“To find a mountain path all by oneself gives a greater feeling of strength than to take a path that is shown.” ~Karen Horney
Find the nearest mirror. Look deeply into it. There, hidden within that fabulously flawed human being staring back at you, is the greatest teacher you will never know.
Yes. It’s yourself. And yes, you will never really know it.
The famous inscription at the Temple of Delphi, “know thyself,” is ultimately unattainable. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to obtain it. Enlightenment is equally unattainable, but there’s nothing wrong with striving for it. Self-improvement is still healthy regardless of the fact that you will never be perfect. Socrates’ dictum still stands: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Examining your own life is always going to begin with your interpretation of it. So it behooves you to align your interpretation of it with reality. Easier said than done. Because examining the self is a tricky proposition. The Self is an elusive mystery. It’s masks all the way down perceiving illusions all the way up.
The trickiest part is that only you can experience these masks and illusions. Nobody else can experience them for you. They are subjective. Your experience of them will always be primary to anyone’s interpretation of them. Not even the best shrink in the world can know them as well as you can.
That’s what makes self-examination, and the self-realization that comes from it, so important. Therapists are, at best, guides. Self-therapy is what a therapist directs you towards anyway. So, you might as well make that attempt to begin with. A therapist is good for keeping you on track and preventing you from getting stuck, but there’s nothing saying you cannot learn strategies to do it yourself.
There’s nothing saying you cannot be your own greatest teacher. The autodidact inside you is calling.
Learn your own nature by learning about Mother Nature:
“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.” ~Rumi
The most powerful way to hear the “voice that doesn’t use words” is through solitude and meditation. Out away from the things of man, where No-mind is free to remind you that you are a force of nature first and a human being second.
This is perhaps the most powerful strategy for teaching your Self to yourself. Solitude and meditation teaches a particular flavor of humility that gets you over your own ego (codependence) and puts you in touch with the interconnectedness of all things (interdependence). It teaches you how not to take yourself too seriously. When you unbecome yourself, you become everything. You’re free to experience interdependence despite culturally conditioned codependence.
Allowing Nature to become your teacher cuts the uninitiated ego out of the equation and then sneaks in the initiated ego, which utilizes Soul as a tool to leverage a heightened state of awareness. From this heightened state comes the deep interdependent realization that everything is connected to everything else.
In this heightened state of eco-melting your third eye opens, your crown chakra blooms in full flutter, and your oneness with all things becomes paramount. You are suddenly out of your own way. You are free to learn what you must learn. You are free to become what you must become.
The cure for the pain is in the pain:
“Doctors study medicine. Teachers study education. Healers study darkness.” ~Mark Lundy
Just as you are your greatest teacher, you are also your greatest healer. Know thyself and heal thyself are reciprocal properties. Mother Nature teaches you this first. Pain teaches you this second.
Pain is inevitable. It’s a part of life. Avoiding pain just causes more pain. Ignoring or repressing pain just causes unnecessary suffering. Although pain is inevitable, unnecessary suffering is avoidable.
As long as you’re able to learn from the pain, it can be a steppingstone. Seen in this way, pain can be an initiation into wisdom (a sacred wound), and a flourishing into Eudaimonia. Which can be quite pleasurable.
Growth is painful (think: exercise and endurance training). Change is even more painful (think: puberty and vicissitude). But being stuck is arguably the greatest pain of all (think: the unnecessary suffering of unhealthy and inauthentic living).
Pain is a guide, a powerful teacher. And if you can gain the capacity to recognize the guideposts and learn the lessons that Pain provides, you will be more adept at adapting and more likely to grow into a healthier version of yourself.
The Daemonic and the Demonic:
“To learn to creatively live with the daemonic or be violently devoured by it. We will decide our own destiny. Let us choose wisely.” ~Stephen Diamond
The daemonic is the hidden genius within you: your latent creativity. The demonic is the hidden shadow within you: your repressed darkness. Ignore them at your own peril.
The daemon harbors vital knowledge and deep numen. It is your genius loci, your inspiring force, your attendant spirit, your guiding power. It is the quintessential teacher inside you.
It dwells in the fire of your passions, in your love and your anger, in your longing and your jealousy, in your happiness and your sadness. If you conform to your cultural conditioning and ignore or suppress its presence, these passions will eventually transform from a daemonic passion into a demonic rage, with potentially devastating results.
Hence the importance of reconciling the shadow. You do this by making the darkness conscious. By paying attention to your deepest wounds. Becoming curious with your deep wounds is honoring them with your attention. If you’re able to honor your wounds, then you will be more likely to reconcile your demons.
It’s not so much that you’ll suffer less but that you’ll suffer better. You will become healthier in the ways that you suffer. And with the demon as your diamond-backed ally, you add a streak of fierceness to your teaching/learning that can be revolutionary.
