I suppose that the craze surrounding the book and film The Secret is wearing off, but I still feel like presenting a few thoughts about the whole thing. When it came out, I went online and looked at the movie trailor and the author's website - at least I think it was her. I didn't like the hyped up energy and the way the woman in question was fixated on money. "I became a millionaire, and then a billionaire - all thanks to The Secret" I recall being her statement. Well yes... a nicely wrapped up ultra positive New Age book that encourages people to catch at a straw in a world full of stress and uncertainty is likely to get a lot of buyers. It screamed sensationalism to me. Anyway, I finally got a chance to get the book out of the library as it had been translated to Swedish. I was curious to see what exactly is in it, though I had a hunch from the very start that there was nothing that special about the concept of the law of attraction. Here is what I think.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
First of all, notice that the message is packaged in a romantic sort of way that is sure to appeal to a lot of people. It reminds me of The Da Vinci Code. One thing that immediately struck me as phoney was the way the author makes references to people of the past and claims that they all knew about the secret. Where is the evidence? There is none. All that you get are some very obscure quotes by some of the people listed (Einstein, Emerson and so on) that tell you absolutely nothing and that probably were retracted from a context that had nothing to do with the message of this book. She also claims that all these famous thinkers and scientists owed their success to knowing the secret. In other words, they believed their way to success. Come on! It sure takes a bit of talent and education as well! Really! The book is really talking to us as if we are children who need to be convinced that the author knows what she's talking about and we have no right to contest this because we're somehow lesser knowing. Another thing that made me raise my eyebrows was the loose way of using the term "Spirit". The author claims that spirit is like the genie in the bottle, all ready and prepared to fulfil all of your most ardent wishes. Later on there is some talk about humans really being equal to God and thus in the position of creating the reality they want, but it's really not very good literature. Spirit as I understand it is way beyond our comprehension and certainly a very active part of existance, rather than a passive force that a human ego can control and demand.
I was a bit taken aback that the universe was likened to a postorder catalogue. All you have to do is choose your wish and send out the order. While I don't necessarily object to the profanity of the metaphor, I do think that it brings down a very complex process to a very banal level. What I feel is that there is nothing all that wrong with the concept about the law of attraction per se, the problem is that it's only representing a narrow scope of reality. Perhaps it does act as an eye opener to people who have never thought in terms of spiritual "truths" before. What I see as problematic is that people usually get stuck on the most obvious statements of this truth such as "abundance is your birthright" and "you must only think positive thoughts and make sure you're state of mind is always one of happiness and well being". These act as life buoys in an uncertain world and tend to freeze into dogmas. I have met people online who have been very eager to push these "truths" onto me although it actually does state in the book that you must never do that as it's only serving the ego. Other people have been very depressed because they failed to manifest their wishes and feel very guilty that they have negative thoughts. What I see as a big danger apart from egoistic self-gratification is severe self-blame! It actually does say in the book that you should embrace all of your feelings but it's not really coming out that clearly. The overshadowing statement is basically that you must not give into negative or doubtful thinking and feeling (this is being repeated many times though in fact there is a passage saying that one positive thought will outrule many negative ones...). This is a ticket to a very hyped up sort of positivity that is likely to undermine the work a person might be doing in order to attract what they want. You cannot command your subconscioius, negative undercurrents to disappear magically!
The bottomline is; you cannot make certain negative tendencies go away just by thinking positive thoughts. And what I really want to stress is that there is no short cut to deep insight and wisdom. I myself am the first to admit that I only learn the hard way! I simply cannot imagine myself going around faking my inner life to sound like a prayer wheel of repetitive, lovey dovey thoughts and feelings that are only about the wonderful things I have in this moment. "I have a lot of money, I have the perfect partner, I have perfect health..." are examples of the sort of affirmations that were actually very popular back in the early 1990s already. If it works for some; fine... obviously everyone must do what they feel is working for them. I just think that it would require an easily suggestive mind in order to work, and that it would feel highly unnatural. This is only my personal opinion, of course!
I think that a big problem with this sort of thinking is also the idea that all we need to do is know what we want and then ask for it. I believe that we rarely know what we truly need, and that this is way more important than wanting things. Of course, some people are here on Earth with a purpose of discovering ways in which they can attain a higher level of happiness and success, but if you're on a serious spiritual path I really don't see "wanting" as very relevant. I like to believe that I am always guided by the more higher spiritual part of me, and so whatever comes my way is there as a challenge that helps me gain a higher level of wisdom. I don't think we learn much of any value from a very easy life. If this was the case, we would probably not be on Earth, but in some other realm where there are less opportunities to experience the friction between polarities. Every dilemma that I manage to solve leaves me feeling more accomplished, and this is a deep experience that has little to do with the puny "little" self, the ego. Of course there is always the option of using spiritual insight as a way of growing the ego, but I think that the more humbled you are by life and the incredibly complex forces at work, the less likely you are to want that. I have to say that it wasn't long ago that I had an experience of surrendering part of my will to Spirit and it caused a surge of Kundalini (a strong energy current) in me.
I think that claiming that you can keep your weight only by thinking that you have your perfect weight is a bit strange. I understand the concept, and maybe it does work for some. In my case my weight depends on what I eat and how much I exercise. To manically focus on keeping it is not really my thing. I also have to say that I got through University because I believed I would. But I also got through it because it was quite important in terms of my self-esteem and my life's purpose. Manifesting something like that "just because" doesn't make any sense to me. There are also lots of people who believe they have tons of money and end up heavily indebted. Of course, if you really did what The Secret tells you would also make sure that you don't believe in being indebted or somehow change your energetic frequency to match a state of true abundance. But really... we can certainly try but how realistic is it that we would be able to juggle with so many elements that are actually subconscious, for the most part? Better, methinks, to just take a step at a time and see how things really work out on this level of reality..?
I also like to stress that people do need to talk about their own hardships, and not keep it all to themselves as The Secret suggests. It's simply very bad psychology! Dwelling on negative things incessantly is a different issue... still there's a time for everything. You also cannot force feelings of love so all the imperative talk about having to feel massive amounts of love all the time is not realistic either. First and foremost, be kind to yourself!
Some time ago I met someone who really fancied me. It seemed that I represented all the things that this guy had asked for (he confessed to having pleaded to the universe). However, there were other things there as well: I also brought a host of challenges into this guy's life. In the end he refused the good as well as the bad and went back to a more comfortable lifestyle. Perhaps I was a manifestation in this person's life? The thing is, that could very well be the case because we certainly are not islands and so oftentimes we act out a role that someone else is needing to experience. I'm sure I learnt important lessons from all this myself. But this person obviously didn't really know what he wanted, and so the scenario had to collapse. I also don't want to pretend to know exactly what was really involved in the drama. Only time and deep contemplation may reveal some of the reasons behind the encounter, but some of it may remain embedded in the unconscious forever. All I can do is try and do the right thing, which in my vocabulary means being intuitive and following thoughts and feelings with utter attention and discernment.
I also wish to give another example of the complexity of life. I became friends with a very nice woman in the spring and was hopeful about the contact. One day she texted me something very short and dismissive. I was quite hurt, and didn't hear from her all summer. Recently I deleted her from my list of Facebook friends. Suddenly I received a sincere apology from her. She was asking to be my friend and explained what exactly had happened. There was no reason for me not to accept the apology and so there is a chance that we will be able to carry on our deep conversations. But the point is; I didn't manifest her return, in fact I had negative thoughts about her. There was no direct law of attraction implied other than that me taking a decisive step made her realize that she was attracted enough to our friendship so as not to let it go!
Finally, I want to say that I think the law of attraction is really quite common sense (don't most of all realize already that we attract certain things into our lives depending on who we are?) and not some hushhush "secret"! Perhaps it's just me but I really like to live life in a natural way. To me it does not mean living an unconscious zombie like existance (cf. the state preceding the awakening suggested by The Secret), but being attentive to all that goes on inside and outside of me. It's relaxing into the real me the way this "me" is manifested by Spirit in this time and place. I don't want to control my environment or make other people become something that I want through some idea about manifesting the perfect people to surround you with. It's not easy, but that's my personal challenge.
