Tag Archives: self-pity

Chuck’s Place: Honing Fluidity

                       Fluidity: The ability to go with the flow.

Going with the flow…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

What is it that exhausts us in this time of great change? Understandably, we are trying desperately to hold onto the world as we have known it. That world is rapidly slipping away. How can we learn to let go in this time of  breakdown and re-formation, as we flow into our next world dream?

The destructive energy wave of now is the tidal wave of trickster. I call it trickster because it acts with full abandon on its path of destruction, on impulse, defying all reason.  We are all part of that wave, whether we are surfing its exhilarated crest, are dragged mercilessly under its tow, or find rest in its calm center. Trickster energy is active and volatile. Its impact is unnerving, disheartening, yet potentially clarifying, if used to advantage. 

In the 1990s, I spent seven years deeply immersed in Carlos Castaneda’s public launching of Tensegrity, the modern version of the practices of his historic shamanic line. Carlos was faced with the truth that his energetic configuration as leader was one of ending, not continuing, his shamanic line. His task was to use his volatile energy to break down practitioners’ dependence upon an external guru and launch them into assuming personal responsibility for their own spiritual advancement. He didn’t have much time, so he used everything he could to achieve his agenda.

The teachings in Tensegrity were multifaceted, but the overarching methodology, at that time, was trickster energy that sought to shatter a practitioner’s attachment to the prevailing social order, teaching them to assume responsibility for their decisions and actions, and develop the fluidity to navigate infinity, now, in this life. It proved to be a challenging methodology.

For instance, even if you were well known to all gatekeepers at a weeklong intensive workshop, if you failed to wear your assigned name tag on the final day, you were denied entry, treated as if you were a perfect stranger.

At another workshop, Carlos would not show up, though you had paid dearly to see him. You were told he simply wasn’t energetically available, and that someone else was taking his place.

In truth, it ultimately didn’t matter who showed up because all the shamans of his party were the same, delivering profound teachings. However, being attached to having to see the Carlos Castaneda, when that mattered to ego, was an opportunity to be incensed by unfairness.

In other instances, agendas might be scrapped in a heartbeat. You’d be pushed into practicing extremely taxing physical movements on a full stomach, directly after a meal break.

Carlos would entice you to fly across the country, or the world for that matter, for a mere three-hour workshop. Staying attached to the limited time allotted, and the monumental effort to get there, challenged our relationship to time and how it was valued. From there, of course, followed the trappings of unfairness: so little for so much!

Carlos would mercilessly ridicule peoples’ attachments to love and relationship; sexual relations were highly frowned upon if one was sincere about one’s quest for energetic freedom. These same rules did not appear to apply to himself and his cohorts.

The truth is, as many spiritual traditions know, that sexual energy is the energy of dreaming, as well as creation. So, not for any moralistic reasons, attention to how one employs one’s sexual energy is a consideration for all spiritual journeyers.

The net effect of these seemingly unfair and hypocritical practices was to generate anger and protest. Carlos would then point out how much energy the ego spends upholding its own importance. “Life is not fair, we live in a predatory universe,” he’d say.  Once one got to the point of blankly resigning to Carlos’s unpredictable and inconsistent antics, he’d point out how much energy was now being spent on indulging in self pity.

To survive the trials of the shaman’s world one had no alternative but to arrive at a place of no pity, for self or other. In that place, one is clearsighted and spends energy only on what is absolutely necessary to act upon. One completely frees oneself of the energy drain of defending one’s self importance or indulging in self pity. This is the key to fluidity: honing the ego’s ability to serve right action, detached from the need to defend itself.

Carlos was the consummate trickster, perhaps the greatest of the 20th century, reclusive and mysterious to the end. His dedication to his intent to shift the world’s dying dream cost him an early death. He had boundless energy, impacting apprentices throughout the world. He sustained his life on sugar and caffeine until his abused, diabetic body could no longer house his energy body.

The cognitive dissonance of his personal imbalance, with the spiritual advancement his teachings provided, assured that he would never be put on any kind of postmortem pedestal. This was core to his reading of the energy of our time. For Carlos, the day of the guru was indeed over. Ultimately, he taught that everyone needs to discover their own spiritual/energetic being, not simply follow tradition, dogma, or charismatic leaders.

For my wife Jeanne and I, our immersion in Carlos’s shamanic world  prepared us to launch each other into new dreams at the moment of her final exit from this world. We both turned on a dime and immediately walked into new dreams, as they presented themselves, fluidly accepting what came next. Not an ounce of energy was spent on protest or sadness, as we went with the flow of the many dreams that were to come.

Carlos had stressed the value of facing oncoming time. His analogy was a train. Most of us tend to sit in the comfort of the caboose, complacently watching the past recede out the back window, through the filter of the known. He preferred sitting in the first car, the locomotive, staring attentively and excitedly at all that approached in oncoming time. If we insist on living in the caboose of the known, that which is already said and done, we never develop the fluidity to navigate oncoming change.

