The sound of rain is fresh and welcoming. The sky has turned very dark, and distant thunders can be heard. No one is outside, since the rain is getting heavy, and there is an ancient fear of all-encompassing darkness and lightening. Whenever the rain comes, it washes everything clean. The breeze is cool, even in this time of the year.
The rain gets heavier. The pine tree outside is waving quite heavily, as the rain and the wind are unrelenting. It sounds like nothing outside can escape. One notices the silence, from the birds, the cats, the people, as if everything has gone into hiding. Even the trees have withdrawn into themselves. The lightening is almost constant. The rain has come out of nowhere, without a warning.
We are burdened by the past, traditions, culture. We are tied to them. We commit to them, identify with them. We are the living expression of the past. Therefore we are never free, spontaneous. There is always a string, some kind of attachment, some fear of losing what is known and familiar. Rarely do we allow the past to be washed away, after which life becomes fresh and new.
When we are so burdened, we cannot go far. We feel secure in a small area, and build a wall around it. In staying within our walls, we find comfort, security, pleasure. But in this very activity to protect what we have, there arise naturally the fear of losing. Out of that fear, we are willing to kill, pressure, control, manipulate. I don't know if we ever wonder, what is it that gives violence its vitality? How can a human being be so committed to kill and abuse? Without our insistent desire to continue what we have, will we be afraid of losing, and when they are lost, will we be consumed by loneliness and sorrow, and without such sorrow and pain, will we be so insistent on violent acts to take back what was?
There is a trend in the world which says we should be proud of our culture. But should we? Do we question it? Are we afraid to question it? What is culture? One of the meaning of this word is a nurturing environment. Culture refers to a place where things can grow. For growth to happen, there must be affection and care. To help a small plant grow into a big tree, we must be vigilant, protect it from hurt, until it grow into a strong tree which can weather the storm. Yet, looking at our own culture, whatever part of the world we might come from, is there a sense of affection? Which means, how do we treat our children, not only the children that are blood-related, but the children in schools, on the street, in churches and mosques, and so on. How do we treat them? Do we treat them with care? We are the expression of our culture, are we not? Culture is not somewhere framed in a museum. It is a living thing, constantly lived out by our own daily actions, is it not? What we do is the expression of culture. And what do we do? What do we do to the little plants of our culture?
Do we scare them? Do we compare them? Do we keep telling them you are not good enough? Do we beat them when they do not listen? Do we scold them because we are not pleased? Do we carry the frustration at work to the house, and the children are at the receiving end of our anger? Do we ever listen to the child? Listen to the story they tell us, to their happiness and cries, their sorrow and anger? And when we do listen, where have they learned their dishonesty and cruelty from? Culture is passed down, transmitted to the child. The child learns incredibly fast, and what we see in the child is who we are, is what this society is, what this culture is. No one is separate from culture, and our culture is fear, is comparison, is to say you are not enough, so you should work harder. Our culture is to say the numbers on a piece of paper or a screen matters more than anything. Our culture is superficial. Our culture values the looks, the money, the power and prestige. Our culture is dishonest, making poker faces, saying one thing and doing another. Are we proud of this culture? Are we proud of the beatings and abuse? Are we proud of conforming a human being to an idea, to some moral principles on a piece of paper? Do we value understanding? Do we value intelligence, the natural awareness of a human being? Or do we restrict the human being, constantly telling them what you should or should not do? Why? Are we afraid that without these so-called morality, which are really immoral, the human being will become violent, dishonest, cruel? Or is it because we have pressured the human being so much that they have become violent in reaction? What is the seed of violence?
Culture has become pressure. It is conformity. It is exclusive. It has always been. It is to establish an identity, and to protect that identity, we have made wars, as we are still doing now. One religion against another. One country against another. We refuse to see beyond the superficial. We refuse to see that any culture is only a remnant of the past, a following of tradition, a mechanical process. We might take pride in this process, but this process, whatever its form, whether the American, the Russian, the Indian, the native or the foreign, the Christian or the Muslim, is still mechanical. What is mechanical is never free. It is a repetition of a pattern. In this repetition we might feel secure, comfortable. But this very repetition is what prevents us to see that life cannot be ordered as such. When life is ordered mechanically, disorder is inevitable. Life is always new. Life is always a challenge. Life cannot be contained in an idea, in a culture, or whatever concept our mind could invent. Any attempt to order life according to an idea is the beginning of war and sorrow. It is like containing water in a dead lake, the water eventually becomes infested, unclear, because it does not flow, freely and openly.
