Aidan Rankin: Green Karma et autres textes
Green Karma, by Aidan Rankin
Originally printed in the JANUARY- FEBRUARY 2008 issue of Quest magazine.
Citation: Rankin, Aidan. “Green Karma.” Quest 96.1 (JANUARY- FEBRUARY 2008): 17-20.
One of the most potent images associated with the ancient Jain tradition of India is that of the monk dressed in white who covers his mouth with a band of cloth, and as he moves, sweeps the ground before him with a delicate brush. These devices are simple precautions against injuring any form of life, however minuscule, in the course of breathing or walking. They reflect the Jain principle of iryasamiti, which means “careful action” or “care in movement.” Jain ascetics are required to take that principle to its logical conclusion. This will help them develop the higher consciousness that can point towards enlightenment, or moksha: release from the cosmic drama of material attachment and the repetitive cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Lay men and women also practice careful action, but even in a modified form, the practice might still seem radical when viewed from a mainstream Western perspective. Jains will avoid killing wasps or swatting flies, for instance, adopt a vegetarian diet, and refrain from occupations and activities that involve exploitation of or harm towards fellow humans, fellow creatures, or the earth.
Careful action is more than merely abstaining from abusive and harmful behavior. It involves considering the consequences of—and crucially, the intention behind—all forms of action. In Jainism, the concept of action encompasses thought. Thoughts and ideas can harm or uplift the thinker as they are the starting point for all acts of himsa or injury, as well as all beautiful, creative, loving actions. Iryasamiti is closely associated with the spiritual ideal of ahimsa: non-violence or non-injury to life. This, too, is far more than simple abstinence. It is about cultivating an attitude of calm and a state of equanimity through the practice of maitri (friendship with all beings) and recognizing that worldly entanglements, including material gain, political power, or academic success are but transient trifles of no ultimate significance.
Careful action is based on recognition of the four following ideas:
Each life—and this includes all forms of life—is individual, unique, and precious.
All life is interconnected and interdependent.
Human beings and their concerns are but one small part of the earth and the cosmos; therefore, we should approach the rest of existence with humility and modesty.
Human intelligence has evolved to give men and women the capacity for spiritual development and the possibility of liberation. However, this intelligence is a double-edged sword for it confers the possibility of choosing destructive over creative power, gross materialism over spiritual insight, himsa over ahimsa.
Careful action is therefore a form of conscious choice to minimize harm and act in ways that benefit others, both human and non-human.
The brushes and mouth coverings of Jain ascetics apply the principle of iryasamiti in as exact a manner as is humanly possible. They also dramatize for laymen and women the importance of respect for life in all its variety and the knowledge, discovered millennia before microscopes, that the tiniest life forms although invisible to the human eye could have the most profound significance. Iryasamiti stems from the understanding that human beings are not separate from, above, or beyond the rest of nature; that the earth does not exist for us to exploit; that resources are finite and that the web of life is as fragile as it is intricate. In other words, the practice of careful action corresponds well with a principle at the heart of the emerging green consciousness: the reduction of our ecological footprint.
The idea that humans have the responsibility to conserve and protect life and that we should use our intelligence to work with the grain of nature, is derived from spiritual awareness at least as much as political consciousness. Reason underpins and science confirms our sense of ourselves as part of the natural world, a world that is beyond monetary value because it sustains all of life. The Jains call this Jiva Daya—identification with all living beings. Familiar to Native Americans and Australian Aborigines, this oldest and most powerful form of spiritual sensibility is being slowly rediscovered by an urban civilization that has reached the limits of its possibilities. The realization that we should consume less, individually and collectively, combines rational self-interest with an ethic of environmental and social justice. All but the most obdurate now realize that our present patterns of consumption have already eroded the quality of human life, and if continued, could destroy life on earth. Consumer culture destroys the ecology of human relationships as well. The breakdown of communities, the “bowling alone” society of narrow, cheerless individualism, violent crime at home, aggression and brutality overseas all stem from the notion of unlimited human entitlement—the idea that we can, and must have more. For the Jains, this demand for more is a sign of limited human awareness rather than progress, as we in the West have long assumed. For millennia, Jains have realized that living as simply as possible is the key to a balanced and fulfilled life. When we discriminate between genuine needs and passing desire, we are acting in our own interests as well as connecting with something larger than ourselves.
