“…If we don’t deal with our stuff, it deals with us. There is no way around it….”
“…If we don’t deal with our stuff, it deals with us. There is no way around it….”
Reading a blog post on Hinduism, I ran across a sentence that stated that Hinduism is often thought to be polytheistic (many deities) but actually it is monotheistic (one Supreme Being which is TRUTH); and the various other Hindu Gods and Goddesses depicted in statues and iconic art are merely manifestations of the Supreme Being. They are the recognizable ways that TRUTH manifests Itself in the world that we know.
True, this may be one person’s opinion/perception in general on the subject. But it spurred a thought in me that each of the iconic manifestations (Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Ganesha, Tara, Kali, …etc.) which handle specialized functions and forces of the recognized Hindu Universe, were similar to archetypes—specific behavioral patterns depicted in a generalized, recognizable form for the collective mind to grasp.
In no way can I, nor would I, try to adequately explain one of the most complex, ancient belief systems of humanity, but I can recognize that religions in general were often created to help people conceptualize/rationalize the interacting forces of their lives from birth to death—to help make a type of sense to how fragile their lives often seemed.
Well, religions have tried to supply those illusive answers. Some folks might be satisfied with those answers, and some may not.
But what most religions do is to provide their followers with a purpose of life narrative that many find comforting in some way. To be believable, that narrative needs a cast of characters to provide the story’s action. Those action characters often provide the religion’s examples of the human-like behaviors to admire or detest—the should’s and should not’s examples—the goodness aspects to emulate and the badness aspects to avoid.
With deities, however, it is not so much the human attributes and failings that are primarily important about them, because their importance lies in the affecting forces of the Universe that they represent—forces for destruction or creation—forces for condemnation or adulation—forces for cruelty or compassion—forces for personal defense or protection—forces to block adversity and to clear obstructions.
These forces are often depicted as recognizable human-like figures—meaning that they are ARCHETYPES—a collectively recognized symbol representing a pattern of thought or behavior.
Example: When Shiva or Kali manifest in the world—watch out! They both represent destruction.
So if we wish to change our social and cultural concepts of how the world around us should function and flow, perhaps we should examine the archetypes/symbols we often associate with peaceful co-existence.
If we truly want to manifest a loving and compassionate world, we need an archetypal model to emulate. That may be the draw of Christianity, where you have an entire religion based on a recognized symbol of love and compassion for all in Jesus.
In Hinduism or Buddhism it might be represented by Tara, or Buddism’s Avalokiteśvara (male Bodhisattva) or Guanyin (female Bodhisattva) who also represent mercy and compassion. But the point being: There are recognized archetypes already existing that represent the desired state of being. We don’t even have to create them. We simply need to utilize them as archetypal examples of loving forces for the betterment of humanity.
I am NOT a fan of organized religions. But I do recognize that their function is to promote models of positive human behavior and right-attitudes for humanity’s peaceful co-existence.
So perhaps if we focused less on the doctrine espoused by these religions and more on the general intention by all for positive, peaceful human co-existence, then there would be less necessity for warrior archetype to remain the primary action hero of today’s life narrative. Let’s switch to SAGE archetype for awhile. We need a little less automatic reaction and a bit more consideration before action in the world we occupy.
It’s a stretch, I know. But it’s definitely worth the effort.
Remember that an archetype is representative of a pattern of behavior, so what behavior is most productive for all of our futures? Hatred and destruction only create more of the same.
Love and peaceful co-existence assure that there might actually be a tomorrow to enjoy.
I vote for that.
I had someone say this to me once—something to the effect that I acted like it was ‘me, against the world.’
“So?” I asked him back, “You mean it isn’t?”
While I might be able to laugh about it now, he likely had a point that I couldn’t see at the time. However, he also didn’t live in my skin back then to know how the world and everyone in it actually appeared to me.
I think all of us have lived through difficulties either of our own making or we’ve been the recipients of the attempted manipulations or the ill will of others. Yes, there are some genuinely nice, caring people in the world—I do know some, but at the time, they either weren’t in my circle of intimacy or they had stepped back and decided it was up to me to sink or swim by myself.
Back then I felt that I had been betrayed by the people I had called my friends—that I’d even been abandoned by those I cared most about; that they left me to survive alone with little resources or options other than by my own indomitable will.
At the worst of the worst, all I knew was that some way, somehow, I had to make it through each day and night, and to do that I needed to muster my own inner fortitude to simply endure the horror of everything that I was experiencing and to keep pushing through the darkness until something in my life changed for the better—until I could actually see the light again and pull myself out of that underworld hell I’d unfortunately been touring.
