Getting Clear 1
Getting clear is a must for spiritual awareness and power. This article is in 3 parts.
Date: 7/25/2005 7:33:02 PM ( 12 y ) ... viewed 2923 times
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Beyond Success & Failure
The mind is filled with misconceptions, which add up to dependency on outside authority figures. The misconceptions must be destroyed. It is simply not possible to alter oneself-to go beyond old conditioning-without first destroying the compulsive hold that habit has on us. There must be a period of unlearning, so that the person can de-condition himself to his old, habitual responses.
We greatly underestimate how much of our life is built around our "bad" habits and the joy they give us. We do not want to give them up in the first place; we want only to rid ourselves of the pain they cost us. The alcoholic who gives up drinking is suddenly and shockingly faced with an empty, lonely life. He does not know what to do with himself when he is not drinking, as most of his leisure time was spent drinking and almost all of his friends were drinkers like himself. He is suddenly filled with the horrors of sobriety and without anything to put into the vacuum left when he took the bottle out of his life.
When World War II began, e armed forces suddenly discovered they had a large number of men with serious emotional problems who were incapable of useful service. Something had to be done for them even before discharging them from the service. But there were not enough trained personnel to handle even a fraction of them on the customary basis of individual treatment. Something had to be improvised on a group basis, although no trained personnel existed to do any amount of group therapy. In desperation an experiment was tried. Groups of emotionally disturbed persons were formed and encouraged to discuss their individual difficulties together informally. Astonishing things began to happen in such groups. Without any formal treatment or the application of any method or theory, large numbers of men made big strides in freeing themselves of the bonds that had been holding them. Self-deception denies reality. But when the pain grows great enough, reality insists on breaking through. At such a time, when a man is lost, he needs a map-not a formula or method. Systems of "do and don't" will not help him find his way. Such authoritarian systems of positive and negative commands fail immediately when he tries to function with them. Nothing other than a free mind will provide the autonomy and spontaneity that life demands of us. To free the mind of wishful thinking must become the central aim of all our thinking. Only that will lead us past the Scylla and Charybdis of the illusion of success and failure.
Each of us has an intuitive feeling that he has a central core that is not ill and cannot be touched by the evils that may be tearing at his flesh. We somehow are not surprised when we are told for the first time that at the eye of the hurricane is total calm, a place where the sun is shining and the birds are singing. We know that somewhere inside of us we are at peace. Our only problem is to discover what prevents us from getting to this center of-our-being and holding on to it. The question in our mind is why we cannot live at this core easily, as we know it must be possible for a man to do.
When these "gravitational pulls" are taken off us, we discover we are at the center-of-our-being and had never departed from it, but that we had been blinded by the storm of our distortions and illusions. The important theme of this book is that we do not have to learn some new discipline to arrive at our own center-because we never departed from it. We were only the victims of our illusions about the world. These led us to feel we had abdicated our rights or drifted off course. Reality appears immediately after our illusions are destroyed. The negative approach to reality is the destruction of illusion. The positive approach is a confusion of multiple do's and don'ts that blur the mind with contradictions and inconsistencies. The negative approach, fortunately, is only concerned with regaining our original ability to see and hear the What Is of a situation without it being distorted, edited or judged by our habit of wishful thinking.
If we are not victims struggling in a hostile world, then many of us face the problem of getting "unbugged," so that we no longer see hostility and behave in a hostile manner. We must undertake the process of unlearning whatever habit it is that leads us to our dismal outlook and customary feelings of depression. We must learn to see and to hear outside our old, habitual way of looking at the world and at those around us.
One of the most destructive distortions we endlessly encounter is the illusion of success and failure. It gives rise to the driving desire to get ahead and become somebody. Some people are so blinded by this illusion they cannot imagine anything could exist apart from their endless struggle to get ahead in order to be "one up" on those around them. Those who feel they cannot get ahead regard themselves as failures and feel there is no reason to keep on living if they cannot find success.
Can this be all of life? Surely there has to be another, less hostile way of life, which is not based wholly on competition. The world of success and failure is based on appearances or the semblance of things-not on reality.
The individual trapped in the struggle for prestige, recognition and appearances, is a helpless victim of his own wishful thinking. He is trapped in ideas of what should be or what ought-to-be-ideally. Such wishful thinking is a basic illness o f the mind. Only when we transcend such a habit of mind can we hope to go beyond this trap and discover our own essential nature. The person who escapes this competitive struggle is a person with a free mind. He is often called a sage. Such free individuals are unfortunately rare among us-even though each of us has this potential as a birthright alive inside him, waiting only to be released.
1. That the individual's approach to life is a result of early self-training due to his interpretation of his situation. He can change it in later years only if he realizes that his disturbing, conditioned responses are nothing more than inappropriate, inadequate holdovers from childhood. The adult is expected to replace such behavior with more useful responses to be a help and not a burden. He should realize it is useless to try to escape the pain he creates for himself trying to solve adult problems with a child's tricks and evasions, since problems are only situations for which we have not trained ourselves.
2. That the problems of behavior, which make us feel and act like inferior second-class passengers in life, are no more than the results off our failure to develop the both emotional and physical self reliance; we retain from childhood the mistaken expectation that others should " hold up our pants" for us emotionally and physically and be interested in as well as responsible for our welfare.
3. That leaning on others emotionally or physically is a child's way of life. We should not permit this habit to follow us into adult life, since dependency is the root of all feelings of inferiority. Dependency generates the feeling of second-class citizenship. Out of this grows the habit of competition, envy, making comparisons and similar mistaken compensatory striving that we create in our effort to assuage the pain of feeling second class in relation to others. Humiliating feelings of inferiority produce the gnawing, distracting, disruptive, destructive craving for personal recognition and prestige, with its inescapable fear of failure.
