We Are All In This Together, Part 3

We are becoming obsessed with a wall. We keep out or hold in with a wall. We define space with a wall. With a wall we we become “I” and “you”, and “we” and “they”. Thus, walls become identity.

I grew up with a wall as part of our world. It was the wall that became the backdrop for President Kennedy when he proclaimed “Ich bin ein Berliner!” I watched on television as people separated by this wall tore it down. The countries that the wall separated were united into one country.  However, the identity of the people separated by the wall had been united before the fall.

As I watched this deconstruction I was struck by the graffiti painted on the wall. There were words and pictures and slogans completely covering the concrete on the western side. These expressions could only be seen from one side, and the other remained ignorant of the contents of the graffiti. One side had thoughts, emotions and feelings while the other was staring at the sterility of separation.

The leaders of the east saw safety in that sterile blank wall. It prevented thoughts, emotions and feelings from entering their space. It prevented uncomfortable and dangerous honesty with themselves. Their self-identity was fixed and the wall prevented any challenge to that identity. When the wall fell, the identity that they tried to protect was swept away. Their identity was a fraud that required the wall to masquerade as truth.

We build walls in our own world to protect our identity. These walls have no physical form as they are built with ego and suppression of our thoughts, emotions and feelings. We use them to protect ourselves from others. Behind them our awareness is allowed to create a self-identity which may not be honest, but it is protected from challenge. On the self side of the wall there is the blank sterility of the ego.

The other side of our walls is covered in graffiti. This is painted there by the rest of humanity. It is full of thoughts, emotions and feelings about us and for us. Some of it is positive, but much of the graffiti is negative. However, we never know about this graffiti because we are on the side of the wall that cannot see it. We are ignorant and safe behind our walls. Yet the rest of humanity can see the graffiti and what they determine is your identity is painted upon your own walls.

Some of us, however, find these walls to be intolerable. We crave to know what is on the other side of each wall. We are unfulfilled by simply painting graffiti on the outside of the wall. We want a connection with the self on the inside of the wall. We seek truth instead of fraud and see through the masquerade of the ego. We are the people that break down the walls.

To break down the walls requires a certain form of courage. To reach the wall of another we must abandon our own walls. To reach another we must become vulnerable ourselves. We must allow our own frauds to be unmasked and the truth to sweep away any identities that we created in safety. Our ego must face destruction in the face of honest introspection. There is danger to our self-awareness, and it is this fear that is the foundation of our walls.

In finding the foundation of fear we can find the bedrock upon which all walls are built. That bedrock is pain. Pain has an infinite number of forms and causes, but is the unifying basis for all walls. Walls prevent us from knowing another’s pain and keeps out our own pain. We can live in sterile safety behind our walls in ignorance of our own pain, even if others can read it in the graffiti on the other side.

When we abandon our walls we are faced with the pain that we own and have created. Moreover, there is no wall for the graffiti of others. Thus, the thoughts, emotions and feelings of others are placed directly on us. We can see the graffiti painted upon ourselves and therefore are forced to reconcile the identity created by ourselves with the identity created by others for ourselves. We discover the pain of others written upon us, and must incorporate that pain into our own identity.

It is at this point that we understand empathy. In empathy there are no walls, but there is pain. There is pain that we cause to ourselves and pain shared by others. In empathy the thoughts, emotions and feelings of others that cannot be blocked, but must be accepted honestly in the manner intended. In empathy self-identity is no longer the property of the self. Instead, it is the property of the whole of humanity.

Our walls exist because empathy is a choice. We can choose to be empathetic consciously or subconsciously, but we still choose. It is unwise to say that choosing empathy is better than choosing walls, because the safety of walls is perhaps a more effective method of survival.  Survival is the greatest desire of our consciousness, and walls offer the safety we desire. Empathy does not offer safety. It offers understanding, and through understanding it offers acceptance.

However, there is still more beyond empathy to understand.


The Lost Generation

One hundred years ago today. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, an armistice ended fighting on the Western Front in World War I. It was called the War to End All Wars and The Great War at the time, because no one expected another war on this scale. The press gave a special title to the men who had fought the war. They are forever known as The Lost Generation.

