The Power of Personal Responsibility

March 15, 2017

“With great power comes great responsibility.” –Unknown

“With great responsibility comes great power.” –Ven

What’s the difference between a victim of circumstances and an overcomer of them?

Responsibility. Personal responsibility. The victim avoids owning up to his or her contribution to an experience, but the overcomer does not. An overcomer not only “owns up to,” but also owns his or her experiences, rather than attempting to avoid responsibility for them.

It may well be that the person in question had little or nothing to do with the actions that led immediately to the painful event. It may be that the person was an “innocent bystander.”

No matter what the circumstances were–however little you think you had to do with the event–you will never be able to get over it and move on until you realize and accept your own responsibility to deal with the reality of it: its results, the broken pieces, the outcome.

A man standing on a curb who gets wiped out by a speeding car might not have caused the accident (although he was, after all, standing by the road), but he now has to deal with the results of the accident: the injury. No one’s body can heal but his own. No person can feel the agony but himself. He might try to avoid the pain and ignore the injury–maybe by overusing addictive drugs–but in the end, if he wants to heal as well and completely as possible, he will have to take responsibility for his own recovery.

Responsibility brings power. Avoiding responsibility brings victimhood (lack of power).

Why is “power” important, in the sense that I’m using it here?

Power is the difference between a victim of life and an overcomer of life. Power, in this sense, doesn’t mean the Naricssistic ability to harm or control others. It doesn’t mean the stoic ability to not let life affect you in negative ways. POWER means the ability to roll with the punches of life without getting stuck or bogged down in its frequent difficult situations.

Like Mark Twain said,

“Life is just one damn thing after another.”

What shall the “damn things” of life do to you? Shall they make you or shall they break you? Will you rise and accept and learn and grow from (even unwanted) experiences, or will you cower and succumb to their undying onslaught?

Aside from those situations when we seem to be innocent victims of circumstance, as adults we are perhaps far more often participants in the creation of situations that cause us to suffer. It’s very common among us (and even acceptable!) to shift blame (to deny or avoid responsibility).

“What, you’re 40 and you can’t read? Can’t swim? Can’t play music? Aw, fie on those foul fiends who have done you harm for no reason! You can never be better! You can never learn! You can never grow! You have to suffer NOW because of something somebody else did to you long ago. You are doomed to bear it for all your days; you must wait for someone else to free you from your pain; you cannot unburden yourself because you didn’t put the load there.”

Bullshit. We all have the power to unload pain from past experiences. We might not have placed the load there, but we certainly have the ability to remove it from our own shoulders. More often than not, we did help to create the circumstances that put the load there–but even when we didn’t, if we want to heal we have to act as though we DID.

We can pretend not to have responsibility for our own lives, but that doesn’t relieve us of having to live the consequences of our experiences anyway.

We are the ones living our lives. We are powerful, whether we know it or not. But our power is hidden, blunted, sabotaged. We are blind to what we are missing. We cannot see that we have to own our experiences if we wish to move on and live better. This gives us back our power–or, rather, it lets us see the power we already have but have been denying to ourselves.

We have to accept responsibility for our part in creating our experiences, and for the consequences of events that befall us–ALL of them. This is the only way not to be a victim of life, in life, for life.


Ego and Mind

January 24, 2017

In our quest for “the truth,” let us not confuse ego with self. It seems easy to distinguish them on the surface. “Who knows better than I do what’s me and what’s not me?!”

Looking within, it ALL appears to be “me.” When someone or some life situation pushes one of my buttons, the reaction certainly seems to be ME. It comes from me; I feel the anger, fear, embarrassment, defensiveness, or other negative emotion; I think the thought in my head that accompanies the act and precedes the feeling.

“Of COURSE that’s me reacting!”

Nature of the Ego

We think that the things lurking in the dark nooks and crannies of the mind are–or at least are FROM–the self. This is because we don’t know any better. As part of the process of creating the ego-mind, the mind was programmed to believe that its deeper nature is unknowable. This is because to know the mind is to destroy the ego-mind; the power of the ego-mind lies exactly in the belief that it cannot be known, cannot be discovered, and is forever (safely, for itself) in darkness.

Darkness is merely the absence of light, the absence of awareness. The darkness is where demons lie, and from which they emerge to wreak havoc on ourselves and others—yes, even those we know and love.

“Why did I do that? I didn’t mean to hurt so-and-so. Am I terrible?”