4. That unhappiness, loneliness, neurotic symptoms, crime and similar distresses arise directly from this unresolved habit of leaning and depending on others whom we immediately feel we must try to control, rule, dominate or exploit for our own benefit, since we cannot otherwise support ourselves physically and emotionally.
5. That only those who are self-reliant emotionally and physically can function as adult human beings able to cooperate with other adults, because life demands that we be useful and productive or, as Adler said, to "be a help and not a burden."
6. That the inadequate responses of envy, greed, competition and sabotage-with which we try to solve confronting problems of life-are only reactions which would not arise in the first place if we were in the habit of standing on our own feet and were not always trying to find someone on whom to lean and exploit, demanding that they prop us up and hold us there.
7. That defects of self-reliance and the inescapable pain that accompanies them can be changed only when we fully realize that the pain we suffer is but the other-end-of-the-stick of our leaning, dependent, subaltern habits of mind. Our problems do not have mysterious, hidden sources, and we do not have to look far or deep to find the source; we keep stumbling, tripping and falling over it all day long, even though we refuse to identify it as our own childishness.
8. That all human beings are the product of evolution, and that we share the inheritance of all human potentialities and are equally based in evolution. Each can evoke his store of potentialities to shape them into his own creation and discover his own reality. Each is his own architect. Whatever one human being has done can be done by others. Creation is a built-in attribute of each of us. It waits, however, for the awakening touch of self-reliance to shape its parts and aspects.
In substance, t e feeling of being deprived is the memory of the old pain of self-pity, which we experienced as children when our desires were frustrated. As memory of old pain, we conjure it up out of our mind any time we make a comparison and feel someone is getting along better than we are. We use this pain to stimulate our competitiveness and our infantile acquisitiveness, so that we will take some action and not let others get ahead of us in life. We evoke homicidal, or self-destructive, feelings and use them to right the wrong we fancy has been done to us. But this destructive feeling is nothing more than the old habit of mind we developed in childhood visa-visa our siblings. It has no relation to actual deprivation any more than we can have actual pain in a severed limb.
Dependency always degrades. It degrades by mutual enslavement both the dependent and the one on whom he leans. Both are equally guilty of dependence. The individual who is physically and psychologically self-reliant will not allow anyone to lean on him, as it would result in his enslavement if he permitted it. It becomes evident, then, that the one who leans and the one who allows himself to be leaned on are equally lacking in self-sufficiency. They are in a kind of mutual admiration society, which amounts to a conspiracy to exploit each other. Both are in a condition of second-class citizenship, although one may imagine himself mistakenly as the strong one in the relationship. The fact remains that they degrade, inhibit and enslave each other and that, in such cases, "two is less than one."
Dependency, we must remember at all times, is most of all a habit of mind; it is an habitual approach to confronting problems in which we look outside the self for answers and support instead of finding our own inner direction. Dependency masquerades in an infinite number of ways, so that it can appear to be something else. It can even masquerade as its opposite! In contrariness, it pretends to be self-determination and behaves as if the person had a mind of his own instead of being merely negatively dependent on, and in rebellion against, what is expected of him. With the distortion they bring. But as long as we have not identified the masks they wear, we cannot escape being a victim of them. Our most important task is to maintain constant watch and unmask them as they arise. Habit never rests. When the leaning individual is confronted, he is helpless and must search for someone on whom to lean for help in the solution of his problems. Looking about for assistance opens him to all the evils of suggestibility and uncertainty. He vainly runs from one person to another, like a lost dog at a parade looking for his master to lead him safely home again. The dependent, enslaved mind dares not stand alone.
The free mind, on the other hand, is not distracted by the need to find a master on whom to lean. It moves spontaneously on target to deal with the situation. Its function is automatic because it has not been contaminated by the habit of wishful thinking; it is content to look directly at the What Is of the here-and-now and is able to deal with things as they are-not as they ought to be in some idealized but nonexistent situation. The free mind is not trapped by a desire to edit, escape, distort, change or evade what it faces and thus postpone movement or the solution of the problem. It has no need to take endless thought and fall into a quandary in which the mind consults the mind about the mind. It does not need to look outside itself for either help or stimulation. As we have seen earlier, the free mind manipulates impersonal circumstance-not people. The leaning, dependent mind, however, is at the mercy of outside stimulation and outside support. Every voice it hears is magnified into the voice of authority, which must be obeyed. Each suggestion becomes a command, and every person becomes ten feet tall. This abject suggestibility condemns the individual to the role of a subordinate, and he is subject to all the commands tossed at him. The opinions of other people are as a missile-and he feels himself the only target.
The dependent mind is in a constant state of near exhaustion as it tries to decide which voice, command or suggestion to follow and how to respond to the welter of conflicting claims relentlessly made upon it. It is in an endless wobble between positive and negative seduction. The individual in a state of positive seduction abandons himself uncritically to a particular master or course of action. He believes that he will find security if he continues to cling to something stronger with blind devotion. He becomes a true believer in the one he deifies. He holds that one wholly responsible for his personal happiness and plans to move in on this benefactor as if he had found a rich uncle to be exploited. But all situations rooted in leaning and depending on others result in disappointment. You can't feel let down unless you have been leaning on! Others refuse to carry us on their backs for long unless we pay them well for the ride. We are quickly dropped if we fail to make the situation profitable to those around us. The resulting disappointment becomes rage at the frequent frustrations, and this confuses the dependent mind. Out of an effort to retaliate, it becomes negatively dependent to others in the hope that it can escape its own habitual suggestibility. This results in what we commonly recognize as stubbornness, which makes the situation worse. All resistance only deepens our dependence on the thing we are resisting. Fighting only ties us to our enemy. To free ourselves, we must "let go" and "walk on."
