Just as life does not stop during the Christmas celebrations but they are a special part of it, so in this text I want to talk about a human characteristic as part of human nature, what it is and weakness (the same coin with its two sides).
I have discussed in previous texts how depending on the identity that each person adopts, he projects onto the other or in other groups- consciously or unconsciously- those elements of oneself that he considers not to fit with the specific identity. Thus, a man who considers himself noble and meek will not swear easily or be abrupt to someone else and will be particularly annoyed with someone else for doing so, especially towards him. This is regarding a person's persona, the image of oneself.
If we accept that the universe manifest itself as binary, - that is to say that everything exists together and in relation to its opposite,- then we understand that we all have everything to a larger or lesser degree or as potentiality. Thus, if someone believes that they have only one characteristic over its opposite, then they deny the existence and, more importantly, the relationship that they have with its opposite, which, projecting it onto others, they reject it as 'cheap', of lower value, less etc.
Of course this leaves the person and his peers in a advantageous position, that of power, more value than others and supremacy.
Our entire economic system is based on this principle, there are better and worse quality goods. The same principle to a lesser or greater extent we have applied this in people and how we evaluate others. In nature, however, there are no greater or lesser value goods. An apple, wherever it grows and regardless of its shape and colour, is as beautiful, complete and of the same value as any other despite our personal view of it. It may be different in its qualities, sour/sweet, large/small, green/red, but its value is the same (unless we are talking about genetically modified ones and of nutritional value which is a subcategory of the general concept of value).
Therefore, the mass application of the principle of value to people as an absolute criterion seems problematic because it does not describe the qualities of a person, the character, the experiences and ultimately her essence. Clearly people have preferences, things that attract us more than others, and these are essentially part of our manifestation, but here I am talking mainly about-conscious or unconscious-the evaluation of others as better or worse.
In particular, western societies have been based on this premise and anything that does not actively encompass power, they treat it as 'less'. Concepts such as solidarity, illness, weakness, internal quest have been linked to feelings (response of value) with pity and mercy and it is imperative is to avoid them almost at any cost.
They thus create an additional, man-made assessment (morbidity) for how one should be and he should not.
When a man, however, identifies only as strong, which requires him to do certain things, then not only does he ask his companion to take the other role, the weak one, but he also deprives himself of experiencing the whole spectrum of possible experiences e.g. to get help, to be left in the support of the other, to allow himself to make, recognize, own and correct 'mistakes' etc.
Of course, the same applies to people who identify as powerless, expecting someone else to take care of them, to save them, to support them etc, and also depriving themselves of the ability to own their power and creatively use it their lives to evolve.
The environment in which one grows, in the same way that nature and climate produce certain goods, have a decisive influence on the structure and character of the person, taking care or not the qualities that it carries as the soul as well as creating the ground for its life lessons.
For example, a baby/child who has not been systematically cared for and loved by their parents (or guardians) then he will have created an internal image of an unsafe world and, therefore, as an adult he may not easily trust other people in his relationships etc.
I have seen people who have had abusive or not very supportive childhood experiences to thrive in their lives as adults in and also others with similar experiences not being able to escape the character and feelings that were created from similar experiences.
Similarly, I have seen people in nurturing environments unable to connect with other people's experiences beyond their own, rejecting them as an unknown territory.
The position of strength or weakness of a person at any given point in time does not explain where this man comes from, what he has experienced or what he experiences now, how he has or has not tried to become who he is or can be in his entirety. Any of these positions can certainly be indications or implications of other things.
Every moment we can feel strong in something and weak in something else. We all have the potential for everything regardless of whether we acknowledge it or not. The judgement, then, of one or the other position as better or worse or right or wrong, besides socially constructed, it probably says more about the person who is making it, than the person who receives it.
Feeling strong or weak are just states like any other; how one experiences and responds to them is a personal matter in a personal 'history' and course of life and lessons in a world where everyone can potentially interact and have something to learn from another.
As I felt that the previous text had been incomplete, I wanted to enrich it with a few additional ideas.
I essentially wrote about the projection that each of us is making on the others, and in order to be able to recognise all people as worthy, we should all take responsibility for who we are, what we do and especially the parts that we don't like about ourselves and others.
