Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Many of the shamanic and psychological terms used in Chuck’s essays are defined in Tools & Definitions on our Psychotherapy website.
Shamans define ruthlessness as the place of no pity. In their nomenclature, the place of no pity represents a shift of the assemblage point where one enters a different reality, which is far more comprehensive than ordinary reality. Shamans assert that the familiar world of ordinary reality is fixated on the position of self-pity. From this place of self-pity we cling to the archetypal roles of family, long beyond actual necessity. We fund these archetypal roles of mother, father, child, spouse, etc., with all our available energy, leaving no energy for life as a separate being on a solo journey of awareness; the journey we are all really on.
We pity the self that ultimately must die alone and so we cling to the illusions that spin what the Buddhists call the Wheel of Life. To quote Esther Harding, from her book Psychic Energy:
When, before his enlightenment, he was meditating under the Bo Tree, he [Buddha] asked himself: Why are there these endlessly repeated lives? Why do people, and animals as well, go on with the senseless round of birth and suffering and death? Why does life continue exactly the same—why do men not outgrow this barbaric and immature stage? His meditation grew deeper and deeper, until at last he had a vision that revealed the answer. He saw the wheel of life, consisting of the endless round of existences, of births and deaths and rebirths, of heavens and hells, and the earth with its many faces.
Buddha saw the illusions we cling to that construct and maintain the world of what the shamans call ordinary reality, a world that strictly adheres to an endless round of living our repetitive archetypal roles.
Buddha arrived at the place of compassion for beings who cling to their illusions. Compassion is not pity. Compassion is the acceptance, without judgment, that all beings must cling to their illusions and go round and round again in their cosmic Groundhog Day,* until they are ready to awaken. That is, to take personal responsibility to face the true nature of reality beyond the archetypal roles; to allow themselves to let go, to detach from the pity that clings to the illusions in a childlike grasp for safety and security. Buddha saw that all must arrive at that place individually. No one can take another’s journey. No one can give another enlightenment. That will always be an individual task. Only when an individual is finally ready will they take the journey, the solo journey, devoid of archetypal props. Compassion, then, is loving all who cling, but remaining unattached, fully stalking the place the shamans call ruthlessness.
Ruthlessness completely stares down pity. Ruthlessness fully allows all beings to be what they truly are: independent travelers on an infinite journey. Ruthlessness sees beyond; it detaches from all the archetypal bindings, lovingly allowing sons, daughters, parents, husbands, and wives, etc., to fully take their journeys. Ruthlessness is compassion. Ruthlessness remains unattached to the illusions; it gets out of the way of others taking the journeys they must. Ruthlessness is compassion without pity. With ruthlessness we stalk the position that lifts the veils. On the one hand, ruthlessness is a loving acceptance of wherever another may be on the wheel of life and, on the other, it is standing as a beacon to the evolutionary journey beyond the wheel.
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Until we meet again,
* Refers to the Bill Murray movie.