The Ebb and Flow, Understanding Motivation

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“Coexisting with Coercion” is an original b-weekly column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by qyj0L. qyj0L is a thinker, a writer, an artist, a dreamer, and a believer. Archived columns can be found here. CWC-only RSS feed available here.

Throughout the entries that I have written in this column, a few ideas and philosophical standpoints have been outlined. Anyone, at least anyone with the ability to keep on track while I weave my way through tangents, should be seeing glimmers of logic intertwined. We’ve all come here, to EVC, for a common purpose. Each of us is approaching this purpose with a different history, completely with its own set of experiences, and from these experiences we’ve each formed our own perspectives on the subject of Voluntaryism. I recently read an article that makes a very solid point, that “without establishing a sort of foundation, anything built on top will be unstable.” I strongly agree with this, and would like to start from there.

Voluntaryism, as I understand it, is a way of life that revolves around voluntary actions. But what does that mean, exactly?

I don’t think the answer is nearly as direct as the question, and I believe this to be the reason why there are so many complications when it comes to actually establishing a society based on voluntary actions.

All throughout history, there have been various cultures established on the voluntary principle, though none (that I’m aware of…) have called it by this name. Complications always seem to arise when there are multiple people, or multiple societies, that seem to be speaking about the same topic, while using different words; ah, the joys of semantic arguments. In this column today, I’d like to try to connect a few dots between some philosophies that I personally believe to be at the very core of Voluntaryism. I will provide links to allow each reader to explore the idea for themselves, yet I highly encourage anyone that reads this to do their own research, gathering their own details, and deciding what to believe, on their own. Please keep in mind that I am several years deep into research and thought on these subjects. I will provide one link per idea, where possible, yet some of these subjects are quite broad, and it may take more than a few minutes of reading in order to grasp what it is I’m trying to explain.

The Law of Attraction is an old ideal. The basic concept is that we create our realities based on the thoughts and ideas that we allow ourselves to believe in. Sounds like sorcery, eh? Maybe in some way, it is a little bit of magic. According to the Law of Attraction, each of us is essentially a magnet, drawing in our lives the things that we want to be here. This idea is very powerful, and can be completely overwhelming for those that have accepted the limitations that have been pushed onto us since birth; and yet for those that believe anything is possible, there is nothing that can stop them. It’s been explained in many ways, including “ask and ye shall receive,” “like attracts like,” and others. The complicated part also happens to be the simplest piece of the puzzle: you have to know what you want. Beyond that, you have to believe that what you want is possible, that you can have what it is you seek, as long as you believe you can, as long as you are prepared to embrace it when it manifests in your life. The key principle here, is that you must voluntarily choose what it is that you want… and that even if you do not actively choose, your voluntary actions are shaping the progression of your world. Once what you want is known, faith is the water that feeds the seed you have planted. For all of you bible scholars out there, Jesus, in this passage, seems to be preaching about the Law of Attraction directly: Matthew 17:19-20 “Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.'”

Karma is another powerful idea, akin to the adage “What goes around, comes around.” While I don’t pretend to be able to explain karma in its entirety, I will attempt to cover the basics. Each action that we take, be it physical, as in a hug, or striking another person, is comprised of a certain type of energy. This energy leaves our bodies, entering the world, and is returned to us from an external source; be it another person, the loving feeling we get from a pet, or any number of other ways. Everything from our lives, past and present, accumulates, and manifests itself as what we see “in front of us.” Through voluntary actions, or voluntary inaction, we carve away at the metaphorical block of clay, removing what it is that we don’t want, from that which we deem possible. Again, the key element that seems to be at play in the philosophy of Karma, is voluntaryism.

Thus far we’ve covered two relatively well known idealogies, both seemingly speaking on the same topic. The next fork in this road is somewhat less commonly used.