Photo by author, all rights reserved 2009
Sunday, 6 September 2009
In order that what I'm saying in this post would make sense, one needs to know what I mean by illusion versus reality. You need to postulate, that ultimately human beings are not just limited physical beings, but limitless beings of love. Limited existance here on Earth would thus be a sort of illusion. A lot of people tend to dismiss experience on this level as "only illusion", however. I rather promote a paradox which allows for this reality to hold a quality of "reality" as well. Really what I mean is that they are two sides of the same coin. I can't go into that in detail now since I have other things in mind, but this is the starting point.
Most people really want to live in lala-land. Which is perfectly understandable, since no one wants to suffer. While poverty and misery may help some in understanding deeper truths about life, it's not a virtue and really causes more negativity in the world. The well-to-do don't always realize it just as they don't realize a lot of things that compromises their comfort in the present moment, but their reluctance to take action to help change things will eventually creep up on them. Well, in many countries the rich are already living in their highly protected residences and the nature of the problem is pretty obvious to the onlooker, however in the Nordic countries this scenario hasn't quite hit home yet.
The smorgasbord kind of religion or spirituality that the New Age is, is particularly attractive to the Western middle class. The reasons are surely obvious; these people have the luxury to sit and ponder the meaning of their individual success on all levels of life and have the means to do research in order to find the particular tailored spiritual brand that suits them the best. They have the money to participate in all kinds of specialized workshops and seminars. Because their lives are already reasonably affluent, they can imagine a sort of paradise on Earth rather than in the after life. There's nothing wrong with all this, but we need to keep Maslow's hierarchy of needs in mind. There are plenty of people who don't have access to this sort of spirituality. They are stuck in the kind that is offered by their particular environment and limited to spending only a minimal amount of time and energy to pondering the deeper meaning of their belief system. They usually also don't have the education to understand the value of questioning social and/or religious authorities. I'm only saying this because it's easy to forget the 90% of the population who are really poor and unpriviliged. If you don't belong to this group, you tend not to want to know about it, because it's a threat to a sense of security that may nontheless not have much basis in reality. I'm not saying that there aren't some New Agey sort of people who have a real grip on things and also find a sense of security in an honest and true relationship with the "higher dimensions" or Source or whatever you wish to call it. However, I'm not so sure there are that many. Most people are really just enclosed in their safeguarded residences where they can share their visions as well as illusions with likeminded people.
Who am I to make this sort of judgment call? Well, one reason is that there have been very few people who have been able to make a real difference in my own life. I've had to find out the hard way that most people around really are very "middle class" regardless whether they are ordinary agnostics-or-atheist-or-passive Christians or "consciously spiritual"-or-New Age-or-Buddhist - these are the groups that I've been in touch with personally so I won't venture to talk about people with other forms of belief systems. It means that in general they love the comfy clichés and stereotypes that they can resort to in order to make it seem as if life is under control. Of course, clichés exist because there's a hint of truth in them, albeit they have frozen into a mold that is applied on all and sundry. These people love handing out advice about other people's attitudes, because that way they feel that they are under no obligation to actually do anything concrete. Whether people like to preach about a subjective form of spirituality according to which people have only their own bad attitude to blame for their misery or whether they just like to blame others in general, the burden of other people's suffering is always pushed away from themselves. They don't want to get their hands dirty so by talking about "attitude" rather than real life problems, they can live with the illusion that they are doing something good in the world. Of course, not all people are only doing this, some actually do also act on occasion. But in that case it's mostly for money. Few want to risk their sense of physical security.
What I'm describing here is really quite a nice life, and it allows for plenty of theories that continue to keep the illusions going. For instance, people love Tolle's "Power of Now". While what he presents are old viewpoints that have been said many times before, it's really quite a comfortable attitude that can lull you into believing that no concrete action needs to be taken. And I also wonder how to tell this attitude apart from the hedonistic attitude about living the here and now without concern for consequences? While I can sense the difference, I wonder if everyone can. Self-help authors usually become popular only if they offer a confirmation that a comfortable life style really is quite okay and you don't really need to sacrifice any of it for other people. So where does it leave us? Well, people may be finding personal fulfillment but how long does it last? If people were really present in the Now they wouldn't look to 2012 for changes, but act on the problems that exist right now. Again I'm sure there are people who understand all this, I'm just worried about the others... and I'm also concerned that narcissism is getting the better of people.
In reality, not many are there for other people. Even mother Theresa is said to have been a fake. It's amazing how many people buy into the myth about her without questioning whether it's true or not. So you only have yourself in the end. I know, it sounds like a cliché. But what I want to say is that the image people have of the sole survivor and the strong individual who survives all of life's adversities like a true hero is bullshit. People just don't want to look at misery and acknowledge that not all endings are happy endings. If they did, the illusion about their own comfort would be challenged. Now I personally don't want to watch movies that have unhappy endings, it really is distressing. So I understand this tendency in human beings. Problems arise when denial is on all the time and people can't really tell fiction from reality. Of course, the more overwhelming misery in the world is getting, the more people will want to be in denial. All this is normal but problematic nonetheless. One does wonder if this particular nightmare will ever end?
What is the cure for this state of affairs? Some would say "ascension" and I can't really rebuke that in any way. I just think it's a bit funny that some wait for divine intervention while they cross their hands. Whatever the case may be, it seems to me there really is only one way of really getting in touch with reality, and that is learning about life the hard way. As a spiritual person, you may think that you understand the deeper issues of life and understand that this 3D reality is not "reality" but an illusion, however only when they get so painful and tormenting that you can absolutely not doubt their realness, then you actually learn something. Understanding that life without love is an illusion is one thing, but seeing that its opposite is every bit as real is in my opinion to have a real understanding of things. As I have always pleaded, it's about paradoxes. You can't sit in your residence like an armchair philosopher and understand what life is really about by thinking about it only. It just doesn't work. Of course love is important, but I see it more as a complement rather than a cure-all (strategy and action "male style" is every bit as valid in this reality as the exchange of positive vibes "female style"). So even if you know that what you're going through is an illusion (and really you're bloody fortunate if you do), if it doesn't feel absolutely real all the same you are not "getting it". When I realized this I understood why all my negative feelings are valid. They are the simple result of the fact that one's life's struggle appears so very freaking real that one feesl like killing oneself (not saying I will but only that the deeper into the "illusion" you go, the more it hurts and the more you want out of it at any price). You get that close to self-destruction not because you are living a negative illusion of life, but because it torments and haunts you more than anything you could ever imagine in an armchair in a comfortable residence or a totally different dimension. Honouring the fact that your spirit has agreed to limit itself so much that this experience has become possible is surely the first step towards a really useful enlightenment. And who knows, many an "enlightened" spirit may be walking around without having any means of proving that they actually are. While we do need to strive towards a happier outlook on life, the experience of many negative feelings may sometimes be a doorway to a deeper understanding of the problems that other people are experiencing. If nothing else, it helps you take action rather than remain a dull preacher. And of course, ultimately an experience is just an experience. What's the use of hell if nobody goes there, eh? ;-)
Artwork: Digital photograph by author, all rights reserved 2009
Saturday, 5 September 2009
Okay, so some people excercise power and others are victims. Inbetween there's a rather gullible middle class who believes in authorities and feels sorry for those victimized, but is unable to truly relate to either or. What they want is just comfort and a happy life, characterized by a whole set of comfortable clichés and stereotypes that contribute to a feeling of familiarity and thus security in an insecure world. Among these clichés are pseudo-psychological ideas about how politicians are selfish, victims victimize themselves, and nothing can really be done to change the way of the world. Because nothing can be changed, the only thing one can do is resort to jargon. I know that when I feel helpless and confused, I become more judgmental and easily get stuck in mental and emotional patterns. At the other end of the stick we have the mechanism of denial, which focuses on eliminating negative thoughts in favour of the positive ones that may ensure a smashing future for the individual in question.
