I learned from my dad. No, he wasn't a drinker. And no, I don't have a penchant for smacking down people who are smaller and more vulnerable than myself. But I can be dogmatic, judgmental, and closed-minded about my own weaknesses. And that, my friends, was my inheritance and is my worst addiction.
I've been journeying a spiritual path for awhile now, and the collective wisdom of that journey thus far indicates that 1) we are all one, and 2) our purpose in being here is to learn what it's like to be separate and individual. Spiritually, we want submersion and reunification. But physically, we are separate and nothing we do - even great amounts of meditation and drugs - will dissolve that illusion. Well, nothing except perhaps death. It's the tension between separation and unity that is the pedagogy of our lives. And this same tension comes into play every time I struggle with my own dogmatic nature.
I've written before about how, most of the time, I feel different (hence, separate) from the majority of the world.* And every time I experience that feeling of separation, I respond in strange, emotional ways that tend to undermine my life. The problem is that most of the time, that feeling of difference is probably self-generated. I mean, how unified can I be with any other part of humanity if I constantly feel like I'm right all the time, or that I see more clearly than, or that I'm... well, different from everyone else? No amount of meditation or self-reflection, however, removes this feeling of being more insightful, or enlightened, if you will. In fact, the more I meditate and the more self-aware I become, the stronger the feeling becomes. If I were my dad, I would just accept that feeling - never question it, and go through life trying to figure out ways to distance and remove myself from all the other peons who populate this planet and who are hell bent on getting in my way and ruining everything. But I am not my dad. I try, to the best of my ability, to rein myself back when I hear his voice rising in my psyche, and remind myself that others have opinions that I can learn from. That others see things that I don't see. That others, especially, see my faults and shortcomings of which I am blind. That perhaps a large part of self-awareness comes from listening to what others reflect back to me. Not always of course; that's where self-reflection comes in. Perhaps someone else's opinion is just an obfuscated fog of his own issues and shortcomings, but perhaps, also, his opinion is a bright ray of light shining through that fog, to illuminate my own shadowed wonderings. As difficult as it can be to gauge the difference, I will never benefit from the wisdom of others if I never engage in the analysis. I have, to the best of my ability, abandoned the willful blindness part of my inheritance. But this does not mean that I'm even occasionally successful at engaging in that analysis.
* Different, but not better than. Remember?
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