This is quite clearly an insane world. Those who are on a conscious path, as many are thesedays (although this is still a relatively small minority), may sometimes (or often) feel drained and weary. I know I do. Especially when you have to spend time in crowds for example. And sometimes it can be just one other person. At an extreme there are what is called psychic vampires who suck you dry of your energy – people whom you don’t like to be around. At a lesser extreme level, human beings who are not too self-aware can easily drain others of energy, even if it isn’t at the vampire level. And these people are not just strangers to you…they can be your family, friends, colleagues. And it can also happen the other way around – you can also drain others of their energy.
The Correct Response to an Insane World
So the point of mentioning this energy-draining that goes on is that whilst we cannot do much by ourselves to reduce the mad and terrible things going on in this world as a whole, what we do have a choice in is our own mental, emotional and psychic health. Not only is it a choice we must make if we wish to live as full human beings, but it is one that we are called to make as a direct response to the very insane world we see around us.
In order to make this choice of psychic health, we must come to know ourselves.
Generally-speaking when humans interact with other humans, they behave as if they already do know themselves, coming from a place of authority about themselves. But this ‘knowing’ is on the whole a lie, and deep down we know that the pretense is a cover-up. We know (consciously or unconsciously) that if were to admit that when we are alone, or at night lying awake in bed with worries, we do not feel so confident in ourselves, we would have to start on a painful path of looking at ourselves which is just too much to bear. So we keep the chasm between reality and make-belief intact and pretend everything’s fine.
This chasm is constantly there like an invisible wall between ourselves and others, preventing us from truly seeing the other, or ourselves, because what is going on all the time is a relationship between us and the make-belief conversation and judgments that are incessantly occupying us all day long – instead of a relationship between our authentic self and what is happening in the moment.
The point when this chasm or fragmentation in our being is created, happens somewhere in our early childhood when we first experience the loss of our own power and autonomy. The psychoanalyst Arno Gruen said that it is self-hatred that gets rooted in human beings in childhood (and which he says is the root of evil as opposed to evil being an innate tendency we’re born with as Sigmund Freud assumed). He said that this self-hatred is a rage that happens when autonomy is surrendered in exchange for the “love” of those who wield power over us. We then create a false self that is pleasing to others which originates from powerful and deep-seated hopes of being loved and fears of being injured and humiliated. The Arno Gruen Wikipedia page states it well:
The insanity of rage and numbness that this hyper-conformity produces, unfortunately, goes widely unrecognized precisely because it has become the cold, tough “realism” that modern society inculcates into its members and even admires.
That, right there, is a description of the very insanity of this world. Such rage and numbness is to be found both in the microcosm (the individual) and macrocosm (groups, countries, global madness).
So not only do we have our own inner rage and numbness going on, but then we have a world that actually frowns upon anything but exactly such a cold, emotionless, fake-happy-clappy exterior. You only have to travel on a commuter train in a big city to know that anything that may lead to even the slightest humiliation or embarrassment on our own parts is fiercely kept under wraps. The result is inhumanity, a refusal to react, and lack of compassion towards and communication with others, as we stubbornly strive to maintain the cold, tough exterior at all times.
So all of that is unconsciousness playing out to hide our fears. It is also a great contradiction for whilst we really want to be loved so very much, this tough exterior keeps love away from us.
If we go to the question of how to go from unconsciousness to consciousness – well you might have guessed, that it is going to involve a painful journey of uncovering our self-hatred and facing it. Dr Richard Holden of The Happiness Project says:
Unless you are happy with yourself, you will not be happy with who you are with. Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have. Eventually everyone must pay for their own self-hatred.
There is an energetic price for everything. Energy must be balanced in the end. Hence why a painful journey lies in wait for all courageous ones who take the conscious route.
Suffering is the inevitable path that must be trod on the way to consciousness, the inevitable price for the transformation we seek. By no means can we escape it. We who try to evade it never success and we are twice unlucky for we pay the price anyway but miss our transformation. There is a terrible and immutable law at work. We only transform when we take our suffering consciously and voluntarily. To attempt to evade it only puts us into the karmic cycles that repeat endlessly and produce nothing. – Robert Johnson
What are the practical ways to face this initially challenging path? I’d say…..a good amount of courage and practices and habits that can help quieten the mind and bring one more into the present, including:
- Meditation – silent, guided, walking meditation
- Deep breathing
- Listening to sacred music
- Going on a retreat
- Slowly walking in nature
- Reading relevant books
- Attending satsangs with a truly conscious teacher
- Learning a healing modality like Reiki, EFT, many others
- T’ai Chi or Chi Kung
- Find a conscious friend whom you can share with
- Spend time in contemplation alone
- Do colour visualizations
- Learn what it means to be heart-centered
- Chant mantras eg Om
Challenging one’s own beliefs that arise from society’s norms is a must also. One such belief is that suffering is weakness. But Arno Gruen would say otherwise:
In our society it is not the people who suffer that are weak, but those who fear suffering. People who have made the most successful societal adjustment actually turn out to be the weak ones. To conceal this fact, the well-adjusted, have for millenia been propagating the myth that sensitivity means weakness. They are the ones who perpetuate a distorted view of reality, that is, the ideology of power and domination. The strength that grows out of sorrow – the stress, helplessness, illness and bitter pain has to do with the kind of transcendent experience that brings inner fortitude which is not contingent upon external power and its constant need or reaffirmation. The suffering involved in discovering one’s own self is of an entirely different nature than the suffering that opts for salvation by identifying with something outside the self. Only those who can endure their own suffering are capable of establishing themselves as a separate entity.
So basically psychic hygiene is clearing the mucky inner space up to make room for some light and love. Admittedly it’s not going to be exactly easy initially but there is much support and information we can access to help us on the way and many ways to ease the process. Then it’s a matter of keeping our energy-flow intact and protecting ourselves from external energy zooming over to us, draining us. Such a conscious path makes life come alive. After all, you don’t know you were asleep until you wake up, right? (Well, unless you’re having a lucid one). When I think of how I used to be versus after I landed on this conscious path – well, that’s why they call it waking up – because I really had been asleep.
At the end of the day the conscious path is not for the feint of heart – it’s going require something of you, things will shift and change, but there will be deep, unchanging, innate joy and freedom to be discovered. You will also discover who you really are – beyond fears and desires. It’s waking up from slavery and walking into independence. This is our birthright – to be full, independent human beings. It’s also the anti-dote to an insane world.
Comments, as always, welcome.
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