That sense of connectedness at the heart of Jainism arises from the awareness that every life is unique and the individual is supreme. To those used to the Western “either/or” reasoning, this might seem paradoxical. We associate individualism, after all, with “bowling alone,” with rugged self-reliance, or even Ayn Rand’s “virtue of selfishness.” Western thought associates connectedness with subordination and we believe that we must continuously choose between the two principles. Jainism, based on “both/and” rather than “either/or” sees the issue in more complex terms. It promotes a more rounded view of individualism and individual liberty in which individual fulfillment is identified with social responsibility and restraint, while greed and hedonism destroy the true self. Furthermore, the concepts of “social” and “society” extend to animals and ecosystems as well as humans. The Jain idea of self differs radically from that of the West. Rather than simply being an individual in his or her present existence, the self in Jain teachings is a strand of continuity between existences, which was shaped by past lives that span the whole evolutionary spectrum, and now makes decisions and choices that will affect future lives. Therefore, self-awareness involves an understanding of genetic and spiritual evolution along with a sense of unity in diversity. Each self is equal in that each is part of the same process and is on the same journey towards higher consciousness.
Jains have always been aware that the universe is teeming with life. Each individual—human, animal, plant, or micro-organism—contains a jiva, which in Jain terms is a unit of life energy, a life monad; somewhat similar to the Western idea of a soul. Every jiva is on the same journey of the spirit, whether it is conscious of this or not. Unlike most Buddhist and Vedantic traditions, the Jain path does not lead to the extinction or transcendence of the self. Moksha is the fullest realization of the self, its return to its point of origin as pure consciousness, where it retains its individual identity. All the identities it assumes along the path to enlightenment are karmic embodiments, part of the process of self-discovery that is spiritual evolution. Material preoccupations are a confusion of jiva, the life force with ajiva, which is all that is not alive and contains no soul. Human destructiveness, including environmental despoliation, arises from attachment to ajiva and with this comes a false sense of supremacy over nature, closely akin to delusions of racial superiority. By contrast, Jiva Daya is recognition of the life force that is contained in each of our fellow beings. Although unique, each jiva has the same essential characteristics as our own and is in the same situation of working through samsara, the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.
It was this understanding of shared characteristics and common interests that led Mahavira, the Great Hero of the Jains and contemporary of Gautama Buddha, to the insight that “kindness to all beings is kindness to oneself” and that conversely “you are that which you intend to hit, injure, insult, torment, persecute, torture, enslave, or kill.” This is surely an ecological message for our time, transcending mere conservation or protection to include a repudiation of all bigotry and violence in human relationships, as well as relationships between humans and fellow creatures. Just as they emphasize the relationship between hateful thoughts and violent acts, Jain teachings recognize that violent, exploitative relationships among humans —including vast disparities of income and access to education or health care—create the psychological conditions for violence against the earth. On the other hand, respect for the earth and its variety of life is linked intimately to cooperation between human beings and the pursuit of economic and social justice.
For twenty-first century men and women, the first step towards more harmonious relations with the planet is to adopt an attitude of non-violence and to question the false priorities associated with materialism, a shift of priorities from ajiva back to the source of life. Awareness that jiva is present in everything that lives, breathes, and moves points towards a spiritual democracy of all beings, in which each life form has its own place, its own indispensable role and its own legitimate viewpoint. The human concepts of rights and responsibilities extend to all of life, just as they cross the boundaries of race, caste or class, gender, and faith. Jains recognize the principle of biodiversity and give it a spiritual dimension.
