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My new article on Linkedin “China Lockdown: Food Shortages Anger Aplenty”
China is running out of food and people are growing desperate. That’s no small problem when more than 190 million residents in some 23 cities are living under full or partial lockdowns enacted as part of the official “zero Covid” policy following record numbers of cases, particularly in Shanghai, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Shanghai, China’s most populous city with 26 million residents, report thousands of new Covid-19 infections daily, the worst increase since the virus appeared in the central city of Wuhan in 2019. China is one of the last remaining nations still committed to eradicating the pandemic, unlike most of the world, which is trying to live with the virus in its Omicron variant.
Shanghai’s strict lockdown impacts millions of people who are suffering from food shortages, some say they are already starving. Parents are forcibly separated from their children who have tested positive for the disease. As living conditions continue to deteriorate with no end in sight, the anger of the population grows. The normally disciplined and obedient Chinese defy authorities through street protests and warn of the consequences, including potential civil unrest.
Indeed, the food shortage could have a major impact on Chinese society. There is nothing more important than food. It is the basic sustenance of any society, literally. Food is our most important need on the scale of human desires, followed by sex, family, money, honor, and knowledge. Rational thinking does not work on an empty stomach, and what controls the mind is the way to satisfy basic needs at any cost.
As a result of the pandemic, the Chinese are certainly going through great changes. They are a people with a very strong foundation and tradition, so any change they go through could be an example for the rest of the world. But can popular social pressure bring about change in China’s governance? Governance is a problem everywhere in today’s world. Countries that expected full hegemony over others are realizing that it is no longer as easy when large masses are poised to oppose.
Governing would be easier if there were a king who ruled according to family heritage, could lead the people, and the people would accept his mandate as part of an agreed lineage. But that is not the case, so people must understand that nature acts as the supreme king. Humanity must get away from expecting great changes from governments and politicians, the earthly level of governance, and realize that there is a supreme realm, the realm of nature, that controls our lives, the virus and everything in reality.
We will be able to abide by this dominion when we realize that we can solve our supply and health problems when we come to terms with the power of nature. We must achieve a balance with it by recognizing that there is a price we must pay for overpopulation and exploitation of our limited natural resources.
More importantly, we need to understand that we cannot continue to exploit others only for our own personal gain without consequences. In the not-too-distant future, both Western and Eastern cultures will have to discover that what humanity is lacking is a sense of mutual responsibility.
Medium published my new article “Total Escapism”
I already shared with you that I get emails all the time from people who have questions they cannot resolve. In one email, a physician wrote me the following question: “Lately, I’ve noticed that people are in distress. There is high demand for prescriptions for antidepressants; people feel insecure and uncertain about their lives, and besides drugs, I have nothing to offer them. They’ve tried coachers; they’ve tried trainers, but nothing seems to help. So my question to you Dr Laitman, is what can they cling to in order to move forward?”
I can understand why people feel this way. For thousands of years, people’s lives changed very little. They lived in small towns and villages, had a craft or a plot of land to till, and they knew their surroundings and the people around them. They were close to their families, married within the town or village, so everyone had the same way of life, culture, and tradition. People knew what to expect. Their lives were hard, but they had a sense of direction, a clear set of values, and therefore, peace of mind — the very thing people do not have today.
Today, material life is very easy, but people feel lost because they do not understand the world around them. They no longer live in small villages because the whole world has become a global village. Even farmers cannot till the land without seeds and machinery from other countries, and the price of their crops depends on global commodity markets. In other words, to be a farmer, you need to understand global systems of supply, demand, markets, climate, and fuels. You need an internet connection, contracts with shipment and supply companies, and accountants to understand your own balance sheet. Is it any wonder that people feel lost?
Because they feel this way and cannot find answers, they have no choice but to try to forget. They dream about the moment they can get away from it all. They take up hobbies, play computer games, and exhaust themselves in sports.
They travel, vacation, and meditate. They drink and do drugs, convert and become extremists, and do whatever they can to avoid dealing with their inability to understand the world they live in. In their effort to suppress their disorientation, they turn to total escapism.
Everything that we have built — the entertainment industry, professional and amateur sports, shopping, tourism, art — we have built them in order not to think about our lives.
But we have run out of gas. We have used up our energy — our own and what we can pump out of the ground — and we are running out of ideas for escapism. Soon, there will be only two options left: a war that will annihilate everything, or to learn about the world we live in.
Assuming that we choose the latter, we will have to learn how we all affect each other, how we are connected around the world, and how we are dependent on each other. As a result, we will realize that we must care for one another.
And if, at the moment, we do not, we will acknowledge that it is harmful to others and harmful to us. Only when we accept that the world has changed for good, and we must embrace the changes and welcome the connection with all of humanity, we will be able to reap the benefits of progress and feel comfortable both physically and emotionally.
Question: The Theater of the Absurd or absurdist drama originated as a concept in the twentieth century. In absurdist plays, the world is presented as something existing without meaning or logic and our actions or spoken words lead to nothing.
