People assign themselves the status of a VIP: everything we do, think, feel, understand – is of utter importance to each individual. And this is quite natural, but unfortunately this is ALL people end up noticing: I, Me, Mine. They get caught up in own little dramas which destroy curiosity at how the world, both man-made and natural, works at large, outside of their little universe bubble.
… Americans, when was the last time you got curious about what financed the passage of European immigrants into the New World and their settling practices, the ancestors to some of you? Do you know that most those settlers were below the age of twenty five?
… People aspiring to riches, when was the last time you took a concerted effort to understand how financial wealth is generated and what makes it possible, and see how it can be applicable to you?
… Those looking for a life partner, when was the last time you considered what YOU could bring to the table in any such partnership? Do you yourself have the qualities you want to see in your life partner?
But people react to situations from immediate emotional states swaying them whichever way, like a ship on high seas. Most never pause to say to themselves ‘Hang on, do I have all available facts at my disposal in order to arrive at the right conclusions?‘
This is exacerbated by the advice of mental health and spiritual ‘professionals’ to give a detailed ‘examination’ to one’s emotional life. In Reality, the said examination takes the form of self-pity at the memory of every slight and abuse we had suffered in the past. And believe you me… an overwhelming majority of humans HAVE been abused in one way or another. I considered this before in the article on trauma.
In my own two years of intense search for answers I, too, had a temporary fall into this insane proposition. As mentioned before, there were some frogs to kiss on the way to sanity. It took a few weeks and went like this…
“They say I have to look at my emotions.. How the fuck does one LOOK at emotions when they are so ephemeral? They say Look into your childhood.… What was in my childhood that I have to look at? Shall I go that far back and see if there are any gremlins in there?”………
These were random thoughts, running off and bumping into one another in my head as I was curled up in a fetus position on a mattress in my bedroom back in the UK. I was trying hard to find those suggested gremlins. The question of origins of emotion had been resolved at that stage: the loop of hormonal surge + thoughts induced by the surge.. I kinda got it that emotions are an early danger alert system, which is absolutely VITAL to the survival in the wild and absolutely USELESS in the kind of soft living we have now.
No, my focus was on that childhood thingy.. and for the life of me, no matter how hard I tried to believe that my childhood left a deep imprint on my current state of mind, that all my actions thereafter were informed by whatever took place then… I COULD NOT SEE THIS AS TRUE.
There were shitty things at times back there, and there were some splendid moments, but no gremlins. Nothing tethered me to that past which was, and was gone. Nothing was important back there. Nothing haunted me or made me feel self pity.
Seriously, lying under the covers in a ball, I tried to convince myself the past events were important. I swear I tried to follow this hollow advice on ‘examination’.. even shed a forced tear, since the advice was from people I thought at the time knew what the fuck they were talking about… and suddenly it dawned on me, like a bolt of lightening….. THERE WAS NOTHING THERE OF IMPORTANCE!! There were no skeletons! There was nothing back there worth holding on to for the rest of my life!
Not that bad shit did not happen. I had a reasonably happy childhood in quite a shitty place protected by my mother from the world, although she could not protect me from ALL the assholes of the world, and the world leaked in and did make its evil nature known. By god, I was the victim of it some time and she was a helpless bystander, and then it reversed, and she was the victim of it, and I – a helpless witness. Overall, it was no different to what most people can say about own life events. Some had it to the ninth degree worse, and I personally know people like that.
But in that sweaty moment of forced tears and a thousand thoughts and images flying through my mind I got to realise with absolute clarity that I felt nothing about the past, because it ceased to exist and had no relevance to my life. Come and gone, like the wind, and the whispers of memory were meaningless and held no power over me.
That’s the romantic part. And here is the cold Reality:
Not in your head, but in the real sense of something/someone causing you great distress. The nature of your suffering is known only to you, there are millions to pick from: got molested, or beaten up, or physically/emotionally distant parents, or forced to do what you didn’t want to do, or living in abject poverty, or a serious illness, or under pressure to perform, or an orphan, or exploited for gain, or a real physical disability, or bullied, or …. ffs it’s an endless list. Fill in the blanks according to you personal past. Then read up on the stories of how the lives of past generations unfolded. It was horror all the way, and for much of the world’s population it is still real abusive horror of a NON EMOTIONAL NATURE. Of the real nature, folks.
