Archives for June 2007

‘Forebearance’ and Usury

The hunger for quick gratification or relief is the prime generator of wealth based on lending and debt. Contemporary western culture takes debt for granted, and the wealthiest institutions in the world are based on profiting from that debt. Debt, and the burdens associated with the logarythms of interest, are a perfect paradigm of addictive behaviour. Our society is, quite literally, fueled by addiction.

We seem incapable of ‘forebearance’ : we cannot imagine working towards a project which we will not profit from in our own lifetimes, let alone two or three generations hence. The mindset of those who conceived and constructed the pyramids, or the great cathedrals of Europe, are completely foreign to us. Is it any wonder that we are unwilling to pay a price for the environment, for future generations: we’ve become hardwired for profit, now.

The power to delay, or, as Pema Chodron puts it, to ‘refrain’ from gratifying the habit.
That, at least, expresses our power of choice, that it still exists, that one can create a space in which to live outside the tyranny of addiction.
This ‘refraining’ has some relationship with one’s attitude towards time; the capacity to put off immediate satisfaction, to delay gratification. ‘Forbearance’; the ability to ‘bear’ something now with the intention of improving life in the future, in the ‘forward’, the fore.

‘Refraining’, or maybe a better word is ‘suspension, is like a wedge for consciousness, choice, awareness. ‘Suspending’ the gratification, the relief-release of the habit, creates a space, an opening, whose possibility is consciousness itself; literally, the cutting edge of evolution.

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