Self-Sabotage or Renunciation?

I’ll preface this with the caveat that it is very easy to kid oneself.

In Western society it is not uncommon for people to seek to self-advance. Get a better paying job, a more ridiculously expensive house, a posh car, a white picket fence “ideal” for show marriage, some power, perhaps a bit of social kudos, nice holidays, maybe some plastic surgery, fillers and some hair die. That way one can play advancement or keeping up with the Joneses top trumps over the dinner table.

“We went to St Barts…”

“Well, we had our own waterfront cabin in the Maldives.”

People like league tables and ranking.

At the moment the protagonist in l’étranger is being judged because he enrolled his mother in a care home and did not cry at her funeral. Society has a plethora of shoulds and oughts. {MS Word is even objecting to shoulds and oughts!!}

People use vocabulary like my battle against cancer and winning…

What is it that seeks this self-advancement thingy?

Is it the Soul?

Is it the socially conditioned, as yet not integrated personality?

Does self-advancement have any meaning whatsoever to the nearly eternal reincarnating Soul?

For a while, a long time ago, I worked at a competitive institution where getting a chair, a professorship, was one of the goals for many.

If you look back to the Bodhisattva’s Renunciation and see what Siddhartha did how would modern society judge him?

What a fool to give up his chance to be sovereign and rule in luxury! What a nasty piece of work to walk out on a beautiful wife and young son. And then to wander hardly eating, quasi naked in forest. Idiot!!

Surely this is an act of self-sabotage. Yes, it is! The individuating separative self, the I, the ego, may have wanted a life of luxury but something deeper and more profound was stirring in Siddhartha. It said no! Your purpose is to demonstrate and anchor on the physical plane the act of enlightenment. The self of Siddhartha was sabotaged, repelled and renounced, and his Soul led him on his journey. So, it was both an act of self-sabotage and one of renunciation.

People are very suspicious of anyone who renounces the type of thing that they are ambitious for.

I did, for a while, direct some transferrable skills courses for science Ph.D. students. Whilst I was still an academic, I never had any problems. But once I had resigned there was a kind of elephant in the room. I had walked away from the very thing that a number of them were aiming for.  It was not verbalised, but I could sense it. I was no longer credible to them. I was a stranger and heretic even.

One course turned on me and that was the end of that.

When I first read about Siddhartha’s renunciation it struck a chord with me. I walked out of a marriage, a now £1 million house and a young baby. I “gave” my shares in spin-out company I had co-founded back. I left a New Age group which I had poured my heart and Soul into, and I walked away from a quasi-secure job at a top university and all the power by association which that conferred. I sold my flat in London. For a while we lived at Squirrel Lodge, isolated in the middle of a wood. There are other examples of renunciation. I became powerless.

I did not from a socially conditioned view need to do any of these things. Many would deem these acts unwise, silly even.

Until you renounce you do not understand how strongly you are bound. It never occurs how great the power over you is. When you have renounced you are a little bit freer. There are consequences a simple example stems from the lack of power by association. I wrote to an academic in India asking about a non-linear material. He never got back to me. I’ll wager if I had done so from the email address at my old uni. he would have responded by return.

Sometimes people have moments of clarity. I remember one pertaining to the New Age group, I was allegedly a leader of. When I wanted to do things bare, lacking in ostentation and simple, people told me to decorate my house, smarten up my appearance. I knew in that instant that they were heading in a different direction to me. They still wanted socially conditioned stuff and I was trying to rid myself of this.

The socially conditioned fear of missing out is the bedrock of modern slavery. Is slavery a harsh word or does it emphasise the degree of social compliance many are subscribed to? If self-advancement leads to the consumption of ever more matter, leading deeper into hedonistic materialism, is it really a good thing?

Here there is another form of self-sabotage. All those self-advancing people are sabotaging the very planet upon which we currently live.

And people think I am crazy…

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