Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Modern Ascetic

Could one survive as a modern ascetic today, in Canada? The answer is essentially no, but there are areas where one can. One even has a website. Well, he is as close to an ascetic as one could come. Areas where the weather is much milder it would be more possible. Back, when I was a kid, there were a number of old bachelors living in cabins in the bush, north of where I grew up. I understand there are sill a few new ones in there now, squatting on government lands. Oh well.  

Buddha, Jaine's and the like, The Greek Cynics and the other true ascetics renounce society, property, possessions, and go beyond the minimalists to have little attachment in there life, as attachment is one of the issues that causes anxiety, stress, suffering in our lives. If it does not belong, then we have far less concern for it, whatever it is. It is similar to not valuing something, but a more complete cutoff. if there is attachment, that can cause much suffering. Not acquiring anything makes attachment not an issue and thereby eliminated that whole category or suffering and joy also. Staying out of something has long been one way of not caring about it. It is like not going near sports of any kind. It just becomes noise, someone else interest and concerns. Just disinterest, and uninterest at the same time. 

Many of the old money wealthy have the concept of stewardship down to an art. They own nothing, but rather are looking after there children's inheritance until they turn it to there children or heirs. That is one way, assuming your children want the same thing. That was a common concept with the farms, as I was growing up. The problem arose when the value of produce from the farm was less than a living wage, but more work. Now what? A decision had to be made, go big, or sell. Do or walk away. It all worked our in the end, or rather the way it worked out was the end.  Some of us have no obvious heirs. We can make a decision or not. Pass the whole problem along some un-named person.

Buddha walked away from a potential family business of being the ruler of a area to become a homeless ascetic until he figured out a middle way. His middle way will work for a few people, but not many in our modern Canadian environment, unless you are blood native, and the government will support you. What we call minimalist may be the way of the future, but it is not very practical to give away, throw away, everything we have either. Starting to live austere is more practical, aka just stop spending except for the necessaries. We will then need to make some hard decisions that may become easier as we get older.

The Stoic talk about the same concept of not caring or not valuing things, often trained through negative visualization. Kiss your mate or child and tell yourself that this may be the last time before she is gone. That is training detachment. Separating off all thing into those we have control over, beyond our internal thoughts, beliefs and opinions, from those indifferents that we have no control over, and let all those indifferents go free. They never say just stop caring, stop having attachments to that which is beyond our control, but that is the effect. In the end we are left with a desire for food, sex, both biological, and little else. Boredom unless we are attached to something. That is evidence that life is empty until we paint on a purpose. Oh. well.

So where is this all going? Well it seams that no matter how many ways we come at some problems, we come to the same answer. Let go of attachment is the solution of many problems. If we do not care, it does not matter.

These are interesting time we live in. Just sit back and watch the show. We live in a irrational, unjust, time where the bigots in power think they are right and know better than anyone else, when in reality they are not paying any attention to logic. We have religions trying to control people who do not accept the religion. We have political people trying to control areas where the people are not in agreement. We can consider these areas to be overpopulated with undesirable peoples or see it for what it is, a land grab.

One way to make compassionate government to pay attention is to jump on the public purse and drag it down to where the management controllers need to pay attention. Oh well, what do I know?     

1 comment:

  1. Working on my travelogue now (before I forget important details), but we stopped overnight at a commune midway through our trek to the beach in Costa Rica... Most of the hippies had gone to a weekend music festival so it felt almost like the zombie apocalypse to have the place to ourselves.
    But from what Liz described, fundamentally the place ISN'T self-sufficient - can't even feed themselves adequately, most of them wind up going down the road 3/4 mi to buy meals at Dona Irma's, whose business benefits immensely ;-) (we rode down there ourselves to secure dinner & breakfast)