Jainism’s view of karma distinguishes it from other Indic traditions. For the Jains, karma is, as to Buddhists and Hindus, the cosmic law of cause and effect. All actions in the universe connect with each other and our own deeds influence our future as much as our present lives. But the principal meaning of karma in Jainism is a substance, made up of particles of subtle matter that adhere to the jiva and imprison it in the material world. Karma is a material bond as much as a spiritual process. When moksha is achieved, it is seen as a physical liberation, a release from the karmic bondage that weighs down the soul and entraps it in material concerns. The Christian image of shedding the “mortal coil” has resonance here. Karmic particles also have a muddying effect on the jiva. They reduce its clarity of vision and obscure its knowledge of itself.
In Jainism, as in modern physics, everything in the universe is cyclical. There is no creator god or First Cause. Instead the cosmos—and with it, life—arose spontaneously and passes continuously through upward and downward cycles, utsarpini and avasarpini, which last for many millions of years, and are divided into ages which are likened to the spokes on a wheel. Each jiva also spontaneously arises as a unit of pure consciousness. But its movements or vibrations bring it into contact with karma. The encasement of the jiva by karmic particles enmeshes it in the samsaric cycle, where it is reborn until it achieves enlightenment and returns to its point of origin as an unsullied, all-knowing jiva. Living simply and avoiding unnecessary luxuries brings spiritually aware men and women closer to that ideal, helping them to understand the austerities of Jain ascetics and the restraint displayed by even the wealthiest laypeople. The latter are obliged to use their wealth for the benefit of others, animals as much as humans. They are keenly aware that privilege, like human intelligence, brings with it material dangers, and that the most auspicious rebirth is as an ascetic, who is closest to freedom from karmic bonds.
Karmic bondage need not be a permanent condition and should not serve as an excuse for fatalism or pessimism. On the contrary, it gives us the opportunity to take control of our own lives, present and future, break with negative patterns, and rethink our priorities. At personal and political levels, these goals are identical with those of the ecology movement. Green philosophy, unlike deterministic doctrines such as neo-liberalism and Marxism, has the individual consciousness as its starting point. In the Jain worldview, the reduction of karmic influence is identified with the reduction of material consumption and the abandonment of the attachments. The widespread human addiction to materialism destroys our sense of true self and damages the planet. The attachments to which materialism gives rise restrict our thinking and lead us into one-sided positions, such as greed and fanaticism. Reduction of karma is achieved through careful action, and through the principle of aprigraha, or non-possessiveness. This means carefully evaluating our material requirements, but it also involves a new attitude of mind, by which the people, creatures, and natural formations around us are valued in their own right, rather than seen as objects to be controlled, dominated or suppressed.
Aparigraha means still more than this, for it requires us to clear our minds of clutter as well. Mental attachments are as karmic as material bonds. One of the most destructive forms of karma is known as mohaniya, the karma of delusion. It is associated with a conviction of absolute truth and the desire to impose that truth on others. The restrictive claim that “either you are with us or against us” is an explicit example of mohaniya, as are the actions of terrorists and the bigoted proclamations of fundamentalists, whatever faith they claim to represent. Mohaniya leads to mittyatva, a one-sided or distorted world view, which affects spiritual progress within this life and influences the prospects of an auspicious rebirth. Mittyatva is human arrogance, which spans the spectrum from self-righteous forms of political correctness, which more often hurt those they are meant to help, to the illusion of our dominance over nature. Measured conduct, friendship with all beings, and the cultivation of a quiet, calm mind all serve to lighten the karmic burden, so that it eventually falls away as illusory attachments are relinquished.
Clearing the mind of grasping impulses and controlling the desire to exercise gratuitous power are both part of the practice of ahimsa. Karmic influence is reduced through non-violence of the mind, which is achieved through contemplation and simple living, recognition that truth is multi-faceted and that all beings are working towards it, and that only at the moment of enlightenment can it be fully grasped. The starting point for green or ecological consciousness is similar, for it grows from a primal awareness of the complexity of living systems and the subtle interactions between them.