It wasn’t YOU who did or said the thing that hurt someone you love. It was the ego-mind, the darkness, the unplumbed depths of yourself, which if left alone only remains to cause more trouble, pain, misunderstanding, and suffering–THROUGH you.

The ego has many names, many lenses through which to operate through you, many justifications and excuses for its behavior, many rules by which to predetermine future thoughts and actions. The ego-mind BELIEVES it has everything to defend, but it sacrifices everything for fog, for vapor–like a robot programmed by a crazy person to secure nothingness at all costs, and to destroy all that appears to threaten its own existence.

The ego-mind fears even a shingle being blown off its roof by the wind, and it’s the wind of self-honesty, courage, and experience that blows the structure of darkness away, bit by bit–in my experience.

Can the ego-mind be brought into the service of the light, though allowed to remain? Hosed off, dried gently, and hugged, then sent to play? In that case, what the hose washes away is ego; what is left to play is a part of self that the ego had “taken captive” and cut off from the rest of self.

Contents of the Ego

The ego-mind is a confusing mixture of gold and lead: the gold being parts of the self that are hidden in egoic darkness, and the lead being the “substance” of the ego that mixes with captive parts of self and produces a counterfeit self that we mistake for the True Self!

Ego is pure ignorance, darkness, and evil, with no redeeming value, in my experience. What ego releases from its grasp when we hose it off, or when the wind blows–when we shine awareness on it–is part of the self. But that part of the self was NOT itself part of ego. It was a piece of you or me that the ego had held and used for its own purposes for a long time.

Spirituality is not so much about fighting against the ego, but expanding our light so that we integrate the contents of the ego into our awareness. There are parts of us that are suspended in the egoic jelly-muck and we don’t function well without those parts of ourselves.

Indeed, when held by the ego-mind those parts, and their power, are used against us—and others.

When we free those long-lost aspects of ourselves, we can welcome them “back into the fold,” where their power and energy now is at our service instead of parasitically sucking our energy. We become more powerfully ourselves!

False Spirituality

Instead of removing mental images that comprise the ego-mind, some New Age teachers say that we can replace one thought with another, but this is equivalent to replacing a “worse” ego with a “better” one! It means replacing something that’s false and harmful with something that’s false and enjoyable!

This is the evil of New-Agey fluffiness: spirituality isn’t about getting what you WANT! It’s about removing what blocks you (on the inside) from understanding who you ARE! No mental “reprogramming” is needed, no matter what the “feel-good people” might say, or how good their intentions are!

Feeling good feels better than feeling like shit, but if one’s goal is truth, wisdom, and understanding—GROWTH—then one must welcome BOTH feeling good AND feeling like shit as teachers. In this way, one can use all of life as means to remove what is false from oneself. Then we feel better for REAL.

What is false? Anything that was put there by another person, or by oneself because of another person.

The ego-mind, emptied, is just the mind. The ego-mind is just the mind, full of crap that others put into it, probably long ago.

The End of Narcissistic Abuse: An Inside View

May 15, 2016

I wrote this on the day that I finally had enough. As I said elsewhere on that day, “My cup runneth over.”

This is what it was like after spending about 25 years, off and on, mostly in relationships with Narcissistic or Borderline partners.  This is what the last seven years of that time did to me.

This is what it was like to finally be done.

For the last seven years, I’ve been surrounded by a whirlwind of lies. This has sharpened me, and made me more conscious and aware, but it has taken a toll on me.

Seven years ago, my second and last marriage ended. There was no closure for me, no answer to the question, “Why?” And I asked.

In my search for answers, I teetered on madness. But I also did a great soul-searching during that time. Never have I swept away the inner world so…madly.

That time changed me. I scraped away everything I could that was not “me”. I remember vividly, at one point in the search, coming upon an image so tender and dear to me that I wished it were part of me. But it wasn’t, and I allowed it to be swept away. I cried as I watched it go.

It was an act of self-preservation. In the ruinous cellar of my inner world, I saw the pillars that held the whole structure intact. I recognized these pillars as part of “me”. I scraped them, scraped against them, scraped away all that I could, recognizing that I could not scrape away ME. It was impossible.

All that fell away was NOT me. It was temporary, exterior, mere wallpaper on the stone that was permanently there. I did not hesitate much, because I had already lost what I wanted. It was an act of self-preservation, the scraping of me.

