Sunday, November 27, 2011

second-hand lifestyle

An interesting exercise is to notice the ever-so-thin line between quoting someone else and simply saying what you think while acknowledging others who have asserted a similar thought.

Gandhi said, "Be the peace you seek."
Gautama the Buddha encouraged followers to "find out for yourself."
A graffito I saw once at a construction site said, "Man without God is like a fish without a bicycle."
The Bible says, "the kingdom of heaven is within."

School children and other students parrot what passes for learning. They get A's and B's according to their capacity to remember. 2+2=4 .... A+! It is useful to remember stuff, to have the tools that allow for one solution or another.

But there is also the danger of thinking that because something is remembered, it is therefore part and parcel of an honest life. Increment by increment, the chicanery can grow: I remember, therefore I know from experience. It's an uncertain and awful way to live out the certainty of this life... always chewing someone else's cud until you think, but don't know, what your own cud tastes like...always pleasing others in the hope of pleasing yourself.

The social judgment rendered above is pretty small potatoes. Sure, we've all known people who ride the horses that belong to others -- it's labored and hard not to say, "cut the crap!" But the important part is to decipher the willingness within to put a head above our own heads, to remember and quote and in so doing to lose our own delight. To lead our own lives is the point, right? Since there is no other choice, why bother flailing around trying to lead someone else's life?

Sure, get the A+ necessary for starters.

But what a dull and demeaning life to lead an entire lifetime that way.

Gandhi, after all, was only quoting you.

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