Posts Tagged evolution

The Impoverishment of Commercialization

Enda Cavanagh

What I treasure most about humanity is the incredible diversity found among us aa it is reflected in the biodiversity nature. Life itself, in its essence, is diversity; it is only in the process of death that all becomes alike. Life as a vital energy generates diversity and love embraces the vitality of diversity. Yet, when I look around me into the prevailing culture, I smell the scent of death rather than the scent of life. The prevailing culture engenders death rather than life. Death of body, mind and soul.

In today’s world marketing is everything. At the basis of marketing lies the concept of finding a market for your product and then to apply proven strategies to capture the market so that they will buy your product and not another. Underlying this is the concept of dominion, or the winner takes all. Marketing is the final stage of the process of commercialization and is derived from the Latin word merx (commodity; merchandise, goods).

We can indeed say that the world is in the final stage of commercialization. Just as there is nothing left in this world today that isn’t polluted just so there is nothing left in this world that hasn’t been commercialized. Everything is seen through the filter of “How much is it worth?” Even the most sacred of all human qualities – love – has been tainted by commercialization.

In his essay “Love and Need: Is Love a Package or a Message?” Thomas Merton comments that we are taught within the framework of competitive consumer capitalism to see love as a business deal: “This concept of love assumes that the machinery of buying and selling of needs is what makes everything run. It regards life as a market and love as a variation on free enterprise.”

His comment gives an insight into why it is virtually impossible to find unconditional love in this world. Commercialization makes everything conditional. It breeds insincerity and mistrust. Commercialization is the framework within which we are raised and is thus so deeply imbedded into our way of thinking that it will take a lot of digging to uproot its enmeshment within our psyche.

Dana Gioia laments the state of the prevailing culture; “When virtually all of a culture’s celebrated figures are in sports or entertainment, how few possible role models we offer the young. There are so many other ways to lead a successful and meaningful life that are not denominated by money or fame. Adult life begins in a child’s imagination, and we’ve relinquished that imagination to the marketplace. But we must remember that the marketplace does only one thing — it puts a price on everything.” In a recent survey done in England vitually all the children responded to the question of what they wanted to be one day, that they wanted to be famous.

The way commercialization impoverishes our lives is that it reduces everything to what will sell best. This of course directly affects biodiversity but it also affects creative expression. A reflection of this is seen in the wine market where the wine critic Robert Parker’s particular likes in wines have global effects. “As wines rise and fall on the basis of Parker’s judgments, and as producers respond to his presence, the industry worldwide is moving in an unexpected direction, toward denser, darker, and more dramatic wines.” (Ref) The production of wines now is geared towards what will be best received by the critic.

Creative output is tailored to suit the market, not the artist’s particular vision. With the result we are seeing less and less creative work that comes from the heart and more and more creative work that comes from a marketing campaign. Creative work that comes from the heart is still out there but we are less likely to encounter it because we are less likely to pick it up in the search engines which operate in a hierarchical way. Even in the blog world that once encouraged individual creative expression we are now seeing more and more work that are produced with the specific aim to get as many hits as possible, using specific recommended marketing formulas, rather than coming from the heart. Even spirituality has become a huge marketing campaign.

Commercialization has been around in some form since ancient days of trading. The big change today is globalization. Now commercialization is tailored for the global market or more specifically for tastes the biggest market. Before globalization more diversity was allowed to flourish because brand consciousness was more localized. Now everything is tailored to reflect what is most successful on a global level. “If you sing, then you must be able to sing like the best in the world or give it up.”

On a pure economic level there are of course countless examples of the devastation that global commercialization has had on smaller economies, of which Somalia is a classic example. Michel Chossudovsky summarizes in “Somalia: the Real Causes of Famine”
“While “external” climatic variables play a role in triggering off a famine and heightening the social impact of drought, famines in the age of globalization are man-made. They are not the consequence of a scarcity of food but of a structure of global oversupply which undermines food security and destroys national food agriculture. Tightly regulated and controlled by international agri-business, this oversupply is ultimately conducive to the stagnation of both production and consumption of essential food staples and the impoverishment of farmers throughout the world. Moreover, in the era of globalization, the IMF-World Bank structural adjustment program bears a direct relationship to the process of famine formation because it systematically undermines all categories of economic activity, whether urban or rural, which do not directly serve the interests of the global market system.”

