My wife observed the other day that her Ayurvedic medicine feed on Facebook, while generally full of health and wellness tips, occasionally posts self-help maxims on how one ought to love and what’s important in a sexual relationship. While these topics are important within the Ayurvedic tradition, we considered the possibility that the author of the feed may have particular personal issues for these posts: there appeared to be a possibly (not to be mean about it) disingenuous emotional tinge to the feed, some kind of hidden personal experience masked behind the formality of the professed wisdom.
This reminded me of a recent tragedy within the online yoga community. An internet yogi was celebrated by many (FB) followers (including myself) for her innovative twists on tantra. Her words and videos were witty, inspiring and bestowed genuinely uplifting light on us. She utilised social media to spread awareness of tantra to the world, and was very public about her own difficult journey to inner peace, how she made it through to the other side, and how her approach might benefit others, particularly women, in their own journeys to realise the Goddness within. A few weeks ago, she committed suicide. Her followers were shocked. Everyone initially mourned, as did I. Some felt betrayed in a strange kind of way: that she’d convinced them she had the key to the world and to suffering, that they’d listened to her words, to her social media ethics, subscribed to her code of living as a Goddess … but perhaps her words were, like the Ayurvedic feed, disingenuous with respect to a clearly troubled inner world.
Our Information Age is characterised by both a heightened sensitivity to our intersubjective situation and individuation’s convergence with text and language. This age ought to afford many new posibilities for an ethics that acknowledges subject-to-subject communication, nuanced with respect to the linguistics of our journeys and how our journeys are different but bound to each other by and in Love. But this ethics has not appeared. Curiously, we exist in a transitory stage where Love is spoken about, often, but its ethics remains firmly monosubjective, where the voice enunciating its ethics features as the single, suppressed, subject, and the ethical voice addresses the group as an object. This ethics of Love remains a traditional subject-object sign regime.
By the time we reach the 21st Century, human relationships have changed, but ethics, by and large, has not. We use the term ethics in the broadest sense, loaded with its etymology from the Greek ethos (codes of habit). Ethics as a value system, ethics as a valuative system of right and wrong, ethics as philosophy consisting of moral axioms and a logic with the intent that it can be implemented and lived viably and vitally by the group (tribes, cultures, peoples). Ethics, specifically, in the bio-axiological sense, of an embodied valuative habitus: these are the axioms we uphold on how to behave, how to live, these are the axioms and this is the logic we are to live the right kind of life.
We use the term in place of philosophy, of which ethics is a branch (a lived branch), and religion, to which ethics may attach itself, embed itself, like a vine upon the tree of spiritual practice, or a virus within the collective body of a church. We have studied the latter kind of relationship implicitly, the way in which Love as a suppressed philosophical term became bound to the Judao-Christian tradition only to emerge psychoanlytically with the Freudian turn. But something went wrong post Freud: Love is out there as a term, Love and the body are socially accepted as inextricably linked, while still largely unpacked within mainstream philosophy. But this Love-Embodiment has become shattered into a myriad of valuative, ethical signifiers, privileged totems empowering contemporary rival techno-folk micro-positions, from self help columns to blogs and Facebook posts.
We make no moral judgement, only one of sustainability within organisational change. These micro-positions are not sustainable as an ethics. Large scale religious ethics had momentum with the masses: it was sustainable, by virtue of … and so on.
“Get to the point.”
“Ok,” says this particular author/I.
And so here’s the prime maxim, in short:
Compassion shall be thy name.
The ethics of the past served as a tribal tattoo over our bodies. It’s a psychic valuative system that is embodied and lived by flesh. But ethics 2.0: it’s a fucking neural network across bodies, tattoos, tribalism.
Fuck, what an amazing thing: can you get with it, boys and girls?!?