Author- Vladimir Zark
At the center of all discourse, there is an incomprehensible but necessary need for truth. Politics faces this as much as any other art, but because discourse fails to reach the answers we need, it becomes imperative to search for the answers from within. I write this piece today to encourage people to break free from their mechanicalness, to seek the truth where there seems only falsity, and understand themselves as vessels of self-reliant action. We will explore this.
I bring forth some of the texts which I might look to as my personal ‘bibles’ of understanding: they are spiritual texts, personal texts, all of which have no relation to politics in itself. However, with their proper use, I believe that they too can facilitate a political self. With the meaningful and conscious use of these texts, we can build ourselves as vessels of power, as vessels of understanding – through this transformation, we can become stronger and more self-reliant.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is a compelling figure. His appeal to an unconditioned self that is genius by definition is a healthy starting point for us. He says, in Self-Reliance, “Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost” (p.1). Think on this. Brood on the sufferings you’ve faced when your voice wasn’t yours, when your words weren’t original, when your act was borrowed. Now dissolve the outside world. The Buddhists believe that all is Maya, illusion, and perhaps it is. The illusion is necessary to keep us going on autopilot. Another line: “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events.” (p.2). Poetic, rigorous, motivating stuff. Trust thyself, he says. Accept the place divine providence has found. This is a mixture of accepting oneself as a spiritual being, as a conscious actor and perceiver, while also accepting a sort of necessary determinism. Why would I push this onto you? I do this only because I care about your well-being. Self-reliance is man’s salvation, for it consists in creating an identity that is unmovable and irrefutable, unapologetic and fearless. All of the heroes of mythology, the great men of history, even the celebrities of today – they have power in self-reliance. They don’t even acknowledge the rest of the world, and why should they? The world around is illusion. Only you are real. All else is extension.
We proceed to another heavenly text, the Bhagavad Gita. It means “The Song of God”. It is a philosophical starting point for all Hindu practitioners and spiritual masters. The conversation between Arjuna, the greatest warrior of his time, and Krishna, the physical manifestation of existence and God himself, is one of the most profound there is. Arjuna tells Sri Krishna that he feels it immoral to kill his loved ones in battle, saying, “My Lord! How can I, when the battle rages, send an arrow through Bheeshma and Drona, who should receive my reverence? Rather would I content myself with a beggar’s crust than kill these teachers of mine, these precious noble souls! To slay these masters who are my benefactors would be to stain the sweetness of life’s pleasures with their blood.” (Ch.2). Who wouldn’t sympathize with Arjuna’s plight? He is a good man who loves his teachers. But here’s the beautiful point. Krishna is above such petty morality. As he laughs, he says back, “Why grieve for those for whom no grief is due, and yet profess wisdom? The wise grieve neither for the dead nor the living. There was never a time when I was not, nor thou, nor these princes were not; there will never be a time when we shall cease to be.” (Ch.2). Take everything Emerson said and multiply it a thousand times. Whether anyone lives or dies, it has no meaning in the grand sense. Do not treat the external world as meaningful. Do not treat your inner world as meaningful either. As a self-reliant agent, I encourage you to simply be, simply radiate with that divine aura that embraces all who trust in it and punishes all those who defy it. “The hero whose soul is unmoved by circumstance, who accepts pleasure and pain with equanimity, only he is fit for immortality.” (Ch.2). Be that hero. Be like Buddha, the slayer of desire and suffering. Only such a person can be free in every sense, and only such a person can be successful in all domains. Nothing blocks him from achievement.
Such is the Gita, which is one of my muses in this dreadful world. I urge every one of you to explore the world beyond the world, to see your heart where it’s meant to be rather than where it seems to be. I described a self-reliant, emotionally detached, philosophic being. I will continue corroborating this with my other bibles: Marcus Antoninus Aurelius, the great stoic philosopher, wrote a short text called the Meditations. In it, he highlighted the power of stoicism as a philosophy of detachment, quite similar in idea to the words of Krishna. I’ll mention one long passage, and seek to link it to the previous points: “Have these three thoughts always at hand: first, that you do nothing inconsiderately; nor otherwise than justice herself would have acted. As for external events, they either happen by chance, or by providence: now, no man should quarrel with chance, nor censure providence. The second, to examine what each thing is, from its seed, to its being quickened; and, from its quickening, till its death; of what materials composed, and into what it must be resolved. The third, that, could you be raised on high, so as from thence to behold all human affairs, and discern their great variety; conscious, at the same time, of the crowds of aerial and ethereal inhabitants who surround us: Were you thus raised on high, never so often, you would see only the same things, or things exactly uniform; all of short duration. Can we be proud of such matters?” (Book XII, 24). The entire book is like this: powerful, sharp, poetic, and speaking unconditional truth. Stoicism is a beautiful philosophy for anyone who struggles with hardship. It lets you release your false obligation to the outside world, embracing, for the first time, that it is the illusion of your own mind that makes you suffer, nothing more. This is the cornerstone of self-reliance, where you do not even need to acknowledge the outside world so long as your inner state of blissful. What happens must happen, for it is predetermined to be so. Why grieve and bicker? Why hate ourselves or others? Such is the power of self-reliance. This brings us revelations like never before. Aurelius says: “The power of living well is seated in the soul; if it be indifferent toward things which are indifferent.” (Book XI, 16).