In Pagan belief, and the more modern Wiccan traditions, there is what’s known as the Wiccan Threefold Law, or the Threefold Law of Return, and likely several other similar names. While there is some debate as to whether or not this proclaimed natural law applies directly, or if it is instead simply an old wives tale designed to steer the inexperienced down the path of positive actions, I personally am not here to debate that. The principle behind this law, is that whatever actions you take, be they beneficial or harmful to yourself or to others, that they will return to you in three times the potency. This is a universal ideal that spans everyone, and everything, regardless of whether or not you are actively aware of the results.

In Shamanic beliefs, (here is where I falter and am unable to directly link you, reader, to my sources), all thoughts and all words spoken, are considered to be magic. Your thoughts and words echo into the universe, effecting everything that your words, or thoughts, apply to. If you declare that you are weak, or that you are stupid, or that you are sick, and don’t follow up that idea with an effort to correct what you have declared to be your fault, you are effectively creating a reality around yourself that revolves around the idea that you are weak, stupid, and sick. On the other hand, if you declare that you are powerful in your reality, that you are a healthy being, that you are loving and loved, you shift your focus toward the positive, reinforcing the “good” in your life. Again, the key function in this belief structure is that you are choosing which parts of your life to give energy to, which things around you that you want to “feed” and let grow stronger.

These are just a few examples of ways of life that are directly related to the voluntary society. Feel free to comment and share others if you can think of them!

It’s a strangely fitting idea, to me. Entire cultures have been wrapped around the concept of voluntary actions that return results based on the actions you chose to take. Cause and effect seem to be the focal point of human development of society and culture. It’s been widely stated that now is the time for a return to the old ways, and I wholeheartedly agree.

So what, then, should we be doing now?

Know yourself; know what it is that motivates you; know why you do the things you do. A story was once told by Siddartha Gautama, that goes as follows: A man walks beside a road. The man must leap to safety as another man, mounted atop a horse, comes galloping past. The man stands up, dusts himself off, and shouts to the rider “Hey, where are you going in such a hurry?!” The rider turns his head back and shouts “I don’t know! Ask the horse.”

Siddartha then asks us to think of ourselves, our conscious selves, as the walking man, and the road as our path through life. He further asks us to think of the rider as our actual selves; the part of us that lives and interacts with the world around us. Next, he asks us to think of the horse as the power behind our habitual actions. From this, we can come to the conclusion that our habits are driving our actions as we trample over ourselves, while we are trying to calmly walk along the path we have chosen.

Fear is a powerful motivating force. That which we fear is often the lone shining beacon in the forest of our lives. We have fueled the lamp, and continue to use it as a guidepost, showing us where it is that we don’t want to go. The problem with this lifestyle is that all of our navigational energies, if this route is taken, are being placed in our fears. We have no true direction of travel, other than “away from THAT.” We stumble from fear to fear, learning what we can along the way, never really “getting what we want,” and wondering, as a culture, why that is.

It’s time that we understand our motivations. Time to redirect our energies from avoiding that which we fear, to embracing that which we care about. This age is troubling, with remote controlled flying vehicles equipped with rockets and guns, surveillance equipment and tracking beacons, it might seem that we are trapped within a society of fear… but that is only the beginning. It is always darkest before the dawn, my fellow freedom lovers. And as the sun begins to rise on a new day for humanity, where will you spend your efforts?

Will you focus on avoiding what you fear? Or will you focus on embracing what you love?

The choice, as is the belief at the heart of a voluntary society, is yours.

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Tilting the Scale

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“Coexisting with Coercion” is an original b-weekly column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by qyj0L. qyj0L is a thinker, a writer, an artist, a dreamer, and a believer. Archived columns can be found here. CWC-only RSS feed available here.

Hello again, freedom lovers. The time has come once again to loosen the valve a bit, and let out some of what’s been steaming.

My personal time has been spent gardening lately, or more accurately, preparing to garden. I’ve set up a raised bed for vegetables, and established a strip of what will become a flower bed along the sides of my house. The work is hard, yet it is so much more rewarding than I could have ever thought possible from such a simple action.

