Many times I get the creepy feeling that nothing is as it seems. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. The optical illusion in the picture above shows a human skull as the overall image, but if you focus on the picture, you will see a woman looking in her vanity mirror. Focus then unfocus. Interestingly enough, Zen Buddhism talks about human beings as having a choice to be either rational or aware beings. We can either choose to focus and reason, or we can choose to unfocus and be conscious. Being conscious means being aware. It simply means being. Being without no thought. Therefore, maintaining a consciousness above thought, not below it. According to objectivism and Zen, human beings have the choice of focusing or not focusing their awareness. To focus one is to unfocus the other. Coming back to Gilbert’s optical illusion, when we focus on the picture closely, we may observe vanity represented as a woman preoccupied with her beauty. However, when you unfocus, you see a human skull, a symbol that reminds people of their mortality. When we unfocus, we tend to see the bigger picture. When we are able to see the bigger picture, we can let go of our vanity, pride, and ego and see ourselves for who we truly are. Finally, I arrive at the understanding that I do not have a soul. Instead, I have a body, and I am a soul. “All is vanity” is actually a phrase from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Christian bible that refers to the vanity and pride of man. This is our ego. Our world becomes an optical illusion because our perception is based on reasoning and ego. If only we could see the world being fully conscious and aware, I bet the world would be a very different place.
Global and personal events that took place last year and this year led me to this point of inner dialogue. For example, the revolutions of the Arab Spring. At first, I was only too quick to support the protests as it fed my ego’s burning desire for a revolution. It also strengthened the identity that my ego had adopted as a pro-revolution/ freedom fighter/anarchist/ anti-government/anti-establishment/non-conformist type of person. I was consumed by my ego and overlooked the bigger picture because I lacked the awareness. My young blood thirsted for a revolution and a better world just as so many other idealistic, spirited souls out there.
Then one day, history decided to give me a little revision lesson. Looking back at history, we can start to see the old patterns re-emerging. The ugly truth is that, in fact, the CIA has fueled the masses in overthrowing their dictators just so that they can replace the stubborn and uncompromising dictators with a puppet that will meet all their demands. The U.S. has also covertly supported opposition groups in various countries without necessarily attempting to overthrow the government. For example, the CIA funded anti-communist political parties in countries such as Italy and Chile; it also armed Kurdish rebels fighting the Ba’athist government of Iraq in the Second Kurdish-Iraqi War prior to the Algiers Agreement. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_United_States_foreign_regime_change_actions
During the early phases of the Libyan air strike offensive, paramilitary operatives assisted in the recovery of a U.S. Air Force pilot who had crashed due to mechanical problems.There was also speculation in The Washington Post that President Obama issued a covert action finding in March 2011 that authorized the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and support to the Libyan opposition.Muammar Gaddafi was ultimately overthrown in the Libyan civil war.
Not long after the Arab Spring, huge protests, demonstrations and riots started taking place all over the world. In my country, Malaysia, there were also huge demonstrations taking place. Although by this time, I had gained a little more awareness about the business of revolution and the dangers of it, this did not stop me from taking part in these demonstrations. I did not think twice about standing up for my rights as a human and a citizen of Malaysia. In a country that claims to be democratic such as Malaysia, all the citizens were asking for was a fair and clean elections. However, the Malaysian government strongly opposed the idea of an independent committee of various NGOs to act as a watchdog. In other words, the Malaysian government was telling the citizens that they were not in favour of clean and fair elections. The government also refused to allow a permit for a peaceful demonstration so that the citizens could let their voices be heard. That was the first time I cried for my country, but only because we were sprayed with tear gas that stings your eyes and leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Thankfully I was armed with salt, a scarf, shades, and plenty of water.
When it was time for the next big demonstration, we were all ready to go, and we came back even stronger in numbers this time around. However, it turned out that this time, it was different. It was not as peaceful as the previous demonstrations. In the previous demonstrations, the protesters had remained peaceful although they were attacked by the police and authorities. Many people believe that there were impostors (people hired by the government) among the crowd that instigated violence and attacks against the authorities.
Anyway…this experience made me question whether these demonstrations were worthwhile. I do not endorse violence, and in such large crowds, violence is unpredictable whether instigated or not. Did it even make a difference anyway? Was it going to change anything for the better? Or was it going to piss off our draconian rulers even more and make life a living hell for us? Finally it hit me, it was only my ego. I still do firmly believe that we should stand up for our rights and protest, but these days I have different ways of protesting. I have come to the conclusion that huge demonstrations do not make the most powerful protests. The most powerful protests are the quiet ones that you practice as a lifestyle everyday. It is the decisions you make consciously every moment. Forget about the fucked up government. Don’t waste your energy getting angry and heated up. I refuse to play their dirty games with them anymore. Build a community and do your thing quietly and make the world a better place. The quiet revolution is the best kind 🙂 Shhhhh….don’t tell anyone : P
So what is this quiet revolution that is taking place? These days, I protest by working and living on organic farms. As much as I can, I refuse to take part in the activities of the materialistic consumer society. This is because I know for a fact that the root of most of the problems in our world today such as poverty and environmental destruction arises from consumerism. The idea is to become self-sufficient so that we don’t have to depend on corporations for our food and basic needs anymore. Corporation have ruined everything for us, and are destroying our world even as you read this lines. As you would have realized by now, politics is largely controlled by multinational corporations. And what’s the point in fighting for opposition anyway? The lesser evil perhaps? Is it worth the wrath of “democratic” dictators who don’t want to lose their power?
Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty. Plato
The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.