One hundred years later, it is the slaughter in the trenches that we remember. Stories, photographs and flickering films fill our minds with machine guns and gas and explosions. Monuments and fields of crosses across Europe mark a sobering toll of soldiers from all sides. The maimed and shell shocked are no longer here to remind us of the losses. They are now names of great grandfathers and great uncles and cousins several times removed. They do not speak to us, and their anguish is not ours.

There was another loss that was tallied at the end of that war. The artists, novelists and poets called it the loss of innocence. The Lost Generation lost its belief in the better side of humanity. They marched off to war to band music, cheers and always the promise to be home by Christmas. They believed in King, Tsar, Kaiser and country. They pictured themselves telling war stories to their grandchildren, just like their grandfathers told them of the wars of Napoleon and colonialism. Innocence turns war into an adventure, and battlefield heroics into patents of nobility.

Instead of adventure the Lost Generation found deadly attrition. Instead of heroics they found industrial slaughter. The numbers became so large that the men became nameless Tommies, Ivans, Poilus and Boche. Humanity was faceless fuel into the conflagration. Bodies became an industrial commodity and war plans became profit-and-loss statements. The capitalist industrial societies fought a capitalist industrial war where the cost in humanity is still not fully known. Even the bodies of the Lost Generation are lost as many have never been found or identified.

Ironically, no great battle ended the Great War. No army was decisively beaten on the battlefield. The armies continued to fight until ordered to stop, without any great prizes being taken. The Lost generation lost the claim to victory or defeat. Victory and defeat were decided after the fighting by those who had not fought themselves. The war end celebration was a celebration of survival. However, to the maimed and shell shocked, even victory over death seemed too hollow to celebrate.

Instead of the battlefield, the Great War was won or lost at the barricade. In Petrograd, Berlin, Vienna and dozens of other cities and towns across Europe, the people revolted against their governments and demanded an end to the war. Soldiers and sailors mutinied in support of, and supported by the population. Pre-war governments collapsed and were replaced with those willing to accept peace. Civil disorder was the order of the day, and the armies left the war because society could no longer provide the men, material or morale to go on fighting.

No nation was safe from the disorder. The French army mutinied in 1917, and could not be trusted to fight an offensive war. Great Britain was facing unrest in Ireland, India and South Africa. The United States experienced waves of sabotage. All of the victorious allies experienced labor unrest and extreme morale swings at home. At the end, Communist cells began to form in all countries for the coming revolutions.  No national government had the power to continue the war, so they signed an armistice and declared the war over. A date and time was chosen, and fighting went on until the hour of eleven had struck on the eleventh of November, 1918.

Some veterans would claim later that they were “stabbed in the back” by disorder at home. Ironically, it was this very disorder that allowed them to live to complain. The Lost Generation had lost everything including self-respect. Denied a victory or a defeat, they were survivors of a slaughter rejected by their fellow citizens. They fought for monarchs and governments overthrown by the people. They came home to societies to which they could not adjust. They marched for ideals that no longer had any adherents.

One hundred years later, we live in a new Dark Age. We are still searching for the very things lost by the Lost Generation. Instead of enlightenment, what we have found are dark imitations of what has been lost. Instead of humanity we found capitalism. Instead of civilization we found industrialization. Instead of ideals we found mass media. Instead of self-respect we found hatred. We have found nothing worth fighting for and instead have spent one hundred years fighting for nothing.

We cannot save the Lost Generation. They died one hundred years ago. We are its lost descendants, and can only save ourselves and our descendants.  To do so, we must stop looking to the darkness for the enlightenment we need. We must heal our broken souls and believe in human existence. We must gather at the barricades of reason and demand the rule of compassion. We must see ourselves as worthy of respect because we allow ourselves to give that respect to others. We have to leave the trenches to meet each other as equals and not enemies.

