I think the Dalai Lama is right: the purpose of life is to be happy.
Let me tell you a story. Years ago, I was working at a women’s self defense workshop under Dawn Callan. She is the greatest self-defense instructor I’ve ever seen in my life. In two days, she could teach a woman more about protecting herself than most instructors can in two years. What did she do? Drill a few simple techniques, and work through the negative emotional crap that comes up for civilized human beings when they consider defending themselves. Then give them a chance to go into “controlled berserk” against a padded attacker, anchoring the hyperemotionalized experience into their bodies.
They have to make connection with a spiritual truth: we as beings have the right to be here, and the right to defend ourselves.
To be free of fear, which opens the door to happiness.
Anyway, there was one woman (call her “Ginger”) in the workshop who simply couldn’t hit the kicking shield. Ginger was so lost in illusion, so wrapped up in the rules we give women around social niceties that she was paralyzed by fear. “I’m afraid I’ll hurt you” she kept sobbing. No one could help her, and for some odd reason (yeah, right) they brought her to me.
After several prompts, Ginger just froze, and stood there with tears streaming down her face. I had an intuitive flash about a way to reach her.
“Do you have a daughter?” I asked. No.
“Do you have a little sister?” She nodded. Bingo.
“Do you love her?” I asked. Ginger nodded again, sobbing.
“Would you do anything for her?” She nodded.
I took a deep breath. I won’t say exactly what I said to her, but let’s just say it was a very explicit, ugly picture. “If I get past you, I’m going to ______________” The kind of thing I wouldn’t put in print. Whatever you’re thinking, this was probably worse.
And…something happened. Ginger’s energy shifted, totally. Instead of thinking about herself, she was thinking about her sister. She didn’t have permission to defend herself…but she damned well DID have permission to protect her sister.
And…Ginger knocked me across the room. And jumped on me, and beat the hell out of me. And it took three men to haul her off.
“THAT!” I screamed. “That place, RIGHT THERE. THAT’S the place you have to go!”
Crying and sobbing she was…but Ginger also had just learned how to access that space beyond fear and concern for social rules.
Survival. Protection of the tribe. Rather than the “social” rules operating WITHIN the tribe, she played according to universal rules of survival that exist when core personal or genetic survival is at risk, and from there, she was an unstoppable force.
Some women think only women are taught this. No. SMALLER PEOPLE are taught their own version–don’t fight back, or you’ll be a target. LARGER people are taught this. Don’t be scary or people will hate and fear you.
MINORITIES are taught this. Don’t make waves, or you’ll “reap the whirlwind” of violence and disapproval of the majority group controlling the law enforcement system. Members of the MAJORITY are taught this: you benefitted by privilege, so shut up and listen, don’t defend yourself or you are an oppressor.
There is no group that doesn’t get hit with this stuff. In a world of social niceties, where everyone is playing fair, acting according to social rules is survival. Courtesies are social lubricant, and ease the way. There is a reason diplomats speak with so carefully.
But you have to know when it is time to forget the niceties. Forget the rules. WHAT WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO DIE FOR? That woman was willing to die to protect her little sister. That meant that she didn’t care what I or anyone else thought about her. She didn’t care if she lived or died. She was only concerned with the maintenance of her ULTIMATE VALUE–her sister’s life.
When you are clear about this, you can, as that line from ROAD HOUSE goes…“be nice. Until its time to not be nice.”
If you have been damaged by life, it probably affected your sense of self, of being precious and divine. This is true for women, men, entire social structures, humanity itself. The truth is that the core attitude of the martial arts is something very close to: “I’m ready to die, and I’m ready to take you with me.” A human being in that space either dies…or wins.
Want to be a black belt in 24 hours? Spend that time alone in a room, and consider very clearly what you are willing to die for in life. And then what you are willing to kill to protect. Get clear on the fact that no matter what you do, you cannot live small enough that death will forget to gather you up. You may not be able to think of doing this to protect yourself, due to damage, due to the fact that you may not have been told that you are precious, and perfect, and made of the same stuff as the stars. It is not “victim blaming” to say that we must be prepared to make such choices. It is enabling adult responsibility. RESPONSE-ABILITY. The ability to respond. Anything other than this is learned helplessness. As well as angels, we are also stone cold berserkers. THAT is the reality. Anything else is what you were taught to survive childhood. And ESPECIALLY if you were hurt or unloved in that childhood…you may have a very difficult time accessing your truth.
But…ALL human beings were nurtured at some point in their lives. If you weren’t you would have died. You may have no conscious memory of such a reality, but the circuitry is there. Dive deeply enough, and you can find that spark of divinity. Once you find it, commit to protecting it at all costs. Find the part of you that will bare its teeth like a mother tiger protecting its young. Once you find this place, and anchor it with a visualization or physical movement, you have a very different relationship with fear.
ANGER, pure homicidal anger…in the service of love. Primal mother/father love. From this position, you can change your life, express your art, right social wrongs, change the world.
Or die in the process. All great leaders and creators understand that they are burning up the substance of their lives to create something new. You have to die anyway…why not commit to spend your life energy for something you care about? Some principle, some cause, your art, a better world, your family if necessary. Dig deep, and no matter how much the world has tried to bury that live wire its in there, spitting sparks. Dig it out and connect it to the dynamo of a righteous dream, and you can:
- Transform your body.
- Transform your career and art.
- Transform your relationships.
What can stop the power of a mother tiger diving through fire to protect her cubs? THAT is the power of connecting. My dream, of ONE MILLION AWAKE, AWARE, CONTRIBUTING ADULTS and THOUSANDS of awake, aware, adult artists and storytellers…simply asks you to connect with this survival power, and then apply it to something you care about. To move BEYOND fear to action in the service of something you love.
Love. THAT was what was on the other side of all that fear that “Ginger” experienced. By the end of the workshop, when she had devastated our padded attackers like a Tasmanian Devil, she gave me the longest, sweetest hug I think I’ve ever had in my life, telling me I’d given her the best and most terrible gift she’d ever received, that for the first time in her life she had moved beyond the tragedy of a childhood of abuse to a sense of power…
We cried together. She got it. And by giving it to her, I’d connected with that precious place again, the place I found that day I stepped out into the traffic rather than be beaten by bullies.
Safety, in the heart of danger.
THAT is who we really are. The rest is social games to survive our families, or the world. But playing small won’t protect you. It is just death, a little dose every day, draining all the pleasure from life until you have to numb yourself just to survive.
There is more than survival. There is life. And hope. And love. But you must break out of the illusion that you are weak. You are not weak. You are more powerful than you have ever imagined. That is why they have to try to control you.
When you are free, you can act from love rather than fear. Take the steps to lead you to joy. And you will have found your life’s purpose: to be happy.
(These principles are ESSENTIAL for committed artists, or activists seeking to change the world. You will deal with fear on every level, from survival to social rejection. The ANCIENT CHILD technique was specifically created to connect you to the primal power programmed into every human being, even if you have no conscious awareness of ever being nurtured. And now you can have it FREE if you will try one month of LIFEWRITING PREMIUM, the world’s only writing system that connects the inner world of the artist with the outer world of the art. Go to WWW.LIFEWRITINGPREMIUM.COM and take your first step on a new path. You have nothing to lose but fear of your fear!)