The following post originates from my writings as Sequoia Thoughts. It was dated March 30, 2017.
I guess my thought is this: When it comes to friendship, love, or any kind of close relationship with someone: you can't hold someone back from becoming a better person. Actually, the very fact that you think you could be holding someone back is worth holding up to the light and understanding in more detail. This fear, much like most of your worries and anxieties, comes from a place deep within you. And although it seems like the thoughts you have are irrational, even delusional—the place they come from is an objective one.
What you need is faith.
Maybe half of you have already started rolling your eyes. Maybe some of you have closed the page. But you're still here—you’re listening—so now I can go on to reel things back a little. I’m not saying you need to believe in the Christian God. Maybe you don’t need to believe specifically in any particular god or gods at all. But you do need faith: that is, the capacity to believe in the things you cannot see; feel; even understand. What you do have to understand is this: it isn’t someone else’s job to “fix” you. The fact that you think you could be holding someone back if they are virtuous is flawed. If someone is truly righteous and truly on the path to a better life, you will never be able to get in their way. Because they understand something you don’t.
I’ll say it again - I don’t think you need the Christian God. Or any specific God, for that matter. And really, there’s no point in arguing the specifics of the purest state of faith. We just do it anyway to make ourselves feel better. What is worth arguing is the acceptance of the state of faith itself. You need love for yourself. You need your inner light to speak out. And I do think that faith is absolutely critical.
We’re all more alike than we realize. Many of us operate almost entirely, even completely, from reason. We only have half the picture. Often, our reason and objectivity manifests itself through deflection and hiding; through hesitation or blocking. We all have our reasons for this behavior. To put it another way: it’s how we cope with trauma. Our methods of coping with trauma, more often than not, come back to objectivity. Yours might. Mine does. We just use our objectivity differently.
But what we’re missing entirely is faith.
And that means that what we are truly missing, in the deepest sense, is the duality of BOTH sides.
I’m sorry if your eyes glossed over. Lets talk in a language many of us understand: music.
A guitarist can play totally, 100% from technicality and objectiveness. He can hit all the right chords with perfect form and sound good and impressive.
Conversely, a guitarist can play completely from the heart - with no rationality; no training; no reason. She can play beautiful and soulful melodies that capture our hearts.
But when a guitarist embraces duality and tempers technicality, objectiveness and logic with faith, irrationality, beauty, and love - the result is something spectacular. Something that stimulates us on every level and fills our heart and soul with something we can't quite put our finger on.
It is like this with life.
We build up a concept of a “self” based on what society wants—based on what we think we need to do. For almost everyone, everything about our “self” ultimately becomes focused on others; the world around us. It’s everything but our “self”. We start off in this beautiful state of simply “being” when we are born. You’ve never seen a two-day-old child filled with prejudice or fidgeting about proper grammar. He simply...is. As we begin to grow and form social connections, we bring our being to the world. “Here I am!” we call. We’re ready. Love me. Accept me.
And the world says, with malice, "No."
"I don't want you.”
“You aren't good enough.”
“That’s what you are?”
“I want this -- be this instead."
Sometimes it’s blatant. Sometimes we’re abused: mentally, physically. Mostly, life does this in little ways. Little ways that we feel are insignificant, and so we disregard their true impact. But the smallest trauma repeated becomes a towering heart of darkness. But stop there. We’re starting to get wrapped in our emotions.
And you see now that all of this is entirely based on reason. Objectivity. "They want this, so I will become this." And so we quickly forget ourselves. We give ourselves up to that objectivity. It becomes us.
What hurts the most is that we feel sometimes that there is "something more" to life; to a moment. We don't know what it is: we can't see it, and we can't comprehend it, but we feel it. It's definitely there. “I just know it.” It’s the feeling you get when you have a moment where all the noise in your mind dissipates...all the rattling, or buzzing, or “You are worthless”es are gone...and all you are left with is a wash of silence, for just a few seconds. And then it’s gone. Fleeting. A whisper in time. “Weird.” “I’m not sure what it was. But something felt nice.” Nice. Serene. Huh...you don’t usually feel that way.
That is faith.
But society tells us—you got it.
“Good luck feeling like that all the time.”
“You can’t do it on faith alone, you know.”
“Come on. You sound like a nutjob. Be realistic.”
