Friday, August 13, 2010
6:30 AM. It feels like I’ve lost the morning, starting this late, which is ridiculous not least because I tried to stay in bed longer so as not to get up at four or whatever. But I have a headache and don’t feel particularly in tune.
I did do a little bit of work yesterday. I have now gone through the last half of December 2005 and the first half of January 2006, making notes on cards, and noting themes in a separate place. This is going to work. It is reminding me of things I have since incorporated into my life, and of other things that I had forgotten. I can see that it is the intermediate step — the next step, anyway — that will make it all manageable for me.
Well, I sure hope you guys have something cued up — or queued up, either one — because I’m working with a head full of cotton.
But, you’re working. That’s all to the good.
Yeah, but too much reading yesterday, and all the other bad habits I have.
So? Do your own criticizing, if it interests you. We aren’t interested in criticizing, even if it seems that way to you sometimes. You know from your own experience, hardly gained, that criticism never helps unless it is asked for and actually wanted. Otherwise it is nagging, more or less, even if the content is accurate. People can’t hear until they can hear.
Yes, I know that first-hand. It’s hard to hear criticism especially if it is being added to self-criticism for the same things.
People are very hard on themselves, and even an ounce of criticism from someone else, especially if meant unkindly, may be too much to bear.
This relates to Hemingway too, doesn’t it?
Yes, of course. Remember, we are using the man and his life as examples of how something widely known may become more understandable when seen through the keys a different view of life provides.
So this enters right into the question I had in my queue about the violent alternations of good-Ernest and bad-Ernest.
No, not all that directly. But it will tie in eventually.
The consciousness that is in charge of — responsible for — the group of elements that we are calling the person-group, we may as well call the ego. Don’t jump to the word “egotism,” however. The ego as we will use it is merely one’s sense that the consciousness of the present moment is the self. This, of course, it is not and could never be, unless one wished to concede a different ego for every moment of time. (The true self can only be outside of time-space, naturally; there is no place to stand, inside a continually shifting time-consciousness. Jesus said, don’t build your house on sand, you will recall.) But the ego is the sense of one’s self at any given moment. It is the lens through which one perceives the world and the time.
That ego — that very restricted consciousness — has very little idea of how many disparate strands comprise it. It doesn’t usually recognize itself as a lens for a person-group. Instead it invents itself, imagines itself, one thing, with a consistency of makeup and purpose that is at very wide variance from what actually is.
If it perceives “bad” traits within itself; if it remembers “bad” things it has done or thought of doing; if it feels the presence within itself of elements espousing or embodying values it discards or indeed despises — one common reaction is to feel ashamed and guilty that these elements exist. You should know!
If one’s ideals are high enough, if the pretense to be more or better than one is is strong enough and badly enough needed, you see the ego enter into massive denial. That denial, as we have said before, may lead to rewriting of memory in order to reduce the pain to bearable levels. And it will certainly be likely to respond to an external reminder as to an attack — for that reminder will cause pain, and will evoke the fight-or-flight response. Puzzling, then, isn’t it, that people respond so badly to criticism?
Very funny. But certainly what you are saying rings true.
Notice how unnecessary it is, considered abstractly, that criticism bring pain or that self-knowledge bring criticism.
You want to say a little more about that?
Remember the story of the man who asked another man’s servant how the other man was, and the servant said he was well, except he kept looking at his own faults “and cannot come to an end of them.”
I do vaguely. “What a worthy servant,” was the man’s reply. But I can’t remember who recounted it and where I read it. Anyway, I get your point — the higher the ideals, the finer the sieve through which we examine our conduct.
We would prefer the analogy the Egyptians used — the scales. One’s soul needed to be lighter than a feather to pass on; otherwise, back to the mill, that is, Earth.
And it is just this sense of sin, and of being judged, that imprisons people and deprives them of hope — for who can reach perfection? And I see that you’ve angered me, and this was no doubt your intent, so — why?
It is just that sense of sin and of external judgment, yes. And it is impossible to be perfect in that sense, yes. And this brings us to our point. What is impossible for man is possible for God — or, in this particular example, what is impossible for our ego-self that identifies with all manner of competing and often antagonistic values, all continually a-shift with shifting time, is not impossible for the overall self that sees straight and clear and identifies not with the passing moment but with the unit as it exists beyond the reach of time.
We are sorry if that statement is not immediately clear. To some it will be, therefore we stated it. To others it will become clear upon contemplation and experience and reflection upon experience.
[In transcribing this, I realize that it is necessary to point out that the guys upstairs are equating neither themselves nor our higher-selves with God, but they have often said that people often experience the higher self or the larger being and jump to the conclusion that they are in contact with the creator. In a sense it is true, but in a sense it is misleading.]
So — to circle back — self-criticism is not necessary or even appropriate to the degree that one weighs one’s life from the point of view of the higher self, the larger being, the soul-seen-from-beyond-time-space. But only from there, and to that extent. To the extent that one identifies with the current moment’s consciousness — what we are calling the ego — one cannot help criticizing and reacting to criticism. Is a very painful situation, but one that can be transcended.
It isn’t transcended by the adoption of some abstractions such as “all is one,” or “life is suffering” or even “God is love.” It is transcended in the only way a thing can be transcended: by being experienced, then accepted, then loved (or, shall we say, experienced as part of one’s essence) and then understood. Once understood, the charge is gone. But it cannot be understood only mentally, but through experience, transmuted by acceptance.
Thus as we have said more than once, judgment, condemnation, isolates and makes rigid. It condemns the judge in the same action by which it condemns what is judged. We say again, don’t judge, lest you be judged. That doesn’t mean, “if you judge somebody, we’ll judge you in turn.” What it does mean should now be evident.
Now, “don’t judge” is usually taken to mean “don’t judge (i.e. condemn) others.” It doesn’t, or does only peripherally, because you will find that as you cease to judge your own components of your person-group, your inclination to judge others — let’s say, even, your need to judge others — drops off accordingly, and you are free.
Returning to Papa –?
We never left the subject. His life — as anybody’s life, but his is well-documented — shows you his inner fears, his self-doubts, his despised and rejected and besieged parts, by the evidence of his conscious ego’s reaction against them. Hemingway was a man of genius and force who shaped his life to an ideal, and paid the price. (Paid it willingly and would have paid it willingly even if he had known ahead of time, but paid it.) Ideals conflict, like any other possible trait. An ideal of excellence conflicts with an ideal of acceptance, for instance. You can’t expect tolerance from one who is living an ideal of perfection — and you can’t expect ease or comfort, either. To find Hemingway’s self’s definition of the life, look to his made-up quotation in Winner Take Nothing.
[Courtesy of the Internet search facility, I find this, which is only a partial quote but should serve: “Unlike all other forms of lute or combat the conditions are that the winner shall take nothing; neither his ease, nor his pleasure, nor any notions of glory; nor, if he wins far enough, shall there be any reward within himself.”]
Enough for today, I think. My thanks as ever.
And ours in return, to you and to all who do the work on themselves, for it is good work toward a good end.