Today I shall remember the Lost Generation. I will look at the pictures and read the story. I will see the ruins of the trenches and the cemeteries. I will look over my shoulder and see the ghosts. I will see the ghosts crossing No-Man’s-Land into destruction. I will see them asking for understanding and an end to their eternity of darkness. I will understand that the end of their darkness is in ending all that destroyed their light. I will honor their sacrifice by returning enlightenment to this Dark Age. Then the Lost Generation can at last rest in peace.


William Donald

19th Battalion,

Canadian Expeditionary Force


We Interrupt This Life

I was at work last week listening to a podcast on my headphones. It is a podcast about playing a game and generally is lighthearted and an escape from harsh reality. However, this episode is different. The host begins with a heartfelt appeal to the public for suicide awareness. A gaming friend of his had just committed suicide.

I had not intended to tilt at this windmill just yet. There is more to be understood in connection with the previous post and I should be exploring there. However, circumstances have required me to interrupt the series with this post. It is time for me to write of lives interrupted.

The world has recently been shocked by the suicides of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. As others focused on these celebrity deaths, I was focused on a close family friend whose granddaughter committed suicide at age 25. A few months earlier I had gone to the funeral of a young woman who had gone to prom in the same group as my daughter. She had committed suicide at the age of nineteen.

We interrupt our lives to acknowledge the suicide of another. We bury a body and we mourn a life. We wonder why someone would choose to take his or her life. We find something to blame, such as depression, shock, bullying, electronic devices or something else. Then we return to our lives. It fades into the past for some, but not for others.

My connection to suicide is a little different, and it perhaps strikes me a little harder. I am a suicide survivor. Actually, I prefer to call myself a suicide coper, because once you have attempted suicide it never really leaves you. It is something I cope with every day. Each suicide becomes a reflection of my own life, and each interruption is a personal reminder of my own darkness.

When examining a life self taken, it is easy to see the pain. The pain of hate or abuse or illness or depression something else becomes the why of the suicide. The pain becomes the cause and the definition of suicide. The suicide is depicted as a tortured soul who simply chooses to end the pain. I, however, must tell you that the pain is only the trigger to taking my own life. The cause is not as easy as pain.

The cause of suicide is detachment. It is a detachment not of spiritualism but of isolation and alienation. It is about separation from this world and everyone in it. It is a total emptiness where even your identity is lost. There is no relative relation with anyone or anything. Even the physical world is unreal and outside your own existence. Your own consciousness becomes the only existence which other entities can no longer intrude. It is an implosion of consciousness that cannot find anything other than itself.

An imploded consciousness only exists inside itself and only knows itself. At this point the pain fills the void of detachment. There is nothing but the pain, and no way to survive it. There is no place for the pain to go, because there is nothing but consciousness itself. When the pain becomes unbearable, it has to be ended. However, the only way to end the pain is to end consciousness itself, because that is all that exists.

Suicide is not the end of a life or even a physical existence. It is the end of consciousness. With everything else lost in the implosion, the consciousness must itself be lost. The end of conscious is the end of everything, especially pain. This is done by severing the consciousness from the body, because consciousness only exists in terms of life. At this point the consciousness does not recognize the body or life as necessary or desirable. there is no need to be alive, for life just connects consciousness to pain. Since consciousness must end, the suicide of the body must necessarily follow.

The implosion of consciousness and the resulting detachment is where the danger of suicide exists. Without implosion, one simply goes through life coping as best as one can with overwhelming pain. We call these people strong or courageous. We call those who commit or try to commit suicide as weak or even immoral. However, detachment is not a result of strength or weakness. It is simply a place a person comes to as a result of conditions and life choices.

Detachment is not something that happens quickly. It can be a condition that exists for years or even a lifetime. There are usually personality traits or reactions that indicate that a certain amount of detachment has occurred. There may be attempts to stop the implosion by oneself that can be successful. Sometimes a person tries to reach out before the implosion becomes irreversible. We may never notice that someone is reaching out to us. We all tend to be too involved with ourselves to notice others.

