And here we are, the penultimate chapter of this series. One more run around the block before I break down and tell you what it’s getting at. Twenty seems like a nice number, and hardly a planned one. I could squeeze a couple more in there but It hardly seems essential. Time is of the essence.
So down to work.
In any process of personal transformation, there is the inevitable collision with what can only be characterised as a wall. A simple, yet adamant refusal of some part of the mind to go any further. Some habit, some routine, some fondly held belief, or context that will not yeild to any degree of effort. To fling oneself against the unmovable seems sure to plunge one into madness or despair.
Maybe you can’t visualise what you actually want. You’re bound up in endlessly circular sniveling and whining about what you don’t want. You can’t sit still for more than fifteen minutes, because it feel like ants are burrowing into your subcutaneous fat and supping on your blood. You have no idea what might constitute ‘happy’, ‘relaxed’, ‘optimistic’ or ‘creative’. You see other people do these things, or what looks like these things, but you have no clue whatsoever how that might become true for you.
All these seemingly disparate problems are actually the same problem. They all represent a profound terror of losing or destabilising one’s sense of self. Where you locate that sense is perfectly variable, but everyone puts it somewhere. Your feelings, your beliefs, your material circumstances, your body, your relationships. Maybe you do a little circular bucket brigade from one to the other, when one of them starts to look shaky. In fact, that’s probably exactly what you do. But chances are there’s one or two that will not yield or shift in any lasting way. The real cornerstones of the static ego. Or the attempt at a static ego, as the case may be.
It should be abundantly clear by now that you can do just about anything. Certainly you can be as happy, as creative, as smart, as rich or famous as any other human at the very least. If you know that, then what’s the fucking problem? It’s not that your mind is averse to better or richer experiences. It just has trouble beleiving them to be possible. It has difficulty relinquishing the present circumstance to move towards the new one.
You ‘ve probably all experienced that sense at least once. That sense of free fall? When you actually made a definitive break with the past and moved into the unknown.
Now before you start patting yourself on the back as some radical innovator who can drop everything and go hike to peru, or live out of a backpack and squat in an abandoned building and dumpster dive, consider that the real stubborn changes are internal ones. It’s easy to up and leave your external circumstances, it’s easy to quit your job, compared to facing the real issues that probably drove you to do those things in the first place. It’s hard to let go of your obsessive need for approval or control or recognition. It’s hard to let go of your ongoing lusts, fears and obsessions, even when you can see they don’t serve you anymore. It’s hard to love unselfishly.
Can you even imagine letting go of anger altogether? Where is it writ large that humans beings have to get angry? or fearful? or desperate? or depressed? Certain physiological phenomena are inevitable, but transitory. That’s no excuse to dig yourself into the same emotional or existential hole that everyone else is living in. The fact that everyone seems to be doing it, ought to be reason enough to question it.
Some people learn to love their jailers, to need their jailers, to want to please the authors of their captivity.
What you need to get through your head is that YOU are your jailer. YOU are your own worst enemy. YOU are the one who is holding you back. YOU are the barrier to full potential.
If your life has been going so great up until now, what the fuck are you doing here? You can’t have it both ways. You don’t get to change irrevocably and stay the same in all the comforting ways.
The world will get along just fine if you change everything about yourself. Nobody knows, nobody cares. Most people who ‘know’ you won’t even notice, and if they do, they’ll probably just pretend it isn’t happening. The last thing a prisoner wants to do is admit that you can just leave at any time. Your social life will probably not fall into upheaval if you chuck all your internal neurotic bullshit. And even if it did, wouldn’t that be preferable anyway? What the fuck are you so eager to hang on to?
If by some sci fi contrivance someone were able to steal your body, your life, they would probably fumble around for a couple days and then adapt so smoothly no one would ever notice something had changed forever. You know it’s true. Even the people who claim to know and love you the best would not see that ‘you’ were gone. And you know why? Because ‘you’ are constantly changing all the time already, and does anyone notice? Not really. Not anymore than makes them comfortable to do, which is probably related to exactly how comfortable they are with changing constantly themselves.
So, really, the only possible authentic life or realtionship in this world is based on constant, never-ending upheaval and complete change.
