Tag Archives: offense

Chuck’s Place: Unbending Detachment

Look to the skies for guidance on how to remain detached and yet fully energetically connected!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The key to actualizing our human potential is energy. If you have enough energy you can do just about anything. Recognizing the value of conserving and retrieving energy, shamans discovered that the human being’s most lethal energy drain is offense.  Being offended, by anything and everything, costs humans the lion’s share of their vital energy.

When we feel offended by the words and deeds of others we have emotional reactions, like anger, fear, and resentment that tax the central nervous system. We lose our balance, as we become emotionally charged, seeking relief in some kind of action. Often, obsessive thinking continues to replay the offense, which sustains and feeds this state of emotional tension.

Is it possible to have an objective reaction to another’s offensive behavior without being personally offended? Yes, through gaining conscious control of our instinctive emotional reactions and deciding, on the mental plane, to not be offended by the behavior of others, regardless of how ruthless it might be.

Who could forget Robert De Niro’s “Are you talking to me?” in the movie Taxi Driver? Instinctively, we feel the growing tension of his mounting anger, as he incessantly repeats this famous line. Truthfully, many are drawn to such unabashed expressions of rage and contempt, which vicariously satisfies our own unexpressed rage and resentment.

Now, if Robert De Niro had simply walked away, the movie would have flopped. On the other hand, if we want to start saving our vital energy, we must be willing to let go of the many dramas our internal dialogue ignites through its constant interpretation of offense, throughout our everyday lives.

This is not to say that there is not significant horrific behavior that must be addressed. At issue is the subjective state of offense that accompanies one’s reactions to those behaviors. One can assess a situation and decide upon a course of action, unencumbered by emotional reaction. In fact, this is a core teaching of all martial arts.

When one becomes emotionally offended by an opponent’s move, one loses one’s edge, fights poorly, and generally loses. As in shamanism, in the martial arts the key to success is to not become attached —offended— by one’s opponent’s behavior. The objective is to stay present to what is and completely conserve one’s energy in order to be fully engaged in one’s most efficient counter response.

In fact, when one becomes offended one actually gifts the opponent one’s own energy. Offense can lead to hopelessness, powerlessness, and surrender, as one’s vital energy reserves become depleted. Bullying behavior is actually a strategy to catch one’s opponent in the net of offense, weakening their game. Muhammed Ali was a striking example of such tactical behavior leading up to a fight, as he would mercilessly insult and demean his opponents.

Instinctive reactions can be, and often are, life saving. What we take as an instinctive reaction, however, is very frequently the ego’s decision to be offended, whereby calling forth the troops of passionate reactions to exact retribution, in some form. This is a hybrid, instinctive reaction that serves only the ego, not the true needs of the self.

Ego must learn to be a servant to the true needs of the whole self, rather than just its own self-aggrandizement. Even if the ego has been directly insulted, the ego must consider the energetic impact on its central nervous system, and its energy reserves, before determining its course of action.

If the ego faces the fact that we live in a world where life feeds upon life, it can come around to the fact that we live in a predatory universe and not get offended by it. Of course, this does not stop our need to defend ourselves, but how much stronger and more clearheaded we would be if we didn’t burden ourselves with being offended.

When the shamans speak of detachment, they are targeting what we typically judge to be offensive behavior. They promote inner silence to avoid offensive dramas when navigating oncoming time, to best be prepared to respond appropriately, with the least taxing of our energetic reserves. Inner silence entails quieting the mind, pulling into the heart center, and waiting patiently for the guidance that shows us how to act in a way that is truly right.

In addition, they recommend a thorough recapitulation of one’s relationships in life, particularly circumstances that left one feeling offended. Recapitulation frees one’s energy stored away in offense, but also frees one from being triggered by current circumstances that reflect one’s unresolved past.

The truth is that there are highly sadistic, abusive people who commit horrific acts. Recapitulation does not change this fact, but it does free one from draining one’s vital energy by being eternally offended by them. Detachment means accepting the truth of what was, and fully harnessing one’s freed energy to be redeployed in new life.

I send out the intent for unbending detachment, as we collectively advance our world into new life, beyond offense.

With Unbending Detachment,

Chuck

Chuck’s Place: Offense

The magical in the ordinary... - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
The magical in the ordinary…
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

We are beings of offense, collectors of rights and wrongs. Judgment is our guiding voice: “Look, over there, how hideous, how bold, how disgusting, how risque, how inappropriate, how divine, how unfair, how rude, how insensitive, how mean, how narcissistic, how beautiful, how perfect.”

Then there’s the voice from the Land of Me. “I’m not getting what I need,” it says. “I deserve more. I got screwed. They took advantage of me. They treat me like I’m invisible. It’s never what I want. I don’t matter. I’m not attractive. I’m better than him. She’d never be interested in me. Nobody cares about me. Why am I never chosen? Why was I born like this? Why am I singled out? Why am I being punished? How come nothing good ever happens to me?”

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico contend that we spend the lion’s share of our vital force, our life’s energy, judging and being offended by the world and those who inhabit it. To counter offense we might develop and accumulate an identity of accomplishments. “I can take it,” our accomplishments enable us to say. “I’ll survive. Inwardly I know I’m worth more. Look how well I dress—I’m coordinated. I have lots of friends who keep in touch. I’m well-respected where I work. I’m always polite. I say my prayers. I donate. I care. I walk for causes. I read a lot. I have many “Likes.” People like my pictures. I’m funny.”

So constructed are we of rights, wrongs and likes that we know not who we really are beneath those mountains of offense. We perceive ourselves and the world around us through the narrowly burdensome lens of where we stand vis-à-vis our fellow human beings. We navigate our lives to constantly improve that position, with better homes, bodies, cars, jobs, friends, lovers, companions, environments. Our obsession with improvement puts blinders upon our real possibilities.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico claim that we are magical beings capable of stupendous actions and experiences. However, as long as we spend the capital of our human time in being offended we have no accrued savings, no energy for true self-actualization. The Shamans suggest that we can build our energy savings bank by thoroughly appreciating the petty tyrants who so offend us. Rather than spending energy capital on constantly being offended, Shamans bank their energy by stripping away the shackles of self-importance.

“This is the room they stuck me in, with that kid upstairs jumping on the bed for hours! I should complain!” we might say, taking offense at a situation we find ourselves in. Such complaining, the Shamans contend, will get us nowhere. “Thank you,” a Shaman would say, “for reminding me not to waste my energy on being offended. Let me instead be more fully present to the moment and all the magic that surrounds me.”

Eventually, we notice that the world is quite ready to open, expand and reveal its deeper truths, beauties, and mysteries as we drop the veil of offense and navigate instead with awe. As we follow the signs magically placed before us, by reinterpreting and reworking that which has offended us, we offer ourselves a new and different world in which to navigate. Without offense, life and the world we inhabit become a totally different and very inviting, magical place. We might even find ourselves suddenly offered something that we could previously only have dreamed of.

Navigating through the magic,
Chuck