The Mature Adult is:
- Depends on and clings to parents and other authority figures - Self-reliant
- Has dominance-submission struggle against his attention others by negative or positive means and strategies; competition for personal recognition (prestige). - He improvises solutions
- Tries manipulation and exploitation of people
by positive and negative strategies - The job is his only boss and is the sole target of
- Is a consumer of goods and services produced by others - Non-attached and therefore non-competitive
- Escapes responsibility by putting own center-of-gravity onto others; negative-positive obedience (conformity); puts other heads higher than his own - Self-motivated in relation to confronting circumstances
- Has a begging attitude toward life (life owes him a living and happiness ) - Manipulates the impersonal circumstances and things of life instead of
- Habitually "saves himself" at the expense of others; the withholding attitude toward life
- Manipulating people Producer of goods and
- Center of gravity inside self
Puts no other heads higher than his own
- Contributing, inventive
other heads higher than attitude toward life
his own Habitually "spends himself" in useful ways
These moments of getting he enjoys and tries in various ways to increase their number. At a very early age, he finds that crying brings adults into his service when he is wet, hungry or bored. He also finds that smiling holds the attention of the adults who have the power to bring him benefits. He smiles when they pick him up and cries when they put him down. Thus each of us begin the basic habit of our life, the habit of manipulating people. We spend most of our childhood on the path from point A to point B developing our political skill in exerting influence over adults to get them to vote for us. And it is from this root that we have the neurotic acquisitive desire to make a good impression on others. It is at this point of our life that we get the idea that we must habitually lean and depend on the good opinion of others and fear their disapproval.
This path from point A to point B serves the needs of the child, but it spells disaster for us if we continue in this way after we reach physical maturity. The work of the outside world demands that each of us be self-reliant. The human animal is the only one prone to make this mistake and thus remain trapped in persisting infantilism. Nature puts her other animals on their own very shortly after birth. Kittens nurse greedily for weeks in the beginning as they are on the A-to-B development. But their tiny teeth begin to develop and get longer every day. Nursing her babies becomes painful to the mother in direct proportion to the length of the baby teeth. Her answer to that is to cut down gradually on the nursing time for her babies. Their efforts to persuade her to extend this time bear no fruit. All she does is to offer them solid food and in her own way suggest that they learn to go from A-to-C and stop bothering her for food. They resent her rejection of their dubious affection, and finally their hunger drives them independently to learn to eat solid food. But the human animal spends approximately his first eighteen years leaning and depending on adults who continue to prop him up far more than is necessary for his welfare. Most parents continue to serve their children long, long after the children are old enough to do things for themselves. Civilization conspires to keep us on the path from A-to-B-to-C instead of liberating us. And thus it is that many are mistakenly encouraged to lean and depend and expect support from others as if they were still children.
Most of us had siblings with whom we were constantly involved, trying to maintain our pecking order to see that they did not get any advantages over us and that we lost none of our own. We were always under the shadow of some adult authority and there was never a time that we had our own full initiative about anything! Anything we decided was no more than a decision between Tweedledee and Tweedledum, since our parents had set the overall limits in the beginning. The thought of having freedom or having initiative as well as full responsibility for our activity was farthest from our mind! It is at this point that most of us make the fatal decision to continue on the path of conformity. In early life, we conformed either positively as good children or negatively as bad, delinquent children who did everything just in contrary reverse obedience. In both or either case, we were hanging on to one or the other end of the stick-obedience. Our dependence gave no other choice, of course. Our fear of the unknown is a strong force of inertia that tends to carry us along in the same old direction of conformity! Those who lacked anything to disrupt this inertia simply coasted or slid into; physically adult life without being aware of the passage of time and found themselves housed in adult bodies-but with the same old dependency habits of a child! They were unable to act with their own full initiative. But life as an adult permits nothing less than full personal initiative of us. Those who developed initiative in adolescence were I fortunate in their choice of parents or surrogates when they were born. Adults who are themselves emotionally mature have free minds and do not play dominance submission games with their children, so that their children have a chance to develop initiative. You have to start free to end free! So children of such parents have not learned to struggle against their parents and others for some useless dominance and are not interested in games of one upmanship. Their transition from childhood to adult life is not a stormy series of defeats and struggles against outside authorities. It is a quiet growth in self-confidence in which they learn that there are few irremediable mistakes, and they regard a mistake as nothing more than a friendly invitation to keep trying-not a loss of love, approval and prestige, or as a humiliation to be avoided at any cost.
Those of us who have been caught in the net of conformity, however, have a wholly different picture of life, filled with struggle, fear, humiliation, envy and the endless hungry craving for personal recognition that never leaves us. Even when we are feeding it! And this presents us the answer to the second question! This eternal hunger for personal recognition, which is sometimes mistakenly called by a sick title, The Need for Love. Exactly those who most of all need to give up this infantile striving for outside recognition they call love are those who find it most impossible to imagine enjoyment in anything apart from being the center of attention. They fly like moths around a candle until they fly into the flame to end the torture of enslavement.
In truth, there isn't much time during day or evening when we have the need or opportunity to exercise full initiative on what we do with our energies. Most of our initiative is abdicated in the above situations, and we pretend that people in general are going to show the same parental warmth and eagerness to program and advance our welfare as our parents did when we were children. Alas for us!