I could give specifics, but they don’t really matter because it’s all about the lessons we learn along the way. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a challenge that pits them against the demons, real or imagined, in their lives. Everyone has the choice to fight for their own existence or to lie down and die, hoping death will free them from the torment (It won’t—don’t try it—your next-life challenge might be even worse.).
So sure, I might do the ‘me, against the world,’ thing at times. That’s fine. I’ve earned the right to do it if that’s what I want to do, because I did survive my personal ordeal to be here right now laughing about some aspects of it with the rest of you.
No one gets out of this life untested in some way, primarily because it’s why you came. You came to be tested. You came to be thrown into the blast furnace of your choosing and then be hammered into strong steel for whatever purpose your present life represents.
That’s why you are here: To learn, to experience the joys and sorrows of life on this dimension of existence. Sometimes the joys are indescribable and sometimes the sorrows are nearly unbearable, but only YOU can choose to share them with others or face them alone.
I know now that I’m not really alone here. I never was.
But those dark nights of the soul that we ALL must face sooner or later only strengthens our resolve to better appreciate the beauty of the light again, once we can pull ourselves out of that damn hole that we’ve stumbled (or jumped) into earlier.
That’s the real choice we make each day: the choice to whine and wallow away in the darkness, or to climb out of that stinking hole and come back into the light.
It’s a choice we ALL have to make.
I made mine. I prefer the light.
A couple weeks ago I read a man’s revealing blog entry about how his world was suddenly upended by his loving wife dying from a fast-acting form of cancer. He wrote how he simply came apart after her death and spent the majority of his time tipping a bottle. What saved him, he said, was bottoming out, letting everything go, and being brutally honest with himself about every aspect of his past, present, and future without her.
While these words below (inspired by his article) are mine and not his, it was a powerful and hopeful message that needed to be shared—how he slowly rebuilt his life from the ground up by changing how he viewed his role in the process. I’d like to list his url page of the article here for all to read it directly but unfortunately I can’t locate it again. Sorry. This fictional account is the best I can do.
Jack, my counselor, told me he had one rule, and that was to be honest in our talks. “Be honest?” I sneered back at him. The only truth I knew for certain was that I was still sinking in a tar pit of pain over my wife’s sudden illness and death that past year—I raged for half an hour at the unfairness of it all to both of us. “You want REAL?” I told him, “THAT is very real to me—so there Jack, THAT is my being honest with you!”
My counselor then said to use that very real pain as the starting point to feeling what truth is for me—to use it as the gauge of honesty for every other aspect of my life to help determine what I expected from life in general, and even more importantly, what life might actually expect from me—which made no sense at all to me back then. “What LIFE expects from me?” I yelled, “Screw life! What did it ever do but give me more pain?”
He said that if I could just be honest with myself over what I truly felt for my wife before and after her illness, and allowed myself to feel the real depth of my loss over her death, then I could be honest about other parts of myself as well. That honesty, he said, would help me determine how I wanted to live the rest of my life.
The booze, he said, was keeping me from ‘feeling’ in general because if I never really let myself feel the pain, then I could never get past the pain to move on from there.
The court-required AA meetings helped because other addicts/alcoholics won’t let you lie about what you do or why you do it. They know. They’ve been there. They’ve said and done the same things, and they call you out on your stuff. You can’t hide it from them. You get that real fast. And I needed that. I needed their truthfulness to help me uncover my own.
But I wouldn’t call those meetings support as much as I’d call it a mirror held up to your face that you can’t avoid. There you are—twenty or so different versions of you—all gathered in one room sharing stories, shame, and self-loathing. And there I was with a bunch of other people supposedly just like me—like being called by some other name to tell something similar to my story, like Jim or John or Lori, …or Frank or Jerry—but they were all different versions of me. “Same brand of ice cream, just a different flavor,” Jack said.
Well I didn’t like how that made me feel, so I told them about it. Said I didn’t belong there.
“Accept it,” they said. “We are alcoholics. You’re an alcoholic—lying is what you do, especially to yourself. That’s who you are because that’s the most comfortable way to be—at least it always has been. Problem now is that even lying doesn’t work for you anymore.”
They were rough with me at times because I was so stuck in denial—claiming I was the victim here—why couldn’t they see that? One guy even pointed to me and said, “You want to keep seeing this same lying sack of shit staring back at you every time you look in the bathroom mirror? NO? Then change what you’re doing—change what you’re thinking. Because if you can’t accept the living proof of who and what you are sitting here all around you—if you can’t stand to think that you’ve been lying to yourself and to everyone you say you loved day after day for most of your life, then don’t expect your future to be any different. It’s your choice. YOUR choice, man!”
The “Your choice!” repeated over and over in their own stories. It’s always your choice. It’s your decision. “No one makes it but you,” they kept saying. “It isn’t really about life’s unfairness, or how much you miss your wife,” one of them told me. It was about being honest with myself about what I was feeling—what I still AM feeling about it all, and deciding if that’s what I want to feel in the future.