In an effort to bring you along the wavelength that is my thought process, I feel I should begin at the proverbial beginning.

My place of residence (please notice that I don’t refer to this parcel of land as my property, and for more reasons than the obvious “I don’t own this house”) has gone through several phases over the years. I mow the grass, I trim the trees, I do what is asked of me to maintain the visual aspect of keeping up the image of what this society has deemed to be acceptable. There have been times where I chose to let the lawn grow unchecked, promptly followed by notices from the city urging that this eye-sore/fire hazard/property value diminishing trait be sorted. Throughout this adventure of “keeping up with the Joneses” under threat of action, I have come to understand a few of the intricacies of the state. The first of which I have been touching on since I began to put words down: the ideas of property, of life, and of domination.

Property, as defined at Dictionary.com, reads as follows:

  1. that which a person owns; the possession or possessions of a particular owner: They lost all their property in the fire.
  2. goods, land, etc., considered as possessions: The corporation is a means for the common ownership of property.
  3. a piece of land or real estate: property on Main Street.
  4. ownership; right of possession, enjoyment, or disposal of anything, especially of something tangible: to have property in land.
  5. something at the disposal of a person, a group of persons, or the community or public: The secret of the invention became common property.

From this we can fairly say that in one form or another, everything can be considered property, would you agree? By state law this rings true, and yet there are still complications, there are still grey areas in the understanding of what exactly it is that this means. My mind, while processing this idea, drifts immediately to the question of who decides what is whose property, and what exactly is required to establish “ownership” of a thing.

There are a great many minds that have addressed these questions, baffling as they are, and yet the common understanding still is centered on the concept of purchasing that which, until the moment of purchase, belonged to another person… but is that good enough? Surely this confusion here was the motivating factor behind the state law that says buying stolen property is a crime; this much I believe all could agree with. If Larry steals Jack’s wallet, Larry has committed a crime we call theft, or stealing, along with other associated words to describe the manner in which the object was stolen. To continue this example, if Larry sells Jack’s wallet to Steve, Steve is now in possession of stolen property, and is subject to be charged with a crime if Steve is unwilling to return the stolen property to its rightful owner (and maybe even if he does return it). But wait, we’ve reached another layer of confusion, haven’t we? If Larry leaves town and Steve returns the wallet to Jack, is Steve compensated for the value of the wallet that he traded to Larry? The state sure isn’t going to pay him. Neither is Jack going to be interested in paying to get back what was his to begin with!

Hmm… to begin with? That sentence there is misleading. To begin with, that wallet was attached to another life form; perhaps a cow, if the wallet is leather, perhaps a plant if it’s woven from hemp or cotton fibers. Were the materials gained prior to the production of this wallet justly gained? Were they paid for? If so, who sets the price to be paid? Who decides what is fair? Does the reality that a cow isn’t able to stand up and say, “Hey there buddy, I think my skin is doing nicely right where it is, thank you very much. I’d prefer it if you left it where it belongs,” mean that we have permission to use the materials? Surely on some level, human assumptions that we have the right to restructure our surroundings using the materials at hand, simply because we have the ability to, must be an act of aggression!

Life, as defined at Dictionary.com, reads as follows:

  1. the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.
  2. the sum of the distinguishing phenomena of organisms, especially metabolism, growth, reproduction, and adaptation to environment.
  3. the animate existence or period of animate existence of an individual: to risk one’s life; a short life and a merry one.
  4. a corresponding state, existence, or principle of existence conceived of as belonging to the soul: eternal life.
  5. the general or universal condition of human existence: Too bad, but life is like that.