But as adults, we may not abdicate our initiative at any time. Just as we would not lay down our pocketbook and not watch it while we do something else, we may not lay down our initiative and turn it over to someone else to exercise for us or in our default! We are born alone, we live alone and we die alone! No man can escape this fate. That is exactly why we have been given this initiative, so that we have something on which to depend-when we no longer have parents on whom to lean!
It is exactly this angel with flaming sword who blocks the Eden of his dreams! He would love to be a hero and do independent, heroic deeds; but since no actor ever bothers to play to an empty house, he can't imagine doing it unless he is the center of attention and is guaranteed his reward. There has to be someone standing in the wings to pat him on the head and say, "Nice doggie" when he comes panting off the stage! As a child he had his parents, his siblings, his teachers. On the job he has the boss, his fellow workers, and at home his wife; he firmly believes they care and have nothing more rewarding to do for themselves than to keep watching to applaud his act. He counts on them to give him Brownie points or Green Stamps for his good deeds, and be emotional over his defeats! He lives in an emotional fog of wishful thinking that Big Brother (the boss) will single him out from all others for a reward and put his head higher than his siblings on the job! The fact that he labels them as threatening him with being cut off from those around him probably constitutes the basic reason why it is so difficult for him to give up his old way of life. This is obvious with alcoholics, drug addicts, gamblers and similarly trapped individuals. It isn't that they are so much in love with their addicting agent-liquor, drugs, horse-sit is simply that they can't manage to live without the good or bad Brownie points they are accustomed to get from their pals who share the same addiction. Their whole social life is made up of others who have made the same conformist mistake, and they engage in constant sibling rivalry and the amusingly painful games of one up-manship with these individuals. Conformity is a way of life in which one can escape his own initiative and responsibility for creating his own happiness. The conformists lean on Lady Luck or a mother substitute. People imagine that the self-sufficient person is aloof, cold, unsympathetic, disinterested and unfriendly toward those more dependent and less fortunate than he. But exactly the contrary is true. If this were not so, then there would indeed be no advantage to giving up playing infantile games of one upmanship. The fact is that we cannot begin either to enjoy our own inner capacities, association with others, or the world around us until and unless we have liberated ourselves from our leaning, dependent, derivative, enslaved, imitative, competitive, subaltern, childish habit of mind. No self-respecting life can exist when we are attached and merely an appendage of someone else, since "when they take snuff we also have to sneeze." It is difficult to see how we can believe freedom is something to be avoided and believe that it would surely lead to loneliness and isolation.
He is free to be a friend to people regardless of whether they are on speaking terms or not with each other. Since he does not seek to win rewards from them, he has no fear that they can hurt him. It is only when we seek benefits from others that we fear or hate them. Only our dependent acquisitiveness spoils our relationships, when we approach our friends to get goodies from them and fear they may hold back on us.
When we are independently mature, our association with those around us will be free of any competitive attitude on our part. We will find no need to struggle for dominance and fear or resist submission. A person who approaches life with a self-reliant point of view puts no head higher than his own and therefore has no reason to be envious or obediently follow the heels of a pacemaker. Since he has no need to prove himself to anyone or to show off his personal superiority in order to win praise or admiration, he is like a good card player who does not care what cards are dealt him since his fun lies in the free play he improvises in the playing of each hand. Each game is its own reward and he seeks nothing outside of the unfolding of each hand as it is played into the hands of others. He enjoys the whole experience and all that his partners do as well. Since cooperation can take place only between equal partners, neither of which was abdicated his own initiative to the other, it is so rare that we seldom see it. But there is no relationship that is fit for a human being short of full cooperation. There is no such thing as a good master or a good slave. Cooperation is a joyous affirmation of the full initiative of oneself and also that of every other person. Another kind of cooperation is possible as with oarsmen who stroke in unison to accomplish their tasks. Each pulls equally and with exact timing to each other to I be effective. To accomplish this kind of timing each has to have his own inner consent and full initiative. He does not feel dominated, obedient or a second-class citizen. Here again, the participants do not have to like each other on any personal basis. That is irrelevant to releasing his own energies, as he is not dependent on them for approval. He has to satisfy the needs o f his own life-first! It is not his job to please others first! And then use that as an excuse to neglect his own production. We please others best-and best satisfy ourselves-only when we have done our own job fully and thus fulfilled our own potential. We destroy ourselves and serve others least when we go along weakly with their schemes in a pretense or pretext of cooperation. All are cheated by that approach. Such going along leaves us feeling deprived and unfulfilled without enriching others.
It should be evident now that there is no trace of loneliness or isolation facing the person who gives up playing dependency games of mutual enslavement and learns to stand alone. And it is equally evident that fun and the real enjoyment in life only begins when he is able to give up the restrictive subordinating bounds of childhood an engage in freely cooperative activities with the real things, people and circumstances. The person who is crippled by the infantile games he plays can only go as far as such games allow him to go in life. It is useless to send a boy to do a man's work. A man's work cannot be done by anyone-unless he has freedom with its full awareness, intimacy and spontaneity. And as far as the greatest of all fears is concerned-the fear of loneliness-we are only able to be free of this fear, once and for all time, if we find our own center-of-gravity and personal initiative. Aloneness is freedom from-dependence! Loneliness, on the other hand, is the dependent lost child crying as it searches for the parent or baby sitter it has lost and cannot find. If it is fully understood that self-reliance is a starting point, as well as middle and end point, for our life, and that anything less than full personal initiative is the source of all our pain.