Commercialization is of course rooted in our need for survival on the most basic of levels – survival of the fittest. Yet, if humanity is to advance in consciousness we must find another strategy for survival. Up till now we have even used the same strategy of dominion to bring about change in our social environment against “hierarchical domination.”

In her essay “Love as the Practice of Freedom” Bell Hooks concludes “that many of us are motivated to move against domination solely when we feel our self-interest directly threatened. Often, then, the longing is not for a collective transformation of society, an end to politics of dominations, but rather simply for an end to what we feel is hurting us. This is why we desperately need an ethic of love to intervene in our self-centered longing for change. Fundamentally, if we are only committed to an improvement in that politic of domination that we feel leads directly to our individual exploitation or oppression, we not only remain attached to the status quo but act in complicity with it, nurturing and maintaining those very systems of domination. Until we are all able to accept the interlocking, interdependent nature of systems of domination and recognize specific ways each system is maintained, we will continue to act in ways that undermine our individual quest for freedom and collective liberation struggle.”

A strategy that is based in the ethics of love rather than that of dominion is a strategy that is inclusive rather than exclusive, allows for us to live and let live. The reason humanity has not made much advancement in consciousness since the dawn of modern humanity is that we still apply the same strategy for survival as we did so many thousands of years ago. To evolve, to develop, we must first want to be different from what we are now. This is the first requirement of evolution.

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved with the same level
of thinking we were at when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

This way of survival is simply not sustainable. We have reached the zenith of this strategy. From this point on it will further impoverish us on every level, and rob us of all that we once held dear.

The worship of Mammon – Evelyn de Morgan


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The Success of Failure

Let me be like grass that had been eaten to the ground, but always grows again.
Let me be like a fountain that had been trodden into mudiness, but always becomes clear again.
Let me be like the morning red that always triumph over the darkness of the night…

Success and excellence are the shinning baubles dangled in front us as the ultimate of life’s experience. Even in most spiritual writing these days most is focused on excellence and success. “Ten steps to Success”, “Ten Steps to Lasting Happiness”, “How to get all you Desire” and so forth. If you look at the amount of literature available on those subjects and how many sales they have generated, then the world should currently be experiencing a boom time and the world should be filled with happy people. Yet, what we see in the world is just the opposite. How many people are experiencing an economic boom and how many people are happy? What is wrong with the picture that we see in relation to the theories? The empirical evidence seems to belie the theory.

The problem with most of these theories is that they depict only a partial truth. They show only a small fragment of the whole picture. Life is change; that which is without change, without growth is dead. To be alive means that we have to experience seasons of growth and seasons where everything seems to stagnate and even retrograde. We are also part of the whole and therefore part of the spirit of the times. No matter who or what we are, we will find ourselves influenced by a greater or lesser degree by the season that humanity find themselves in. No one is exempted from this, unless of course we have completely transcended our corporeal form. Furthermore if we are part of the whole we cannot be truly successful if a part of us is not successful, nor be truly happy if a part of us is not happy.

Contrary to what is often said success and excellence can only be measured in relation to something else. In other words, success is seen as relative to failure and excellence is relative to mediocrity. Even if you do not measure your moments of success or excellence against the excellence or successes of others, it still has to be compared against what you see as success or failure. Thus we are not practicing non-attachment. We will either be striving to achieve relative success or excellence and thus be attached to avoiding failure and be attached to striving for success. If we are attached to something we set ourselves up for disillusionment and no matter how successful we may appear in the eyes of the world, we will still experience failure in our own eyes. Success or excellence can only be experienced in a moment. Yesterday’s success is tomorrow’s failure, and yesterday’s excellence is tomorrow’s mediocrity.

I find it interesting that in tracing back the word failure it seems to root from the latin word “fallere”, which means to deceive. To be deceived is to given cause to believe what is not true and thus involves the belief of a misrepresentation of the truth. This is indeed what we perceive when we think we are a failure or when we belief that we are failing because we can only see the partial truth.

In the current spirit of our times failure and mediocrity is seen as the modern day leprosy. In the Western world we have little or no preparation, or guidance for the process of transformation. We enter our transitions from one phase of life to another with no real preparation. As a result we only learn through the school of hard knocks. Even in this we are told to avoid mistakes and failure at all costs. We are applauded for our successes, and punished for our mistakes.