Is there is a lot of overlap between absurdist theater and our life?
Answer: Most likely, that is why the idea to portray what is happening in our world on stage was born. The theater somehow reflects our thoughts about the world, our aspirations, disappointments, and hopes.
The twentieth century is characterized by this. In the middle of the twentieth century, humanity began to feel it was entering some kind of meaningless period of existence. The Club of Rome appeared, then the Club of Budapest, and so on.
Scientists, social scientists, and political scientists have begun to realize that the world is losing its rosy perspective people once had. They always tried to imagine a happier, better, easier future.
If they were not interested in spiritual fulfillment, at least they were interested in material ones. People had some artistic and cultural interests. They tried or hoped to change the social order, to safeguard their future and old age.
In other words, they had some needs from this life, from this world. They believed that someday they would be fulfilled and, most importantly, they would be happy as a result.
While egoism was constantly growing, they were constantly trying to fulfill it. So, they ran like a dog after its tail. But now, the rosy prospects are gone. The tail has disappeared from the dog’s field of vision, it no longer knows where to run, it is in confusion—this is our humanity, this is our current state.
From KabTV’s “Close -Up. Theater of the Absurd”
Medium published my new article “Depression Comes Earlier”
The Oxford based research center Our World in Data recently published a report showing that in many countries, “People are being diagnosed with depression at an earlier age than in the past.” The report showed that in Denmark, for example, in 1996, the highest share of people diagnosed with depression were around the age of fifty. Twenty years later, in 2016, the highest share of people diagnosed with depression were twenty-four-year-olds. While the research center attributed the earlier diagnosis to growing willingness to “seek treatment for mental health conditions,” other researchers have found different reasons for the earlier age of diagnosis.
Indeed, we are living in special times. In previous times, people were more connected to the land, to the soil. Today, everything is artificial. We are born and live within the walls of the hospital, then the walls of a house, then the walls of a school, then the walls of a business. As a result, we are different from previous generations, and our approach to life is also different.
To prevent depression, we need to make constant investments with the right approach, since people are no longer adapted to natural living. The investment is not a financial one. Rather, we need to build an envelope that will serve as a mediator between the new generation and the reality they live in. This envelope should prepare them for life on every level — personal, social, and environmental. They need to learn how to communicate and connect with one another and with nature. Otherwise, they will be lost, as is already happening.
Previously, people were more outside than they are today. They communicated with other people, and much of their lives involved interaction with others. Today, they do everything online and indoors, and the outdoors and other people are unfamiliar to them. We must familiarize them with the outside world, make them spend less time on their own and on their phones or laptops, and communicate instead with other members of the family, friends, real friends, flesh and blood ones, and with animals.
The technological advancements of the past several decades have enveloped us in gadgets, and disconnected us from people. Even our food is not real food, and we don’t make it; we only heat it in a digital microwave.
We needn’t shun technology; we only need to help people balance their lives. And the key factor in reestablishing balance is constructive, positive, and supportive human connections. If people find that connections with other people satisfy them in ways that technology cannot, they will nurture them.
Today, people mostly feel that their connections with others are competitive, where each one tries to outsmart, outperform, and generally outdo others. This is very tiring, so people naturally turn to a less competitive and abusive environment: the digital one. If people had positive experiences from their relations with others, if they felt that other people approve of them, appreciate, and welcome their company, they would have no reason to retreat into a virtual environment.
Moreover, connections with other people can give them what no technology can: meaning in life. Life becomes meaningful and purposeful only in connection with other people. The reciprocal giving and receiving gives meaning and purpose to everything we do. When we do something for another person, it stays. The act takes on a life of its own, a new meaning, and it affects our lives and the lives of the other people involved in ways we cannot predict. When we do something online, with ourselves, our act is lost in the digital cloud and leaves us feeling empty and meaningless.
Therefore, if we want to cure depression, we must find ways to encourage people to go out, communicate, and connect with other people. It will give them joy, satisfaction, and meaning, and a meaning in life prevents depression.
Answer: To rise above the body means to rise in your qualities, desires, and feelings so that there is no connection between what you feel in the body and what you feel in your “I,” in the spirit. No connection at all!
In this case when the body really dies, the “I” remains to exist independently because it managed to break away before the death of this body, it managed to get out of it. And until we realize the exit from the body, we will always return to it and thus regenerate in it.
From KabTV’s “Close up. Theater of the Absurd” 7/18/10
If we take, for example, a foil and begin to apply it to some statue, then the full equivalence, the full form, the absolute form that the foil will take when it is completely dressed on the statue will be the truth, the verity. Such is its state.
Question: Does it mean that we, dressed on the Creator are the truth? Then, do I need to know what the Creator is?
Answer: Of course! What the Creator is. You do need to attain some element of the truth to measure everything relative to it.