Gardening is a dichotomous act, at its very core. It can be easily said that when one is clearing away the stones and weeds that once inhabited the location of the garden a person is planting, is in essence, paving the way for life to flourish; yet the very act of pulling weeds is a destructive act, is it not? The phrase “playing favorites” comes to mind. Certain plants produce things that humanity has deemed beneficial. Most garden-grown crops have a variety of health benefits to them; it’s not at all surprising that over time, we collectively figured this out, and began to prioritize the success of one plant over another. The drive to stay alive is embedded in our psyche, and has manifested itself in every aspect of our culture; from the clothes that we wear, to the wars that we wage, and everything in between.

As I prepared my garden areas, digging through the soil, loosening up what time and gravity have compressed, I began to let my mind wander. I thought about the astounding resilience of the plants that I understand to be “weeds”, the journey that a plant goes through, the great lengths that are gone to just for a slightly better lit resting place. I’d like you, brave reader, to consider this idea as you go about your day. The forks along a tree as it branches out; the dying rose bush with a single stalk leaning over and out of the shade; the ivy vine that must push its way out from behind the shadow of its brethren; consider these things and ask yourself a question: “Am I so different from these plants?”

I thought of these things as I dug, and felt compelled to help out the creatures that were distraught at the actions I was taking. I picked up several “rolie-polies”, and carried them out of harms way. Next I found spiders, desperately fleeing my trowel as it destroyed their hunting grounds; I saw this and thought to myself “How many of them will survive? How many of them will be able to find a new hunting ground, a new shady spot where smaller bugs like to relax?” The idea filled me with a sense of cruelty. I was destroying an entire ecosystem. And for what? Aesthetic appeal? My own selfish gains? The idea rung louder in my mind, so I did the only thing I could think of: I picked up the spiders and moved them to a nearby tree, feeling satisfied with myself that I could, with such a simple action, better the survival rate of the creatures I was robbing of their property. Lucky for me, wolf spiders and rolie-polies don’t have a legal system through which they can punish me. I’m sure if you allow yourself to, you can imagine an instance in which humanity has destroyed ecosystems for the sake of “making it better,” leaving other creatures, including other humans, to fend for themselves; and if you really let yourself, you can even think of an example where those left in the wake of these improvements were relocated somewhere safe and out of the way.

I thought of these things and found myself frustrated, trying to connect the pieces in a way that made more sense to me, and I failed. Grocery stores are continually filling up with more and more products that are a far cry from the ideology that food is medicine; yet in order to take the steps necessary for me to avoid these modified and chemically treated foods, I have to push my distress, my unwanted situation, on “lesser creatures.” The cycle is vicious, and seems to have no end. Our society seems to be focused on the idea that for one being to prosper, another must suffer. Is it possible that this is just the way things are? That by nature, all creatures are inherently struggling against the odds for survival, scratching and clawing at everything they can just to get a leg up on the competition? It’s a terrible thought, but it seems to be true.

Dominate, as defined at Dictionary.com, reads as follows:

  1. to rule over; govern; control.
  2. to tower above; overlook; overshadow: A tall pine dominated the landscape.
  3. to predominate, permeate, or characterize.
  4. Mathematics. (of a series, vector, etc.) to have terms or components greater in absolute value than the corresponding terms or components of a given series, vector, etc.
  5. Linguistics. (of a node in a tree diagram) to be connected with (a subordinate node) either directly by a single downward branch or indirectly by a sequence of downward branches.

There are two possibilities in any interaction between any entities. One is fueled by fear, presumption, cowardice, and the ego; while the other stems from love, empathy, and the desire to both understand, and to be understood. The first is domination. A child smiles at an adult as they walk past each other on the street. This adult sees the joy, the love, and the compassion that is flowing from the child’s eyes, and can’t seem to connect with it. This adult frowns back at the child, sending the dominating message that “no, the world is not happy and pleasurable, not from my perspective. You are wrong.” From this moment on, the child may begin to second-guess smiling at anyone else they meet, and the cycle of cynicism has begun anew. As the scales begin to tip from one side to another, domination gives way to equality, and the opinions being expressed by the child’s smile begin to have value in the eyes of the adult. The adult returns the smile to the child. Children bring with them into this world a sense of wonder and excitement for the seemingly mundane. This child smiles at an adult and shares with them a small piece of their world, their openness, their desire to connect with others. This adult accepts that what they have seen of the world is not everything, it is merely the surface layer of things that they have become obsessed with; this adult lets in the light shining from the youth before them, and is given the opportunity to swing on a different spiral.