If you don't really want to belong in either of these three categories, you probably become an outcast or a dissident. Yes we all have human feelings, as we are after all human beings on a very arduous journey here on Earth! So for instance, we all feel sorry for ourselves every once in a while. I hate it when people either stigmatize others for feeling this way or pat them on the shoulder with some insipid comment that is supposed to be encouraging. "You can do it, everything will be alright", and so on. While sometimes these words can be of comfort when accompanied with real love and concern, most of the time they are just annoying empty phrases. Hope is after all not a taken at all, it's a simple mechanism of survival. There is no other basis for hope than a religious belief that bad things can't last forever or a simple wish that one will at some point gain more power to fight the negative challenges. Still, human beings usually have a will to live and a fear of death, so having hope is a natural means of trying to make it in a harsh world. After all, hope is not directly connected to feelings of control, and so can not be harmful.
I have had to deal with many people who have tried to exercise control over me. Some people enter relationships of dependency without paying much attention and others simply suffer in silence. I'm talking of all sorts of relationships, not only intimate ones. I'm one of those who kick and scream, however. I refuse to be submissive. For instance, my position as a disabled person has turned into a nightmarish fight for survival within an totalitarian social system that leaves no room for personal freedom. Once a person is being removed from working life and has to ask the state for money to survive, the authorities lock you into a prisonlike system that denies you a whole bunch of human rights. The less you have worked in your life, the worse it gets. Someone with a basic pension has to beg for some extra from the social services, and this puts them under the influence of certain laws that cut down their freedom to the max. For instance, such a person is not allowed to gain any money, take any loans, exchange any money within family members, travel anywhere, use any other services than the ones appointed by the social services (for instance in the case of the glasses that I didn't want to get from the local optician this summer), and is obliged to report just about anything to do with their personal life and financial choices. Of course, the scanty money you're supposed to live on doesn't only limit your life but prevents you from actually having one. Usually you don't really know what you enter when you are being pulled into the System. If you're unlucky, you will be treated like a second rate citizen the way I am at present here in the small town where I moved some years ago. Other people in other counties are more fortunate and also receive more money to help them get by.
I participated in yet another radio show about social injustice for marginal citizens and got my say in, but it does take a toll on me to have to expose my basic lack of security to the rest of the world. The programme clearly showed that politicans have little interest in helping people like myself since I'm not considered a significant booster of the economy (which ultimately serves the highly paid politicians). Taxes are certainly being lowered but for some reason there is no money to increase the pensions to at least the double, which is considered reasonable at this time. It's as if I'm expected to live some sort of medieval life while the well-to-do rush by in their fancy cars and play with their technical gadgets. It's truly surreal.
Another thing that has taken a great toll on me lately is netdating. Speaking to all these middle class men online has left me disenchanted and sad. No one cares to truly get to know me, indeed they may pretend that they do but they are only trying to see what faults I have that will disqualify me as their partner. What I resent the most is the manipulation. I have written more extensively about these things in Swedish on my other blogs but here are a few points to watch out for:
An ambiguous way of talking. For instance, the guy may ask you to reveal everything about yourself but doesn't really do the same for you. He may be playing at "I do want to meet you, but right now I can't because..." and so on. There will be an uncomfortable element of "let's see", and you feel somehow watched. As soon as you feel it's time to open up a bit more in order to get anywhere, you get rejected. He's a scumball because he didn't give you a chance to present yourself in real life, and that's just a way of exercising control. Alternatively, the man wants to meet you at once and doesn't have time to hang on the internet talking to you. That's probably bullshit because most men do spend an extensive part of their day online. Perhaps they only want a quick lay.
You open up a lot but the guy doesn't comment, and that's a way of exercising control over you and the situation. He's probably sitting there evaluating everything you say, and will stab you in the back when you least expect it. Suddenly it's clear he hasn't understood anything you said. And the sad part is that you probably felt it all along and now you're frustrated because you have wasted time and energy on yet another imbecile.
Men who keep you waiting are exercising control. The guy is too busy to write regularly, and is evasive when you ask what he wants. He may suddenly take an interest but you can bet that he's only interested to discuss that one word in your profile that could be interpreted as something to do with sex.
The guy complains that men should be treated just they same as men are expected to treat women. He's got the equality issue all screwed up and doesn't realize that equality is not about switching roles. Swedish men have this sort of passive-aggressive and thus controlling attitude quite a bit. It's really disconcerting because they are not really in touch with their manliness and so they can't treat you like a woman either. He'd be better off be you friend or become gay.
The majority of all men online appear dyslectic. I've tried to accept a lack of proper writing but it never gets me anywhere. These men are just sloppy and probably neither well educated or particularly intelligent (in other words, they are not true dyslectics). You won't get any real sympathy from them dispite their sleazy wording.
If a guy keeps insisting he's told you things he hasn't, then that could be a sign of a passive-aggressive attempt to control you by messing with your mind. I can't even begin to describe the way such men talk, it's truly surreal since they are not there with you at all. Maybe one day I'll translate one such discussion.
Men who straight away give me an nick name (such as Viva, which for some inexplicable reason is a number one) or keep misspelling it, turn me off. It's as if they want to own me somehow, by putting their own label on me and insisting that my own wishes don't count.
A spiritually minded guy might put you to the test to see "if vibrations connect". For instance, he could say that he's from some really remote country just to see if you'll still be attracted to him. Be aware of any little lies like that. They are probably a sign that he's a control freak.
Some men want to save you from your sordid life, but that would be a major means of gaining control over you. See my blog about the saviour's syndrome.
Obviously women can behave in similar ways. Well, all this has left me more suspiscious and reticient than I was to begin with, and there's not much I can do about that right now. Now to another highly frustrating issue of control. The man I visited two years ago in the USA has been holding onto the belongings that I left there because I wanted to believe that I would return. I was probably under some influence of this man, energetically speaking. Once I realized that he was an extremely selfish person and that I was better off not returning, I felt very keen to get my things back. I did not want to give in because I didn't want for him to keep my things. As long as he did, there was a bond there that I was unable to severe. The things also happened to be important ones since I meant to stay in the USA. So are all his excuses for not sending off everything at once valid? Well, he's a man of excuses. He also over-reacts to my frustration and regresses to the state of a five year old. I suppose that his strategy of behaving like a child is working, because I have to become the adult and usually give in to his tantrums. Needless to say I have not really been up to this role play and so many an angry word has been exchanged between us though most of the time he doens't even bother to read my mail. I have heard of men and women who have done the same thing with children, and obviously that's even worse. Still, my nervous system is not strong enough to deal with this on top of all the above issues.
Lastly, do I need to mention the swineflue pandemic that actually kills less people than any other flu, or New Age mindcontrol such as the law of attraction that only increases negative feelings such as self-blame, guilt and a belief that making money is always okay (which it would be in a perfect world, but this isn't, is it?). Not to mention how "manifesting a partner" sounds more like an issue of imaginary control...Artwork: Digital photograph by author, all rights reserved 2010
Friday, 28 August 2009
Consider this scenario:
A person is quite clear on the concepts behind new spiritual thinking (be it New Age, integral or whatever that works along similar esoteric lines) and wishes to contribute to the world. She has plenty of intuition and understanding and doesn't feel that the new spiritual fads really add anything to what she already knows. But she has contracted an illness as a child and it's irreversible, so it causes major issues with insomnia, pain and chronic fatigue. She has been granted disability, but once she has accepted this position in society, she's robbed of most of rights to decide about her own right. Because she is very sensitive, the input from society and society's attitude that if you don't fit the norm, you have no right to exist, becomes a major drainer. She's always being treated as a second rate citizen, although she consumes as much as many others. She feels that she's fighting the wind, as sending love is not going to change how power hungry authorities operate (whenever she tries to stay positive and smiling when she meets with authorities, she gets stabbed in the back).
