Living in truth

21/12/2010 § Leave a comment

“The object of the superior man is truth.” ~ Confucius

(This piece is a work in progress – just like its author…)

What is an appropriate response to the current insane society we live in?

We find ourselves in a difficult position, those of us, seemingly a minority, who know that economic growth is not going to solve the environmental, social, energy and economic crises that are heading our way. What do we do? Rant and rage at the system? Campaign for change? Seek to undermine the system in some way? We know we cannot simply submit to it – this is a sort of living death.

In my own contemplations, I have been inspired by many teachers and none more inspiring than Vaclav Havel, the playright, former dissident and eventually president of the Czech Republic. I want to share extracts from his essay “The Power of the Powerless” (contained in a book “Living in truth”) in which he describes the attitude of the so-called “dissidents” under the oppressive totalitarian regime in the former Czechoslavkia.

He suggests that the system itself can be seen as a product of the historic clash between dictatorship and the consumer society. There is a “general unwillingness of consumption oriented people to sacrifice some material certainties for the sake of their own spiritual and moral integrity.” He is referring of course to society in Czechoslavakia at the time (1978) but this could so easily be written about our own society.

“Living within the truth”, he writes, “is an attempt to regain control of one’s own sense of responsbility.”  Dissidents do not pursue systemic change – indeed, “they understand systemic change as something superficial, something secondary, something that in itself can guarantee nothing.” Instead they aim to serve life, not the system, “to say aloud what they think, to express their solidarity with their fellow citizens, to create as they want and simply to live in harmony with their better self.”

This fits perfectly with my own philosophy. I am tired of ranting, of blaming, of needing to see change. It is exhausting, unproductive and simply no fun. Instead I am resolved to seek, to live and to share my truth. This blog will bear witness to my attempts. I hope you will join me.

P.S. I note that my hero Gandhi gave his autobiography the sub-title “The story of my experiments with truth”. It is the same thing, is it not?

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