"I Like it or I don't like it" are social constructs linked to the concept of identity that I discussed earlier. Nature or God- whichever feels right for you- created day and night, (physical) life and death, health and illness without claiming that either of them is better than the other. Life happens with or without our consent, whether we like it or not.
Nature breeds creatures in various combinations, forms and colours without evaluating its creations, neither rejecting nor ranting about them. These are demands and needs of man who wants to control, define and categorize everything around him so that he can organize, understand and evaluate his experiences.
But the experience happens whether he likes it or not, whether he understands it or not, whether he's trying to control it or not and experiences are not always pleasant as obsessively the western world wants to believe. The first day of school, the first glance at the object of lust, the loss of a beloved person, the anticipation of a result, the separation from a relationship, the end of a job are only moments when agony, fear, agitation, anger, pain, etc. prevail over the 'happy' feelings. Life is full of such moments.
Yet these are not less useful or 'good' experiences than the happy ones. It's the night, it's the other side of the coin, it's the yin, it's the shadow, it's the cloud, it's the destruction. It is what is not pleasant, but it is as important as anything that makes us smile. I understand how difficult it is to assimilate this from the viewpoint of the western man who has built his identity mainly on the demand for joy.
As Buddhism teaches us (as another expression of the human spirit), all the senses, experiences, emotions come and go and a great part of the pain that man is experiencing comes from his attachment to a certain one of these.
Either extol the joy, or lament the sadness both are temporary situations of man in a greater path, that of self-knowledge, wisdom, enlightenment-again here the name choice is yours-.
Every experience is an experience. How we read it, evaluate and choose to respond to it depends on us and bears our personal responsibility and signature.
In alchemy, through various processes (Nigredo, Albeido, Citrinas) manages the metal or man to ' clean ', to purify its qualities and to show the essence of its existence. But the process doesn't end there. The final stage (Rubeido) is the practical application of lessons learned and qualities in the world that could benefit it. Wisdom, knowledge, beauty are not made to be closed away from people's eyes in theories, books and museums. Knowledge of the world and spiritual truths are applicable to everyday life. It is what some teachers call embodied spirituality.
Anything that exists, whether it suits our current worldview or not, is natural and divine, so it is also sacred. Anything we do not understand, makes us uncomfortable or does not correspond to our previous structured reality, does not mean that it is not worth or that It of values more or less than us.
In the huge soup of ideas, stimuli, people, philosophies, opinions and choices in which we swim every day, we always have the freedom to choose who to open a dialogue with, what to make contact with and what not, even if we do not initially know the reasons. There are always conscious and unconscious reasons for whatever happens including our choices,
Think perhaps how our lives would be and what choices we would make if we responded to everything with the sacredness from which it is made.
Today I am writing about a very fundamental and sensitive topic, traces of which exist in my previous articles and will certainly exist in later ones too. Not only because am I particularly fond of this subject but because I think we are now being called upon as humanity to incorporate it into our consciousness.
Through the centuries we evolved, from living in caves, to civilisations, to automation and control of nature. This is the development and unfoldment of spirit in matter.
Matter gives us the opportunity (and the challenge) to see as tangible big spiritual and existential questions and issues.
It is true that we managed to survive and evolve as a species because we worked together. First into families, groups, communities, villages, cities, countries, etc. Somehow on this path we realized that we achieve more when we work together for a goal, against a particular opponent, against common threats, etc.
We have now reached a point of progress where, to a large extent, we have succeeded in securing our survival in addition to unexpected tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes and other extreme weather and natural phenomena as well as many deadly diseases besides cancer etc.
So an external enemy that threatens us with life or death does not exist to the extent that it once existed. This to the extent that we are talking about humans as a biological species.
To the extent that man perceives himself as a kind with feelings, thoughts, ideas, desires etc, then we are talking about creating identities where each person identifies himself - consciously or unconsciously-with all the elements of various categories. For example, everyone has an identity consisting of his nationality, his religion (atheism is also a characteristic), his place of origin, his experiences and feelings in relation to this place and others.
All these external elements interact with the inner qualities and desires of every human being. For example, a child who has artistic tendencies and grows up in a village or a family that does not nurture them or his particular desire, then the child learns that this part of him is not welcomed in the world, that there is no space for it and it would be good to bury it in favour of the dominant values and practices of the family and community.