This person is locked in the disability system and thus dependent on humiliating social aid. The only way for this person to take some power back from these social people (who happen to be the worst kind in the small town where this person lives, and so there is plenty of patronizing and personal attacks going on) is to break loose; she'd have to survive on the basic pension alone, pay the bills but have nothing left to eat. This person is disabled because she's too ill to work so it is not a option. All she can do is write, and if she could arrive at a point where she felt less bothered by the inhuman pressure the social people exert on her she might be able to pull herself together and focus on writing something that could make a difference. She wishes to uncover a sort of undercover dictatorship that the authorities in affluent societies practice. Of course no one cares about the poor, because they are seemingly unproductive members of the society and are only holding economic evolution back. No one considers that those who don't fit the norms may have other values to express and share that might enrich society and help it evolve vertically rather than just horisontally. But of course, there are not many avenues for complaints because it is precisely that; a dictatorship dressed to look like something else.
She tries to do some energy work and keep reasonably fit, but as with all people in similar situations she tends to get apathetic. She also tries to have trust and faith in spirit because she can't really "manifest" anything as her hands are tied (she's not allowed to earn money either). She wants to evolve spiritually and tries very hard to stay positive, but she has trouble even wanting to get out of bed every day, let alone surf the net for other suggestions than the repetitive and rather trite "you get what you already have inside" (the blasted law of attraction that only instigates feelings of guilt and fear of fear); "try this revolutionary method..." or "just go inside", etc.
She lives alone and has only one family member to lean on a bit but this person is in a similar situation. There is no social network that could support her. She's been focusing on finding a partner but it hasn't worked out, as she's not someone who fits the norm (ordinary, wealthy, and the rest of the clichés that are out there in this narcissistic era) and a soul mate hasn't appeared despite her various approaches and experiments with changes of attitude. She quickly sees through people's acts and realizes, that most people are not really in touch with themselves and therefore unable to feel anything but feigned empathy and hypocritical altruism. Disenchantment also bugs her, because even though she knows that all the phoneyness is an illusion, a human being has to live with it. She also feels that she's possibly not meant to truly bond with people if this is her last existance, because there seems to be no other reasonable explanation since she has not wished to isolate herself. She also feels she needs to be a spokesperson for the poor and weak in society, but enough is enough.
How can she break loose and have some hope that she will also find some greater ease and contentment in her life soon? Is hope just a phrase, or is there any real basis for thinking that the future might hold something better even if you're not actively trying to manipulate and control your life through the fashionable "manifestations". Will she survive, or will she perish? What's your bet?
Artwork: "Elegy on the Eternal Dilemma", handmade collage by author, all rights reserved 2009
Monday, 17 August 2009
I don't feel too bright at the moment but felt like getting a few things off my chest so to speak. Well, I am trying not to care too much about what others say about the energies at the moment, as it's really all just very confusing. What I do know is that I'm in some process of my own simply because I feel different from the way I've felt in the past. And really, that should be enough but our minds are always busy asking why, when and how. Of course, if the process was all happy and joyful it would be quite a different thing that would elicit a very different attitude from myself. But the tough parts... well, of course you can't help questioning the feeling of such extreme vulnerability. Yet surely increasing sensitivity is not always just a result of disruptive encounters and external energies that encrouch on one's physical and emotional well being? Surely increasing sensitivity makes many of those issues feel all the more unbearable, to the point where you think you are completely trashed on the inside. I have no clear answer but it seems to me that a bit of everything is true. You just cannot have new order unless you've been through chaos, and when chaos prevails on all the different levels of our being at different points in time... well there just may not be that many moments when you feel happy and complete. Yet I'm not saying there aren't some moments that allow you a peep into a more harmonious state of being... sometimes when I feel really hopeless a feeling of hope shoots up and helps me continue. And I didn't force it.
Some discussion on a forum whether Obama is an agent of the light or the dark elicited a response from me about what I perceive as the polarized nature of American mentality. The USA is a funny sort of place because of its contrasts. It's also a society that is very much at the forefront everywhere - for better and for worse. Sometimes we get so much of American culture and American issues we don't know what to do with ourselves! On the one hand Americans have so much personal freedom to be what you want to be and speak your mind, and that fosters a very lucrative market for self-help and positive thinking. On the other there's a lot of competition and many sensitive people are under a lot of pressure to keep up with the Jones's or to simply survive. Religion is also very strong and tends to colour people's perceptions to a very high degree. You often hear comments and arguments of a social nature that refer to religious sentiments. Of course, this makes for a great growing ground for any form of spiritual belief system. The influx of spiritual literature into Europe is immense. Well, in short I feel that these factors tend to create an abnormal sense of division in people's minds, and so polarities are highly accentuated. Positive versus negative, good versus bad, black versus white, light versus dark, beautiful versus ugly, and so forth. Money, success and good looks are being stressed to the extreme. Of course, this is my personal perception albeit shared with many others, but obviously anyone is free to disagree. But the point is... why do I care about the deeper workings of the American mind in the first place?
Well, on the one hand I feel very attracted to a society that encourages quite a lot of open dialogue in a language that I can understand. It may be hard to make friends but social interaction on a superficial level is certainly a lot easier over there and I find that a sort of bonus in every day life. On the other hand what I perceive as division puzzles and disturbs me. However, it's clear that it's something I need to come to terms with within myself. I need to find some sort of peace regarding the fact that reality here on Earth can be very extreme. The way things sometimes stretch very far on the polarity axis almost causes me to feel physical pain. Is it any wonder that I started my esoteric journey 15 years ago by investigating into dualism and the role of paradoxes as a way of uniting and transcending polarities? By attempting to see the reality and the truth of the two sides of a story as well as thinking in terms of "both-and" instead of "either-or" we can get quite far in changing the way we are conditioned to look at reality. I don't think it's possible to transcend polarities entirely but one can see them for what they are; two sides of one coin. Despite being somewhat skilled in this sort of thinking, I still find it hard to apply this to some of life's conditions on a practical level. Some things are just very hard and overwhelming to deal with when you're emotionally involved, and sometimes the process calls for quite a lot of patience. Anything that represents very strong positive and negative currents still stirs me...
Something quite funny happened the other day. I was in the big city when a lady called and so it was hard to hear what she was trying to say. She was disappointed that my exhibition in my home town was not on anymore and was wondering if she might see my artwork elsewhere. She said she was with a "mystic group" who were doing an excursion to my town, but she was worried about finding things to do there (no wonder!). I spontaneously invited them to my house. She was thrilled. I said, well as an artist I'm only very happy that people want to come to see my art, so really the pleasure was on my side! I couldn't quite make out what she was saying about food so I offered to serve them some coffee and tea. She was even more thrilled. She didn't think something like this might be possible. I was very happy to be the agent of such a positive occurrence in these people's lives!
Well, I cleaned my house and rearranged bits and pieces that I had meant to deal with for a long time. I made an apple pie and small sandwhiches, realizing I missed having a tea party but also feeling terribly out of practice. Everything went fine and took exactly two hours as I had anticipated. Still I talked a lot about my art but not nearly as much as I could have... I understand that people have a very limited ability to digest new information and it didn't seem to me as these people were quite as much into esoteric thinking as I had initially thought. The leader of the group was a real darling and very perceptive about my artwork, so I got a lot from hearing her comments. Contrary to people's beliefs, I don't mind hearing alternative interpretations of my artwork. The point is not to get across a specific idea, but to awaken a response in the other person. This is how life works; we can never communicate an exact thought or feeling but only hint at them and hope that another person responds to our signals in some way or another. Their experience is just as valid as mine, regardless of the source. This lady said she felt comfortable expressing her views because of the allowing atmosphere, and I was more than happy about that.
However, I could easily have found myself in a very vulnerable position. If no one had shown genuine interest I would have felt devastated. So my desire to have some kind of in-home gallery in the future might have to be revised. Of course, I don't know about the future but at the moment all the inner processes and emotional havoc in regards to online dating has left me even more sensitive than before. There are moments when I feel completely trashed on the inside and don't have a very strong feeling of self-esteem.
I was thinking the other day, that I sometimes feel a bit inferior because I'm not a healer like so many other spiritual people. But the truth is, you don't have to be a healer just because you trod a spiritual path that means the world to you. There are other things you can do that stimulate change (and maybe even forms of healing) in yourself and your environment. Also - some things you learn about in this life may be used in the next. You just don't always know where your life is heading, all you can do is try and stay in touch with your sense of purpose and do whatever feels meaningful even if it presents you with a lot of challenges. Not everything is always easy. Some things that used to be easy can become very arduous because the level of your learning is much higher. Do not despair if you're not quite like anyone else.
