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Conspiracy theories
August 29th, 2014

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

Conspiracy theories

   Too many fall too easily in conspiracy theories when disappointed.

   Medicine costs too much and doesn't work enough: conspiracy of greedy pharmaceuticals.
   Politicians talk too much and don't solve enough: conspiracy of big businesses, of the invisible hand, of this-or-that group…
   Investors who require some control over the distribution of their creation, to make the investment worthwhile, lock too much the flow of information and don't innovate enough: conspiracy of "intellectual property" sharks…
   Spiritual teachers talk of generosity but still accept donations as they need to pay their bills: conspiracy and manipulation…

   People falling for this tendency usually neither produce nor provide a counter-offer… they just want to benefit from cheap and efficient medicine, cheap and efficient collective safety net, cheap and efficient entertainment and gadgets, guidance for free!
   People falling for this usually fall for craving… and they'll blame entry barriers (i.e. further their conspiracy theories) rather than constructively  respond.
   They easily hack and spread entertainment or documents they don't own, instead of creating freely-sharable versions; they'll spend hours copying content rather than creating content… They easily push narratives about getting the creator 'known', as if the creator benefitted from fame while starving; "getting the creator known" is an copout not to pay by officially hoping that some undefined 'others' will pay.
   They easily talk of "sponsors who would finance this for the benefit of all" but are unable to locate a single one of them, let alone to actually convince this person to buy the 'rights' (or fund the multi-millions investments necessary) and then share the result freely.

   Imperfections and costliness aren't automatically born from conspiracy of the producer; the frustration is often born from the endless desire of the consumer for perfect silver-bullets available for free (or at least cheap enough that their self can safely continue to cling to its 'own' wealth)!

   The world is not satisfactory (wholesome contributions aren't either, magically, by virtue of being 'wholesome'), and there's no point in blaming the discerned causes of frustrations on others so often… Instead, one should enquire into how oneself contributes to the perpetuation of the system, of the status quo.

   A classic example in the Western world relates to pharmaceutical, medicine, health care.
   Medicine are part of the "four requisites" (shelter, food, clothes, medicine) of buddhist monastics; practising medicine and pharmacy is easily part of "right livelihood"; yet, it never was free, no more at the time of the Buddha than now.
   One can go on and on about how one's own health should benefit from free or cheap medicine (e.g. arguing that one didn't fall sick voluntarily and is thus 'innocent') while perpetuating a world where money isn't easily shared (i.e. perpetuating a world where extracting the biggest profits possible from medicine simply is "business as usual")… or one can work toward funding universal health care —with one's own money (via taxes and  donations), not just asking others to pay!

   Instead of falling for conspiracy theories, one can use the unsatisfactoriness of the world as an opportunity to realise the truth of samsaric dukkha  due to craving, expectations, anticipations, mental fabrications.

   One can in particular enquire into the easy, delusional stories "if only this, then it would great!"  and "if only that, then it would work so much better"…  while doing nothing to bring such conditions to life.
   One can in particular enquire into the easy, self-biased delusions "I'm entitled to this, that person isn't"  and [while clinging to consuming, but refusing to pay or donate an appropriate amount] "my cause is a good cause, untouched by greed, but others are greedy."
   One can in particular enquire into how one's own desires are so easily renamed 'needs'… while the needs of others are requalified as "unwholesome desires" they shouldn't be entitled to.

   Conspiracy theories invariably come with a wish for the world to be different from what it is, combined with easily blaming others rather than taking responsibility to influence the world for the better (or rather than stepping away from any unwholesome status quo considered a 'given' of our world).

   The naïve view that the world 'should' conform to one's desires, by the effort of 'others' (who 'should' visibly 'understand' and 'agree' with one's desires), is spiritually unfruitful, self-centric and plain delusional.

   The world is as it is: what will you do to make it better? What will you donate (instead of making stories about others donating)? What will you create? What will you support? What will you relinquish (instead of clinging to "others hoard their wealth, why wouldn't I?",  knowing full well that said 'others' are ignorant)?

   Six pāramitās: generosity, discipline (virtue), patience, perseverance, focus, wisdom.
   Feeling entitled to one's own greed, while blaming others for theirs, isn't part of the list. If you want a world not led by the selfish interests of small groups, lead by example!

Image: "Conspiracy" by © Nancy Farmer (