There are two different odd experiences that I’ve had in argumentation or discussion that change the entire tenor of the conversation.
- The first is that I’m speaking to someone and they get angrier and angrier. I know that anger is fear, so ask myself what they are afraid of. THEY ARE AFRAID THAT I MIGHT BE RIGHT, I often think. Well, why would that trigger fear? Isn’t truth always a positive thing? Well, once in my 20’s I was arguning with a Jehovah’s Witness on Hollywood Boulevard, a big tough-looking guy. And his arguments were very weak. When he couldn’t make headway with he he was getting angrier and angrier, and I suddenly realized that this guy used his religion to create a barrier around his ugliest instincts and impulses. Mugging? Theft? Battery? It was right there. And I got that if I damaged his faith, I had nothing to offer him in return. Twenty years later, I would have, in a deep hypnotic session. Standing on the street? Hell, no. I needed to concede the argument and walk the @#$$ away.
Another instance was speaking to a white Southerner about the Civil War. Not surprisingly, his entire belief structure was consistent: slavery was benign (no worse than immigration), the war was not about slavery, the evils of reconstruction and segregation were caused by Northern oppression, the KKK was an honorable organization, blacks unfortunately lack brain power (“not you, personally, of course, Steve…”), and there is no systemic oppression worse than anyone else suffers. Every single link in the chain was solid. And the interesting thing was the anger he began to express when challenged. What was he afraid of? And I said to my self: “he is afraid that I am right.” He might think there a 99% likelihood that HE is right, but what if I am? What if? It felt to me as if there is a mountain of guilt and pain and fear held back by an interlocking network of denial. He was also a man of deep religious faith. Wow…was that belief system holding back spiritual panic? IF he is wrong, and his ancestors were wrong…then what was the magnitude of the guilt he might be repressing, holding back like a tsunami? If blacks were equal, (he might be thinking) what vengeance might they seek? One suspects that he might think “shit, if someone did that to my daughter, I’d want to kill them all…”
Oops. There’s no joy for him there. If he’s wrong, an entire foundation of his life collapses on a social, political, historical and philosophical level. And he may not have the emotional flexibility, or conviction in his own basic GOODNESS, to think he can survive that collapse. The ego thinks it is us.
So…I try…TRY to stay out of those conversations. It is hard, because I’m a fighter. But…I try, because there is no pleasure in triggering pain. I try.
And now on to the other category…
2) I’m talking to someone about how to organize their minds, hearts, and bodies to be happier and more successful (however they define that). They argue with me: its not possible. Society must change before people can. That ‘positive thinking’ doesn’t stop you from failing…yada yada.
To me, that’s like saying: “changing your oil doesn’t mean your car won’t break down” or “having a map doesn’t mean you won’t get lost.”
Well, yes, but…hopefully you can see the flaw in what they’re saying. The “straw man” argument. Saying that something is important, or crucial, doesn’t mean it is infallable or a universal panacea.
And I think that on some level, people know it. “I don’t believe in goals” a woman told me recently. And yet she had a Master’s degree, and a few quick questions proved that she had indeed set goals, benchmarks, found mentors, exerted discipline, faced defeat and found support, failed and learned from it, found ways to focus her passion to move forward, visualized results…everything, and I mean EVERYTHING involved with “goal setting.” She was an expert. And yet was in denial that she was. Fascinating. Would argue with me when a few quick questions proved she could teach a damned CLASS in goal setting.
And she was frustrated when I pointed it out. Angry. What was she afraid of?
Afraid to hope. Her ego said she was at the limit of her ability and capacity. If she tried for more, she might disappoint herself, might even damage the success she had now. Hope could lead to pain. Hope kills.
And yet…why the hell was she talking to me? Trying to convince me to give up hope? No, I don’t believe that. Can’t claim to be a mind reader, but I’ll hallucinate that I know why.
Unlike the men I discussed, she WANTS to lose the argument. She WANTS to believe that there is hope. That she can have love, success, health, and happiness. Desperately wants me, or someone, or something to break through her defensive shell and help her believe again. “Tell me why I should believe. Help me have faith again.”
Remember the M.A.G.I.C. Formula? Magic = Action X Gratitude X Intention X Conviction?
Without conviction (faith) the entire structure “zeroes out.” You get nada. She was hoping…And all I could do in the short time I had with her is point out a way she could discover for herself, if she was willing to use a “M.A.G.I.C. Ritual” for a single week. Seven days. An experiment to change her life. Doesn’t have to give me a dime.
And the rubber meets the road here. I have people challenging me on this alllll the time. And I tell them that a simple experiment will test my theory. So far as I know, every single person who has tried it has agreed that the results were positive. Sometimes massively so.
But the most fearful people will not even try. Too much invested in believing that they cannot affect their own lives. And there is nothing I can do except assure them that if they ever want to try, there will be allies who are eager to help them.
But it STARTS by loving themselves enough to forgive themselves, to believe they can change, that there is something precious enough within themselves to be worth fighting for. Ultimately, they have to find that for themselves. That is the fulcrum, or their place to stand. Technologies are the long lever that can amplify their actions.
But you have to find something inside that says: “yes.”
Sigh. I’ve been so blessed by my teachers. But I presented myself to them, emptied my cup, and said “yes. Help me. Teach me. I am ignorant.”
To the degree that I could empty my cup, they were able to fill me with wisdom. I am only one teacher. There are countless other, greater men and women. If you seek your way out of pain and despair, please find one whose life exemplifies the change you crave. Empty your cup. Try their path for a year, or a month, or a decade, or a day. Whatever you can afford spiritually.
I wish you joy in your journey.