Causes of Self Destruction
  Meditation & the Acceptance of Life
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Causes of Self Destruction

We are all familiar with that curious need from within to at times shoot ourselves in the foot.

Most of us are completely unconscious of the actual moments wherein we take that crucial step towards self destruction, but some of us, sadly, are fully conscious in these times. We know without a shadow of a doubt that taking the road to the left is the positive, healthy and more balanced direction for our lives and yet, amazingly, we somehow choose the destructive road to the right.

I don’t mean in anyway to confuse analogies here. I’m not speaking of the proverbial ‘Road less traveled’. Although the road less traveled is, more often than not, the more positive, healthy and balanced road, I’m speaking more directly about those moments in which it is our decision to remain behind when all the messengers appear and all the trumpets are blasting the resounding message: “It is time to move on!”

Ponder, for a moment, the wife who after countless beatings from her abusive spouse, still chooses to stay. Day after day she views the open door and dreams of leaving. Smiles, a secure job, friends and a bright future fill her daytime dreams. But night after night, those dreams are smashed and broken with the pain of harsh words, cruel treatment and occasional blows to the face. Advice from her family and friends is not lost on her. She knows they are right when they advise her to leave. But day after day, she makes a conscious decision to stay. Why? Why do people choose self destruction?

Perhaps the above example, although frequent, doesn’t quite hit him home. A more common example may be in the dead man walking scenario. This is the man (or woman) who is completely bored or unfulfilled in his job, but cannot find the courage to change vocations simply because the thought of a reduction in pay, the insecurity of starting over, or the uncertainty of being unemployed is more frightening than the possibility of true satisfaction and contentment. He makes excuses about his financial situation and the financial security of his family to justify his inability to take positive action in his life. He further reinforces and actually materializes this excuse by buying a bigger house, a better car or simply piling on more debt in any imaginable way. To his peers he is a success, but inside he knows he is a coward. Escapes begin to pour into his life to chase away the demons of cowardice. He uses conventional escapes like alcohol and television, but these are all considered normal and therefore, nobody in his family worries over his slow decay. Soon these escapes simply do not calm the voices and disgust he feels within himself, so it is not long before another woman comes into the picture. Or, in a more positive, but equally cowardice course of action, the man seeks professional help and begins using anti-depressants to again cover his inability to live a positive balanced life.

These two examples go far in their course, but the starting point is always a choice of self destruction. It’s rare that it happens in one definitive moment, except for in the movies. More commonly, self destruction is a slow steady decline into the abyss of total identification with the Ego and it’s reinforced hopes, fears and insecurities.

But the common person knows nothing of the dangers of believing in his Ego, if he even is aware of Ego itself. But if we are to understand the need for self destruction, then we must be able to see clearly this Ego that is the underlying and overriding center of most of our lives.

For most English speakers, the Ego can be seen clearly as “I”, the thinker. What I likes is Ego. (Be careful with the grammar here, I’m not speaking slang. Try to follow the logic of the wording as it is.) What I (the thinker) wants can be seen as the invisible arms of Ego. Everything you think is Ego stating it’s agenda clearly. Thinking is simply the reinforcement of Ego’s hold on the body. Let’s go into another example which may shed some light on this more easily than simply defining Ego’s characteristics logically.

Many people look upon smokers with disbelief. They cannot understand why a smoker actually chooses to smoke. Why? What could a person possibly find pleasurable about inhaling smoke? And to make the equation even more strange, why would a person actually do this knowing full well that smoking increases the rate of aging, causes cancer, costs a lot of money and also stinks? What makes the smoker smoke is Ego.

When the nicotine enters the smoker’s body, a feeling of relaxation comes over the smoker. The body gets attached to this feeling that nicotine produces within the body, and the Ego (which is the voice of the body) says, “I like that feeling”. The smoker then, believing the voice of his body as trustworthy and of good intentions will continue to smoke regardless of his knowledge of the countless ill effects that are caused by smoking. He doesn’t understand that his mind has been influenced by the drug, so that when his mind says, “I like smoking”, it is actually the drug nicotine talking and not the rational human being that may have gone through sixteen years of education and have an IQ much higher than the average non-smoker.

But we’re not all smokers, so let’s talk about something that we are all familiar with: hunger. For many of us, the feeling of an empty stomach produces a slight anxiety within our body. Perhaps it a bi-product of millions of years of having to hunt for food, but for whatever reasons the mind may use to justify this anxiety, slight nervousness and a sense of anxiety when we go without food for long periods of time is normal.

The foundation of Ego is survival. It doesn’t care for the hows and whys of a situation, all personal belief systems and social norms are thrown to the side when Ego is threatened. There can be no doubt about that. Simply look at some survival stories and you’ll quickly see that people become nothing less than animals when faced with possible death. When anxiety occurs in the body, it is a sign of insecure conditions which awakens Ego’s (Your thoughts) attention fully. This is what psychologists call the fight or flight time. For most of us, if we go a few extra hours without eating, we feel very little change within our overall thoughts and emotions, but we’re most likely aware of the fact that we should start planning to eat soon. If those thoughts do not soon lead us to eat, the Ego will start increasing the thoughts intensity: it is now more serious and we really should get something to eat. If those thoughts still go unanswered and the body still has not been given it’s wish, the desire for food will be increased further, thus increasing the intensity of the thoughts and over time the person will slowly become more and more animal. What happens is very simple: the desire to eat becomes stronger than the desire to adhere to social norms or personal belief systems. But this is in the extreme. If you choose to go a day without eating you’re certainly not going to turn into a werewolf at night and start feasting on your friends and family. But you will be able to watch how your thoughts (Ego) and emotions change once your body starts getting into unknown territory.

So we see now that the body’s voice is Ego and following the body’s voice at all times does not always produce the healthiest or positive results we might wish for in cultivating a balanced life. But we still haven’t really delved deep enough into the inner process of Ego to see why people can build entire lives filled with addiction, depression and fear, and not garnish enough power to have any real chance to choose a different path.

But for now, my Ego is saying “I’m tired man…” and “I should probably get some sleep”. : )

 

     
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