Consumerist Society and Radical Freedom
From a talk in 2007: A spiritual school is not a spa retreat where ego is comforted and pampered and made to feel everything is safe and "OK." In this realm of confusions, everything is most definitely not OK. A spiritual school is where one discovers, confronts and transforms confusion into wisdom and deluded actions into incarnate love. It's hard work, often not fun, but is also the birthplace of meaning, joy and deathless wisdom bliss.
We live in a consumerist society which believes it can satisfy itself, pleasure itself, politic itself, social welfare itself, consume itself beyond the touch of life’s great existential problem. It can’t and modern culture becomes ever increasingly jaded, cynical and aggressive in the ongoing failure of its attempt. The Soma drug of The Brave New World designed to produce a complacent citizen workforce is omnipresent. Seldom has there been more effective means of oppression than the passive fulfillment of manufactured desires. This is why authentic, radical spiritual and religious life is ridiculed—it is the single-most effective form of dissent there is. To become free of desire in a consumerist culture is the great taboo. To realize, in life, in flesh, in action, the freedom that is simultaneously worldly and divine, non-dual, is liberation from the tyranny of manufactured desires.
Stuff, things, thingness itself, comfort, security, wealth, power, romance, approval are all the bars of the prison wall. Both the need To Be, or a fear of Being, are the foundation of the prison structure. Gain and loss, praise and blame, fame and insignificance, happiness and suffering, success and failure, pleasure and pain, birth and death, wealth and poverty these all are the balance buttressing the prison walls. If the distractions of society, stuff, and relationships can make you forget that you are in prison, then sleep on.
Spiritual schools exist for those who know they are in prison. They exist for those who have not fallen for the con of society’s decorations on the prison wall—college, job, family, Christmas dinner. Before one knows they are in prison, they can not be helped. Before that point all so called spiritual life is merely another trinket, another ornament in conventional life with its tedious rounds unto death. At some point, the HeartMind understands the lessons of life and becomes an intense concentration on becoming free. It is only at that point that a spiritual school can help you. - small piece from a public talk, 2007