Our very souls may be consumed by shadows.
We each have a complex relationship with ourselves. If we have ever really suffered through something like; alcoholism, drug addiction, addiction to gambling, sex addiction, too many of the wrong prescription drugs, parental abuse, an abusive relationship, borderline personality disorder, PTSD, serious problems with our diet, mental health problems, failed relationships, job loss, loss of our home… (or more likely a mixture of all of these problems and more), then we also have a complex relationship with the whole world and everyone in it.
At times we can find ourselves in a very bad place where every voice is critical, malevolent, and negative ~ even our own inner voice. Our inner voice creates inner demons; anger, depression, fear of rejection, rejection of others, jealousy, judgementalism, self-doubt, self-hatred, worthlessness…
All the dark, malevolent Passions of the Soul are roused and exerted; its mild and amiable affections are suppressed; and with them virtuous Principles are laid prostrate. ~ Charles Inglis
Unless you have been there you can have no idea how bad the pain and anguish these inner demons can create. One will do almost anything to escape the crippling pain; including going back to our addictions, making big geographical moves, shutting down and numbing ourselves, isolating ourselves, psychotherapy, strong prescription drugs, attending 12 step groups, spirituality, retreating further into mental illness, suicide…
It is not just our inner demons. If we are in that bad place then we are also surrounded by demons. Everyone we know, everyone we meet, adds to these outer demons with their misplaced concerned advice, criticisms, and rejection. Many people do not want us to get well, they measure themselves against our struggle and feel superior, they add their negative demons to our own. When I was at my last rock-bottom I became aware that almost everyone I knew, everyone I met, was feeding off my pain. Few understand, few want to understand, and fewer still truly want to help.
Some especially gifted, intelligent, and sensitive people believe that there is a third layer of demons, in addition to our inner demons, and the tormenting demons gifted to us by almost everyone we know. Most spiritual and religious people also believe that there are more demons than the physiological and psychological. These special people believe in genuine demons, in the spiritual realm, and that some of us may be victims of these demons. In my mind’s eye I am very aware that in the shadows surrounding my soul lurk the powers of darkness seeking to torment and torture me.
Demons manifest themselves in people in different ways. For instance, out of nowhere, somebody can become very angry for no reason. That’s not just an emotion. That’s a demon. ~ Stephen Baldwin.
None of the details really matter. What I do know is that if you have truly suffered, and if you are suffering now, then you are the victim of demons who will feed off your pain, and want nothing more than to destroy you and everything and everyone you care for.
It is our demons that make us believe that our partner is sleeping with other men, that giving into our addiction will solve our problems, and that suicide is painless.
Many of us have tried over the years to face down our inner demons. Some succeed, many fail. Many fail because they don’t realise that the main causes of their misery are inner demons which seem to have an intelligence and will of their own. Many more fail because they never realise that they are also surrounded by malevolent evil demons emanating from the subconscious psyche of everyone they know. And, some fail because they are the victims of true demonic possession.
Demons are not your superiors, demons are not even your equals. All demons have is the ability to make you cause yourself pain and suffering. Demons can only torment and torture you if you let them, but most of us allow demons to torture us because we are not even aware that they are there.
Negative thinking patterns can be immensely deceptive and persuasive, and change is rarely easy. ~ David D. Burns.
Recovery begins with admitting that you have a problem.
I cannot yet face down my demons, but I know they are there, trying to make me torture myself so that they can feed off my pain. (Even your inner demons feed off the pain you cause yourself.)
Now, when I feel myself going down a negative path to my own personal hell, I can tell myself that it’s just my personal demons trying to destroy me, and that I should ignore their oppressive persecution. That helps me. A psychological bully can only bully you if you let them. Your demons have no physical power over you. Ignore them and your demons will go away. Eventually I shall be able to face down my demons and tell them to fuck off ~ and that will be a good day.
Demons are to be pitied. They have nothing but your pain and suffering. If you do not allow your demons to make you cause yourself pain and suffering, then those demons will eventually die and vanish into nothing.
You can and will get well if you do not allow your demons to torment and torture you.
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SOMETIMES, SELF-WILL AND EFFORT ARE JUST NOT ENOUGH
In 12 step recovery programmes this is step 2. In Alcoholics Anonymous the full text reads;
We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. ~ The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
For many people trying to recover from an addiction to alcohol, street drugs, prescription drugs, gambling, shoplifting…, this is where it all falls apart. One may have been dry and clean for a while, (although cigarettes and candy will have taken the place of the primary addiction), but here we begin to flirt with the idea of God.