Then came the lies.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and empty space will be filled by…something. I did not yet have the fortitude or the foresight to guard my emptiness carefully. I welcomed what seemed to be good, what “felt” good to my emptiness, to the space left by my recent loss. And so I fell into the whirlwind.

I did my best.

Nature Herself seemed to be aligned against me as I struggled forward, seeking. I was learning to trust, despite my setbacks. So I did my best to trust, the best I could, and I fell. Or at least I stumbled. Life presented forks in the road, one after another. I learned to choose one or the other, but I often took neither road and suffered the consequences. Or I tried to take both roads at once.

I was actually counseled to take both roads, as if all were attainable at once. “Faith! Belief! It’s not what’s real that matters! It’s what you THINK is real!” Baloney. Malarkey. Bullshit. There is what is, and there is what is not, and that’s all that there is. No mantra or affirmation can change the Laws of Nature.

Flood came and then drought. A record flood! The worst drought EVER! The coldest Winter in years, stretching deep into March. But I was popular and rising, sad but hopeful, figuring things out and enjoying my life. Then, ultra-deception, close and personal, and one more mooring was cut.

Things were still good, as I was learning and getting by. Faces came and went, and I let them come and go. I reached out, stretched out, bettered myself, moved forward. Aloneness. Solitude. Cold weather. My boys. I excelled, I achieved, I did well.

Then I smacked a brick wall. Trying to take two roads at once, ignoring the still, small voice within, I exerted too far and lost again. I felt the shift immediately.

Soon, Life presented a challenge. I accepted. I couldn’t refuse. I was grabbed, shaken, and shown what lay ahead, a glimpse. I accepted. I thought I was up to the task. I would never be the same again.

Elation. Hope. Pain. Confusion. Up and down, back and forth. Anger, rage. Blame. Appeals, denials, exertion, effort. Failure. I folded my hand. Enjoyed time alone. Experienced grace, light, life, impossibility! Friendship.

And then–return. I apologized, I confessed, I promised. It was not in my control to repair. I suffered, month after month. I acknowledged, I tried. I humbled myself, submitted to rebuke, to condemnation, to endless blame, spite, hatefulness.

Overcome and overwhelmed, I left. And found brightness. Lightness. Ease. And then–nothing. I distressed, and it returned. Then went away. Blame. Anger. Confusion. Desperation, betrayal, forgiveness, happiness. For a minute. Then, rinse and repeat. Again.

Pour another drink, my friend. It’s time to celebrate again! Or is it? That didn’t last long. The shittiest birthday ever, but I made some kids happy. Enough of this! No more. Guilt. Wretchedness.

Who did I hurt? Anyone? Everyone? Myself? Back and forth, over and over again. I can’t stop! There’s too much hope here to give up. I see! I see what’s presented to me, and I believe it…because I trust.

No matter what, I will do the right thing. I will endure. Is it so hard because it’s good or because it’s bad? I HAVE to find out! I believe. I will trust. I will continue. I will follow through.

I did not know that I would break. And I did.

Aloneness. Friendship. Peace. Tenderness. No contact. I must heal. I must let this grow right this time. It’s been wrong for too long to let it heal wrong again. I need my space. I need myself. I need you to leave me alone.

Maybe there’s still hope. I will see. I will step softly, on my terms. I know what’s best for me. I see you pressuring me. You need to stop. You don’t understand what you have done to me, what Life has brought to me, what’s going on inside me. I cannot carry your burdens right now. I can’t carry my own. Let me be. I will return.

You did WHAT??!! WHY??!! But it’s not TRUE!! How could you? Why did you?? What have you done? You’ve destroyed everything! And for what?? You didn’t even talk to me first! Does the truth mean nothing at all??!! What do you mean, you were upset? I don’t believe this. How does one come back from something like this??

Hello? Yeah, you were right. I know, I’m so sorry. I fucked up really bad this time. I don’t know what to do. You’ll take me back? You must really love me! I’m so happy! We’ll figure this out together!

Another flood. What do you mean, you can’t do this? Pain. Guilt. Control. Submission. Apology. Struggle. Violence. Drunkenness. Sadness. Trying…for nothing, for no reason at all but to cause more suffering. No, you can’t call me that. No, I’m not as you say. No, that’s not what I meant. No, I think I’m done now. I have other things to tend to. Important things are happening. But not here. This is dead, this is death. I must go.

