Political Poetry

Is the appearance of democracy more important than the alternative — or shall we simply admit the truth? If manipulators really run things, then why not say so? What greater good is accomplished by a democratic facade? One obvious advantage for puppeteers is that they remain hidden while pulling strings. The people assume outcomes are their own doing, dutifully assuming full responsibility.

Sly cowardice keeps these foxes from standing out front to lead as they shield themselves behind voters. If we had a king, at least his head would serve as collateral for his performance. But these ravenous rats infest our hallowed halls making nibbles so small as to remain individually inconsequential — yet as a whole they’ve eaten the people out of house and home.

Cats of course! Bring in the cats! But where are you, democracy’s feline friend? Shall we the people be reduced to treacherous thievery, stealing scraps from one another as we all slowly starve? Nay, say it is not so! Oh guardians of democracy, we cannot even shout, for we are but the voiceless masses.

But what light through yonder window breaks? I see the tears of three-hundred million glistening in the rising sun. A resplendent glory shining so brightly as to illuminate every recess, exposing every shady happening. From our sorrow, we rise, floating atop a wave of briney brilliance. From such darkness emerges the sanctity of our institutions, no longer plagued by the pestilence of profiteering.

Oh humanity, thy time has come. Interconnected networks demolishing division and ushering in a new era. A time when the meek and mild shall inherit the earth, their voices now amplified to deafening strength. Cutthroat competition and condemnation collapsing under the weight of compassionate cooperation. The unison of a chorus calling out: We the people, indivisible, pledge to each other our lives and our fortunes — and by our unified power, do we ordain the establishment of liberty and justice for all.

Easy Enlightenment

Dear Rich, I don’t have the time nor energy to dedicate decades towards enlightenment, I want the good stuff quick and easy, please advise.

Dear reader, you’re right, it’s the modern era and people need 21-day fixes. Let’s see if this works for you. I’m not promising anything, but it’s worth a shot, so why not. And at the very least, perhaps it’ll inspire you to go further by the end of it.

First, you’ll have to prove that you’re dedicated to this task and follow the regimen I’m about to lay out.

Meditate twice daily for 20 minutes each, selecting times when you’re not sleepy. Sit cross-legged, arms resting lightly on your thighs, eyes gently closed, and breathing normally. During the exhale portion of your breath, mentally say the word “OM”, inhale, OM, inhale, OM. At many points throughout the 20 minutes you’re going to stop saying OM, notice this, and simply go back to silently saying it. Do this for all 21 days.

To further prove your discipline and dedication, you’ll need to go on a basic diet for all 21 days. The foods should include nothing but basic ingredients, nothing complex, just nutritious foods with simple ingredients. Serve yourself reasonable portions — don’t stuff, no second helpings.

Additionally, you’ll need to bathe your mind in the spirit of enlightenment. This is not a sales-pitch so you’re welcome to seek out alternate books, but I happen to have two short books of the type I’m prescribing (mine have the advantage of being brief enough to be read in a few days, are low-cost, and available in various formats — paperback, kindle, iBooks, etc). The first book should be about enlightenment itself (mine’s called Path to Enlightenment by Richard Lawrence). The second book should be a translation of the Bhagavad Gita (mine’s Bhagavad Gita by Richard Lawrence).

Attempt to attain a general awareness throughout the day. If you notice yourself feeling angry or anxious, remind yourself of the path you’re on, think of OM or the books you’ve been reading — return your focus to the path. Additionally, it’ll be easier to watch your thoughts if you write them down, so keep a daily journal throughout the 21 days. If you begin to write anything unpleasant, stop and ponder until you select something good to write about. Just stare at your thought-stream until something pleasant pops up.

And finally, regularly remind yourself of this belief: the Buddha was just a prince perturbed by life who simply sought a way to deal with his suffering. He sat in meditation until finally his dread disappeared. You can do likewise.

That’s it dear reader. Do that for 21 days and you’re sure to set yourself on a worthwhile path.

Perfect Politics

An excerpt from the fictional tales of The Gentleman from Massachusetts.

I often speak of perfect politics, idealized sentiments of democratic policy, yet that’s not what the people clamor for is it. Nay, the masses are stirred to action by puppeteers pulling the strings of division. Superficial issues are wedged between father and son, mother and daughter, neighbor and neighbor. If after a politician speaks outrage ensues, expect no productive act to follow.

A just government is formed by the consent of the people, and for such a government to function, civil discourse must be the currency by which representatives reach their common ends. These ends must at all times involve the prosperity of the people — all people. A government ignoring such ends by right need be altered or abolished.

Good government by its nature does not induce excitement. Government sets and enforces the rules by which the people play. If policies incite and divide the people, then those are not pure policies but tools of manipulation to garner power. There is much to gain for ravenous wolves who separate the people into digestible chunks.

