The aesthetic of telling someone off is married to anger. Even books and films are packed with that final scene where the down trodden gains power over some oppressor and delivers a speech that pile drives the truth, leveling the playing field and filling the audience with triumph. But what thrills us about such scenes is not that someone got to yell out the truth about “someone else, but because it redefines the person who is speaking in a new and deeper way. In the attempt to fix and formulate someone else, the speaker alone has been redefined. This is triumphant.
As individuals schooled and often misled by our culture, we believe that it is possible to define someone other than ourselves. However, every act we make defines who we are in a polarized universe. Ironically, we, as our true Self have no self-definition whatsoever, and never shall, because Awareness, which is what we are, is indefinable. That is the glory of our being. In the mix of human interaction, however, it helps us to understand that someone who is attempting to define you in a negative way with racially slanderous remarks, gossip, or personal accusations, are not defining us at all, but are defining only themselves by their words or actions. Human beings only have the power to define themselves.
Painful remarks made by others are designed to share the pain they feel. That is, the remark was intended to make someone else feel as bad as the person feels who makes the remark. Like pallbearers, we are being propositioned to take one end of the coffin someone else is carrying. It is meant to lighten their burdensome load of self hatred, or past tragedies of abuse and criticism.
We are all familiar with the row of steel balls that hang from strings as entertainment. When a ball at one end of a row of them is dropped onto the set, the ball at the opposite end pops out, while the original ball stops, having expressed the energy that was put into it by our hand. Exactly like that, hurtful remarks pop out of one person because hurtful remarks once went in. Hurtful remarks are public confessions, not personal accusations.
When we see this clearly, pain filled remarks made toward us by others simply make us sad for them, and not offended by them. Physics is at play. The pain that we were expected to feel is the pain that they are immersed in.
I am reminded of a friend who was paranoid and believed that the FBI was bugging her every move. She had all of the electrical devices removed from her home, from telephones to doorbells. At a dinner one night with the four of us, two couples, she announced that she had written a letter to the FBI and turned us all in. This was followed by dessert.
We found it amusing as artists and students in Berkeley during the seventies, almost everyone was under surveillance anyway. But it taught me the principle that everyone is attempting to recreate in others how it feels to be them. We were also supposed to become paranoid and have our electronic devices removed, according to her attempt.
We may apply this principle to ourselves. We are more often oppressed by the belief that we can define others not by being told off, but rather by mentally telling someone else off. This lures us into a tirade of mental fireworks that does our body harm. It fill us with adrenaline, leaves us steaming with heart pounding and still we are unexpressed. If we understand that what we are trying to do is impossible, and see that by lashing out at someone about who they think they are is only defining who we think we are, it helps us to cut off the seduction into building rage. It is a relief not to go there.
Once realizing that our life is actually only about being who we are as best we can be, we start to take on that fascinating aesthetic. It’s all about us. That realization restores us to having control over our lives again. After all, it is the feeling that we have lost control of our lives that sends us off into tirades at others.
I am reminded of a great Kempo Karate master I once knew. He was the third highest karate master in the country. On one occasion, five men attempted to mug and rob him. Five men attempting to beat him up was insufficient activity to cause him to become alarmed. He was composed and relaxed as he thwarted each and all of them from doing him any harm whatsoever. He asked them repeatedly to just tell him what they wanted. My point is, when we do not feel endangered, we are not dangerous ourselves and we are relaxed and composed, no matter what.
By knowing that we can define only ourselves, we set ourselves free from the fear of being slandered or falsely accused by others. This is a one way ticket to deep relaxation and self knowing. It will be reflected in our every action, as we will be living in a world where no one can harm us with their words or opinions. We will be free.
Article and Ceramic Art “Contemplating a Change”, by Ross G. Drago
Paint Rag Magazine
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