The only way to stop the increasing number of suicides is to focus on attachment. We have to allow others to attach to us. This cannot happen over the phone or the internet. This does not happen at a movie or over drinks. This requires us to be physically present with each other. It requires us to look into each others’ eyes and seek their consciousness. Most of all, it requires us to feel the pain of each other and validate the existence of that pain. It is not easy and can even be painful to us. We must be willing to share in another’s pain and consciousness. In some ways, suicide is not a personal act at all, but the result of the action or inaction of all of us.

I am a suicide coper. Once you have been in the implosion of consciousness you are always too close to the edge to really be safe. I am still more detached than I should be, and I am sure that those who really try to connect with me will notice this. However, I have allowed people to attach to me and I will share anyone’s pain because it benefits all of us. I have much work to do in this world, and this blog is part of it. Most of all, I realize that I must choose to live, and in making this choice I seek the attachments I need to survive here and now.

My life has suffered an interruption, but it was not permanent. I have tilted at this windmill enough for now, although I fear that I may not have saved anyone. Whatever you may think of me, please take time to attach to each other. You may never know whose life you save. It could be your own.

We Are All In This Together, Part 2

My father’s career required us to relocate to different towns and states every few years. I would start again at school sometimes in the middle of a school year. In each case I would begin outside the social circles of the new town. In each case I would begin as the exile and outcast. I would live alone for a period of time on a social level. This led me to find that I did not have to be a social animal. I could be the hermit and live within my own self. However, my self would eventually question my self.

We live with a consciousness of our self. This is an awareness of our own existence as a unique being. This conscious awareness can be explored and understood by ourselves, but it exists only within us. We cannot share with anyone else our existence inside our own understanding. We are alone in our mind.

Our awareness expands outward to the physical universe. We sense a body and its interaction with the physical universe around us. We understand that this physical form must interact with the physical world in order to continue to exist. It needs food and water and protection to stay alive.

We become aware of other people. Some help and some hurt. However, on some level we cannot understand their awareness, nor can their awareness enter into our awareness. We cannot tell if they are conscious in the same way as us. We do not know if they sense the physical universe in the same way as we do. We cannot distinguish if our awareness of their awareness is real or an illusion.

We develop communication through language. We can talk about things both physical and metaphysical. Yet we must question whether the words we choose have the same meaning to others as they mean to us. Our miscommunication reinforces the understanding that our awareness is known only to us, and we cannot truly comprehend the consciousness of others.

Thus we are floating in this great dilemma. We need others for our physical existence but our consciousness cannot comprehend others’ consciousness. We are ultimately alone in the crowd unaware of our meaning to those we depend upon. We do not even know if others understand that our consciousness is probably different from their consciousness. Without a solution we will sink into unknown depths inside ourselves, and may even reject our awareness of our self.

What we seek from others is validation of our consciousness. We want to know that our consciousness is recognized and valued by others. We ask to be accepted as real and understood, even if it is at the most shallow level. We want confirmation that we exist, and this is the one way in which we can resolve our physical dependence with our conscious detachment.

Validation only happens, however, if we recognize and validate the existence of those who validate us. Validation from a source that is not understood by us is meaningless. We begin to separate others into those we choose to validate and those we choose not to validate. We create groups, cliques, clans, tribes, nations etc. We validate and receive validation from some and reject others. We fall into a awareness of humanization and dehumanization.

We then desire validation from those we validate. We adjust our communication and understanding of ourselves in order receive the acceptance of others, and through this validation of our awareness. We pretend to have a consciousness that is not our true consciousness but we believe is more acceptable to others. We confuse acceptance with validation. We confuse pretension with consciousness.

As acceptance of our pretension grows, the pretensions out shine our consciousness. Pretension becomes pride, and pride becomes hubris. We compare our acceptance with the acceptance of others and find ways to believe that our acceptance is more important that that of others. We demand acceptance from others that we do not accept as equal consciousnesses. We create classes and castes. We create another level of dehumanization.

Our pretensions are a form of group creation and group awareness. Pretensions exist only because they are created by us for the use of others in accepting us. Thus our pretensions are created within the limits of what the collective awareness deems acceptable. Those who cannot conform their pretensions to the acceptable awareness are rejected by the group. Those that conform by creating the proper pretensions lose their own consciousness to the group. In losing our consciousness to group acceptance we lose validation.

