in capitalism, basic human fears and vulnerability are assuaged by a constant influx of mind boggling toys and transfixing sensual perceptions.
—we have a steady supply of gadgets, delivering endless media that provide us with hours of distractions
—we can travel to every corner of the globe in search of a wide variety of experiences
—lifestyles of the rich and famous are paraded before us, creating the illusion that if we play our cards right, we too can live 'endlessly glamorous lives'
as science and technology promises us longer lifespans with more efficient medications, so the notion of coming to grips with mortality are conveniently put aside.
elaborate social media networks provide everyone the opportunity to feel like "a star for at least 15 minutes" transfixed by our Facebook followers and the 'likes' our postings receive.
so material consumption is established as the means and ends to security and happiness.
—we chase after the worldly winds of pleasure, gain, approval and fame, somehow surprised when the winds change direction and deliver us "
we're in a state of enchantment with the consumable world, as it offers us the great diversion from the inherently difficult nature of life:
—we are all going to grow old, sick, die, be separated from what we love
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when counter cultural uprisings against shallow materialism arise, they are efficiently incorporated by commerce with the all too eager participation of the so called rebels (think of jerry rubin who quickly abandoned the anti-war movement for business opportunities).
—Dissent is commodified, like ramones and misfits t-shirts sold at shopping malls; the counter culture becomes an integral part of rampant consumerism
—Even brand identities are built on the idea of non-conformism who stand out from the crowd (apple)
And of those that hold out, the media focuses its lens on the most shallow extremists (abbey hoffman, huey p newton etc) at the expense of serious proponents of change (lee wiener, tom hayden, etc).
its in the vested interest of capitalism to make us feel as we're either failures or mean spirited spoil sports if we become estranged from consumerism
—in cultural narratives to become disengaged from the commodity pursuit is to be portrayed as a naive do-gooder often taken advantage of by dangerous revolutionaries
—note tv cop procedurals (from the early Dragnet and Kojak through Law & Order) return to the episodic formula of counter cultural figures as made up of naive people being taken advantage of by nefarious psychopaths
—even in the institutional codifications of normative and abnormal behavior, disengagement from careers can be misinterpreted as a sign of decompensation
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buddhism is founded upon an estrangement from any social order that establishes consumption as the means and ends to security and happiness.
think of the buddha's life, his first 29 years surrounded by the pleasures of the Kapilavatsu palace. his disgust with the forms of coincided with his core perception of aging, sickness and death.
Nibbida (disenchantment or disillusion with worldly sensual pleasures) and samvega (disgust at having been baited by insubstantial pleasures) are essential ingredients to the following path.
—they are not seen as incidental experiences that can be helpful but are not necessary.
the mind, without nibbida & samvega will constantly be lured back into the cycle of samara by the baits and triggers of the sensory world.
—the buddha's enlightenment was only complete after the buddha withstood Mara's dancing girls and charging elephants.
the buddha referred to the stuff of approval, fame, careers, financial gain as "bubbles of foam on a body of water" and "water mirages in the desert"
—illusions of permanent pleasures in the transitory
just like an alcoholic telling the story of his bottom at a meeting, we experience and reflect on nibbida so that we will not fall back into the trap.
—in the Titthiya Sutta, the buddha explains that in appropriate attention, "yoniso manasikara" one abandons passion for the world's glittery distractions by pondering the experience of how ultimately unattractive such forms become.
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the core of the nibbida and samvega is not one of 'giving up' on finding authentic happiness. its a source of motivation to find true happiness elsewhere.
“when someone witnesses the unreliable truth of things, they become disenchanted with their passion for sensual pleasures and experience a liberation. (buddha, anatta-lakkhana)”
in the Visuddhimagga, progress of insight, nibbida is an integral component: "the mind becomes discontented with the sad state of worldly enticements; disgusted with one's attachment to objects that are held up as desirable by the world. this is what inclines the mind towards nibbana.
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disenchantment does not require self-deprivation. when one is disenchanted, one doesn't stop consuming, but a stopping of consuming for lasting peace of mind and security.
—spiritual practice is the way out of the twin extremes of self-indulgence and self-punishment.
—we seek enough food, clothing, shelter, medicine and exercise to survive
—we surround ourselves with enough wise people to encourage us on the path