Artwork: "Emotions 2/6", handmade collage by author, all rights reserved 2003
Friday, 31 July 2009
One rather predominant experience in my personal life this year has been that of opening up to various people only to get shunned and rejected. I've tried to carry this phenomenon graciously and see what it has to teach me. Oh, I'm not going to claim that my heart is not bleeding, but one has to get on with life and keep the flame of hope alive. One thing I discovered was that despite my independent allure and desire to be free from the dependency of other people, a part of me was secretely wishing that someone would "save" me just a little. That's because, on the one hand I miss company and on the other, I am at the end of my rope concerning a lot of my life's issues. I am cornered in many ways and need to break free, but have not found a door as yet.
This is just a quick outline of some fundamental spiritual issues, but I hope it still makes some sense. The idea of needing to be saved is very potent in our world. If you take a look at Christianity, one of the main dogmas is the idea that Christ is your saviour. As I see it, it's just a big misunderstanding supported by religious authorities who wished to gain more power over lay people. If one were to understand Christ's talk about being the way towards liberation in a more symbolic way, the dualistic concept of Christ and God being somehow separated from the rest of humanity might disappear. Our reality appears dualistic, and our minds are programmed to think in terms of contrasts and comparisons in order to make sense of it. However, it's not impossible to transcend this habit and start to embrace contradictions. If you practice by sometimes not choosing camps but looking at things from opposite perspectives as well, you will probably find that they are also true. If truth is fundamentally speaking relative, then the idea of a basic (ontological) state of ONENESS also looks more plausible. My point is, Christ is not going to save you, but you will save yourself through your own "Christ consciousness", the aspect of yourself that is in touch with the things that Christ represented. I'm sorry if anyone finds this blasphemeous, but this is how I and many others see it.
Notice how the movie industry dwells on the concept of people saving each other. The most obvious scenario is the one in which people are in a tough spot but are then being saved by someone who enters their life, offering love and sometimes also material comfort. I recently saw "Nights in Rodante" with Diane Lane and Richard Gere, and at the end Diane even says that the two of them saved each other through their love. All this looks great on the outside, but consider the fact that by allowing someone to save you you're giving away your power! In fact, you put yourself at the mercy of other people when you entertain this sort of fantasy!
I personally don't have a problem with the understanding of paradoxes as a key to a broader and deeper understanding of reality, but I also realize that in a paradoxical sort of way you can't just eliminate the mind's functions. For instance, being judgmental ("this is good, that is bad") is a way of making sense of reality and creating interesting and fruitful thoughts. Thoughts can be dull and automatic, or they can be creative. The creative ones bring us further on our path and help us develop as human beings. Either way, these processes are always based in judgment. You might also notice, that if you start judging your judgmental thoughts, they will only become more persistant. So in the end all we can do is find an accepting and maybe even loving attitude towards this state of affairs. It's true that the solution to our fundamental problems of the mind may not be found through the mind itself, however creative thinking is a fantastic tool on the road to self-discovery, discernment and a deep sense of self-satisfaction!
In my own process, I'm trying to lay out all the ways in which I've felt rejected in my life. It turns out to be quite a persistant pattern that even includes the feeling of being rejected by this country (I'm a social reject). Going back a couple of generations in order to see what pattern has been inherited from the past, it's clear that my mother was never granted a feeling of being welcomed to the world and given all the love and material comforts that she deserved. The important thing here is that she was at the mercy of other people who did not grant her the things that they should and could have given her so that she would have grown up to be a strong and succesful individual. I remember having very distinct feelings of anger at being at my mother's mercy when I was a child. From that time onward the pattern has perpetuated itself. I'm always at the mercy of someone else's benevolence. This is a truly chilling discovery!
Because the feeling of being dependent on others is so forceful, it's natural that it turns into a secret wish to be saved in some way or another. This is the fallacy that I wish people would wake up to. I'm not sure how to fix this state of affairs, but taking back one's power seems crucial. It can be a very difficult and complex process if you're entangled in various constellations that tie you down and prevent you from just getting up and leaving. But as always, there has to be a way!
I realize my challenge is a very deep and crucial one and I have reason to believe that I will eventually figure it out. Profound issues don't necessarily disappear in the blink of an eye; they often take time to be resolved. That is, it seems like a long time from our perspective, but in relation to the rest of existance (from a higher perspective, so to speak) it's not a long time at all.
Meanwhile, there's a great deal of emotional turmoil inside. Many feelings I've made great efforts to transmute and have felt partly succesful in doing so. Because I have had to learn about emotions very late in life, it's been all the more intense. Though at times I can see that things have advanced, all the experiences of being rejected and feeling suppressed by people I involuntarily have to depend on have caused a great deal of anxiety. I'm afraid I might be getting asthma because I can't breathe properly. I also have increasing problems eating and my stomach is quite upset. I hope and believe all this will go away eventually but I truly don't see a way of speeding up the process (the sensations are very compelling). I have only so much capacity to deal with things.
Meanwhile, there's a great deal of emotional turmoil inside. Many feelings I've made great efforts to transmute and have felt partly succesful in doing so. Because I have had to learn about emotions very late in life, it's been all the more intense. Though at times I can see that things have advanced, all the experiences of being rejected and feeling suppressed by people I involuntarily have to depend on have caused a great deal of anxiety. I'm afraid I might be getting asthma because I can't breathe properly. I also have increasing problems eating and my stomach is quite upset. I hope and believe all this will go away eventually but I truly don't see a way of speeding up the process (the sensations are very compelling). I have only so much capacity to deal with things.
Another aspect of the rejection theme is that we may not be on the same level of spiritual maturity as people that we approach or that initially feel attracted to us. I do realize, that those who have not been willing to join me in my life right now were not of the same frequency as myself and might never have been able to "catch up". Of course, I approached them because I liked them and felt something for them (I opened my heart at least partly), but despite their good hearts there were major discrepancies on the level of spiritual and psychological insight. I'm not saying they may not have been more accomplished than myself as well, but my experience has been that of trying to lower my expectations of others. My complexity, depth and ability to use my own brain has then scared people away. I also have had trouble feeling trust so maybe I don't appear so accessible. I no longer want to settle for half-hearted relationships that don't feel satisfying, and so the signals I'm sending out might be daunting. I keep wishing that they'd give me a chance, while I'm not sure I am able to give them a chance (in other words, a catch 22 that shows how futile looking for love on the outside really is)!
The sense of not being able to occupy the same space as others has increased. At the same time I'm not quite ready yet to sit there on my own with a sense of "deep self-satisfaction" and send out unconditional love to everyone. In any case, other people's example may not be mine at all. I read Karen Bishop's latest newsletter (granted, I have trouble reading as I need new glasses and that has posed some more challenges in my life right now). I was quite baffled at what she says - according to her, the cream of the spiritual "elite" will ascend inspite of the fact that other human beings have not been able to raise their energy levels as expected (I could have told her it might be impossible, haha...). She's the only channeller or spiritual counsellor that has aroused some of my curiousity, so I've followed her postings about the global mindshift. However, I wonder who she's really writing for, because surely the people who are way evolved and ready to "ascend" don't really need her information? So... people on "the lower rungs" are obivously not reading her stuff and that leaves us with people in the middle. Those who are feeling jitterish and anxious right now just like myself. But are they eligable for the "new space" she's talking about? I feel like I'm really dangling somewhere inbetween, very willing indeed to move forward but not sure I'm supposed to be among the cream at the top (my soul may have other plans for me, so to speak). I feel reasonably patient with my own process and don't have an agenda in mind. Still... not knowing what to expect is quite nerve wrecking. Not knowing what to believe when you read such data is bad as well!
The point is, however, to remove oneself from the sphere of other people's power and authority. Even some innocent looking spiritual writings can be very compelling and cause more insecurity about who one is or is supposed to be. If you read things such as the newsletter I mentioned then you may be giving your power away. Well, even reading this may give your power away. But then I'm really hoping to inspire people to think for themselves. There is no need to believe everything I say! I may be saying that only you can save yourself, but it's really only my opinion.
