Sunday, September 15, 2013
Making things bad
We are supposed to turn towards the good within ourselves first, and then bring that outwards into life.
In her book Homo Aestheticus, Ellen Dissanayake explains that what sets human beings apart from other animals is our ability to make things special. That is, man has a creative impulse that confers meaning upon things around him. While Dissanayake focuses on the biological roots of that impulse, it originally springs from the divine impulse within man. But human beings are separated from this impulse, and so, perversely, they end up doing the opposite of what they were intended for.
That is to say, people make things bad.
This is all about attitude. Human beings get up out of bed in the morning and start assigning badness to various things, elements of their life around them. This situation is bad, he doesn't pay attention to me, she is an idiot, and so on. These impulses arise constantly in human beings, about everything, all around them. There is no point to any of this; we are supposed to make things good, that is, bring positive and creative attitudes and impulses towards life.
So why don't we do that?
Jeanne de Salzmann was adamant about this; we need to change our attitude.
We need to see how we are. This habit of making things bad is a ubiquitous one. If you look around inside yourself, and examine your actions during the day, you will see how making things bad forms the motivation for so many attitudes and actions people take up in their lives. It stems from fear; we are afraid we are not in control, and things that are not under our control end up looking bad to us. All of it stems from the selfish impulse that this life is all about me, and that life ought to serve me.
We ought to accept life as it is. This is a much better path.
If I get up out of bed with the understanding that I am already valid, and that I ought to serve life, maybe I'll begin to see that everything isn't bad; it's just how it is. How things are is what is important to see; not an assignment of badness to them. Seeing has nothing to do with seeing that something is bad. It's just seeing.
Be careful about this. Individuals who insist on making things bad are driven by ego, and don't want to serve others; they serve themselves first, and everyone else is just a thing to help them get what they want. They fail to understand relationship. And in this failure, everything fails. If you want to guarantee a collapse into unhappiness and a miserable life, go that way. It may look like success, but in the long run, it is a horror story, and eventually that becomes evident to every thinking and feeling individual around people of this nature.
If you see this impulse in yourself — you definitely ought to, if you are seeing anything at all — go against it. See that it is not actually part of you, but part of a machine that wants to destroy things. This machine that wants to destroy things — it works at a very low level, and exercises its destructive impulses subtly, at the root of events — is present in everyone. What separates a conscious man or woman from a machine is the impulse towards the good. Consciousness is not just an end in itself; it is meant to serve the good, and so serve God. It's about relationship, not things. It is about helping to build people up, not tear them down; to support, not to destroy. This is as important in the little things as in the big ones.
Negativity is the constant tendency for things to move downward. Our job, if we wish to be real human beings, not tiny instruments of destruction, is to help lift things up and move towards the good. The challenge in our lives is to do this even while we have these tiny instruments of destruction in ourselves, working against it. These instruments don't want to be seen; the minute we look at them, they lose some of their power.
In the end, all of the impulse towards the good belongs to God; and service towards this consists of prayer and hope for the good. It's easy to make things bad; it takes more energy to lift life up towards its source, which is a source of love and goodness alone.
When people around us try to make things bad, it helps to point this out to them directly, just as it helps us to point out to ourselves directly when we are trying to make things bad. This impulse serves no one, and it lowers our Being. If we keep trying to make things bad, we can't come into touch with God.
May your soul be filled with light.
Note: Tomorrow Real I and the truth part 3 will publish, completing that series of essays.