Blackmail. Aloneness. Regret. I can’t believe I believed again. Lies. Intentional or not, still lies. I see the truth now. Now I can tend to what’s real, and right, and good, and true. I hope.

Hello? Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you.

JOY!! For the first time in 6 years I can use that word! I feel JOY! My heart is bursting with love, overflowing! Thank you, Life, God, Universe! I haven’t ruined everything! Sweet, sweet preciousness! Yes, I accept. Yes, I am very, very sorry and I’ve suffered very much for my wrongness. Happy, happy, happy! Disbelief. Amazement. Humility. Togetherness. Family. We will overcome.

Or not.

The past creeps in like a cold fog in the night, drifting in wisps that coagulate and form together. It builds up, sucking the warmth, hiding the light, and making one’s breath cold like Halloween night. Anger. Blame. Denial. Let’s put the old record back on and play it. No, let’s not. No…I think we will. And so we do.

Wax on, wax off–or, rather, wax off, wax ON. Demands. Pressure. Resentment. Impatience. Stories told to elicit sympathy, maybe true, maybe not.

Connections that don’t exist. Falling, spiraling, downward, backward, to a place not quite known or defined, perhaps not real but treated as Gospel and preached as such. Material gain. Scores settled, balances paid, debts discharged…or not. Sometimes yes, sometimes no, depending on…what, exactly?

I’m not made for this anymore. I broke and healed. Right, this time. This isn’t where I dwell, but I’ll endure it, for as long as I can, because I have hope and because I’m very happy enough of the time to look past the harm. Not overlook…but look past.

I don’t think you know who I am. No, I’m not being arrogant. You’re acting like I’m somebody else, somebody I’ve never been. What you say isn’t true.

Why do you believe that? Why don’t my words make any difference? I’m speaking truth! I’m doing my best. Damn good, actually. Yes, I know I’ve done wrong. Time isn’t healing. The past isn’t receding. It’s becoming the present.

No, I won’t do that. I’ve learned not to do things like that. Nothing good comes from it. I’m sorry. That’s your choice. It doesn’t have to be this way. Or does it? It’s not something I control. There’s only so much I can do. I’m doing my best. I don’t know what to do.

I’m tired of the lies.

The Importance of Reducing Ignorance

September 29, 2011

Ignorance is a cause of much suffering in the world.  It is a form of misunderstanding.  When we misunderstand, we think and act incorrectly, which causes ourselves and others to suffer.

Everybody has some degree of ignorance because we were all raised by people who have some degree of ignorance. If we reduce our own ignorance, though, we find our understanding of ourselves, other people, and the world increasing.

As we reduce our ignorance, understanding and acceptance take its place. So does tolerance, to a degree. When you understand people, you are more tolerant of their differing perspectives because you know that your relationship with them is more important than any differences you have. You also understand why they hold on to their cherished opinions (the reason is always fear), and you accept this as the way things are—for now.

That doesn’t mean you tolerate everything they do, though. Face it—some people are just about intolerable! People with greater understanding normally and naturally limit their contact with negative-minded people (unless there is a greater purpose for the interaction, such as a lesson to learn or a goal to achieve). This can help these folks decide to examine themselves and reduce their own ignorance so that they become better, too. Nobody likes to be ignored.

One important thing—you can reduce your own ignorance, but not someone else’s. That’s their job! All you can do is help, when you (and they) reach a level of understanding that allows you to help.

When people reduce their ignorance, their children will grow up with less ignorance, too, and the world becomes a little better for the next generation.

Purpose and Meaning

September 28, 2011

All matter in the universe tends to find equilibrium. Hot things cool down to the temperatures around them, substances break down into elements, and gasses spread out until an entire space is filled with them evenly.

Not so with life. Life forms tend to get more complex and diverse over time. This doesn’t appear to make sense in the world of matter! What is it that makes life improve and get more complex over time?

It’s whatever animates a living being, and which dis-animates the body at death. Call it what you want, but you don’t have to believe in it. It’s there! It can’t be measured as part of an experiment, which is why it isn’t in science textbooks. Nevertheless, this thing called Soul is responsible for life.

The purpose of life, in general, is twofold. First, it is the accumulated experience and growth of all life forms—learning—which leads to the second: the development of physical beings in whom this Soul can have full expression.

The qualities of Soul include love, forgiveness, peace, and unity. As the more developed humans progress in understanding, these characteristics will become more and more common.  We can see this “spiritual” development in many people today.