Artwork: "Who will get the Rose?", handmade collage by author, all rights reserved 2008
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
It's funny that people think the fact that personal information is public on the internet somehow justifies attacking or commenting in mean ways. Well, it would be funny if it wasn't stressful. I know that most people have some kind of sense of common courtesy and either turn away from things that don't appeal to them, or leave respectful comments that carry no negative energy. However, a number of recent incidents lead me to try and remind the ones who don't belong to this category that it is not okay to criticize strangers on the net when there is no obvious desire from the other party to engage in such interactions. There is something called unsolicited advice. I implore people to consider if they would do so in real life, and what the consequences of that might be. I'm sorry to see that many people lack some basic social skills, and hope that they will wake up and realize they have something to work on if they wish to co-exist with other human beings in a reasonably harmonious way. Surely we all (including myself, of course) need to ask ourselves; "Would I like to be treated this way and is this really about the other person?" rather than hit the send button in a fury or state of over-zealous self-enhancement.
Let me give a few examples of what I think of as intrusive behavior:
- There are lots of people, especially young ones, who ask me to be their friend on blogcatalog. The majority only wish to promote their own blogs and often try to strike deals such as "if you'll comment on my blog I will comment on yours". Their blogs are seldom within my sphere of interest and so I really do NOT have the time or interest to engage in meaningless exchanges of comments. Cricket or tips about how to make money on the internet truly do not interest me, and it should be quite obvious just by glancing at my blog and its theme. All this bargaining for attention is tacky, takes up my valuable time and leaves me drained of energy.
- Some people take a look at my blog and wish to convert me to their beliefs. I'm sorry they feel that I'm on the wrong track. As it is, I really have no interest in islam or reading the Q'uran, just as I have no leaning towards Catholicism or Wicca. I can assure you that I was in ample opportunity to dig deeper into these if I had wished to while studying comparative religions at the university. I think it should be quite obvious that I have a clear spiritual line of thinking and am not intending to change it. And even if this is not clear to anyone else, those who are serious about the pillar stones of their religion might see that it's not in spiritual integrity to attack others because of their faith. Please take a step backwards and reconsider. Are you really changing the world by doing that? What has happened to the notorious religious reformers and their victims during the course of history? I have specifically stated that I do not wish to be saved by anyone. I wish people who visit my blog would actually read it from end to end before jumping to conclusions. And even then... well this is not really the perfect mirror of my reality, is it? Does anyone really think it is?!
- There are people who think that what they understand from what they read is the truth as intended by the author. Well, perception is a key in the understanding of life, and even though I am not the one to say that subjective truth is the only truth I do feel it has a place in this world. But even if someone doesn't believe this to be true, I'd suggest that they consult their basic moral values and see if bashing others on the internet is really a proper thing to do. It's interesting how this tends to happen among people who come from democratic republics who believe in the freedom of speech. I know, because I can more or less tell where someone is from even though their comment is "anonymous". Yeah, anonymous...
- Posting anonymous comments about the faults with my website is low. This morning I received this line: "remove the music, it's intrusive". Wow. It was so nice waking up to this, especially as it was so short and crisp, laconic, without any social fuss such as "If you don't mind me saying, I think that...". Someone must have felt about it very deeply, truly enjoying my artwork but hating the sound (which granted, is not my own). Well... my site is not really an online exhibition, but an introduction to my stuff. As it is, I'm not adverse to feedback but do appreciate a respectful approach. I know it's hard to conceive but these are my private spaces and you should feel honored to be allowed in. Thank you.
I'm sure that some folks out there don't care that others have a lot on their plate. In fact, it might be really exciting to pressure those who have a lot to deal with and see if they crack. Trouble is, there is no telling what is really going on behind the scene. I'd say, please don't even speculate. Be nice.
Artwork: "On Someone Else's Wall", photograph by author, all rights reserved 2009
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
I won't talk about this at great length because I think people can get a lot of detailed information elsewhere. Personally I'd recommend reading Ken Wilber's books on integral psychology or becoming familiar with information that is available on videos. You might wish to look up http://www.integrallife.com or following the free online seminar http://www.GreatIntegralAwakening.com. If your orientation is more New Age, there are plenty of supportive sites that come up when you search for "lightwork" or "ascension". There are some interesting points about personality and psychopathology herehttp://www.enneagraminstitute.com/, not least for individual work. Anyway, here are some of my viewpoints in the form of an outline of this issue as I understand it. I don't expect others to.
People are often a bit confused as to the idea of dissolving the ego even though it's something that is at the forefront of all spiritual movements. This is no wonder since it's hard for the mind to grasp such profound and complex psychological truths. The integral approach is very clear on the fact that a person consists of many levels of reality and undergoes a natural and constant process of evolution. Only subconscious denial of the experiences we go through can be a hinderance. Of course, this approach would be of no significance unless one assumed that some form of reincarnation is a fact (if you don't believe this, there is no need to read further). The level of the ego simply represents one stage in this development, but apparently the hardest one to overcome. The ego is our sense of self as persona in the world, and it's implies a perception of the self as separate from everyone else. It's all about "me, myself and I". Altruism isn't really in place yet. On previous stages of evolution the personality is not clear; it's in the making. On its last evolutionary stop it comes into full bloom. Issues about identity become potent. At first the identification with external things such as material possessions or a job is automatic and constitutes the sense of self (in other words, one's identity equals various transient phenomena outside of oneself rather than who a person really is). As self-awareness increases as a result of evolution and introspection, a person starts to question automatic beliefs and not least, what the sense of self is based in. Seeking love outside of oneself is also a very important theme on this level, as the ego seeks confirmation by others on the one hand but connection and deep sentiments on the other. Some form of psychotherapy might be necessary in order to work out various denied aspects of one's identity in order to rectify all the things that have gone wrong. This is hard work and many people would rather avoid it. However it's necessary to do it so as to stop repeating subconscious psychopathological patterns.
The inner work of healing the self is the same as solidifying the ego. It's very important that it becomes strong and healthy. This includes being able to draw personal boundaries and having the discernment to say no to people and experiences that are not beneficial to one's persona and its growth. However, if a person wishes to aspire to a more spiritual level (and according to this way of thinking people eventually will), they will have to transcend the level of the simple self or ego. This is where the psychological tools such as the inner witness, discernment and detachment become important in one's life. If you try to dissolve an ego that isn't quite in place, you will most likely start to suffer from mental health issues such as psychosis. This is something that can also happen as a result of drug abuse as it forces the mind to reorganize too fast and too soon.
I will give an analogy from my own world. Some people love to create abstract paintings. However, it's not really possible to do good abstractions of the perceived reality if you're not very good at copying the reality you see first. In other words, you need to be good at drawing and painting what you see before you start to dissect and alter your vision. A really meaningful abstraction is one that maintains the most important elements, albeit you can continue to abstract ad infinitum until the traces of our normal reality are gone. This is the process that the painter Piet Mondrian and the sculptor Constantin Brancusi explored back in the early 20th Century. Other forms of abstract art may be nice to look at but their intrinsic meaning is not the same if you get my drift; they are simplifications but not real abstracted abstractions. (I may add that photography tends to be a bit different since the process involves being able to see and capture what is already there, however work on the shots can imply abstraction). In a similar way, spiritual people who appear to have transcended their egoistic needs without actually having done so may have an allure about them but looking up to them is intrinsically meaningless. They are not icons to follow, though in an indirect way people can learn from them too. It's important to understand that negative experiences are also helpful on the journey towards greater self-realization. Via negativa has a way of shaking people in the form of wake up calls to the realization of various truths.
People who enter a spiritual path will thus be faced with the ego and its various pathologies. The most obvious problem is egotism, in other words an excessive need to feel one's trivial desires at the expense of other people or by way of excluding others from one's realm of existence. Isolating oneself from the unity that the collective represents may serve a purpose for a while, as a person strengthens their sense of self. In the long run it becomes a pathological stance though. When working with the psyche, the unhealthy bits need patching up first. Then various ego traps need to be identified. These are habitual attitudes and other programmed ways of dealing with reality that lead people astray. The longer they last, the more ingrained the patterns become and thus more difficult to change.
