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How Cynicism Masks Pain

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I was just feeling some grief before you came and found me looking out at the water there - birds diving for fish, seals out there - and I just felt such sadness that there are fewer of them than there used to be and someday there may be none. And I thought, “How important is it to me that there’s a future with birds and fish and seals?” It’s not that I am worried about my future. It’s not that I am worried about if I will survive on a planet where the biosphere is dead. It is because it hurts - what’s happening. As soon as I am in contact with beauty, the second thing that comes, usually, is pain. And I think it is almost a conditioned response from having had that beauty crushed.

When I don’t feel grief at a specific thing, the pain doesn’t go away. It just becomes diffuse. That’s why people in our society are bored so much. Boredom is the pain of having nothing to distract you. Why should that be uncomfortable? It’s not uncomfortable if you know how to grieve. Once you sob and are held and you go through that grief process, then everything is lighter and the default state of existence is higher. A child lives in a magical world where it is obvious that this grass is alive and has an experience of being.

It’s not just a bunch of cellulose. Even the sand - no child would think it was silly to ask, “What is it like to be the sand?” And if you enter a child-like state of mind, it becomes not ridiculous. We are born with this knowing that gets beaten out of us. And that is a very painful process to be ejected from a magical world. In order to protect ourselves from being hurt like that again, we develop cynicism. Any intimation of the possibility of that world is a threat, so we hold it at bay with skepticism and cynicism and even hostility.

Underneath the hostility is a yearning wanting to believe that a more beautiful world is possible. That pain is always going to block us from believing and that’s why the pain has to be faced. Because we have to believe in a more beautiful world in order to serve it. Or let’s say to the extent we believe in it, we can serve it. - Charles Eisenstein

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