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..:: The Battle ::..


Alan Schneider


“The meaning of life is that it is a Battle.  It always has been, and always will be.”

 - C.G. Jung -


            In many ways, this series has been the presentation of episodes of struggle – battles – that have been reported and represented through a wide variety of perspectives – spiritual, cultural, political, and psychological.  This essay will reflect on some of the features of “The Battle” that is perception and is manifestation outlined in some of these presentations. 

            The forces that have shaped the universe and our perceptions of it are obviously of the utmost power and potency, whatever their ultimate nature and purpose may be.   There is no clearer demonstration of this than the human organism itself, the end product of terrestrial evolution, and probably the dominant life form on Earth.  We exhibit boundless curiosity, elaborate and resourceful problem solving techniques, ceaseless effort, prolific reproduction, and iron determination when confronted with obstacles, great and small.  It is no wonder that we have swept away all other species – including each other’s lesser expressions – that stood in our collective racial path.   Such is the juggernaut of natural selection – once the mechanism of life was initiated on this planet, and the necessary biochemical chain reactions begun, the eventual outcome was inevitable – sentience coupled with motivation.  But, in the words of one great philosopher, “We have met the enemy, and it is us” – our stellar coping skills have brought us the brink of extinction through overpopulation and the utterly unwise and uninsightful exploitation of the planetary resource base, driven by universal greed and personal ambition.   We stand at perhaps the most decisive impasse that we have ever confronted – our own irrational, undisciplined, animal nature.   

            Somehow, we must surmount this impasse if any form of social progress is to be preserved today in the face of the enormous demographic and ecological pressures threatening humanity from all sides.   Somehow, we must surmount our fundamental animal natures in preference to rational discourse and intelligent recourse.   These essays have suggested a plethora of approaches to this challenge – conflict resolution strategies that are based on identifying and implementing an inspired win/win premise, alternative consciousness exploration and development that focuses on cooperation beyond competition,  enlightened views of culture, society, and social processes that stress love and compassion as primary bases of interaction, and the description of several practical, functional techniques for thinking and understanding before acting out of impulse, fear, hatred, or prejudice.   Yet, the animal nature remains a powerful tractor of perception and action as all-to-often random, chaotic conditioning continues to mold our consciousness and behavior in negative and counterproductive ways.   If “Only Love is Real” is indeed accurate as an observation, then the “phantom” of Fear must be a most potent and universal delusion, since it obviously drives so much of human thought and practice in the material continuum.  

            What this all comes down to so frequently is the ability to simply stop.   This includes stopping mindless, automatic functioning, stopping destructive and irrational behavior, thought, and belief, stopping prejudicial, hateful attitudes, stopping hostile interaction, stopping self-and-other defeating social practices.  If we cannot even arrest our internal and external processes, what hope have we of ever supplanting them with anything more positive, valid, hopeful, or – most importantly – enlightened?   And this is a daily challenge that we encounter minute by minute and hour by hour anywhere and everywhere in life – ultimately, we are called upon to break our negative conditioning and “take a giant step right outside of our minds” (Taj Mahal, circa 1968) at all times and in all circumstances.   Yet, this begins with simply stopping our habits and experimenting with possible new contexts of involvement.   Often, the act of stopping alone is sufficient to diffuse substantial wave fronts of fear-driven negativity.   If I cannot determine any other response to a problematic situation, I will simply suspend my interaction in it and leave the vicinity until my involvement has become more clear to me.   Thereafter, I can hopefully return with better tools to work on the issue, and otherwise, I at least did not cause additional harm to myself and the others involved by stubbornly persisting.            

            Another very helpful process in meeting the requirement of living authentically is maintaining a continuous perception of the root causes of the fear that drives and sustains the animal consciousness.  This is more or less instinctual, and consists largely of the fear of the strange and unfamiliar – the xenophobic response noted in a recent newsletter.   In the absence of any more valid perspective, we exhibit a powerful tendency to avoid the unfamiliar, or at least to approach it reluctantly with mistrust and suspicion.  Now, some of this is fairly sensible – there is a substantial amount of unpleasantness floating around in life, and those who have little initial comprehension of this fact generally end up acquiring it the hard way through negative reinforcement.   Thus, to proceed with caution is probably a sound practice in most cases of the unfamiliar, and to retreat or defend in the face of overt hostility is obligatory.   But, life – and the Battle of Life – rewards courage, and those of us who have learned to master our native xenophobia are often pleased to find new delights and discoveries in addition to, or instead of, new problems.   Yes, this is risky, sometimes extremely so, but nothing ventured, nothing gained is a very reliable observation.   Challenge your fears with courage and resolution.   

            Human organismic existence in the biological edifice of the body of flesh is very daunting – in spite of all of the theories of higher consciousness and all of the practices of enlightenment outlined in these essays, and the vast archive of spiritual literature on Earth, all that we know with certainty is uncertainty.   Although we can clearly observe the birth of a human being, very, very, few of us have any memory of our personal birth and neonatal period – the dawn of personal awareness is shrouded in mystery, as is so much of subsequent life and experience throughout the course of existence until the final mystery is encountered – the death of the physical body – to be followed by all manner of supposition, but no real information.   The fact of our ongoing existence is unclear as well – if we succeed in closely observing ourselves, we invariably find that the identity we had assumed to be ours is nonexistent – that we do not really exist in any absolute sense, but only as regions of tenuous, fluidic presence with non-determinate boundaries that seem to be issuing forth from a presentient condition that exists, but defies involvement and description.   This set of circumstances, even if it is not directly perceived or certified by the individual, is inherently frustrating and intimidating on many levels, and constitutes the essence of The Battle called life.  Yet, this is what we have to work with, and it is wise and well to make the best of our condition.  

            And this may be summed up as respecting and appreciating the mystery of existence through careful and caring exploration of its infinite number of facets, insights, and possibilities.   In this way, we can be as free as the physical constraint of the organism will permit – experiencing the blessing of sentience that so often appears to be a curse.   In this vein, please try to understand that every curse is a blessing in disguise...


                                                                                 - With Love, Alan -

                                                               (Copyright 2009, by Alan Schneider)


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