Getting Clear 2
Continuation of "Beyond Success and Failure article.
Date: 7/25/2005 7:35:47 PM ( 18 y ) ... viewed 5383 times
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Beyond Success and Failure 2
The leanings dependent individual, however, finds it difficult to imagine any love other than eros. The person who habitually seeks close attachments, with all their bickerings, mutual controls, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, boredom, banality, cannot imagine how he would get any satisfaction or warmth in a nonpossessive relationship. He is so accustomed to the tensions, anxieties, hostilities, uncertainties of the struggle to possess, dominate and use the partner, that impersonal enjoyment of some thing or person appears flat and flavorless to him. Even though he complains bitterly about the unhappiness of eros, he is most reluctant to give it up. He wants only the good end of the stick but without the bad end coming along with it. Nothing divides and cripples individuals, communities, groups more than the grasping, ambitious efforts of eros. Both its positive and negative aspects-love and hate-are the obvious source of endless friction and unhappiness. We cannot believe this is what makes the world do anything but commit violence! We know intuitively and at once that it is agape that holds the world together and agape that keeps the race alive, certainly not the competitive jealousy of eros! Agape not only causes old men to plant trees, it is at the root of the greatest outpouring of impersonal, constructive interest known to man: Thorstein Veblen's "the spirit of workmanship" Agape is the child making sand castles at the beach. He is wholly lost in the process of what he is doing. He has no trace of self-consciousness and not a shred of need for recognition or outside help of any kind. He is both the doer and the deed! He is the Creator and the creation. His action is its own reward; it is a light that casts no shadow. Agape is love that has no object! It dances just to dance and sings just to sing. It has no aim and no motive!
It is easy to see how different sexua| behavior will be under eros and under agape. Eros is the defective love life of the leaning, dependent person, simply because he is incapable of anything more than seeking and taking in his relationships; he is not yet a giver or a doer. Eros is still the child in us that remains at the original nutritional level, using every device-political and physical-to exploit, dominate and possess the object. The dependent person loves anyone who will pamper him and is interested in using eros to replace the emotional and physical support given us originally by our parents. He is incapable of agape and must fall back on manipulation or violence to enslave the partner on whom he leans. He loves the person while he is being pampered but turns to violence the moment the pampering is denied him. Thus the dependent person hates the one he loves. A man killed his sweetheart. When asked why he did it, he said that she wanted to leave him, but that he loved her so much he couldn't stand the thought of someone else getting her. Such crimes of passion and rape are easily understood as expressions of eros. And eros is obviously behind sadistic-masochistic attachments, as well as similar mutually exploitive sexua| relationships.
Eros is prone to all forms of pathological distortions, and it easily forms possessive-dependent relationships on any level. Some seek sex with children, as described in the novel Lolita, since they believe children are more easily dominated and used. Or they seek relationships with members of minority groups, in the hope that it will be easier to maintain an easy position of dominance over them. Some who dare not approach others have sexua| relations with an object which ther steal from the person they overvalue. The lack of emotional self-reliance always finds some way to use the one it leans on. If we feel we cannot stand alone, we always seek some false security in trying to make someone else our contact person. We expect them to love us and be our seeing-eye dog who leads us to salvation.
We must examine the area of friendships in the light of eros and agape. Since most of us are leaning conformists, we must expect that most of the friendships in the world will be based on fear and a competitive desire to use each other for personal advantage. Agape, however, is impartially friendly and plays no favorites. It has no need for partisanship and therefore is not to be found among those people huddled in fear like puppies in a basket trying to keep warm. Agape love is not for hire!
We have explained that agape is the life blood of the community. If we only had the easily destroyed friendships of eros, the force that holds society together would soon fall below a critical level and that would be the end of us. We would destroy ourselves out of our own boundless greed! It obviously takes more than old men to plan trees! A predatory society without agape is unthinkable and could never survive. There are many varieties of limited friendships that can exist in which the exploitation and greed are held down by a principle of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." These are pay-as-you-go friendships and keep us on our toes. They are not agape friendships, but they force us to give as good as we expect to get. That obligates us to put something in the pot and not sit on our haunches like kennel dogs and howl complaints if we do not get everything for nothing. At least, we can't approach others empty handed and expect to deal with them.
One of the most common forms of limited-association, or eros friends grows out of having the same prejudices, likes and dislikes, social background, snob values with each other. Clans, political parties, religious groups and similar organizations that exist to promote their own welfare. The more insecure and dependent the individuals, the stronger the tie that binds them.
Close family ties deny growth and freedom to the members of such blighted families, and they watch each other jealously lest one escape the hold the others have on him. Members do not dare move separately or apart without hurting poor mama's feelings. Or each other's feelings, which is even a worse state of affairs.
No one has the right to live vicariously through another. The parents and siblings of such incestuous families destroy each other, because such relationships deny freedom of the spirit. Agape liberates; eros enslaves. There is no middle ground of partial slavery. Those who want to end free or live free must start free! Wishful thinking cannot change this fact.
The majority of marriages are made unhappy by the myth of romance. But there is another factor that presents endless trouble: the fear and distrust between the sexes. Now we can show how it is used for warfare in marriage. The fear that exists between the sexes gives rise to a struggle for dominance as to which one will have rule over the other. This gives rise to the leader-follower, or master-slave, relationship. The independence of both individuals is lost in this struggle wherein one tries to sit on the other. Their fears of each other are increased as each wins bloody victories over the other. It is commonly described as a battle to see "which will wear the pants."
Most marriages in our civilization begin with the illusion of romantic love. The best definition of romance is: the desire to be pampered. Pampering is the desire for personal recognition. In short, it is evidence of persistent infantilism and a lack of self-reliance. It is the desire to "expect from another." It is the opposite of the creative attitude, which "gives out" rather than "sucks in." In romantic love, each one expects to "get" happiness from the other. The partner is supposed to pamper him. Both sit and wait for the other one to get busy. A row begins when the show doesn't start on time.