Addicts and people under great stress have poor memories, they will have forgotten that when they were at their nadir they will have said something like; ‘Please God, get me out of this one…’ In any event, in the quotation given above where does it say God? It doesn’t, it says; a Power greater than ourselves. Addiction is self-will writ large; egotism, egomania, narcissism, conceit, and vanity are all part of the psychology of an addict. Addicts and the otherwise mentally ill believe they are the most important person in the Cosmos ~ that belief has to be smashed.
Addiction, stress, anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, anorexia, binge eating disorder, psychotic disorders, exhibitionism…, (the list could go on and on), all produce a state of desperation. A state where the sufferer is willing to do almost anything to escape from the see-saw of euphoria and misery that they endure. Anything, except believe that there is more in this Cosmos than themselves ~ addiction and self-absorption go together like ham and eggs.
Trust me on this, one does not have to believe in the God of our childhood, or the God of our parents, or the God of whatever church or religion we theoretically belong to. Lapsed Christians, lapsed Jews, Agnostics, atheists, sun worshipers, druids, can all come to believe that there is a power in the universe that is greater than they are. In 12 step recovery programmes this sometimes known as ‘finding your higher power.’
I believe in a higher power and I believe in good and bad, right and wrong. You sleep in the bed you make. ~ Leif Garrett.
Lief Garrett, singer, actor, television personality, one time drug addict, member of the Church of Scientology, often in legal difficulties.
So we’re in physical and mental torment of one sort or another. In order to recover we need to give up some of our egomaniacal self-will, narcissistic denial, and the conceit that we can stop doing whatever destructive behaviour we suffer from, whenever we want to. Whether one believes in a Deity, or not, recovery from addiction and a range of other destructive behaviours depends on faith and spirituality. The human mind finds it much easier to believe in something, rather than believing in nothing, (although one could believe in nothingness and infinity.)
There is something about modern man and woman, particularly men and women who are suffering extreme distress, which makes it difficult for them to accept that there is anything beyond what they can see, hear, taste, touch, smell, or otherwise detect with one of our many other senses. Very well, what if I quote from one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th Century? A man so smart that 99% of the people in the world don’t even understand what he was getting at.
The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms ~ this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of all true spirituality, (geistigkeit). ~ Albert Einstein, The Merging of Spirit and Science.
Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist and philosopher of science.
Quantum physics and probability theory are both pretty wedded to the fact that nothing is impossible. People being what they are, if one gives a lot of them three choices;
- There is definitely no God, Goddess, Higher Power, or a Power greater than me.
- There may or may not be a Higher Power, Earth Goddess, Power of the Cosmos, et alii.
- There is a Higher Power, Mother Goddess, Power of the Universe, Isis and Aphrodite. I know because I have faith.
There is no possibility whatsoever that they would be able to come to a consensus of opinion. The proof of this is in Arrow’s impossibility theorem. Therefore, it doesn’t really matter what one believes in, as long as one believes in something that is greater than a single human being ~ that is, greater than you. We cannot go on just existing, we need faith and spirituality in order to live ~ after all, we are broken human beings.
Personally, I walked the road of recovery from my disease by believing in the power of the Cosmos. It didn’t matter what I believed in, as long as I believed that there was a Power greater than myself. If you can’t even manage that, then believe in the fact that you want to believe in something, because that will put you on the road to spirituality and recovery from whatever syndromes you suffer from.
The absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence. ~ Carl Sagan, in Cosmos.
Carl Edward Sagan, astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science populariser, researcher into extraterrestrial life.
All of human life requires faith. Faith in gravity, in the laws of physics, in birth, love, life and death. To recover from serious addiction, mental illness, extreme stress, also requires faith and spirituality.
Given that I am currently not only on planet weird, I am deep in the jungle on planet weird, after experiencing reincarnation into my own life, I need a hell of a lot more faith and spirituality than most. Currently it suits me to believe in my vision of the Goddesses Isis and Aphrodite. They are my higher powers, not yours. You need to find your own higher power for yourself to achieve true spirituality.
DOES FREE WILL EXIST?
Well, the real answer is Yes, and No, or Maybe.
For millenia philosophers have debated whether humans have free will. What is free will? Is free will compatible with the notion of a God, or Gods? Is free will possible alongside causal determinism? Is free will probable if we believe in quantum mechanics?
