THE NEUROSIS CALLED NORMAL (a 2008 Spanish original)
“You are not the result of your world;
your world is a result of what you are.
The world does not dictate what we are or what we become. We determine it ourselves using our potential, or not.
In time, we adopt, perfect, refine and adapt expressions that construct our personality. It becomes a play of superimposed images that we take very seriously. We crystalize these impressions and define ourselves accordingly, denying the innermost feelings that insinuate something that we cannot understand. If instead of responding to external demands, we listen to our own innermost voice, we leave the rules behind. The point is that it is not about adjusting to society norms or manifesting ourselves outside of them. It is about something much more fundamental: we consecrate ourselves to the absurd illusion of normalcy. Mediocrity.
Does “normal” exist? We can only define it by what it is not. We can never arrive at what it is, because it’s what everybody thinks they want. Whatever is easy and convenient is considered normal, that which does not entail risks, and especially doesn’t bother anyone. In contrast, life is a continuous adventure that always leads to unknown ground and even to uncertainty. It is spontaneity, perpetual movement. Under the expectation and intention of being normal, we create more and more tension, anguish, falsehood and confusion.
Other than to anaesthetize us, medical prescriptions do not work at a deeper level. They don’t shut out those innermost feelings. Neither do alternative therapies that open us to uncontrollable emotions and sensations, and to devastating receptivity and vulnerability. New Age ideology purports to “open the heart”. What happens to people after this exposure? For the psychologist, the preoccupation surrounds the issue of societal reinsertion, or its continuity. Stability.
In psychology as in the New Age, the most common rule is non-interference. Individual rhythms of the already crystallized and often stagnant personality are “respected”. Instead of creating a massive reeducation system that will lead the individual through healthier modalities and inspire inner as well as outer fullness, it seeks to adjust the person to “normalcy”. In other words to the norms dictated by the dominating interests of society. A state of being conscious and awake, with incentives to think and feel, to discern, evaluate and propose change, taking time and cultivating quality instead of quantity, is not convenient for this multidisciplinary commercial entity. The purpose is not to awaken a person, which would create severe discomfort and require presence and compassionate treatment by a brother or sister. The purpose is to wait until proposals arise by themselves within a predetermined range of possibilities. It is considered dangerous to stir up the emotions if a person does not know how to behave efficiently in society. Instead of assisting an individual in understanding and managing these energies productively, they are avoided altogether. In this way one strengthens the status quo and strangles the creative impulse towards genuine authenticity.
Normalcy disguises a fixation on the status quo that clearly rejects real self-discipline that requires flexibility and presence. Like the mule that treads on its routine path without additional guidance from the driver, the personality we create continues on its way automatically, while we take a nap that lasts until we die.
We sleep profoundly or we dream that we are awake. Disconnection is such that we construct an empire in our imagination convincing ourselves that we are such and such a way and that the world is such and such. We affirm many things, we know many things, and we even believe many things that we simply do not live. Laziness. This is why the repertoire of methods or techniques offered over thousands of years of inner teaching cannot function. We prefer to continue struggling and suffering, to making an effort to radically change the way in which we use our mind and our energies. We are more concerned with simulation than we are with incorporation.
Effort, difficulty, suffering are “bad” words. We spend months pounding our bodies in gymnasiums, on diets, jogging, lifting weights, or running like a crazy person on the bicycle, but when it has to do with observing the breath, thoughts, actions and (don’t even mention it) emotions… other than to complain how difficult life is, we do little. It is easier to feel attacked, betrayed, or let the opportunity slide, than to recognize how we attract these situations. We are far from seeing how these challenges are a gift from heaven to show us the power and faculties that hide in the dead spaces we carry inside. With so much energy wastage, it is obvious that we cannot understand, tolerate, or forgive. We attack obstacles grumblingly instead of with enthusiasm and good will. And we continuously overlook opportunities through which we could learn self-dominion and mastery.
Couples addicted to sex look for meditative tantric techniques as a way of prolonging sensual pleasure, but of course, without the rhythm, abstinence and awareness necessary to evoke an elevated state of Consciousness. Many people wish to benefit from the silence that results from meditation as a way of continuing to sleep. Psychotherapies that deal with behavior usually treat relationship problems: “the other” is never the way we want them to be. So the easiest route is taken: substitution. Instead of eating meat, we become vegetarians and use meat-alike products that taste and look just like the real thing. Instead of dialoguing with our partner, we divorce and spread ugly rumors about them. Instead of creating new options and reformulating proposals, we choose to switch jobs and continue to complain. We feed inertia and complacency. We don’t like people telling us what we have to do but we are authoritarian in our own circle and with our partners.
We preach peace and foment strife, unhealthy competition and the kind of pride that creates separation. We speak of a quantum leap and live immobilized in front of the computer. It is better to lick our wounds in this supposedly gross and violent world. It is best to long to be loved, than to examine the list of conditions we place in order to love someone. Without access to subtle sensory equipment, there is no way of knowing how the isolation that we suffer is illusory and that under it all there exists another Reality.
We campaign in favor of ecology and children abstractly – sharing in FB and donating at a distance – without doing anything concretely minute-by-minute. We wish to change the world, yes, but not ourselves. We say that we don’t have time, and that we are tired, that we have no money, and that politics stinks. We conclude that economy is a game of the rich, and that therapy and meditation is for women (who need to control their “emotions”) or for those who have “real” problems.
A good friend recently said that it was easier to obliterate thoughts than to emit a positive one to reconstruct our world. For a positive thought form to affect material reality, effort, discipline and observation are required. For something to change, a shift from sensation to intelligence is needed. Far from being self-indulgent, passion extends beyond the self, and another person’s delight is as important or even more so than our own, if we value what has true value.
The healthy alternative is to opt for life. Obstacles, difficulty, effort and sustained attention force us to exert the muscle of discernment and develop the strength and necessary resistance for the permanent manifestation of a greater reality. There is no short cut for the human pain that expands the heart.
Instead of adding to the graffiti of a society that calls itself conservative, merely conserving its own comfort, we could dare to implement a new order that begins with ourselves and ends in a more humane world that embraces real, not reactive differences. Instead of adjusting to the world, let us build a world that adjusts to what we really are.
The moment has arrived to live what we know ourselves to be: strength and Consciousness. Strength has unlimited power. We were told that the world IS this way or that way, but the world is the sum of you and me. We create the world consciously and with awareness. We pray that it will reveal us as we know ourselves to be.
Let us work together, looking at one another eye-to-eye and caring about what we perceive and what we see. It is not as difficult as nourishing the neurosis of normalcy.
(Eight years later, the message remains the same.)