The infantile attitude toward marriage is almost unbelievable. We can only guess at the extent of it when we realize the number of love stories that are ground out and consumed each month for books, periodicals, TV, radio, movies and the like. People would not buy such stuff if they did not believe in its probability. We find no such sale for fairy stories, which are no more fantastic. After stuffing ourselves with such material, is it any wonder that partners resent each other when they find out that marriage is mostly "When do we eat?" and related mundane questions? Brought up on the infantile pablum of romance, a young couple is led to imagine that marriage is a box full of goodies that any couple can buy at the license bureau. They are reliably informed that they can sit down and eat out of this box all their lives and it will never be empty. Marriage is a box, and it can be bought for a few dollars. But it is empty. There will never be anything in it unless the partners put it there! And if they do not want it to be empty, they must put in a lot more than they are in the habit of taking out. But the young romantic who imagined it ought to be endlessly full of goodies institutes a law suit against God and the marriage partner as soon as he discovers the score of the game. He feels swindled. But he imagines the next box he buys will be full even though the first one was empty. Marriage was never intended to do anything for people! Certainly it was not designed to make them happy. People are supposed to do something for marriage. And who wants such a raw deal as that in this age of easy profits? It is advertised as a get-rich-quick scheme. But it is only a gimmick of society for the protection and education of children. It requires the combined work of male and female to make a successful, productive unit in society.
Marriage has little or no relationship to happiness. Happiness is a by-product of a self-reliant, productive, creative way of life. The individual who has not learned to be happy single has just as little chance being happy in marriage. It can never be an escape from responsibility into which infantile adults can flee from self-development. Those who have the begging attitude will find the pickings poor in marriage. Beggars never get rich or happy. The marriage partner is not to be recruited as a baby sitter for an infantile adult. At least, not for long. Surely the most destructive factors that prevent adjustment in marriage are part of the sin of obedience. Examination will show that many evils we hear about stem from the same source. Comedians have practically earned their livings with jokes about in-laws. Mothers-in-law are always pictured as interfering in their children's marriages. Or the children are still under the domination of their parents in spite of being married and having children of their own. The fact that it is so widespread as to be considered a joke only indicates the amount of infantile obedience that persists in the average adult. If the human infant developed as rapidly as other animal babies, our society and its institutions would be vastly different. As things stand, the world is organized mainly to guarantee the survival of the next generation. Adults come off only second best, as is reasonable to expect.
The baby turtle is in business for himself from the moment he is hatched. He never sees his parents and couldn't care less. Most other baby animals are able to shift for themselves as adults within two or three years. But the human animal requires about fifteen years before it is of much use to itself or anyone else. For this reason, mainly, the human animal will always find it necessary to live in a group. For the purpose of mutual assistance for survival. The human infant is a total loss as far as being any help. He must be supported, educated, protected for about a fourth of his whole life span. Someone has to be charged with this responsibility. In most places in the world, this is understood quite well. In most older cultures, a young couple of marriage age are aware of what will be expected of each of them. They know that the tribe, or group, expects them to be a team. He will have the job of doing certain things, and she will have different duties. It is understood that they are about to enter a working relationship and to remain productive! Neither the male nor the female goes into marriage empty-handed. Neither expects to be taken care of at the expense of the other one or at the expense of the social group. The parents of the children usually arrange the marriage, carefully weighing the preparation of the prospective partners' ability to carry out the job.
Most of them never heard of romance. And they would certainly not regard it as any basis for getting married. The real problems of marriage are not whether John loves Mary and Mary loves John. The real problems will always be "When do we eat?" "What do we eat?" "Where do we eat?" "How much do we eat?" "Where do we go when it rains or snows?" "What do we wear?" "Can we produce enough to feed the children?" "Can we train them to grow up to be a help and not remain a burden?"
Society does not give a fig whether marriage partners find happiness together as long as they pay their bills and do their job. And any realistic marriage should begin with this in mind. Whatever happiness the pair may create must somehow fit within the general limits of this picture. They have no chance unless they begin with the facts. All human relationships must be open on all sides for growth. We must hold each other in an open palm. If we give honest weight and full measure, we need have no anxiety. The partner cannot get a better deal elsewhere. If he wanders, he will soon return. The shop that gives the most for the price gets the business most of the time. Free, productive partners tend to grow apace rather than to grow apart! And no law will hold people together unless they are at about the same level of development. We get the kind of partner we deserve, according to our own degree of infantilism. One partner may like to imagine he is superior to the other. But if this were so, why is he hanging around so long? Just out of the goodness of his heart? Well, hardly! Or only for the sake of the children? That is a laugh, too. He or she hangs on for the same reason a cripple hangs on to his crutch.
Marriage, as we have said, is here to stay. Properly undertaken, it can be a fruitful relationship in which both partners can grow stronger in their own potentialities and not of necessity become a rubber stamp. On a mistaken basis, it is a hair shirt, a sweat box, a stranglehold and an endless punishment for our infantilism. The begging attitude keeps us beggars. Obedience keeps us slaves. Creativeness, alone, can free us.
Homosexuality is one or one most misunderstood forms of human activity. It is a scare word; most people are usually blinded by their fears of it so that they cannot make any accurate statements on the subject. They are further confused by seeking the "cause" of it and how to suppress any taint of it that they may sense stirring in themselves. They will either defend homosexuality or attack it vigorously. But they will not trouble just to look at it to see what happens in such relationships.
Sporadic homosexual contact does not constitute homosexuality. Each is a separate world of rituals and observances unique to itself and must be understood as such. The sexua| aspect is frequently the least significant factor of the problems homosexuality presents. Homosexuals hate each other! It is not surprising that heterosexuals (usually called straights ) do not know this fact. Most homosexuals themselves do not know this vital information about themselves! They are surprised, more than any others, when it is pointed out to them. "Straights" believe that homosexuals "love" each other. Homosexuals also believe this! But if you are familiar with the stormy course of homosexual relationships, it is easy to see that love is hardly the word to apply to them! A different hypothesis is necessary to cover the usual homosexual course of events, to explain the endless suspicion, discord, jealousy and interpersonal competition in such relationships, since they can hardly be called love affairs. A typical homosexual love affair often resembles the relation of a prisoner to his jailor more than it does an affinity for each other based on mutual good will. Years of observation indicate that the attraction, or attachment, which obviously exists between them is based on envy! Envy breeds possessiveness, and possessiveness breeds competition and the desire to dominate, control and enslave. And envy is never for a moment free of hatred and suspicion.
