Our human minds are by definition extremist organizations.
A quick check of our own mind will show how the thoughts and emotions swing from one extreme to the other – from “for” to “against” and from “love” to “hate” – on a dime.
George W. Bush’s dictum for his crusade against “terror,” that, “You’re either with us or against us” was the perfect example of this extremist phenomenon at work.
As Osho explains:
“Mind exists like the pendulum of a clock: it goes from one extreme to the other extreme.
“And you cannot get out of the vicious circle by moving to the other extreme, because the other extreme is part of the vicious circle. When the pendulum is going to the right, in fact it is gathering momentum to go to the left. When the pendulum is going to the left, it is gathering momentum to go to the right. This is the vicious circle.” 1
If we look at the male-dominated, white Christian history, the only surprising thing about Donald Trumps’ extremism is that everyone finds it surprising.
There were the repeated crusades against the Muslims hundreds of years ago, before the Europeans set out to subjugate the world and plunder their resources, using whatever violence was required, including “discovering” the Americas. There, extremism flowered with the elimination of millions of native American “Red Indians,” then the genocide against the black people from Africa with the slave trade, the incarceration of Japanese Americans, followed by the nuking of the other “yellow” guys in Japan… then the horrors inflicted by US-American-supported Latin American dictators…. The list goes on and on.
The story of the Middle East is particularly relevant today when examining white, male, Christian extremism.
There was the US-American overthrow of the Iranian democracy in 1953, and its replacement with the tyrannical, but subservient, Shah. That extremism provoked the opposite with his replacement by the tyranny of the Iranian Islamic Republic. Which then in turn helped trigger Iraq’s invasion of Iran the following year.
When Iraq’s adventure looked like failing, the US and many others jumped in to prop up Saddam Hussein, including supplying chemicals for his poison gas attacks. Of course, talking about extremism, there was the little matter of the US blowing Iran Air Flight 655 out of the air during this war. It was on a regular civilian flight in Iranian airspace.
Anyway, this pointless Iraq-Iran conflict left another million people dead.
Then Hussein invades Kuwait. Clearly Hussein took his meeting with the US Ambassador to Iraq, Glaspi, the day before the invasion, as a green light to go ahead. In an extraordinary display of incompetence or deception, she told Hussein: “But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait…” Anyway, it was an opportunity for the US to spend over $50 billion dollars of other people’s money on target practice – not to mention the follow-up arm sales to protect Saudi Arabia from further attack. Was that another 100,000 dead Iraqis? No one seems too sure of the exact figures.
Then there were the UN Sanctions against Iraq. More extremism at work.
Madeleine Albright, the US Ambassador to the UN, was asked about the sanctions on US TV: “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Her reply: “We think the price is worth it.”
Then 9/11, after which the white Christian males make clear whose side God is on by determining it is the others who are the “Axis of Evil.” Which only fuels the same vicious circle that all sides are trapped in.
This is soon followed by the next major act of extremism: the US invasion of Iraq.
Millions more dead… and still counting. Billions of dollars wasted… and still counting. Then ISIS. It goes on and on in an endless cycle from one extremist action to another extremist reaction. So, the barbarity of destroying people from a thousand of feet in the air has provoked the barbarity of blowing up people with suicide vests, or pressure-cooker bombs, or just killing with knives and guns.
Osho untangles this dilemma so simply:
“The mind always feels good to move from one extreme to another…. Opposites depend on each other. And that’s how the human mind goes on moving.” And he is clear how to avoid these extremes, “Be in the middle. In the middle is balance.” 2
Just to complete the big picture, we shouldn’t leave out another great example of a totally unbalanced approach: the decision by Reagan not to accept Gorbachev’s offer to withdraw his forces from Afghanistan and work with the US to create a democratic government there. Hey, why give up a chance to give the Soviets a black eye? So, the US and the Saudi’s funded Osama bin Laden and his friends to attack the Russians. As they say, the rest is a catastrophe.
Once we add the support for the half a trillion dollars in fossil fuel subsidies annually and the endless attempts to delay an intelligent response to climate change, tossing a few more million people in the bin in the process – especially considering who caused most of the climate change in the first place…. The full extent of humanity’s real burden – that is the white man’s extremism – is revealed for all to see.
Then came Trump marketing the slogan, “Make America Great Again!” Again? All that extremism of the past was a sign of “greatness”?
What is going on? Firstly, all that MAGA is unveiling the hypocrisy behind the real US. As Columbia University’s Hamid Dabashi put it when comparing the way Trump and Clinton represent corporate America, ‘Donald Trump is the real deal, Hillary Clinton is the camouflage.’
And secondly, what to make of all Trumps support on the streets?
The patriarchal white American workers, the 99 percenters, just sense that the show is over — the white man’s superiority is coming to an end, the demographic tealeaves have spoken. The genie is never going back in the bottle. It is all over. The end of an era.
As their average wage growth has remained static for 40 years, in spite of all this “greatness,” no wonder they feel betrayed. Extremely.
They are all very well aware that this is “the best democracy that money can buy” as Greg Palast’s book title aptly describes it. They know the 1% are the real rulers. They are angry – with the power of their numbers dwindling. Violence may be the only tool they have left.
What does the mind do when it sees all those values it was brought up to believe in start to evaporate? More extremism: nationalism, racial superiority, religious certitude, male domination, bigotry, egotism… the usual list which has seen of so many Trumps of the “Me Tarzan, You Jane” variety get democratically elected in the past: Hitler, Mussolini, Berlusconi, Erdogan, Putin, Le Pen, Fujimori….
No, these primitive qualities will never make America great.
If you want to be great, why not pay attention to all those wonderful creative qualities that people love you for: music, dance, design, humor, satire, movies, spontaneity, individualism, innovation, generosity…?
For this to happen, one more step is required: you will have to be humble enough to understand that you will need to change – and be at the forefront of the ultimate paradigm shift. You will need to be the first contemporary society to realize that the mind is wonderful servant, but a destructive master. A move from mind to no-mind, from logic to love.
To understand that you will have to listen to the voices you have ignored, dismissed, or even persecuted in the past.
Then you will be so great that you won’t even feel the need to mention it.
As Osho explains:
“We have to save ourselves from our own minds.
“This mind was created for a certain reason: to save us from the animals. For centuries we were in danger; now we are in danger from our own destructive weapons.
“This is a great moment in the history of mankind, and perhaps in the whole history of the universe, because we only suspect that there are some planets where life may exist, but there is no certain proof. It may be that only on this earth has life come to such a point that a few people have become buddhas, a few people have come to know the universal secret of life. To destroy it is so idiotic, is so against the universe!
Otherwise the mind knows nothing else except destruction; that was the function it was created for. It is not its fault, but it is continuously afraid for no reason at all. Sometimes it knows that there is no reason to be afraid; then it starts asking, ‘Why is there no reason to be afraid?’
“Mind knows only one language – that is of fear, danger, and how to survive and make yourself safe against an antagonistic universe.
“Even a great man like Bertrand Russell wrote a book about the conquest of nature. The same fear of the mind – we have to conquer. This idea has to be changed. The idea should be that now we have to rejoice in nature, we have to find the mysteries and secrets of nature, and we have to go beyond mind. This artifact is not our nature.
“That’s what we are doing in meditation.
“Meditation is finding something in you that is superior to the mind. Only then can the mind be prevented from destroying humanity and this beautiful planet.” 3
Dr. John Andrews for The OSHOTimes.
This article has been published in the HuffPost, India