Looking for the future (I): the inner Guide

These times we live in are very special. Ancient historical events such as the end of ancient Greece or the fall of Rome are nothing compared to the civilisational cataclysm we are living through. It will have to do away with many of our beliefs, which are now presented as absolute truths. We are part of a society that with its enormous technological advancement and a sharp drop in its human spiritual development is reaching a peak of imbalance, a peak from which we have the choice of seeing two possibilities: the clouds or the precipice.

With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to share some personal experiences that have helped me to keep my spirits up at this time, which seems to be one of generalised dehumanisation, characterised by its wide menu of cannibalistic recipes from the past, so well disguised as novel.

I have no scientific proof of this, but I believe that, despite its thousand defeats and mistakes, humanity continues and will continue to resist. And without having the material and technological resources of our enemy, the only weapon we have at our disposal is the infinite capacity to learn and imagine, the most human and infallible thing, which no one can take away from us.

The armed conflict between NATO and Russia is the most visible, but unfortunately it is only one of the many expressions of this total war that has been declared against the human being, which cannot be understood only from one of its battlefields. We must add there the planetary destruction of the environment, the social fabric, education, culture, traditions and the foundations of respectful and rational dealings with each other. The total abandonment of our spiritual self-discovery (which is not necessarily religious), of the quest to know who we are, where we come from, where we are going. That is what dehumanisation is.

I am grateful to Latin America for the great teachings I found there, which are not only sources of inspiration, but a kind of compass in this apparent twilight of times.

One of them was my participation in the Humanist Movement, which emerged between Argentina and Chile in the late 1960s, founded by the Argentinean philosopher Mario Luis Rodríguez Cobos, better known as ‘Silo’. It was an international movement that formed various think tanks, organisations and even political parties, which were accused by the powers that be of everything – something that no longer matters much.

This is the story of a defeat, but one of those big ones, which are always worth it. When we are young, we have the capacity to absorb so much hope, that regardless of all the disappointments that await us, we don’t exhaust it so easily, and we always have something left for the rest of the way.

We come to understand, for example, that no external social change is possible without an internal human personal change, just as it is very naïve to think that we can change ourselves internally without projecting ourselves outwards, in acting towards the social world, of which we are a structural and inseparable part.

In other words, only in an organised action with other human beings, directed towards social change, can we advance internally. But this ‘external’ action must be lasting and lucid in this collective action, we cannot disconnect ourselves from our inner world, we must always have an awake, critical, open, attentive consciousness, just as we work our muscles when we do daily exercises so that they do not atrophy. The Humanist Movement was an attempt to unite the experience of some Eastern spiritual schools with collective social practice, for anti-capitalist political change. That is why the symbol of the humanist parties that emerged from the Movement was the Moebius strip, representing the union between two dimensions (in this case the inner with the outer), which become the sign of the infinite.

Apart from an apparent lack of relevance in the political life of the world, the Humanist Party of Chile was the first opposition party to the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet legalised in the country and was the only one to leave the government after a few years of the return of democracy, denouncing the betrayal of the people by the political elites.

It is interesting to recall now an exercise we used to do that made a great impression on me at the time. That of the ‘inner Guide’. The ‘inner Guide’ is an ideal man or woman who lives in the consciousness and imagination of each of us. It can coincide with a real, literary or visionary character or even be a representation of several people, whom we would like to resemble or to whom we turn to in our interior for advice before making a difficult decision.

These ‘inner Guides’ can be very different, but they always combine three qualities: wisdom, kindness and strength. Wisdom is not the wisdom of a specialist, scientist or politician, it is not the wisdom of a specific knowledge, but comes from the profound, from the human, from the set of experiences resulting from our existential search.

Kindness is related to love for the other, because only those who love can, in times like these, of confusion, manipulation and relativism, not judge or punish but understand the roots of conflicts and affectionately guide and help to correct, when people are wrong, fight over irrelevant things and close people break relationships for nothing.

Kindness makes us put ourselves in the other’s place, exercise empathy. Strength is that which we feel with total conviction, when we reject the injustice of a system based on totally wrong premises and values, sustained by violence and discrimination as a general rule, it is that which makes us see that change in favour of the human being is absolutely possible and depends only on people. The force is his profound faith and the faith that drives him to work and to organise the ideas.

The exercise of the configuration of the ‘inner Guide’ seemed to us to be a powerful tool that we have in our minds, where we reaffirm what we have always known profoundly. In the most complicated situations, such as those we are experiencing in this moment of total crisis, there will be great doubts and strong questioning, but deep in our hearts there will always be a response for it to make. The ‘inner Guide’ is only an instrument to remove it more easily from what we always carry within us.

Is it just a nostalgic memory of our youthful years, when we barely went out into the world and almost without knowing it, inspired by our first loves and the new landscapes along the way, we felt absolutely revolutionary? There were only a few centimetres between the stars and our outstretched fingers, for we discovered that revolution was something else. They were not long and boring meetings in which we repeated the correct and empty words of the doctrine petrified by ‘real socialism’, but a journey into its interior, and then into the distant and unknown worlds, with their exotic and formidable inhabitants, conversing with Marx and Gurdjieff of poetry as our only way of verifying the paths. They were human spaces where the rational prevailed. We might not agree on anything, but we spoke the same language and understood each other.

It is always said that “ignorance of the law does not free one from responsibility”. This is becoming increasingly difficult to explain. It is difficult to know something without knowing how to read, let alone how to understand. Now they say “oh, I didn’t know it was illegal… as everybody does it…”. The daily mechanics of the consumerist society, promoted and imposed as the only general and supreme law. Now how do we configure our ‘inner Guide’ in this world? From where?

The last decades have been a school for learning all kinds of opportunism.

There are already generations who, because of the systematic destruction of memory and culture, have been left without examples or ethical (which is not the same as moral) reference points.

The current alliance between fascism and neo-liberalism has only been possible thanks to this cognitive work that has detached human beings from their free, creative and irreverent essence.

In the construction of a multipolar world, where there will be room for all cultures, languages, ways of connecting with the sacred, we must continue to search for experiences that transcend the banal and the ordinary. The wretched preachers of the ‘end of history’ do not know the human. Crises are necessary for growth, and with this one we will have a real opportunity to move out of prehistory. For that we must learn a lot. I still don’t know how wrong we were in our search for humanism in the human, but I think they were the happiest years of my life.

One of the problems to be solved, that of power, will be dealt with in the next text.

Oleg Yasinsky