A just government acts according to the will of the people. A politician painting a pessimistic narrative to pull the people down a particular path is no longer a representative, but a repressive influence. The people are not a herd to be led, but leaders themselves. Leadership by an individual is the very antithesis of democracy.

But the ignorance of the masses, you say. If this world consists of nothing but rot, then what worth is it, I say. Either you believe in the underlying goodness of humanity or you believe yourself surrounded by cutthroat thieves, I say. When people lack-not the common dignities of life, they choose right every time, I say. When the people are not induced to panic-stricken fear, they embrace one another, I say.

The rot of this world is not the people, but the idea of division itself. And to manufacture that division, opportunists use outrage. Pitiful bullies driven by insecurity selfishly take at the expense of others, coercing the world into a mold their immature minds can comprehend. Such tactics cannot be tolerated within a democracy.

In this instance, I speak not to the masses, but to the immune system, those guardians that appear only when sickness manifests. By their voicelessness and uncertainty, the people summon you to action lest they succumb. The people must be inspired to greatness, to utilize their own strength, to be brave despite their fear.

This is a time of transition in which the people must unite for the common good, ensuring that the advances of humanity do not fade away. Awaken dear guardians of democracy, establish that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Notes on Goodness

The foundation of goodness is compassion. The good recognize the pain of others and strive to alleviate that suffering even if it necessitates self-sacrifice. Goodness is forgoing one’s own comfort for the sake of another’s.

We can therefore judge society by this guideline. Do some prosper without regard for the pain of others? A society is good when it strives to reduce the suffering of all.

Privilege, the belief that others must sacrifice for the personal comfort of some, is the mark of a sick society. A society built around selfishness produces pain in excess.

What use is a world rooted in cutthroat thievery? It would be a blight amongst planets, a land unfit for living. Without compassion and self-sacrifice such a world would be hell.

The opposite therefore, a realm in which compassion and self-sacrifice reign, is heaven. The scared and confused take, the good give. The good society battles the idea of fear and educates in compassion.

It is immaturity to be inspired by fear. The good eschew fear, as they labor to lessen the load of others, this is bravery. To know joy is to facilitate the joy of others. Give and the goodness of life shall be given to you.

About Enlightenment

Four years ago I answered some self-imposed questions concerning enlightenment: Am I Awake. I will answer some more self-imposed questions now:

How were you introduced to enlightenment?

When I was but a small boy, I came across the book The Cat who went to Heaven. So at an impressionable age I was introduced to the Buddha. And when I got a little older I’d watch movies about “masters” that had crazy powers or amazing insight or unshakable discipline due to a spiritual awakening. We’re all seeking a bit of magic in our lives and enlightenment seemed a plausible window into the unknown.

You grew up irreligious, are you now religious?

As was the trend of the era and area I grew up in, I worshipped at the alter of scientism. Scientists were the new priests and scientific explanations existed for everything. Over time my faith was shaken and I abandoned scientism for unknowableness. I don’t like the idea of man-made religion — to me, the very Earth is man’s temple and every inhabitant a parishioner. As far as “God” goes, I define the term as the sum of everything, including that which lies beyond perception.

Is there more to this world than meets the eye?

After years of staring at life, I came to the conclusion that life is an artificial construct, it’s more dreamlike than anything. So yes, defining existence by what we can sense is severely shortsighted. I tried that approach for decades but found it logically inconsistent and prone to inducing anxiety. There’s just too much we can’t see, and pretending otherwise is as much a delusion as any other unsubstantiated belief.

Did you have any innate abilities that helped you along your path?

Like a natural athlete has some advantage in their particular sport, my innate tendencies probably provide an edge for enlightenment. For instance, I’m aloof while keenly observing the ongoings of life. It’s like being invisible: I’m present but no one notices, so external stuff doesn’t get in the way as much. I can also sit for very long periods in silence just thinking or watching. Additionally, mental discipline comes somewhat easy and I seem to have a capacity for understanding complicated concepts.

How did you gain the knowledge of which you speak?

I don’t know. I’m certainly not well-read. But over the years I’ve stumbled upon ideas that sound strikingly similar to ones I’ve written about, which leads me to believe that there’s a common well of universal knowledge that I’m drawing from. Explanations and answers just appear in my mind during moments of aha-like inspiration. If I have a question, the answer comes. And if I’m not doing anything in particular, lofty ideas start parading through my thought stream. Additionally, old-texts (such as the Bhagavad Gita or Bible) that made little sense to me years ago seem perfectly clear nowadays.

Can anyone achieve enlightenment?

Some of what I just discussed is particular to my personal path and not indicative of enlightenment in general. The crux of enlightenment is essentially a lighthearted attitude toward life — and that’s doable by anyone. The challenge though, is the realization and awareness, the perspective, and the practice that goes into it. You’d need to know about enlightenment, you’d need to maintain an awareness of yourself, you’d need to alter your perspective of life, and you’d need to practice.

