Poet, what should I do if I’m afraid?
He looks up from his dogeared copy of Dave Eggers’s “A Heartbreaking Work Of Staggering Genius.” Faux-bourgeois pretension is his favorite neurotic character. He leaps at every chance to play it. Closing the book with a theatrical flourish, he breaks out an exaggerated stage-whisper.
Release your fear. Release any expectations of control. You’ll find life coursing through you like a ferocious river. Now, I can't speak with much accuracy to rivers' general proclivity for ferocity but roll with me here, okay?
You'll notice that I’m quite fond of speaking for you. I’m terrified you might pipe up to tell me you loathe me.
Honestly, I’m not sure what thoughts are mine anymore. I filter everything through the nebulous lens of the bit. Do I even have real opinions anymore? Or are they cynical and jaded; reduced to moldable putty by my snarky comments?
Does my obsession to be on, to be funny, render me incapable of deep thought or genuine reflection?
Am I using humor as a crutch? As a shield? As a sort of Trojan Horse to break down the defenses of the ego?
Can it sneak within the subconscious’s walls to massacre its unsuspecting denizens?
The Poet’s soliloquy doesn’t throw me off. Sometimes, I'm but a convenient cutout for this grand play of his. Designed to refine his connection with the divine strand of creativity.
He’s told me how the master needs the disciple more than the disciple needs the master. The master overflows with love, humor, and creation. If he doesn’t share it, he’ll burst.
Without a constant outpouring of affection, his connection to the Universal Source withers. Traditionally, masters haven’t been performers. Their teachings are simple and pure. There’s no need to couch them in thinly-veiled satire or entendre.
What's heard must resonate in the disciple’s heart. The master’s words unlatch the side door of the subconscious to slip past the disciple’s ego. Understanding comes in the silences that follow the lowering of the disciple’s barriers.
With his silence, the master invites you to join in his cosmic dance. He asks you to meet his presence with yours. From this union, you experience the blissful ecstasy of love.
In my case, I need these jests, bits, and skits to tame my distracted, attention-deficit brain. The Poet’s parodies of my earnest seeking help center me, to quiet my internal chatter.
Within those inner silences, my intuition sharpens. I can grasp his teachings that otherwise soar over my thick skull.
Rising from his loveseat, he faces me. True to thespian sartorial form, he’s swaddled in his favorite silken kimono, a dark royal purple. It's bedecked with stitchings of red chrysanthemums and green peacock feathers.
Did he compose “The Tale Of Genji” in a past life? Or does the man just hate wearing real pants?
He nods at me encouragingly, as if awaiting my line.
Brave Achilles, how does the siege of Troy fare? Will you restore Helen to Menelaus? Does this hellacious war sate your lust for the eternal glory of the immortal hero?
He reaches instinctively for a non-existent sword at his hip before collecting himself.
Do I fuck with the war? Can my feigned sobriety hold my smooth brain together with a few rusty staples? Is it only an amorphous collection of idiotic quotes and dated TV show references? Sorry for partying, Officer. I...didn’t know...I couldn’t do that.
What are these things I’m feeling? Am I allowing them to penetrate through to my true self? Do I use self-deprecation as a coping mechanism for the stimuli I’m awash in?
Who’s this me speaking up and lambasting this other fictional me? Is this man terracotta and emblematic of an ideal? Is he a symbol of strength and power? Or is he an empty vessel filled to the brim with my fears, neuroses, and moral failings?
The Poet prowls across the well-worn Persian rug in his living room. He moves with understated leonine grace, one that hints at a martial arts background. He delights in his campiness, in his unabashed panache for scene-chewing.
He stops pacing and returns to his loveseat. He stokes, then loses himself in a non-existent fireplace.
I'm reminded of Gandalf revealing the One Ring to Frodo Baggins amidst the crackling flames. How the awful tyranny of avarice upends Frodo's peaceful life in the Shire.
I resume my participation in the play.
If we cleanse our soul of detritus by ridding ourselves of attachments, isn’t that good for our well-being? Or have we only hoodwinked ourselves?
Ah, that's the ego's music. Let’s roast that poor, clueless bastard. This mythical you that's not quite you.
By killing the ego and committing to our authenticity, we may stumble onto the self's true nature. We wouldn’t want that. Better to tread with care and allow the ego to dissect, examine, and ridicule 90% of your psyche. That leftover ten percent will be for you and me.
But who is this other I if I’m me? Where is it arising from? Who does it answer to? What does it want from me? Can I use it for good? Must I conquer then destroy it?
Are my actions orchestrated by the ego even as I stage a bloody palace coup against its rule?
How will I know I’ve severed the last of its tenterhooks from my soul? Won’t it lead me to the mountaintop, tricking me into thinking I’ve reached the summit? There, I’ll soak in my misplaced sense of conquistador-esque self-satisfaction.
In reality, I was a day late and a dollar short.
He looks up from his phantom fire.
Poet, how can we outwit that which is ever-present in our minds?
Hmmm, how do we fool the jester? How can we con a conman? It’s simple, we kill the Batman.
You’re attempting to defeat the master on a battlefield of his choosing and design. He’ll outflank, outmaneuver, outplay, and out-think you. The only way to win is not to play.
You must stop the internal dialogue. This disrupts the maintenance of your external narrative.
Allow no sense of persecution to enter the hallowed kingdom of your consciousness. That’s not why we returned to earth. We’re meant to break free from our egoic shells.
The ego is a bonfire. It needs oxygen and wood fed to it to continue burning. Starve the flames of its kindling and what happens? It dies. So starve the ego of desires.
The Poet pretends to blow out a candle. He wears a wistful, half-cocked smile. As if he had snuffed out the last few rebellious embers of a once-roaring fire.
What desires must we not feed to the ego?
Don’t feed the ego deceit. It will cocoon you in sticky webs of misconceptions, half-truths, and misgivings.
Don’t feed the ego fear. It'll poison you with paralysis.
Don’t feed the ego resentment. It will whisper vile and bitter words inside your ears to turn you green with envy.
Don’t feed the ego sloth. It’ll deaden your mind to leave you flickering in and out of consciousness.
Don’t feed the ego gluttony. It will delight in turning every thought of yours away from divinity and towards dinner.
Don’t feed the ego avarice. It'll hollow you out until you feel nothing but existential dissatisfaction.
Don’t feed the ego lust, the core of all suffering. It will suffocate you with its insatiable demands.
You must feed the ego nothing. Attach it to nothing.
Then you’ll see all you have to cherish and love.