“Most people have had to sell themselves at some time, it just happened that I didn’t. And this is unforgivable.”
— Roberto Saviano, author of My life under armed guard (theguardian.com)
Most of us sell out at some time in our lives. We know the System is flawed, corrupt, criminal. But we do it anyway because we want the benefits of the System’s support: convenience, money, luxury, position, reputation, power. The seductive power of the Dark Side is almost impossible to resist.
But the System is a lie, or rather, an interlocking network of lies; a fabrication, a multilevel house of cards built on the fragile platform of egotism. Any little slip can lead to ruin: a vindictive lover, an accidental disclosure of our real feelings, speaking truth to power. So we watch each others’ backs: “I won’t out you if you don’t out me.” Wink-wink nudge-nudge.
But we all know, deep down in our hearts, that we are complicit. We ignore a thousand lies and injustices, keep our heads down and our moths shut, afraid to lose our positions in the System. We hate ourselves, but we despise and fear the shrill sociopaths who make careers of ruining others’ lives even more. For the way out of this, see our series on Being Integrity.
The System will always be corrupt; world will always be unsatisfactory. The only remedy is to renounce all the so-called benefits and walk away. It can be done. Roberto Saviano did it when he wrote his book about the Mafia. I did it when I resigned as a guru in a corrupt religious cult. I’m doing it again by remaining alone and refusing to participate in a degenerate Buddhist sangha. The Buddha did it by ending becoming, standing on nothing:
I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying near Savatthi in Jeta’s Grove, Anathapindika’s monastery. Then a certain devata, in the far extreme of the night, her extreme radiance lighting up the entirety of Jeta’s Grove, went to the Blessed One. On arrival, having bowed down to him, she stood to one side. As she was standing there, she said to him, “Tell me, dear sir, how you crossed over the flood.”
“I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.”
“But how, dear sir, did you cross over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place?”
“When I pushed forward, I was whirled about. When I stayed in place, I sank. And so I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.”
“At long last I see a brahman, totally unbound, who—without pushing forward, without staying in place—has crossed over the entanglements of the world.” — Ogha Tarana Sutta
“I crossed over the flood without pushing forward, without staying in place.” What the heck does that mean? Listen: