Friday, November 03, 2006

Not from the Same Place

I write a lot about feeling different from everyone else. But then constantly reaffirm that I am equal to everyone - that we are all equal. These two assertions could seem contradictory, especially if you have a hard time with the "separate but equal" theory that supported major judicial decisions during the segregation era. Where these potentially disparate assertions come from is complicated.

I believe that there are three parts to all of us - the body, the ego, and the spirit. There are variations on this that one can find throughout psychology and new age practices - the id/ego/superego/child/adult/8 chakras/energy meridians, etc. There were enough theories out there to lead me to believe that there are separations and "parts" to ourselves, but it was my own inquiry that led me to the three-part-division above. And it is on the basis of my own inquiry alone that I assert the three-part division to be true. The body is simple - it is the particles that pull together energetically to build our material form. As I consider emotions to be physical, the body includes them as well. The ego is any part of our logical/rational selves, whether conciousness/ego/left or right brain. It is the part that knows how to animate the arm, to read hunger pangs and find nutrition to satisfy them, to develop language, and to express love.* The spirit is the eternal mystery of us all. Some call it the subconscious. Others call it God. It is the place inside that is unaffected by material or physical concerns, and it has a voice that all of us are capable of tuning into, but relatively few do. And even after one learns how to tune into it - through yoga, meditation, nature, self-reflection, etc. - one then has the difficulty of learning to actually listen to it.

A helpful analogy (or not) is that of a bus. The bus is the body - the physical and mechanical form. The driver is the ego - the guy that makes the bus move forward, turn, signal; the guy who fills it up with gas. And the navigator is the spirit - it has and interprets the roadmap that we're supposed to follow in this lifetime. It's possible for the driver to listen to the navigator, but a lot of times it doesn't. When the driver doesn't, is when we get onto the wrong road, or get into crazy accidents that damage the body. The driver wants to be in full control of the bus. It knows that it will no longer be useful, and that it will dissolve, once the bus goes to The Great Junkyard In The Sky. So its power struggle with the navigator is, in essence, a struggle for its life. It can't reconcile itself to the truth, which is that, its life IS limited and nothing it does will change that. It is subject to road rage and tantrums and affected by all sorts of material concerns such as dead ends, stopped traffic and mechanical malfunctions. It's almost as if it believes that the busier it is, the louder it screams and the more intense its emotions, the more proof it has of its permanency. But it's not permanent. Only the navigator is permanent. The navigator doesn't get angry or perplexed when the driver doesn't listen to it; it has infinite patience. When you're eternal, what the hell do you care if the bus breaks down or you get a speeding ticket, or that some asshole ego wants to turn right instead of left at Albuquerque?

I feel that most of my decisions result from my struggle to shut up my inner driver and pay attention to my inner navigator - that my thoughts and perceptions, more often than not, come from a spiritual place, though only after great concentration and effort mind you. When I say I feel different from everyone else, it's because I feel most people are listening, instead, to their driver and, when I express my opinion, those who don't likewise base their decisions on their navigator - which is the majority of us - can't understand me. In fact, they're all wondering why I'm not pissed off because I got a ticket or that traffic has slowed down; they don't know why I'm not, like them, listening to my driver. When I say that we're all equal, it's because I believe that we all have this inner driver and navigator, and that we are all capable of getting in touch with that part of ourselves that is eternal. Most of use don't, however, for many unfortunate reasons: fear, ignorance, we haven't hit bottom yet, class-based reasons, etc. While I have made one choice and most of the world has made another, the entire world has the capacity to make the same choice.

When I say that I feel different, it's because I feel that my decisions and most of the world's decisions are not made from the same place. But it does not then follow, necessarily, that we are unequal. We all have the same capacity. The only differences between us are in the choices we make. Capacity and choice are connected, but not in a cause/effect way. But the way in which they are connected can cause a great deal of frustration and discomfort. Feeling different and misunderstood all the time is frustrating and annoying, and, when one lives with it on a continual basis, an easy way to explain one's discomfort is to assign it a cause/effect relationship. "I feel different all the time, and no one around me understands me - I must be better than everyone else!" is much easier to understand than, "I'm different, and no one around me understands me - we must be equal...." Wha!!?? But that assignation is where a lot of well-meaning people - like, dare I say it, my father - get stuck. That's why we get a lot of sourpussy, liberal, dogmatic progressives. But I'm certain, without an authority to cite, that two dogmas do not a hierarchal relationship make. They just shut down dialogue and replace it with violence.

And that, my friends, is my not-so-simple explanation for my complicated way of living.


* Note that I write "express love." It is the purview of the body to feel love, but the purview of the ego to express it. Feeling and expressing are separate. Ever had someone claim to love you but who then never expressed it?

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