The sooner you get rid of this idea that you are the same entity that was extruded from your mother’s womb at birth, the happier you will be. You are not even the same entity you were yesterday. These ideas about what you are, are ghosts and they will haunt you unto death.
Unless you kill them first.
These voices in your head that are constantly making statements about who and what you are, do not magnify extend or optimise your capabilities in any way. In a sense these insert themselves as intermediaries between your total mental resources and the world outside of you. They insert themselves for the sole purpose of maintaining the delusion of static identity. They don’t help you do anything, except perhaps to cope with the fear that you don’t really exist as some unchanging essence. And they don’t even do that very well, because that fear has probably never gone away for more than a few bare seconds in total of the course of your life, and probably never will, until you quit playing the game with these voices.
This arraingement will take one of a several forms in the final analysis:
first possibility; the voices break you entirely. you capitulate to your fears, expectations and beliefs about life, and do your best to carve out whatever sort of satisfactory existence your life script will permit you have. welcome to 99% of the human race.
second possibility: you formulate some novel scenario for your life, and by hook or crook, manage to outmaneuver the voices that want to hold you in fearful stasis. You hijack any and every tool at your disposal to accomplish the emotional breakthrough on the other side of the wall, and then go back to sleep. Hopefully you don’t commit suicide when your old walls are replaced by brand new ones, and your new world sucks as bad as the old one sooner or later. This is 99% of the remaining 1%. Welcome to an anthony robbins seminar.
third possibility: you reorient your life to continuously tearing down your walls and undermining your limiting voices. you alternate between ruthless and somewhat depressing gruntwork to learn new things, and the ecstasy of breaking through old limitations. This turns out to be much more satisfying than actually getting any hypothetical goal or emotional cookie. You eventually learn that having goals makes for useful focal points, but getting them is not especially important, leading you to set goals as close to utterly impossible as you can, and enjoying the ride. Conversely, you embrace an outcome utterly for a short period of time and then drop it when you integrate the new perspectives it offers. Hopefully you elude the slight risk of falling into a depression or dependence on something external to make the ride keep going. If you extend this practice long enough you eventually realise the utter transparency or provisional nature of all your identities and inner voices, leading you to notice the larger nigh-infinite consciousness that was always present to begin with. You may count yourself in the ranks of shamans, magi and visionary artists of all stripes since the dawn of time, but that’s just one more t-shirt for the collection by the time you get there. Life is funny that way.
fourth possiblity:You utterly relinquish all of your ego attatchments in some profound act of devotional surrender to the vastness of creation. In which case skip to the end of possiblity three, and then some. This option remains open at any time, but it is historically not very popular, although those who pull it off tend to be. Make of that what you will.
I’m not going to presume to tell you which option you should address, so I’ll prescribe a course of action for each one.
Option one: Do nothing. Very easy, and the best part is you’ve already done it! Give yourself a pat on the back.
Option two: Do your best to cultivate some kind of obsessive desire for a carefully specified outcome. Do anything and everything it takes to get it, within the bounds of your morality and conscience. Any of the tools I’ve offered up so far are helpful in this regard, but I tend to think of that as a bit of a waste.
Option three: If you’ve been along for the ride thus far and actually doing anything, you’re well on your way. The sooner you move your emphasis from getting the things on your list, towards understanding the progressive growth of creativity, flexibility, and insight, the sooner you will see the true purpose of the magickal path.
Option four: Dramatic but effective; Spend a whole day trying to convince yourself you are afflicted with some terminal illness and only have one year to live. Immerse yourself in that sense of despair, frustration, sadness and eventual acceptance. When you feel like you’ve made peace with it and understood how to live your remaining life in that light, get up the next day and imagine your only have a month to live. This will repeat the experience at a higher level of intensity and dig up any attachments you missed the first time.
Then do it again the next day, but only give yourself a single day to make your peace with life. By this point it will become very very clear how useless most of your mental activity is most of the time. If need be do it one more time and live out the last hour of your life. If you perform this exercise to the utmost even once, your life will never be the same, and to do it over and over again will lead you to the goal in short order.