A story from Africa.
Kimwaki was a wealthy young man whose father had left him a great inheritance. Kimwaki was even richer than he had hoped. He could hardly believe the number of cattle and goats he now had.
No need for him to work anymore! And so he spent his days dreaming in the sunshine. And resting in the shade.
His cows became hollow eyed and his pastures overgrown. But he did not care. Why should he! He still had enough for himself.
No fear of hunger touch him.
And he did this until he was very lonely and then bored of the lonliness, and then tired of the boredom.
But he had forgotten what it was that might make some difference to his situation so long had he lain indolent. And didn’t realise how he was harming the land and the people that lived on the land.
And so he suffered and puzzled.
One day, while he was suffering and puzzling, he heard a chattering above his head. It was Spring and the weaver birds were making their elaborate nests. Each bought something to the colony, delighting in their contribution, and by nightfall the framework of the nests were complete.
The next day the happy birds bought moss and feather and bits of wool to finish off their new homes. Thunder clouds were approaching but the clever birds were safe.
And all the time he watched them the more Kimwaki began to understand..
He jumped up saying, ‘I am a strong young man. They only have their little beaks while I have big hands. They are the wise ones and I am not.’
Next morning he got up early and took his hoe to his neighbours field and worked alongside him the whole day.
And on the way home he found himself singing…..
If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.
And if you have more than you need then some part of you knows that this can’t be done without exploitation and is going to poison your golden chalice in the moment you put your lips to it,
though it may take some time for symptoms to develop…
We cannot be oblivious to the needs of others without incurring something rather nasty upon ourselves. The depersonalisation of the other required to keep our equanimity in the face of their plight, requires a broad swath through the psyche taking in our compassion for ourselves to boot.
The division beween ‘I and Thou’ is mirrored in the inner world by a narrowing of paths through the woods between the homes of I and me.
and so our responses to the world start becoming stereotyped. The narrowing of the soul’s arterial pathways limits life’s options.
The reason for this that the ‘either/or’ philosophy so eloquently expressed by the diplomatic coup, ‘you’re with us or you’re against us’, is rooted in Anxiety.
The ancient schism between Yahweh and Sophia/Hokmah, way before ‘In the beginning’, a split that resounds through our prehistory and the base of our skulls, cannot be tolerated very well so we over compensate
like you do
with now being the special child of the good parent.
We are children of both possession and exile.
The dissonance of it is unbearable.
And so the split is internalised.
And with that you get single minded.
You shut down all unnecessary stuff.
like feeling about stuff,
You know where all your kit is and you have a plan. You regress to fight/flight alternatives and you cram down anything you can find.
”Do not save your bread for tomorrow” A. Solzhenitsyn
If there is not enough ontological security for people to afford themselves any greater range of response then very soon every situation will seem to mean something very restricted.
When I was a teenager I once got a letter from a mother quoting the bible at me because I was clearly responsible for her son getting drunk one night.
”And if ye lead one of these little ones astray it would be better if you were thrown in the sea with a millstone around your neck.”Mark 9;42
What does that mean exactly?
It means that the coroner will have trouble establishing whether you were crushed or drowned.
If you cross my path I will kill you in cruel and unusual ways.
it’s a bit steep isn’t it?
even if you had had poured whisky down his neck..
as he lay dere bound hand an’ foot.
screaming and protesting..
The funny thing was that I saved her husband’s life the next week in a riding accident and then I was a saint.
The either/or limitation placed on people by the One System system spawns the psychological features that thrive in polarised situations, sado/masochism, narcissism, bipolar ‘disorders’. It’s as though the loss of the Principle of Relatedness that sinks back into the sea along with Yahweh’s first Wife, Sophia/ Hokmah,
way back in the before time…
and with it our deep knowing of place and belonging,
so destabilizes the psyche that it goes into a kind of collective shock, reducing living to very immediate concerns.
…that then becomes a life style rather than a temporary arrangement.
An’ you wind up like Kimwaki thinking yo’ll blessed an’ all….
but the creative spirit cannot fruit in the narrow confines of merely choosing whether to rest in the sun or in the shade.
And what’s needed is something radically other than what we know.
The beauty of the story is that even though Kimwaki had forgotten what to do, the weaver birds showed him.
They are that deep instinct for co-operation, that grateful generosity which experiences its neighbour’s welfare as the source of its own joy, the abundance of the Principle of Relatedness.
And so Kimwaki learns the power of telling himself off…
and about the richness of life that there is to be had in looking beyond our personal concerns.