But in truth, a competitive approach to life narrows our whole view of life and the world. It blinds us to anything outside the narrow goals we set for ourselves. Competition is conformity to a pattern, and conformity breeds stupidity, narrowness, bigotry, idolatry and other forms of exclusiveness. This explains why a highly ambitious person seems to be a self-centered bore who has only a superficial contact with life around him. He has a hypersensitive ego and his pride or vanity is easily hurt. But he is, in reality, quite dull and insensitive to anything apart from the main chance he hopes to exploit to achieve his goal. And when his goal is reached, he finds himself at a sudden loss to know what to do next or what further direction he should follow. The self-reliant person who is not trapped in competitive games of one upmanship and enslaved by playing `useless games of mutual manipulation does not face this stultifying dead end in life. He has learned to live his life on the Grazing Principle, without set, compulsive goals to follow or outside authority figures to obey and placate. He follows a much deeper law which operates without any effort of will on his part. It is the law of the inner gleam, or spirit, and it operates without him having to take thought or make it work. It is as automatic as swallowing. Adler used to say, "If you had to have a rule for swallowing, you would choke to death." The Grazing Principle is at the root of all the great discoveries, and it is the path of our enlightenment. It might be called "horse sense," since every horse is a fine exponent of the principle. If you turn him loose on a roadside, he begins to graze immediately. He sees a clump of grass and starts to eat. While he is nibbling this clump, he sees another not more than a half-step away. He reaches for it and, as he is cropping it, his eye falls on still another clump just a short step ahead of him. And that is all he does all day! But by nightfall, he is miles away from where he started. Without any thought of "getting ahead in life," he has moved into new grazing areas continuously. And most of all, he has enjoyed every minute of the process. No fuss or anxiety. No need for rewards or recognition from outside himself. His moment-to-moment fulfillment has been its own reward, and he has no dependence on anything at the end of the day to pay him for his effort. The person who is I truly an innovator, or creator, in any art or science must depend wholly on the Grazing.
Principle to lead him into, new pastures and discoveries. The conscious, planning intellect is quite powerless to free itself from conditioning of the past. It cannot escape old habits of thought and cross into the Promised Land itself. If we do not trust the Grazing Principle in us-our intuition-we cannot do anything except shuttle back and forth within the limits of the safe old formulas of the past. The self-reliant person, who is nonobedient and nonsubmissive to conformity, old habits and the worship of authorities, lives each day in this condition of spontaneous awareness. His intimacy with the existing moment keeps him in a state of discovery. Each moment is new and never repeats itself, regardless of what seemingly monotonous job he may be doing. Competition enslaves and degrades the mind. It is one of the most prevalent and certainly the most destructive of all the many forms of psychological dependence. Eventually, if not overcome, it produces a dull, imitative, insensitive, mediocre, burned-out, stereotyped individual who is devoid of initiative, imagination, originality and spontaneity. He is humanly dead. Competition produces zombies! Nonentities! Competition is a process or variety of habitual behavior that grows out of a habit of mind. It originates from our need to imitate others during early childhood. But it is a sign of persisting infantilism if it is still dominating us after adolescence. It is a sign of retarded psychological development, a persisting childishness of "Monkey see-monkey do." We are trapped in imitation. Once established in orbit, as an habitual way of looking interpersonal relationships, it contaminates all our relationships. It becomes a way of relating to the world, her people and to confronting situations. Competition a killer because it deprives the individual of personal initiative and responsibility.
Initiative is the most highly prized of virtues. It is a vital necessity for everyone, since all human problems demand activity. Human problems do not get solved where personal initiative is lacking. Self-reliance is not possible without initiative, and one cannot fulfill his own potentialities unless he is both emotionally and physically self-reliant. Nothing can take the place of personal initiative in the life of an individual. It is for this reason that we place such high value on initiative and on the individual who has developed it.
Initiative is the opposite of competition, and one is the death of the other. Initiative is a natural quality of a free mind. It is wholly spontaneous and intuitive in its response to confronting situations as they arise like the thrusts of a swordsman. The free mind allows one to be an inner-directed person whose responses in action are automatic. Competition, on the contrary, is merely an imitative response that lags behind while it waits for its direction from someone whose head appears to us to be taller and who has been chosen by us to set the pace and direction of our activity. In short, initiative produces spontaneous action, whereas competition produces only delayed reaction to stimuli from a pacemaker! Competition grows out of dependence. It imitates initiative in a deceptive way and thus clouds our under standing. The competitive individual trains himself to outrun his pacemaker, and we may imagine from the result that he is enjoying the fruits of initiative. He often develops much skill so that he appears masterful and competent. As a result of his success, he is often put in a key position where he must originate and organize policy in an unstructured situation that demands independent, imaginative, original planning or activity.
In such situations, he cannot function inventively, since he has trained himself only to outrun or imitate existing patterns; he has no freedom of mind to create or improvise new forms. He spends his working days in a bind or trap. As we have said, the competitive person makes pacemakers out of those he sees around him and puts their heads higher than his own. He abdicates his own birthright doing so. Having abdicated his own initiative, he then begins the struggle to surpass those he places higher than himself. Thus he grows blind to his own inner potentialities and, in time, is fully under the hypnotic influence of his self-elected pacemakers. He feels hypnotized by them. He enters into a condition of total dependence on outside direction in the sense that he uses others as if they were seeing-eye dogs to guide him. He dares not use his own intuition or spontaneity. Thus, he is in a state of continual irresponsibility, exercising no mind of his own and merely reacting to others. It they take snuff, it is he who sneezes.
It is evident that the habit of competition is based on, or linked to, another habit-the habit of making comparisons! We either compare ourselves as above or below others. We fear those we imagine are above us because we regard them as authority figures who are in a position to block our progress or punish us. We fear those we fancy are below us lest they somehow displace us in an effort to get above us. Thus life appears to us as just one big, dangerous game of one upmanship in which we always stand amidst enemies against whom we must somehow rise and triumph. Or so we imagine it to be.
