All through the day – I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.
All through the night – I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.1
“It is what it is” – always true, all the time. Nothing truly has intrinsic value – we assign value. And so it is with wetiko. Wetiko is typically characterized as a virus, demon seed, or inherently evil poacher of spirit – an image of outside invader is a consistent consensus throughout wetiko scripture. However, a big step back might reveal another perspective. Some say, “money is the root of all evil” rather than “the love of money is the root of all evil”. Money itself is neither one way nor another. Its value lies in what we do with it. In this context, what love is to money – wetiko is to ego. Ego roots our sense of individuality. Without it, All is One and One is All, devoid of individual experience. Ego itself is neither one way nor another. Wetiko is what humankind has done with ego…..to date – as one possible construct. Life as individual experience has already expressed an integration with our environment to some degree by indigenous cultures. Humankind has drifted to the current global norm where we – from within isolated egocentric capsules – experience phenomena outside our respective ‘pods’ as entirely separate. Egocentricity is the ‘demon seed’ that we inflict upon ourselves.
Our identification of wetiko as an evil to eradicate, establishes a polarizing duality that ultimately perpetuates wetiko’s existence. We, the ‘good guys’, aspire to rid ourselves of the ‘bad’ wetiko. But wetiko is simply one way we wannabe ‘good guys’ have unwittingly manifested our being. Such is the nature of the insidiously cyclic ‘wetiko reboot’, of which there are infinite forms, from conspicuous hubris to camouflaged convolutions, that all guarantee wetiko’s survival. Let’s examine a few.
Mindfulness is high profile these days. Yet its definitive manifestation as a consummate awareness and acceptance of the Moment is too often skewed to suggest some kind of self-help panacea for our worldly struggles. This, along with co-opting the language and distorting its character for marketing purposes, are wetiko reboots – the pure experience gets twisted to become some form or expression of ‘I me mine’ on which wetiko feeds.
Those among us who make a living in the Ascension Pundit Industrial Complex spawned by the 70s New Age movement might recognize such dilemmas. What began as honestly sharing a lucid vision based on genuine enlightening moments can swiftly descend to Earth quicker than Icarus once the need to make ends meet shifts the priority to marketing and bookings – or worse – the purity of the original expression becomes corrupted by inflated self-images like ‘Beacon for the New Paradigm’, for example. Both exemplify wetiko reboots (and not to be seen here as a knock on the many wonderful teachers who do great work despite the phenomenon).
Generosity is fundamental to all great faiths and spiritual practice. Giving fully of oneself is widely regarded as the most rewarding experience available. Yet philanthropy or any act of giving with the criteria of garnering recognition for it is a wetiko reboot. You get the idea. The phenomenon is noted in expressions of all kinds, in all forms, from all ages:
“Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Every effort should be made to eradicate self-importance from [our] lives. Without self-importance we are invulnerable. Self-importance is not something simple and naive. To get rid of self-importance requires a masterpiece of strategy.”2
“Biological, technological, and social progress, so the [Darwinian] argument goes, is brought forth by the sum of individual egos striving to out-compete each other. This metaphysics of economics and nature, however, is far more revealing about our society’s opinion about itself than it is an objective account of the biological world.”4
“’Hubris syndrome, is a disorder of the possession of power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success, held for a period of years and with minimal constraint on the leader.‘5 Its 14 clinical features include: manifest contempt for others, loss of contact with reality, restless or reckless actions, and displays of incompetence.”6
“To revolt within society in order to make it a little better – to bring about certain reforms – is like the revolt of prisoners to improve their life within the prison walls; and such revolt is no revolt at all. Do you see the difference? Revolt within society is like the revolt of prisoners who want better food, better treatment within the prison; but revolt born of understanding is an individual breaking away from society, and that is creative revolution. Now, if you as an individual break away from society, is that action motivated by ambition? If it is, then you have not broken away at all, you are still within the prison, because the very basis of society is ambition, acquisitiveness, greed.”7
Perhaps the quintessential wetiko reboot was captured in a nutshell by Tibetan Buddhist master, Chogyam Trungpa:
“No matter what the practice or teaching, ego loves to wait in ambush to appropriate spirituality for its own survival and gain”8
So what are we to do about it? Certainly the current trend toward mindfulness is an encouraging positive development. Adopting Ubuntu – universal bonding through sharing – would encourage collective mindfulness. Yet the larger question remains whether any or all efforts will manifest as far and as fast as needed with sufficient magnitude to stave off the catastrophes that loom. No one can dispute we all share the same air – but will we all comprehend the imperative to take care of our air together before it is too late?
“This process [of confronting wetiko] can destroy us, or, if we have the meta-awareness to see what is happening and are able to skillfully navigate our way through, can serve to further strengthen our intention, deepen our connection with the light of lucidity [within], hone our skill of creatively transmitting our realizations, and cultivate more open-hearted compassion.”9
Self-importance, egocentricity, or wetiko by whatever moniker – manifests in us singularly and collectively at all levels: individual, family, community, congregation, city, region, race, nation, species, etc. More than any other single factor here in the 21st c. (Imemyocene?10), it continues to slowly and steadily destroy us – from the inside out. The USA in particular11 – now with its shadow wetiko self exposed and personified as Donald Trump12 – epitomizes this expression of humanity that has nowhere left to go and can only accelerate humankind’s devouring of itself. The silver lining is the powerful expanding awareness in response. What happens from here is as large and blank a sheet of paper to approach as there ever was. In filling it, we must push beyond what we believe is possible with each and every stroke.
“The egocentricity experiment with human design has run its course. Its climax is our confluence of crises. Virtually all system solutions and ascension paths proposed by even the most enlightened among us, fail to breach egocentricity’s stronghold. The forecast for our imminent extinction is well founded and arguably certain unless we become something new. Metamorphosis is appropriate terminology here. At this Moment in history, ages of humanity can be metaphorically distilled into a litter of newborn kittens, blind from birth, and poised to open their eyes onto their world for the very first time. Are we ready? This is our evolution.”13
- “I Me, Mine”, George Harrison
- Don Juan in “The Fire From Within”, Carlos Castaneda
- “The Authentic Life“, Ezra Bayda
- “Enlivenement”, Andreas Weber
- “Hubris syndrome: An Acquired Personality Disorder?“, D. Owen, J. Davidson
- “Power Causes Brain Damage“, Jerry Useem
- “Think On these Things“, Krishnamurti
- “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism”, Chogyam Trungpa
- “Dispelling Wetiko”, Paul Levy
- “We’re Living in the Anthropocene Epoch”, Kit Fraser
- “When the U.S. Pretends It’s The Center of the Universe“, Tamara Pearson
- “Let Donald Trump Be Our Unifier“, Eve Ensler
- “Care To Evolve?“, Boho Beau