The relationship between homosexual partners seems to endure as long as each maintains his envious dependence on the other and has to struggle to dominate and possess him. It ends when he becomes disenchanted and no longer envies or overvalues the other person. He then transfers his envy to some other target and starts another affair with a new partner. This explains the bitterness that follows the break up of such attachments. Since there was never much basic, impersonal good will toward each other, the break brings violent discord, recrimination and, often, retaliation by the abandoned one.
Homosexuals hate each other, both individually and collectively. They actively belittle and disparage each other, openly and behind the back, and denegrate the achievements of the others. Each wants to be one up on all the others. In groups, the interpersonal rivalry and backbiting is at top form. They fear to approach each other openly out of sheer terror of being put down and humiliated by a refusal. They find much difficulty associating with each other socially, because of this competitive jealousy, which makes a live-and-let-live relationship impossible. Homosexuals have one thing in common: they feel weak and defective in what they imagine to be virility. They feel like second-class citizens but imagine that all "straight" males are born reeking with virility. Their envy is focused on anyone who seems to have this remarkable quality, and they imagine they see it in truck drivers and any leather-handed male, especially if he is hairy as an ape. Their objective is to capture such individuals and dominate them at any risk or effort. No one knows what virility is, of course, but its pursuit remains their prime interest in the chase.
Virility is merely a word! It has no biological basis, since males are males and females are females; nothing can be done to increase or diminish the fact of being what you are born. You are born a male or a female and have all the inborn potentialities of the one you happen to be. But the homosexual's idolatry of virility makes him believe he sees it in the object of his envy. On examination, the virility seen seems rather to be the quality of emotional self-reliance, or initiative. Any male who can hold up his own pants and is not easily touted off by outside influences is idealized as being very "Butch" and virile. Our culture prizes initiative and places it at the top of the list of virtues. Masculinity (initiative) is envied, as it seems to guarantee us a position of one up on others. This struggle for the power to dominate and exploit leads to the game of one upmanship; the game of dominance submission, or master slave. Each tries to put his head higher than the other to dominate. But those who feel permanently defective in initiative and feel unable to dominate by a direct attack, find it possible to win out on top by putting the other person down. It is the old story of Samson and Delilah in which "the weak overcame the strong."
The "romance" that follows the initial capure of the prize settles down to a grim effort to dominate, control, limit, exploit and eventually to cut he other to a minimum. Once the game starts, it does not end until one has humiliated and destroyed the other. He has to do it in order to partially restore his own feeling of self-esteem that were damaged when he fell in love (was put down and felt helpless) with the partner of his choice. Each must take back the initiative he has the partner.
Contrary to popular belief, homosexuals are not much interested in sexua| contact for itself! Their relationships are political rather than sexual; they aim at domination and control. This is often most surprising to them since they have no explanation for it when it is pointed out to them that their main interest is the conquest and capture o f the "strong one." The object is to make him fall for them. Capture and domination of the envied person is their game; the sexua| act is mostly a pawn or way of keeping score. The orgasm serves as a blue chip to be won or lost in the game and is a token of surrender.
Their contempt for each other means that they cannot build a comfortable social relationship with each other on a noncompetitive, mutual-acceptance basis. They compete against each other to show personal superiority in dress, manner, taste, spending, elegance; other facets of seeming superiority are pursued to the brink of financial ruin, if necessary, to make an impression on each other.
This is a continuous effort to belittle each other. Backbiting is deadly, and each learns to etch the character of the other with the acid of his tongue. They fear the opinion of each other even more than they fear the opinion of the straights. Cliques form at every social and economic level. On the surface these cliques seem to be mutually supporting each other. The members usually regard each other as "sisters." This means that they have no particular sexual, or predatory, interest in each other, and their mutual hostility is somewhat less for that reason. Although the homosexual way of life is called the "gay life," loneliness is its worst feature. Loneliness is inevitable for every competitive individual because he bases his relationships on a struggle for dominance and the appearance of being above others. On top! Alone in magnificence! Each must be on stage, trying to impress his public at all times. He must not fail to make a dazzling impression at any cost to make his conquests. He may never relax and be himself, since he must appear taller than he really is. On point, as they say in ballet.
The greatest fear is the fear of insignificance, and especially the kind that is brought on by advancing age. As his youth goes, he must buy the personal attention he craves. He must pay someone to pretend to be dominated by him and submit to his need for personal recognition. His whims. The flight from loneliness is his main problem, since there is little or no mutual friendliness among homosexuals apart from the endless round of competitive cocktail parties that provide a parade ground for combatants. Unless they have been able to give up their competitive, dependent way of meeting life, they cannot escape loneliness as a close companion. Loneliness is the idiot twin of competition!
The realization that homosexuality is fundamentally based on envious competition of one male for another and not a fond attachment helps to resolve the compulsive tie that binds them. A lack of emotional self-sufficiency leads to envy of those who appear to have it. You cannot get rid of envy by an act of will any more than you can empty a dark room of its darkness with a dipper! Envy implies a lack of initiative and vitality-just as a dark room implies the lack of a light. There is the old question, "Where does the dark go when you turn on the light?" Envy, like the dark, no longer exists when we have our own initiative!