The deeper truth about the ego is that it almost seems like an entity that hovers above a person and convinces a person that the person equals their ego. Seeing and witnessing this is the first step. The reality of the ego is an illusion, but a potent one. The ego is a conglomerate of beliefs that a person has about themselves. Now a healthy ego is one that contains healthy beliefs about the self and its identity in relation to the world. While that's all fine and dandy, this "little self" eventually needs to be transcended so that the perception of who a person is will include the "greater Self". The ego doesn't represent the greater truth about who we are. Now most psychotherapies out there think that the work is done once a person has been restored to a healthy self, and so the spiritual dimension is excluded. Of course, many people entertain forms of spirituality or religious practice alongside with their journey to become more complete individuals. Though there is nothing wrong with this, recognizing the more hidden but deeper truths about the religions out there is a step towards an even completer integration of the individual. Obviously atheists and agnostics will debate this but from an integral, transpersonal or mystical/spiritual viewpoint there is more to be discovered about life.
There are loads of ego traps that need to be identified. All one's needs and desires need to be scrutinized. While they first need to be rectified and "patched", their usefulness to one's life need to be scrutinized as well. The deconstruction of the little self and its ultimate disintegration goes from there. It's not a quick process, and in fact, it shouldn't be. Neither is it chronological and straightforward. If it is, it probably isn't real. Jack Kornfield wrote a book with the telling title "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry". You may have spiritual experiences but the work with the subconscious conditioning still needs to be done. The disintegration of the ego is simply a process of realizing that the ego served a transitory purpose but that it is not the true Self. The true Self transcends the petty self. But all that remains to be seen! Nobody can tell you exactly what it's like to transcend, only hint at it. It's not something you can put into simple words. Also, nobody can convince you to follow such a path. It comes from within, or it doesn't, and one sign is a longing to feel a deeper connection with the reality that surrounds you, "all that is". An experience of oneness defeats the ego's "mission" to create a sense of a separate self, and this is were the real dissolution of the boundaries of self comes in. The ego doesn't really "die", since nothing about consciousness can be "killed". It's not a matter of changing any facts about your being, only a matter of changing the perception of reality.
Artwork: Digital photograph by author, all rights reserved 2009
Monday, 13 July 2009
I'm an unassuming kind of person. Unlike some people, I have not really learned how to play the social game very well. This means navigating the social scene with ease as well as knowing intuitively how to surpass the fundamental issues that people may display in the interaction with others. Many people are good at it because they don't have a need to go deep in their relationships and consequently don't miss the feeling of a really profound connection. My parents were never very good at socializing and I myself have always wanted to be true to myself. I can't pretend not to see all the things that are off in terms of social interaction in the world. This goes for issues within my own circles as well as ones I observe elsewhere. Like everyone else, I have wanted to have friends in order to share my life with them, but many a times I've been taken aback by the realization that relationships have ended because of envy. I admit that though I have lots of flaws, being envious is not one of them. Note that certain feelings of resentment is a different kind of problem. Anyway, understanding where envious people are coming from is causing me some headaches.
In my culture (Finnish), it takes time to get to know people and build trust. It's not easy to approach people and so you may not get to know many. It can be very lonely here. The American way is different. Because of many similarities as well as differences we are intrigued by that society. In the American culture, people often come onto you with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm (it may not be the right term here but I'm mostly talking about the way women approach me here), and it's easier to make shallow acquaintances. These can obviously lead to deeper ones if you're lucky. It can be very beneficial to social anxiety (this I have experienced myself), and may seem like a covetable thing. However, the cold showers are more frequent too. I often open up and share elaborate details about myself only to suddenly be treated with callousness and some lame finishing line... The fault that I made was to share too much about myself without having a basis of trust. I get carried away by the welcoming gestures and words only to find myself hitting a brick wall as I'm rushing towards the person in question. I don't want to waste time and develop shallow relationships and so I don't necessarily wish to change my ways. It's a fact, however, that I am becoming more and more reluctant to go through this sort of process. I'm becoming more suspicious and guarded. One reason is the realization that envy is behind the failure of so many connections (both in my own country as well as elsewhere). I certainly don't think there is anything to envy, but I can imagine what other people think they see. So... what can I or anyone else do about it?
Some of the signs of envy in another person is that they try to sabotage your life or your self-esteem, or that they withdraw with a silent and arrogant, snotty and reticent allure. They may either attack you with sudden and very irrational outbursts, or play hard to get. They quickly end the relationship no matter how promising it seemed, or wish to continue being your friend while making sure it's on their terms. You will find that they are always the ones in control, or trying to be. They may even go as far as to create their own version of your name with an evident disregard of your wishes! Of course, this could be a sign of other issues as well, but envy is certainly a very common and potent ailment. When my mother said that it is something that affects 90% of all people I was shocked. I realized that she may be right. "It leaves you with only 10% to relate to", she concluded. I thought of my friends and was well aware that the reason they have stayed in my life is that they have never displayed any envy towards me. These are people of various cultures and with various inner conflicts but they are able to have a sense of integrity that doesn't cause feelings of envy towards others.
It's obvious that people inflicted with envy are hurting quite a bit. Fundamental issues of self-esteem make them compare themselves to others in a way that can either bring about feelings of superiority or inferiority in them. It's a competitive stance. In some cultures such as my own, people are aware of envy and talk quite openly about it. It's not uncommon to hear people joke about "the Finnish national illness, envy" in the media. In other cultures it's not "comme il faut" to admit to feeling envy. It seems that this denied feeling might cause more havoc than it would if bringing it into the open was more acceptable. I don't see any end to the harm that it can cause. As long as people are envious of someone else there will be conflicts and wars. In fact, as I am thinking of it more deeply, it actually threatens to throw me into the throws of depression. It's obvious that my dream about connecting with more people is impossible. It's also the root cause to my frustration with other people. I can't change who I am and make myself less prone to other people's envy. So... as I see it, the only other option is to accept this predicament.
When you walk a spiritual path you have to learn to accept yourself 100%. The other thing is to accept the flaws in others. This really is the very basis of spirituality and the key to liberation from the fetters of the mind. One thing is accepting other people's skin color or sexual orientation; going onto accepting other people's inner selves is really something else and quite demanding. The extent to which we sense a lack of connection with others as well as acknowledge the obstacles says a lot about the degree of oneness that we are missing. The point is to stop yearning for all that from other people. Sometimes when we realize that we can never have what we truly wish, our focus changes. There might be a space there to accept the way things are and the way others behave, and move into tolerance. Yes, complete tolerance. People may always resent others for their accomplishments, and so there is nothing else one can do but to take back the power they have over one's sense of self in relation to others and hope that they will self-correct when the time is right. You may not be doing anything wrong other than giving your relationships too much power over your life, so you need to be discerning about this. Somehow these people need to see that they are truly as valuable as everyone else, and there is not much anyone else can do to help them with that.
