In China, the media is very much controlled (in a different way the media in US is controlled), so it is hard to get to know what is going on at the national level. You read the reports in the news. You doubt what really happened. You read in the news that there is food poisoning happening somewhere in the country. You don’t look at the number of how many people died. You just take the fact that food poisoning happened. That is enough. Things happened far away are hard to know, unless you have friends living in that place and they can tell you what really happened.
But it doesn’t mean there is no truth in your life. Everything around you is truth. They are happening everyday. People’s suffering, people’s happiness, they are there for you to see.
This topic of this essay is Community vs. Network Part 2. It is continued thinking after part 1 here. It is based on the concepts as defined by John Taylor Gatto in his speech Less School.
You cannot get truth from network. Here we take newspaper, TV, internet, social networking and so on as network. You cannot get the truth from them. You can only get the truth from the community, e.g. the local living sphere around you, from people you have to spend a lot of time with. They are the places you can really belong to. You can only get truth from there. When you see the truth, it can destroy any lies told by the system.
Network is only of a couple of dimensions. But community (or we can call village) is of limitless dimensions. Thus community is the truth. Network is only an abstract in one dimension. It is used to achieve a certain purpose.
Community is limited in the sense you can only hold limited number of people in a community. Thus the local culture in that community are influenced by people in the community. A bigger and more diverse community is healthier as it offers individuals more chances to fully develop themselves. So it is important to use network to expand the community. How big a community you can belong to is a personal challenge.
The religious communities in US all have their own local cultures that bound individuals. They make the individuals living inside feel safe and satisfied, without realizing how much conditioned they are and that they are kept away from their true nature and their own potentials. The traditional villages in China have their own local traditional rules, which bound individuals to the old tradition, even that tradition has a long history of smearing off individuals’ individuality and causing tremendous suffering. The working units in socialism China bound people to one single working place for life. It doesn’t matter you like your job or not. It doesn’t matter if the local leaders are repressive of you or not. You have no choice. You have to accept it and live with it. Some people think this as a profound culture. Some people call for change.
US is surely a very different world. Especially with the flourish of Internet, networking is greatly expanded. There are so many choices there that people are constantly thinking of escaping their existing communities.
If used well, however, networking can be used to enrich and expand the community. We all belong to this big community which you can call country or culture. How do you really belong to a country? Many people talk about loving their country without realizing it is actually a huge challenge to love one’s country. How can you feel your country the same way as you can feel of your community? Without that concrete feel, your love for your country is only superficial and exists more as a manifestation of your own ego.
It is easy for our senses to perceive the difference. When you are constantly networking, you see all the differences. But it takes more of knowing the other person for you to perceive the sameness or the equality. When you perceive the equality, you go beyond your six senses and your eighth sense is in touch with the deeper truth. People losing their communities lose everything.
Building a community is to build a village that you cannot escape. Everyone else’s problems are your problems.
Community or sanga is the place for your practice. You practice how you function in a community. You are totally useless unless you can make other people’s lives better. In Brad Warner’s words, your brain is just “big fat hairy deal” (Sit Down and Shut Up, Chapter 6: the Colors of Mind). Only by doing so, can you practice manifesting your true self.
Network is not the place for you to escape the community. If you do so, you will be like a ghost wondering around without a soul. You cannot escape the community. You cannot escape your parents. You cannot escape your siblings. You cannot escape your relatives. You cannot escape your family. You cannot escape your friends. You cannot escape your society. You cannot escape your culture. You have to embrace them unconditionally. Networking, at the best, is only the info you get to help you better understand your community.
Compulsory schooling allienate people by taking them away from the community. How can you unschool those conditionings?
In the age of community, it is time to talk about community. Let’s start the practice.