The person who "tries to get rid of envy" is wasting his time. It is as impossible to do it on a voluntary basis as it is to jump over your own shadow! But without any conscious effort at all, it ceases to exist when we no longer lean and depend, or otherwise try to live vicariously through another person. When we have no need to lean, we have no desire to possess and control another. Relief from the psychological bind-the homosexual way of life-comes when we see that mutual domination is not permissible or workable in a human relationship, and we become willing to hold each other in an open hand. The whole course of a homosexual relationship is strongly modified if, and when, it is seen as a competitive, possessive, acquisitive obsession that has grown out of a lack of self-reliance and an unwillingness to hang on to one's own personal initiative at all times. This new perspective opens the door to a choice of reaction and is not caught in the illusion that the pain the homosexual suffers is caused by pangs of unrequited love. It is not a wrong action at that time of life. But it is the root of all behavioral evils if we continue this habit after adolescence. It is the root of all neurosis, crime and other similar destructive activity. Nothing is so important for us as individuals than to be fully aware of those areas in which we are still depending on others. Depending on others makes manipulation inevitable. If we can, we must exploit. This is like standing on tiptoe, and as Lao-Tzu says, the man who stands on tiptoe must keep running. Man is a manipulator of his environment. He has in his power the ability to remake the surface of the earth, to free himself of diseases, poverty, war, crime and similar worldwide evils. But this is only possible if he manages to educate himself for total self-reliance. We must be taught to manipulate circumstance in the impersonal outside world and to give up the childish habit of manipulating each other, as is now the common habit. Most of us depend on those around us, on dead tradition and custom for our direction, instead of thinking and acting on our own; this makes us conformists. We do not act, we merely react to what others do.
Whether a child or a dependent adult, we are obliged to develop and employ the political arts of manipulating others simply because we have no choice; we cannot function independently. Our lack of self reliance gives us no alternative other than to fall back on the habits of our childhood and use those old tricks as a way of pressuring others into doing what we want of them. The crybaby cries; the impatient one has temper tantrums; the inactive one sulks and acts melancholy. These are but a few ways we use to disturb others and to make them serve our wishes.
Those who lack self-reliance have no alternative but to live or die by their ability to exploit others. It is not just a figure of speech to say that a person is driven into a life of crime or neurosis. If we have not developed physical and emotional self-sufficiency and must therefore depend on our ability to supply our needs through others by influencing them to serve us, we often run out of ways to bring pressures on them. At that point, we are driven to attack them more openly to get our way.
When the mature individual faces a need, he puts his mind to the circumstances surrounding the problem and invents a way to manipulate the elements that need to be changed. He is a doer of deeds and finds no reason to push others around or otherwise exert personal exploitative dominance over them. And by the same token, he does not need to fight to be the center of attention or to seek personal recognition as an individual. His self confidence is based on his ability to achieve his goals and is in no way held up by, or dependent on, the opinion of others.
The dependent individual must use others as his crutches and he cannot go either farther or faster than he can influence his crutches to carry him. And he suffers the habitual frustration of someone who must use crutches; he loves them since he can't move without them and he hates them bitterly for the same reason
The source of all our emotional pain lies in this persisting infantilism, which is only a refusal on the part of the individual to give up his childhood habits and grow up. A child is unavoidably a consumer of goods and services provided him by others. Little or nothing is expected of him in return. An adult, however, is expected to become a producer of goods and services and to give his product in exchange for those of others. The child is passive receptive. But, at some stage of the game, he has to give up his getting style-of-life and become an active-productive member of his community. It is the nature of an infant to pick up anything it can get and put it in its mouth indiscriminately, whether it is food or carpet tacks. And since habit never rests, we never fully get over our grasping, possessive habits. Our only hope of being relieved of them is to be wholly aware of what they are doing at all times. We must know the face of our enemy under any mask it may be wearing at the moment.
Self-reliance is a factor that has to be developed; it does not grow by itself as the body does. Each of us is born weak and completely helpless. We have no choice but to lean and depend on the adults who take care of us. Our formative years are spent in the role of second-class citizen who must accept the will of others because he cannot stand on his own feet yet. No one of us escapes this dependent role as his beginning. And, as habit never rests, it is not surprising that many-if not most of us-continue through life to put other heads higher than our own and then try to lean and depend and such pseudo-authority figures, as if they had all the answers to our welfare and contentment, exactly as in that period when we were children.
As soon as the child discovers his helplessness and his need to manipulate people to influence them to serve him, he begins to develop the skills of the politician. He throws himself into the influence game and soon discovers there are two ways of exploiting others. His smiles ingratiate and flatter people into serving him. Most people are easily trapped by flattery, and thus he is able to get them to go into the outside world and bring back the prizes he wants for himself. But if this political strategy fails him, he learns that he can intimidate adults by giving them a hot foot, that is, by making them uncomfortable until they do his bidding. In other words, our earliest contacts with people imprint upon our budding nervous system a sly knowledge and subtle experience of exploitation pointing toward a master-slave, or dominance-submission, pattern in later life. It is plain to see how this emotionally immature adult is really a person with "servant problems." He is constantly confronted by the task of finding ways to get others to serve him and grant him special privileges and special exemptions. His tragedy lies in the fact that he cannot go directly on target when facing a problem, since he has not trained himself to approach the world independently. His life is limited to those few things he is able to manipulate people into doing for him. He can only look with envy on others who are able to serve themselves and not have to stand in line as second-class citizens on the dole.
Many people who earn their own living and pay their way financially imagine they are wholly independent. It is, of course, important for everyone to pay his own way financially, but we must remember that self-reliance exists at two levels. We have to stand secure at the physical and the emotional level. Both levels are equally important.
Either alone is not enough.
It is estimated that only about 10 percent of the population has developed emotional self-reliance. Every employer and school teacher is aware that most of the people they direct learn to do fairly well so long as someone keeps an eye on them and acts as a kindly pacemaker parent on whom they can lean for advice. When they are told what to do and taught how to do it, they follow along reasonably well until something happens that demands personal initiative. At this point, they dissolve into feelings of insecurity and fall apart until someone rescues them from their dilemma. They have never solved the problem of emotional self-reliance and do not know how to stand alone!
