The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fake It Til You Make It?

"Another thing you can do is to think o fa time when you had a most sublime meditation and consciously dive deep into that experience. Think of its essence--how you were thrilled, how you were jumping with delight. At first you will just be imagining the experience, because you are not actually having that meditation. But if you enter into that world of imagination and stay there for ten or fifteen minutes, power will automatically enter into your meditation and it will bear fruit. Then it will not be imagination at all; you will actually be deep in the world of meditation."
--Sri Chinmoy, MEDITATION

I was actually surprised to come across this passage, even though I've re-read this particular book so often it is falling apart. Strange...I can only attribute this to the fact that our minds have an easier time absorbing different informations at different times, and now, this moment, was the first time I was prepared to actually hear it.

"Fake it 'til you make it" is a well known philosophy. ACT as if you have confidence, and you will. Do the things a courageous person does, and you will be what people consider courageous. Then, of course, you will discover what courageous people have known forever: that the internal state people call "courage" is often one of confusion and fear...but if the external aspects of calm voice and face and direct action dominate, guess what? It doesn't matter how you feel inside.

The same is true in many ways. Bravado, egotism, macho...there are many different terms that describe the adolescent forms of mature emotional states concerning "courage."

And in the realm of the spirit, "confidence" can be "faked" as well. In fact, "faith" as defined as "evidence of things unseen" is all about this. A sense that different aspects of the universe connect in a way the conscious, intellectual mind cannot quite data-crunch. That it makes most sense to you if you expand your definitions of "life" or "consciousness" so that the planet or the universe is a dynamic pattern that seems to behave as if it had what we consider will and ethical structure.

Or to take a further step, and believe (without evidence) that there actually is a living force, a being, that can be described in quasi-human terms, watching over us.

Or that the flows of nature best reveal their currents if we surrender the ego of individual identity and seek to feel the pull of existential wind and tide.


There are so many approaches. All seek to answer the question "how shall we live?" together and singly. All seek to align us with nature, with other human beings, with our own drives, both animal, child and adult.

All concern the journey between birth and death. The idea of clarifying who and what you wish to be, being certain that the idealized form of this is pleasing to every aspect of your existence, and then dedicating yourself to this process, is a wise one. It is a very rare individual who can just "zen" his way from one event to another and not feel rootless and without purpose. For most of us, the creation of a meaningful life demands purpose. But attempting to "become" something we seem not to be quite reasonably triggers fear.

Anyone who knew me in my college days can tell you that any true confidence I had in my ability to be a professional writer was covered up in ego and bravado. That shell was critical to buffer myself against a nearly universal opinion that my goals and dreams were impossible.

Anyone who knew me in the early days of my martial training could tell you the way I struggled to find a part of myself strong enough to stand up to the warrior-energy surrounding me. My false identity couldn't handle it, and surrendering to my true self, capable of flowing into any natural role, felt like dying.

Anyone who knew me in my early dating days would know how astonished I was to discover a woman was attracted to me, and how pitifully grateful when she accepted me into her heart or bed.

The answer in all of these cases was...I pretended to be comfortable with the circumstance. Regardless of the inner storm, I maintained the best exterior I could, and soldiered on until, at some point, I was astonished to discover that the pretense had become the reality.

The same is true in the spiritual arena. The surrender of our false self can feel like dying. When meditating, often EVERYTHING else seems more urgent and important. The moments of peace and power can seem far and few between. is those moments, however few, that point the way.

If you can force yourself to meditate day after day, you will almost accidentally find a moment when everything "flows." Remember those moments, seek to replicate them without obsessing about it (just have fun!) and you will find them starting to multiply.

Remember--your ego identity is a construct. It is "fake" to begin with. It is no greater fiction to imagine your self both great, deep, and insignificant in the face of universal truth. Nothing greater than you. Nothing less than you. No "you" at all...and yet you are in the center of it all.

Resolving that apparent conundrum is one of the major tasks on the path. If it seems impossible, welll...

Yeah. You know.


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