And so we rationalize our behavior. And it is reinforced. But you, and I, and anyone else, can turn that all on its head.
Society tells us we need to be this. This way. But we can discover what we really want to be...in and of ourselves. And we can take our corrupted heart of darkness...and purify it. Once we realize that it's all external...it becomes, in its essence, simple.
In all its infinite complexity and impossibility...it becomes simple.
Because the next question to ask is: Why would it be anything but? Why do we think it’s impossible?
Because we don't have faith.
Because society tells us "It just isn't there." And society teaches us that objectivity is the only way to solve our problems.
Faith tears down that wall.
And so, faith becomes both internal and external in this way. And faith starts to teach everyone else around you, too. By bringing us to moments like this one.
So when I say I have faith in you, this is what I mean. It's not an empty sentiment. We ASSUME it is because we let society make it so. We have lost the ability to discern. Society taught you that someone who is learning to be a virtuous person is "changing" and you are "holding them back". What is that teaching you?
It's stopping you from engaging. From asking questions. From approaching them. From asking them about their journey and what they are learning. Not only is it beating you down, it's commanding you to STAY down.
Passivity beats you down - you use it as an excuse to rationalize your passivity - and it beats you down more.
"You're a burden."
"His life is improving? Give up. You're no good. You're just going to be a bother. You can’t possibly fit in with that, anyway."
"Don't surround yourself with that. Faith and belief are garbage. God’s not there...you can’t possibly rationalize such a thing. Just forget it. After all, you've never bothered before, why start now?"
Do you see what you've been taught? What's been slammed into your skull? If society was a person, would you really want them to be your friend? Do you enjoy being treated like that?
But wait. Here we are getting all wrapped up in our anger again. Our prejudice. Imposed passivity through false action.
Society isn't all bad. Actually, it's the contrary.
Which probably leaves you scratching your head. Sounds like nonsense...I get it.
But take what I said, and apply it to them. Your friend—society.
Realize - they're the same way. Maybe we’re talking about your worst enemy. Maybe it’s your father. Maybe your mother. Maybe your brother; your spouse; your cousin; the lady down the street; your boss. Your abuser.
Most people. Not all. We’re learning not to speak in absolutes.
Now put yourself in their shoes. You know the person - you’re thinking about them right now. The worse the are—the more they hate you—the more you hate them -- the more important this becomes.
Don’t think “that sounds nice” and keep reading.
Don’t think “that sounds crazy” and keep reading.
Do it. Think about what I said and think about that person, or those people. Compare them to you. Compare your scars. Or try to.
If you were this way and you couldn't see any farther; if you operated only from objectivity; if you operated in this “others-focused” way; and if you truly believed there was no way out...why would you do anything BUT bring others down with you? You'd do so—effortlessly.
You don’t know any better. They don’t know any better. You tried. Maybe you’re still trying. And at some point, they tried, too.
You are not a bother. You are not a failure. You are not a fuck-up. You have the same capacity for love that almost everyone else on this planet has.
And so does your your worst enemy. So does your father. So does your mother. So does your brother; your spouse; your cousin; the lady down the street; your boss. And so does your abuser.
We are just lost.
We are so, so lost.
And it’s painful. For all of us.
We just. Don't. Know any better.
Don’t leave anyone just because you think you are a burden. Be open. Be virtuous. Open your heart. Let them in. You don’t have to be indoctrinated - you don’t even have to agree. But listen. Try your hardest to understand. Don’t completely remove yourself from technicalities and objectivity - they aren’t useless. Be like the guitarist: temper it with something to believe in. Something to have faith in. Faith in something you cannot see.
The ebb and flow of things. Balance. Duality.
Maybe you don’t believe it yet. Maybe you think it’s impossible.
That’s the most perfect time to discover faith. If you think it’s impossible to be happy; to remove yourself from anxiety; to cleanse your heart of darkness and flush your head of anxieties and trauma and noise; that’s perfect. You have nothing to lose.
Go for it. Throw yourself into it. Why not? What have you got to lose?
Maybe I don’t know you. Maybe we’ve never met in our lives. Maybe we never will. But the notion that you think you aren’t good enough for anyone is the most ridiculous nonsense I've ever heard in my life.
And the same logic and objectivity that society has bashed into your head over all these years?
I just used it to prove them wrong.