What is Essential? Navigating a Complex World
To know what is essential you must also know what isn’t.
Vast knowledge is best valued when dispersed in small increments. But the truth is we seek to know everything now. We fear that we will not know enough in time to make our impact before we leave this world.
Knowledge is like traveling to a new country. You fear you never have enough. You don’t know what clothes to pack and often end up over packing, which invites more stress and teaches you that you only needed the essentials. Everything else you bring is superfluous. So in time, with more travels and practice, you learn to carry less. You learn to do more with less, and never leave without your favorite pair and timeless blue jeans.
To refine your teaching, you must discern between what is essential and what can weigh you down.
Once in a while, you adopt a new approach — a new fashionable colored top, which may still end up in the donation box after just a few months. But you’ll wear your favorite jeans until they don’t fit or till they fall apart. You will probably cut them and make them into summer shorts.
All this to say; everything that is classic was once new and fashionable. The common denominator for survival lies in what serves a higher purpose or has the highest impact upon a population. Sometimes, it wasn’t the fashion, but what the style stood to represent. Or how it united a community behind a single idea or symbol; like blue-ripped jeans and the Peace and Love movement. We must discern between what is necessary, and what is just a passing trend. Frequently the movement dies, but the trend remains. Other times it’s the other way around.
There are vegans for dietary reasons and vegans that convert it into a way of life. It then becomes a universal approach to living; a philosophy. Yet there are still people adopting “veganism” because it’s the new “in” word or craze. They have no clue why they are doing it. But we can’t condemn them for trying if one out of ten people stick to it and learn the fundamentals of that new culturescape. That person may eventually synthesize a rich and in-depth understanding of the system, simplify it, and relate it to the masses, while that same method may start to look cultish to others. The issue lies with those who distort the message.
When people become extremists in their beliefs, they draw a circle around themselves. They become the minority, and the majority view them as heretics.
Meditation has the same faith. You have to be open enough to give it a try. To start is better than not starting at all. To adopt the discipline, if only for one minute a day, opens you to a plethora of possibilities. You open the door into the formless and “miracles” begin to manifest. A miracle is just another way of defying the laws of nature which in our dualistic world seems impossible to do. Meditation is to still the mind. It’s the union of your body to an invisible energy source — an essence so subtle that you must rely on faith to know it exists. You shut the light, you hear the sounds more clearly; you shut the sounds, you see the view more clearly. In the hands of a balanced being, the discipline can do wonders, in the hands of fraudulent teachers it can be dangerous.
Fashion distracts people. Styles and trends fade, but colors remain. Can art be called art without colors? Many assorted colors. Some are passionate about blues; others try to create new types of blues. In ancient times, pure organic indigo came from the Indigofera plant of the tropical south and the Strobilanthes cusia from Asia. Then new dyes were created with Indigo carmineto; a synthetic dye which is now listed in the United States as FD&C Blue No. 2. The same one that colors your blue jeans. The organic form of indigo is too rare, too difficult, too expensive to extract from nature and produce in high quantity. It also has a short life before it starts fading. In 2009, a chemist accidentally created a new inorganic blue pigment; YInMn blue, which is the new Bluetiful of Crayola, while an artist painter is currently in a California underground lab trying to create a future blue; Quantum Blue, with her blue disciples. One pigment can have many stories.
These blues may have new names, but upon first observation, people with no knowledge of the complex nature of the color blue will always call it – blue.
And those that have a deeper knowing will tell you about all the other colors needed to create a classic blue before you can understand how to create that new fashionable variation of the color. But they won’t really tell you all of their secrets. Why would they? That original indigo was once the most expensive and difficult color to obtain. To have anything blue — a painted wall, a blue dress or blue furniture was a sign of wealth. People had to travel far and wide to find the treasures that we in the West believed most precious and rare. The journey was dangerous, and the high value of the blue pigment reflected these hardships. It sounds akin to the history of salt, or the history of particular cultures along with their arts and dances born from them. For the protectors of the knowledge to give you their secret, you must be proven worthy.
Is art “objective”? An artist can be the most celebrated artist of his time and still distort the message.
Nowadays color is a matter of taste unless you speak to a historian or an expert with a broader view. The more information, the more complicated the passing of that knowledge becomes, especially without deforming it with our subjectivity, and the reason people only viewed art as subjective, rarely objective. A statue was stated to be accurately depicted by its colors, especially during the Greek and the Roman empire. Back then, artists went to great lengths to add color to their art.
When the Roman empire collapsed, many statues remained buried underground for thousands of years, when they were dug out, the works were preserved, but the colors were mostly eroded from the dirt build-up, their hues faded from air oxidation and light exposure. Soon after, sculptors and painters began to argue. During the Renaissance, artists believed colored sculptures were a reflection of the degenerate times of the middle ages. Suddenly, history was re-written and “aesthetic purity” was considered the new artistic ideal. Sculptors believed the marble had to remain in its original form to be considered high art (good art), while painters couldn’t depict emotion and suffering without color. Is art “objective”? An artist can be the most celebrated artist of his time and still distort the message.
Even such things as secret schools divided ancient populations. They created elites even if at first people were ridiculed for seeking and practicing the knowledge from those schools. It is most likely the reason they made them secret in the first place, for fear of being exposed or executed by the rulers of those dynasties. In fact, it is all straightforward, the knowledge is free if you seek long enough, the principles are universal and present in the natural world. We were just conditioned by society and taught that we needed all this superfluous stuff to resemble and act like Kings and Queens or to produce high art. When in Truth, only the meek inherit the world. Sounds religious right. Even the word religion has been highjacked when in fact “religion” comes from the root word “Religare” — Ligare; to bind together. Ligamentum; to bond — Ligaments; Like Ligaments appear as crisscross bands that attach bone to bone and help stabilize joints — Ligaments bind bones.
It suddenly clarifies what the ✝︎ (cross), and the ☥ (ankh) could symbolize at their root; tools and symbols to remember that everything must be connected — the re-tying of the body of a man or a woman to a higher source. Of course, this view is purely subjective. I joined some dots, bound by my logic and intuition. Everything said is rhetorical. The fact and the truth remain that to see the parts you must understand the whole. To know what is essential you must also know what isn’t. To recognize a great teacher, you must learn from many ‘bad’ ones.
What is essential? That is the question we must ask ourselves.
Then we must ask, what isn’t needed? A carry-on with the necessary essential items or two checked luggage with extra fees and an additional headache. What is essential to pass on to today’s generation? Is a complex system superior if it cannot be understood?
Yes, my friends, I have taken you down a rabbit hole, which is different than drawing a circle around me. But has it also opened your mind? That is the question you must ask yourself. Is the Ensō superior to the Yin Yang? Is ✝︎ a variation of ☥, critical thinking more important than ‘feeling,’ is blue the bluest color? To know, you must cross to the other shore. Once you have arrived, you will undoubtedly realize that you must stop the seeking, drop the extra weight and view all things from a higher more balanced state while wearing your most prized jeans; sometimes blue, sometimes not, sometimes old, sometimes new.
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