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Chapter 62 - Conformity denies virtue
Tyrannical governments and tyrannical parents have tried to establish order through fear and punishment. They assume the authority of "Providence" itself to dominate and shape minds according to their concepts and traditions of what order should be. Tradition can be ten thousand years or one day old. In the family this authority is vested in the parents, and in tyrannical governments it is enforced through various forms of persuasion, murder and intimidation. Once they have established themselves in power, it is a simple matter for governments through propaganda to build a tradition that is gradually accepted to assure the continuation of their authority. The family, the church and tyrannical governments have done this throughout the ages. In this the basic law is acceptance, obedience and conformity, a conformity which both the tyrant and the parent consider will bring about order. Order for them means obeying what they consider to be the highest good for the community as well as the individual.
This so-called order tries to establish the relationship among individuals and between the individual and the community. This relationship is conditioned, but since all life is relationship, to force it into a particular mould must naturally bring about conflict. This conflict is revolt against the pattern, which brings about disorder; and to overcome this disorder, authority is again exercised to bring about so- called order. This obvious pattern can be seen working in the daily life of governments, religious organizations and all established power. This is not order at all.
Order must come out of freedom, not order first and freedom afterwards. Freedom cannot possibly exist if there is no discipline; but discipline according to the pattern of power or according to an established tradition or conformity to necessity is not discipline at all. As we have said, discipline is learning. Learning needs an active mind, not a mind that has accumulated knowledge and adds to it through what it calls learning. Learning demands attention; but it is inattention that is encouraged through the accumulation of knowledge and habit. Habit and knowledge are contrary to virtue. It is virtue that brings about order. Morality is custom and habit, and virtue is not. When we understand the mechanism of habit and custom-not intellectually but actually come directly into contact with it-then the very seeing is the liberating factor from custom and habit, which is the deep- rooted tradition that human beings have sedulously guarded and which is acceptance of tyranny and of the morality, the established order, of society.
So in all human beings there is this compulsive urge to conform, to follow, which is the very denial of virtue. virtue as conduct, behaviour, can only flower as goodness when morality as custom ceases. So order is not custom compelled by authority, whether outer or inner, but the flowering of behaviour that is not shaped by the environment. Such behaviour is righteousness. Without righteous behaviour there is no order. We are so used to disorder, the indication of which is conflict, that to be without that mould brings fear. Fear only breeds resistance and aggression, and never order.
Love is not remembrance of the image of pleasure or desire, for this breeds contradiction and conflict, which is one of the causes of disorder. Love is not the photo on the mantelpiece or the image in the church or the sexual remembrance which breed habit, custom and therefore disorder. Love is righteousness, behaviour in the active present; and this is order.