Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.
It thunders against brutality, bullying and aggression.
(No martial arts for The Crusader—WWE violence is all it can handle.)
Its reaction is visceral and all-consuming.
The Crusader is a composite Self pieced together from the flotsam and jetsam of past pain, both suffered and inflicted.
It is a three-Self tag team, along with Guilt and The Victim.
“Look at yourself!“
The Crusader’s rage is a plea.
It wants me to see myself—to a) atone for past misdeeds, and b) forgive those who have hurt me.
The Crusader tilts at inner windmills, thundering against the parts of myself I loathe the most (“the Shadow“).
It shows me those parts—and invites me to be Whole.
When recognized, The Crusader becomes an ally, guiding me through the maze of my Shadow (“the valley of the shadow of death“).
At the end of the maze lies healing.
You cannot quieten the mind: full stop! Those are tricks. You can take a pill and make the mind quiet—you absolutely cannot make the mind quiet, because you are the mind.
–Jiddu Krishnamurti, The Awakening of Intelligence
The Chatterbox gorges on audiovisual stimuli, then regurgitates them 24/7.
Its actions are inversely proportional to my desires—like tinnitus, it shrieks at fever pitch precisely when I crave silence most.
Enthralled by its steady stream of psychic vomit, I lose days under its spell.
It mocks all attempts to keep my train of thought from derailing—until weeds cover the rails and I lose sight of them completely.
I accept it’s there.
But I am not impressed by it.
I notice, it, greet it—“Oh, there you are“—and go about my day.
Above all, I cease to identify with it.
I recognize that it is in me but not of me—and give it all the space it needs, knowing I have plenty to spare.
Self-sabotage is the proverbial hammer over the head that finally wakes us up, demanding that we pay attention.
It seeks out successes (real and potential) and systematically sabotages them.
No pillar propping up my self-worth is too sturdy or sacred for it to subvert.
It doesn’t just destroy self-worth: it engenders a fear of self-worth.
To cope—to survive—I play cognitive Whack-a-Mole, where I seek out sprouting shoots of self-esteem and slay them before The Saboteur can.
My psychic landscape becomes a Stalinist dystopia with The Saboteur as the strongman. Here, I, a hapless citizen, “correct” myself—lest my Dear Leader do so for me.
With feelings, it feels better to hit than be hit.
Awareness is key.
Open rebellion is not an option.
Thus, I observe, record, examine—and, in so doing, become aware of just how full of shit The Saboteur truly is.
I reject its propaganda.
The next time it tries to undermine me, I greet it with a good-natured but knowing smile.
I say: “You are welcome in the guesthouse—but I am on to you. So behave yourself, ok?”
No work or love will flourish out of guilt, fear, or hollowness of heart…
Guilt stalks the past.
It roots around with its pain-encrusted snout.
The more decayed the cadavers of my mistakes, the more gleefully guilt sniffs them out.
The Scavenger then dumps them in the central square of my awareness.
My heart bears the weight of a billion universes.
The detritus of the past coats my face, clogs my pores, suffocates me breath by frantic, gasping breath.
I shrivel, become insubstantial, insignificant, unworthy.
I am nothing,
Identifying with The Scavenger/Guilt is an ever-present pitfall.
Instead, I observe it from every angle.
I study it until its roaming patterns reveal themselves—until a map emerges.
(Is introspection the most profound form of cartography?)
I acknowledge The Scavenger’s cyclical nature.
I expect it to come and go as a noumenal tide.
I brace myself just before it comes—and exhale with relief and gratitude as it departs.
And always—ALWAYS—I keep its guesthouse room clean and airy, making sure it has all the space it needs.
If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches…
–Rainer Maria Rilke
The Blamer is my second-most vituperative Self, trailing only The Pity-Seeker.
Whereas The Pity-Seeker melts hearts and evokes concern with teary, puppy-dog eyes, The Blamer hurls thunderbolts.
He rages—oh, how he rages!—against everyone and everything.
My genetic inheritance, my upbringing, the Universe, God (whose existence he doubts, but why relinquish such a juicy target for indignation?)—all are fair game.
He fears two things above all else:
a) Introspection: He cannot bear the inward gaze—it reveals him.
b) Surrender: He loathes the cessation of denunciation—it starves him.
I look within and stop asking why things unfold the way they do.
When I look within, I see The Blamer and give him the space he needs—a need that cannot be accurately assessed without tuning in.
When I stop asking why, I can hear The Blamer clearly and attend to him, as a host should.
Eventually, like the others, he tires of wailing and drops wearily back into his seat.