with normalcy and culture, a view that I have no argument with, but they thought that changes in society and behavior were the answer. Society has its mores and taboos and they correctly saw that there were faults in them, but rather than seeing differently, they went for the fix. To them, the fix was complete sexual and overt freedom, social irresponsibility, drug use, no work, no contribution, no social organization. It was a huge mess. I’m acquainted with someone who lived in a hippie commune for a while. The experience was short lived for her because she said there were too many freeloaders who didn’t want to pull their weight. Work, after all, is an evil of the wicked conservative tyrants, don’t you see. The movement led to more problems that required more solutions that led to more problems.

I visited the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco when the hippie movement was turning chaotic. It was interesting to see the hypocrisy as the hippies were wearing watches that were sold by the businesses they rejected. They were driving cars, riding public transportation or bicycles that were made by huge manufacturing concerns that they despised. They slept in buildings and walked the streets that were made by large construction companies that they wanted nothing to do with. They accepted public and private assistance from institutions that were funded in the most part by hard working citizens.

Although I’ve given an extreme example with the beatniks and hippies, this is what happens when there is a spoonful of wisdom and a truckload of cure. A fragmented awareness will produce fragmented results. What do you think would have happened if the hippie movement worked out with so-called success from a social standpoint? Do you think they would have found the sought after happiness? Do you think that the elusive ideal would have turned out different for them than the efforts of the past?

There is another trouble with rejecting normalcy or culture and trading it in for counterculture. Here in the West we talk about conservatism and automatically equate that with right-wing ideas. We equate liberalism with left-wing ideology. In Russia and China where socialism and communism were entrenched for an extended period, communists were the conservatives and free enterprise advocates were the liberals. A classic definition of conservatism is “the ideology of those who want to maintain the status quo.” My point here is that when I speak of conservatism, I’m not necessarily talking about right-wingers. So …here is a catch with rejecting normalcy or conservatism exoterically. Liberalism becomes conservatism. When the communist revolution took over in Russia, the communist ideology was very liberal. Communism became very entrenched, very quickly, and soon became a new conservative ideology. Those who had rejected normalcy or conservatism for the sake of rejection were very soon faced with a sociopolitical system that was suddenly conservative. The new communist conservatism had rules, penalties, control, and cruelty that arguably could match the old conservatism. Joseph Stalin is believed to have killed 20 million of his countrymen in an effort to enforce his new conservatism.

PARTICIPANT: But that doesn’t mean that it always fails. The French and American revolutions seem to be for the best.

WW: Change occurs constantly. I’m not saying that change must always be for the detriment of humanity. That is ultimately an unknown, which is a subject that I can address later. I’m saying that there are unforeseen pitfalls when we reject normalcy and conservatism exoterically.

Look at our situation here in the U.S. As a young lad I couldn’t stand the phony displays of goodness and righteousness; the seemingly nonsense rules of conservative society; the taboos and rules that were imposed. Dressing in a conservative way was required. Bowing your head during prayer was a requirement. There was a list a mile long list of petty rules on up to major rules. Since that time we’ve had a gradual 40-year swing toward liberalism. The liberal advocates rebelled against conservative dogma with words of free love and freedom from the rules of oppression. Now take a look around at the rules imposed by liberals. Most of the conservative rules were not law, they were just understood. The liberals have invaded the legislatures and courts with their agendas insofar as now, certain words cannot be used, certain ideas cannot be expressed without legal action against the offender. Businesses hire experts to come in and instruct management and labor on the certain words that cannot be spoken and ideas that cannot be expressed. To violate the liberal rules could result in a serious lawsuit or prosecution. This is the result of the liberal promise of freedom from conservative dogma and oppression. More dogma and oppression.

I have an example of this that I really get a kick out of. Years ago, if you were to visit an auto repair shop, welding shop, or any number of other businesses, even the offices, you would commonly see calendar pictures hanging on the wall or on someone’s toolbox. They were often pictures of scantily clad women. The ultra conservatives didn’t care for it, but it was usually condoned nonetheless. Conservative women would just ignore it or look away. Look around at businesses today and you won’t see much of that. Do you think that’s because guys don’t like to look at girly pictures any more? Of course not! Liberal ideologies have imposed strict rules on such things under the threat of serious penalties. The liberal freedom that was sought after has turned into the new tyranny.

Fragmented minds make a fragmented society. Auto repair shops can’t have girly pictures, but you can order porn on cable or satellite. It’s against the law to stage a chicken fight, but it’s okay to put two humans, without boxing gloves, in a cage and have them beat the crap out of each other.

PARTICIPANT: I’m not sure of what you mean by exoterically rejecting something.

WW: I assert that to see differently, to truly see differently, one must reject an adopted culture or the culture of yesterday. This is something very different from behavioral modification or sociopolitical change. The esoteric rejection is an end in itself. It requires no time, no past, no future, no forced change. It requires no ideal, no duality. The exoteric pursuit, the world pursuit, which may include anything from meditation to behavioral methodology to social and political activism, is fraught from the word go with idealism, conflict, struggle, and resistance, followed by disappointment and the emotions that go with it.

I’m interested in rejecting normalcy, authority, culture, and society in general. Can you go for a walk in the morning and leave behind the self and the heritage, culture, genealogy, and all that goes with it? Can that be done? Can a person give up that security? We live in a world of security and insecurity. Is it possible to live in a world of non-security? By that I mean, is it possible to be in a place where security and insecurity have no value? Does struggling with insecurity change the facts? Does struggling with insecurity bring about security? I may be more radical than any of the beatniks or hippies because I’ll go so far as to question the authority of my own yesterday or the authority of a moment ago. However, I saw the errors made by the beatniks and hippies, so I took my mother’s analogous comment to heart. I don’t want to jump from the frying pan into the fire. Perhaps there is another way. Work as a covert operative, in the world but not of the world.