“We are so convinced that past evils must repeat themselves that we make them repeat themselves. We dare not risk a new life in which the evils of the past are totally forgotten; a new life seems to imply new evils, and we would rather face evils that are already familiar… Hence we cling to the evil that has already become ours, and renew it from day-to-day, until we become identified with it and change is no longer thinkable.”
–Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
This is the first of a short series about happiness, freedom, and love that I feel the need to share, having recently heard about them for the first time. If any of this ever seems like a gloomy confession for the sake of confessing, it isn’t. I’ve had crazy wonderful breakthroughs since ~April of 2019. I’m happy and hopeful in a way that isn’t much like previous me. I’m cheery, for god’s sake.
What allowed me to become so much happier, was persevering in the worst godawful codependent bs relationship ever…with such intensity…that I broke through to something I find rather hard to explain. The over the top pain and longing of it tore open a membrane between me and a completely new level of spiritual perception and energy. Since then, it has quietly and consistently transformed my life.
This new perspective isn’t wisdom gleaned forensically from the crash site of that bad relationship. I’m not “Sadder but wiser” and I haven’t gathered a basket of bitterness and resentment but rather trapped them between a cup and some cardboard and then released them into the yard.
This unexpected introduction to spirit was like elevator doors opening on a floor with a number you’ve never heard of and it’s so nice here that you are a better person for even knowing about it. There’s a mysterious sweetness to be followed, and you follow it. There’s no dogma or cliches attached, it is fresh original territory. This is what it is like: Perhaps somehow you have believed in NO your whole life. Suddenly, irrefutably, YES.
How to change
Truth can be shallow or deep. The shallow truth is obvious, we find it in plain sight. It is at “eye-level” and we know it without effort. Even when the deep truth is fairly obvious, it still requires a purposeful moment of effort to know it, like learning the weight of a heavy stone by lifting it.
The truth can also be Shallow and Deep. These two truths are independent of each other. If you know the deep truth, you also know the shallow. We can sit intimately talking together, one of us knowing only the shallow truth, and the other knowing both. It is unlikely that the one with both will be able to convince the other of the deep truth because it requires that moment of heavy lifting and that moment cannot be forced. It must be a conscious, freely chosen decision.
Oftentimes knowing the deep truth isn’t merely a choice…it becomes a need, born of a crisis.
Some deep truth is also deeply hidden and finding it requires a personal quest with parallels to the stages of “The Hero’s Journey”1. There is a call to the adventure that makes you leave your ordinary life; a descent into the abyss, facing your deepest fears, a precious gift gained there by your courage and finally transformation as you return to your world bearing this precious gift.
Everything we do that sabotages our deepest, dearest wishes for our lives has a shallow reason and a deep one. The shallow reason is the one you would post on Facebook or tell a friend in conversation. The shallow reason is why heartbreak continues and we don’t change our lives. The shallow reason is sometimes the only one we can find even in our deepest introspection.
The deep truths driving these behaviors, the deep reasons, operate freely, and openly but in darkness, unseen. The deep reasons hold the long, long poles with the shallow reasons nailed to the top. To challenge the power of these forces requires a quest, courage, and tenacity.
If you’ve ever been caught in a co-dependent style “broken relationship machine” you know how desperate, reactive, impulsive and compulsive you can be in this trap. Every action you take feels almost physically in reaction to something else. Your response feels inevitable and compulsory. Somehow, it’s beyond your strength to choose differently. You are saturated with emotion to the point of exhaustion.
The cause of all this hell is self-evident to you:
- Because Janice is a fucking Bitch!
- Because Ritchie doesn’t care how much I give and give and give.
- Because I always pick the wrong men.
You are a puppet of your own weakness. It makes sense that your weakness is the area where something stronger pushes you around, right? What is this weakness? Usually, its fear mixed with a fragile ego, and pessimism. The fragile ego is probably from terrible emotional wounds you tried to walk off but you couldn’t, so you stopped acknowledging them consciously. That didn’t stop these wounds from talking to you though, and they have an opinion on everything. They are now full voting members of your board of directors and largely responsible for the saddest things you’ve ever done. Right now, you barely even know how to know about them. Making emotional pain unconscious is cauterizing the wound; it seals it off from your conscious thoughts because you literally couldn’t bear it any longer. Once sealed off like this though, that wound never heals: It becomes a background fact of your inner world coloring everything you perceive for the rest of your life.
You are seeking joy and love according to the terms and conditions shaped by these cauterized, unhealed wounds and the fear, fragile ego, and pessimism that they spray-painted over the lenses of your soul. This is your truth and if someone questions it, you know to a certainty that you are right and they are wrong.
To fix this mess we need two things: Insight to reveal the deep truth and Strength to do something about it. These powers become available when we are in crisis, knocked off-kilter and reeling with pain. These moments that we would do almost anything to escape having, can offer the chance of actual escape. When the truth about your failures is undeniable, success is possible because you can see how the path to it breaks off from the one you’re on. For a short time, you can see the things you hide from yourself.
I’m being transparent here about my many failures because you can only recognize something you’re acquainted with. The only way to tell this truth is naked and the only way to understand it is naked. The only way to use this truth is without shame and without defensive denials. When you fight it, it loses the power to free you. That’s why I’m being transparent here, to provide a “no fucks given” example.
If the word Spiritual feels like something I’m trying to push… like some undercover multi-level marketing scheme, I promise you, no it isn’t.
It’s a vantage point higher than the one you occupy as a hand-puppet. Spirit rises from your optimism and self-respect rejecting the unworthy self-story you’ve accepted thus far. The experience of spirit is of deeper personal agency, more choices, and better ones.
You open communications with it once you’re naked.
When longing is unbearable it becomes a prayer. When that prayer is intense enough, help arrives.