When we understand this we understand humility. We must reject pretension and acceptance in order to find validation. Validation can only exist if we are aware of our true consciousness even if it is unknowable to others. We must understand that our validation is a choice others make and not a right to be demanded. We must validate the existence of others even though the reality of their consciousness is unknowable to us. We must give validation to others even if they do not validate our consciousness. We must recognize that validation of our consciousness is a rare and precious gift that expands our awareness of ourselves. It is in gratitude for this gift that we find humility and humanity.

Yet there is more to be understood…

We Are All In This Together, Part 1

Sometimes we sit in a classroom at college and listen to the professor talk. Other times we engage in discussions with classmates that teach more than any professor. One of these discussions left an impact on me that I remember to this day. It was a discussion about the nature of humanity as a social animal. A fellow student declared humanity to be a social creature while I disagreed. We both are correct, but on different levels.

It is the question of herd or hermit. Are we a species that naturally tends to live in groups or do we tend to a solitary existence? Philosophers, anthropologists and theologians have been arguing for centuries. Politicians split nations over whether to favor the community or the individual. The first place to start looking for answers is the level of physical survival.

There is another day I can remember in a different classroom. It was not in a building but in the cockpit of a small plane. I was at the controls of the plane with my flight instructor. The instructor opened his door and left the cockpit, announcing that the time had come for me to solo for the first time. Under the eye of the instructor I took off, circled the field and landed the plane. He endorsed my logbook for solo flight and we had a typical pilot celebration. I had flown an airplane alone.

But I had not flown alone, and I would never fly alone. In fact, no pilot flies alone. A pilot flies on the wings of many other people. The engineers that design the plane and the workers who build the plane. The mechanics that service the plane and the crew that maintain the airport. The FAA, the air traffic controller and the flight instructor. All these people were necessary for me to fly. I did nothing for myself, and I survived my solo flight because of help I received from others.

This is humanity as a social creature. We cannot meet our physical needs by ourselves. We live in groups to provide for our needs together. We rely upon things produced by others to function on the most basic level. Even if we were to make everything ourselves, we would depend upon the knowledge given to us by others for survival. We are raised by parents and taught how to survive, because we are not born capable of surviving on our own.

Because of our interdependence, we identify with the groups we associate with most often. We take the name of our family group. We claim citizenship from a nation state. We state our identity in terms of our employer, ancestry, religion and school. This allows us to limit our awareness of who we depend upon. We pick who we see as being dependent upon and ignore others. In terms of survival, we can use groups to divide humanity between those who help us and those that hurt us.

Expanding our awareness reveals a different experience. We are the result of every encounter we have with every person we contact. All contacts affect us in some manner. Some help us and some hurt us physically, but all have an effect on our survival. We use whatever we receive from others in some manner according to our own choices, and give to others in ways we may not understand. Even the briefest encounter gives us a thought or memory that we use to create our own survival.

We can expand our awareness further. We can see that we are the result of the thoughts and acts of people that we never meet. We use things and ideas of people whose names we do not know and faces we do not see. Yet they are there. At the same time, things that we do to help one person’s survival impact the survival of uncounted others. Each person we meet is the result of the countless acts and ideas of others. We are never a lone survivor. Instead, we are each the survival of the human species.

When we understand this we can understand gratitude. We can understand how little of our survival is us and how much is all of humanity. We survive because a planet of people survive. A planet of people survive because we do and think in ways that help others survive. We are the product of all of us, and the basis of all of us. It becomes natural to have gratitude to all for even the smallest of gifts, because we give gifts to others without our knowledge. The web never breaks, and the survival of each individual is a gift to the survival of each individual. We each are a miracle and perform miracles for each other. Understand the miracles and be grateful for both what you receive and what you can give.

Thus, it my wish to give my deepest felt gratitude to humanity and each member of humanity for all that has been done to guarantee my survival until now. Moreover, as I embark upon a new life, I have profound gratitude to all those who helped me to this point of great change and those who will help me in my future life. Finally, I am grateful that I will be doing more than ever to contribute to the survival of others.

