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Spiritually Inadequate Obsessions - Trees on Mars by Hal Niedzviecki

I am reading Hal Niedzviecki's book on our obsession with the future - Trees on Mars.

How did the future, or the new, become so much more important than the now, the present moment? Spiritually, we are told the present-now is the only real place where insight, consciousness, presence, or change can actually manifest within you. But at the same time, hero-worship, or the idealization of an anointed individual that delivers change, can be taken taken to a radical extreme in the hyper-real. We can become obsessed with change, obsessed with the future, and feed our neurotic side.

In the introduction, Niedzviecki walks with a number of innovators on the cusp of becoming heroes - new redeemers of the world striving to bring new light and direction to a wanting world. Many of these entrepreneurs-soon-ubermensch suffer from obsession. They want to change the world. They have an idea, and they want the shape the world in the image of their idea. The world probably looks to them an awful lot like something that must be made into their own image.

That is an understandable ambition, maybe even a forgivable ambition. But is it a responsible one?

Some of this is simply the new status-seeking-behaviour - new ladders up the status-hierarchies. But for thousands of years now, spiritual traditions have cautioned us that these ambitions are not adequate or worthy of your attention.

Spiritual improvement, when put in terms of story, is very often character development. The character changes, as much or more than the character changes the world.

One quote from the book is staying with me, won't let go of my consciousness, forcing me to puzzle it out right in the here and now. And I figure I have to play with it, give it presence along with all my own distractions and obsessions and worlds-inside-my-head. So, I want to riff on something from Brendan Keenan of the Belfast Telegraph.

Spiritually Inadequate Obsessions

Wise and antiquated,

they say live

in the now?

Where's the advantage?

Lifting a responsibility,

disciplining the mind,

holds no glamour

when compared to

shaping the future

in my image.

Can you not

see that not

knowing the future

is now widely

taken as a

sign of inadequacy?

So the future

smiles and eats

an ambitious generation.

The old practice

their breathing, and

escape those teeth,

hear future's echo

of the past,

and deliver themselves,

here and now,

finding something everlasting,

here and now.


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