The specific talents, desires and interests of a child (every human being has his own) is part of their uniqueness, who he really is, what gifts he brings as a soul into the world and perhaps what he has come to do in this world (in the sense of creating his life freely). This uniqueness may have more or less common characteristics with the environment, so it may be more or less different from that.
If the environment does not understand, condemns or rejects this diversity- which is vital for the fulfilment of each individual- then we observe the birth of hatred. The child learns firsthand that there are reasons for himself and other people to be rejected. If he does not reinstate within and without the place of his desire in his life, then he will seek in the future to find (or construct) this resounding quality in differences, an 'otherness' outside of him who must at all costs be rejected because it is the enemy and the threat of his own identity and existence to some degree.
I am not talking here about the moral education of children to avoid unwanted acts, for example violence, but about the way we give meaning and respond to them, which may mean something diffferent than what we think. For example, when a child expresses herself violently, it may mean that she is afraid and not that she is evil and must be punished for it (of course it depends on the circumstances).
By recognising and accepting how we are similar and different from others-and the environments in which we grow-we create our own place in the world, recognise and use our power and relate as equal to all other people who have or have not done the same for themselves.
The recognition of self (whatever we consider as 'ego') as equal to another (anything we perceive as such) is an extremely current lesson in the world and the root cause of many social and other problems (e.g. today we reward more the educated than those who care for our food).
If we consider ourselves better for any reason, then there is someone else who is less good, therefore weaker, hence less of value. He is the one that we can dominate and we make sure he never gets better than us.
A person who knows what she is good at and where she can improve on, what she really likes and where she finds peace, satisfaction and fulfilment and intentionally pursuits them, she does not feel better or worse than anyone else altogether because everyone has their own uniqueness and the self value that comes with it
To a certain extent we currently operate with an old brain (identity) that has not yet updated its software and is looking for potential enemies.
To the extent that we operate from the position of an angry and wounded child that the world did not see and did not let it show and become who he is, then the world remains a hostile place and the different other is a threat that must be dealt with accordingly, missing out on all the gifts that he has to bring to the world.
To the extent that we recognise the differences and similarities (uniqueness) of all the others- especially those that we consider weak and less or stronger and better- as equal to ours then we will be able to see the world for what it is, we will be able to connect deeply with it and build a world not based on war but based on understanding, wisdom and love.
I will not lie, integrating life lessons is most often a painful and hard working process with impressive results. Otherness will always be the reminder and the opportunity in the search of our wholeness
We hear very often the use of the word 'toxic'person and I wanted to share some thoughts on this. Clearly, the issue is quite complex and could not be exhausted here, given the personal nature of the experiences that everyone has.
From varying sources we hear how to avoid 'toxic' people, how not to let the 'energy vampires' suck your energy, what to do to protect ourselves and others.
I am one of the people who do not believe that there are bad and toxic people but harmful and toxic elements within humans (manifested in behaviours) just like toxins in organisms, which are only one part of the organism among many others.
I think that this distinction is important because when we call someone ' toxic΄then' we seem to reject him as bad or harmful in his entirety, as a human being, thus, also rejecting the good elements that he has. I understand that it can be convenient for many reasons but it does not mean it is fair or reflects the truth of the person.
If we look at toxicity (or toxic behaviour) as an element of a human being, we can, apart from seeing other elements of this person, isolate the behaviour, understand where it comes from and perhaps respond more effectively than a total rejection.
Humans are an synthesis of our physical, psychological, mental and spiritual states and all of this is influenced to a large extent by the environments, the way and the dynamics in which we grow (and for the more metaphysical ones these experiences reflect the experiences of our past lives).
There are people who as children grew up in what we call a 'toxic environment', (clearly there are gradations of toxicity) which may have contained high drug or alcohol use, crossing of personal boundaries, omission of needs, abuse in various forms, etc. Such a child growing up in a teenager, young adult and adult (if he has not worked out and transcend his experience) will have learned to live in fear, insecurity and threat.
By extension he will perceive the world around him with elements of threat and strive, like any human being, to maintain a 'homeostatic position', the space, the behaviours etc, that is, in which he will feel safe in order to be able to build and develop a stable life on these foundations.
A man, for example, who has grown up in an environment with intense outbursts of anger that were followed by violence, punishment, etc. ether they will imitate the same behaviour in order to maintain his safety based on intimacy with power or will try at all costs to avoid relationships, situations and people who express or provoke the very feeling of anger that will remind him of painful experiences.
