• Valentina Poletti

The price of Utopia

In physics, no particle exists without its anti-particle. No force can be created without creating an equal and opposite force. According to the ying-yang philosophy the same principle applies to everything in life. In a world of contrast nothing can exist without its opposite: there can't be love without fear, joy without sadness, wealth without poverty. Behind every happyness there is suffering, behind every success there is failure, behind every good there is bad, every light comes with shadow. But then what does utopia come with? From what I have been observing, it comes with the cost of inauthenticity, and thus isolation and disconnection. The shadow of utopia is fear of mistakes. People who chose spiritual bypassing as their life practice - that is people who always try to positively focus for fear of negative emotions - do so at the cost of losing the ability to truly connect with people, because they don't want to see their darker sides, and thus the authentic person. People who chose perfectionism and thus avoid making mistakes, also deprive themselves of the ability of learning and growing from mistakes. Perfectionism and spiritual bypassing often come hand in hand, creating an atmosphere of disconnection and a spiritually frozen state. Often countries that are closest to utopia in this sense - which can be seen in their technological and social perfectionism - are countries where people are most isolated and disconnected. Switzerland was a great example of this in my life experience. However this is even clearer here in Japan, where people live in small bubbles of politeness, manners, traditions and - for the younger generation - video games and food. At some point I visited a family of farmers in the country side, with a very simple and natural life style. I couldn't help but notice the enormous contrast between the young and the old. The little girl was all giggly playing around the house, as her parents let her be free very naturally. An old woman - the mother of the man - was almost completely paralyzed by her late stage Alzheimer in spite of her relatively young age, 73. She barely saw us eating on the table, barely moved at all, never spoke. She was there, and yet completely disconnected from everyone and everything around her. Why does this vibration resonate with me? Because to some extent I've been doing the same. Faced with some "mistakes" I made last year, I chose to run rather than confront them. As a result I've built a semi-utopic life around me, only at the cost of it being non-authentic. There is a common myth that spiritual growth entails finding some enlightened state of inner peace or unperturbable serene bliss, and indeed many spiritual teachers convey this inauthentic image of themselves by hiding their authentic selves from the public. However, although it can be very useful to reach that state as a tool in spirituality, this is not an end of itself, and thus the truth couldn't be further from this. As a person develops spiritually, their life become in fact more intense and difficult, for the universe presents them with greater challenges: however the person becomes better able at feeling these situations, a bit like a surfer, as he/she progresses, chooses taller waves and is better at surfing them, rather than drawning in them. So anyone who stops at positive focus and reaches for perfection is preventing in fact their spiritual growth, for fear of pain or of mistakes.

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