Artwork: "Screwed Up Connections", digital photograph by author, all rights reserved 2009
Friday, 10 July 2009
I wish to say a few words about spiritual transition. My own experience is that a kind of dark night of the soul is inevitable before something can open up within (see a previous post). You may have worked with yourself for a long time but at some point you're starting to feel weary. Nothing inspires you anymore. It may provoke a severe feeling of anxiety. You will most likely start to feel even more separated from other people and this, depending on your basic constitution, will feel truly horrifying. When you look back you realize that all your attempts at connecting with others have been futile. Now, to make matters worse, people start to drop out of your life. Maybe they don't recognize who you are anymore and may start to shun you. If you feel that this may be the case, it's not a nice feeling and pretty taxing on your sense of self! Some people truly don't fit into the new you that is in transition, as you don't inhabit the same energetic space as them anymore. Some may deep down feel envious of changes in you that they perceive ever so slightly. If you radiate more light then that could disturb other people who might feel inferior in some ways. However, speculating about this may lead you nowhere. Whatever the facts surrounding the loss of people and opportunities, what is certainly true is that a lot of weird stuff keep popping out of the depths of your being and you hardly even recognize yourself anymore! Chances are that you are a kind person, maybe cheerful even, but that doesn't seem to stand through anymore - you question your own self. This is not a bad thing, though, because you need to be open to a new version of you. You may not be going crazy. When you start to feel the true symptom of the dark night of the soul you will not only feel separated from the higher truth ("God" if you will), you will also feel separated from other people. In addition, you will attract odd characters who mirror the issues you still have, and so rather than feel bitter it's more constructive to see them as catalysts or teachers. Remember that they are attracted to you too, for whatever reason. I wouldn't recommend worrying too much about this, instead try and find ways of dealing with it that help to empower you in a good way - any way that helps you become more self-reliant is good because it brings you closer to the real you. Learning to say NO to people and things is a vital part of this process, as it's connected to the idea of resisting temptations along the same lines as the trials that Jesus and Buddha went through!
The horror that you may be experiencing is an existential angst that settles in your body in the form of a taught sensation as well as unpleasant phases of rather extreme anxiety. Because of going through deep inner change, you will also feel very vulnerable and open and other people will either misunderstand you, take advantage of your openness so as to feel superior themselves, or simply cause you to hurt because there is something in the connection that you are supposed to learn from. To bash oneself because one is attracting negative things is not useful in my opinion. This phase may last for a long time. It all depends how much change you can handle. Sometimes a sensitive person like myself also has to deal with physical issues such as fibromyalgia and the like, and this may slow down the process. It's best to try and honor this, relax and rest as much as possible. You just might be going through a major spiritual transition... it will be taxing on every level of your "old self" (physical, emotional, mental...). Don't worry; if all this is going on while you suspect it's a spiritual transition, it's certainly more real than talking yourself into it in some way. Fluttering around in a world of love and light may not get you this far. You may feel immersed in negativity but that's because you're releasing any that you still harbor in the depths of your subconscious mind. I'd recommend trying to accept it for what it is and focus on change for the better. It's in the nature of this predicament not change by force of will alone. However, the more you try to tune into the surrender to spirit, the better. It may seem like the last thing to do, and you won't do it because someone tells you to. You will because you've come to the conclusion that it's the only solution. But Rome wasn't built in a day... so hang in there and try to make the best of the situation.
I have good news, though. If this is indeed what you're going through and doctors are not able to find anything substantially wrong with you, then there will be a day when the Kundalini will wake up. It's a partially dormant energy of creation that starts at the very beginning of your spine (I suggest that people look it up if they are not familiar with this concept). You might be feeling something "going on" in your heart and your belly. Maybe you're thinking that the anxiety is giving way. You will have thoughts about the surrender of the ego to spirit. I can't tell you what exactly you will be thinking as it depends on who you are. You might have experienced some huge emotional break down including a lot of crying and very potent feelings of giving up on some pursuits that you have been very serious about. This is the key but not something you can conjure up yourself. It comes when you're ready. The whole point is that somehow, you've been able to get around the little self's desire to be in charge. It's solving a catch22, or maybe even a whole serious of them; attitudes, ideals and pursuits that you've been entangled in. That's when you will have an inner movement that will clear out a lot of the old psychopathological garbage that you no longer need (false attitudes, false pursuits, focusing on the wrong things in your life, and so on). It begins at the very end of your spine so that's how you know it's the Kundalini.
I would suggest, however, that you really set your priorities straight first. There are many distractions that will keep you in a state of struggle and suffering. In my experience you must choose to serve spirit and forget about any other pursuits such as finding the perfect partner or becoming rich. One Kundalini experience or ten may also not bring the ultimate clearance. Many people think they are enlightened because they got through one major obstacle in their life. What they don't realize is that it may not have been the only one and that one or more really serious ones may still lie ahead if they are willing to allow it. However this is all individual. There is no guidebook that one can follow. This post is only meant to help people be aware of what is possibly going on in their lives and to be open to all of it. Good luck!
Artwork: Digital Photograph by author, all rights reserved 2009
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Don't get me wrong, I think women are fabulous creatures and most of the time, I think of them as "allies". Not so much in a war against men as within the framework of the project called "understanding ourselves and men". However, for all their wonderfully nurturing aspects, many women are behind the failure of a man to find a good woman. In the past women were not necessarily all that caring because there were too many kids to take care of besides the abusive husband. The morals of the past did not allow children to be respected as children, but were treated in ways that now seem infinitely cold. When things started to change the pendulum went to the other extreme. From the "free upbringing" of the 1970s we are now experiencing an era where the child's needs always goes first. We have a lot of spoilt brats around these days. Kids who rule their parents - and I really didn't make this up myself. Let's hope the balance will be achieved soon!
Women obviuosly need to take extra care to raise their sons in a sound way. Girls seem to be more able to sort out issues of a dysfunctional childhood. But I have yet to meet a man who had an absent or overly needy mother that has actually gotten over it and healed. They roam the Earth restlessly on the look out for the woman who will meet their needs just perfectly, and will obviously never succeed unless they settle for a doormat. One of the men in my past did just that and you wonder... what does he really feel, deep down? They take on someone who will be their hore, cook and maid. But in avoiding the deeper confrontations that naturally come in an intimate relationship, this man is simply running away from responsibilities and from finally growing up. Maybe he makes more babies just to prove his manliness and to superficially keep his partner happy. There is no real and honest interaction and thus no growth or even sense of deeper meaning. What a measly life! Behind this man may be a bad father. One who yelled his head off all the time, possibly even drank and beat up his wife. But even worse, the mother is not there for the boy either. If only parents will learn not to become parents until they are sure they have healed enough to be able to take good care of their children. There is after all now a choice in the Western world. But let me be clear on this; I am not saying all men are dysfunctional, only the ones whose parents did a bad job. I'm sure there are a few who were able to work it through, possibly with a therapist and a loving spouse. But from what I've seen this is difficult for men as they often resist going inside to mend the faulty attitudes they have acquired early on. I also feel that many men have never learnt how to approach a woman, and I assume that has a lot to do with their upbringing and the general climate that makes it alright to pretend to be equal when it's calling for less efforts from the man. This in my opinion is not the way to go... equality is not about treating a potential partner with nonchalance.
I'm writing this because it may seem that I hate men. I really don't, but I'm somewhat frustrated, that's for sure. When you're over forty, single and all the nice men are taken while the rest are nonchalant or dysfunctional, it's not easy to turn a blind eye. What I really feel is that the sordid secrets that many people carry should be exposed to light so that the world can change. Women need to wake up and stop going for the men that echo their childhood wounds. They must find a balance between their vulnerabilities and their strength. They must not be needy and imbalanced within themselves. Only thus can they be the best of parents to their little boys. Boys who eventually need to grow up embracing their male side as well as the female one. All in good balance. These will be just the way women like them to be; strong and manly yet empathic and warm. It is hardly any surprise that women will one day be the same, only in a complementary sort of way that fits their counterpart exactly. When the fit is perfect, there is doubtless no more "need" of any kind. I know it's really hard... but somebody has to start the good trend. Someone has to say stop, no more, and try harder to affect the world even at the peril of being left alone. And it seems to me that women have to make a real effort to change things around... it's a huge responsibility, but possibly the only way?
A spiritual life begins with caring for the self... As someone wise once said, you need to be somebody in order to be nobody. In other words, you need a healthy ego, or strong sense of self, before you can surpass it and open up to the greater truth about your existance. There is in my opinion no escape from this. No matter how impossible or hopeless your situation, you really must become self-reliant and not sit around expecting someone to save you with their love. I know most of us has heard this many times... but as I'm living this truth in my own life I can honestly say that this is what I believe to be true. As I allow my true nature to take the lead I will eventually heal and stop attracting those who try to convert me to their beliefs. While writing about relationships has been an important task in this life, I'm sure that one day there will be no more hurting men in my life to complain about.
Artwork: "Ace of Hearts", handmade collage by author, all rights reserved 2009.