Know Thyself is an analysis of man’s long search for meaning and purpose, his discovery of God and his subsequent creation of dogma and rituals which eventually eroded the authority of the God to which many of his religions first prayed.
The author examines the fallout with mainstream religion which is turning more and more people to look to a secular world for answers. But the empty rhetoric of this world continues to abandon many to lives lacking orientation or meaning, rife with drugs, addictions, violence, crime and religious extremism.
Again, she explores her own journey to find meaning and purpose in her life. It was her experience of growing up with the puritan protestant belief system that shaped many of the values and ideas she examines in this series about good and bad; women, race, culture, class and other religions. She proposes that although these ideas have become markers of progress in the world, they are obsolete and are alienating us from our non-material dimension. She believes, however, that the world has never been more ready for us to ask those important questions about who we are, how we got to here, what we are here to fulfil and how we might go about it. The world has never been more ready for us to change, so that it may change.
Sufferance & Anger
I had been advised by that kind literary agent twenty years earlier to go out and experience what I was writing about. I had articulated the theory quite well, if polemically, in her view but lacked the necessary maturity to express myself convincingly. I hadn’t let her down. As the drama of my life unfolded, the experiences I gathered surpassed my wildest imagination. Throughout however, through the sufferance and anger yet to be expunged, even as memories of the book I wrote had begun to fade, I held on to my firm belief in the power of love. I worked hard in the face of the obstacles I encountered to stay true to my thesis that human differences were based on illusions; that fundamentally we all want similar things, peace, love, happiness and to feel secure.
In the real world in which she asked me to ground my thesis, the feminists’ dream of social, political and economical equality for women was crumbling. Marketers aggressively reincarnated the stereotypes of woman as the appendage to man, as Barbie and WAGs - wives and girlfriends of footballers - mere trophies. The motivation was not religious but the imageries were drawn from our religious past. It was all a ploy to get us spending more to assuage the sense of insecurity they so cleverly wove into our narrative of ourselves, as women. I was no feminist, at least in the sense that I did not believe in fundamental personality differences between men and women, and that women's differences are special. But I sure didn’t believe in the myth of man the hunter, the provider or the guardian given the number of single mothers who were emerging battered and broken from the wreckage of post-modern marriages and relationships.
The cold war was over and the new baddies were the Muslims, perhaps the remaining threat after the communists, to the status quo. I had followed the narrative quite closely through the nineteen nineties as Russian communism crumbled. I could only observe, mesmerised, as another gang of marketers, the marketers of war and carnage stoked up our insecurities about the old enemy Islam to keep us once again distracted from ourselves and from the unjust system they had spawned; and made money from.
The working classes were faring no better. There was now an underclass, no-go council estates, lots of anger. Gun-crime, knife crime, drug dealing, drug taking had become the crimes of the times. No wonder we were so excited by the New Labour Party and its promises of change. For a while our optimism was justified but sooner or later as we soon learned, old habits die hard. The system was bigger and stronger than the good intentions of government ministers; the contaminated view of ourselves, and the world, was too deeply ingrained in all our minds; and our souls were too corroded by cynicism...
In Chapter Five: Sufferance and Anger, the author lays bare the struggle of her journey to know herself. She continues the story of her transformation after leaving the BBC and her Buddhist community for a life of uncertainty and purpose. She finds purpose but the challenges in her personal and work life bring to the fore the violent anger she had struggled very hard to repress through therapy and Buddhism. Eventually, it escapes with devastating consequences. She is forced to make links to her childhood, her cultural conditioning and the choices that she had to determine who she is, and to find a way to be that person.
Continue reading on the Feel the Change project web site.
Know Thyself will soon be available in the book store.