Man envies every least deserving thing. He strives and dies for the things that should always be allocated at the background of reality. The promotion, the size of his home, his bank account, the attention given by others, where his kids go to school, where he dines and gathers- all take center stage and consume the pathway to his purpose. And nature which seeks to teach him how to live, how to be happy, is altogether ignored, kicked away like an orphan who incessantly begs for loose change and crumbs. He seldom ponders the trees that show him how to weather the inevitable storms, to stand strong through the turbulence, to accept harmoniously the place it’s been given, and to fall gracefully when it is time. It’s tragic that we often fall prey to the erroneous escapes of life’s struggles-the pill, the powder, the bottle, the dollar, the relationship, etc- through self medication and yet, often ignore the guiding example of nature. Nature stands still, stoically, through both the pleasant moments and drudgery of existence. It doesn’t rebel nor complain about what should or could be… it stands and exists in perfect harmony with what is and what has been given. If you’ve run out of answers, if there’s no more ways to escape left in you, switch your focus to bringing nature and life center stage and lessen your priorities on those things that hinder.
When we want to express our most profound sentiments, our rawest emotions, dreams, fears, or opinions in any given moment on any given circumstance, but fail to do so, we commit the greatest offense to the self. When we’re filled with a passionate idea but bite the tongue out of fear of being criticized or oppressed, it is the equivalency of self-mutilation-a denial of our unique creativity. In attempting to gain acceptance we lose the part of ourselves that earnestly seeks authenticity, the part of ourselves that yearns to find its place in the world. In turn, our vibrancy is diminished and our confidence withers. It is better to be daring and speak one’s mind risking ridicule and ostracism than to keep silent to appease the masses. The former you can quickly recover from, but the latter creates irreparable damage to the soul.
We fall into trances…asking what seems to be broad existential questions regarding meaning and purpose. A man in dire straits who engages in self reflection may at some point ask himself “why is this happening to me?” If he would just remain still he would discover that he need not go far externally or into his mental faculties to find the answer. Most times he snaps out of his contemplation due to desperation and attempts to find the answer from the outside, missing the chance of finding the answer right there in front of him. The answer he seeks can most times be found within his question. So if he asks “why is this happening to me?”, the correct answer will likely be “why, this is happening to me!” Though we may find it unlikely or even quite a strange response, it is one of the few answers that will prompt him to action. Another matter to take note of is if the one asking the question already possesses the answer during or prior to asking, it is essentIal to ponder who is it that does the asking. Surely, it is the same one who answers. This points to the strong likelihood that divine guidance resides inside man.
Darkness shines the greatest light. It is the ultraviolet lamp that exposes what we’re really made of within. It reveals our “guts” and weighs our values, faith, and spirit on the scale of reality. Difficulties bring out our presuppositions and biases, it is the tested method by which our true nature is brought to our attention- to ignore or change. To seize the opportunity of changing or denying what is revealed makes the difference between spiritual freedom and captivity.
We all pray. The act of communing with a Higher Power is as an innate survival mechanism as any bodily function. Just as our bodies depend on the involuntary process of breathing, our mind depends on prayer for the survival of the spirit. You may say “but I don’t pray.” We all pray, perhaps not in the way we define as prayer. When the mind communes with a higher part of itself in order to seek answers dormant in our awareness, we are praying. We may do this with words, songs, cries, thoughts, or even understanding. If all things spiritual originate from within, then prayer is the projection, the outward demonstration of an inner dealing by which the mind orients itself and gains purpose. We shouldn’t look for prayer as a part of a ritual that fulfills some kind of religious obligation, but as the guiding system that provides direction towards our highest good. In prayer, the pious and atheist find answers to common problems. Whether visible prayer is part of our daily lives or not, we all pray ceaselessly.
I often emphasize the present moment as a way to get clients away from the worries of tomorrow and the misfortunes of yesterday. However, sometimes there’s too much pain in the present to tell anyone to be mindful of the “now.” Sometimes, there’s too much pain to paint anyone a pretty picture… it invalidates the experience and you render yourself useless no matter how good your intentions may be. Any variation of getting people to look on the bright side of their circumstances can broaden the gap of what stands between their surrounding darkness and hope.