And we must also see, that culture is divisive. It divides the world. This division has manifested itself as continuing violence in cities and countries, in the forms of racial, sexual, religious, and all sorts of acts of hatred based on an idea. To deal with this division, we invent further ideas, like diversity, inclusion, multiculturalism, and so on. We say we must build a society and a culture based on tolerance. Why? Why do we tolerate? I only tolerate when I already hate the other, don't I? Isn't it more important to find out why do I hate, rather than tolerance? It seems that we do not want to go to the very root of this issue of hatred, so we say let's tolerate each other, at least don't kill each other, and live on. Yet the ideas remain. The ideas of race and sex remain. The ideas of religions, of who we are and who they are remain. These ideas are responsible for the division of the world. We divide the world. We are the culture and culture divides the world. We cannot integrate what is already fragmented, because in doing so we only create further resistance and therefore violence, and it only stands to fragment further. There must be the understanding of the fact, that division is responsible for our violence, hatred, cruelty. Therefore, it is extremely important to understand how one can live in this world without division, without the we and the they, without any sense of an identity. If one is serious about peace, then one must be concerned about peace in the mind, which means a mind without division, and only such a mind is capable of love, of care, of a real culture that nurtures the human beings within.
Many of us take pride in our culture because of past trauma, because of the judgement from others. Pride is only a reaction to hide the pain. When one covers the wound, it does not heal, but decays. Pride does not heal. Pride relies on pain. Pain is what gives pride its energy, its vitality. Without pain, one cannot be proud of such pain. If healing is what one is concerned, then pride is not the answer. However, if one is not concerned about healing, but revenge, of taking back what was lost, then violence becomes necessary. Then living becomes a process of using whatever means to achieve the end. A life driven as such can only be cruel, brutal, without care. One is not sensitive to pain anymore, but solely occupied by one's objective. A life driven is full of numbness. One becomes hardened, isolated, so love cannot be.
It is a tragedy what the world has become. It is tremendously sad to see what we do to each other every day, for petty gains, for a little more fame, for some money, or a better position in society. We are cold, calculating, dishonest, hypocritical, full of rage and anxiety. In the end of all our achievements, we are still isolated, uncertain, lost. We are totally responsible for our culture, because culture is our daily living. What we bring is what the world is. Do we ever wonder how violence moves? How violence is a movement from one to another, how violence is learned and then taught? We are becoming more and more self-centered, and our culture is a self-centered culture. When we give permission to violence in ourselves, then violence is sustained in the world. We might expect the world to become less violent first, for it to be a bit more loving and peaceful first, but it is only an excuse for oneself to not take life seriously. We want to be loved, but what we do is not love at all. We want to avoid violence, but we sustain it in the world. We detest pain, but we cause pain to others. We are culture, so what we do is the beginning of culture. What we do then is tremendously important. Our daily living is not trivial, unimportant, but it affects the entire culture, the entire world, the total consciousness of human life. Therefore, are we serious enough to first find out, how is there an ending of violence in oneself, an ending of division and sorrow in oneself? Only when one is whole in the mind and heart, can one bring about a life, and therefore a culture, that is whole, sane, healthy, then we might be able to understand happiness, joy, peace, and love.
Peace does not rely on the past. Holding of the past is what creates violence and war. A culture insistent on the past only bring about division, and division is the beginning of conflict. In conflict there is no love. Conflict is tension, struggle, pressure. When the mind is not insistent on the past, conflict has no root. Life, then, is free, untethered, unprotected, yet completely without pain. This is not a romantic idea, a fantasy, but it requires tremendous energy from oneself. One must exercise one's brain to find out, like when we are so driven by our gains and security, and we have the energy necessary to totally transform our mind and heart, and therefore our way of living. It is possible to see the truth of death, to understand the ending of sorrow, to see reality as it is, to live with intelligence, love, and wisdom. Yet, are we willing to travel far? Are we willing to put down the burden of a thousand yesterdays, and travel to a place where we might not recognize, where we are totally unfamiliar? To understand the essence of life, which is the essence of everything within life, is a strenuous task. Are we willing to, in the very least, begin?