Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Society and Psychology

A comrade addresses our social problems by speaking at a meeting and opposing economic exploitation. A Zen trainee addresses his psychological states by facing a wall and understanding mental processes. These are responses to issues that are interconnected but on different levels, "outer" and "inner." The best people that I know include Party comrades and Zen trainees.

By meditating facing a wall, I realize that I have been almost completely wrong and mistaken:

insufficiently attentive to interpersonal and social interactions;
unempathetic and uncompassionate;
accepting and defending a belief merely because I had been indoctrinated in it;
thinking that merely abstract reasoning would resolve major issues about reality, society and morality;
entirely abstract and theoretical in outlook;
responding and behaving neither honestly nor spontaneously but in accordance with an idea of what was expected;
not addressing practical issues earlier in life because accustomed to someone else, adults, controlling and dictating (as an adult, I now fundamentally disagree with their beliefs and values);
not appreciating the value of study until a very late stage of education;
attending to issues that happened to interest me but not to other issues that were equally important.

I could have wound up as a celibate priest or bachelor and absent-minded academic. Fortunately, wider reading, marriage, family life, unemployment, political activity, other kinds of work, professional retraining and meditative practice, in other words life, intervened.

We can and must disagree about the state of society but each must attend to his mental states. I was brought up to confess sins to a priest or, in the absence of a priest, to God. I now think in terms of actions and consequences, not of sins (Buddhist, not Biblical, teaching), and attend to them myself although without any quick absolution.

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