Materialism is the New Spirituality

We all know that Brown is the New Black, Quiet is the New Loud and Prawn Tempura is the New Flavour of Pot Noodle. These are eternal truths, handed down through generations by our forefathers, foremothers, foreaunties and so on. Folk wisdom often transcends the purely cerebral, soulless utterings of our so-called “science”. But, you may well ask, where does this folk wisdom have its origin? Surely it did not spring fully-formed from the void. Where did these truths come from? And are there more yet to be discovered?
Fortunately for you, my Existential Cyber-Acolytes, answers to these questions are at hand. Through a deep process of meditation involving handing over wodges of cash and moving into a lovely big beach house, I can bestow upon you the latest glittering Jewel in the Crown of Truth. I have pondered. I have brooded. I have paced. I have furrowed my brow so deeply that small children ran away in fear. And finally, it came to me, as if the Angel Gabriel Himself were dictating the words to me on top of a mountain. (Although not literally, obviously. I wouldn’t want to get myself in trouble with any violent beardy types out there).

Here it is. The truth you have all been waiting for:
Materialism is the New Spirituality

Hard to believe, I know. But it came to me in a dream involving a pure white light so it must be true. I’m convinced it had absolutely nothing to do with those delicious funny-shaped mushrooms in last night’s vegetable stew.
Think about it for a moment. All those people who threw away their worldly possessions in an attempt to get closer to enlightenment: what were they doing? They were attaching such importance to the material goods of life that they were trapped in a paradox of their own making. By insisting on poverty they were enslaving themselves to the material world forever.
My solution is simple: go the other way. Accumulate riches – fast cars, jewellery, big houses, concubines and so forth. Do all of this but don’t care about it. It’s the caring that gets you, not the stuff itself. Profound, huh?
As always, I am not content to simply spout genius wisdom, I live by it. And living like a king is easy here in the Philippines, where one single penny of Stirling currency is more than the average family can earn in thirty years from mango-fishing in volcanic lakes (the main economy of the country appears to be based on this, although perhaps the overseas foreign workers contribute a little too). Thus, I have put my plan into action. I have rented a mansion on the beach and hired several staff to cook, clean, wash, mend, garden, massage etc. I pay them extra for being nice to me when I am depressed because I have no friends. But – and this is the key point – I attach no importance to the whole thing. The house, the garden, the view, the massages – all these mean nothing. Every day I look out at the magnificent sea view and I think how deeply enlightened I must be to be living like this.

And so, as the Camel of Eternity passes through the Eye of the Needle of Time, and the Ferrari of Redemption is ticketed by the Traffic Warden of Doom, I bid you all a fond farewell.

Until next time – Adieu!

We must imagine Sisyphus having a Happy New Year

The years pass in a cycle of seasons, festivals, birthdays and other excuses for drunkenness. After a certain number have passed, one is tempted to ask: is this all there is? Are we condemned to repeat the cycle over and over again, like that unlucky mythical Greek condemned to eternal rock-rolling by the gods? How may one transcend this seemingly meaningless existential treadmill? Do we look for our answers in God, in Science, in political activism, in meditation and self-knowledge, or do we just give up, slump in a corner and drool?

Answers to these questions will not be given in this blog entry. As Camus said, once one is aware of the absurdity of life, there is no going back. Thus, in the spirit of the absurd, I will simply try to amuse you in this posting by showing some silly photographs from 2007.

First, here are a few from Pakistan

Rustam Steel ….. geddit? Ha ha! Rust! God this is so funny ….

An example of my finely-tuned and subtle sense of humour…

This is my favourite gun shop ….

… the guns are pretty standard …..

… but the wallpaper covering the walls and ceiling is outstanding…

…and here’s the owner. I think he ate a few too many Toffee Crisp bars.

And now from India:

I have no idea what this means, but it sounds a bit rude! Fnar fnar!

More oh-so-subtle humour. God, I’m mature.

From China:

Lovely gobbledigook translation from Yunnan in 2006.

Taken by Andy Scarponi at the Panda centre near Chengdu

Also taken by Andy Scarponi …. I think I’m going to have to rethink this religion thingy …

Finally a couple of delicious-sounding food stalls in Manila:

Happy New Year!