The built-in hell of the competitive person is that he stamps himself in his own mind as second-class, lacking initiative and originality. A follower! It is exactly that feeling which relentlessly drives him to compete. The self-reliant person feels no desire to compete or otherwise prove himself, either to himself or to others. In short, all competition is second-class or derivative behavior; a back without a brain, incapable of finding its own way or choosing its own objective. It must lean and depend on the pacemaker of its own envious selection. Comparison breeds fear, and fear breeds competition and one upmanship. We believe our safety depends on killing off the one above us by outrunning him at his own game. We have no time to enjoy any game of our own making lest we lose ground in our race against others for status and preferment.
And we may not rest lest those below us steal ahead in the night when we are not aware. The higher we rise, the greater will be our fear of falling. And so we are fearful regardless of whether we win or lose the daily skirmishes. The ambitious, competitive individual, then, is an unfortunate who is still trapped in the childhood desire to become the favored child. He stands with his begging bowl before others and pleads for their approval. He will run, jump, steal, lie, murder or do anything he feels is necessary to do in order to win the praise he seeks. He must somehow impress and thus possess the head that he puts above his own. Since he still views life as a child or as a second-class citizen, all his efforts to get ahead only serve to confirm his habitual way of regarding others and tie him to them. He continues on this path until someone can help him to break the hypnotic spell that binds him by showing him what he has been, and is, doing. One of the basic, emotional attitudes that underlies competition is the feeling of hostility; there is no such thing as friendly competition. All competition is hostile. It grows out of a desire to achieve a position of dominance and to enforce submission over others. The desire for dominance, in turn, arises from a desire to use and exploit the other person, either psychologically or physically.
This desire to exploit others puts us at cross purposes with others. We disrupt cooperation and disturb others by either active or passive means. We insist on changing the rules of the game to put them at a disadvantage and to give us a preferred position. We are easily irritated if things happen in any way but the way we want them. Those we cannot find use for appear only as boring, and we want to ignore or belittle them. We feel comfortable with others only when we have a favorable situation and others look up to us.
The competitive individual is always a poor sport. He cannot stand any situation long in which he is not ahead of others. If he feels he cannot win, he becomes a spoil sport and wants to ruin the game for others. Or he loses courage and interest in the game, so that he retires from it. Or he will only play those games of function in those situations in which he stands a good chance of dominating.
The spirit of competition is the opposite of the spirit of play. The competitive person is incapable of play for the sake of play because he must win or make a good impression. This is easy to see with those who play cards. The competitive card player always wants to win. He groans or is in misery if he is given a bad hand in a deal. e becomes bitter and filled with self-pity every time he loses a trick and blames others for his bad luck. If he gets a good hand, he gloats in a superior way and tries to make other envious of his good fortune. For him, the whole game only an exercise in hate; he will cheat to win if he dares. With him, winning, not playing, is all that counts. His pleasure is to see exactly what fascinating patterns emerge as the game is played and where he can fit his cards into this changing, developing flux of circumstance. He plays intuitively and without any fear at all, since he is free of any need to win or lose. His whole mind is free to enjoy whatever happens, and he can take any risks he likes with his plays or follow any hunch he may have as to how to play his hand. His only goal is to see what happens-to explore and discover potentialities, not to prove himself.
In summary, the competitive person operates out of constant fear. Fear always limits and degrades us. We can never achieve our potential ability in the climate of fear that competition breeds. Dependence leads to fear; fear leads to comparisons; comparisons lead to competition, and competition eventually destroys us by degrading us to imitation, conformity, infantilism or mediocrity. Dependence and imitation never lead to creativity and independence. Freedom comes only when we put no head higher than our own.
Stage fright is an excellent example of being trapped in the Double Bind. A person who is dependent on the good opinion of those around him fears making a speech; he is afraid that he will not impress the audience favorably and they will not love him. He prepares his speech and finds he is able to do it without faltering at home or before his family. But when he stands before his audience, it suddenly goes out of his mind and he cannot recall a word of it. He merely stands and trembles.
It is obvious to us what has happened. He didn't really want to make the speech in the first place as it represented a possible loss of esteem if he did not make a big impression. He merely wanted attention. When he finally faced the sea of strange faces, his full attention flew to the pursuit of his favorite rabbit; his desire to make a good impression and win personal recognition. Thus his mind is a blank as far as the content of his speech is concerned. He has no psychic energy available to put on the task he came to do-to make a speech. It is most important for us to remember something each of us knows but is apt to forget: the mind cannot pursue two targets simultaneously! The mind behaves much like an electric circuit in that it is either on or it is off. There is no halfway with us; it is either yes or no. We often say, "Yes . . . but. .." And this always means no!
Free Mind: Enslaved Mind:
Active - Productive Passive - Receptive
Creates Seeks to "become as aGod" Be a "big shot"
Initiates Has begging attitude: "Please love me" Conforms Makes envious comparisons
Ad libs Has leader-follower illusion
Is nonattached Is suggestible:
Positive - negative
Feels put back
Seeks moral support
Begs personal recognition
Has no desore to impress Desire to impress
Leans on opinion of others
Has center-of-gravity inside
Has spontaneous activity
Sea Reality Has center-of-gravity in others
Follows rules in cookbook
*Emotional Dependence it the craving for recognition above others-the desire to dominate, to impress, to influence, to exploit-and leads to "The Double Bind" or "Chasing Two Rabbits at Once".