Nicholas Molina, reflects about the irony of success in his article “The Failure of Success”

… Eighteen years of a lack of failure teaches Harvard students to avoid it at all costs; we become extremely risk-averse. Ironically, classes might teach about the risk-reward relationship, but students who are too afraid to fail can only understand the former part of that relationship after experiencing it … Even those golden children who sail through Harvard as they’ve sailed through high school fail, in a sense. They’ve failed to experience failure, and their education is impoverished as a result. I’ve learned, sometimes painfully, to accept that it’s not possible to achieve everything and that only when we risk failure, are great gains possible … In the end, I realized that the criteria I’d been using to judge my education at Harvard were all off the mark. Even if the lessons that will be most valuable in the next chapter of my life have been those I’ve learned outside the classroom, my time at Harvard has been well spent. My only regret is that I didn’t learn the importance of taking risks earlier. That’s probably the most important lesson of all.

We are not shown that our mistakes and failures can show us new opportunities, new undiscovered potentials, and we hide our failures in the recesses of our past. With the result, young people look at those who have succeeded and see only the success, and do not know what it took to get there. The pain of growth is seen in itself as a failure, a lack of strength, unworthiness. If a dark night comes upon anyone, we feel that either we are punished, or are just a failure, or that life is just cruel and unfair. We have no understanding of the process of growth. We do not know, or we have forgotten, that chaos is the very source of creation.

How we perceive success and failure is a dualistic view. In the holistic view of success itself, the view of failure plays an integral part. In our limited view, we do not see ourselves as part of a unified field and we do not see life as a constant process of creative evolution. Evolution is composed of two movements; progress and regress. Seen over a long period of time it is a wave-like motion which is like an incoming tide, every progress moving further forward and every regress receding less far backward. Actually each regress is making the foundation for the next progress. If we look at the each regression in the process of evolution in this light, we find that each regression is a secret operation of the next progression working itself out. In other words, each regression shows us which aspects within ourselves still need to be worked on. The same applies to success and failure, for it is through our failure that our ultimate success is worked out.

Failure is nothing more than the limit to which we can succeed in a given cycle of progress, and represents regress necessary before the next progress. Likewise, we may say that each success is the manifestation of the work accomplished during previous failures. Tau Malachi

When we therefore look at success and failure from a more panoramic view with a non-dual awareness there is no such a thing as failure, only a process of development through trail and error towards eventual success.

What we are experiencing in the world at present is a period of regress in our creative evolution. We are experiencing a period where we must look at our previous so-called period of success and see what within that period still needs to be worked on, and what within that period no longer serves or next step in our creative evolution.

I had a dream where I was talking to Wise man with a black Cobra on his lap. While we were talking he was stroking the Cobra and the Cobra had its mouth clasped on his hand. My attention was diverted from the conversation to this. He smiled at me and said, “It will not hurt you, when you approach it without fear, its mouth is just affectionately clasped on my hand, do you want to try it?” The Cobra looked so serene and affectionate that I thought it made perfect sense. In trust I held out my hand, but as I felt the hardness of its mouth enclose my hand, I felt fear in a fleeting instant. It coiled back and struck fangs into my outstretched hand. Suddenly I was alone and I looked at my hand, the two fang pricks clearly visible on my finger. It was already red and swelling.

I awoke with a gasp of breath, checking my fingers and I instantly remembered the ancient initiations where the initiate is given poison to drink, or indeed the lethal bite of a snake, to transmute or die. Illumination or death.

The apparent failure of our tests, our flaws, our weaknesses, is like the symbolic bite of the poisonous snake.

“The symbol (the serpent) serves to indicate the subtle nature of that illusory lower self which first ensnares the ego, but which ultimately proves the means of enlightening the evolving soul.”

Each stage of our growth contains the seeds of its own betrayal. Each one of us are born with a lethal wound, one that will either bring us illumination or will kill us. It is the way the Divine Trickster trick us into finding our own individual strengths, our unique voice in the Universe. Our wounds reveals themselves to us through our childhood environment, those limitations, those apparent shortcomings that we have to transmute, whether they be mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional. The form of our wounds is unique to each individual. We can ignore our talents and positive abilities but not our wounds, for if we do it will surely kill us.

