A Little Passage on the Nature of the Mother

The mother forgives a person his trespasses, that is, it allows him to ignore his natural weaknesses so that he can promote his strengths. This can be a problem if the person abuses this opportunity and allows others to take up the slack of what are properly his own weaknesses. But sometimes it is the best thing that can happen, since the development of a person’s strength may break new ground and on this new ground afford him new opportunities not available on the original ground. For example, if a person is able to escape his home situation and go to a college (alma mater, “nourishing mother”) which grants him tools for social and financial independence, he may later revisit more effectively unhealed wounds deriving from his weaknesses. That did not happen with me. I have ever been forced to solve the problems issuing from my weaknesses right at the place they issued, because I had no mother who could play the forgiving role which would allow me to escape them until I was strong enough to deal with them in a not-all-consuming and/or non-self-destructive way.

Some solace can be found in works like the biblical Book of Job and the great Carl Jung’s Answer to Job, which go to great lengths to rationalize the meaning of human suffering. When God admits in chapter 2 that Satan persuaded him to let him attack Job “for no reason at all”, it gets to the core of what it’s like to have either no mother, or a horrible one.

Advertisements

Question About Unconditional Love and Self-Acceptance

My friend was wondering about the following question in an email, and she liked my answer so much that I decided to post it here too:

Q: I’ve been thinking a lot about unconditional love and acceptance of self. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Well I guess acceptance of self depends on self-awareness first. You can’t accept what you’re not aware of. Self-awareness is stifled both by a lack of feedback and a lack of introspection. A baby learns what a person is by watching other people. Eventually it realizes that it is one of those things it sees walking around and talking. Therefore people are not as aware of themselves as they are of the people around them. What I always strive for is self-awareness, but that is extremely hard. I’ve invested years of my life just trying to gain an adequate amount of self-awareness.

Another thing to think about are the psyche’s self-promoting protective barriers. All beliefs in (a loving) God are such protections. It’s important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t live in reality, but must erect defenses which allow them to love themselves. Obviously these barriers can be damaging, because they blind the person from reality, allowing them to hurt other people in the process. But from this point of view, very few people can actually love themselves – most have to lie to themselves instead. So is it ethical to lie to oneself and thereby gain the self-confidence which comes from believing false things? Or is it better to have the life force sucked out of you by confronting the truth? It’s a choice each individual has to make (I basically chose the latter).

The more others accept you, the less self-accepting you have to do. Therefore self-acceptance is most necessary when no one else accepts you. But how to do it without holding any delusions?

One of the best techniques I’ve found is to acquire some secret knowledge. Secret knowledge is so valuable that most people harbor secrets that aren’t even true. The self-esteem value of having a secret is far more important than whether it is true or not. Hence all the talk about the Illuminati and other conspiracy theories. But these are delusions. Other secret knowledge is actually true, and this kind can give you a legitimate boost to your self esteem. If you gain secret knowledge, it can help a lot. That’s how I get a lot of my self-esteem.

But beyond that, what can you do?

Well, it’s easy to say “Find where you belong!”, but anyone’s who’s done that probably has enough self-love. For a lot of people, they don’t belong anywhere. And then what? We could take the opposite approach and make a list of all the things which prevent you from killing yourself. In other words, stare death straight in the face. People don’t want to do this because maybe their reasons for living will turn out to be delusions. But if you’re really want to find self-love, you could make a commitment to killing yourself if you can’t find things which really and truly keep you from doing so. In other words, forget what anyone else says about why you should live, and confront the matter on your own. You will find self-love or die trying! Honestly, that’s probably the best way to approach the topic, because now it’s just between you and you. You want self-love? That’s how you find it.

Okay, let’s say you’ve chosen to live. Now you have your baseline. Now we want more things. Maybe we can’t get them, but as long as we’re alive, we might as well try. What does love get you here? It seems to me that more love equals more confidence, hence greater risk-taking and better chances of reward. But there is so much competition for the rewards of life. Why would anyone love you who was competing with you? Can we expect people to love us when we are competing with them? No. Therefore you can only expect love from people outside the areas you are competing with them for. Maybe you can get it, but maybe not. Obviously self-love is good when there’s no other source. But when you are competing, people will have less compassion for you, because they will not see you as needy or desperate, so why should they love you? Only unusually strong people will be able to love someone who doesn’t help them directly.