Yet there is more to understand.

It Is Not in the Stars

I have a certification in celestial navigation. By using the position of the sun and stars I can calculate my position at sea. The stars tell me where I am, or where I was when I took the measurements with a sextant. The stars, however, cannot tell me where I am going. The stars do not decide my destination or my course. These are for me to decide.

We want to know what our destination will be before we arrive. We want to know the course we should sail. We want to know the weather and hazards along the way. We want to know the future. Knowledge of the future reduces our anxiety. Sometimes we look to the stars or other methods to tell us our future. Even worse, we allow beliefs that outside influences from the stars or other beings control our future. We try to give our future to the stars instead of keeping it for ourselves.

Linear concepts of time allow us to understand simple cause and effect. We can understand that our actions have an effect in our future. Through cause and effect we can plan to reach a destination in terms of desire. Our desires come from our imagination within the world of our illusions. We move through time and illusion on a course made of actions we have taken and decisions we are making.

We make decisions at all times, but rarely actually think about them. We have excuses for not thinking before we decide. We have habits. We have “instincts” to avoid pain and keep the physical body alive. We comply with social norms and expectations. We create illusions to shift responsibility to another person. We give the responsibility to the stars or to cards or to an unknowable god. The last person we allow to make decisions for us is ourselves.

The Great Secret, if any such thing really exists, is free will. Free will is simply the reality that we make decisions. There are choices in everything we do and every breath we take. We are free to make any and all choices. The very act of living is a choice. Our range of choices need not be limited by anything or anyone. This is freedom, unless we refuse to recognize the choices that we have. There is no freedom without free will, and no free will without recognizing and evaluating our choices.

Most of the time we evaluate our choices before we acknowledge their existence. Without conscious thought we eliminate choices for many reasons. We set boundaries on our choices based upon pain and pleasure, expectations from ourselves and others, ignorance, upbringing, experience and, above all, illusion. Ironically, we choose to create illusions around ourselves and then restrict our choices based on the illusions that we create. The result is that we lose free will without conscious thought.

The natural result of our self limitation of free will is that we become less free as we age. A newborn is in effect completely free because of a lack of experience or illusion. As we age we place more restrictions upon our choices. At some point we see more restrictions than choices. At some point we call these restrictions “wisdom” and seek respect because of our loss of free will. Those who have “wisdom” then seek to impart their restrictions upon others. Another layer of choices are thus taken from our thoughts.

There is a greater folly than blindly following the wisdom of others. Some of us give our free will to other people or things. We let our choices be made according to the dictates of someone or something. Usually this occurs because of anxiety about the destination in our future. We choose an illusion about our future by something or someone. This in itself is a limitation created by our choice to agree to an illusion that is not a product of our own being. We then blindly follow choices that lead to that illusion. The future becomes self-fulfilling because we are consciously making decisions designed to create that future illusion.

Free will necessitates creating our own illusions. Our illusions are our destination. Thus our destination must be unique to ourselves. Allowing someone or something to create our destination is to surrender not only free will but the very concept of self. We become detached from our own existence and cease to be a unique person. By choosing the destination based upon our own self, we exercise free will and accept our illusions. Thus we take responsibility for our choices. We also open ourselves to all of the choices available to us and actually exercise free will.

Unfortunately, free will does not guarantee our future or validate our illusions. Even as we make choices, untold existences are making choices. Our choices impact others, whether we want them to or not. Likewise, the decisions of others impact us even if we never know the existence of the other. We may never see the cause and effect relationships of any choices but our own. Nevertheless the impact is there. Thus the unexpected happens, and our choices do not lead to the destination of our illusion. The results of our choices are somewhat unpredictable. The future becomes unknown.

Yet we want to know the future. We want validation of our choices and our destination. Anxiety about knowing the future leads to relying on stars, cards people and/or gods. These predict the future only to the extent that we let them. If these direct our choices then we have accepted the future that they create, which is not ours. We have accepted their illusion, which we did not create. We have thrown our free will away, and have thrown ourselves away with it.