Voluntary actions, if nourished and cherished, sprout other voluntary actions. Love and peace beget love and peace, where the viewer allows love and peace to take root. I encourage you, brave reader, acolyte of truth and acceptance, to embrace the light that shines from all around you. To remove the barriers that have been placed that cast shadows into the depths of our lives. Seek out understanding, and you will in turn be understood.

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A Line in the Sand

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“Coexisting with Coercion” is an original b-weekly column appearing every other Wednesday at Everything-Voluntary.com, by qyj0L. qyj0L is a thinker, a writer, an artist, a dreamer, and a believer. Archived columns can be found here. CWC-only RSS feed available here.

Hey there, freedom lovers. By reading this, you have already taken steps to understand yourself, and your situation. You have stood up from the seat that you were assigned, and taken a survey of the landscape. Beyond that, you understand that what we know as “society”, or “civilization”, is anything but social, or civilized.

We live in a place where thoughts are not only suggested, but thrown at us from all directions, and though we may not realize it, we draw from these thoughts we’ve been shown; pre-planned thoughts that have very little to do with our own state of being. Take a look at yourself, and consider this:

Have I ever found myself in a situation that I was unfamiliar with?

The likely answer is “yes”. We’ve all met people we haven’t seen before, been places we’ve never been before, and done things we’ve never done before, right? Now ask yourself another question:

What pool of experience did your mind dive into in order to help you relax and feel more at ease?

Was it a movie? Perhaps a story that you’ve read, or that someone has told you? Maybe a skit in a TV show that you’ve watched before briefly touched on the concept you now struggle with? Whatever the case may be, the core is still the same: You drew from an idea that you picked up somewhere along the way, compared it to your other ideas of things you deemed to be similar, then brought these concepts into reality, using them to shape your steps as you moved through this unfamiliar territory.

My real questions, then, are these: How voluntary was the choice made, when all factors are considered? If we did not request instructions, but were given some anyway, is that a form of force?

A name I go by is qyj0L.

Who am I? Well… that’s a much more complicated question.

I’m what could be called a “newbie” in the voluntaryism state of mind. My stance is one that was taken out of necessity, so to speak. My life was spiraling out of control; I was making choices that I didn’t understand or agree with, going in directions that I didn’t want to go in… in short, I was not living the life that I truly wanted to live. When I realized this, I all but panicked. I had to take control and reorient myself; in short, I had to figure out what I was doing.

Through analyzing the self, and those individuals around me, the pieces began to fall into place: my life was not my own. Upon discovery of this, I did what anyone would do… I rebelled. One could say that I was pushed into this position; I lost my place of residence, my employment, and my drivers license, all in rapid succession. I suddenly found myself with a vast amount of time on my hands, and almost nothing of my usual routine to occupy my days with. I resorted to my usual fall-back, and dove into an internet game that I’ve played off and on for, five years at the time, and began to explore the idea of playing roles. You see, this game centers around the concept of Role-Play, and by that I mean that your character is not just a “character”, in the game-world. You are “a citizen of Korea, in a time when three empires lay claim to the same land!” Many parts of the game actually require you to act out your character, and it being a fairly old game… you can’t physically “do” very much. The acting is all through your ability to describe what it is that’s happening. -he smirks. his eyes wandering slightly as he pieces together a thought- Would be an example.