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be”
Lao Tzu

We cannot operate in this world if do not have an identity – a beingness. From our beingness all our actions flow. Whether what we think we are is true or false we cannot function in this world without an identity. What we think our function is in this world, naturally also flows out of what we think we are. However, from time to time, through our living and experience, we discover that what we thought we were is not what we are. Even when we have Gnosis of what we are at a particular moment in time, the very Gnosis will result in changing what we discovered that we are at that particular moment in time. Discovering who we are is an ever evolving process.

When you understand all things
can you step back from your own understanding?
Lao Tzu

Our falling apart is an imaginal process, like the collapse of
cities and the fall of heroes in mythical tales – like the dismemberment
of Dionysian loosening which releases from overtight
constraint, like the dissolution and decay of alchemy…
Afflictions point to Gods, Gods reach us through afflictions.” –
James Hillman

(It is the process of our falling apart that I described in my series of the Dark Nights of the Soul)

It is human nature to reside in complacency unless something forces a change in us. In our urgency to find an antidote, a cure for our affliction, we are led deeper than we would have been if we just passed the test. Our very flaws can if we acknowledge it, be the cause of our evolvement. We are at a point of our evolution where we can become conscious creators and stop the mindless destruction we are currently engaged in, and live in synergy with our fellow men and all life forms on this planet.

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Disillusionment – The Dream Eater

No other monster has slain more valiant questers than disillusionment. No matter what the aim of your quest, if you are ever going to reach your goal you have to face this one. I remember with absolute clarity my first encounter with disillusionment, the place, what I was leaning against, and what was in the immediate environment, everything. I was shocked into brilliant clarity.

Where I grew up there weren’t any girls my age. So, my friends were the local boys. One had an elder sister who would sometimes come and talk to me. One day she asked me;” You do not believe in Father Christmas anymore do you?” “Yes” I said, “One year Father Christmas had normal pants and shoes on that I knew belonged my father; I then realised that there was no Father Christmas.” “Yes ” she said, ” Then you also know that there are no Easter Bunnies and no Tooth Mouse…” I promptly burst out in tears. “Is there really no Tooth Mouse…

I really believed there was a Tooth Mouse. Perhaps it was a happy coincidence, I don’t know, but one day the mouse did not come in the night. As soo as I checked my slipper and found my tooth still there, I ran to my parents room to tell them. They just smiled and said maybe the mouse was late. At that moment the cat jumped from the window sill and my parents said, “Ah, that must be the mouse now.” I raced back to my room and there were silver pieces shinning in my slipper. That single incident made me a true believer.”

My friend’s sister, seeing how devastated I was, apologised to me and said she was so sorry to bring me disillusionment.  Still, I was devastated. Is there no magic in this world; is everything just what it seems to be? I withdrew for a long time to deal with that one.

I deal with disillusionment by withdrawing for a while to my “cave” to contemplate things. If I lived another time another place I would have been a hermit living in a cave somewhere. Though, on second thoughts my curiosity would have drawn me out. Anyway, since then I had to face the Dream Eater on many more occasions.

There is no way that you can avoid disillusionment if you want to find the truth. For disillusionment clears away the fog of illusions. It stops you dead in your tracks and forces you to face the truth. It is vital for the process of maturation. Maturing as a person, maturing in physical goals, maturing in spiritual aspirations and not least in relationships. What one has to do is not to take it personally. This is however much easier said than done. For it is certainly not easy, not to take it personally when you are knocked flat. You were going so well, confident in your progress when wham, the wind is knocked right of your sails. At this point it is very easy just to give up completely.

You often see this happening when people go on a self-help course. First they are all fired up from the inspirational message but as time goes by reality sets in. They give up and try something else. It is not difficult to see this happening in relationships. What do you do when the honeymoon is over? In my country the initial euphoria of our union as a people was replaced with a general depression. Things did not meet our expectations. There was increasing violent crime, unemployment soared, the social conditions of the poorest of poor did not improve and some even felt they were worse off than before Apartheid ended. Many emigrated fearing for their children’s future. 

 In evolution there is always a progression and regression. It is like watching the incoming tide.  Every progress moving further forward and every regress receding less far backward. We can say that each regress is making the foundation for the the next progress. Thus, nothing gained in the former progress is lost in the process of a regress – the potential and ground of the progress is maintained, though hidden by the appearance of a regression. Each regression is a secret operation of the next progression working itself out. Likewise each apparent failure is nothing more than the limit to which we can succeed in a given cycle of progress, and represents the regress necessary before the next progress. Each success is likewise the manifestation of the work accomplished during previous failures and regressions.

