OK, my headline grabbing, attention seeking title might be a little misleading, but bear with me.
Elvis was actually a cat.
The person in question wasn’t actually my Brother-in-law
You must be wondering by now, if I’m actually a total fantasist, or just an outright liar..
Let me explain. It’s all about our Egos!
Ego is a really healthy thing, totally necessary to navigate modern life — as long as it’s in balance.
We really begin to see the concepts of different personas, who reside in our mind, with the advent of modern psychology, with Freud and Jung. It’s a concept that’s existed in Chinese psychology for millennia before, but not available to is in the West. It’s interesting to note that Jung studied Chinese classics heavily, and may well have been influenced by their ideas.
The system I’m discussing, derived from the style of Qigong I study — Zhineng Qigong, and holds that we have four principle selves, the “Second Hand self”,” Self Image”, “Ego” and “True self”.
Second hand self is easy to see. It’s about the stories we are told from the moment we are born, possibly even whilst we are in the womb! From one’s very first moment, there’s a constant stream of information from one’s parents. “Don’t do that!” — “Big boys don’t cry!” — “Don’t be naughty!”
Shortly after, we start to get new information from School and from Religion.
At school, as with my parents, I was told that I had to share nicely, that everything should be fair and that good boys toed the line.
I remember watching a comedian Dave Allen video, where he joked about his first visit to a catholic school. The Joke goes ..The Nun asks, “Will you be a good little boy?” “I look past her and see a feller nailed to a cross on the wall behind her… and I think “Blood right I’ll be a good little boy!”
He goes on to ask “Who is that guy?” — “It’s Jesus, he died on that cross for your sins! 2000 years ago..” Dave shouts… “I’m only four, you can’t blame me! I didn’t do nothing!”
The second-hand information gets deeper and deeper. You are told that you belong to a country, that you should be proud of it, and that it’s the best in the world at.. (Fill in the blank for yourself..…)
You follow life’s path, your education tells you … that you are good at maths, that makes you a scientist, or good with languages, makes you a writer, musician, painter and so on.
Your working life follows, where you learn that you are “A pushover, a hardnose, will never amount to much..”
You find a partner, maybe get married, and discover that now you are a “Good father, or maybe an “absentee father” or “somebody who can’t even support a family sucessfully..!”
Perhaps you learn that you are a good lover, a bad lover, a disappointment or a bore..
Every day you pick up a magazine, open a paper, listen to the radio, or watch Tv or a Movie, somebody is telling you a) What’s wrong with you, and what you need, to make yourself more beautiful, more successful, generally better.
All these patterns pile one upon the other, obscuring the little child that started out with so much hope.
Then there’s Self-image.
We love to tell ourselves stories, we love to create personas to use to present ourselves to the world.
Hello, I’m Jeremy, I’m a father, teacher, writer, healer, computer nerd, great cook, gardener, and woodworker…
These personas help me to navigate my daily life, they are short-hand statements to allow me to connect to other people quickly. These are very useful, as long as I remember that they are just stories that I created, and that I use as a mask in daily life..
Then we have our Ego-self. Ego is just designed to protect you.
It monitors activity around you, and looks at each piece of information, to see if this is something that it’s seen before, and does it know how to process it or alternatively protect you from it.
We have to accept that our world is constantly changing.
It would be shockingly difficult, considering the speed that life moves at these days, if you had to stop and consider every situation, and try to weigh it and decided if it was dangerous for you, or if it has some sort of advantage.
The Ego then, has a set of patterns that it’s built and stored for you year after year, a series of “Sub-routines” that it can use as shorthand, to make snap decisions. A colleague of mine tells a story about his friend who was mugged in an Alleyway 20 years ago, who still shudders as he passes a dark entrance to an ally. The memories and patterns are stored deep inside, and are presented instantaneously to help “keep you safe”
Ego thinks it’s helping you. There’s an interesting theory that says that most men -let’s exclude me, and you (As you were clever enough to find this article!) — that most men never really progress beyond the age of 7 -12 years old. (No matter that they should live to be 70 0r 80 years old!) Please take as a great example the floor of the UK Parliament, US Senate house etc, etc.. There’s not much to distinguish that from a school playground, except for the corruption and the salaries!
So, let’s review that information. The persona who is protecting you didn’t really evolve further than about the 12 year old you. Even if you have spent years “working on yourself” and trying to figure what makes you tick, you still have loads of patterns learned at your father or mother’s knee, that still unwittingly guide you. How’s it possible, for instance, to convince yourself that you need another cigarette “to calm yourself down” when you have seen your own father die of smoking related cancer? There’s a genuine voice inside you that REALLY believes that you NEED that cigarette, and that it won’t really hurt you.. i.e ..being guided by your twelve year old self..
Addiction is totally a function of the Ego, imagine the ego lying on the floor of the supermarket, shouting, crying, screaming, and pounding it’s little first against the floor.. “But I WANT another, chocolate, biscuit, drink, cigarette or fix… The ego says “Mine… that belongs to me… I, my and I want!”