I had moved back in with my mom, and was now spending the majority of my waking hours playing the role of one of four different people: a healer who wished to study Buddha’s teachings; a troubled youth who hears voices, found by a Shaman who hopes to cure his spirit-sickness; an aggressive rogue with an urge to leave the cities behind; and a man forged through violence that finds solace in a barbarians cave. Through these individuals, if I wanted to pursue their roles, I needed to study; so study I did. I dove into Buddhism, needing to complete the training assignments I was given by my guide. While I can’t say that I’m any sort of master, my studies on the four noble truths and the eight-fold path caused my life to take a turn in a direction that I have never turned back from. Once I was accepted into the Monk path, I began to study Shamanic ways, Korean shamanism most specifically. I read of Brotherhood among the men and women that refused “civilization”, and I read of protecting the balance of nature.

My mind has always acted as a bit of a crucible, and this time was no different. The concepts and ideas crept into every portion of my mind – this GAME was changing my entire way of thinking! I started to notice the connections between the conversations that I was having, and the teachings that I was reading. I noticed people talking about Right Speech, Right Concentration, Right Views, and more, without even realizing how profound of a topic they were discussing! Could it be that I and the people that I knew were living, at least in some small part, a lifestyle that could be called “walking the eight-fold path”? This thought persisted as time went on, and the more I entertained it, the more I noticed the subjects popping up in conversation. Yet, it wasn’t all good. I also noticed myself defending a stance that seemed to be at odds with the way that the culture I live in functions. Again, the more I entertained this thought, the more detailed and specific it became.

It started with the things that I once took for granted. The way that our society essentially pulls parents apart for their children, was one of the biggest blows. A society practically sculpted around the 9-5 job that doesn’t quite pay for the bills, and yet if the parent chooses not to go, the state will take away their dwelling. The way that kids are shown that if they want to impress their parents, if they want to succeed in the world, they need to excel in a school structure they aren’t much interested in, a practical zoo of hormones and immaturity grossly lacking in zookeepers, learning things from complete strangers; while at the same time they get told not to talk to strangers; and if the parents can’t stay home to school the kids, they are forced to corral them with the others under threat of action. It’s car commercials advertising all the strongest and fastest car components, yet only allowing you to go 55-75 miles per hour on the highway, under threat of monetary compensation to the state. It’s in the way that children as they grow older are told that playing games isn’t going to pay the bills, or keep food on their plates, and yet some of the wealthiest citizens of this nation are paid to play games – baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, to name a few off the top of my head; I began to obsess over the innate contradictions of the state. A great many thoughts came to be during this process, several of which have stuck with me to this day.

Perhaps the most prominent thought was, we can do better. We can take steps to remove the sense of entrapment in the state! This thought blew through me with a force that I could not comprehend. We can do better!

So there I stood, or rather, sat, at my desk: A young man, freshly removed from the life he had built around himself, who now realized that the life he had built was not a life that he wanted. I began the treacherous journey of self discovery, with the added benefit of having moved away from nearly everyone that I was in contact with. I was able to work in peace. Ripping and tearing out pieces of my life, I felt that if I were to build anything that I would be satisfied with, that I needed to start at the beginning; it would do me no good to build a house on top of a foundation that was unstable. It was then that I began to understand just how closely I had associated the “I” thought with ideas and labels that I had no real interest in. “I am…” could have been finished in any number of ways, before realizing this. But now? I’m not quite so sure. I now hold a stance where I acknowledge that I am a being capable of reading and using labels that have already been set, if I choose to, while disliking the labels themselves by their nature.

A label is a curious thing. At its simplest level, a label tells you something; typically a description of the item being labeled. A name, a genre, or whatever other category the item may fall into. If you continue that logic, you will find that a label, while describing what an item may be, also tells you just as much about what an item is not. Knowing this, I can’t bring myself to assign any new labels, silly as it may seem. There are far too many things that I don’t know, about everything, for me to be able to compile a proper label.

Instead, I find myself falling back on a phrase I learned in my youth, and promptly forgot: It is what it is. To that, I now add “And we can make it better.”

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