What if things should be how they are? (Isn’t the world a fantasy?)

What if things should be how they are?
It is quite a shift to go from a terrified rejecting of “God’s Creation” to relaxing enough to be aware to how things actually are. Note that I am NOT talking about the dismissive reactionary reflex of “spiritual” extremism like to repeatedly and fiercely insist that “this world is just a fantasy, an illusion.” However, we can address that linguistic model first while we are on the subject.

 

Life begins. Then language is used to label contrasting aspects of life. Then, someone gets afraid about certain aspects of life- so afraid that they tense up about those issues. Next, some guru comes along and realizes that they could offer a playful (but sincere-looking) interruption to someone’s terrified attachment to certain things and avoidance of other things.

 

“This world is just a fantasy!” After hearing this, the person who is terrified and distressed and agonizing and so on may say “really? What a relief!”

For them, it is a great relief to be told that the world is fantasy. However, the guru knows that “the world” which is fantasy is not the external world, but the interpretations that an individual has been gripping with every bit of chronic muscle tension that they can muster.Why the uptight grip? In order to avoid the display of certain “bad” emotions such as fear and anger, a person may, in terror, inhibit the display of the facial expressions and physical gestures that correspond to fear. Instead of fighting or fleeing, they may freeze- and not just momentarily.

 

Next, in addition to freezing in order to block the natural, healthy stress response of “fight or flight,” if freezing is not satisfactory, then faking arises. I mean things like pretending to be brave rather than actually feeling fear and then being brave. People pretending to be brave (like I have done) are actually focused on social perceptions of them. “Don’t you agree that I am very brave?”

A brave person is not focused on appearing brave to others. A brave person is experiencing fear and is taking risky action knowingly. For instance, if a house is burning and I run inside of it to rescue the child, knowing that I could get seriously burned or possibly even die in my attempt, then that could be bravery.

 

If someone later says “no, that was not brave,” that would be no issue to a brave person. They would not be interested in accepting that invitation to argue or defend.  So there is a difference between bravely running in to a house in order to rescue a child and running in to a house to rescue a child in a hopeful attempt to attract validation and congratulations.
“I did it because it was the right thing according to scriptures, plus it is my job as a firefighter and I want to keep my job so that my mortgage gets paid and….”
That is all fine. The child can still be resuced and there may be lots of gratitude around that.

 

It may take SOME amount of bravery to go in to a burning house for any reason, right? But there is a socially desperate form of bravery that is about avoiding a punishment and maintaining a reward (like so the firefighter keeps their job). Further, there is a “simple” bravery that is just about getting the child out.

Consider the possibility of a failure. A “failed” attempt of desperate bravery could  be reported in this way: “well, I did my job to go in to the burning house and rescue the child, but, you know, I just failed this time. It happens, right? However, I still get paid and it was very brave of me, right? Right? Wow- look at this one minor burn on my knuckle. Dang, I should get an award for trying hard, right?”

Notice how distinct that is from a simple act of bravery: “I failed! The child died. I don’t want to talk right now.”

 

The person who was experiencing a simple fear (for the loss of the child) also experiences a simple bravery. They can later experience a simple grief. There is no complex of conflicting emotions. There is no desperate social anxiety in the background.

 

They are not a professional firefighter who is calm and composed and “cold.” They are also not an “amateur” firefighter” who really just wants encouragement and validation and praise (not that there is anything wrong with any of that either).

However, social anxiety may be part of life, too. If things should be how they are, and if social anxiety is one part of how things are, then it makes sense that social anxiety could lead past a simple fear all the way to complex forms of fear like freezing and faking.

 

“The world is just a fantasy.” That can be stated as a terrified, sincere pretense- possibly leading to a surfacing of latent antagonism. Or, some guru can calmly present the same pretense AS IF it was sincere: “the world is just a fantasy. In fact, it does not even exist! You do not exist! The world does not exist! Everything is a fantasy! There is only one valid category in language for interpreting absolutely everything, which is that everything is invalid.”

So, the folks who are already confused and terrified and desperate for social validation may take that joke or pretense and then speak of it from within their context of confusion and terrified arrogance and so on: “Now, I have finally found the greatest spiritual truth of all time, which I will go out and use to attack other people verbally in order to show how much I have gotten over my shameful past of antagonism and competitiveness.”
Or, if the world should be how it is, then that would include all lingustic categories, too. So, competitiveness should exist. Antagonism should exist. Furthermore, even shame should exist.