Free Will is taken to be the ability to act without the constraint of necessity or fate, or to choose between alternative possibilities. In fact, these two concepts are mutually exclusive. There may be many possibilities, but the choice must be driven by necessity or fate.
In which case free will does not exist. On a daily basis most individuals in the west act out of necessity; school, work, relationships, weather, economics, the list of things which drive human behaviour is endless to the point of infinity.
Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer.
Arthur Schopenhauer ~ philosopher and author of The World as Will and Representation and Essays and Aphorisms.
Fate is another matter. Many Eastern Religions believe that everything is preordained, although the word most commonly used to describe Eastern beliefs is fatalism. In fact, many Christians also believe that God has already decided everything. This may be called either preordination or predestination.
Fatalism espouses the belief that we are powerless to do anything other than what we actually do. We have no power to influence the future or our own actions. In the East this produces an attitude of resignation in the face of the events of daily life. Fatalism also espouses the belief that to live is to suffer ~ which is one of the Four Noble Truths.
To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning to the suffering. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche.
Friedrich Nietzsche ~ philologist, philosopher, cultural critic, poet, composer and author of The Wanderer and His Shadow.
Free will obviously relies on internal thoughts and feelings, and how successful is anyone in generating and sustaining the psychological, physiological, emotional, cognitive and subconscious dimensions which make up a free-thinking individual? How does that fit with alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bi-polar disorder, hypersexuality…? Again the list of neurosis and character defects which appear to deprive humans of free will is almost endless to the point of infinity.
Does a man with a severe addiction to gambling have any choice but to go on gambling until he is broke and destitute, and often beyond that with borrowed money? Does this man have sufficient free will to say; ‘Stuff this for a game of soldiers, I’m going to make a nice casserole for dinner instead of throwing my money away betting on the 3:30 at Sandown?’
Well yes and no. It is only his gambling addiction which is preventing him from exercising free will, not something in the intrinsic structure of the Cosmos. Does a nymphomaniac have a choice about having sex with every man who happens along? Well, possibly not. Unlike sluts and skanks who merely have a pathetically low self image and will sleep with just about anybody, nymphomaniacs have the bona fide mental illness of hypersexuality. They have a choice but the choice is almost always Yes.
I have met many gamblers, sluts, alcoholics, skanks, people with OCD, tramps, heroin addicts, vamps, cocaine addicts, hookers, and strippers, but I have never met a real, honest to God nymphomaniac. Excessive sexual drive in a man is called satyriasis, and I wouldn’t like to suffer from that.
To live a spiritual existence implies that free will does exist. It isn’t a given that any woman needs to have sex with every man that comes along, (unless said woman is a hooker). It isn’t a given that alcoholic women will do almost anything for a drink, up to and including prostituting herself with casual sex. It isn’t a given that the same woman may have OCD and be a compulsive thief.
For example, in the choice between alcoholic and sexual debauchery as against spirituality, an absence of free will negates any moral responsibility whatsoever. Without freedom of action there is no morality. However, given a choice between dying sad and lonely, bottle in hand, and living to see your children grow up, the choice is blindingly obvious. Therefore a man’s decision to give up the booze are not the result of free will but of necessity. BULLSHIT. If that were true then hardly anyone would be a practicing alcoholic ~ and yet our city streets are full of dipsomaniacs.
The difficulty we face is that once we are in a given lifestyle, it is incredibly painful to change. Free will implies that our skank can wake up one morning and decide that she isn’t going to do that sort of thing anymore. On the one hand, she could do that, on the other hand, she won’t. She won’t until she is badly beaten, or gang raped, or suffers similar trauma. It takes a lot to make people want to change their ways, and self deception and denial means our woman probably does not even recognise that she has a problem.
Admitting that you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery, that takes a hell of a lot of free will. I don’t think there is a self assessment for compulsive shoppers, but there are many for alcoholics. Am I An Alcoholic? is one question some of us should ask ourselves, for alcoholism deprives one of free will.
So, addiction deprives one of free will. So does compulsion. When one is conscripted into an army one doesn’t have very much free will after that. Except we do, even in the mud and blood of the trenches during WWI, there was free will. ‘Should I have a cigarette now or later?’ ‘Am I actually going to have to eat yet another tin of bully beef?’
Free will does exist, despite what a lot of people with more letters after their name than you can shake a stick at say. Which is just as well as far as spirituality is concerned, for without free will there is no spirituality.
It is possible to recover from addiction, but not without some degree of spirituality and a willingness to begin to live a spiritual life. You don’t have to take my word for that, just go to one 12 step recovery meeting.