Have a good sense of humor about your own fallibility:
“Life is a matter of oscillation. Life is vibration. The question is: how are you going to interpret that. Is it tremble, tremble, tremble; or is it laugh, laugh, laugh?” ~Alan Watts
Laughter is the best medicine. It’s salve for the soul. Laughter reduces pain, forms deep social bonds, fosters brain connectivity, acts as an effective antidepressant, and protects the heart. Besides all these scientific benefits, laughter is flat out enjoyable.
It usually happens when you are having fun. But it is also a vital tool to use in the face of tragedy, fallibility and mortality.
Nothing is more powerful and courageous than laughter in the face of that which seeks to destroy you. Allow your humor to shine even as your soul is breaking under the heavy weight of cosmic nihilism. Allow it to blaze through the cracks of having fallen apart and come back together again. As Charlie Chaplin said, “Smile, though your heart is aching.”
Embrace the fact that you are a stumbling naked ape, fumbling over your barely evolved brain. You’re an anxious mammal with a mortal coil. You’re an insatiable beast with improbable reach. You might imagine that you are a mature, evolved being who is above baser animal instincts, but you’re not.
When it comes down to it, you represent a laughably young species attempting to evolve on an extremely old planet which is hurtling through an unfathomably ancient universe. In the grand scheme of things, you are a member of a floundering baby of a species.
Having a good sense of humor is embracing your own fallibility. It’s accepting that you are prone to mistakes; that you are imperfect, and always will be. It’s injecting a little humility into your human-biased disposition.
Mastering the self is mastering humility and humor. It’s embracing absurdity in a heroic sense. One is both humbled and empowered by a good sense of humor. The shadow’s “gold” and the “secret elixir” are then more easily excavated, and brought forth to others, despite the absurd experience of being a creature torn between spirit and flesh, mortality and eternity, tragedy and comedy.
If, as Karl Frei said, “Attitude is the difference between ordeal and adventure,” then having a good sense of humor is the ideal attitude to have, as your own greatest teacher, going on the greatest adventure you will ever experience: the hero’s journey.
UK Queen’s Statues Torn Down Amid Anger Over Mass Graves for Indigenous Children
This year may have had one of the most muted Canada Day celebrations, but this didn’t stop Indigenous protesters from making their anger felt – especially in the wake of the discovery of over 1,000 children’s bodies near the residential schools run by the Canadian state and church authorities.
And with churches being likely targeted by arsonists for the crimes of Catholic clergy, protesters are now attacking the symbols of Anglo colonialism – namely, statues of Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.
About 150,000 First Nations children were forcibly separated from their families and communities and forced to attend the religious schools which were established in the 19th century to assimilate Indigenous children into the Anglo settler-colonial culture of Canada.
Former students have testified to the horrific sexual, mental and physical abuse they suffered while enrolled at the schools. Myriad children died from preventable diseases, as well as in accidents and fires. Others disappeared when trying to escape. The Commission has denounced the schools for institutionalizing child neglect and for being organs of “cultural genocide.”
The discoveries have churned up deep-seated anguish and memories of the suffering visited upon First Nations peoples, with many lashing out at the symbols of colonialism.
At least seven churches, all but one of which were Catholic, have also come under apparent arson attacks throughout Canada in recent weeks.
In June, a statue of the late Pope John Paul II at a Catholic church in Edmonton was splattered with red paint and red handprints.
On Thursday, July 1, residents in Canada also held organized protests and pulled down the statues of the top figurehead of British colonialism: Queen Elizabeth II, as well as that of her great grandmother, Queen Victoria. Sky News reports that the toppling of the statues was accompanied by the chant, “No Pride in Genocide!”
In Ottawa, protestors gathered en masse at Parliament Hill chanting ”Cancel Canada Day” and ”shame on Canada,” urging an end to the national holiday over the deaths of Indigenous people.
Indigenous groups and Canadian politicians are demanding an apology from the Catholic Church – specifically Pope Francis. The event could take place by year’s end, according to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
However, it remains unlikely that the British crown will offer the same amends to Canada’s Indigenous nations who, like many across the globe, suffered greatly in British Colonialism’s worldwide search for riches and glory.
3 Reasons Why Introverts Are Undervalued in Today’s Society
It’s undeniable that our society favors assertive extroverted personalities with strong communication skills and underestimates the quiet ones. If you are an introvert, you have probably learned it the hard way.
It could be that you felt unseen in the classroom as a child or teen. Or you may have watched your less competent co-workers get a promotion thanks to their social skills.
It feels unfair, but if you think about our society, it makes perfect sense. The consumerist mindset that has become our second nature inevitably affects the way we treat other people. It seems that everything, including our personal qualities and worth as human beings, is translated into some kind of market value.
In other words, to make other people see your worth in personal or professional life, you need to be able to ‘sell yourself’. Yes, this expression alone tells it all.