How did our egos ever get this way?
Advertising must have to been seen as one of the culprits.
I don’t find it surprising that there’s such a high suicide rate amongst young men. School tells you you’ll become a master of the Earth, family tells you you’ll be happily married and successful, and TV tells you there’s a wonderful life out there if only you owned the latest car/watch/trainers/house etc..
There comes a stomach churning time when you suddenly realise it’s all a con, and that you have been sold a dream that never existed.. I think it’s easy to see how disillusionment leads to suicide..
There’s been an erosion of values of the past 30 years. The switch from analogue to digital has for the first time favoured the young, for millennia before this, the “pecking order” was the other way up..
There’s a standard running joke in Chinese TV that has an American kid visit a Chinese family, on the table is a bowl of apples with a huge red one on the top , the American kid immediately takes the top and best apple, causing the Chinese children to laugh their heads off.. they would never take the best one for themselves, how funny the Americans are..
OK, I think this joke is probably getting a bit outdated in China, as Western-style greed sweeps the country and habits rapidly change.
When was it that we suddenly started asking kids “What do you want to do?” or “How do you fee about this..?” — I remember being about 13 years old, before an adult ever asked me for my opinion, frankly I was shocked and rather horrified! “What do you think about the Miner Strike Jeremy?” It was fascinating to discover that an adult might think I had on opinion..
Respect for our elders has just disappeared. Old people seem so irrelevant in an age where we all have to move away from home, where they understand nothing of the digital age and where we are obliged to move so much faster than they are comfortably able. In China, and Africa, I have seen over the years, huge surges in The Youth taking over, it feels like this will take a long while to come back into balance.
Finally of our “Four Personas” we encounter Trueself.
I have an “Om” tattoo on my arm. It’s there to remind me of my personal journey.
It has thee curls on the main shape, which represent the three states of Mankind. Sleeping, Dreaming and Awakening. Then the symbol has line drawn between the main part, and a Dot.
The idea expressed here is the veil drawn between us and our God
So, Its there to remind me that my life is a journey back to the source, a journey to find my Trueself.
My interpretation of “Trueself”, is that it is probably at its most pure at birth, but that “Life” obscures it from view. It’s the part of God in me, it’s the part of me connected to the information of the Universe. But it’s a tough part of oneself to reveal in my opinion. I think the ultimate idea is that if everybody could find part of this in themselves, then our world would really be heaven on earth.
Back then to my sister’s life partner. He was a lovely soul, but also a troubled soul. He found it easier to wash away the pain with copious amounts of alcohol. He found the friendship of his cat, Elvis, to be untroubling and exceptionally easy to manage. He used Elvis as an emotional crutch. His Ego was totally fixated with Elvis.
When Elvis was tragically hit by a car, he was so invested in Elvis, that he felt a huge slice of his life had been destroyed.
My Chinese teachers tell a story about a lady in Germany, who watched her parents pass away, during her own Cancer journey, she survived her parents deaths, with no problems, and even got better from her own cancer. But when this lady’s two Rottweilers passed away within a very short period of each other, her cancer swiftly returned and took her in short order.
Qigong, Chinese medicine and psychology all talk about balance.
Maybe it’s seen as being “Non human” to try to keep one’s emotions in check. Never to happy, never too sad, never too connected. It goes against modern ideas of love and romance.
One last tale then — One day a Chinese farmer sees a beautiful Stallion has found its way into his paddock. His neighbours say “What good fortune!” — he replies “Maybe, maybe not…”
The next day, his son tries to ride the horse, and breaks his leg, His neighbours say “What good Terrible luck!” — he replies “Maybe, maybe not…”
The following day, the Chinese army arrives in town to enlist all the healthy young men, but can’t take his son, as his leg is broken..
His neighbours say “What good fortune!” — he replies “Maybe, maybe not…”
You get the picture!
It’s all about the balance. It’s about keeping life in perspective.
You are both an island, and NEVER disconnected from the world. Such a dichotomy….
The left side of your brain makes you feel alone. In this construct it’s important to find out who you really are. Take the journey inside. Find your patterns, see what makes you tick. Ask yourself daily “Who am I — really?” Look for the patterns, addictions and obsession that control you. Find a way to lessen their hold on you, making you less subject to the ups and downs of life, less fragile when adversity strikes..(Being a Zhineng Qigong teacher, that’s what I personally suggest of course!)
The other side to the coin is that Zhineng Qigong Theory, and Quantum Theory BOTH state that you really are NOT alone in all of this, no matter how much it might feel like it’s true. We are all connected by heart and mind (And in many other ways I feel sure..)
This then is my “Om” symbol on my arm.. the search for personal stability, health and wellbeing, ultimately leading, I hope to finding my Trueself..
I realise I can’t put it all on my cat, and I’m enough of a realist to know that my cat doesn’t give a sh*t whether I live or die!!