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Friday, November 3, 2017
This message is principally addressed to me, myself. After a couple weeks of doing pretty well at The Way of Peace, I’ve come again to a juncture where I seem to have tired of being happy, and am inclined to let go of this Way and return to, frankly, the way most people live.
Related: Learning curve
I may need to reason with myself, to persuade myself that self-management (1) is really worth the effort and (2) deserves to be a “First Thing” — a concern to be given priority, and to be held more important than other concerns.
Typical of the temptations that face me is this screen shot from my first visit to Yahoo! News on Saturday, November 4. Three of the first five headlines are about racism, inviting me to embroil myself again in social turmoil.
There’s very little I can do about racism outside of my personal contacts with others. But it’s easy to get and stay upset about — draining my happiness, draining my goodwill, leaving me with fewer emotional resources to handle the difficulties that really do face me personally from day to day.
The Way of Peace proposes a different way to live, that is, I suppose, not normal. And that may partly explain my resistance to living that way — it’s not normal. But what is normal accounts for why the world is as it is. That is to say, normality is “the way of the world.” It is not necessarily good.
The basic outline for The Way of Peace has not changed since 2010. I have personal experience with every one of the strategies and tactics to be set forth here, and know from experience that every one works. But they still have not become a lifestyle, and I still meet internal resistance to doing this work. So, have I spent six years off-track, or instead expiating or purging or sublimating karma?
Expiating karma — The Way of Peace entails expiating one’s negative karma from the past while, at the same time, creating the best possible karma for one’s future. The former often comes to us in the form of what almost always appears as new evil — new injustice, new injury that someone does to us and is simply wrong, wrong, wrong. Responding to such negativity by returning it, reflecting it, or developing a grudge, at best only perpetuates the original negativity and carries it forward into one’s future. At worst, when the injury is in fact new evil, returning it or resenting it sends new bondage into one’s future. One has the option instead to forgive, to release or sublimate one’s grief, and so become a freer person.
Choosing happiness, and self-love — Self-love is essential to becoming self-sufficient, to rise out of the state of need — to transition from being a “taker” to becoming a “maker” — one who, having one’s own needs met, is able to love others and give and be light to others. Choosing to be happy can only be construed as one means of self-love. Working at the various techniques of attaining and maintaining joy (Note: For most people, the learning does take work.) becomes the primary route for loving and serving others.
Only if I have created adequate joy for myself, will I be able to weather the difficulties life throws at us; to respond to negative events and feelings in a positive way.
Dealing with negative events — and feelings — In practicing presence, it becomes clear that flashes or sustained periods of negative feelings occur, that are not in response to any event and have no rational basis. Most troublesome to me has been what I call “The Itch,” the desire to be angry, the desire to be hostile. And I’m sensitive to the fact that this poses a far greater challenge to some guys than to me; guys who normally end up in jail.
I’ve become convinced that these moments are purgings of negative karma, masses of untoward feelings that have become detached from their original events. One is best not to upset oneself just because they occur. These can be released or sublimated, just as one does in response to negative events.
Working toward goals — I have been through periods when I was so depleted of joy as to be unable to want — desire — any thing, let alone have a goal. Choosing happiness consistently is essential to the courage one needs to discover a goal, to work toward it, and to overcome the inevitable obstacles one will meet along the way. The less one attends to things one can’t do anything about — like racism — the more easily one can focus on what one really wants — and can achieve.
One gets what one chooses — whether one likes it or not. In “Essay on Prayer, ” Ambrose Worrall says, “Every thought is a prayer.” Whatever one thinks about, one effectively prays for. It may not be what one wants, but it is what one’s chosen. This accounts for much of why the world is as it is.
Related: The offering plate, part 2
It’s inevitable that some people actually become enamored of negative feelings, negative scenarios, visions of strife and of social predation — and so become drawn toward, and create, such situations. Of current public figures, Steve Bannon stands out as one who seems to seek to stir up ill-will wherever he goes. Maxine Waters may not be much different.
I have the option to choose — ponder, attend to — scenarios that will please me, even in the pondering, let alone when they play out. There is a snowball effect: such choosing brings joy, which in turn makes one inclined to continue to choose joyful scenarios. (This is one application of the Parable of the Yeast.) It can take work to make such choosing habitual, and unaccustomed levels of joy can become an irritant.
OK, now let me take another crack at walking my talk.
Related: Exceptional horoscopes 11/07/17
Another similar screen shot, this one from 01/16/18: