Domains of Culpability

Who is to blame?

The farmer and the viper:

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Image by Ernst Griset, 1874

A Farmer walked through his field one cold winter morning. On the ground lay a Snake, stiff and frozen with the cold. The Farmer knew how deadly the Snake could be, and yet he picked it up and put it in his bosom to warm it back to life.

The Snake soon revived, and when it had enough strength, bit the man who had been so kind to it. The bite was deadly and the Farmer felt that he must die. As he drew his last breath, he said to those standing around:  Learn from my fate not to take pity on a scoundrel.

                                                            ~Aesop’s Fable

A Riddle for Modern Times

Fables are interesting. We can learn a great deal about ourselves from our interpretation of them.  This particular tale—one of Aesop’s Fables—has appeared in many forms throughout history.  The many shifts in the telling often lead to different types of conclusions.  For instance, the Griset illustration above actually parallels a slightly different story from the version listed above.  As in the illustration, in an alternate version, the farmer takes the snake home and warms it by the fire.  In each varied telling, the frame of the story tints the moral.

Consider the two most crucial elements regardless of moral variation.  First, the farmer, with full knowledge of the snake’s nature, takes the snake “in” (tucked into his shirt, into his home, etc.).  Second, the snake, acting fully within its nature, attacks and ultimately kills the man.  The question is this:  Where does the fault lie?  Who is to blame for the death of the farmer?

Consider the current political dynamic in the United States.   Who is the viper?  When searching for an analog to the snake in our various current event scenarios, for some, the 45th president comes to mind.  Others think of immigrants.  Still others think of elected officials or banks and corporations in whom we place so much faith and dependence.

Perhaps more important than the snake, the farmer is the primary actor.  The farmer makes a choice, or so it appears.  In any case, the farmer, through a chosen action, instigates a result.  Who is the farmer? Protagonist, perpetrator or victim—who is to say?  Perhaps the farmer, like the snake, merely acts within his own nature.  But perhaps the farmer chooses to act rather than react. Perhaps the farmer, like Sisyphus, makes a choice despite the seemingly negative (or futile) outcome.  He chooses because that is what he does. Perhaps the choice, not because of its nature but by virtue of its existence, is who he is.  In the end, the farmer dies. The question remains.

Who is to blame?


We Shall Not Want

I do not normally ponder questions in public as do many bloggers.  Instead I opt to entertain my musings in my head or in undisclosed journals.  I tend to choose the miserly route of tucking away such personal thoughts and speculations within the confines of my own well-constructed delusions. Occasionally I will reach out to other bloggers, poking at their public ruminations in search of my own narrative spin on their chosen topics.  Publicly aired “Gee, I wonder if…” questions are not my bailiwick.  But habits can be broken. So…

Like many, I was taken by the idea of “presence” just after the turn of this century when I first encountered Eckhart Tolle’s use of the term.  Almost immediately I recognized it as an intermittent experience I had encountered from my late teens.  I began to wonder how “normal” life might be different if I could manage to maintain this poignant sense of presence. Thinking about the “law of attraction” and similar notions regarding manifestation of intent, it occurred to me that we might be trying too hard to intend, to manifest our hearts desires.

One of the characteristics of the experience of presence has been the feeling that at such times, I am most myself. Could it be that the only work in life is not to get in the way of who we are?  Is it possible that being—pure presence—might be the key to all “desires” of our hearts? Could what we experience as EveryDayLife be a simple manna experience—to awaken, to focus on being as we flow as life through experiences?

Of course, I realize that other folks have to cooperate.  All so-called “others” contribute a great deal to EveryDayLife—a matrix of interaction in which we can never escape mutual custodial responsibility. But from a purely theoretical point of view, is it possible that I could arise to pluck all I need from the surrounding fruit trees or harvest the plenty of the fields (whatever that means in modern society) if you other folks would just stop tromping around in MY lifespace—walking your dogs, digging your coal, abusing every odd Other who crosses your path.  If my space could be purified by a single-minded focus on simply being here, if I am able to fully embody a consciousness that expresses “I AM” and nothing else, might that be the heaven we have for so long heard about–and longed for?

Sure, I have a job, I have to pay for my food, shelter, taxes and all sorts of societal intrusions (that is you folks tromping around in my experienced lifespace—that is, our sharing the same reality).  But are these notions of imposed subsistence requirements (in their broadest sense) imperatives or choices?

Walking one day from here to there, it dawned on me that I have been trying too hard.  Why do I want?  Why do I strive so to “make the world a better place”?  Why do I exert so much energy toward forging “meaningful” behavior—actions to which I can ascribe value, if only to me?  I am here.  All I have to do is be here, really be here, now.  I am the meaning to which I aspire.  Everything I require will flow to me—and flow from me.  All steps toward practicality become evident–not as obligations but as opportunities to experiment with connectedness.  As I fill out my presence here in EveryDayLife, I become the intentions I need to be to take the next step…and the next…

With no separation between our perceived selves and our intentions—when MY meanings melt away to allow my presence to emerge– it would seem that all we really need do is to be here now.  To be HereNow…I like that idea. It cuts across the need to be male, female or other, to be a wage earner, to be a concerned citizen intent on doing my civic duty, to be a Republican or Democrat or any manner of obstruction that causes me to fixate on something other than presence.  HereNow ignores the temptation to affix significance or “meaning” to an object in the world as a means of defining a personal experience.  And HereNow is not my own–like my salary, like an automobile or a paid vacation, like a spouse or an opportunity for advancement or a morning cup of coffee or a dislike of broccoli. HereNow is an automatic announcement of my participation in what I call “You”.  HereNow becomes a transcendence of our delusions of otherness, our feverishly maintained insistence on you not being me and me not being you.

None of these are complete thoughts.  There are no proposed answers here.  This pulpit from which I shout is as much a lazy afternoon in the sunlight, a stroll in the park, or deep felt yearning from a long inhabited prison cell.  These are just words, just rearrangements of illusory packets of sea water in the ocean of being.  But perhaps this arrangement of words can re-present steps toward mutual salvation—from our habituated, individuated selves—bridging the imaginary chasm we have constructed and maintain between us.

If this pure I AM experience could be extended—from me to you, from you to me and from each of us to another—what kind of pragmatic adjustments might be necessary?  I suppose that is the nature of attempts to build community—to be together and figure out how to maintain our individually experienced “I AMs” as shared realities with one another. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could stop getting caught up in off-pitch, political camp songs—anthems of justification for not caring for nor about each other?  How different could the experience of the pragmatics of EveryDayLife feel if we could just allow Lucifer and his limiting kin to sprout wings, freeing ourselves from their constant whispers to mean and to do so ferociously?

I AM HereNow…

I AM…as YOU…as WE

be who you are!

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Experience of Reality as Reality … but Not


Originally posted on HELIOS: by Kenneth Harper Finton ©2017 “the problems we had yesterday continue today. The only good such understanding can do is help us to make better decisions, be more tolerant and less judgmental. It can change our hormonal balance and make us feel better in the now.”