Jainism also shares with the Theosophical movement a perception that no single human idea can encapsulate the truth, and that our common search for enlightenment transcends all artificial barriers of faith. Jains call this approach anekantavada, or many-sidedness. They recognize that a diamond’s clear light can be glimpsed through many facets. The summit of a mountain can be reached by many paths, some straight, some winding, but all pointing towards the same place. Many-sidedness celebrates the diversity of life and thought, but reaches beyond that diversity to the common source of life. What more suitable path could there be for the interesting times in which we find ourselves today?
Source: The Theosophical Society in America http://www.theosophical.org/publications/1268
Face to faith
The 'many-sidedness' of Jainism could inoculate us against fundamentalist rigidity, says Aidan Rankin
The Guardian, Saturday 27 January 2007
The word Jainism conjures up images of ascetics who cover their mouths and sweep the ground before them with small brushes to avoid injuring the most minuscule forms of life. Some are also aware of the Jain-owned animal sanctuaries where even the sickest, most deformed birds and beasts are protected and cherished. These overt manifestations of an ancient faith challenge the comfortable - and near-universal - assumption of human precedence over other creatures. They dramatise for us the doctrine of ahimsa: non-violence or, more literally, the avoidance of anything that causes harm.
This ideal profoundly influenced Mahatma Gandhi, through his friendship with the Jain scholar Shrimad Rajchandra. Ahimsa was the basis of Gandhi's satyagraha (truth struggle) against colonial rule and caused him to rethink many aspects of contemporary Hindu practice. He committed himself, for instance, to the equality of women and the emancipation of the lowest castes, both ideas strongly in tune with Jain doctrine. Jainism prefers to exert such subtle influence, rather than seeking converts. Ahimsa extends to the intellectual arena, in ways we can learn from in our approach to inter-faith issues and the whole way we "do" politics.
In Jainism, the non-violence of the mind is called anekantvada. This means "many-sidedness" and is an inoculation against fundamentalist rigidity. Unlike postmodernism, however, many-sidedness does not deny the existence of objective truth. Instead, it regards truth as such a powerful force that it should be approached with humility and care. All humans - and non-humans - are on the same spiritual journey towards truth and it is likely to take us many lifetimes to grasp it. The more dogmatically certain someone is, the further they are likely to be from enlightenment.
Accordingly, truth can be approached from different angles, as the summit of a mountain may be reached by different paths, some straight, some winding. But knowledge grows with an understanding that many paths exist and that one's own is not necessarily the most correct. Our beliefs, political or spiritual, are mere facets of reality, not reality itself.
For the western consciousness, this approach is radical in the literal sense. It challenges at the root both our thinking and the way we organise our thoughts. In many-sidedness, there is no "battle of ideas", because this is considered to be a form of intellectual himsa or damage, leading quite logically to physical violence and war. The adversarial method gives rise to sterile "debate", entrenched positions and artificial polarities. Within Jainism, for example, the division between spirituality and science that still dogs so much of western thought simply does not exist. So "scientific" is Jain spirituality that Albert Einstein once expressed a wish to be reborn in India as a Jain.
In today's world, the limitations of the adversarial, either/or form of argument are increasingly apparent. Even the mounting ecological crisis is linked to adversarialism, because it arises from a false division between humanity and "the rest" of nature. "Either you're with us or against us" was President Bush's war cry (and look where it has got him), but it sums up the adversarial mindset and is by no means confined to the political or religious right. All too often, progressive movements use the same language of inflexibility and hate.
Many-sidedness is about conversation in place of debate, exploring the whole of an issue rather than breaking it down into convenient pairs of opposites. It compels us to ask "how can we?" instead of arrogantly asserting that "we should". This is a path for our time.
