10 Affecting and Being Affected

The aim of all spiritual development work is to find the core of our being—our real existence. It is light. It is beauty. In our core, there is nothing to fear. To get there, we must navigate through a maze of our illusions—a maze of illusory fears. We fear life and we also fear ourselves.

We go through all these gyrations to avoid seeing that we have these illusions. This only serves to alienate us further from our nucleus—our real existence in which we know there is nothing to fear. But we have to walk through our fears to find out that they are illusions. Then we can choose if we want to keep living with these illusions. Giving them up requires effort. And we have to be willing to change, and to chance the unknown. We could be living in the world in a whole different way.

So what are we afraid of? What’s the fear? It actually comes in many varieties, but this is one common denominator: we fear the destructive aspects of the temporarily distorted parts of ourselves. We fear the devil within. In its separated state, our consciousness can’t make peace with these disparate parts. We don’t know how to accept them. And since we’ve never accepted them, we fear being overwhelmed by them.

We are often too proud and too impatient—and too geared to limiting thinking—to make room for all the opposites that might show up at our inner dinner table. So then the opposite can’t be transcended. This means that our distortions must be fully accepted if we want to transform them back into their original free-flowing state. They hold beautiful, creative energy that we need to experience our full power and know bliss. There’s just no avenue to a joyful reality that includes the wishful thinking that we can keep looking away from our destructive, irrational aspects.

It stands to reason that we affect others in a particular way when we operate from our destructive levels. And of course, we are likewise affected by others who operate from their destructiveness. This topic is extremely important. It’s also a tad complicated. It will help if we have already made some headway in getting to know the irrational, primitive part of ourselves—the unconscious aspect that uses the limited logic of a child.

Then, when we reach the point where we no longer need to deny, project and defend against the evil twin inside us, we can deal with the complications that arise from ignorant and destructive interactions with others.

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Every single human being is grappling with the same basic pain and conflict: on an irrational level of our beings, we hate and want to destroy senselessly. We just do. On this level, we are the only ones who matter, and we have no willingness to accept any frustration, big or little. We don’t want to deal with difficulties and therefore have no mature ability, on this level, to assert ourselves.

All our emotional sickness and suffering can be traced back to the way we manage to not know this about ourselves. Progress then is to have the discipline to face ourselves as we are, with our hate and destructiveness, and accept this. When we do this, we have a chance to transcend it.

On the path to awareness of all this, we’re going to need to deal with the confusion created by our guilt. If it’s hidden, our guilt will be devastating. It creates a vicious circle that keeps the destructiveness going. The more guilty we feel, the more we hide whatever we feel guilty about, the less capable we are of dissolving and transforming it. The fact that we can’t get rid of it compounds the guilt.

Hiding, then, is the real culprit. The more we hide from ourselves, the more frustrated we will become, depriving ourselves of the good that life can offer. This makes us angrier—and more destructive. We become filled with hating actions and attitudes, rejecting life and others. This doesn’t bode well for creating loving relationships.

So let’s look at this guilt. How should it be handled? There have been two schools of thought throughout the ages. One says we’re not responsible for our attitudes or how we feel; we are only responsible for our actions. So if we hate and want to kill or destroy something, that’s not something to feel guilty about. As long as we don’t act on it.

The other school of thought says our thoughts and attitudes are living realities. They have an effect on others. So a true guilt can exist for them. And let’s face it, it’s unthinkable that a hidden hate isn’t going to show up in some way, shape or form, even if we are doing our best to behave.

So then can both of these alternatives be true? Or are they mutually exclusive?

Consider that withholding love is also an action. So even when our denied hatred is only manifesting through an apparently harmless passivity—which is “only” directed at the self—the underground seething hatred will prevent good loving deeds from flowing forth. In that space, a person is not able to give to life. So in the final analysis, all acts emanate from our underlying energies; our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and wishes do have power.

What we need to realize is that our guilt for our destructive ways is way more destructive than the evil part itself. We have to come to accept this distorted part in order to dissolve it. Sure, there’s a big difference between acting out our destructive tendencies versus thinking or feeling mean things. But to assume guilt for these aspects makes everything worse. It causes us to annihilate ourselves, thereby becoming more destructive. We stop ourselves from living.

We can reconcile these apparently opposite truths by our honest efforts to make our destructiveness conscious—without justifying it by what someone else did or didn’t do. This deactivates our destructiveness, without hiding it. It’s when we deny our malice or self-centeredness that we make trouble for everyone.

Let’s say we’re in denial, feeling the need to blame and accuse and make others responsible for what we feel too guilty to face head-on. We exaggerate the ills of the other, falsifying the situation. We deal in half-truths. We highlight the evil in the other, ignoring the fact that they aren’t responsible for our misery. We deny self-responsibility and insist on being dependent. We are in effect saying, “I depend on others to be free from evil so I can be OK.”

This puts us in a bit of a bind. If this is the message we are expressing into life on a semiconscious level, on a deeper level we’re going to have to pay the price and follow through. So then what we’re really saying is, “My evil is responsible for making others not OK.” Back and forth we go: infantile dependency in which we’re helpless in the face of other’s wrongdoing, and omnipotence in which others are victimized by our incompleteness.

