Monday, June 12, 2017

The Second Coming / A Hero’s Return

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

Wired (or Wi-Fi-ed) for Weakness

We live in a very “connected” society.

We stare at our phones while the people standing right next to us are trying to talk with us. We tweet and text ceaselessly. We go to the houses of relatives and friends to socialize, but we spend most of our time watching TV. We spend hours on websites of little if any practical value. We set up our e-mail for instant notification. The list goes on, and I’m sure you can input a few items of your own.

Ironically enough, while none of this ever brings us the satisfaction we desire, we continue doing it—increasingly so.

The reason: We’ve been so indoctrinated into the fear of who we supposedly are, how horrible we supposedly are, how sinful we supposedly are, that we’ve come to exist in a state of perceived worthlessness, hopelessness, and helplessness waiting for a redeemer to come save us.

Personally, I know well what it’s like. I know what it’s like to check Facebook, AIM, and email accounts 98,475 times a day with the hope that someone sent me the magic words that will bring about heaven in my life. I know what it’s like to carry a cellphone from room to room as if someone is actually that desperate to get a hold of me; as if they have a message of bliss-inducing importance that will be here any second…Wait for it…Wait for it… I know what it’s like to visit pointless the-next-thing-I-click-will-satisfy-me websites for extended periods of time, only to feel exhausted, depressed, and empty… and then click on a few more.

It sucks. Such things literally drain the life force out of us. Yet this is the way many of us have allowed ourselves to (dys)function.

A Societal Snapshot

To understand how we’ve come to be this way, let’s look at a snapshot of our society:
  1. We’ve got countless religions suggesting there will be a second coming of some external entity who will save the “Chosen Ones” who’re currently innately stained and need that savior for redemption.
  2. Our books and video games end with a good guy defeating a bad guy and saving some portion of a helpless, innocent, victimized humanity just in the nick of time.
  3. We’ve got a whole menagerie of superhero movies and comics telling us that a special someone will save us, the average, powerless Joe and Jane, when things get really bad.
  4. Our politicians tell us that if we vote them into office, they will protect us, the mere citizens, from the ravages of debt, war, drugs, and inclement weather.
Do you see the commonality in these things?

They are all major aspects of a society that we put massive amounts of energy, money, and faith into with the interpretation that we are powerless; that someone external will save us helpless peons when shit hits the fan. We believe it’s okay—advantageous even—to give our power away because someone bigger, faster, stronger, wiser, holier, sillier, sexier, or God-knows-what will save us in the end.

Savior Loading… Please Wait…

But what if someone external isn’t coming to save us?

What if the savior-promoting religions are simply here to induce us into facing the depths of our falsely perceived guilt, shame, sinfulness, and so forth rather than providing absolute truth?

What if the protagonists’ heroic victories are simply a metaphor for those who allow their higher selves to take precedent over their lower, animalist ego-selves?

What if the scumbags who want our votes are simply playing the role of devil’s advocate in order to wake us up? (Does, I have to choose the lesser of the two evils, ring any bells?)

What if our external world is naught but a mirror of our individual and collective internal worlds?

What if our excess texting and tweeting is nothing more than us distracting ourselves so that we need not see what’s truly happening; so that we need not take personal responsibility for our lives; so that we can completely tune out from the unease within us that cries out desperately for acknowledgment and healing; so that we can more easily justify sitting idly by waiting for a hero as we watch the world collapse around us and our very selves collapse within us?

How much death, destruction, dis-ease, dishonesty, diversion, disconnection, and dysfunction have to occur before we realize that not only did the shit hit the fan a long fucking time ago but a hero isn’t coming, either—least of all through a TXT MSG, a new animal on Farmville, or live updates from ESPN?

The “Savior.” The Hero.

The keyword here is hero. For the “hero archetype” is another commonality to be found in the snapshot of our society.

We must understand what the hero archetype implies. It’s that we are each the heroes, or “saviors,” of our own respective journeys.

The stories of superheroes are exciting because they take the human imagination to a place of fantasy where adventure abounds and the good guy always wins. What people don’t generally realize, however, is that the villains the hero must face are never more than the personification of the weaknesses within the hero’s own self.

No, unlike Peter Parker, none of us will ever be bitten by a spider only to find we can climb up walls. (Although, if bitten by a brown recluse we may find ourselves flying to the hospital…) But, truth is, it’s not actually the super powers that tug so strongly at us. We’re so infatuated by heroic tales because we unconsciously recognize that we also are inherently capable of outwitting our “villains” and becoming “super” ourselves.

The Hero’s Journey, as Joseph Campbell put it, is the theme of this little universe of ours. Ain’t no one coming to save us but us. Yeah, maybe once in a while someone might speak up for us when we’re being belittled or, as happened on June 5, 1989, a solitary man may stand in front of a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square in non-violent protest. But these things only occur because the people who perform such acts realize they have the power within them to do it, perhaps developing this power over months, years, or decades.

Even with all our struggles weighing us down, we have forever been agog over “superheroes” for the very reason that we unconsciously resonate so powerfully with them. Seeing this, we can begin to grasp that we are each heroes-in-the-making.

If any of us broke a leg, not a single one would get a cast, allow the leg to heal, and then say: “Yeah, ya know what, Doc? Just leave the cast on. And these crutches, I’m gonna hang on to them, too.”

Yet when it comes to our own internal baggage—our “villain”—we typically act like sissies about it—the complete opposite of what a hero does.

Yes, any hero will lose his or her footing—and maybe family, friends, job, car, and house. But the hero does face his/her “villains” and the hero does overcome them.

…The hero starts by unplugging.

God’s Savior

A man once stood before God, his heart breaking from all the misery and injustice in the world.

“Dear God,” he cried out, “Look at all the suffering, anguish, and distress in this world. We’re on the brink of destruction. Are you not going to send help?”

God said, “I did send help.”

“It surely doesn’t look like it,” the man replied.

“Oh, but I did,” God responded. “I sent you!”

Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 6/5/12 to former personal blog “Without a Story.”

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