· Aidan Rankin's book The Jain Path: Ancient Wisdom for the West is published by O Books: www.o-books.com
Recension des ouvrages d'Aidan Rankin sur le Jaïnisme et le Shintoïsme dans la revue d'Ecosophie The Trumpeter: http://trumpeter.athabascau.ca/index.php/trumpet/article/view/974/1376
Published on New Statesman (http://www.newstatesman.com)
Escape from UKIP
Tired of the political correctness of the left, Aidan Rankin joined Ukip. Becoming right-wing gave h
by Aidan Rankin  Published 14 June, 2004 - 13:00
The scene was a dinner, organised by the Salisbury Review, somewhere in the depths of the Carlton Club. It was an occasion of right-wing triumphalism, or a rallying of the troops, but I felt neither triumphant nor rallied, only irritated and bored. I listened, with increasing loathing, to a repertoire of anti-Muslim barbs from people who knew nothing whatsoever about Islam and were proud of their ignorance. I listened to conspicuously affluent men and women inveigh against scroungers, appeal to the work ethic, condemn asylum-seekers as criminals and call for people to be charged for visiting the doctor. This, apparently, "worked perfectly well in the old days", although few people gathered around the table were born before 1945.
A drunken academic accused me of being "anti-western" when I supported Palestinian autonomy. Palestinians were "Muslims" and "terrorists". At this supposedly intellectual gathering, not one single idea, substantial or ethereal, was expressed. Soon, my disgust was tempered by self-loathing. I would rather be just about anywhere but here. So why was I here, listening to mean-minded philistinism and being eyed disapprovingly every time I dissented? How on earth had I ended up on the right - and was I ever going to be able to leave it?
It took me two more years to leave the right fully. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to use the past tense when I describe it. When I awake in the morning, I relish the sudden realisation that, no, I am no longer right-wing.
Looking back, I feel that being on the right was like losing a part of myself. In shamanic cultures, there is a widespread theory of "soul theft". This is the belief that an individual's soul can be captured, and then manipulated, by an external force. Soul theft is blamed for a wide range of ailments, from serious physical and mental illness to feelings of inner emptiness, and soul retrieval is an important part of the shaman's work. The process of soul theft can be long and insidious, with the affected individual becoming a willing collaborator.
Soul theft is an accurate depiction of the experience of becoming right-wing. It starts as a vague impression, then progresses - if that is the word - into a world-view; it begins as a bad mood, then becomes a permanent, brooding anger. One doesn't wake up one morning and find oneself transformed into a reactionary, a political version of the clerk in Kafka's Metamorphosis, who awakes as a gigantic insect. Instead, right-wingery takes over gradually, crowding out conflicting thoughts, until suddenly it defines and underlies everything.
I should begin by saying that there were two types of right-wing ideology that never appealed to me. One is "far-right" racism and the scapegoating of immigrants or refugees, given voice by the British National Party, but believed in by many members of the UK Independence Party, the Eurosceptic groupuscules and the Tory party's "traditionalist" right. This has always profoundly repelled me, both for its creeping totalitarianism and its simple-minded classification of individuals by race or group.
The second strand of right-wing thinking that held no appeal was the ersatz religion of "market forces", part consumerist cargo cult and part fundamentalist reworking of 19th-century liberalism. That approach is equally off-putting because of its personal heartlessness and its superstitious regard for the market's "hidden hand". In its naive, mechanistic view of human society, and its belief in permanent revolution, the neoliberal right resembles the most extreme variants of Trotskyism.
These two tendencies - traditionalist xenophobia and market fundamentalism - dominate the British right. They coexist quite happily with-in individual right-wingers, although they are contradictory. Market ideology gives economic forces precedence over nations and traditions, after all, and places corporate rule before "national sovereignty".
As a young man in the mid-1990s, I had held standard progressive views and written occasional contributions to New Left Review. But, like many at that time, I became disillusioned with a left that seemed to be recycling old slogans and ignoring new complexities. Moreover, it was doing so with a distortion of liberalism dubbed "political correctness", which seemed harsh and intolerant, and could hurt most those whom it intended to help. In particular, I found that the left's assumptions about gay men - of which I am one - were often patronising and in many ways as restrictive as the old stereotypes. Being gay, the left seemed to think, meant ceasing to be an individual and becoming a nameless, faceless member of a minority group, obediently reciting the mantras of victimhood.