But the minute we take responsibility for our own suffering, searching within for our own distortions and destructiveness, we let go of the guilt. This is true, no matter how wrong the other might be. We can only be affected by other’s destructiveness to the extent we ignore our own negativities, and vice versa.

If we are willing to acknowledge our own irrational self—without becoming it—we are set free. If we are only willing to concentrate on the ills of others, we are acting out our destructiveness, making it impossible to tackle the evil in ourselves. This doesn’t mean we whitewash the other guy. Because if there is a negative interaction, chances are good there’s plenty of evil to go around. And both share the responsibility for it. But to say the other has a bigger share is to make ourselves a victim again. Which is the same as denying our part. Back to square one.

What invariably happens when we start searching for our own contribution is that we see how we both affected each other from destructive levels. This is liberating. It lets us speak about the other’s contribution without accusing or judging, which opens possibilities for effective communications with others if they are at all inclined to also communicate honestly.

If they are not willing, this won’t seem like such a big deal. We won’t depend on proving our innocence. Because we see and know the truth. Such clear knowledge makes us strong, while dissolving negative energy. Hiding our evil behind the evil of others makes us weak, our fight ineffective. Healthy aggression is only possible when we no longer hide from our own honest insight—and from our own destructiveness. We need to stop being hypocritical in these subtle ways.

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There you have it, my friends. That’s how we transcend duality, reconciling apparent opposites. The key: we must look within and face our own evil. Our evil, in this case, can be defined as the childish aspects trapped inside each of us. It is primitive—using limited child logic—irrational and destructive. And it always wants to have its own way. Now.

We need to do this self-searching without losing sight of the fact that this is not all of us—it’s one small aspect. But if we completely identify with it, it will not be possible to assume responsibility for this hidden destructive part.

The kicker is this: the more we hide it, the more we secretly believe this is all of who we are. We think this is our real self—our only truth. It’s only when we expose it to the light of day that the wonderful reality dawns on us that there is so much more to us than we believed.

This is the key we need to use to avoid acting out the evil, directly or indirectly. We need to learn to stop spreading evil. We can best deal with our evil thoughts, feelings and wishes when we grab them by the horns. But when we deny them, they spread like a poison through our psychic and physical systems. If we look at the way we interact in relationships, we can verify that the key to life lies in this willingness to honestly acknowledge the angry ghosts living inside us.

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So enough gloom and doom. How do we affect others from the positive side of ourselves? And we do all also have some free and clear levels of our being. In these already-purified places, we are in truth and we are loving. We give of ourselves and are strong and self-assertive. We don’t let another person’s destructiveness damage us. We have an uplifting effect on everyone around us.

This shows up on all levels. In our actions and words, we have a direct influence that is good. We set a good example. Which doesn’t mean our strength won’t sometimes be misunderstood. But when people try to pin their evil on us, it won’t stick. Because we will have done the work of facing our own destructive self. We know the game but have already stopped playing it.

Our freedom might piss other people off. But in the long run, it will have a purifying effect. This is especially true on unconscious levels where the energies emanating from us will leave a positive mark. Pure energy has the ability to penetrate the murkiness of others, dispersing the poison of their negativity.

This is the way in which a free person bypasses the evil layers of others and brings out the best in them. This lets them have an inkling of what they can be, inspiring them to no longer hide from themselves. Bada bing.

When the free in me meets the free in you, we generate a marvelous energy between us. This multiplies and spreads, connecting up with other similar systems and picking up speed. It breaks up ignorance. It brings down illusions. It destroys malice. And now we know what all this strength depends on: our constant contact with the irrational part of our own selves—our personal little destroyer.

Until we get all the way there, we are going to sometimes use the key and sometimes not. In this in-between state, we’re going to duke it out with others in fits and starts. We may let their blaming, self-righteous accusations land, only to gather up our resources and stand tall. Hey, wait a minute. When we are no longer in denial about ourselves and pointing the wagging finger of accusation, their projections won’t stand a chance of sticking to us. To whatever degree we are able to see our own destructiveness, we will be able to counteract the evil in the other.

To the extent that two people use this key, they will be able to navigate through these fluctuating states. Warfare and mutual destruction—whether between two people or two nations—can be avoided. Or not. The more we stop hiding behind the tribulations of the other, the stronger we’ll be. And the more the whole being of our core can come through.

We’ll hook up with the freed up aspects of the other, helping them know that their negativity isn’t all of them either. This isn’t about what we say to each other, necessarily. Our whole self affects their whole being, landing even better because our efforts to communicate won’t have such an edge.

All our evasive tactics, including finger pointing, self-righteous blaming and compulsive building of cases against other people, only create strife and conflict. We then are the propagators of pain and confusion. So if you thought for a second that focusing our attention on our own troubles seems selfish, think again. This is the way to spread good in the world.

