Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Negativity, attitude and questions of service

Over the years, I’ve had occasion to observe a lot of decent people be utterly consumed by their negativity.

Negativity is a poison that feeds on the inner substances a person needs in order to live more wholly. If it’s nurtured, if it is nourished and coddled and encouraged—which is a pretty common practice, from what I’ve seen—it slowly begins to eat away at a person from the inside out.

Once this starts happening it is very, very difficult to stop it. This means there needs to be a constant inner vigilance to see as much of our negativity as we can and to go against it wherever possible.

This isn’t easy, because negativity justifies itself automatically and surrounds itself with a seemingly unending series of buffers. It grows directly out of what I call our rejecting part—that part which refuses to accept the world on its own terms, which are, in fact, the only real terms available, regardless of our opinions about them.

Our rejecting part has more muscle than almost any other part of personality, and it gets an enormous amount of exercise. If I observe myself meticulously I see very quickly how very much of what arrives on the doorstep of my awareness gets rejected, primarily through the mechanism of judgment.

This leads me to the second subject of today’s post, the question of opinion. I see that I’m full of opinions. We all are. The issue for me lies with the fact that my opinions all spring directly from partiality: few, if any, of them have a balanced center of gravity, and almost none of them really serve anything but my own sense of self importance.

The word attitude can mean, among other things, angle. And I think it is the angle at which our awareness positions itself in relationship to the arrival of incoming life that determines what we can take in, and how. Usually—due to our habit of rejection, and opinion-- we’re posed at oblique angles to incoming data, and we deflect it without suffering a real taking in of what it consists of. The fact that we take it in partially (remember, a lot of it has been deflected) means that we process it partially and make all of our decisions (many of them, of course, emotional) based on incomplete and inaccurate data.

Becoming more whole means facing life head on, and being willing to take in life more directly—which lies in the direction of intentional suffering.

I’ve been pondering this question more in regard to my own attitudes in life lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that my fundamental failure is in not recognizing life through the primary tool of understanding which relates to service.

I am here to serve those around me. Not to judge them, control them, or fix them, but to support them in the best way I can without interfering in a negative way with their life or their path.

This is true of everyone I encounter; not just the people I appear on the surface to be legally or socially responsible to, but everyone I encounter, no matter how irritating, nasty, weird, or useless they may appear to be to me. The role needs to become one of unconditional offering.

That requires a good deal of suffering because I have to allow those around me to be what they are, and still try to meet them honestly and with an open heart.

This means I need to hold the question—and the taste—of how to be of legitimate service in front of me far more often than I do.

May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.

1 comment:

  1. A particularly relevant post for me right now. As things fall apart around me at my office, I am forced to submit to "bad" conditions. And with the delusion that I can "do" I make myself irritable, nervous and tense. So I can only "do" one thing: remain calm if possible, and try to come back to myself. The "little demon" as I call it won't have any of this. But I have to keep reminding myself that I'm bigger than him.


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