I encourage you to look at the world through the Buddhist eyes of solipsism. Through this view, we gather that nothing is real besides your Self and all experiences. The outside world is illusion, but your ‘outside world’ is not. Be mindful in this way. See the light. See yourself reproduced a thousand times over in every experience and person you are led towards. This applies to your politics too. Be mindful. If nothing is real but you, why fear? Why do you let others worry you, infiltrate your mind? Don’t you notice that when you ask others for advice, they tell you things you already know? Why is that? Perhaps it is because they’re reminding you that only you are alive here and now. Take this philosophy as you will, but use it as a personal power, as a source of gracefulness and freedom. What can possibly hurt you when nothing is real? Your pain, if you feel it, is meant to be. Your pleasure, if you feel it, is also meant to be. One cannot look at these two things as different from one another. One can only continue to learn and fight.
Right now, surrounding me are 4-5 bodies that use phones, thus delinking their consciousness from anything real or substantial. As I type and compose this work, I fear for them. They are not self-reliant. They are reliant upon something. Their consciousness does not care where it is, and their empty, lifeless faces indicate this exact despondency. The struggle that faces this group of fools is unfortunate, but not up to us to prevent. They do not see, they do not understand – what can we do? We can only seek to destroy the boundaries that they think exist, to carve open reality, to stop being so ‘personal’ and instead embrace the ‘impersonal’. Let us look at a wonderful text for a second, written by the student of a mystic: P.D. Ouspensky, the student of Georges Gurdjieff, conducted a dialogue with his teacher and recorded it in his esteemed book The Fourth Way. It is rich with metaphysical and seemingly incomprehensible philosophical talk, but all of it is powerful, frighteningly so. Take this line: “The first step in attaining consciousness is the realization that we are not conscious. But this illusion cannot be changed alone, for there are many others. As I said earlier, the worst of them is the illusion that we can ‘do’. All our life is based on this illusion. We always think we are doing when, in reality, we are not doing anything – everything happens.” (p.37). Do not fear this fact of life. It is indeed true that we are not conscious, since we move helplessly and not of our own volition. Embrace this and do not fret! You are bound to get angry when you ‘lose control’, control you never truly had, of the situation. You will get angry when you feel slighted or insignificant. There is a cure for all these things, and it relies in dissolving the weakness within. Think on this quote: “Cultivate attention. You will see that then it gives different results. Think with attention. Do not let yourself think mechanically. Mechanical thinking transforms itself into imagination.” (p.70). Do not drift. Do not let yourself passively wander away into the sunset unless that is what you intended! Such is the problem. So, self-reliance is not just being a vessel of power, then. It is being a vessel of attention, free from mechanical patterns and ideas. We must be free from the weak side of ourselves. Everything we do, hatred and love and contemplation and emotion, must be willed.
I’d like to give this my personal take. In my own life, I’ve struggled with many financial burdens and personal struggles, thoughts of suicide, thoughts of murdering others for no reason, nihilism, women, insecurities about my body, mind, and psyche, and so much more – I am human, after all. But I urge every one of you to do what I do, and to not participate at every given turn. If you blindly participate without knowledge of what you’re participating in, surely you are victim to failure. Surely, an untimely death can come to you before you even stop breathing, since one cannot be called ‘alive’ so long as they’re not aware of where or what they are. I used to regret these experiences, suffering because my head allowed the energy of suffering in. I used to attack myself every time I failed, as though I was a natural-born sinner and a victim of the devil’s temptations. Now, as I turn 21, and find it unacceptable to be a victim, I find myself in the realm of self-reliance once again. Some can use this philosophy for success in the material world; some can use it to woo women; some can use it to feel a genuine sense of purpose and fulfillment; but all of us deserve the chance to rely on ourselves and only ourselves. For me, this is easiest to do when I cut off the outside world, when I ignore the energy of the external, when I am not afraid to offend, when I acknowledge that, so long as I don’t move, the world does not and will not move me.
Some will ask, of course: how does this apply to politics, to conservatism, to libertarianism, to freedom, to anything else that’s at all relevant to the modern world? I say, in my defense, that the greater your understanding of the philosophical Self, the greater your understanding of political systems revolving around the Self. After all, what is libertarianism and conservatism fundamentally? They are philosophies oriented around mobilizing a powerful, self-reliant Self. They are ideas of how an individual ought to be in a difficult, at times punishing system, and how that individual might free himself from all forms of slavery, whether it be financial or mental or spiritual. Politics is nothing more than the understanding of how a group of ‘Selves’ participates in the social matrix. Furthermore, these so-called Selves share in a unifying system of belief, quite like in religious doctrine – this is politics. A polity is like a civilization in accordance to laws and ideas. Thus, a correctly arranged polity, endorsing the empowerment of its citizens, with no corruption or favoritism to be mentioned – a pure meritocracy that rewards the strong and even helps the weak – is the goal of my philosophical appeals. To make an entire community of free-minded and unmoved thinkers, who can openly contemplate the Real, and understand what politics are correct and incorrect, is the greatest moral goal of man. Self-reliance is at the center of this appeal, for it empowers the seemingly pained but hopeful idealist, moves him, gives him happiness and freedom and all these abstract things – things he’s never had before!!! And once he has them, will he complain about not having enough? The answer is no, since there is no reason to complain when you have your deepest wishes fulfilled, and that’s a gift.
Self-reliance might not be your cup of tea. I fully understand that appeal. But you must be mindful, nonetheless, of the possibility of finding yourself in a world where nothing points you to yourself. There will come a time when you’re truly miserable, truly confused, and anything will work. I’m facing that time right now. These philosophies, coupled with the politics I’ve been exposed to and the friends and family I have, have helped release my soul from its prison. I am yet to be successful, yet to have anything truly my own, but I keep searching in the sunset for something that can be called ‘mine’. Hopefully I will find it. I am not afraid of failure, not anymore. I am afraid of nothing. Once you’re afraid of nothing, not even death, you find that you can do anything. You must find your lantern in the shadows. You must be a poet, artist, scientist, warrior, politician, and God, all in one. You must be whatever the circumstances want you to be. And I support you.