…from a letter to a friend….

You have new angles I’ve never suspected.  A Marshal McLuhan fan, I’m thinking.
And I get what you are saying.  Everything is modified by media.
But it reminds me of the description of the classic discussion between a new meditator and a meditation teacher.
The teacher explains to the highly incredulous newbie that all those voices in his head – all that ego chatter, no matter how real it seems and no matter how omnipresent it is – it is not who they are.
He says that who you really are is the silence that sits quietly behind the ego’s chatter – and that this is true no matter whether you believe it or not.
“How can one know this is true?”, the student asks?
The teacher says “Simple logic. The chatter is like the contents of a bowl and the silence is the bowl.   You can take the ego’s chatter out and still have the bowl’s silence.  But you cannot remove the bowl and still have the ego’s chatter.  Hence we know which one is more fundamental.”
The media is like this.  It is omnipresent, it taints everything and everything is modified and shaped by it.  But, in the end, it is nothing without us.  Without us, it cannot exist though we can exist without it.
So, I acknowledge the media’s power but I can’t go so far as you and believe that nothing is happening but the media and its effects.
Under the firestorm of information echoing and feeding back on itself is the physical world, are the lives being lived and lost, is every child learning to walk and every human learning to love.
They say that the first thing a surgeon reaches for when they confronting a problem is a scalpel, or a carpenter a hammer.
Perhaps, after so many years in the media and so many years drinking its particular kool-aid, you have lost the sense that it is, in the end, a powerful overlay and a echo machine of a high order – but it is not the substrate.
One of the reasons I read so many things, as I’m sure you do, is because multiple cross correlations can tend to null out local effects.  It has been hard to get a ‘handle’ on ISIS.  Cultural echoes, media echoes, vested interest echoes, nationalistic echoes and more are all jamming the river of information with crap and bias.
But, unless I’m to believe that the media is the ground or substrate of the world, I have to believe that under its storm of echoes, there lies a deeper reality that, while perhaps difficult to see clearly, is there none the less.
I know you are an idealist and a realist and that it is a hard thing to be both.  And I know that people, myself very much included, can get burnt out by the world’s insanities and just go stale towards it all.  I hear some of that in your words, my friend.
In all of the insanity of this world, there still is a higher road.  And, in an amusing way, it is not through it but rather around it.
When Buddha said that when we wish reality to be different than it is, we only manufacturers unhappiness for ourselves, he was sharing a great truth.  There are a lot of truths like that lying about.  With them, one can embark on transcending rather than coping or conquering or even understanding the world.
Someone once said, “Be in the world but not of the world”.  Or, more graphically, as Ali said, “Float like a butterfly and string like a bee.”
All your criticisms have a very large grain of truth in them which you’ve won through hard experience and, undoubtedly, the loss of some skin.  But there’s more.
I spend a lot of time looking at this world square on trying to see its realities behinds its illusions.  But I remain joyful in spite of all that because I think there’s more.
And, if like an Existentialist or a Stoic, you look at it square and accept that there is one hell of a lot that cannot be changed, there still is all the rest to play in.  And one of the best areas to play in is your own mind and perceptions.  They are malleable, they are shapable and they are yours to own.  Intentional, incremental self transcendence is quite simply capable of being yours.
That was recorded lecture #43 from Dennis’ “Ministry to Burnt Out News Folk”.  Stay tuned next week when we offer a shampoo that will, with just one application, make you literally 20 years younger and twice as smart.
Until then, hang onto your willy and never give up,
Dennis

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