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Now let’s switch it up. How are we affected by other people? Quite a few of us are able to live in harmony, having polished our dull spots already. But most are still caught in the clutches of fear, defending against living even when there’s no real reason for this. Even when we’re in relationships with people who are ready to love and help us. By being closed to picking up the love and truth that others are putting down, we spread evil.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we’re pretty open to love. We’re free enough to give our best. We’re not constantly crouching in a defensive position. Does this give us immunity from the cruelty of others? Perhaps not. We may continue to be easily affected by the pollution rolling off of others’ unconsciousness. As such, we remain a victim who depends on happy thoughts and feelings from others.

It’s like we’re saying, “I just need everyone around me to be perfect so I can hang onto my happy place.” If this is where we’re at, we’ve still got a bit more work to do. We might be on the right road, but we’re skirting the ditch. We’ll have true immunity only when this kind of dependency isn’t dragging us down.

If we’re being affected by another’s negativity, you can bet we’re sitting on some self-doubt and guilt; we haven’t faced all our confusions and destructive impulses yet. Yes, we might have swept the whole room, but we missed a few spots. This is what keeps us coming back here to life on Earth. We’re still locked in the battle with duality, wrestling with the opposites of pleasure and pain, life and death, good and evil. Only now we’ve been shown the key for how to transcend these. We just have to use it.

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What we often spend a lot of time working on is our walls. What is it we feel so vulnerable against and work so hard to repel? For the most part, it’s the cruelty and hostility that people are wont to unload on us. They make unjustified demands on the world, which can’t help but splatter onto us. That’s what we’re afraid of. That’s why the walls. And the moat.

We build our impenetrable defenses with a plan to keep all that crap at bay. What we don’t bargain for is the way our walls ward off everything and anything that life gives with great abundance. The walls then become our downfall. They block the best from coming our way. And they lock down our own best from coming out. They stop that lovin’ feeling.

Once we dismantle our defenses, we can melt again with life—with the psychic substance of those we love. We can exchange love and truth. And truth doesn’t come in only one flavor. It manifests uniquely in every pair of shoes it fills. This is what makes life special and exciting. This is what enriches life with color. It’s the opposite of the drab existence we face when we’re always only looking at the backside of our own walls. Our walls separate us, keep us lonely and create an existence marked by dependence, limitations and suffering. Not so lovely.

So what are we supposed to do—tear down our walls and let people run all over us? That can’t be right. No, we can’t live completely exposed as we are now if we haven’t explored our inner levels where we still blame others—you know, that thing we do when we shy away from facing our own destructiveness. Dancing here on this edge is a bit precarious. It keeps us vulnerable. It might make us swoon and claim that we are “just so sensitive.”

But this kind of sensitivity is a distortion in itself. It’s not a sign of our special, spiritual divinity. As such, it’s unnecessary. In this “sensitive” state, we’re hurt by pretty much everything. Our poor little selves are pierced by others’ arrows. We’ve got to get ahold of that key. Otherwise, we’re going to absolutely need our destructive defenses that ultimately work to shut us out of life. Wham.

It’s our task to find a way of walking in this world that adequately and realistically keeps us safe. Because people are going to do what people are going to do. But that doesn’t mean we have to go about this self-destructively. What we need is a daily diet of self-confrontation. Signaling pangs are right there in our anxiety, our anger and our confused reactions. If we will stop the rationalizing for just one minute, we may find at first that what others are doing is upsetting to us. Oh, the injustice.

But then we need to drop to the next level. We need to avoid the temptation—and it can be strong—to justify our own actions based on what someone else did or didn’t do. We work so hard to explain our disturbances away. When we resist this temptation, we are heeding life’s lessons. We’re reading the signs.

On a day when we do this, not fending off life from without or within, but instead making contact with our innermost being, we will have deep and meaningful exchanges with others. We will know that on this day, we have not defended ourselves against anything. But maybe we just got lucky that day. Maybe we stepped into the free, clear energy of someone else. Or maybe it’s that no one lobbed any hand grenades our way.

If the cause for celebration is the latter, are we really safe and free? Are we not still going to feel anxious knowing someone can rock our little boat at any moment? The answer is obvious. We’ve got to soldier on until we become wholly ourselves, no longer needing either our walls or our blame or for others to behave. That’s real freedom.

Most days, we’re going to get a chance to work on this. We can examine any discomfort we feel in ourselves or with others. Everything that happens and each reaction we have is fodder for growth. Every day, we run into the greatest therapist there is: life.

Don’t kid yourself—this is as taxing as it sounds. A path of spiritual discovery like the one being outlined here leaves no wiggle room for escape. Many people fall by the wayside because they aren’t willing to go all the way with themselves. They’d rather stick with the thrill of the blame. But those who follow the Guide’s wisdom can’t help but find the truth of their being. All sentimentality is dispensed with. Self-evasions have got to stop. Yep, this Path is a tough taskmaster. But because of this, it keeps the promises it makes.

Each of us will come to know our real value only when we muster the courage to find our own evil. We’ve all got these distorted aspects—it’s time to rout them out. That’s when we find our true capacity to love and be loved. Not in some la-la-land ideal sort of way, but as an everyday reality. These are the promises of what awaits us when we use the key: always look within. The more we do this, the less we’ll need to defend ourselves against pain. And then the more we’ll be open to receiving the gifts of life that are coming to us at all times.

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