I was interested in green issues as well and had the experience of working for Survival International, which promotes the interests of indigenous peoples throughout the world, oppressed minorities who are struggling to preserve their ancient cultures as well as keep their environment intact. I came to see a contradiction between this cultural and ecological conservatism and the universalist values of the left.
In moving right, I thought that I would meet people who would excite me and make me think, who would dare to question received assumptions. I thought I would find cultured yet passionate individuals whose radicalism was balanced by a sense of history. I had the naive and hopelessly utopian idea of uniting green politics with cultural conservatism and in the process strengthening both. This led me towards sections of the right that showed some basic ecological awareness. In 1997 I became a contributor to Third Way, then the British mouthpiece for the European new right, and which proudly proclaimed itself green.
Many on the left have demonised Third Way, because its best-known contributor, Patrick Harrington, was once a well-known activist in the National Front - although his views on immigration and race have modified beyond recognition. At the time of my involvement it seemed a rather homely outfit, a London-based magazine and small political movement run from a sprawling basement flat in Kensington by Harrington and his mother, a sharp-witted, cheerful lady who served herbal tea and gave highly expert tarot card readings. This is fairly typical of the British right: grandiloquent declarations of intent contrasting with banal realities. Despite Harrington's reputation, there were far fewer right-wing views expressed in Third Way than in the UK Independence Party. When I became a researcher for Ukip's 2001 manifesto, I thought that I was helping to shape a moderate and mainstream movement. I hoped it would revive some of the best, and most flexible, aspects of conservatism. In reality, I found a movement held together primarily by hatred and fear.
My attraction to Ukip took me into a peculiar demi-monde, peopled largely by men with faces red through alcohol and outrage against the modern world, ladies with affected accents or strange hats, and youthful zealots who collected "facts" about Europe or immigration the way better-adjusted young men collect train numbers. There were rules to this half-world, but I could never grasp them. I was never "one of us", but I was often characterised as "one of them", a phrase they use without shame. During my time in Ukip - which I emphasise was long before Robert Kilroy-Silk and Joan Collins declared for it - I met with objections to the word "inclusive" because it was "used by gays" or "could include gays". When I suggested inheritance and pension rights for same-sex couples - and others living together, such as siblings or friends - frenzied letters of complaint were circulated by the party's evangelical wing. These letters, which were never addressed to me, but whose content I was made aware of by "helpful" friends within the party, were more Inquisitional than political. They speculated on whether or not I was a "practising" homosexual and, if so, whether I was a suitable person to work on policy.
Homophobia was one of the few forces uniting a notoriously divided party. To its brownshirt-in-blazer tendency, the dangers of Europe and the dangers of homosexuality were intertwined. Immigration, too, was seen less as an economic and social issue than as a threat to the moral order. When I spoke of the benefits of immigration, I was accused of "sounding like Labour"; when I expressed approval of other cultures and religions, I was accused of being "anti-western". Although the party contains men who almost make Abu Hamza sound liberal, Islamophobia pervades its internal dialogue.
There have, needless to say, always been homosexuals in Ukip. They either affect to ignore the party's intolerance or seek to increase it, to avoid discovery. One parliamentary candidate told me that he was gay - or rather, he whispered his "confession" even though we were speaking on the telephone. He did not discuss it with the electorate, he told me, not because he thought they would be prejudiced, but because he was afraid his Ukip colleagues "would react badly".
Suggestions that the party should appeal to trade unionists and ethnic minorities, many of whom are trenchant critics of the EU, elicited responses that ranged from a "why should we bother?" attitude to outright hostility. When I produced a leaflet aimed at the Kashmiri community in West Yorkshire, it was widely condemned as "supporting separatism", although it rigorously espoused electoral politics and non-violence. The Eurosceptic movement as a whole consists of a series of mock-conspiratorial cabals, sad little internet discussion groups and obscure news-sheets, each trying to outdo the other in vituperation. They hate each other at least as much as they do the European Union.