“If you can do that,” my counselor who led the group said, “if you can be honest with yourself, then you can pull yourself together and get on with your new life without the booze. But it’s really up to you.”
And as a parting shot, another guy who looked a lot like my sleezy Uncle Charlie, who was the last person in the world I ever wanted a lecture like this from, told me, “If you aren’t willing to help yourself buddy, don’t expect us to help you.”
Well, a couple years later I can tell you that it wasn’t easy by any means. Some days are still a struggle, but eventually I learned to view that past history of my previous self and life in a different way—what Jack called “in a more constructive manner”—one where I could refocus on how I had survived those painful life lessons, and use that survivor mentality to help me feel good about myself again, …which was far better than feeling so rotten all the time, where I simply wanted to numb myself into la-la land with the booze.
But maintaining the what Jack had named “lesson-filled, boot-camp view” of my previous life which he said I had successfully survived, was a difficult choice that I had to keep making day after day—sometimes every minute of the day for awhile, until I grew more comfortable in my new skin.
And getting to know this new me who thought and acted completely different from the old me, was the hardest part of it, because I finally realized that for 42 years I’d basically been doing nothing more than lying to myself, so I hardly knew what truth looked like, or even what being truthful felt like.
In fact the more I considered it, I’m not sure that I had ever been honest with anyone, let alone being honest with myself back then.
Was everything I’d said and done in my entire life a lie? If so, then wasn’t any part of it real? And what part of me was the real ME who was actually worth knowing? To figure that out, Jack tried to flip my mind again to see WHO it was that I wanted to become, to know how to get there. He said it was like creating an image of the new and better me that I would simply have to GROW into. But how could I do that?
Jack framed it to me this way: If I were the adult parent of a newborn ME ready to be introduced into this world full of challenges and wonders, what kind of parent would I truly need to be to successfully raise baby ME into a solid, well-balanced adult? Would I need a critical, demanding, drill sergeant constantly condemning ME and beating me down for my failings, or a nurturing, caring, coach continually encouraging my daily progress and raising me up to feel good about myself?
Not a tough choice, really. I didn’t need to feel any worse about myself than what I’d already been feeling. What I needed was to feel more loved and supported than I had actually felt throughout most my childhood. Jack agreed. He said what I needed to help me succeed in my new life direction was my own loving guidance and support, not more self-condemnation.
Per Jack’s instructions, every morning now when I look in the bathroom mirror, I ask myself this question: “How are you going to encourage the best from that young kid in you today—how are you going to parent yourself to become a strong and loving person?”
Then I look right into my own eyes and say the words of a speech I’d memorized for doing this daily self pep-talk, “How can I express myself in more compassionate ways—in ways that other loving and caring people want to share in—ways that help them to recognize the goodness of my heart so they want to become more a part of my life?”
“How can I be a good person?” I ask the ME staring back in all my imperfections. And that’s the goal I set for the day—every day—just trying to be a good person in some way—trying to help somebody or to do something nice for somebody else, because it makes me feel good when I can do that. And the more good I do for others, the better I feel about myself. Funny I know, but that’s how it is.
Well, as you can see, I’m still working on that goal of being a better person. But I wanted others to know that being honest with myself was a key to clearing out the garbage from my life. Think about it: You got to keep taking out the trash to keep from stinking up the house.
And if that ain’t being honest, …then I don’t know what is.
Transcending archetypes means changing or evolving through established patterns of behavior.
If you are not familiar with archetype theory check out psychologist Carl Jung’s work on it and Caroline Myss, the author, for her books Archetypes and Sacred Contracts. (For Myss’s archetype list see this page: https://www.myss.com/free-resources/sacred-contracts-and-your-archetypes/appendix-a-gallery-of-archtypes/ .)
What both have established is that as humans, we tend to follow set patterns of how we perceive ourselves in the world and likewise, how we act/react to that perception; i.e., that if you view yourself as a warrior then you are continually at war with anything that seems contrary to your opinion of how it should be. The example might be that if anyone should tell you a differing opinion of a particular situation, you will defend your own opinion to the point of doing battle over it.
The problem with warrior archetype is that you are continually at war over just about everything, because you are wired to defend at all costs—that’s how you see your role in life; and during extremely difficult times, warrior archetypes survive better than most others. So there are good reasons for being a warrior, but they mainly involve doing battle with others for some reason. The problem arises when warrior creates reasons to do battle, rather than looking for more peaceful modes of operation.
Or if all you know is war, then what else is there for you?
So how does someone transcend an established way of viewing the world and an established pattern of behavior?