I can take a sextant and check the stars, and they will tell me where I am. The stars do not set my course nor decide my destination. The wind blows whichever way it wills, but it is my choice to sail with it or tack against it. It is not a straight line and the destination may change. It is enough. I have free will and I have created my illusions. Most importantly, I strive to open my mind to all choices, be they easy or difficult; painful or not; socially acceptable or not. It is through free will that I will find myself.

Down to the Sea in Ships

For those who go down to the sea in ships, life seldom goes as planned. Lady Ocean Blue is a difficult lover. At onetime she is calm and limitless in her promise. Other times she rages in an vicious maelstrom. Yet at other times she coyly hides behind a veil of fog. In any case she never stays in one mood for long. It is up to the sailor to adjust to conditions and not to force the sea to conform.

No voyage is the same. No course will track as laid out. All is at the mercy of wind and wave. Both can help or hinder, and at times can damage or kill. The sailor sails the way the sea will allow. At times it is necessary to veer away from the direct course in order to arrive to the desired destination. It is not a battle with nature. Instead it is an understanding and accommodation with the sea.

Although sailors cannot control the sea, sailors can control a ship. Knowledge and experience guide the operation of the ship. Sometimes the sea will allow for full sail and a straight course. Sometimes the storms allow no sails at all, and no course can be set. The sailor’s control is only how the ship responds to the sea, as the sea cannot be controlled.

We want to control the sea. Control is a response to fear. The more we fear the more control we desire. The more we hurt the more we fear. Oddly enough, that which we fear most is probably uncontrollable by us. Instead of control allaying our fears and easing our existences, it creates more problems and more fear. We create more fear through our own illusions and difficulties. We demand more control of what is around us rather than control that which is within us. Inside is the ship. Outside is the sea.

Self control is really the only control. We can exert ourselves against the outside world, but it only responds to us. It does not become our thrall. On the surface is conformity to our will. Underneath are forces we may not know about or understand. The sea is deep and wide. The forces of the sea and driving the sea are beyond our power to understand or bend to our will. We can control ourselves, although it requires honest self knowledge through honest exploration of ourselves. It is this self control that allows the sailor to sail the uncontrolled seas despite the fear of the sea. The sailor understands that the fear of the sea is healthy, but fear of oneself is not.

The need for control creates stubbornness. Stubbornness is actually a tool of control. The demand that a course be held may allay our fear about becoming lost, but it will result in a shipwreck if the course is unsuitable for the conditions upon the sea. The course must vary in the interest of safety. The speed is only what the sea allows. Even the destination may change due to the condition of the ship or its crew or contents.

Ships themselves are living things, and needed to be treated as such. It must survive to complete the voyage. It can be damaged and need repairs. It can be overloaded and require the jettisoning of some or all of its load. It may run out of supplies and require additional stops along the way to its final destination. We are not different. Our interior ship must survive to complete the voyage of life. Our psyches can be damaged and need repair. Our emotional loads can be too much to bear. We can run out of spiritual energy to go on with life. We can manage these things. We have control of our own ship.

The sea is wide and featureless. There is plenty of room to maneuver the ship as needed. However, for some the openness causes fear. Without landmarks the fear of becoming lost becomes excessive. Rigid control of the ship’s course becomes an attempt to control this fear. Yet the surrender of freedom upon the seas is a fatal error, as obstacles exist upon which to wreck. Shoals and reefs must be sailed around and require deviation from the rigid course. We do the same with our interior ship when we surrender free will to rigid dogmas, which are a method to feel in control. Life is about free will, both our own and that of others.

There are other ships upon the sea. Every being is a ship with its own captain. As captains of our own ships we cannot control another ship. Yet fear entices some to try to control others. We demand others sail where we sail the way we sail even though their ships are different and the sea treats us all differently. It is in reality an assault on another’s free will, and to take another’s free will is to destroy our own as well as theirs. The traditions of the sea call for us to avoid damaging another vessel and to assist all that are in need. There is nothing more to be done without compromising the freedom of the seas. This is the tradition of sailors, and is known to all those who go down to the sea in ships.