The Free Mind is unstructured and without forms, convictions, ideas, conclusions, bias, conditioning, attachments, judgments, ideals, hopes, likes, dislikes, reverence, obedience or any other precondition. It is similar to water in that it can flow into and around everything regardless of shape or size; it fits into anything. It acts spontaneously without any effort of will by us. It responds in a flash without our "taking thought" and meets problems in unstructured ways (original). It ad libs answers to problems in an inspired way. The Mind (Spirit) refuses to be enslaved by our own wishes or the command of others. As Spirit, it behaves as the wind which "bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth." The Free Mind manipulates circumstance and things, not people. It refuses to crowd itself into old forms, traditions, customs, conditioning. It deals instantly with confronting problems without hesitating for deliberation. (The first guess is probably inspired and, intuitively, the best one.) The center-of-gravity lies within itself; never in outside authority ("Be a lamp unto your own fat"). Puts no head higher than itself; maintains first-class citizenship visa-visa all others. Matter-of-fact, live-and-let-live relationships with others. Is nonjudgmental. It makes no invidious comparisons, beliefs or value systems for itself. Views reality unedited and unlimited.
The Enslaved Mind leans on crutches of praise or blame, seeks approval and shuns blame. Leans on the opinion of others, tries to manipulate others by creating a good impression. In hypnotic obedience (suggestibility) to others. Negative-positive reactivity to the control of others. Either submissive or stubbornly negative. Allergic to people. Puts other heads higher than own. Feels self as a second-class citizen. Habitually makes invidious comparisons. Feels either superior or inferior as a result. Hypersensitive feelings. Easily hurt and feels others should protect his feelings and welfare. Make them responsible for his unhappiness. Competes habitually for status-to be one-up on others. Rivalry traps him in endless envy and feelings of being deprived. Habitually has the feeling of poverty. Fear of failure. Seeks rewards and assurances from others. Habitually withholds self (saves self) in search of the illusion of security. Wants others to protest him. Seeks special privilege.
Dependence usually expresses itself in positive conformity, submission, obedience. Most people are eager to obey and thus escape all personal responsibility. But dependence can just as easily express itself as negative conformity in blind disobedience. Such contrariness is very attractive to some individuals, since it is often mistaken for self-reliance, independence, initiative! The rebel certainly fancies himself as a strong character, 100% self-determined, a free mind and a free spirit who is acting wholly on his own. He cannot be reached in his under standing because of this self-deception. This explains why neither punishment nor kindness has any effect on the criminal, the addict and similar delinquent, the alcoholic. Rebellious individuals are, in fact, caught on both sides of the coin of conformity; both negative and positive. They are in positive obedience to the code of their gang and in negative obedience to the pressures of the community! Thus they have nothing that resembles independence, self-reliance, a mind of their own. The rebel is under a kind of hypnotic illusion in which he sees himself a white knight on horseback fighting dragons. Thus rebels are able to hide their timidity, fearfulness, dependence on the opinion of others from their own awareness! The more their situation worsens, the more they toughen their habitual negativity and thicken their skins to create a deadlock! The irresistible force and the immovable object come together. If a rebel ever had any inkling of a mind of his own, it seems to disappear. He remains abysmally negatively obedient to external pressures right up to his own destruction. In short, the rebel is a living stalemate, in total dependence on the outside environment and unable to pull out of the trancelike state in which he finds himself. It is easier to understand such negative obedience if we see that these efforts the rebel is making are those of a child who wants to be a show off and win the approval of the parent but has failed to get the desired attention. In resentment and discouragement, he finds that he can get their reluctant attention just as well, or even better, if he gives them the hot foot when they do not look at him.
The average person is addicted to positive approval and cannot understand the lengths to which these others go just to be noticed. Any kind of notoriety is preferred by them to being overlooked. Criminals often clip press notices of their exploits and proudly treasure them as if they had made contributions on the useful side of life. Their feeling of insignificance is so vast and their desire for recognition so great that they will endure any kind of hardship or humiliation just to become the center of attention, if only for a few days or moments. Rebellion against outside authority-or shall we say, the illusion that there exists such a thing as outside authority-exists in a person only as long as he has not discovered his own inside authority! Until a person has discovered and dares to follow his own inner gleam, we may be sure of one thing: he will be leaning in either negative or positive dependence on someone outside himself! What else could he do if he has not developed self-reliance and not learned to stand independently? It is estimated that about 90% of the people live in positive dependence, in conformity!
Open revolt is relatively rare, whereas hidden revolt is pandemic. It includes pilfering, shoplifting, malingering, negligence, chronic lateness, sleeplessness, nervousness, psychosomatic ailments, nail biting, nose picking, disorderliness, and every other asocial or antisocial compulsion that exists. Everyone who does these things knows only too well that such activities are a way of secretly thumbing one's nose at parent figures and their surrogates. The habit of rebellion and the accompanying, or implicit, self-sabotage is the revenge of a dependent individual against social demands which he cannot meet as an emotionally mature person. He tries, in effect, "to shame his parents when company is present" and thus to humiliate them, as he feels he has been humiliated and disciplined by them. Positive obedience is fully as damaging to the individual as its idiot-twin, the habit of rebellion. And we must remember that we cannot have one without the other being present in submerged form. The delinquent is overtly rebellious but hides from himself his innate dependent submissiveness! And the openly submissive person betrays his rebellion by myriad forms of negativity, resistance, animosity, evasion, ineptness, clumsiness, apparent incompetence. He acts out the appearance of "I cannot" when it is evident to others that "he secretly wills not to participate in a useful way." The habit of rebellion, then, is the price everyone must pay-through the nose-if he lacks his own authority, self-reliance! Rebellion is the evil smell of decayed self-reliance and is an inescapable symptom. The greatest mistake is to try to get rid of the habit of rebellion by bringing up heavier artillery, the fire power of authority, to try to break the will of the rebel. That only serves to develop his skill to resist pressures and drives him deeper into negativity. There is no way to break a human will and at least from the outside.