I have yet to meet anyone on the British right who is made more contented or fulfilled by its politics. So why do otherwise relatively intelligent people put up with it?
The answer, I believe, is to be found in the initial frisson, the sense of adventure and vague threat, which much of left-wing politics has lost. Indulging in right-wingery is a form of political slumming akin to the predilection for "rough trade". And, like the taste for rough trade, it is initially thrilling but yields quickly to feelings of loneliness and inner turmoil. Right-wing politics and rough trade are both addictions. They take over as substitutes both for real thought and real emotion. They combine certainty with danger, and rebellion.
Indulging in rough trade gives you the certainty of sexual encounter and the danger of it being with a stranger, in illicit (and often illegal) circumstances that can climax in violence. With the right, you have the certainty that comes from clear positions and convictions often lacking in nuance. You have the certainty that comes from constant appeal to a long tradition and a glorious national history. You also get a sense of danger: these are on the whole unfashionable convictions, which can provoke strong responses from many interlocutors.
For gay people, rebellion is a rite of passage: for many, it is a turning away from their family's values and a rejection of the establishment's code of conduct. The right-wingers, instead, promise that to ally oneself to them is to rebel against the shibboleths of contemporary discourse - no need to kowtow to political correctness here.
In his semi-autobiographical novel A Boy's Own Story, Edmund White writes of his teenage hero's wish "to be a homosexual and not to be a homosexual". To the adult male, there is no better stopgap solution to this problem than being on the right. In the right-wing demi-monde, the negative aspects of the gay scene are replicated with astonishing accuracy. The bitchiness, fierce rivalries and mindless militancy associated with the worst of gay life are found in abundance in right-wing politics. Abstract loyalty is demanded, but personal treachery is the norm.
If the right has any core at all, it is its anger. Anger takes the place of a philosophy and also projects itself on to convenient objects. These range from "practising" homosexuals to Muslims, "Europe" to home-grown "liberal elites". This anger is sustained by paranoid caricatures of outsiders and political opponents, including members of rival right-wing factions, needless to say. When I associated with the right, I seemed to spend most of my waking hours listening to them preaching about how angry they were that Britain and the world were not the way they used to be. They missed a society that was coherent, that had order and structure and predictability. They missed a crime-free Britain where the traditional family reigned and foreigners left after an admiring tour of Buckingham Palace and the Cotswolds. In short, they missed a fictional Britain. What they loathed about the contemporary, real Britain was the unfamiliarity of it - a place where people looked different and spoke in a different way, where change always lurked around the corner.
Being criticised on the right does not involve gentlemanly disagreement or even tough debate, but wild-eyed accusations. When I decided not to stand as a Ukip candidate, the Eurosceptic bush telegraph buzzed with rumours that I was working for MI6 and that I had been "pro-EU" all along. This was an amusing, in some ways flattering accusation - its only tragic aspect being that the poor old things really believed it. The right is as paranoid about the intelligence services today as the left was at the height of the cold war. In truth, I suspect that the right enjoys being paranoid. It makes its followers feel that they matter.
My political journey took me eight years. Eight years spent being ashamed of my political allegiances when I was with my gay friends, or my Muslim and Hindu friends, and realised that they would have been rejected by many in Ukip.
Renouncing the right is like waking from a disturbing dream or throwing off an especially nasty hangover. It is a life-enhancing, liberating experience. I wish it on many others.
Non-violence (Ahimsa) - Truth (Satya) - Non-stealing (Asteya) - Chastity (Brahmacharya) - Non-possession/Detachment (Aparigraha)
Comme l'homme fait partie de la nature, l'esprit de l'homme fait partie de l'Esprit de la Nature.
Yóuyú rén shì Xìngzhì de yībùfèn, rén de jīngshén shì Xìngzhì zhī líng de yībùfèn