Shame is a terrified insistence about what should not be (or… about what should have been instead of what actually is). Either way, shame is obviously a form of extreme fear.

Shame is a chronic tension relating to an expectation of future social punishment. For instance, if there was a burning house and a child in it and I was there, but I did not run inside the house to save the child, I could be ashamed about that.

 

I may think to myself: “I know that I should have run in to save the child, but as long as no one finds out that I was there, then I will avoid punishment.” That is being ashamed if it is a chronic tension that is carried forward (even if the tension is “buried” under more superficial tensions and stresses and worries and issues).

 

In contrast, if I was part of a military action to set fire to a dwelling in which I knew there were lots of children, like the US government’s attack on civilians in Waco, Texas in the 1990s, I might not be ashamed about “doing my job.” Nevertheless, I might be cautious about publicizing my involvement, like to my own children or to the kin of the people that I had burned to death.

 

Why so cautious? I may prefer to avoid the complexity of dealing with the emotional disturbance. I may have other priorities rather than attracting the social approval of “everyone” for my “act of bravery.”

However, when military units plan a surprise attack on civilians, there may be very little danger to the military combatants. In order to be brave, there must be real fear. If the assault team has assessed the situation and has determined that there is minimal risk to them as they climb in to their bomber jets and then fly in to massacre the targets (whether civilians or not), then there is some adrenalin and arousal, but perhaps not much more than for a regular pilot on a commercial flight.

 

It is not bravery when a farmer drops pesticides that kill millions of insects so that vegetarians can eat “death-free” food. Why not? Because there is no immediate threat to the life of the farmer as they massacre the insects.

 

Back to the “safe” soldier conducting surprise attacks against civilians, after a few dozen missions, they may have very little stress from the idea of killing. They may vastly overpower their target and they may know it from gathering information before launching the assault.

 

The success of their slaughter may be “a job well done,” but if there is no real fear, then there is no real bravery. In fact, even if there WAS real danger, without the perception of danger, there is no fear so no bravery. Further, even if someone inaccurately perceives danger, if they have real fear, then they have an opportunity for real bravery.

Condemnation is a key issue though. If a soldier sincerely condemns the enemy (not just as a public relations program), then that is a sign of a lack of emotional security in the mission. A hired thug does not need to condemn their target in order to assassinate them. However, a soldier who is guilty about their participation must justify it with condemnation and vilification and so on.

“I should not be doing things like this generally, but this is a special case. These children are not just any children but they are Japanese Muslims, and the Japanese Muslims are dangerous and violent and belligerent, so again I am not just killing any children. I am solving a problem. I am defending my nation’s honor and safety. I am protecting children by killing children.”

So, those who are sincere about their condemnations tend to be displaying “irrational” justifications for doing “what should not be done- normally!” They are interested in social approval for them personally. They are concerned about social condemnation from others- punishments. They have a basic guilt about their actions and they are covering their guilt (and grief, etc) by a dazzling sequence of repetitive condemnations to distract from the simplicty of what they have done.

To display their guilt openly is frightening to them. Further, if it is happening, and if what is happening should be happening, then they should be frightened about displaying guilt.
If they are frightened, they could still display the fear though. However, to intentionally display fear rather than hide it would already involve bravery.

Bravery may be something that only happens when it should happen. In fact, everything may happen only as it should happen.

I might be afraid of admitting that what happens should happen. I might be afraid of withdrawing my long list of condemnations for what is wrong with the world according to my idealisms. I might be afraid to stop vilifying demons and devils to worship and oppose as I heroically save the world from them to make up for my past sins and earn my out out of hell and in to heaven.

However, even if afraid, I may withdraw my condemnations anyway. I may discontinue the practice of distracting myself and others from an underlying guilt or fear or grief.I may stop maintaining a chronic tension and relax. I may vent. I may repent.
I may say “I did what I did and I cannot change what I have done.” I may cry or laugh or some of each.
Chronic tension ultimately is to interrupt the display of crying and laughing. There are times when crying or laughing can be very dangerous. There are times when what should happen is the chronic repressing of crying or laughing.

How do we know when crying should happen? When crying happens, it should happen.

How do we know when laughing should happen? When laughing happens, it should happen.

How do we know when anything should happen?  When something happens, it should happen.

When should people string together the following sequence of words to say that “this world is just a fantasy?” When that is what happens, that is what should happen. So what?

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One Response to “What if things should be how they are? (Isn’t the world a fantasy?)”

  1. Thyris Discordia Says:

    I enjoyed reading this very much. Thank you for it 🙂

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