You need to know how to make a good first impression, say the right things, and be assertive. If you can’t do it, you are perceived as incapable and uninteresting – whether we are talking about a job interview or an informal social gathering.
But it’s not the only reason why introverts are undervalued in our society. Here are a few more:
1. They are less efficient in teamwork
Communication and teamwork skills are required for all kinds of jobs. It seems that without being able to work in a team, it’s impossible to do your job even if your duties don’t involve interaction with clients.
Introverts are much more efficient when they work on their own and are given a certain extent of independence. They thrive in quiet environments with few distractions and interactions. This is when a quiet person gets the chance to unleash their creative self and make good use of their analytical skills.
Most office jobs don’t give employees this opportunity. Office meetings, group projects, phone calls and all the other attributes of a 9-to-5 job make it almost impossible for an introvert to be productive.
2. They don’t like to be in the spotlight
Sometimes it feels like we are living in a society of attention seekers. Today, you are expected to go public about the most personal matters, such as your relationship and family life.
People share their most intimate thoughts and feelings on social media, post updates about the most trivial events, such as what they had for dinner, and upload countless selfies.
Introverts are among those who still value privacy. They are less likely to showcase their lives online or share the details of their personal affairs with the whole world.
At the same time, the quiet ones don’t like to be in the spotlight at social events. An introvert will never interrupt you. They will listen to you and talk only when they have something important to say. This tendency to avoid attention can be mistaken for insecurity and even a lack of intelligence.
3. They prefer to be real than to be ‘nice’
If you want to make a good impression on others, you are expected to be nice. But what does it mean to be ‘nice’ anyway?
In an introvert’s mind, it equals saying things you don’t mean. Quiet personalities will never bombard you with compliments or say meaningless social pleasantries just to win your fondness. But if an introvert said something nice to you, then be sure that they truly meant it.
Small talk is another component of social relationships most introverts struggle with. To them, it embodies utterly dull, uncomfortable, and pointless conversations they can perfectly do without. For this reason, introverts are often mistakenly believed to hate people.
The truth is that they don’t – they just crave stimulating, meaningful conversations and choose their social circle more carefully than extroverts.
In my book, The Power of Misfits: How to Find Your Place in a World You Don’t Fit In, I write about the reasons why so many introverts feel inadequate and alienated from other people in today’s society. It all goes down to social expectations this personality type has to deal with from a very early age.
But the good news is that every introvert can overcome the negative effects of these expectations and find the right path in this loud, extroverted world.
The Esoteric Meaning Behind Neo’s Interrogation Scene in The Matrix
More than 20 years old now, The Matrix is recognized by fans across the world as being one of the most brilliant films in history, most notably for its deeper meaning and esoteric philosophy.
One scene that is particularly intriguing, considering the social climate of today, is Neo’s interrogation by the Agents of the Matrix.
Now, before we dig into the potential hidden meaning here, as I perceive it, and how Neo found himself in this uncomfortable position to begin with, let’s first establish some key points in relation to the overall story line that will help us to appreciate the implications behind this scene a little bit more.
What Does The Character Neo Represent in the Matrix?
Neo in ancient Greek (νέος) means new/young one. This is an important piece of the puzzle to help us understand what the directors of the film are trying to communicate to us. With that said, when we assess Neo’s character in the first film, we find that he is a solitary individual that keeps to himself and is struggling to find deeper meaning in this world by constantly searching the internet.
What Does The Character Morpheus Represent in the Matrix?
Morpheus in Greek mythology is a messenger of the gods. He appears to humans through dreams with the intention of delivering divine Knowledge and Truth. In the Greek mythos, he can appear in almost any form in people’s dreams, which could be because anyone, regardless of race, gender, or outward appearance, can be a messenger of enlightenment and Truth.
The First Matrix Film is About The Beginning of the Journey to Awakening
With the understanding of the deeper meaning behind what Neo and Morpheus’ characters represent in the film, we can now appreciate the intro scene of Neo sleeping (whilst searching for Morpheus) through a different lens of perception and awareness.
You see, Neo sleeping whilst searching online for Morpheus represents the early stages of the Truth seekers journey — “asleep” but still searching for deeper meaning in life — and hoping to find that meaning by seeking out a “messenger” of higher Knowledge and Truth.
Truth is Terrorism in the Empire of Lies
Through his incessant efforts, Neo begins to get closer and closer to finding the elusive Morpheus. This, however, also attracts the unwanted attention of the Agents in the Matrix, which represent the enforcers of the shadow government of this system. Their job is to ensure that no one exposes what the Matrix really is, and how it turns unsuspecting every day human beings into useful resources that it can use and exploit.