“I’ve seen people in hospices and prisons and wheelchairs who didn’t make excuses for themselves, and here you are with every advantage: young, fit, clever, approaching an age where actual awakening is actually possible – but you are 4F because of flat feet.”
Master Jed, Large-Breasted Talks
I don’t know what ‘4F’ means, but you get the gist. He spoke at length somewhere about the meaninglessness of the dig, I think in one of those talks. I only mention this as an indicator that I am not alone in my assertions, which in a distant sort of way is satisfying to know.
HURT DROVE YOU AROUND THE BEND IN YOUR MIND
Well, yeah… you got so mentally attached to your suffering that it continued to exert its influence over your life even when the cause of suffering was removed. Here you are.. carrying the load many years later when the load is not there anymore. The famous Zen fable about the monks carrying a woman across the river applies here, with the ending thus:
After a few hours the young monk couldn’t stand the thought of what had happened which kept filling his mind, and so he began to berate the other monk, “We are not allowed to look at other women, nor touch them, but you carried that woman across.”
‘Which woman?’ replied the older monk.
“The woman you carried on your shoulders across the river!”
The other monk paused and said with a smile, ‘I put her down when I crossed the river, and you are still carrying her.’
YOUR EMOTIONAL PAIN IS NECESSARY
It lets you know something is out of whack in your life. You don’t know yet what that might be, but it will send one to seek the answers. In the same way a doctor has to establish the origins of your stomach ache by tests and examination. Without pain – what is there to investigate and to see? Pain and emotion fuel personal growth, but are not the answer to the search. They are the beacons, the warning signals, but not the reasons for your suffering.
YOU WANT TO EXAMINE ALL YOUR PAST TRAUMAS
You believe they will go away as a result.
Nah. That’s where people take the wrong turn. In the process of emotional digging most end up giving more life to the trauma by making it prominent in the mind. I once wrote my own parable on this, based on the real, but insignificant event of my own life. Again, that parable spilled out of me as the same lightening bolt moment where I suddenly got the river story and could match it with my own. It was quite a tasty moment I should say. I got much out of it, and much got surrendered in that one single revelation.
All one has to process on the gut level is this fact: the past once was and is no more, so how on earth is it important now??
- Acknowledge your past trauma. It was important when it took place. It existed once, it WAS back then. Do not dismiss it as never having happened: that would simply be a lie. And acknowledgement does not at all mean a victim mindset; it means being honest with oneself.
- You probably have a rich inner life, correct? There are colourful happenings and imaginings taking place in there, right? Who cares. So do eight billion other people. Get a perspective and stop obsessing about own emotional life.
- Move on. If one keeps picking ‘wounds’ – one is sure to prolong the infection. In the same way you cannot hold on to the state of being a child (done, gone, not a child anymore and never will be again) – you should not hold on to the event(s) that are no longer in existence.
The process of phantom creation needs some rational effort on your part in order to be stopped. Not the obsessive ‘Why did it happen?/ Why was this done to me?’ and the glorious ‘WHY ME?’ in relation to your past. There is nothing to understand there, in your personal trauma. But there is much to understand impersonally: why traumas happen, what humans do to one another, how this shapes people’s perceptions and actions, how the ENTIRE HUMANITY is affected by.. well, own inhumanity.
The impersonal understanding will set you free from the personal trauma.
And finally… below is the highly recommended documentary about the Napogo lions who formed a gang and terrorised the land for many years. They pillaged, raped, killed infant cubs and one another with the viciousness of the narco gang. Instead of picking at own emotional states – consider watching this for some general education on the nature of Reality; quite a revelation. Collectively we the humans have been trying to come to terms with own animal nature in all those tomes of philosophy and all those books on spirituality. That’s what you are doing: angling for the answer to the nature of own origin, even if you do not see it this way yet.
Warning: it could prove shocking to those who watched too many Lion King movies and who tend to anthropomorphize animals. You see.. those lions do not make excuses and do not feel pity for themselves.