The person lacking in self-reliance physically and emotionally, has to count his pennies all the way. Nothing comes easy to him, and he complains bitterly about almost everything. He resists the demands of life and is envious of those around him. His main effort is to evade demands and to withhold himself as much as possible. He blames everyone and everything and is always seeking causes of his defeats. He is the spoil sport and the Monday-morning quarter back. What he gains is no joy to him because he feels that it is so much less than what is due him. He is a grudge collector and usually has a lawsuit against God waiting in the courts. It is evident that the self-reliant person habitually minimizes the dangers ahead of him, whereas the one lacking in self-sufficiency habitually exaggerates them. This factor of individual temperament is most important to an individual, as it sets all the over-all climate in which he plays out his whole life. The self-reliant person regards life as an interesting game that is fun to play, and he feels that life has very few irremediable mistakes and difficulties. But the emotionally dependent person lives as if he were the major figure in Greek tragedy; or, as someone has said, "like an accident going somewhere to happen." He acts as if threatened on all sides. Life is a movement! As one writer said, "Life is the thing that really happens to us while we are making other plans." The mystery we call life cannot be trapped by words. The best that any concept, word, idea or language can do for readers is to "point outside and beyond themselves" to the living now of what is, which is so vast that one cannot even imagine it. The tragedy of the person with a dependent mind is that he does not look at where the finger points; instead, he clings desperately to the finger and tries to suck nourishment from it. What a person does is what he truly means.
It is easily seen that evasions can be tailored by the individual to fit the situation being evaded in any one, or in all three, of these areas. The only basis, however, on which any continuing relationship can survive is on a live-and-let-live cooperative one, in balance-based on mutual profit. A relationship based on exploitation-in which one habitually takes more than his share-eventually destroys itself, as with a cancer and its host.
One of the most important factors to understand is the compulsion, or drive (habit), that grows out of our partially conscious goal of expectations. The emotional difficulties we suffer in life arise out of our unrealistic demands and ideal expectations. They do not arise, as many believe, from the reality of daily life in the main tent. The pain we suffer is only the pain we created by our resistance to the live-and let-live demands in the main tent. Pain arises from the intensity of our resistance to, or rejection of, confronting circumstance; we do not want to deal with the live-and-let-live demands on a matter-of fact basis.
You cannot change the world except to the extent you change yourself. It is your move! You cannot change people. They are as they are. You can change your self, however, only to the degree you alter, modify or become aware of your unrealistic ideal expectations of what-should-be. It is the what-should be that bars the gate to reality. You and you alone can change your fate. The person who wants to help himself must be willing to see that all his trouble arises out of his ideal expectations and not, as he thought, from the main tent, the side show or from his childhood. Waste no time blaming your parents, the evil world or the terrible addiction you may have chosen as a companion. Nothing that happened and nothing anyone does to you is to blame f or what you do! What you do comes out of your mistaken ideal of what life ought to be according to your imagination.
Our life has been described as a spark of light between two towering walls of darkness. There is no past and no tomorrow; they are figments of the imagination. It is always and eternally now. But the mind is subject to the dangerous illusion that we can project ourselves outside the present reality, outside the eternal now, and thus escape any present pain by fleeing into some ideal expectation. All flight into the ideal, the should be, the ought-to-be, is illusion. All illusion is alienation from the now.
An alien is a person living in a country not his own, without rights of citizenship. The person who rejects and thus is alienated from the now has abdicated his native, inherited abilities to flee into another country, one of wishes, dreams and ideals, which exists somewhere over the rainbow of wishful thinking. The perfectionist, the idealist and the reformer are examples of those who have cut ties with the living now and aimlessly wander, like the Flying Dutchman, going nowhere adrift at sea. Life is being. And all being is now. Life cannot be postponed nor transposed. Alienation from reality, in its extreme degree, is psychosis-a flight from reality into dreams and fancy. Dreams or illusions avoid, postpone and abort action. That which destroys action destroys life. Each of us must consciously choose between two ways of facing life: we must (1) live in direct, spontaneous contact with the emerging now or (2) live fearfully on the deferred payment plan as an alien from reality in a world of wishful thinking, ideal expectancy and endless searching. There is no middle ground; there are no shades of gray between. The choice is uncompromising.
This is it! Reality The illusion of progress! Wishes
- Nothing to achieve - Ambition-desire for personal recognition
- Nothing to get - The begging attitude-"Please love me"
- Nothing to seek - Degrading dependence on approval of others
- Nothing to prove - Feeling of emptiness-emotional poverty
- Nowhere to go - Treadmill of endless search for rewards
- No big brother checking on us - Dancing for pay-outside approval
- No head higher than our own - Living on the deferred-payment-plan-living on empty hopes of future benefits-the abdication from the living now
We do not see things as they are. The fact is that we see things as we are! We read our own wishes and bias into what we see. It is of no use to say, "I wouldn't do that to anyone; why does he do it to me?" The only answer to such a question is, "He does what he does because that is his way of doing things." That is the way he is, and he is not about to change to make me happy. I had better say, "Why do I expect so much of him? Why am I so lacking in self-reliance-and why do I lean on him so much? What could I be doing instead of fighting him and his ways if I were more self-reliant?
One of the greatest temptations we have to face is the trap set by praise and its dark twin-blame.
Few of us are wholly desensitized to the seductive music of praise. Most people eagerly snatch at and swallow even a few words of praise, as a starving dog grabs at a piece of steak. For most of us, praise has the intoxicating effect of alcohol on an empty stomach. A warm flush spreads over us as we throw our initiative out the window and madly pursue the Pied Piper of approval for every remaining crumb of praise. We may become the willing slave of anyone who continues to pour forth additional libations for us. We drool, we posture, we grovel, we pant-and we beg for more. We are flattered and the truth is no longer in us. We remain the helpless tool of anyone who is willing to pet and pander us gently.
The more a person becomes addicted to praise, the more vulnerable he becomes to the chills of blame. The dependent adult wants an approving world with never a shadow of disapproval. Thus he finds himself trapped by his addiction to approval. Like a lost dog at a parade, he runs in search of someone who will pat him on the head.
Why are we so vulnerable to this seemingly magical power that lies in praise? Why do we seem to be so defenseless to its sound? The answer is not far away; sounds like the old, remembered voice of our parental authority figures still seeming to manipulate us and influence us, now as then. We remember all too well as children these voices, and our dependence on them for approval of our aims. Disapproval brought swift punishment.