Question: But what is it? What does it mean that I dress on Him?
Answer: To be dressed on the Creator means complete equivalence to the Creator. Relative to us, we cannot give this any other practical definition.
Question: What is the Creator?
Answer: The quality of bestowal and love emanating from my absolute egoism. It is when our complete egoism, precisely created by the Creator, is totally, to the full extent like the Creator.
Question: Does our egoism become material?
Answer: Yes, it becomes a foil dressed on the image of the Creator.
Question: Do I take my egoism and start sticking it on the Creator to become like Him?
Answer: Yes, part by part. In this way, you conclude that, in principle, this is the only thing you need.
Question: What does my egoism turn into? What does the foil turn into if it is stuck in such a way?
Answer: Into the form of the Creator. That is why you are called Adam—like the Creator. That is, this material from which you are created, you must put it on the Creator.
From KabTV’s “News with Dr. Michael Laitman” 3/7/22
Answer: No, a person doesn’t decide anything, one only executes.
But there is an illusion that I decide, I do things, and I act a certain way. Such ideas about one’s independence are characteristic of people, but only because the whole universal system is concealed from us.
So who decides for me? Who is acting in my place? Why am I led to believe that it is supposedly me who thinks, I decide, I make? That is the problem.
This is needed for us to come out of our current state, rise above it and above the fact that we do not make decisions, we do not implement them ourselves.
Question: So in our current state, can we say that we don’t exist?
Answer: In our current state, we exist relative to ourselves. We exist, we must take this as a given, but only within the confines of our time-bound sensations. Therefore, the real mind has nothing to do with it.
Our mind is a vast system of general interconnection of the inanimate, vegetative, animate, and human natures of our world and all worlds, all other levels. All this is absolutely interconnected and obeys one single program, one thought, called the Creator or nature.
Question: What are the other worlds?
Answer: Other worlds are the possibilities of existence that we gradually come to as a result of our internal evolution when we finally begin to realize that our world, our existence is finite, faulty, and limited.
From KabTV’s “Close up. Dissenting Opinion” 8/29/10
Medium published my new article “The Folly of War”
There has been a lot of talk lately about war crimes. The definition of war crimes is very broad, so there are many injustices that fall under the category of war crimes. What used to be customary for past conquerors is now often considered a war crime. To eradicate war crimes, we must abolish war. Since this is currently unrealistic, we should at least spare those who are truly uninvolved, namely children, women, and elderly men. That would be a first step in the right direction.
In ancient times, a victorious king would plunder and take for himself everything his rival king had. It was considered an inalienable right of the triumphant king, and a reward taken for granted.
As humanity’s morals evolved, it determined that such behavior was unacceptable. Since a large part of the population does not make any decisions or take part in the fighting, that part should be excluded from punishment. Particularly, this referred to children, who do not even understand what the war is about, women, who do not participate in the war, and elderly men, who cannot participate in the fighting. All in all, some 70–80 percent of the population should be exempt from punishment or retaliatory actions. This population is also the main focus of the rules that define war crimes, in order to protect those vulnerable and uninvolved populations.
In previous times, wars were largely over territory, since land meant crops, and crops meant provision and wealth. Today, however, territory does not have any role in determining a country’s wealth, so the only incentives left for war are prestige and self-glorification.
While it is understandable that someone would win renown for being a great commander on the battlefield, today’s wars are often fought in cities, in civilian areas, and the majority of casualties are precisely the populations that have nothing to do with the war: children, women, and elderly men. How will a rocket that demolishes an apartment building help the one who fired it win the war?
The self-centered mindset that paying soldiers to fight my wars and blowing my budget on high-tech weapons proves that my ideology is completely irrational. What connection is there between my ideology and killing other people, who may believe something else or believe in nothing at all and want only to live, have children, and lead their lives in peace?
If anything, such a mindset makes my ideology fundamentally flawed. After all, if the result of my ideology is the aspiration to annihilate all other schools of thought and wipe out the people who believe in them, then my ideology is inherently unjust.
The solution to the folly of war will come only when we overthrow our king: our own egoism. We are gradually approaching the realization that egoism is leading humanity to the edge of a cliff. The question is whether we will realize in time that if we let it keep ruling, it will destroy all of us, or wait until we see with our own eyes that there is no limit to what the ego can do. If we wait, the atrocities we have seen so far will be heaven compared to the hell that the ego will bring upon us.
Answer: I don’t think there is an understanding of punishment in our world at all, as people think. There is no such thing.
I believe that a person should reach such a state of empathy, critical empathy, so that all his aspirations and prayers are only about becoming similar to the Creator. And with respect to this similarity, he would measure himself. And the revelation of the difference from the Creator would cause a state of repentance in him, and only this he would like to destroy.
Question: So the punishment is that I do not come closer to equivalence of form with the Creator? That I’m not moving in that direction? Is this the punishment?
From KabTV’s “News with Dr. Michael Laitman” 3/7/22