Friday, December 4, 2009

Robert Augustus Masters - Trying To Be Someone Special

I liked this new essay from Robert Masters, featured in his newsletter, The Crucible of Awakening.

We all want to be or at least feel special, don't we? In this essay, Robert takes a look at how this need/drive plays out in our lives, for good or ill.

Personally, I do not crave attention - and in fact I try to avoid attention. But I am certainly guilty of LookingGoodIfItKillsMe - wanting to be seen as competent, strong, special, but also looking like I do not want to be noticed, aloof, not concerned with how people see me. How's that for contradiction?

Self psychology talks about all of us having a need to be seen, to be acknowledged. But how we go about doing what comes naturally for the ego can determine whether or not it is a healthy behavior or an unhealthy behavior.
Trying To Be Someone Special

Who among us has not been seduced, to whatever degree, by the promises of being someone special?

There’s nothing special about trying to be someone special. It comes with incarnation. However, if we put too much into it, we simply strand ourselves from our innate uniqueness.

If we work hard enough at being someone special, we become a legend in our own mind. Then, whether we stand out or shy away from the limelight, we invite potshots from our inner critics and back-benchers, thereby keeping ourselves conflicted and, ironically, driven to seek more of the “freedom” that being someone special promises.

Trying to be someone special may seem to be all about individuality, standing out from the crowd, and so on, but it’s actually no more than flat-out conformity, mechanically acted out in the I-gotta-be-me malls of diseased desire.

The outer, or presenting layers, of our preoccupation with being-someone-special typically conform to the appearance of nonconformity, disguising the underlying pain which fuels our very craving to be someone special.

In the conformity to false individuality — designer selfhood — that runs rampant through contemporary culture, much of our true individuality gets suppressed, ignored, misrepresented, or romanticized, its uprisings trampled beneath the well-meaning herdprints of our overfed craving to be someone special, someone really worthy of attention. The suffering driving this would, if openly felt, break our heart.

False individuality’s personalized traits are differences that don’t really make much of a difference. However much they might dominate self characterization, they amount to little more than the presentation of superficial variations as evidence of individuality — different paint jobs, different set of wheels, different detailing, but still the same old deal, the same production-line vehicle, with the same mind-ridden phantom stuck behind the wheel, cloned from coast to style-driven coast, camouflaging its soul-numbing conformity with assembly-line nonconformity.

Disrobing our manufactured individuality does not leave us in a look-alike, think-alike, be-alike mob, neither robbing us of idiosyncratic flair nor of the ability to take real stands, but rather carries us into and through the very hurt and alienation that has for so long characterized our lives and driven us to seek the designer traits of socially desirable somebody-ness.

This passage, this arduous and immeasurably rewarding undertaking, transports us both into our common Unity of Being and into the fleshing-out and ripening of our own innate uniqueness.

This is not about trying to be nobody special (there’s not a much more advanced case of spiritual conceit than that of making a holy grail out of nobody-ness). The key is not to negate selfhood, nor to worship or indulge it, but to permit it such rich transparency relative to Being, that it cannot help but colorfully represent and reveal us. Doing so is an uncopyable art, rather than just another self-improvement program, asking that we see through and let go of our trying to be somebody, nobody, anybody special.

To this end, we need to pay more attention to our craving for attention. Looking to be made visible by attention — both ours and others — is, among other things, an effort to prove not only that we matter, but that we exist.

When we are truly being ourselves, our attention — and also that of others — cannot significantly corrupt, divert, or sedate us. At such times, our attention becomes wider, deeper, more awakened, sometimes becoming conscious of itself and its source, so that the noticing of particulars coexists with — and even becomes functionally secondary — to the bare awareness of Being.

Those who are caught up in false individuality — trying to be somebody special — do not know how to surrender, being mired in neurotic independence. Those caught up in false togetherness — trying to be nobody special — do not know how to take a real stand, being mired in neurotic dependence. Neither knows intimacy. Both are scrambling for position/status in a no-one’s-land, all wrapped up in their own flags, growing weapons in each other’s shadow.

Our essential somebody-ness is our unique piece to play and honor and flesh out, already perfectly fit for a necessarily sacrificial process within which innumerable self-conscious appearances flirt with eternal anonymity, trying to know themselves without knowing the others, in a Cosmos pervaded by both multisensory deception and a sublime knowingness that the mind cannot tap nor imagine.

To offset its inevitable separation-anxiety, false individuality is chronically on the hunt for ways to feel better, not recognizing that what it is really seeking release from is itself.

Die into a deeper individuality, an individuality expressive of your innate uniqueness, providing no seats for your increasingly vestigial audience, no tickets, no solidity, no promise of spiritual kudos. Make the necessary effort, so that you might become more intimate with the necessary noneffort. Fully develop and flesh out your uniqueness, keeping it mindful of its mortality, letting it be an offering to That which birthed it.

To do is the essence of being human. Freedom in the flesh.

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