Bargains

When the truth is too difficult and burdensome to accept fully it can be tempting to start doubting your perception, to start fiddling with the configurations, to adapt to less than optimal conditions as a tradeoff for remaining in the shadows. But reducing your brightness level on your consciousness to allow you to remain comfortably numb entails a disintegration of your reality, a fragmentation of your life force. You’re inviting neurosis by refusing to accept your truth unconditionally or to try to warp it to protect your ego.

Embody, don’t disembody

The first thing I think when I see something chaotic or degenerative in others either irl or online, is : why am I even aware of this? What in me corresponds to these elements such that out of the infinite data and events occurring in the universe, I caught wind of this?

When people decry society and how it’s falling apart, it’s ironically within the same confines that they were made aware of it happening. In other words, they think that disapproval will detach them from that reality. No. No. No.

The whole reason why you are a spectator isn’t so that you can save others by your running commentary as if it’s a game, but so that you’ll clock that you’re participating energetically in something that doesn’t honour you. And by resolving whatever attracted those people or events that ultimately reflect something within you, you’ll transcend the circumstance. And it’s through that transcending that you’ll be of use to people, not as a critic but as a way shower. People know what’s wrong, they don’t need to be told the obvious but to be shown the obscure passage to make the exodus.

“In shadow projecting, we split-off from and try to get rid of a part of ourselves, which is a self-mutilation that is actually an act of violence. In the act of shadow projecting, we disassociate from a part of ourselves and “split” (in two), turning away in revulsion from and severing our association with our darker half, as if we have never met it before in our entire life. We throw our own darkness outside of ourselves and see it as if it exists only in others. We then react violently when we encounter an embodied reflection of our shadow in the outer world, wanting to destroy it, as it reminds us of something dark within ourselves that we’d rather have nothing to do with.

In the act of shadow projecting, we perpetrate violence (both psychic and/or physical) not only on ourselves, but on the “other” who is the recipient of our shadow projection. This act of external violence is nothing other than our inner process of doing violence to a part of ourselves changing channels and expressing itself in, as and through the external world.

In trying to destroy our projected shadow in the outer world, however, we act out, become possessed by and incarnate the very shadow we are trying to destroy.

[…]Paradoxically, in descending into the depths of the unconscious in order to deal with the prima materia of the shadow, we are simultaneously on the path of ascending to the truly real, as we become introduced to the higher-dimensional light worlds of spirit.”

– Paul Levy, Dispelling Wetiko

The actualizing tendency

I recently came across Carl Rogers, a notable psychologist and one of the founders of humanistic psychology, and I’m appalled that I didn’t know of his work any sooner! His theory resonated deeply with me because it deals with how someone veers off their congruent self to appeal to society and the negative consequence of that. And also how to be congruent and following one’s passion. Simply, a must-read.

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The entire theory is built on a single “force of life” he calls the actualizing tendency.  It can be defined as the built-in motivation present in every life-form to develop its potentials to the fullest extent possible.  We’re not just talking about survival:  Rogers believes that all creatures strive to make the very best of their existence.  If they fail to do so, it is not for a lack of desire.

Rogers captures with this single great need or motive all the other motives that other theorists talk about.  He asks us, why do we want air and water and food?  Why do we seek safety, love, and a sense of competence?  Why, indeed, do we seek to discover new medicines, invent new power sources, or create new works of art?  Because, he answers, it is in our nature as living things to do the very best we can!

Keep in mind that, unlike Maslow’s use of the term, Rogers applies it to all living creatures.  Some of his earliest examples, in fact, include seaweed and mushrooms!  Think about it:  Doesn’t it sometimes amaze you the way weeds will grow through the sidewalk, or saplings crack boulders, or animals survive desert conditions or the frozen north?

He also applied the idea to ecosystems, saying that an ecosystem such as a forest, with all its complexity, has a much greater actualization potential than a simple ecosystem such as a corn field.  If one bug were to become extinct in a forest, there are likely to be other creatures that will adapt to fill the gap;  On the other hand, one bout of “corn blight” or some such disaster, and you have a dust bowl.  The same for us as individuals:  If we live as we should, we will become increasingly complex, like the forest, and thereby remain flexible in the face of life’s little — and big — disasters.

People, however, in the course of actualizing their potentials, created society and culture.  In and of itself, that’s not a problem:  We are a social creature, it is our nature.  But when we created culture, it developed a life of its own.  Rather than remaining close to other aspects of our natures, culture can become a force in its own right.  And even if, in the long run, a culture that interferes with our actualization dies out, we, in all likelihood, will die with it.

Don’t misunderstand:  Culture and society are not intrinsically evil!  It’s more along the lines of the birds of paradise found in Papua-New Guinea.  The colorful and dramatic plumage of the males apparently distract predators from females and the young.  Natural selection has led these birds towards more and more elaborate tail feathers, until in some species the male can no longer get off the ground.  At that point, being colorful doesn’t do the male — or the species — much good!  In the same way, our elaborate societies, complex cultures, incredible technologies, for all that they have helped us to survive and prosper, may at the same time serve to harm us, and possibly even destroy us.

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