As we understand life more, our individual lives become more meaningful to us. As we learn, we lose our attachments to cherished objects and learn to let go. When we let go, we suddenly find that we just gained everything and that there is meaning wherever we go. We carry it with us.

People who haven’t figured this out yet often choose an arbitrary purpose for their own lives and pursue it. This still gives them some satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment, but it doesn’t compare to the sense of fulfillment that comes with understanding.

Real understanding of your own true purpose is like living with the light on, compared to being in the dark all the time.

(Written in 2005 and freshly edited on December 19, 2016.)

Why I’m Here

September 26, 2011

Most people don’t have any idea why they’re here, or what they should be doing—and most don’t appear to care about either question. Instead, they spend their time pursuing material things, or pleasure, or being ineffective because of contradictory notions they’ve picked up from other people who also don’t know what they’re doing here or why.

These questions are what I care about most in life, and I’ve spent more time pursuing their answers than I’ve spent doing anything else. As a result, I live a life that is basically free, happy, peaceful, and enjoyable. My relationships with people around me are good and they continue to improve over time.

There is much wrong in the world—much undeveloped potential in people—and every bit of it is because of people’s ignorance about themselves, other people, and their relationship to the world and people around them. People are simply full of wrong beliefs, ideas, opinions, and impressions about life.

I am here to learn what very few people care to learn for themselves, and to share what I know and understand with as many people as I can. Eventually, many people will understand what I and others like me have been trying to tell them and the problems that have plagued the world for eons will begin to disappear.

Why I Will Never Live an Ordinary Life

September 24, 2011

Never will I live an ordinary life, and here’s why:

1) People who live the ordinary life are people in large numbers—the masses. The masses are almost always wrong. Therefore, whatever people in large numbers are doing, it’s wise to first consider doing the opposite.

People tend to simply follow the crowd, and those who lead the crowds very often have their own self-promotion in mind, at the expense of others. This is wrong because you don’t really help yourself when you harm other people. You also don’t help anyone else while harming yourself! I’m not into being harmed while believing that I’m being helped.

2) History has shown me that people in large numbers usually don’t understand or care about the effects that their actions will have on people beyond their own social circle. The idea doesn’t even seem to cross their minds a lot of the time. I love and enjoy the people closest to me, but I also think about people beyond my own time and place.

3) The ordinary life is pre-packaged and sold to the masses by those with the most power to influence them. These influences include politicians, government agencies, the media (including radio, newspaper and TV outlets, as well as book publishers, magazines and movie studios), large corporations, religious institutions, schools and universities, banks, and insurance companies.

The purpose of the ordinary life is to enslave the masses and to further enrich and empower those who already have great wealth and power (mostly folks like politicians and corporate élites). The masses are enslaved by their belief that the ordinary life is the most desirable. It is the most desirable—to those who deliberately enhance their own temporal power and wealth at the expense of the masses. These people, by the way, believe that they deserve this enrichment at the expense of the masses because the masses are too stupid to break free from the ordinary life.

At any rate, the only real power is the power to determine the events and relationships in your own life. You can use that power, once you discover it within yourself, to create a meaningful life for yourself based on your own talents, interests, and abilities.

4) The ordinary life leaves little or no room for real personal growth and enjoyment of life. Work and other “responsibilities” consume our time, and we use up our creative energy maintaining and repairing the things we own (or which own us). In short, it’s boring, demanding, and stressful. I refuse to spend the bulk of my life doing what other people want me to do because I know better than they do.

5) In the ordinary life, real living is only experienced in occasional moments, in the breaks between “responsibilities.” After these moments we sigh and say, “Now it’s time to get back to work.” We spend most of our time doing what we don’t like, so we can have things we don’t need, and spend our vacations pretending that they are the reward for hard work.

Yet a life is possible where the things we don’t like are only an occasional interruption to our satisfying real life.

The ordinary life, though, isn’t a material thing. It’s a mindset, just as the Good Life is a mindset. It’s possible to live an outwardly ordinary life, even while living a rich, rewarding, exemplary inner life. You can live an extraordinary life among ordinary people. You can shine while bagging groceries or answering the phone or wiping the baby’s nose. It’s all up to you and what you do with yourself.

Eventually, your wonderful inner life will leak out into your ordinary outer life. That’s when sparks start to fly, the machine grinds to a halt, and you can finally let go of the controls. You don’t need them anyway.

(Written in 2005 and freshly edited on December 21, 2016.)

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