The Agents proceed to apprehend Neo and interrogate him, where they make it very clear that they’ve been spying on him and keeping meticulous records of his activities, both online and offline, for quite some time now. As we all know very well today, all around the world intelligence agencies are doing exactly that — tracking what we view online and keeping meticulous records on many of our movements.
The agents, however, do not see Neo as being a major threat to the Matrix system, as he is still in the early stages of his awakening and does not know enough to be a major threat. Instead, they offer him a deal where they will be willing to “wipe the slate clean” on his illegal activities online, if Neo will simply help them track down the man they call Morpheus, who they claim is “a known terrorist” that is “considered by many authorities to be the most dangerous man alive”.
This represents that the single greatest threat to this manipulative system — which is overwhelmingly ruled by deception and exploitation — is any messenger of higher Knowledge and Truth that can potentially awaken those who are still “asleep” to what the proverbial Matrix really is. In fact, one could argue this sort of power struggle has been going on for thousands of years, and is possibly why Socrates was accused of “corrupting the youth” by the ruling class more than 2,000 years ago and subsequently sentenced to death; or why Fred Hampton was assassinated by government authorities in 1969; or, in more recent history, why civilians that were peacefully protesting against Wall Street and the bankers for their part in destroying the world economy in 2008, were targeted by the FBI and even labelled as potential “domestic terrorists“.
Simply put, Truth is terrorism in the empire of lies.
Neo, still being somewhat naïve and unbegun in his journey, rejects the Agent’s offer and demands he get a phone call because “I know my rights!”
To this, Agent Smith retorts, “tell me Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call if you’re unable to speak?”, which results in Neo’s mouth warping in the most eerie of ways.
This scene represents a lesson that all genuine Truth seekers eventually come to learn — this system is not concerned with human rights nor is it concerned with upholding authentic justice. Instead, it inculcates these beliefs and misperceptions into our minds from a very young age, because it serves to help legitimize its unnecessary existence in the eyes of the unsuspecting public and indoctrinate us as to why we think we need it. But in reality, our government guaranteed “rights” can be taken away from us in the blink of an eye.
In relation to current events, for example, many thousands of people worldwide have been arrested for violating curfew orders; In one Indian state, civilians were told they must take selfies every hour and send it to the authorities to prove that they are staying indoors; in South Africa, some have been fined for not wearing masks while driving their cars; In Boston in the United States, people have even been told that they will be fined if they walk “the wrong direction” down the street; Homeless people in France have reportedly been fined for not staying indoors; Some people have been arrested for attending funerals of loved ones because it violated lockdown orders; Others (including doctors and scientists) have had their right to freedom of speech censored online; In Australia, a pregnant woman was actually arrested in her home for facebook posts that encouraged protesting against the lockdown; According to the International Labor Organization, tens of millions are being pushed into unemployment; and travel all around the world has been severely restricted by these authorities who have taken it upon themselves to be the rulers of this planet by dictating what the rest of us can and cannot do. Whether you agree with these policies or not, these things cannot logically be called “rights” since they are so very easily violated and taken away from us.
There are many other examples that demonstrate how our government given “rights” are more of a comforting illusion than an actual reality, such as the CIA’s secretive Black Site torture programs, which have been done in cooperation with other intelligence agencies and authorities throughout the world. In these programs, people have been kidnapped — without any legal criminal charge or trial — and then taken to undisclosed secret locations where many of them are tortured for many months on end, in ways that are considered to be in violation of international law and basic human rights. The CIA, of course, simply claims they are suspected terrorists. In 2014, however, a Senate Intelligence Committee Report found that at least 26 of the people that were kidnapped and tortured were actually “wrongfully detained”.
Wake Up Neo — You Are the One
Fortunately, Neo manages to escape this unthinkable situation without any serious injury or harm. Soon after, he is contacted by Morpheus, where he is told that he was very lucky that the Agents underestimated his great potential and spared him, because if the Agents had known the great secret that Morpheus knows, then Neo would probably be dead.
Confused by the obvious strangeness of everything taking place, Neo asks Morpheus what the hell is going on, and what exactly is he talking about?? Without hesitation, Morpheus replies to him, “You are the one Neo — You see, you may have spent the last few years looking for me, but I have spent my entire life looking for you.”
This is perhaps the most important lesson the new Truth seeker must eventually come to learn — We are the ones we have been waiting for to change this corrupt world my friends; and we must stop looking for heroes and human leaders to absolve us of this very serious responsibility. Instead, we must all take on the role of Morpheus — which is to awaken as many Neo’s (new minds) as we possibly can, whilst also taking on the role that represents the journey of Neo, by challenging ourselves to become the best version of who we authentically are.
By doing this, we will help to awaken and unleash the unique creative forces of each individual’s problem solving imagination; and we will also find unity in our shared struggle against the injustices, and corruption, of this inhumane system which invariably exploits us all.
If not us, then who? And if not now, then when?
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