How does warrior stop viewing the world around him/her as something to conquer—a gladiator’s arena in which to pit oneself against all takers—where personal survival is the sole focus?
And likewise, how does victim archetype, (which is a passive, accepting or even inviting the aggression of others behavior pattern, often established to gain sympathy or favors from others more powerful) change to be a bit more warrior-esque to better defend herself? How does s/he stop trying to covertly manipulate others, and overtly declare independence and autonomy from them?
It takes changing your mindset—changing how you perceive the world around you and changing how you normally react to the stimulus that you do perceive.
I think maturity helps—putting a few decades of experience under your belt; deciding that when you keep finding yourself in the same situations just with different players, and it always seems to result the same for you, that maybe it’s less about the other person being the problem and more about your own behaviors as the likely culprit.
In other words, you have to want to change the patterns of your life, and to do that you have to accurately assess what they are. For doing this assessment I would suggest Myss’s two books mentioned earlier. The have helped me to see my dominant patterns so I can at least attempt to tame myself when I recognize an ensuing encounter that might normally trigger my natural reaction, giving me a conscious choice to try another mode of reaction rather than my most likely one.
Example: I do rebel and warrior very easily. But I would prefer to operate more from sage and mediator. To shift my own life view for my mode of behavioral operation requires an intentional intervention meant to produce a more desired result than the usual one I experience. It means I have to define my reactions to others that I will allow myself to reveal, and to avoid those reactions that are not helpful to achieve my long-term goals.
Many times it means getting my head out of the immediate moment and putting it into the desired future result. If I can do that, then I can curb my natural tendencies and redirect them into more productive behaviors. But it takes practice and strong intentions to make those changes in oneself.
If it is any consolation to anyone, transcending a no-longer-productive archetype seems to come more naturally with age. But the desire to do so must be present or it simply will not happen.
Just saw U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent on Morning Joe talking about the latest Trump insane rants and the accumulative effects of his instability-laden speeches and actions, and Charlie shook his head and said “President Trump has taken the FUN out of dysfunction.”
Yep, definitely NO FUN there now. But then I can’t remember when it actually WAS fun.
Yesterday Trump expressed his usual campaign pigswill at the National Boy Scouts Jamboree (“a gathering of tens of thousands of youngsters from around the world eager to absorb the ideas of service, citizenship and global diplomacy.”–Wikipedia) which was so chilling because it was reminiscent of Hitler addressing his Youth Squads who were specifically groomed to idolize der Fuhrer. (Oh my, even the uniforms are similar.)
With a captive audience of 30,000 mainly impressionable kids of all ages, Trump delivered a propagandistic diatribe on everything dredged from the depths of his own darkness—all his insecurities, all his inadequacies, all his fears, all his malevolence, all his vindictiveness, all his mental incoherencies, all of his negative character deficiencies for which he is best known—ALL of it, he delivered primarily to pre-teen and teenage males looking for good, solid role models that Scouting is meant to represent for them.
But instead of providing those Scouts with a reputable model for “service, citizenship, and global diplomacy,” not to mention a shining example of the best possible adult character and behavior, they got him—the worst living example of what wielding a position of power can mean.
Hello Congress people out there who represent the last possible salvation for our future: Why are you allowing this ludicrous, dangerous, top-administrative insanity to continue?
Do your jobs!!!
Can’t you see that his malignant dysfunction is now being promoted onto our youth?
You want to start offering a Scout Badge now for mastering the skills of bigotry and racism?
And the other thing I want to know is when was his aberrant dysfunction ever FUN?
Looking at my Facebook homepage this morning and seeing yet another of those “Who Are You?” quizzes (a potato chip or a Dorito?) being shared and taken by people who I actually know, I could make a broad non-judgmental comment like: “Human nature—go figure.”
But I think there is something deeper there to consider.
Aside from the on-line fun-quizzes being a marketing gimmick to further determine your buying habits or preferences for future products, they also show how gullible people can be and how willing many are to label themselves in some way for public acceptance.
I guess that aspect mystifies me the most.
The entirety of my life I have fought against the ready use of labels and judgments in defining people—against me personally being grouped as a thoughtless commodity so easily shelved into a hierarchal genus or a colloquial catch-all phrase that disputes my individuality and unique qualities as a living, breathing, human being.
I refuse to be de-humanized.
While here, on my Facebook homepage—amidst people I actually know—they giggle and comment on which Saint they are, or which animal temperament they resemble, or which world leader they most emulate or which….snack food they seem to be.
I mean, ….seriously people? Do you have no sense of personal identity that you need to have a marketer try to group you onto some grocery shelf in the snack isle?
What’s wrong with you?????
So the best I can offer the people I actually DO know is to say: “Human nature—go figure.”
And leave it at that.