And there it is that unconsciously continues a toxic behaviour (many times and from generation to generation) because this person in order to maintain a safe and intimate position (limiting any threat), can adopt means and behaviours that become violent to others. For example, to identify only with the image of the wounded victim in a relationship, which is in constant need of care or perceives that bad things constantly happen to him from an abuser, not seeing how in this way they become the same aggressors by controlling the situation as victims and deliberately or inadvertently, they may hurt each other by blaming him as the sole responsible for their own situation.
Of course, relationships are bi-directional so there needs to be the other who unconsciously or consciously consents to play the corresponding role in the relationship game.
Recommended solutions? Self-awareness and empathy that lead to change.
If every person does not recognise exactly what he is doing, does not confront his experiences, the pain and the difficulties they hide, then he will always be prone and blind to such 'toxic' elements first within himself and then he will bring them into his relationships as the only secure way to connect with others.
The toxicity does not lie in the very essence of the person- pain and other difficult emotions are not toxic in themselves- but in the ways in which he deals with these feelings within himself and with others.
The perception and expression of pain, insecurity, anguish, fear, sadness, despair (lack of hope), rejection and other so-called 'difficult' emotions are vulnerable positions and are neither easy positions nor positions of power. They are true psychic events that we all have more or less experienced and which are essentially information about how we are connected with ourselves and with our environments in order to survive and live and thus evolve.
When we give them space and listen to them, to express them, to accept them and to love them, then we have no reason to hide them from anyone (unless we freely choose not to share them), let alone engage in games and strategies in relationships in order to hide them either from us or from others (and when the others express them to also reject them).
Thus, by understanding toxicity (to a large extent) we understand that it is a protection mechanism that a vulnerable person uses as the only known way to protect himself in the face of a perceived danger aand requires strategic moves and attacks ( Direct or indirect).
How one chooses to respond to such a situation is a personal matter..
Contemplating the intensity of the last few weeks I realised how much we have to revisit some concepts in our lives for the sake of our evolution towards a collective identity. Concepts and behaviours that we have been considering as given and consolidated are now being overturned through friction with the ' other ' to see what is happening inside us and perhaps what is there for us to learn.
For example, we often use the word of love without always understanding what we are referring to and what it really means for each one of us.
Clearly the concept and especially the acts of love vary among various cultures and societies. For example, when the English are 'kicking their children out' of the house when they are 18 years old, they do so because their love dictates to pave the way for their children to learn how to earn their own life, face difficulties and facilities and learn to manage them. . It does not necessarily mean that the parents at that moment abandon their children but they teach them that they need to learn to 'stand on their feet ' something that in Greek parents' eyes for example seems hard and lacking of love.
But is there a right and wrong love?
'If you loved me, you would do this, ' You do not love me (because you did not do me that for me) ', etc. are some of the phrases that we often hear, so often that they become evidence and truly synonymous with love.
My analytical mind never accepted the 'falling in love ' and 'out of love ' as we refer to. Who loves, whom, why and how they were always some of my deepest questions.
Clearly there are different kinds of love and my intention here is not to write a thesis about what love is and not to focus on a specific kind of love, for example, erotic.
I want mainly to relate love with self-knowledge and personal development, principles and directions that apply to any relationship of love, parental, friendly, erotic, human.
I can say with relative certainty (because there is always a tipping margin) that we cannot love something we do not know. Ever wonder why you love someone? Or what is it that you love about someone? Do you know well of him or her that you love and are you sure you do not love them simply because of something they do or say provokes within you a certain feeling? (security, attraction, that you are not alone etc).
I understand that these are not easy questions to be investigated and answered by someone and require deep enquiry. But I think it is important to name them just like a chewing gum that everyone can chew on whenever he has time and thus release a little more taste from the experience lived.
If we assume that someone loves the emotion that love creates, then I'm not sure if they really loves each other. This is evident when the other does something that enhances this feeling and then it is all good, if not, then we get angry, we feel that we are not loved or do not love the other enough, we do not get what we want and, thus,we lose this solid ground.
In conditional love people agree to play the game of ' we will continue to love each other as long as we make each other feel good or in a certain way '. When these conditions change then the game changes.
