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Pathology of a Self-Defeating Pattern

Hinduism has the concept of samskaras, which can be thought of as tendencies shaped by previous experience toward forming a particular understanding of experience, or toward a particular behavior.

We are mostly concerned here with those samskaras which bring about circumstances in life we would not willingly choose for but subconsciously invite regardless.

Consider a woman in her early 30s, Anne, who lives in a house with roommates, who complains about feeling left out. She is not included in house activities, nobody particularly engages her or misses her when she's not around.

During childhood, Anne grew up with a dad prone to angry, alcohol-inspired tirades and a submissive, loving mother who lived in constant fear of her husband's volatile moods but stuck around for the sake of the family. Anne learned to emotionally withdraw, like her mother, which gave rise to a coping personality that stays quiet, doesn't risk standing out, and doesn't really engage in the world around her because it legitimately wasn't safe for her to do growing up.

Now, many years later, with tendencies toward emotional withdrawl—like roots—firmly established, Anne avoids contact with her roommates, avoids conversations, avoids opportunities to connect and help out around the house. It's not that her roommates don't try to engage her—they do—it's just that they gave up after some time when they realized Anne wants to be left alone.

So, as a result of her behavior, Anne is left alone. Being blind to her patterning, her samskaras, she falsely believes her roommates don't care about her and likewise externally blames, not realizing she brought in the very circumstances she would rather avoid.

The undoing of suffering boils down to making new choices.

Without awareness, this is theatric drama in the making. One day, Anne will likely take on the character of her dad, blow up, and lash out at her roommates. Her roommates will, if they are equally unaware, fire back. Anne will move out under grievous circumstances, suffering all the while, wondering why life is so hard, quite likely fated to repeat the situation again and again.

We all have versions of this issue.

The key is being aware of it, understanding all the ins and outs, as a mechanic would a car engine. The entry point into the awareness? Suffering.

Whenever we hurt, we have the opportunity to inquire into it. Why is this happening? Has it happened before? Could it be something about me? What could that be? Have I seen it before in my family? And on and on, until you have an AHA moment.

With awareness of the dynamics of the samskara, we then have the ability to intervene in the autopilot responses we developed in the past.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), the suffering in our life boils down to a choice we make. The undoing of suffering boils down to making new choices. New choices are not easy make. They're not meant to be. It similarly wasn't easy for some of the greatest artists to sit down and create the masterpieces they did.

But they did it anyway, regardless of how crummy or conflicted they might have felt in the moment of creation. They did it because they knew what the alternative was.

In the case of our self-defeating patterns, the choice is: continued suffering or liberation. Nobody else can make this choice. Others can only point it out, which in itself, can be cause for further suffering—there is no escape from yourself.

You would be surprised how often we choose suffering over liberation. This too, is OK. The apple drops from the tree when it is ripe enough, and not a moment sooner.

Be glad.


Attraction to What You Don't Want

In our unaware, troubled state we will literally attract, invite, and embrace the precise people and things we do not want, that do not serve us, and keep us from the fullest and truest expression of who we are.

It is a viscious (vs. virtuous) feedback loop equal to how increased levels of stress cause desire for junk food which in turn increases stress, and on and on until something gives.

Do you not feel as if something is falling apart?

Take a look around. Can you feel good about the world right now? We're looking at the end of a long, viscous cycle.

Viscious cycles are inherently unsustainable, that's why they fall apart in the end, no matter how hard we try and keep them in place. We either change or we die. Either way, the cycle is going to break.

So you're feeling out of sorts. Your life is turned upside down. Nothing makes sense. You might even be suffering. This is not a time to be comfortable or happy. Did you really want to be comfortable with a status quo that got us where we are today (your personal one included)?

Can you really feel good about a new iPhone purchase while watching the seeds of World War III get planted? For every sense pleasure of happiness you experience, a human being suffers somewhere for you to have it. As long as one carries suffering, we all suffer, and work must be done.

Let us pray, walk in service, and keep our heads humbled during this time. And please, if you have a gift to give to the world, now is the time to bring it forth. Sacrifice an hour of sleep in the morning for it if you say you have no time.


The Roots of Desperation

It is the rare exception for somebody to be free of desperation.

Free of any anxiety. Full knowing that all is well and will be well. Truly, with love, not needing anything or anybody.

The test is how we react when the rug gets pulled out from under us. Job loss. Relationship breakup. Accident. Or, how we effort to get our needs met, and how we might compromise our integrity and sense of values to do so.

Desperation can be easily disguised as happiness. Don't let outward displays of security fool you. The very reason somebody pursues happiness is an act of desperation. And you can achieve it. Steady job. House. Family. Retirement plan.

Desperation can easily be disguised as happiness.

We don't know who we'll be if we were stripped naked, exposed, vulnerable, seen (especially with our own two eyes) for who we really are. So, we get fearfully dressed up and go off pursuing external and material goals. One after the next after the next, like being on a highly active but go nowhere treadmill.

You don't want to get too comfortable here but rather be driven by an unending fire of discontent. There is only one goal, and just absorb the words if the concept makes no sense: full merging with the Absolute. This requires active and proactive destruction and canceling out of the false self, the self that pushes you out into the world, that goes along to get along, that is thoroughly unaware of the desperation and panic, born of separation, within.

What do you think the squeeze of this time is all about now? It's meant to drive you crazy because there is unacknowledged craziness within. Is it really a time to be thinking and planning for the future with a smile? Joking around with friends? There's no guarantee there will be a future. Our status quo is being terrifically disrupted but it's hard to look at that. Much easier, in a way, to continue to plod along and say, "What are you going to do?" after we hear of the latest report of climate-change induced destructive weather, record draughts, and crop shortages.

It is depressing to look at our desperation, our pettiness, and our inauthenticity. Depressing because our in charge ego likes to feel as if it is in control and knows it all.

If this time is driving you crazy, good. If you are feeling out of sorts, good. If you are uneasy, good.

Use these blessings as methods of inquiry to uncover the Truth within. We have brought the world to the edge of ruin because we have been afraid to look. Desperately afraid to see ourselves as we really are.

Grace will be given to those that do.