Personally, I fared very well growing up in the United States. My grandparents were farmers yet they sent all their children to college and they all progressed into the middle class. My mother was the only daughter who, due to my surprise arrival, did not finish college immediately after high school and only later did she finish her education. We passed through all of the socioeconomic spectrum while this single mother finished her education while living in a poor working class environment and gradually ascended into a middle class profession. I grew up close to the other members of my family kind of like an extended Latino family. Also, my grandparents, aunts and uncles helped me financially while I was studying at the university.

While my mother simultaneously worked full time in a low-paying job and studied, we lived in a rather poor apartment complex. Many parents of the white children did not allow them to play with the black children. My mother never imposed such ideas on us. I once received a black eye when I got into a fight with a black boy and had some of the black children angry with me. My mother made them cookies and made sure we were all friends again. She also scolded me and told me that I probably deserved it.

She learned this broad social awareness from her mother. Once, my mother told me about an incident when I was with her mother in a store in Alabama in the early 1960s. They reached the end of the check out line. The people waiting in front of them were all black women waiting for their turn to pay at the cash register. According to the convention, the ladies left their positions and tried to get behind my grandmother at the end of the line. My grandmother did not let them. She said they were there first and that they should go in front of her. The other white people were offended by this. “Why does another white person come here and break the rules of our established order?,” they said. This happened in the early sixties before the Civil Rights Movement.

I write this little piece of personal history to say that I had a very good life in the United States and that I have always seen great potential for universal human culture there. My teacher Anandamurti said that human society is like a garden with so many variegated and beautiful flowers and that each one has its place. I am in favor of so many different cultural expressions, but it is the ideas of nationalism and patriotism that I find particularly unpleasant. “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” according to Samuel Johnson. Nationalism and patriotism are abstract and politically constructed ideas that trample the flowers of human culture. They are limited and dangerous ideas, especially the militant and arrogant nationalism and patriotism that affects so many Americans.

In the 90s he had a group of friends who were yogis and meditators and also had a very progressive political awareness of “middle left.” We saw the conventional American right as centuries behind the times and the American left as people who tried to be progressive but who were simply politically ignorant or too cowardly to face the hypocrisies of the capitalist system. Some people had a certain sympathy with Clinton, Gore and later “Obomber”, but in our hearts we knew that these people were a false front for true democracy and only put a good face over the ugliness of the empire. Most of us liked Ralph Nader and some later supported Bernie Sanders. We were mostly white and middle class. Most of us were not radical enough to be fans of Che Guevarra or Castro, but the Zapatistas did have a human appeal, even if no one had seriously dreamed about picking up a machine gun and joining in the fight.

On my last trip back to Mexico, I was surprised by the calm atmosphere on the plane. Half of the people seemed to be Mexican and the other half seemed to be American. Normally, when I travel in the United States, I feel a lot of neurosis in the environment and the overall vibration is quite heavy. Although Mexico is a totally chaotic country, most middle-class Mexicans (people who travel at airports) do not seem as neurotic as Americans. I have nothing against Americans and I love them as much as any other people. However, I think they suffer more psychologically and are more psychologically alienated than any other “developed” society on the planet. On the plane it was a relief to see people who seemed friendly, natural and self-confident, and I began to think that maybe there really is some hope for Americans. When the flight arrived in Mexico and we were waiting on the immigration line, I realized that most of these people were Canadians. Well, that explained it. Although many Canadians speak and resemble Americans, I generally notice that Canadians are much less neurotic.

It has been a long time since the beaches of Normandy when the United States was hailed as a benevolent force in the world. The unfair wars of Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and economic exploitation and interventions in the Middle East and Latin America eclipse past American glories. Now it is impossible to have a sense of national pride without telling so many lies. All kinds of distractions are created so that people never understand how they are exploited economically, culturally and spiritually. While the quality of education decreases, people eat junk food, wave flags, worship a white Jesus, buy and watch TV while the political-economic system continues to use its votes and taxes to wage war, steal resources and rape the entire planet. Most people are so distracted by divisive national politics and their pseudo culture that they could never understand what the empire is doing all over the world. Actually, the entire first world violates the third world, only Americans do better. They have 38 major military bases worldwide and according to the Pentagon’s world property portfolio there are another 514 military posts located abroad.

As a US citizen, it is easy for me to go where I want to go and while I am in Latin America I see such unbridled exploitation of their economies. So many resources are taken from these countries and much of their work is exploited for the benefit of multinational corporations. Neoliberal imperialism creates economic imbalances in Latin American “colonies” and creates the need for people to emigrate from their economies devastated by unfair economic policies. Immigrants simply go to where the wealth is, where their stolen resources end up and where their exploited labor is capitalized upon. Rejecting immigrants when they arrive and seek refuge is another blow and a great hypocrisy of the racists who always blame the victims of their own crimes.

People who believe in the law of compensation, of action and reaction, should not think that someday Americans will suffer their negative reactions because of their global economic imperialism. The country is already a mental asylum. What people are not suffering on the physical level they are suffering on the psychological level. How can a country create ongoing wars to steal the entire world from its resources without reaping what it sows? There is not much compassion for immigrants and there is not much love among their own citizens in their own world. This mental illnesses increases exponentially with so much internal political struggle, alienation, neurosis and medicinal and recreational drug addictions. There are no substitutes for culture and humanity. If people could only understand the selfish causes of their own suffering and those that they harm, then perhaps they could escape the vicious circle of suffering. Finding a little humane feeling within and giving up materialism and narcissism would solve a large part of the problem, but that requires too much moral strength and character for most. One simply has to admit this and ask for forgiveness with humane acts. But we do not see it and do not change and, therefore, descend even deeper into an abyss of suffering.

I have not suffered from depression or even melancholy for decades. I once told a friend of mine when I was 25 that it was impossible for me to get depressed. She asked how it was possible. I said because I know that I am not my mind. It is the mind that thinks and feels depressed. If the mind recognizes that it is witnessed by the calm and peaceful “I”, the “I-Witness”, then one feels peace, joy and is reconciled eternally with the infinite and therefore depression or any negativity takes to its heals.

In recent years I have gone through a total hell with the drug war in Mexico. My house was surrounded by 4 paramilitary camps and I witnessed the most extreme violence and I even had to defend my life. I listened to people being tortured and mutilated and was always under threat of being kidnapped by the narco assassins of Santa Muerte. Sometimes I thought I would fall into pessimism or depression and that I would have to eat my previous words. However, remembering the “I-Witness” floating weightlessly over the tribulations of the relative mind always saved me. I even got mad at Tao for allowing me to be at peace in such a terrible situation … it almost seemed perverse and out of place, but our essence really is eternal bliss and, in fact, it is possible to be one with bliss under all relative conditions and circumstances.

Because of this resistance to depression, I feel that I am a good indicator of depression. I can feel depression in other people’s minds and in environments where depressed people live and interact. I feel intense pressure in my head in such environments or when I am close to depressed people. I try to say something nice to those people if I feel I can have any effect or just avoid such situations altogether. That’s why I like small rural communities instead of big cities. When I go to the United States, I clearly see that it is a society plagued by depression. It is difficult to find places, communities or cities where the vibration is not really heavy. I have noticed this since the 1990s when I began to become sensitive. I have only noticed that the collective vibration has only become even more depressed over the years. Even Austin (where I am visiting now), which was once a very positive place with a very progressive and alternative culture, is now a zombie camp. I used to say that the United States was a neurotic and depressed society, now I say that it is beyond that and is moving towards psychosis. I don’t know how much longer a society can remain integrated under such degeneration. When will we reach the breaking point?

by William Enckhausen email: william@williamenck.art