The Feeling of Western Man


Sometimes I’m arrogant enough to think that the spiritual metamorphosis is harder for the Western person than it is the Eastern one. Who really knows I suppose, every culture has it’s own sense of roadblocks that are on the path to now-ness. But western culture grows increasingly enamored with wanting more of everything – with no finish line. “As fast as we can shovel it”. (pg 46)

Aside from the lack of now-ness that shoveling it in creates I suspect that it’s also the cause of some of our fundamental problems – taking care of mother earth, lack of compassion, bigotry, hunger and greed. If our collective center was just a little more calm, focussed and present we might not be running around like a species gone mad.

During my personal times of madness, I felt like I was deep in a spiral of sensual gratification that had no sense of belonging or consciousness. Shoveling drugs in as fast as I could trying to run away from the here and now was all I could do. I can remember clearly thinking that if I cleaned up my act that God wouldn’t love me – such self loathing. I’ve learned that staying in the here and now requires staying there even when it’s unpleasant. Walking through all of it – sensing more and hearing more is what’s required. That’s the deal. Which leads me to the fascinating concept that’s outlined on Page 45.

A sort of demystifying of our intentions. “Oh, I’m going to good things for my child.” Substitute “child” for “myself” or “others” or “partner” or “friend”, etc.

The sentiment seems like such a good one, right? In and of itself it is. But if you look deeper you realize that it’s ego!

Just work on yourself. The lesson to me is that if you get clearer, calmer, sense more, hear more then you ARE more. Therefore, you will by default do good things for your child! Because if you experience all of those things how could you possibly do bad things for your child, right? Setting our personal goals of wanting to good things is great, but if you’re not right on the inside then the good things may get muddy. How many kids did we know growing up who got an endless supply of external things and grew up unsatisfied and lost?

One of my favorite parts in the Gita is when Arjun asks Krishna which is better – to be a renunciate of all things or to stay in action? Krishna replies that it’s better to stay in action with devotional service in mind.

I’ll be the first to fall of the sword of western culture. Complaining that ego is just to powerful and that temptations are just too great. It’s such an easy trap. Every step and movement I can take, no matter the social context, can all be an act of devotion to God. Intentions. Intentions. Intensions with sincerity.

4 Responses to “The Feeling of Western Man”

  • Carin Channing Says:

    Can’t find words at the moment. Just giving a thumbs up and heart. Thanks for kicking off the week, brother Zach.

  • Sue Callaway Says:

    I’ve struggled with just working on myself because I used to perceive it as selfish, but the older I get the more life has shown me that working on myself is all I can do for anyone really. Then, as you said so well, by ‘default’ I will come from a place of right intention to help others.
    And thank you the sharing Krishna’s comment to Arjun…it is better to stay in action with devotional service in mind. I love that!

  • Jonathan_Anderson Says:

    “I’ve learned that staying in the here and now requires staying there even when it’s unpleasant.”

    THAT’s ultimate compassion bro. Staying there/here when it’s unpleasant is the only way for us to work out our stuff–and ultimately, that’s the only way to really serve others. Intention to serve the self with compassion is the most direct way to serve God (which includes each of us on the planet–and in the space station). Geez–I don’t know if y’all know how much you are serving me right now. Thank you again. Really.

  • Melissa_Duncan Says:

    Love that part of the Gita. Next time I want to run from my hectic life into a cave to meditate, I will remember this.
    Thanks for the wonderful post.

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