A person who has lost the will to live cannot be coerced to reframe or alter the narrative of the crisis. The crisis, be it the loss of freedom, a child, an illness, or abuse, is remedied through a rigorous validation and honesty. Both the sufferer and helper must bring forth an honesty of the situation that conveys the present reality for what it is- painful and seemingly intolerable. Yet, the future must always be accounted for with just as much honesty and responsibility as the present. While the moment may prove harsh, the future provides an infinite amount of possibilities-hope reigns abundantly in the future- hope of less pain and more peace, hope of reconciling the worst acts, the healing of deep wounds, the regaining of freedom, and the refining of one’s character made possible by difficult times.
“I know you won’t understand but in my lifetime I’ve seen the most beautiful thing life has to offer. I’ve seen the priceless battle of broken people creatively changing and overcoming toxic patterns. So beautiful and it’s costs me nothing” -Unknown
They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. I believe everyone we encounter is our greatest teacher. The world serves as a mirror in which through experiences and interactions we learn more about the undesirable parts of ourselves we tend to overlook. The people we dislike or disagree with often reveal the characteristics within us we need to change. I’ve often become easily hurt at the indifference and aloofness of others, later taking an honest inventory of my own indifferences, that fearful part that would rather avoid social responsibility. There are people who just won’t change, a world that just won’t relent, and many breaks we just can’t catch… and yet they are all so charitable in giving us the knowledge of what needs to change within us. The world is a vast educational platform and its people are the mentors by which we discover who we want or don’t want to be. Most of us have been hurt beyond reconciliation by the people we love most. But if there’s any good that comes of it, may it be discovering parts of ourselves in others that we vow to change and never repeat.
The traumatized psyche of a child contains a silver lining. With time, love, and treatment, as the child enters adulthood, he or she with great skill and finesse will have an exceptional capacity of reaching high transcendental states through meditation or prayer. These wounded souls have acquired this ability through the mechanism of dissociation- a detachment of psychological and environmental surroundings used to protect itself against further trauma. Since meditation also requires a practice of detaching from the ego or thinking mind, these children would have already experienced and understood what most of us seek…less outside distractions and a more intimate connection with our internal world. Perhaps, a further look into this matter will initiate a shift in which children who have been damaged by trauma can be made into “little Buddhas.”
I love two boys dearly. One of them I had to leave behind in order to give the other a better life. One is a lighthearted, inquisitive, and affectionate soul. The other, while quite loving, can be rebellious, fearful, self-destructive, hyper vigilant, and unstable. One is my son. The other my inner child. I stood at a turning point where most men find themselves who are able to reflect and take inventory of personal defects and impediments to growth. There I found all the hindrances and shortcomings embodied in my inner psychological youth. It was here in the personification of my inner child that all sources of irrational beliefs lived. I had to make a decision to part ways with the boy I had intimately known for decades.
The boy within men must be outgrown, tamed, or carefully integrated into adulthood if we are to properly function in the world. However, when most men find themselves stuck at a crossroad, repeating destructive patterns, or unable to realize their full potential, most times they will find a restless inner child consuming and sabotaging their present realities. The boy in us may manifest himself in the form of seeking power and control, general mistrust, and a debilitating apprehension to take on new challenges. Many times, the boy will not adhere to manipulative tactics of persuasion or compromise. The boy is adamant in getting what it wants and unless effectively confronted will destroy the man he inhabits. In this case, the inner child must be subdued, bound, and given up for the liberation of a man’s psychological imprisonment. It is no wonder that biblical stories such as “the binding of Issac” or the crucifixion of Christ resonate well with many of us. A man must sacrifice faulty beliefs and dysfunctional familial patterns before he can receive the “blessing.” Subconsciously, we understand that the most primitive and infantile aspects of our psyche must be (or at least one must be willing to) put to rest. However, the stark difference lies in the fact that our inner child will not comply and lie quietly as Isaac or the Christian Messiah. The binding, giving up, and the mourning of the inner boy (false and destructive beliefs) is a necessary process, a journey by which we eventually reach complete psychological and spiritual manhood.
Before you ask what’s wrong around you in any given situation, take the daring task of examining yourself, your beliefs, your values, your greatest fears and worries…We often find that these are the causes of most of our troubles. The process of sincerely changing is like surgery. You must go deep into yourself-beneath bone and marrow-and find those ideas that have been slowly eroding away at the possibility of reaching what you want to achieve. The greatest victory is in keeping these invalid beliefs in plain sight and be fearlessly willing to battle them on a daily basis. This is the path of awakening.