Unconditional love is the one you love the other for who he is, what she does and wants even if it brings some 'friction' to the relationship or brings up difficult feelings. In a loving relationship, people see what is important to both and respect it, they do not fight it or fight against it even if it puts them in an awkward position or makes them feel uncomfortable. In a loving relationship painful truths are being told and acknowledged and people learn to apologise and change.
Then the other is really the other and not the extension of oneself that is accepted only if he is behaves of a certain way.
Then I let the other grow in whatever direction he is being called, even if it means that at some point the relationship might dissolve because the development paths of both might not coincide.
For some people to be in a relationship (for what the relationship gives them, whatever that is) is an end in itself and they would do anything to maintain it, including forgetting parts of themselves behind. They always have the choice to show these parts of themselves, but this takes courage and requires taking a risk because the other may not be able to see or relate with these. And then what happens?
For some other people the driving force is the development of the self and the lessons/experiences she has to learn/live in this life.
It may not be a 'black or white ' case, but there could be a huge grey area that can unite both ends, if they are willing to move positions and ,thus, acquiring self- knowledge and knowledge of the other as the object of love in the brave and beautiful dance of love.
This text is inspired by recent personal and public events and relates to the concepts of abuser and victim in the context of the evolution of today's societies towards a new identity. To some extent it is a continuation of my previous publication where I started writing on this subject and does not intend to convince anyone of anything but, if it can, to put thoughts and ideas into reflection.
As some of you may know, there was another violent crime recently committed in Greece with a victim that of a girl who was killed because her perpetrators did not respected her desire. It is undoubtedly a cruel and inhumane crime deriving from pathology.
Always in crimes like this, as in the recent murder of the drag queen Zak Kotopoulos, and having worked with people who have committed serious crimes, I was perplexed at the question of how one reaches the in-humane point where they allow themselves to exert violence and eventually remove another life (since his own life is not under threat).
What exactly is it that allowed the two young men to abuse and kill another human being for not doing what they wanted? Also, why are such cruel crimes happening so often?
Taking some distance from the crime, I realized that we're probably talking about another symptom of a social pathology. Have a think of how we treat nature the days, where as absolute conquerors we have imposed ourselves on every part of it, what animals we will grow and eat and what we will extinct, what fruits and vegetables will grow when and where, how to better our living conditions ignoring the effects on the environment, etc.
What once- to a certain extent- was our home and the animals our cohabitants that we cared for and we loved because in some degree understood that it is part of the chain of life (on the planet), now we act arrogantly towards them, like a spoiled, ' greedy ' child who takes out his quirks and simply satisfies his desires at everyone's expense.
Do you discern any resemblance to the aforementioned crimes? Is it not a natural consequence when one learns to be oppressor in an area of his life to extend his enforcement to others including the ' weak ' members of his own 'family'?
The woman, the gay, the immigrant, the drug addict, the weak character, the man and so many other categories of people in a hostile social environment become the weak pig, ox, salmon, quinoa, pineapple etc and in the hands of the "strong" they become the ' easy ' victim whose fate he determines.
It's like we've moved the jungle within into our societies and our way of living.
We have achieved with pain and blood to see ourselves as the strongest being of the planet and we are heading to its destruction and our own. Since the industrial revolution and the way of life we created through it, we have been having a huge relentless party for some decades now and we gave started to paying the bill.
Is it perhaps time to think and decide how we can best use any 'money' we have left? (I use here the term 'money' as a symbol of what we decide to value and invest in)
What allows people to commit and violate other people's 'wants' (and also boundaries) in whatever form this may be, I located it in two things, the lack of understanding and the lack of love. I saw them both in people accusing the girl for what she did and in the hatred against the killers. Thus, in the identification (albeit partial) with the victim or the perpetrator.
In my eyes as long as not everyone recognises his potentiality both as perpetrator and as victim, as strong and weak (with whatever this implies, recognising errors, asking for help, etc.) and to love responsibly all these aspects of oneself, then the other role will always be played by the Other.
In a theatre like this there will be no director to lead the ' team ' to a play of love and evolution but to a play of war and destruction.
So, is it perhaps time for everyone to look deep inside themselves and answer truthfully and responsibly on what play they want to be in and whether they belong to the group of mankind or to many groups of mankind ?
We can't assume ignorance anymore.. There are possible ways.