Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Idea of Sufficiency

My Native American friend Xbox (not his real name, and anyway he’d rather be called Indian) talks about the idea of sufficiency. He does a lot of obscure reading and is a mine of unusual information and original conclusions. Anyway, he’d observed that when a tribal people were largely wiped out through disease or whatever, they would often return to their original numbers quite quickly, and then stay at roughly that number. It was like they would collectively have a sense of what was enough, what number could be supported by the environment. And from that came his idea that humans have a sense of sufficiency, of what is enough. Like when you’ve had enough to eat.

In a way the idea seems obvious and very sane, but our culture has lost sight of it. We no longer have any collective sense of there being enough people, or enough wealth, or having done enough work, or whatever. Prosperity no longer means thriving, it means greed.

Sufficiency is a Saturnian idea. A healthy Saturn sets appropriate boundaries and regulates the proper measure of everything. An unhealthy Saturn is empty inside, and endlessly compensates through ‘achievement’ and hard work and wealth.

It has become central to our collective sense of well-being that the economy is growing. It doesn’t matter so much that it should adequately provide for everybody. No, what matters is that it should be growing, so we are told, and we believe it. This is the negative Saturn at the heart of our culture. Things are bad in the UK at the moment because we are in a recession. No-one says well we’ve all still got enough to eat and a roof over our heads – and we could easily cater for those who haven’t – so what’s the problem?

Working long hours is part of the same thing. We feel good about ourselves when we’ve been working, which isn’t altogether a bad thing. But it is more than that, it is a moral thing, we feel like we are good people because we have been working, and we want others to know. I know a small farmer who will often watch kids TV in the day, and then at night he’ll get in his tractor, put on the lights and start working, and it looks to the neighbours like he is this incredibly hard-working farmer who is at it even in the evening. This over-identification with work is also negative Saturn.

Sufficiency is different to sustainability. The problem with our current western way of life, as we see it, is that it is not sustainable, due to climate change, limited resources etc. That’s a good start, but it’s not the real issue. Because awful things can be perfectly sustainable. The early USA slave culture was perfectly sustainable. Some wars seem to go on and on, they seem quite sustainable.

The reason we have reached a point of unsustainability is because we have lost sight of sufficiency. What we seem to be looking for collectively with all the climate change stuff etc is an economy based on sustainable greed rather than unsustainable greed. As I said, it’s a start, but it is paradoxical, because an economy, a way of life, based on greed always wants more, and so eventually becomes unsustainable.

So I think that the political buzz word needs to be sufficiency rather than sustainability. It takes the pressure off in all sorts of ways, morally and psychologically, as well as materially. But I think it is a mind-set way too far to be accepted, simple as it is. Perhaps Pluto in Capricorn will help, although it could just as easily mean more power (Pluto) to the banks and other financial institutions (Capricorn). Maybe we have to wait for Pluto in Aquarius in 14 years time, which will empower (Pluto) the progressive thinkers (Aquarius).

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Anonymous said...

I do agree, sufficiency instead of sustainability which is a word which, that we like it or not, reminds and makes reference to another, now passing, world...
The XXth Century and the Myth of Development, continuous development...

neith said...

I LOVE this notion, DR, and keep talking it up to anyone of my friends and family who will listen. Makes complete sense to me. "Satiation" is another good word . . .

analysa said...

Sufficiency. "In a way the idea seems obvious and very sane, but our culture has lost sight of it".

Totally agree, especially governments have absolutely no sense of it.

"Government As Good As It Gets"
Bonehead Award
St. Clair County, Illinois, spent $330 million dollars for a new airport that no airline was interested in using. For one year, the airport was kept in operation for 12 hours per day, staffed with 27 employees, and a full fire crew and maintenance staff. In that entire year, neither a single passenger nor even one plane used the airport. $2.5 million in upgrades were approved for the second year, even though airlines continued to express no interest in the airport.

Leisa said...

Thanks, really like this angle on Saturn. Good article in itself but also reminds me of the larger issue that our astrological interpretations are always colored by our cultural assumptions, which can be fallible...

Dharmaruci said...

Which assumptions do you have in mind here?

analysa said...

"Which assumptions do you have in mind here?"

If I may interrupt, I would address the climate change issue as one. There is pollution, a real problem. The warming part is an other issue, one of big business if you do the research. An other view on it.


analysa said...

"Because awful things can be perfectly sustainable".

I don´t think so, eventually they change. A matter of understanding energies and change.

"The reason we have reached a point of unsustainability is because we have lost sight of sufficiency".

I would say we have lost sight of Balance. Of where the Center is. To understand Balance you have to understand basic Principles. To understand basic Principles, you have to understand Polarity. To understand Polarity, you have to understand the limits of excess and the limits of deficiency. To understand the limits of excess and deficiency, you have to understand Energies. All of this is part of understanding Laws. Natural laws and the most basic human laws.

There is always a lot of talk about when we exercise our Freedom. We truly only exercise our Freedom when we understand Polarity & Energies and understand where our choices lead us. We become Oneness by overcoming polarity through understanding it.

"As I said, it’s a start, but it is paradoxical, because an economy, a way of life, based on greed always wants more, and so eventually becomes unsustainable".

This excessive greed is actually a sign of a DEEP deficiency. That is why it perpetuates itself endlessly. You are constantly looking for something that is missing. And because you choose the wrong things to nourish yourself with, then that inner hole is never filled and you keep looking endlessly. That is Hypoglycemia. The most basic symptom 99% of the population have.

So on a physiological/chemical level, it is a deficiency or excess (one can look at it both ways) reflected in the poor health of the nation and the bankrupted state of Medicare & Medicaid. We have a hypoglycemic nation or world. The thing is, if the physiological is not properly addressed, it is difficult to cure. Good that the recession is forcing people to go back to home gardens. Growing natural foods is the first step in the right direction. Recessions are a good thing.
On a spiritual level, it is the same, also a lack of nourishment. for moving away from understanding very basic life Principles.

That physiological and spiritual hypoglycemia is actually a lack of Love and a misunderstanding of Love.

It always begins and ends with the "Love" thing. The basic (only) Principle.

Leisa said...

I was thinking of what you seemed to be illustrating so well here, the tendencies for astrologers to emphasize Saturnian qualities of hard work and achievement perhaps at the expense of acknowledging limits. I feel there's this flavor of, "Saturn transit! Do a bunch of hard work!"

And so our Puritan work ethic perhaps gets combined into the actual archetype of Saturn. My hypothesis, anyway... But also a good example of something that has concerned me for a while, what our real abilities are as astrologers to parse out the 'true' meanings of astrological info vs. how much we may be reifying cultural biases and such. How to sufficiently stand outside our own milieu to tell the difference, and to what extent that's even possible.

Segurelha said...

Excellent article, with a much needed different world view