The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The gift of destruction

The last ten days have been spectacular.   Moving to L.A. Seems to have been exactly what I hoped for, a breakthrough to a clearer place in my life where I can leverage my intelligence, energy, and emotion more effectively.  There is only one thing I see that would cause problems: the attempt to be the person I was when I left.

I have to, MUST, accept the gift of destruction.  The natural tendency would be to try to re-assemble my old life.  Old friends.  Old business associations.  Old habit patterns.  So comforting and  familiar.
But that is an illusion.  “You can’t step in the same piece of water twice.”   I simply can’t be concerned with who I thought I was, or what other people thought I was, or what I’d hoped to be and do.

That would be fatal.   I’d be a walking dead man, trying to wear the rotting flesh of my ancient dreams.
No.  What I have to do is continue to ask the Core Questions:

“Who Am I?”  and “What Is True?”

Nothing that is ultimately true about me can be destroyed.   “Matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed in form.”

There is another truth: depression and disorientation are created by a life reality that doesn’t match our internal maps.

I got hit with this BIG TIME by the move to Atlanta.  My life map had been blown up.  All that remained was my commitment to my family: my son needs me.  My wife needs me.   Whatever is true will endure.
All else was pain.   

Now I’m back in L.A., and have a new life plan, which involves greater, deeper engagement with the wonderful teachings I’ve received over the course of my life, the things that allowed me to find my center, since the ordinary reflection from the external society was so hopelessly distorted—I could not trust that world to tell me who I was.   Sending me back to the Core Questions:

Who Am I? What is true?

And the lovely thing is that if you ask that question long enough, you get the answer.   There are a finite number of false answers, and when you run through them, well…

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

You can get there.    The joke is that what you find cannot QUITE be put into language.  The analogy  is that you can’t describe “it” in words, any more than you can describe a salad fully enough to nourish your body.  I can, however, point in the direction of the salad bar, and if you choose, you can eat for yourself.

But that’s another subject.  What IS true is that the “Secret Formula” is in deep play right now:

Well, my goals are clear, and quantifiable, and I repeat them to myself daily, in my Morning Ritual.   I have Faith that what will be will be, and that my essence and my intentions are in alignment.    It is similar to the trick of attracting any woman you want: simply don’t want any woman you can’t attract.  It’s funny and scary effective once you get the joke.  The rest is just recognizing who is or is not of your “Tribe.”

I take massive action, daily.   Nothing that I’m doing as my core behavior relies upon luck.   I’m not expecting any help from the universe.  On the other hand, I expect that the universe won’t go out of its way to screw with me, either.

And you know what happens?

““Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

—This quote, attributed to Goethe, (which might actually be the words of William Hutchison Murray in response to Goethe’s couplet:

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
   Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”)

Is brilliant, and I believe, the truth.   That when you take responsibility, and stop waiting for help, and take massive action…you start getting “lucky.”

And…Gratitude.    I have to thank God (or the universe, or whatever you choose) for what I have right here, right now.    Don’t work so that one day you can be happy.  Be happy that you can work.


Now…this is where the trick comes in.  Read the above carefully, and you’ll see my take on what “magic” really is.  But if you look into the Yogic approach to the creation of “magical powers” (Siddhis) it is thought that effects in the world of consensus reality (“Maya”) are by-products of pure intent in the mental/emotional/spiritual realm.

This is why pure art cannot be concerned with commerce.  Pure love cannot be concerned with what you get in return. The pure martial technique must not be concerned with survival. Action must be for its own sake to reach it’s ultimate efficiency.

The human reality, of course, is that nobody’s really THAT pure—we do care about results.  This just points in the direction of ultimate efficiency.   “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp, or heaven’s a lie.”
Now…What this means is that if your intents and actions are pure enough, you’ll start getting results that have nothing DIRECTLY to do with your actions.

Ever notice that when you don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend you can’t get one, but as soon as you have one, other people are interested?  When you don’t have a job you can’t get one, but as soon as you have one other people call with offers?

It’s like that.

The “Siddhis” include things like power, sexual attractiveness, and mental abilities like precognition and mind-reading (believe as much of that as you wish: I’m speaking of traditional teachings, not debating the existence of ESP.)

The thing that is most germane to this discussion is that these things are considered BY-PRODUCTS of being “on the path”, not primary intents or effects.  That you can notice them, even enjoy them, but if you chase after them, you instantly step off the path and they will dissolve like mirages.


Notice the “split attention” that is required here?  To act in alignment with your deepest values, but simultaneously notice the effects your actions have in the external world, without letting those effects corrupt your process?

Doing a Wallenda over a pool of sharks  is, in comparison, childishly simple.  It drives artists crazy all the time.

So…back to the beginning.  Without being too specific, let’s just say a LOT of writing career things are happening.  In fact, they are trying to pull me away from my coaching and teaching.

No can do.   I’m not the same person I was.  My path now is one of emptying myself out, teaching what I learned that helped me reach my current level of awareness.    Writing is now my hobby.  A profitable one, one pursued with vigor, but no more than that.   I could care less about convincing people of the validity of what I see—I will speak of it, only so that those who agree and seek the same thing know where to find me. 

The rest of ya’ll?  

Hey, have a great life. 

This is who I am.  This is the world I see.  It is increasingly entertaining to hear the Sirens singing at me, saying “step off the path…come to me, come to me…”

Like hell.   The fun thing is that I’ve been to this rodeo before.   As they said in Jerry McGuire, “I’ve been to the puppet show, I’ve seen the strings.”  Its the nice thing about getting older.    Wisdom is the ability to see patterns.  That’s a gift of time.  The gift of destruction.



Sarah said...

I, for one, am very glad you are taking the time to put your thoughts out where I can read them. I listened to the radio show you did on Saturday yesterday at lunch because I missed it on Saturday. There was a lot in it. I have to listen again and take notes. I am currently stuck at the point of having too much stress and too few coping mechanisms. I know this and I also know where I am trying to go. I can visualize the goals. On the physical front, I know how to get from here to there. On the professional front there is a rather large gap of fuzzy foggy uncertainty. But I am plugging away. I set the reminder on my phone so that I will stop every three hours to breath :-) I need to put some things on note cards and pin them to the bulletin board so they are there as clear reminders.

sakharoff said...

Thank you Steven, very inspiring again. Especially about the necessity of accepting the change wholeheartedly, in other words - the gift of destruction.. And the split attention, the ability to stay connected with the inner path, being able to simultaneously observe their outer effects - without attaching to them. A kind of Zanshin in martial arts.
Thanks for the inspiration!
With love and respect from DK :-)

Steven Barnes said...

I am honored to be of any help. Bless you both.