Thursday, March 12, 2015
One true thing
Response: Well, I'm not sure how to discuss this in general terms, but I can certainly talk about how one works against an addiction "I"—a part of the self that has an addiction—since I have been doing it throughout my 33+ years of sobriety. Let's see what I come up with here.
First of all, I think we ought to recognize that we can't get rid of "I"s. They are all part of the surface (and interior) of our personal planetary atmosphere, and once they have formed within the gravity of our inner planet it would take huge amounts of inner "rocket fuel"— which we don't have, LOL— to launch them past the orbital sphere of our Being.
I am, in other words, stuck with what I am—all the parts of myself—and there are laws and reasons for that. I can't eliminate these parts. They are with me for the duration. If I don't find a way to work with them—that is, find an accommodation that allows me to be the master of them, while understanding and acknowledging their own power and autonomy, which can be formidable—I'll find that I struggle against them forever, and often in vain, since they are, as I said, powerful, and sometimes much cleverer and stronger than the inner parts that rightly oppose them.
This kind of perpetual struggle against is exhausting, and many, many people who are caught in it lose the battle. Last December the son of a good friend of mine, a man in his mid 40's, finally lost his inner war against heroin addiction, which he fought for most of his life. He was, like his parents, an essentially good man—yet he wasn't superman, and only superman can win a fight against a determined inner addict. Sooner or later one collapses and the addict takes over for one last shot.
In my own experience, I was aware for many years that I was an alcoholic. That's just the fact. We can speak all we wish to of denial, but the bottom line is that I knew I had a drinking problem for many years—and I knew it because of how careful I was to hide it. This hiding of things is always an absolute indicator of inner lying—which both Gurdjieff and Swedenborg emphatically pointed out is entirely contrary to the purposes of both Being, Heaven, and even God Himself.
So when I see inner lying, already I know there is something very badly wrong.
Now, I need to consider this quite carefully because there is so much inner lying, isn't there? It hardly starts and stops at the addicts- the ones who want to eat, drink, or have sex all the time. It's everywhere, in one measure or another. And the lying always, in one way or another, revolves around my own selfishness. It's only when I see it and admit to it—that is, become honest inwardly—that anything 'against" it becomes possible.
All the seven deadly sins, by the way, relate to this kind of selfishness.
So it's this seeing and admitting what I am to myself that becomes a power for good. I remember that the first moment I understood what was necessary in me to get sober was when I saw my own death in the mirror, the morning of November 16, 1981, after a broken personal relationship and the epic binge that followed it.
The moment was irrevocable, because it brought truth into the picture over all the lying. I saw one thing; and what I saw was true.
This is why it can be such a big deal to see one true thing. If a person ever really sees even one true thing about themselves in this way in their lives, it can be a game-changer; yet I suppose it's somewhat rare. The "I's" that specialize in addiction and other extreme forms of inner destruction are just about experts at preventing this kind of seeing; and one has perhaps to see that, at the same time one sees that one true thing.
I didn't know what that one true thing (my ongoing death from alcoholism) was, because it was so well covered by inner lies. These lies were concealed by posing as truths. There was a long list of them, all supporting my drinking habit in one way or another.
This is like Bosch's pearls, which look beautiful and perfect but (like all pearls) have crappy little grains of sand at their heart.
In a certain sense, everything about inner work is aimed at helping a person come to this moment where they see one true thing and finally understand that everything, simply and absolutely everything, has to be sacrificed (if necessary) in order to deal with those issues.
So for many years one works to prepare one's self; and then one sees one true thing, and then one can work with one's "I's"—maybe and probably only just this one I which one has seen truth about, but perhaps a few more.
At that moment the I one works "against" is always still much more powerful than the I which has seen anything true; and so to some extent one must, perversely, enlist the help of the bad "I" itself in order to effect change.
The only way I can explain this is to say that once one true thing is seen, even the bad "I" cannot deny it, so it is willing, however reluctantly, to become an ally. This is because (as I have said before) the bad is the servant of the good; and in this case it can become literally true.
That creates its own problems; but hey, no one ever said it would be easy.