Mastering the Present Era of Private Property (excerpt from THE TAO OF ABUNDANCE) by Laurence G. Boldt

---The Responsibility of Forms by Cora Cohen

The chief value of money lies in the fact that one lives in a world
in which it is overestimated.
—H. L. Mencken

In our modern commercial culture, we have effectively done away with all of this. The world of symbols is no longer the realm of artists yearning to lead us to transcendence, but of advertisers yearning to make a buck. The symbols they employ refer us back to the ego, not beyond it. The symbolic images of our daily lives are those supplied by the commercial media, which most recently have taken to employing even traditional symbols of transcendence in their efforts to promote consumption. Their purpose is to excite us to buy, and in order to do so, they must stimulate the feeling that we are lacking something, which ownership of the products being promoted will give us. As a consequence, our imaginative lives are filled with images that reinforce the illusion of ego, and are nearly devoid of those that ' point toward its transcendence.

What is true for the inner landscape, if anything, applies even more to the physical environment. The urban environment, in which (now, for the first time) most human beings live, is a landscape of virtually constant ego-reinforcement. Think of the psychological effect of the vast sense of space in which most beings lived throughout human history. To be in the fields and forests, the vast deserts and open savannas, to behold above you the vast canopy of the clear night sky is to feel a sense of expansion. In traditional civilizations, sacred architecture dominated the landscape, as sacred rituals dominated the calendar of events. Whether they lived in ancient cities or in remote jungles, people were in their daily lives being reminded of levels of reality transcendent to the life of the ego.

Do you imagine the universe is agitated?
Go into the desert at night and look out at the stars.
This practice should answer the question. —Lao-Tzu

Alternatively, consider the psychological effect of the modern urban environment. We move in a crowded environment, where space is at a premium, the horizon is blocked, and everything around us is owned bJ someone. Large glass towers dedicated to banks and insurance companies dominate the skylines of the major American cities. If the suburban communities can be said to be organized around anything, it is the shopping malls. Life in the modern world is awash in a sea of paperwork, all of which reminds us of our names and positions in society.

Both in our imaginative lives, filled with images supplied by the commercial media, and the physical environments in which we move, we are constantly being reminded of our position, place, and status in society. AM much as anything, getting away from it all means forgetting who we are as! egos. When I am hiking and camping alone in the woods, there is precious little to remind me of who I am in society (once, of course, I have filled out the necessary forms and received the appropriate license or permit). This allows for at least the possibility of a deeper experience of reality.

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