We are no longer children, but we may still have the habit of seeking support, benefits and contentment from outside ourselves by trying to entice and captivate other people. We can never hope to be free of this vulnerability to praise-blame until and unless we give up putting other heads higher than our own! The self-sufficient person is in no danger of being seduced or intimidated by praise or blame, since he is leaning on no one else and thus can't be lifted up or let down by them.
Our parents used praise and blame as a way to control us as children. Rewards were given for obedience or submission-and punishment was given if we resisted their domination. The memory of such experiences is burned deeply into our nervous system. We respond automatically to such conditioning. Both the desire to submit obediently and to win praise is so habitual that it acts as an unconscious compulsion. Old conditioning of the nervous system cannot be erased; it is like nail holes in boards. It is possible, however, to minimize the dangerous conditioning of praise and blame. Praise is a weapon for domination. We use it to seek power over unwary victims and fear it unconsciously when it is used on us.
The most pathetic use of praise and blame is when we praise someone out of envy for his abilities. Any performer who has been able to build up admiration for his ability attracts fan clubs that glorify his name. The fans want to be near the star performer in the hope that some of his fame will rub off on them. The person who is a fan both hates and loves his idol; he approaches to get from, and not to give to, his idealized figure, who simultaneously impresses and oppresses him. The whole tragedy of hero worship is that we want to occupy the position of the idol, but it stands in our way. Eventually, we knock him down from the elevation we have given him in our imagination to elevate our self. This is the fever-the ferment of the envious mind. Nothing can fill the void of the feeling of poverty because it is not based on lack; it is the shadow cast by habitual comparison and envy. Mirror, mirror in my hand, who is the fairest in the land? The feeling of poverty, then, does not arise from any realistic need we have. For this reason, it can never be compensated for by any real achievements on our part. While we are envious, the feeling of poverty continues, though we may be rich as kings. The feeling of fullness, or adequacy, on the other hand, exists when one's center-of-gravity is inside a person and he does not lean, depend on, or expect from, those around him. When one gives up comparing and seeking to enrich himself through others, he gives up seeking fulfillment outside himself. He makes no further efforts to extort happiness from others by using them for his satisfactions. When he is no longer tempted to turn outside himself to make others responsible for his own welfare, he finally comes to rest within himself.
Aloneness is the basis of our greatest strength; loneliness is a sign of our greatest weakness. Aloneness is the mark of emotional maturity. Loneliness is the unmistakable stamp of the immature.
Loneliness is the emptiness felt by a leaning, dependent individual when he has no one on whom to lean for comfort, entertainment or support. The dependent person has not learned how to occupy himself in any interesting, productive manner. He seeks someone who will amuse, divert, distract and reassure him, so that he will not become aware of his inability to face the world alone. In short, he seeks a baby sitter. He has not trained himself to invent activity of his own, to build, to make or to discover, explore and improvise in the world around him. He seeks someone to take him by the hand and lead him into greener pastures of enjoyment. When he can find no one who will make him the center of their support and attention, he comes into contact with a deep and abiding loneliness.
Such individuals usually find it difficult to establish any enduring relationships. Because they are so nonproductive and shallow in their lives, others find them boring companions and avoid them when possible. They demand so much and give back so little. As a result, they are thrown back upon themselves, which reinforces their loneliness. But since they lack the basic amount of self reliance, their situation does not improve. Aloneness, on the other hand, is very much like the stars coming out at night. We are unaware of our inner voice while our ears are filled with the clatter of outside voices-just as we are unable to see the stars at noon because of the sun's glare. The mature individual has learned to close his ears to conflicting voices outside himself and listens to the sound of his own inner world. Aloneness is the independent inner life when we have finally shut our ears to the competing voices of those who wish to influence us and our own desire to influence them in turn.
When we have let go of our own possessiveness, our desire to compete, dominate and exploit, our need for personal recognition and the other remnants of our childhood, then the inner voice is quite clear and a whole world opens up inside us. Everything comes to life and has a nature of its own. We can see directly into it without any desire to distort, improve, modify or change the outside world at all. We can see it for what it really is, without any stardust in our eyes to blind us. Aloneness, then, is a fullness of spirit and knows no feeling of want or poverty. Fullness is complete. Loneliness is the empty world of seeking for outside fires to warm us. It is the child who has lost his parents in a crowd and is terrified by his lack of knowing what to do. It is strange that two words that sound so much alike should point to such vastly different situations. Only by examining them at the action level can we truly know what happens. We cannot give up anything against our inner wish. As long as it seems desirable to us, our old habits, like an old bird dog, will find a way to bring it to us. No amount of will power is o f the slightest use in giving up old habits.
This fact is well known to those who have given up drinking in Alcoholics Anonymous. The alcoholic has to be in such pain that he is willing to do anything, even get well! He has to be thoroughly disenchanted with alcohol and what it does for him. He has to know that there is no way for him to drink even a small amount of alcohol without going on to the bitter end. He must know every aspect of his enemy. He has to see the whole wasteland alcohol makes for him in daily life. He has to see it so clearly that he sees he is not giving up an old, delightful companion. On the contrary, he is getting rid of a curse. He is ditching a bad companion and happy to see the last of it.
Getting rid of something we dislike is quite a different thing to us than giving us something we like. This probably stems from the acquisitive, possessive habit we originally had as children. Every parent knows that if you want to take something away from a baby, you have to offer the baby something else with the other hand. It is much the same with us; we resist any kind of surrender if we interpret it as being deprived of a want! But we gladly get rid of a pin that is sticking us! Everything seems to depend on the value judgment we make about a habit. And we can do nothing about a habit unless we change the value judgment and put the habit in another context. It all depends on how you look at it! Now just how is this going to get us out of a bind when we are trapped? A bind, as we have learned before, is made up of equal parts of ambition and caution; we want to go both ways at once! The way to get out of a bind is to allow your self to be in the bind.