Unconditional love is very rare indeed. Most people need to spend all their time on their own needs. To love something unconditionally means to get outside oneself. It’s impractical. Life is more of a barter system, where people use each other rather than love each other. In the case of genetic kin, there is a kind of genetic love which is sometimes unconditional, but only if it succeeds in pushing the relation’s ego out of the way.

I think the desire for unconditional love is to alleviate guilt. The unloved is wondering what they did or could have done to cause the undesired outcome. How can someone be convinced that there was nothing they could have done? If they’ve received the shadow-projection of a close relation, then that relation received a boost of confidence, at the cost of the target’s being overwhelmed with doubt. Sometimes that’s the most important thing for someone to realize, the key to alleviating unbearable guilt. On the other hand, maybe that someone is guilty. Did their mother love them so much that they expect to be loved even while oppressing their rivals?

Let’s not look for unconditional love. What I seek is unconditional fairness, that I will not be blamed – nor loved – for that which I did not do. And I seek wisdom, so that I can know whether what I do ought to be blamed or loved. And patience, of course, for when what is blamed ought to be loved instead, and vice versa.

Recent Thoughts About the Cross, Powerlessness, and Obscurity

I haven’t put much on my blog recently. The main metaphor for how I feel is “pinned to a cross on a hot day”. One of the main draws of Christianity is the imagination of what it’s like to be pinned to a cross. On the one hand, you’re being made an example of by the ruling power. On the other hand there was so much life left to live, so much potential and possibility for this body, which is cut dramatically short by the public’s need to make examples of people. Part public wrath, part ruling power enforcing domestic order – who knows how much of Jesus’s punishment was due to which… But there is this silencing of any future wisdom which might have come out of the crucified man. Cutting off of life.

But I have my life, so where’s the comparison? My empire is internal. The power which stifles me is my own conscience. I’m supposed to exercise free speech – I have nothing else to exercise. I have no credentials, no family responsibility, no career. I should be making public statements. But I am stuck on a cross. I don’t know how to make public statements. Every once in a while I post to my blog. Even confessing that I’m stuck is a public statement. Yet I struggle even with how to confess. Even making a public statement such as this tears at me. I’m making it, so I convince myself it’s good. I need to say something, because I don’t want all my thoughts and feelings to go to waste in obscurity.

I know that I have a lot of thoughts and feelings which someone would appreciate. I want them to coalesce. There are no rules to life. Maybe I’ll try to write my book again, or another book. All people suggest action. My instincts do not suggest action. I imagine a great crowd of critics, all of whom suggest doing something, instead of nothing. Doing nothing is the sin. Jesus did nothing on his cross. That’s the image, a person who can’t do anything. Jesus did, however, have the advantage of being observed. I am doing nothing in complete obscurity.

Why do I feel like the power of an Empire restricts me from doing things? That, and the disdain of unseen critics. What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to do it? The horizontal and the vertical beams. Does anybody want anything? Whatever I want, I am cut off from it by learned helplessness. People tell me to do what I want. I don’t want anything. I want other people to want things. I can get what I want if I can give them what they want. But nobody wants anything.

I do want things. I want to be able to assemble a book, for example. Right now, I’m just crucified, so I post to my blog as if that’s some kind of substitute for accomplishing what I really want. Good enough. I reread what I wrote and feel like I’ve said something. This whole thing came out of a need to say something. To serve the dual function of saying something and of helping myself by confessing my helplessness.

I’m not that helpless. I’m just a young man wondering if by the time I accomplish anything I’ll be too old to reap the rewards for it.

My plan rests on, among other things, overcoming my fear of obscurity. To even admit that I have such a fear indicates a partial overcoming of it. Not being afraid of being obscure means that I can act regardless of whether anyone cares what I do. Sadly, I think this is a needed accomplishment, expressing disdain for anybody who thinks their opinion of me matters to me. Not fearing obscurity means not caring what people think, which may itself lead to obscurity, but it can also lead to admiration, since people admire independence. What’s hard is that the very loving affection one so desperately craves is precisely what one has to stop caring about. And I must understand the degree to which I crave others’ affection before I can let go of it. I can’t proceed silently, as if I am immune to their opinions. But the craving lessens as soon as its full power is recognized. I am finally becoming aware of all the ways flattery and affection can reward a person, which paradoxically allows me to stop caring about them so much.