Friday, 1 July 2011
In accordance with the will of Heaven
Since there seems little doubt that, over the coming decades, China will be the dominant world power, it might be an idea if we, in the West, started to understand some of their - and the Far East's generally - basic philosophy so that we may serve our new masters adequately. Also so that we might understand some of the secrets of their success and how it is they are such high achievers.
Most of the concepts are difficult for Westerners to understand, for, in the first place, it demands the acceptance that there are laws operating within the Cosmos which affect each individual in their daily lives. The concept, basically, believes that in every circumstance and in every action there is a 'right' way, which is in accordance with the will of Heaven, by acting in accordance with this law [the Tao] whatever we do succeeds - whereas by not acting correctly we fail or do not completely succeed.
Western religions do have similar concepts 'as we sow so we shall reap' being the most obvious, but generally Christianity, Islam and Judaism view acts against God's law as being accounted for on the Day of Judgment. Whereas the Eastern approach would probably see this aspect played out in the way that we die - whether this is a long drawn out painful affair or over and done with fairly quickly.
Perhaps, more to the point is that, although most indigenous English would view themselves as Christians and mostly Protestants, their religion plays very little part in their daily lives. Whereas the Chinese way demands constant attention to an inner guide who knows what and how we should act at any given time and in any given circumstance.
In the West, the work of Carl Jung, the psychologist, is probably the easiest route for Westerners to understand the philosophy of the East with his shadow, anima & animus, the process of 'individuation' and a guiding 'Self', since he did use scientific method when developing his theories. The views of scientists are held in much higher esteem than the views of religious leaders here. However, he believed that Westerners were too lazy to struggle with the demands of his work and thought it would only be applied by the few.
Perhaps it is this blind acceptance of scientific view and the practitioners of these arts that has brought us, as a nation, to such a hopeless state. The process of individuation and the Eastern way both demand that we listen to what is going on deep inside our minds and to take our dreams and fantasies seriously. Although it cannot be denied that science and Western medicine has enabled great advances in the treatment of physical ailments, the illnesses of the mind are beyond most Western practitioners.
Their approach to the basic emotions of anxiety and depression is to fend them away by the use chemicals which act on the brain. Anxiety is seen as something that should be suppressed rather than allowed to play on the mind in order that some unpleasant truth should be acknowledged and acted upon. This is also the case for depression, which is likely to follow the acknowledgement of this truth, until the truth has been fully accepted. These are messages from Jung's concept of 'Self' buried deep in the unconscious.
So Western medicine, generally, suspends its patients in a state of permanent or drawn out state of anxiety or depression rather than allowing this natural process to take place so that the individual can mature through having to deal with reality. This approach is feasted upon by the global pharmaceutical corporations for it allows them to regularly invent new mental conditions for which they, of course, have developed a new [and expensive] drug. If memory serves, this accounts for some £8 billion of the NHS budget - potentially a valuable saving in these austere times.
These pharmaceutical companies have also managed to convince us that we can expect to live until we are one hundred - quite why this is viewed as such a triumph in a world with an ever increasing and unsustainable population is difficult to understand. However, this is likely to be because we have hidden death away so that it is something not to be accepted. Like our other anxieties, this must be suppressed by drugs, not a feature of life with which we must come to terms.
Unlike the Chinese we put our old into homes, probably so we are not continually reminded of the eventuality of death, whereas the Chinese honour their parents and the old and would condemn this practice. Surely we know that, generally speaking, most humans will not be able to live active lives beyond their mid eighties and although modern medicine can make less onerous many of the ills of later life they cannot change the natural span of life. At least if they can, it can only be done at the expense of the new born or young - surely it is better to simply accept death when ones natural term ends!
Oddly, if the English who are so much against their being absorbed by the EU, being inundated by immigrants and denied their parliament would accept the reality that virtually all those who hold these views must work together - it might still be possible to avoid these outcomes and possibly the dominance of China in the years ahead. However encouraged and aided not to accept reality, as it is so often the case with such matters, this will be realised too late and, as a result, we are destined for the role of subordination.