In my most existentialist beliefs, I learned to view my “self” (egoistic construct as coping mechanism?) in three relationships.
my relationship to myself
my relationship to others
my relationship to God or divine source
All of this I had pondered as a teenager, who, having massive insecurities, questioned my consciousness and the illusion of existence. Mahayana Buddhist philosophy seemed a way toward the inner peace of knowing I didn’t exist and nothing was real. My job seemed about learning and practicing the eight-fold path, in the NOW. Much of this awareness seemed to come from psychedelic experiences. In short, the best trips involved the knowing and feeling of connectedness to the fundamental forces which unify the seeming ALL. Later, in discovering the Eight circuits of consciousness in Leary’s model, it seemed I had bounced between the seventh and eighth circuits in the perceptions of in and out of body experiences, missing a much of the sixth circuit (metaprogramming).
The main divine connection felt like the motherlode of all, the feeling of complete connectedness which started physically and eventually got perceived as “pure” consciousness. This perception and how it feels remains tangible and at once unfathomable and infinite beyond physical perception. To label it otherwise seems like a blasphemy except for purposes of illumination. It can take many forms which can work to model traits, actions and characteristics of various entities in the accomplishment of my purpose. Finding purpose seemed the fundament, even though the “I” had little idea as such.
I acted in vain to define myself through others and my relations to them. This reality tunnel mostly failed because I had little purpose and no realization of its presence or formation. In this my ego gravitated to self-annihilation in a limited set. This wound up in self-deprecation and self-loathing to the point of the desire to painlessly dissolve and disappear from this world. This state proved painfully unrewarding. It seemed like a denial of hedonism giving only frustration, shame, and depressions which seemed unending. Still trapped in the belief telling me intellectual understanding provided a solution and solace little progress occurred.
It must have happened via too much drug use in various combinations this thinking eventually said as the beliefs of parents, professionals and preachers worked as the predominant patterns. Charismatic Christianity and the attendant nonsense served like a way out of the mess of all of it in my early twenties leaving only too much angst about life. Finally, it gave way to some lesser materialist viewpoints of those around me and I once again took on the phony embrace of my perception of the American Dream. My earlier pre-Christian views got submerged beneath the religiosity and my hypocritical practice of it. Once again, more angst about life.
In my early and mid-thirties, it seemed apparent this way of living did not work well and my obligation to personal responsibilities slipped out the window. Finally, at thirty-four years old a basic plan emerged. Get away from the drugs and people who use drugs. I did it and exchanged that addiction to the cult obeisance of the cult of Narcotics Anonymous. This I embraced along with intellectual and contrived meditations of the Tao, seen and unseen. The eight-fold path also got corresponded with the 12 Steps of NA, at first seemingly very open and accepting of other correspondences to the cult. Fortunately, the most powerful tool in overcoming addiction – peer support worked to knock the malady down and got me to realize the self I had formed previously and presently. I saw the folly of attempting to discover my “true self” and who I am or had been and the overblown significance in my belief system in those times. After years of practice in those steps and living the lies of an apologist via tolerating believers, I knew I didn’t have a disease and the “program” as very toxic unless adapted to a more humane, less self-deprecating model. I sought less and less peer approval in developing self-esteem and began to live my life as I saw fit with confidence. It took about fifteen to twenty years to realize the program didn’t serve me and I didn’t need to count votes pro or con amongst peers who remained or left the “Program”. In this a self-got realized and actualized. I had an identity with less contrivance out of social, professional, and familial acceptability. I had embarked on a more genuine relationship with myself with less ego traps.
Still, there seemed a great deal of selfishness so I consistently performed unselfish acts. Some had ulterior motive in a caretaking sense, others out of duty to others, and others still for the joy of doing something unselfishly.
In the mid to late teens, I wanted to depend on others for my view of myself instead of using them as a reflection of my actions and attitude which I grew into later. It seemed to get out of control in my mid-twenties to early thirties due to self-delusions resulting in erroneous perception filters and erratic actions. I took everything too personally, felt threatened constantly and used my words as poisoned munitions against myself and others – beliefs and behaviors which have taken many years to replace. Today, still a work in progress.
I have much affection for many friends, family, and lovers. I attempt to find out what makes them feel loved and if it doesn’t compromise my self-care, I give to them. It gets a little tough when I engage with people who have behaviors which I tend to take personally so I strive to stay away from those situations and appreciate them at a safe distance. In my drive to be loved by others, I must pay attention and determine if I am seeking reciprocation from the unwilling and willing yet incapable of it. Most of my disappointments with others have origins in the latterly so constant vigilance with a minimum, if not devoid of self-judgement seem necessary.
From this value comes in taking care of me so I can serve others and myself in a realization of the all connectedness I feel when out of the self-created anxieties of daily life.