Fluidity demands that we soften and release all attachment to entitlement. Encounter with trickster energy is ideal for this unburdening. Learning to not take anything that comes at us personally, is critical. Of course, we may be wounded by many things. But we can heal quickly from a wound if we release our obsession with the unfairness of how we are treated, and by letting go of what we feel is owed to us as a result.

For the shamans of Carlos’s lineage, human beings fail to wake up to their full innate potential because they spend the lion’s share of their energy in the complacency of complaint. Once one lands solidly at the place of no pity, fluidity becomes one’s chief navigating tool. Interestingly, as one lands at the place of no pity, one simultaneously lands at the place of real love.

Jeanne, from her inorganic being in infinity, delivers daily to Jan, her organic soul sister, soulbytes that stress the new dream at the heart center, with love as its overarching modus operandi. Beyond the fixations of specialness, possession, importance, and pity is the awesomeness of interdependent oneness and love for all.

Utilize, fully, this opportunity we are now living through, this time of trickster tidal wave upon tidal wave, to hone your energy. Recapitulate emotional and physical triggers, and free your energy from victimized resentment and the refusal to accept the truth of everything.

And then, from a newly detached lightness of being, exercise fluidity, as you find your way to the solid dream of love.

Stalking fluidity,

Chuck  

Chuck’s Place: The Predator Teacher

We live in a predatory universe… beware!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Is it diabolical that a mosquito, tick, bacteria, or virus  feeds upon the matter and substance of our physical bodies? A nuisance, and in some cases a lethal nuisance indeed, yet, we begrudgingly accept this negative symbiotic reality as a feature of our physical world.

The Shamans of Ancient Mexico concur that our universe is a predatory universe. They describe this dynamic as operational at an even more subtle energetic level as well, that of an inorganic yet living entity that feeds upon the human energy produced by human emotion. Although negative in its draining of human energy, it also serves as a teacher that helps humans evolutionarily advance, if they can learn how to master its parasitic onslaught.

This opportunity, and the need for mastery over it, is ever so obvious in the conditions of our current world predicament. Outwardly, we are bombarded daily with the most outrageous of words and behaviors, incessantly taxing our emotional reserves, resulting in extreme volatility and emotional exhaustion.

These onslaughts fill the airwaves and social media, captivating modern life. Closer to home, beyond the politics of now, are our own personal longings for attention and validation, our own deepest needs compulsively seeking to bind us to screens.

Inwardly, we too are prey to the promptings of self-importance and self-pity, seeking outlet in an upward spiral of ecstatic inflation, or in a downward vortex, sending us into a bottomless pit of tortured longing and sadness. These volatile tendencies within ourselves often manifest in cycles of addictive attachments.

Shamans maintain that these various pathways of emotional activation are generated by an inorganic entity, which they have dubbed the flyer, through the judgments of offense that our internal dialogue incessantly broadcasts. Those judgements are directed toward self and other. They, in turn, generate a wave of emotional energy, the food for the flyer.

To free the self of this depleting symbiotic trap, shamans recommend a furtive effort of detachment, which they call the warrior’s way. The goal of the warrior’s way is to gain freedom from the bindings of attachment, first and foremost to being offended. If one can remain sober and detached in the face of offensive words and behaviors, none of one’s energy is lost in the encounter.

To accomplish this, one must lose one’s attachment to self-importance. Self-importance is generally garnered through validation by others, a highly dependent and vulnerable position, which leads to endless emotional strife. Rather than turn over one’s power to another’s validation, the guidance is to face the truth of one’s self within. Acceptance of, and the ability to laugh at, one’s self, goes a long way in cancelling out the impact of the judgments of others.

Self-esteem becomes acceptance of the whole truth of one’s actual self, good and bad. Inappropriate behavior by others is properly placed as their problem to face and resolve, and not as offense to one’s own self. This does not mean that we don’t strategically decide how to manage inappropriate behavior, however, we do so with truthful sobriety rather than with offense.

Freed of the emotional activation generated by judgments within and without, we advance in maturity. We accrue the energy that grants us the power to act decisively, with precision. No energy is wasted in feeding the predator. The predator is defeated when we deny it the energy of our emotional disgust and defeat.

In this time of flagrant predatory human behavior, we are all offered the opportunity to advance beyond the narcissistic emotional web of the predator, who constantly stirs up and then feeds upon our emotional turmoil. We don’t have to keep playing that game.

I prefer to punctuate the positive opportunity of this seemingly depressed and depressing time. I envision the predator as our ultimate teacher.

The predator, as teacher, shines the spotlight upon our attachment to self-importance, showing us the emotional trap where the greatest work needs to be done, and where the largest storehouse of our energy lies, waiting to be retrieved. Once we close this emotional trap drain, we open ourselves to a whole new world of freedom. Freedom to be.

Being,

Chuck

#661 Chuck’s Place: Compassion is Ruthlessness

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.

If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.

Until we meet again,
Chuck

* Refers to the Bill Murray movie.