The point of a conscious rant is to defuse overloaded or potentially harmful reactivity in a way that hurts no one, including ourselves. In a conscious rant, you get to totally cut loose emotionally, exaggerating your sounds and movements without any editing, all within the confines of a well-boundaried context — the ground rules for which you’ve thought out and clarified beforehand. This is very different than everyday reactivity. The context has been set; into the ring you step, knowing the boundaries and knowing that you don’t have to hold back anything — you have permission to be outrageous. Your task is to do this full-out. If …..
Whoever we are, wherever we are, we inevitably experience pain. And just as inevitably, we tend to store as much as possible of our pain in our shadow, finding strategies to numb, bypass, or otherwise get away from our pain. The more we try to flee the felt presence of pain—whether through denial, dissociation, or distraction—the more deeply it takes root in us, and not just in our shadow. So what are we to do? The bare-bones answer begins with turning toward our pain, which means directly facing and feeling the raw reality of it. Then eventually we move closer to our pain, step by mindful step, gradually entering …..
Fuck perfection. Fuck the seductive myth of some final rung, some ultimate achievement, some flawless pinnacle of realization. So many lie impaled upon this notion, sucked in by its dangling-just-out-of-reach promises. Many have crucified themselves here, intoxicated by romancing perfection. And fuck imperfection. Fuck the forcefed myth of original sin and every other storyline that hammers and flattens us with shame, until we’re either face-down in the muck or compensatorily inflated with toxic pride and aggression. To conceive of imperfection, we have to conceive of perfection — two sides of the same grubby, dysfunctional coin. A different currency is needed, one that nonquantitatively values …..
There’s a very common emotion for which there’s no word in English, an emotion that is all about deriving pleasure from others’ misfortune or suffering, especially when we think that they deserve it. This may not be the kind of emotion that we readily admit to having, but who among us hasn’t felt it to at least some degree? When people who have done us harm or committed a crime are obviously suffering—having been “brought to justice”—we may feel justified in taking pleasure at their downfall and might even do so publicly. At other times, however, we may feel the same kind of pleasure over the suffering of others …..
(This prose-poem was to be a chapter in my book To Be a Man, but didn’t quite fit there.) Some men, recoiling from hardness, get stuck in softness and excessive tolerance, drawing their flight from power ever inward, ever tighter, squeezing the power out of their breath and the heat out of their anger and the passion out of their lust, trading in their strength for approval and security and validation, again and again making nice or caving in to prove their harmlessness, confusing surrender with collapse and emotional flatness with equanimity. At times they obliquely potshot raw male power, smudging and judging its lyrics, turning away from its …..
Whoever we are, wherever we are, there inevitably is pain — along with our strategies to numb, bypass, or otherwise get away from it, including through housing as much of it as possible in our shadow. We may conceive of freedom as a pain-free domain, but real freedom is rooted not in being without pain, but in how we handle it, how we relate to it, how intimate with it we choose to become. Yesterday’s pain may still be occupying us, and tomorrow’s pain too, together amplifying today’s pain. We don’t get what we want, and there’s pain; we get what we don’t want, and there’s pain; and …..
The concept of the inner child remains a popular one, having gone mainstream since the 1970s, along with various approaches to “inner child” work. Though criticisms of such work abound (e.g., concerning the blaming of our parents for our current difficulties), it is here to stay, with approaches ranging from simplistic advice to just love your inner child to nuanced, transformative exploration of the conditioning that our inner child is but the presenting surface of. So what is the inner child? First of all, it’s not an entity, an indwelling being, but rather an activity, a personified memory-saturated process, however much we might relate to it …..
HERE DWELL DRAGONS TRAVELING, AND A DEEPER TRAVELING Komodo Island, December 1973 I awaken just after dawn in a bony corner of the hut of the kepala desa (village head), surrounded by a chattering clump of staring children. Groggily, I remember my arrival here late last night by outrigger canoe from Labuan Badjo, a tiny port on the Indonesian island of Flores, fifteen miles east. After three weeks of very slow overland travel through Flores (five miles per hour was fast), here I am at last on Komodo Island, less than a speck on a South-East Asia map, and home to the Komodo Dragon, the world’s largest living lizard. My …..
Learning to wake up and behave sanely when we’re immersed in the cauldrons of intense reactivity, or in the heatwaves of knee-buckling attraction, or in the chilly pits of industrial strength fear — hard learnings these are, asking much of us, but after a certain point what else is there really to do? How much longer will we keep cutting ourselves excessive slack? How much longer will we excuse our succumbing to the siren call of our habits? How much longer will we continue making a virtue out of distracting ourselves from our suffering? How much longer will we reinforce what is chaining or draining us? How much longer will …..
When the night pulled back the bedcovers And I sat knees-up ashaking Seeking a sign sublime My mind looking for the time My body athrob with an Eternal rhyme The windows did bulge with something unborn Something I could not name Something I could not contain It is understatement in the extreme to say that spiritual opening is not necessarily a benign, nice, neat, or comfortable process. Initially we may flirt with spiritual opening, doing some meditation practices, reading spiritual or metaphysical literature, trying out different teachers and teachings, perhaps hoping that our spiritual experiences will make us happier or more successful, but when we go, or are …..