A New Opinion Column from Simon Dunster
It does sound like a good idea, to reduce the quantity of personal attacks and petty quarrels between contributors.
It’s been interesting to observe personal attacks and vitriol of some contributors for a long while. I have sensed a growing frustration, anger, irritation and competitiveness in some of the contributions being expressed in these pages.
Yet it is a common theme online everywhere – in newspapers and magazines, we humans seem to worship conflict and are motivated by a desperate need to express anger and unhappiness. Are we are losing the ability to empathise or try to understand other people’s views ?
Debate, discussion and an open exploration of ideas is being replaced by simple prejudice. It seems belief and faith are now all that matters. It is happening at the macro level in politics and this is a reflection of the problem at the micro level, between individuals.
The freedom and right to express anger is an old chestnut within Sannyas. It goes back to the earliest days, when Osho created dynamic and was surrounded by the therapists from Esalen and elsewhere. Over the time I’ve corresponded on the site some contributors have referred to the importance of this need to cathart in earlier years and some have defended their continued ‘ right or freedom ’ to do so on these pages.
In wider society too, ‘ political correctness’ has become so widespread that views that question, for example, evolution or religion or liberalism are almost impossible to get aired.
The BBC, for example can’t and wont explore subjects like UFO’s or examine any so called conspiracy theories around 9/11 without mocking those who raise them. It will never produce a program which investigates such matters, or allows the voice of those who think differently.
The question is why is this anger growing? Why are trolls so widespread online? Why is this reaction towards real investigation so strong and widespread?
It seems to me that Fear is at the root of the problem, fear that if we allow real debate we lose our sense of Self.
Indeed it’s our identity with what we think we know, with our sense of Self that acts a powerful emotional blockage to exploring ideas, that may be new to us. The self ( or personality ) is always identified with what it ‘already knows’, rather than exploring and discovering moment to moment.
We have all constructed this personality or self, with the help of parents, school and society, and it takes great determination and discipline and self awareness to see and change this.
Another feature of this knowing Self is a utter disregard for vulnerability. True vulnerability is the recognition that we don’t know anything. But unless we recognise and embrace our lack of real knowing, fear and anger arises. Instead we trot out well versed beliefs about this and that. No wonder we are at war.
This fear is the fear of being a nobody, a fear of being seen to be a fool. This fear is so great as to cause us to react impulsively, even angrily against those who are perceived to be the cause of our vulnerability.
As a result, we begin to identity with our opinions and prejudices and what we see as ‘ facts’, which are themselves almost always borrowed from someone else and are based on what we have been told, or read, or based on the views of some live or dead authority figure we choose to believe in.
On this forum one of the consequences is that we quote Osho, who was always contradicting himself, or we imagine we know what other sanyasins should be saying or doing. We argue about events that occurred years ago and we imagine what Osho might think about events and ideas that are new, and quite outside his experience.
- Whereas my memory of the man is that he continued to live as honestly as he could, and continued to explore and discover moment by moment, until the day he died.
His memorial could have read “ never knowing always discovering “