The only hope for a rebel is to face the fact that he is a patsy; he is in the position of someone who habitually works-like Rip van Winkle-for others, but without being on their payroll and getting any profit for himself! Or as the labors of Sisyphus. Sisyphus was a Greek god condemned by Zeus to roll a stone to the top of a hill. It took him the whole day to roll it to the top, but when he let go of it at night, it rolled to the bottom of the hill again, and he was doomed to continue this for eternity.
When-and only when-the person realizes that his habit of rebellion is a curse that has not been laid upon him, but one that he is holding on to as if it were great treasure-then he can let go o f it. The trap will open by itself. As long as the rebellious person fancies that he is giving a masterful performance and is the whole last act of Aida all by himself, he is getting subjective satisfactions from his dramatics. When he sees for the first time that he is more like a ham actor-playing to an empty house, with himself as his best and only audience, then he begins to stand on his own feet and see himself in his true perspective. As a leaning, dependent, juvenile, subaltern, negatively obedient person who has not yet found the self-reliance to act his present age.
Hunger and sex are basic biological drives. Each is a kind, or variety, of hunger, and hunger of any kind is a tension that seeks release by fulfillment. What one likes to eat and the conditions under which he likes to eat it is a highly personal choice. The same is equally true of the sexua| appetite. This probably explains why both hunger and sex are so highly susceptible to being modified and conditioned by influences from the environment. Tastes in food include almost everything that can be chewed and swallowed, including human flesh, if you happen to be a cannibal. The sexua| urge can be satisfied in such a variety of ways that it is boring to catalogue them, as anyone knows if he has read Krafft-Ebing. The sex urge can adapt itself to any form of conditioning as easily as water can fit the shape of any vessel into which it is poured. The sex drive has no inherent goal of its own except to achieve an orgasm. But we must examine it with each individual to discover what other aspects of his personality it clings to and is reflecting in his behavior. Sex is always more than just sex; it picks up other demands, as a dog picks up ticks when it runs in the woods.
Sex is an automatic function, like swallowing or walk; It operates on an on-off basis, depending on the signals sent by our conditioned attitudes to the situation facing us. If this is understood, then we shall see that it operates when it is triggered, but the particular sexua| preference is unique of us. Sex and love are not the same thing at all. They can coexist, although they are quite often found apart. We have not been trained to recognize love and hardly know what to look for, especially if it is not the same as sex. The ancient Greeks had no such problem. They recognized two kinds of love and had two separate words for them: agape and eros. We have only the word love to express both of them, although in expression they are worlds apart and never the twain shall meet. As a matter of fact, agape and eros are mutually exclusive; when eros comes in, agape goes out, just as the bird flies away when the cat comes by.
Eros is nothing more than infantile possessiveness. When someone says he loves ice cream, you have no doubt what he plans to do with it. Eros refers to likes, preferences, desires and all aspects of acquisitiveness. It always implies partiality. We prefer the part and reject what remains outside our preference. Eros is a stick that has two ends: attraction and aversion, love and hate, for and against, toward and away-from things or people. It implies a critical, evaluative, judgmental, separative, hidden, fault-finding attitude toward the world and others. We are enslaved by the things we love-and equally by those we hate. Our desire to possess becomes a rope that ties us to the object of our desire; it then controls us in our effort to hold on to it. Eros restricts our initiative and limits it to the exact degree that we wish to own and control the object of our love. Our likes and dislikes, our loves, become a prison of our own construction, and the penalty we must pay for any partiality we may show for one thing or person above another. We cannot free ourselves while we hold on to preferences and make them the monitor of our behavior. Agape is a wholly different kind of love. It is entirely nonpossessive and demands nothing for itself. It does not judge, discriminate, evaluate. It is wholly nonpartisan and is regarded as the attitude and nature of God, who "sends rain on the just and the unjust alike." Impartially, nonjudgmentally, uncritically! Perhaps the words of Lao Tzu-as interpreted by Archie Bahm-can give us some inkling of what such love is like.
The intelligent man is not wishful.
He accepts what others wish for themselves as his wish for them.
Those who appear as good, he accepts,
And those who appear as bad, he accepts;
For Nature accepts both.
Those who appear faithful, he accepts,
And those who appear unfaithful, he accepts;
For Nature accepts both.
The intelligent man treats every kind of nature impartially,
And wishes good to one as much as another.
This kind of impersonal interest certainly has no resemblance to the usual, feverish, anxiety-ridden attachment we commonly think of as being in love. It is a desire to see things grow according to their own natural bent, so that they express their full inner potential without being limited by our demands on them. Agape is free of any desire to have love returned and does not depend on any recognition for itself.
Impersonal love is the only kind that does not have a curse inherent in it. All forms of possessiveness or attachment have their own built-in punishment. Desire cannot be separated from pain and disappointment. Oscar Wilde said that the only thing worse than not getting what we want is getting it. Desire is born out of dependence and the feeling of emptiness it produces. It breeds greed, because the feeling of emptiness cannot be compensated. Impersonal love, on the other hand, arises out of a feeling of self-suf6ciency, fullness, capacity, confidence and strength, instead of a feeling of need and poverty. It has no reason to seek anything outside itself. It does not make a hell of its own in which to destroy itself. We destroy the thing we love under eros; we consume and are consumed in the relationship.
Beyond Success and Failure 2
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