In short, the person who is afraid of stage fright must give himself permission to be as scared as he may get. He must be willing to forget his lines and to stand there with his mind a blank while he sweats and trembles! He must be m7ling to stand there and watch himself sweat and tremble just as long as it continues-without doing anything to break the spell of fear upon him. He must be willing to let go at any price and see what happens. He must stand there as if he were watching a child at play. But he must do it without making any value judgments about what is happening or what may happen to him in the process. It is as if he were swimming and let himself do the dead man's float. Does this seem too great a price to pay? But only the meek shall inherit the earth, it is said. It is our pride, our need for personal recognition that builds the trap. And it is only when we let go o f the demand f or recognition that we can get out of the trap. We are our only jailor! There is no one outside ourself who is holding us in a bind. To let go and walk on is the way of living in the here-and-now; one may not hold on. To hold on, means to hold on to our need for recognition, our pride, our dependence on the opinion of those around us and what we believe they think of us. We are prisoners of the value judgments of other people, and until we get rid of them, we cannot be free to function in the now. We must practice the art of nonattachment!
To change a habit, then, we must look at ourselves dispassionately while our feet are acting according to their dictates. Condemning bad habits only serves to fasten our hold on them when we make an effort to suppress them. When we push down on them they merely push right back at us. The feeling of guilt only gives the habit a stronger hold on us. Adler used to say, "Either do wrong or feel guilty, but don't do both; it is too much work!" It is not surprising, then, that an alcoholic can't stop drinking as long as he feels guilty and condemns himself as a weakling for not having the strength of character to stop drinking. His guilt only makes him feel inferior and makes the next drink more necessary to help forget the insult.
We must develop in ourselves the habit of total nonjudgmental awareness of everything we are doing. If you are against smoking but find yourself with a cigarette in your hand, sit passively by and watch yourself light it, cough, put out the match, drop ashes on yourself-and every move you make. At the same time, listen to yourself saying to yourself how you ought to give up smoking for your health's sake and what a weak character you are, smoking in spite of high resolves to quit. If you do this for a while, you will become aware of a curious thing. It is almost as if you sat in a room where two sound recorders, or TV sets, were playing two different programs at the same time but using the same cast of characters in the plot. Or it may seem like the old Western dramas with good guys and bad guys fighting it out. You will observe that you habitually pit the two sides against each other-the ideal image which is on the side of the angels against the What Is of your everyday behavior, which is a bad guy most of the time. The process just described is the way we bring unconscious habit into the spotlight of total awareness. The double bind is only possible in those areas where unconscious habit is leading us astray. We cannot escape the pitfall of an unconscious habit as long as it remains at that level of non-awareness. It behaves as if it were a compulsion to drink, smoke, eat, kill or you-name-it. We are mystified and baffled by the blind power that seems to drive us to our destruction quite against our conscious will. It is vital for us to know the meaning of unconscious habit and the role that it plays in creating the double bind that traps us. Under no circumstance should this concept of unconscious habit be identified with what is sometimes called the unconscious. The unconscious is a theoretical invention of Freud, and it is supposed to house the part of the soul, or psyche, that is hidden to our own conscious observation! Unconscious habit is nothing at all like that! We are quite aware of its presence in our lives. We see it plainly and others can see it, too. What is unconscious about it is the mistaken significance we give it. It is our lack of understanding of the role the unconscious habit plays that baits the trap!
No one of us is unaware of trying to make a good impression or of striving for personal recognition. Or of making invidious comparisons between ourselves and those around us. These are unconscious habits, nevertheless. They can continue to trip us up just as long as we are not wholly aware that such activity on our part is the root of our own destruction. I shall not be willing to give up enviously comparing myself with others so long as I feel it helps me to get my due in life. But when I finally see with total awareness that it leads to my own destruction, I gladly get rid of it as fast as possible. William James said that forming a new habit is like winding string on a ball. The longer we wind without dropping it, the better. If it drops and rolls, we have that much more to wind back on the ball again. Finally, the new habit is strong enough to go by itself, so that the temptation to fall back into the old one is less compelling. But the alcoholic knows that old habits are like old generals; they never die. There is only one way. When we realize finally that we are not bound by our past, we are magically free of it and we can let go of all regrets, recriminations and alibis based on it. We have nothing to hide or to defend. Our mind is free to be wholly in the here-and-now, to deal with confronting circumstances as they arise for our attention. What has happened in the past is forever dead and we have nothing to do except to lay by ear as we go along. We can let the dead bury the dead as it should be. And the old conditioning of the past comes to an end.
Comparisons breed fear and fear breeds comparisons. Fear and comparisons, in turn, breed competition. Our language reports these relationships as if they could exist as separate things or on a one-at-a-time basis. But that is a limitation of language. In reality, they coexist and are never found separately any more than you could have an inside without an outside. If we are aware of only having one of these attributes and imagine we are free of the others, we are deluding ourselves. We have the total infection and must pay the total price of this costly package. They are only different aspects of the same evil-the leaning, dependent habit of mind. There are two kinds of people-creators and haters! Haters hate because they compare, fear and compete. They are fault finders who boast of their own high ideals and seek to belittle the efforts of others. They are so occupied with being destructive that they have no energy for creating anything of their own.
Creators are lovers. Love laughs at locksmiths. The pleasure and love of the game for its own sake, without reward, unlocks all mysteries; new forms are born out of such uncensored play. Competition is always possessive and ties in knots the mind of the one who engages in it. But real love is always without an object; it has no gain in mind. It has no reward outside itself. Each man has a choice in life; he may approach it as a creater or a competitor, a lover or a hater. One excludes the other. Love, which is without an object, casts out fear!
