I recently published my fifth book, Inner Anarchy. Inner anarchy is turning away from the false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies that have been programmed into our heads through tradition, education, religion, government, mass-media, pop culture, corporatism and other societal institutions. As different as they seem, they all operate from the same set of flawed premises such as don’t trust yourself but trust them, the “experts.” Religion starts with the fundamental false assumption that people are inherently “sinners” and need to be saved from themselves. Government exerts power and control over our lives based on the lie that we need protection from each other and aren’t capable of sorting things out ourselves. Meanwhile, they all work in tandem to keep us enslaved in a capitalistic system that benefit a few and oppresses the rest of us. The inner anarchist questions and deconstructs every sacred cow and especially those things so ingrained in us that we wouldn’t even think of questioning.
The inner anarchist not only turns away from the false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies that have been ruling and running their lives, but they turn toward a different source and authority for living. There are moments in our lives when something triggers an experience where we touch something very real in our deep feelings. It’s an awareness, tacit understanding, an inner knowing, something we feel deep in our gut. These deep feelings, awareness and intuition bubbles up within us and we touch the oneness and interconnectedness of all things. A deep sense of love, peace, joy, liberation, belonging, homecoming and harmony open up within us in these moments. It’s not a religious phenomenon. It’s a very natural place within each of us that we connected with and operated within freely as children before we were programmed to mistrust it. The inner anarchist listens, trusts, follows, speaks and lives from that source.
Jesus was the quintessential inner anarchist. I wonder if it would matter if people knew that Jesus lived as an anarchist before the term was ever created. It’s unfortunate that Jesus got hijacked and co-opted by the Christian religion. Jesus was a subversive, radical and dangerous person before he was later domesticated by Christianity. This was a central reason why I wrote Inner Anarchy – to expose how the Christian religion has led 2.5+ billion people astray by twisting the life and teachings of Jesus and preventing his truth from getting out. Jesus did not believe in the “God” of religion and most of the orthodox doctrines of Christianity have little or no connection to the truth Jesus bore witness to and demonstrated. Jesus challenged, confronted, undermined, rebelled against and refused to obey the dictates of religion and government. Instead, he called people to find their power and authority within themselves. Jesus main message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come.” This message of Jesus has been corrupted by the church. The word “repent” does not mean to admit wrong, accept your sinfulness or feel contrition for past wrongs. The word for “repent” (metanoia) means to use your mind in a different way, namely to access that natural inner authority that I mentioned above, which Jesus referred to as “the kingdom of heaven” within us. This is the inner anarchy Jesus called for.
Using the word “anarchy” in my book title raised some eyebrows. People have been fed a false understanding of anarchy to mean something like lawlessness, violence, insurrection, mayhem and senseless revolt. The word ‘anarchy” means the absence of a ruling class. Anarchists believe that the hierarchal power structures of a ruling class are oppressive, and that people must be free to voluntarily and equally associate with one another, self-organize, and operate in a spirit of mutual aid to meet one another’s needs such as those that Abraham Maslow identified in his Hierarchy of Needs.
The question has come up – does/will inner anarchy lead to anarchy?
Here’s the connection as I see it. As we do our own inner work of turning away from the false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies that have been ruling us from within, then it only stands to reason that we can no longer perpetuate and participate in the ways, systems and structures of our world that are based on these false premises. In that sense, it’s an inside out anarchy. We must first remove the plank in our own eye before we run out to move the speck in another. We are only treating symptoms if all we do is seek to remove people or people groups, or tear down systems, structures and institutions of power. The true enemy operates within each of us in the form of those false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies that have been programmed into our heads. We want to blame the system, not realizing that we have been contributing to our own oppression and captivity by subscribing to those kinds of mindsets within us. If we don’t do our own inner work then we are likely to replace the old structures with no ones that ultimately end up being more of the same – same show, different channel.
But as we do our inner anarchy we will recognize that the prevailing and fundamental ways of our world are a sham and based purely on falsehoods. We can no longer in good conscience continue to participate in them. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this inevitably will lead to our divesting ourselves from those ways, mindsets, values, structures and systems. Once again Jesus is a good example of this. Jesus was not some esoteric separatist hermit. He was a scrappy radical who immersed himself in the muck, mire and miseries of the human reality. He incited people to inner anarchy and refused to play the game of religion or government, which ultimately led to his execution. Jesus demonstrated an alternative that challenged people to find their power and authority within themselves and live by the Golden Rule in their associations with one another. Jesus described a new world and society where it was “on earth as it is in heaven.” What heaven? The one inside you. That one that has bubbled up within you in feelings of love, peace, joy, liberation, belonging, homecoming and harmony.
Inner anarchists are therefore left with a choice that is a bit discomforting. Who will we be in the world? Will we make inner anarchy mainly an “inner” and individualistic thing, and wait for the new world to magically roll out? Or will we go into the world, divesting ourselves from the current order and lifting up a new reality in its place? In my view, to truly follow the path of Jesus is the second choice. The two parts are equally significant and inseparable – “inner” (the inner work each of us must do) and “anarchy” living this reality out in our world. I’ve never been a fan of labels and I don’t think we need to make too much of the label “anarchy.” The point is that as we turn away from those false beliefs, mindsets, narratives and ideologies within us, and turn toward that source, power, and authority within us, then we give expression to that in real and concrete ways as Jesus did – undermining the old oppressive order and lifting up a new liberative order in its place.
Having said that, the true anarchist spirit is operating outside hierarchal power structures in more liberative and practical ways such as voluntary association, self-organization and mutual aid, and there is much to gain from this mentality. Anarchists are not shy about undermining the most fundamental premises and structures of society such as capitalism and labor, and creating alternatives that respect human freedom and autonomy, the common good, and respect for the planet and all living things. However, don’t think I am somehow speaking on behalf or representing all anarchists. It’s a diverse group, which includes a few of those who would just prefer to randomly burn things down to the ground. There are a few in every crowd.
Inner anarchy is a daily process – both the “inner” and the “anarchy” part. One of the very useful things we inner anarchists can do is connect meaningfully with one another and create communities with people who support one another in the process, dialogue, act, lift up a new reality, and practice these new ways of operating.