What steps did you take, and what materials did you study, to achieve enlightenment?

It’s more of a customized path. I’m a self-learner so I simply explored in a way that made sense to me. Other people might like the idea of a living/breathing guru to guide and answer questions. The most important step is the intent, then actively walking the path. If you want something, anything, you imagine it first, seeing yourself at the destination — when you yearn for the outcome, the rest falls into place. You’ll do what you need to do.

Happiness, the meaning of life, satisfaction and fulfillment, what about all that stuff?

Yes, yes, yes. I don’t suffer from existential angst or even everyday anxiety anymore, the world makes much more sense to me now. I’ve never smiled more than I have in the last few years. But realize this, I’m still relatively young and have more life to live, so I’m riding the roller coaster same as anyone else — I’m not an ascetic that lives in the woods. Some days certainly present challenges but my awareness and perspective allow me to quickly compose myself.

What about the past and all the memories that haunt our daily lives?

The past doesn’t really exist to me anymore. Past situations don’t enter my thoughts unless I’m specifically reminded, but even then they’re so remote that they lack any emotional weight. You might call this living in the now. So no, I am no longer haunted by memories of the past even though they used to be pretty prevalent. And when you’re not living in the past, it’s much easier to appreciate the present.

Now What?

As I’m watching a movie, I always refrain from dissecting the plot, I don’t try to figure out what’ll happen next, as I like the surprise. I can feel the scene about to change, but I leave my mind open as to what’s around the corner. In that sense, I don’t like planning my life out. But I am planning positive themes. In other words, I infuse my thoughts-about-the-future with cheerfulness and hopefulness — intending to have fun while focusing on the best of life.

Enlightened Emissary

I must apologize, I have not been completely straightforward with you. I presented the perception that I was just some guy. Sorry about that. While it’s true that I maintain a presence within the material plane, the words I put forth emanate from a place beyond physical observation. But due to my immaturity I felt myself an inadequate messenger, tucking these words away in a tiny corner of the Internet. And even though I’ve experienced significant alteration, I rarely broadcast that fact, lessening the weight of my words.

As my comprehension set in, I was initially confused by the duality, but my appreciation of the situation has increased. Therefore, I select this time to formally declare the authority underlying the sentiments of which I speak. I have been granted the boon of awareness and understanding, of insight. I successfully achieved the goal of enlightenment, a destination that was placed within me from early on. And like any meritorious achievement, I should seek to occupy the station to which this designation affords me.

As an emissary of enlightenment — a ferryman, if you will — I must uphold the duties expected of my role. Those that seek passage, I am to assist. Ultimately the journey is the individual’s own of course, but those that occupy my position serve as beacons and guides. I have already spent a number of years transcribing and translating the concepts that originated within the universal consciousness and presented them here to serve as reference for those that may stumble upon them.

I do admit though that I’ve been attempting to sneak under the radar, doing just enough to appease the voices within my head. But life, remember, does not allow boredom to entrench itself. If one aspect does not change, another will. In my position I am not immune to life’s flow, nor would I want to be, I am just more aware of the motion. I simply know that my responsibilities must increase in areas I prefer lest I find myself dealing with dilemmas I dislike.

So for all intents and purposes, I am an expert in the art of enlightenment with ready access to a library of universal knowledge. Realize though, that this status does not imbue one with superpowers beyond that of mortal man, I continue to live a relatively normal human existence. But there is certainly an underlying calm to life now, an ease and satisfaction, a perspective that disallows worry, where fear cannot take hold.

I was previously plagued by pessimism, filled with anxiety, ever dissatisfied, annoyed, frustrated, and oh so sad. But after decades of self-discovery I found a steadier state. Having reached such a place, I invite others to partake in this journey. If you have questions, I have answers. If you are lost, let me serve as your point of reference. If you are reading this, is it by mere chance? And if you see yourself fulfilling a similar role, then perhaps some shop-talk is in order. But whatever the reason, please be at ease as I am at your service.

Perfect Practice

Perfection is only found in a static image. If there is movement, there is erosion and malfunction. Thus the nature of existence is imperfection — defects define life, so expect discordance. Yet orchestras can harmonize, order can be brought to the cacophony.

And although imperfectly implemented, the melody is often good enough. But oh so much practice to maintain the music as performers strive to achieve a state resembling perfection. The outside world rages but they focus on the fingering, the notes, the sounds, the silences.

What is your instrument? Do you practice? With whom do you play? Do you have a piece that you’re attempting to perfect? Do you drown out your surroundings as you focus on your part? Without a part to play, are you merely adding to the discordance within the world?

Some people simply smack spoons or even sing — the specific instrumentation does not matter. Birth is your invitation to life — welcome. But there is one requirement to remaining untroubled: play your instrument. Imagine perfection then practice.