Beliefs obscure and distort reality; they do not reveal it. We cannot see anything outside of a belief; it is self limiting. A belief is a kind of box, or pen, or frame, which encloses a limited area. No matter how large the pen, or frame we build, it inevitably shuts out much more than it can enclose. It ignores that which it shuts out and thus produces what we call ignorance. We see only that which lies safely within the frame. Beliefs produce what may be called "the framed universe," an island surrounded by the unframed, limitless world of reality. A belief is made up of conscious and unconscious information and attitudes that have been given sanction as being valid, coherent and consistent. A belief is definite as well as finite and is bounded by ignorance of anything else that lies outside its frame. To know (believe), then, is really not-to-know but to lean and depend on outside authority. The greatest damage a belief does to one who holds it is that it prevents free exploration, discovery and perception of that limitless world that lies outside the prefabricated truth that is trapped inside the limiting belief. Reality will always elude us and is always greater than any box (belief) we can build to hold it. People often use the words "faith" and "belief" as synonymous. This is a great mistake. Faith is everything that belief is not. Nothing is possible outside a belief to someone who holds that belief. But with faith, all things are possible. Belief is static, structured and inflexible. But faith is a condition of wonder and discovery of unknown potentialities, which unfold as they are touched. Belief enslaves, faith liberates the individual. Belief knows; faith is a cloud of unknowing, from which new forms emerge.
The Desire To Be Loved Vs Loving
The person who seeks to be loved is himself not a lover; he is grasping, ungiving, possessive and worst of all-hungry. One who is a lover, on the other hand, is content; he feels no lack and has no need to seek anything in return. The two are psychologically worlds apart. The one is suffering from the acquisitive, getting attitude of mind, whereas the other is a giver. The craving to be loved grows out of a feeling of inadequacy, poverty and emptiness. But the condition of loving arises out of a feeling of fullness, adequacy, and affirmation. Love has no object. It makes no demands. It is a condition of fullness that flows over everything. Like rain, it falls impartially on all alike. It demands nothing for itself and allows everything to fulfill itself in its own way. It is without a need to control others or to withhold itself. It lives and lets live.
Happiness Is Not A Feeling: It Is A Condition
Contrary to common belief, happiness is not a feeling. Those who imagine it is a feeling frequently spend a lifetime searching to achieve happiness, as though it can be captured by pursuit, strategy or effort. All they achieve from this grasping attitude is ultimate disappointment, because happiness is made up of nothing at all. It is a condition of being. It either is or it is not. It cannot be made, achieved or found, as if it were some external thing to be gained by search. It forever eludes those who try to grasp it. Happiness is wholly unconscious and far beyond the grasp of the mind. It is a total condition, not conscious. For the present, we have transcended our need for personal recognition and are seeking nothing from the world around us. We are in a state of being, not in the anxiety of becoming. Happiness is the condition that ensues when all seeking, grasping or desire for anything outside the immediate situation has stopped. It is the condition that exists when all feeling of poverty, need, insufficiency and comparison has stopped-a condition when desire is absent. It is the mirror surface of a pond when no wind blows. This explains why it disappears the moment we try to grasp it by any effort of wish or will.
Happiness seeks nothing outside itself; pleasure seeks constant rewards and tidbits. Happiness simply is. It has no cause and does not depend on outside props to hold it up. It is a condition when there is no separation between the doer and the doing, when there is a release from self-criticism, self-evaluation, self-consciousness. When the ego is nonexistent to make comparisons or seek approval. The moment an individual reaches out of this unconscious condition and brings conscious thinking, evaluation, planning, desire or ambition back into the situation, the spell is broken. He is plunged back into the hell of endless seeking, the desire for rewards, personal assurances, compensations and securities.
Pleasure is a counterfeit invention of the conscious mind, a spurious substitute for happiness. Just as counterfeit money tends to drive out sound currency, so does the pursuit of pleasure tend to lead us farther away from the condition of letting go that is basic to happiness. Happiness can exist only when effort, pursuit and grasping fade away. Happiness lies beyond the effort of the human will. It does not respond to wishful thinking. It becomes the living now only when we finally let go our grasp on thing and walk on, seeking nothing to add to our stature o carry with us in any way.
Will Power Vs Creativity
Will power is the use of effort, determination or violence to achieve a goal. It is a part of the desire for ego recognition. It has the aim to expand the ego, to achieve a point of vantage from which to dominate, exploit, control, intimidate the world around us. Things done by will power are blind and usually arise from negative conformity. They can never be spontaneous or original-things arising from spontaneity and the spirit. Will power spring from wishful thinking, or the feeling of insufficiency, which grows into a lust for dominance. Spontaneity and spirit are the flowering of a free mind that know no feelings of inferiority or inadequacy. Creativity is the healthy effortless breathing of a free mind. Creativity is like the wind that comes from where we do not know and blows wherever it wishes. Creativity is the spirit of the picnic, which has no pattern to obey. Creativity is play activity; it has no need to prove anything to anyone or to win any rewards. It knows no discipline and reveres no one. Creativity is its own reward. It takes no thought of how it will move and follows no pat tern except its own. Will power, however, is tense, grasping and anxious for rewards. It knits its brows and doubts its strength. Such anxiety dulls the mind. Spontaneity happens when we are not thinking and thus is free of anxiety. Suddenly, there it is. It acts out of its own center. When will power, which is only another name for wishful thinking, enters the scene, then spirit, playfulness and creativity depart at once.
Does success exist? Success does not exist in reality; it is only a purely competitive concept, idea or ideal on which many base their way of life. It denies joy in the present and promises life and fulfillment at some future time. There is no joy in the process of moment-to-moment living, since it is regarded only as a means to an end, the goal of success! Thousands of years ago the Bhagavad Gita recognized the evil of working for rewards. It says: "You have the right to work but for work's sake only. You have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work should never be your motive in working. . . . Renounce attachment to the fruits. . . . Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety in the calm of self-surrender. They who work selfishly for results are miserable." In short, pleasure departs when we seek something in some distant future time.
Climbers And Doers: The world is divided into two kinds of people-climbers and doers. The climbers' aim in life is to get to the top of anything they can climb onto. They are the hungry ones. They are born hungry; they live hungry; they die hungry. But they still climb to the pointless end. They do not know nor ask why they climb., Doers create and shape their own world inside themselves. They explore, produce and build out of the fullness of their independence. They feel no need to seek or beg from anyone. They live in a state of discovery of the unfolding unknown-like the Lewis and Clark expedition.
Beyond Success and Failure 3
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