Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they're evil or sinful; it is that they are unconscious. They are default-settings. They're the kind of worship you just gradually slip into, day after day, getting more and more selective about what you see and how you measure value without ever being fully aware that that's what you're doing. And the world will not discourage you from operating on your default-settings, because the world of men and money and power hums along quite nicely on the fuel of fear and contempt and frustration and craving and the worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talked about in the great outside world of winning and achieving and displaying. The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default-setting, the "rat race"-the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.
I know that this stuff probably doesn't sound fun and breezy or
grandly inspirational. What it is, so far as I can see, is the truth
with a whole lot of rhetorical bullshit pared away. Obviously, you can
think of it whatever you wish. But please don't dismiss it as some
finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon. None of this is about morality, or
religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death. The
capital-T Truth is about life before death. It is about making
it to thirty, or maybe fifty, without wanting to shoot yourself in the
head. It is about simple awareness-awareness of what is so real and
essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep
reminding ourselves, over and over: "This is water, this is water."