Saturday, March 18, 2017

What do we really have?

Buddhists do not renounce all attachment.  For a very long time, they attach themselves to the Tripittika, the Triple Basket: the Buddha, the Sangha and the Dharma.

In theory, even this attachment does not endure forever, but as a practical matter, for most Buddhists it does.

Psychologically, there is no way to say to people "you can have this, trust this, place all your faith and trust in this, and then kill it."

Oh, life.

Perhaps you can say the first part, and then add: and when it changes color, and becomes smaller and less attractive, and when your inner world becomes filled with light and love, then you can leave it behind, as a vehicle which served its purpose carrying you across the water.

What interests me here is not the proposition that everything and everyone you love can be taken--this is obvious--but the idea that some things cannot be taken; or at least, that the taking involves a different level of misfortune.

We have all read the stories of people being captured and sent to concentration camps where they "have" flea infested clothes, tattoos, endless workpaindeath, and nothing else but their memories, and perhaps their hopes.

More sinister to me are the efforts to take from people not just their possessions, but their memories and beliefs.  This level of evil is unique to Communism.  Not even the Mongols would have contemplated that level of cruelty.  They simply enjoyed killing and taking.

So in this world, not only can your things be taken, but your very sense of self, too.  One can only imagine what brain-washing tools have been developed by psychopaths working on their own account for "the future of mankind", and in reality in service of primitive wounds they have no hope of healing or even remembering.

I was contemplating the other day that the lowest levels of evil require justification and dogma.  A psychopathic killer is an animal in a man's--more rarely, a woman's--body, but there remains a connection between the frontal cortex and what we might term "the predator's brain" in their viscera.  The frontal cortex negotiates pretending to be a socially connected human, and the viscera express to that person feelings of completion and the cessation of tension and anxiety.  Serial killers go through a cycle, one in which their acute sense of emotional disconnection is temporarily suspended when they commit an act of cruelty which is not evolutionarily disconnected, in my view, from a wild cat playing with its prey, then killing it.  Since this is always a temporary solution, they tend to repeat their acts, and, importantly, keep mementos.  This is a nearly universal trait among those who have been caught.

But to the point there is a connection between what is felt and what is thought.  They know what relieves the tension.  They have moments where they feel, relatively, good.  There is a connection between the social brain and viscera, where feelings and thoughts flow back and forth.

This is not true for ideologues.  I feel the conscious connection between the social brain and the viscera is severed, in a permanent act of dissociation expressed through abstraction, and invariably in the service of an ideal which uses words which are socially acceptable, such as justice, progress, and peace.

What this means is that ideologues are disconnected, consciously, from their hatred, their anger, their violence, their venom; ultimately, given the words they always choose to use, from their hypocrisy and soul-level dishonesty.

No wild beast commits mass murder for no reason.  We can watch a cat play with a mouse, but one mouse is sufficient for most cats for a while.  Then they lose interest.

I am losing my way here.  I am tempted to delete all this, but it feels important to me emotionally at the moment.  I am not completely sure why.  I am trying to reach the abstraction needed for mass slaughter.

Nationalism is in some respects tribalism.  But tribalism represents concrete connections with actual people with whom you share an historical and cultural and social connection.

What do we call the tribalism of the abstract?  How do we understand their crimes?  I can't go farther down this path at the moment.

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