People seem to be easily impressed by experts from afar, as Robert Ringer called them. Specifically, spiritual experts from foreign lands with hard to pronounce names who act like they are something special must be onto something.
My best friend has been studying the thinking of some guy named Jiddu Krishnamurti. Now, I’m not condemning Mr. Krishnamurti, mostly on the basis that I’m not motivated enough to spend as much time studying him as I would need to in order to make an informed judgment. I’m just skeptical based on my cursory glance that he sounds like another run of the mill Eastern mystic going on about losing our egos.
One big thing that these anti-ego types miss is that it is precisely our egos that motivate us to improve the world, both for ourselves and others. Wanting to make money to buy that mansion on the hill, or to prove that I personally can invent a cure for cancer that will alleviate the suffering of millions, or just a desire to impress the girls and get some uptown coochie causes people to actually DO things. Perhaps this has some explanatory power as to why egotistical American cowboys build and run the world and Eastern mystics do not.
My main purpose here, though, is to run by you this Aesop’s fable that was sent to my friend by a Krishnamurti person to illustrate the need of overcoming our egos.
The Bundle of Sticks:
An old man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to give them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a faggot of sticks, and said to his eldest son: “Break it.” The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the Bundle. The other sons also tried, but none of them was successful. “Untie the faggots,” said the father, “and each of you take a stick.” When they had done so, he called out to them: “Now, break,” and each stick was easily broken. “You see my meaning,” said their father. Union gives strength.
Puh-lease. See, you present something as a Profound Lesson from a dying man, and it sounds like you’re really onto something.
If what you actually wanted was some reflection of reality though, the boy didn’t need some tribal committee or the help of a Democratic congressmen- he just needed to think for about half a second. He could have more easily untied the sticks and broken them one at a time by himself -crack, crack, crack, crack, crack- and had the job done quicker than he could gather everyone around and explain what he was trying to accomplish.
But that’s just me. My people are from Kentucky, so maybe I don’t get the finer points of Deep Philosophy. In our defense, however, we do not require a village just to break up some frickin’ kindling.
Also, my friend is studying a bit of Ayn Rand alongside the Eastern stuff for comparison, so I ain’t too worried about her joining an Ashram anytime soon, or offing herself to catch a ride on the Hale Bopp comet or some such.
POST SCRIPT: Did I speak too soon with the last sentence? My friend just joined the Hemlock Society. Hmm.