 When next you encounter the Dream Eater, gracefully pick yourself up from the ground, wipe the dust from yourself and ask your wiser self; ” Do I still believe this dream is possible. Is it worth the price I have to pay? ” Remember that nothing worthwhile comes cheap, otherwise you would not put a high value on it would you?

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Stage Specific Unfolding

Each of us has a very individual path to follow. Although each of us is
uniquely different, we do share a very specific sequence of unfolding with
the rest of humanity. Take children for example; all over the world, no
matter what of what culture or circumstance, at more or less the age certain
changes are experienced in the unfolding, to prepare the individual for the
stage of growth.

The following is a brief summary of stage specific development as presented
by William Bryant – The Veiled Pulse of Time (Life Cycles & Destiny)
I have found it to be true in my own life and to those around me.

First 7 years of life – The trailing clouds of Glory: ‘growing down’, the
way the self gradually penetrates body and soul and enters mortal space and

7 to 14 years – from light to shadow: This period is ruled by feelings,
emotional expansion and awakening of intellectual activity.

14 to 21 – Flush of Independence: Feeling of self and sense of isolation
brings a need for community and the desire for relationships with opposite

21 to 28: the Chase of Experience: Psychological advancement now depends
largely on our efforts. – Digestion of outward experience becomes part of
inward self. This exploratory phase of life tempts us to taste the
bittersweet fruit of life. Our need for the emotional and intellectual food
offered by human relationships plays a major role in this period. False
paths and dead ends, but the exercise of liberty prepares the still-emerging
self for a greater challenge – destiny.

28 to 35: Adjusting the Course: A phase of contraction, and our
inward-looking self assessment primes us for the vital expansion towards a
life that now demands more exacting and thought-filled decisions in keeping
the emergent sense of self and our social responsibilities. We are forced to
reconsider our position: how and where do we fit into life? Are we on the
right course?

35 to 42: under Self-power: A subtle change in the quality of our mental
relationship to ourselves and to the world. The patterned methods of
thinking and reaction conditioning our intellectual connection to our inner
life and outer world are less satisfactory. The self-observer senses that he
is deeper and more enigmatic than he previously thought. This deepening
perception stirs new doubts and hopes in the soul. Our development, the
deepening of our humanity, is now a matter of fate or freedom – it is our

42 to 49: the Dark Wood”:

“Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
and piece together the past and the future,
Between midnight and dawn, when past is all deception,
The future futureless, before the morning watch
When time stops and time is never ending.” T.S Eliot

It is a time that challenges us to disperse the shadow of our psychological
past, which includes all the character weaknesses and imperfections
imprinted in our youth and reinforced throughout the years. It is a time for
change, for self-examination and self-acceptance, a time for truth, a time
to stop fooling ourselves

Bio 49 to 56: a second wind: Newly found self-reliance can reshape
lifestyles and relationships because there is the realisation that real
security resides not in things or other people but in the self and its sense
of purpose. Only by developing the capacity for change can we find

Bio 56 to 63: Reaping the harvest: All our experience, the reactions and
conflicts which comes to us by way of the external world, sinks into the
interior cauldron of synthesis. Experience is distilled and assimilated into
the self.

Yet within the sameness of stage specific unfolding also occurs the
individual characteristic unfolding that reveals each person’s unique path.
In this unfolding there are also stage specific unfolding, in this I have
found the 5 stages as presented by Harry R. Moody and David L. Carroll in
their book “The Five stages of the Soul”, the most accurate; The Call, The
Struggle, The Breakthrough and The Return or 1, Ethical training, 2.
Attentional training, 3. Emotional transformation, 4. Motivation 5. Refining
awareness, 6. Attainment of wisdom.

Of course many get stuck in specific stages and never progress beyond,
although points of crisis would always come along to nudge us along, but
even this can be ignored and result in a hardening, simply causing an
atrophy of ourselves. The choice is always ours.

So well do I know this, the layers of revelation. The layers of unfolding. The layers of revealing.The unfolding of consciousness. If there is one thing that makes me belief that there is a grand plan somewhere it is this perfectly timed unfolding.. The fortunes, the misfortunes in my life have had equisite timing, in guiding my revealing.

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