Development: Myth and Reality

0
116

Padraic Rohan’s Column

Padraic Rohan was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has taught elementary school and started an outdoor adventure not-for-profit organization.

Padraic Rohan’s Column

 

Development is an obvious part of life. We see a tremendous technological evolution throughout human history: our talents and skills (as well as the achievements of our ancestors) are applied to create something better, faster, more lethal or comfortable. We see the fact of human growth, with all its aspects, physical, mental, and the rest. Development obviously includes the organization of the community, the relationship of one person to another, the process of sustaining life: the relationship to the earth, to food, clothing, shelter; politics, religion, science, art, the relationship between one community and another. None of these can possibly exist in a vacuum.

 

This process is incredibly complex, involving the whole mystery of life, the depths of the self, Without an intense desire to understand this whole process of life, our skills, talents, possessions, and energy are perverted into something that contributes to suffering.

 

Most of us, as children, were distorted by various social and cultural conditionings. This is what you do, this is how you do it, and anything else is unacceptable, evil. And far beyond the blatant instructions, we imitate every behavior characteristic of our parents and community.

 

Indoctrination, conditioning is obviously necessary: how to eat, cloth, shelter oneself? How to protect oneself from very real threats “out there”? How to contribute to a life-sustaining community?

 

But it is a stark, bare fact that many of the huge forces that threaten our very survival have been created by us. Not the Muslims, or Americans, or capitalists, or Christians, Zionists, or any other silly, stupid, us vs. them worldview. We all live here together, we share this earth. And isn’t this crazed, violent stupidity, this ruthless oppression we all participate in, in our relationships, in the taxes we pay, the words we say, in our jobs, in what we do and don’t do; isn’t this largely the result of these opposing conditionings?

But it is a stark, bare fact that many of the huge forces that threaten our very survival have been created by us. Not the Muslims, or Americans, or capitalists, or Christians, Zionists, or any other silly, stupid, us vs. them worldview. We all live here together, we share this earth. And isn’t this crazed, violent stupidity, this ruthless oppression we all participate in, in our relationships, in the taxes we pay, the words we say, in our jobs, in what we do and don’t do; isn’t this largely the result of these opposing conditionings?

 

 

This is not to say that a child is a pure being totally enslaved by the environment. Greed, ambition, cruelty are all part of human nature. But this innocence, curiosity, zest…it’s not an act. They’re fully engaged, exploring, having fun.

This is not to say that a child is a pure being totally enslaved by the environment. Greed, ambition, cruelty are all part of human nature. But this innocence, curiosity, zest…it’s not an act. They’re fully engaged, exploring, having fun.

 

 

And it is this curiosity, this desire to understand, that is the beginning of real intelligence (which is the basis of anything worthwhile in art, religion, politics, science), not any fact or figure or intellectual theory or knowledge. What are we, where are we? Where did we come from and where are we going? We can’t know enough about our bloodlines, about our relationship to humanity, to the earth and the sky.

And it is this curiosity, this desire to understand, that is the beginning of real intelligence (which is the basis of anything worthwhile in art, religion, politics, science), not any fact or figure or intellectual theory or knowledge. What are we, where are we? Where did we come from and where are we going? We can’t know enough about our bloodlines, about our relationship to humanity, to the earth and the sky.

 

 

All aspects of our lives – education, eating, sleeping, sex, work, play, religion, politics – all of these can be and are perverted into addiction, distraction, and status-seeking. Constant alertness is required to notice these perversions.

All aspects of our lives – education, eating, sleeping, sex, work, play, religion, politics – all of these can be and are perverted into addiction, distraction, and status-seeking. Constant alertness is required to notice these perversions.

 

 

The word development has been distorted in many different ways. It is used to mask conformity, indoctrination into a community that equates human energy and natural resources with commodities. Development and progress are buzzwords in large-scale human affairs. Toys and tools, more, better, cheaper, faster, new and improved! Technology of all kinds – for warfare, communications, transportation, leisure and convenience, right down to basic needs – a monumental cash cow for monumental transnational corporations. It behooves us to question all assumptions, all desires. What do we really want? Where are we running to? Why? How?

The word development has been distorted in many different ways. It is used to mask conformity, indoctrination into a community that equates human energy and natural resources with commodities. Development and progress are buzzwords in large-scale human affairs. Toys and tools, more, better, cheaper, faster, new and improved! Technology of all kinds – for warfare, communications, transportation, leisure and convenience, right down to basic needs – a monumental cash cow for monumental transnational corporations. It behooves us to question all assumptions, all desires. What do we really want? Where are we running to? Why? How?

 

 

This is a blind course we’re following, motivated by fear, ignorance, the desire for pleasure, security, power. It feels to me like Nazi Germany in the 1930’s, plunging headlong into…what? What are we doing? Do we even remotely understand the cause and effect of our present actions? Collectively, all humanity, and in each of our own lives?

This is a blind course we’re following, motivated by fear, ignorance, the desire for pleasure, security, power. It feels to me like Nazi Germany in the 1930’s, plunging headlong into…what? What are we doing? Do we even remotely understand the cause and effect of our present actions? Collectively, all humanity, and in each of our own lives?

 

 

We cannot solve these problems by doing more, or differently, or adopting different beliefs of jobs or circles of friends. The only way to deal with these problems, subtle and gross, is through personal inquiry, reflection, meditation, or whatever you want to call it.

We cannot solve these problems by doing more, or differently, or adopting different beliefs of jobs or circles of friends. The only way to deal with these problems, subtle and gross, is through personal inquiry, reflection, meditation, or whatever you want to call it.

I hesitate to use the word meditation because so much has been made of the concept, the myth, the process, the levels. Various schools and philosophies have sprung up around this.

 

But it is a portal to reality, truth, god, or whatever; to be alone, silent, still, with a straight posture, noticing thoughts chasing each other, all of our mad creations, all this incredible beauty and ugliness and our reactions…what greater revelation?

 

“We will find again that which we never lost.” I forget who wrote this, but it describes the childlike nature that has been distorted so much.

 

Development is a fact. One does not need to put energy towards getting better, improving, achieving; in fact, I argue that this is a self-destructive course. Yet our most heartfelt hopes arise spontaneously out of the sincere desire to understand, the intent effort to discover what is really going on.

Padraic Rohan was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has taught elementary school and started an outdoor adventure not-for-profit organization.

Padraic Rohan was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has taught elementary school and started an outdoor adventure not-for-profit organization.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here