(Tentative early draft.)
Strength can be measured by asking a solitary question: am I closer to making my dreams, my passions a reality? Adaptations pertaining to action, choice, etc. can be made from this. If the answer is yes, that signifies strength; if the answer is no, it denotes weakness. Erecting walls, fortifying oneself against things that might be dangerous, forging instruments of safety, distances the indyvidual from actualizing his dreams. Seeking safe harbor, seeking peace, hiding behind your shields and masks is nothing short of self-sabotage.
Instruments Of Safety
A Shield is built upon the anvil of delusion and denail. Symbolically it is external, but refraio from indulging in that lie. It has value, but only for being something of the individuals own creation, that is what makes it worth study and exploration. But beyond that, it is a hindrance. I say study projection to see what it can show of what’s within; afterwards, it is not worth retaining. It bears the brunt of forces that could break you, avoiding real conflict, deflecting away hostility before it can become an oppurtunity for growth. It is the first line of defense, and it must be dropped.
A set of Armour is at least used in conflict, but it prevents you from the full experience you wounds could otherwise give. Instead of a gash, there’s nothing but a bruise; instead of being impaled, nothing but a bruise. If pain is a teacher, what greater lessons would a stab through the heart teach when compared to nicks and scratches? I dare say far more than the armour would allow. This… this is the second line of defense, and it must be dropped.
Masks come in pairs. The obvious one, the mask shown to other people, is what may first come to mind. It protects you and I from knowing what might otherwise be laid bear to other people, protects from their exploitation. The outer mask is the third line of defense, and it must be dropped. But as subtle as the third instrubent is, there is another far more insidious in nature. The inner mask, the one that hides the adept from himself. It keeps us safe from the burden of self-knowledge, inhibiting us, making it mifficult to connect meaningfully with anything. It is the fourth line of defense, perhaps the worst, and it must be dropped.
If you choose to insulate yourself from things that hurt, even when they do not kill, you will never find what makes you stronger. Verily, I think a great deal of a dark practitioners journey consists of destroying these constructs, smashing, dismantling, and ripping them apart. It’s more comfortable to leave them in place, to learn to accept the encumberment and all the limitations that come from these instruments, but no one said this way of life is blissful or easy.
Strength Through Vulnerability
As a dark student of the Force Academy, I learned to open up. As did a number of others, people like Ben, Draeth, Luciana, and Ashton. The whole time period really embodied the stage I was in as a student and practitioner of the Sith: the stage of vulnerability. The stage, and the insights, suggestions, and advice I could garner and put to use as a result.
While in some contexts it’s stupid to lay down your armor, in this context if the motive is to get a baseline, focused, and usable understanding of oneself, and if one is to explore, build, and expand on their own foundations, maintaining an advantage and protectinw yourself with forms of armor can be worried about later, in situations and places where bearing your throat can easily mean death. I would encourage darksiders to worry about that after one has become familiar with the lessons that can be learned from embracing and understanding ones own vulnerabilities and weak points, not before.
If you want to get anything out of the FA or the people there, you’ve got to allow yourself to get attached to it, to them, instead of hiding behind the excuse that it’s just names on a screen. It’s perfectly true, but taking it to an extreme closes you off from the benefit of letting those people matter, lessens how much you can use them for your own growth, and becomes an excuse to stay comfortable with your life, however dissatisfied you might be, however mediocre you are, and regardless of how close to the mark criticisms or snide remarks might be when thrown you’re way.
I would encourage any would-be student to sacrifice the comfort of that convenient excuse in favor of the opportunity to invest yourself a little, to admit that certain people – and what they have to say – matter to you. Forge some connections, take some emotional risk… if you deliberately invest yourself instead of hiding behind a veneer of apathy, you might just get a return on that investment. The reason I’ve seen people use to brush things off, that it’s only the internet, is the reason you should open yourself up and stop pretending you don’t care whenever that becomes a convenient cop out: at the end of the day, it’s only the internet, and names on a screen.
“Understand, I come here to grow as a person, and I have found that, by making myself vulnerable, by exposing my core in an environment where the actual risks are controlled, I become stronger so that I can face the challenges in environments where I have no control over the outcome. It seems to me that my peers, Victorus and Draconis to name a few, share the same goal and methodology.”
~Darth Draeth (aka Nale)
If you’re looking for ways to explore yourself, and expand, grow, and evolve, you’re going to have to suck up the fact that you need to open up, and embrace vulnerability as a path of strength. You’re going to have to set aside your instruments of safety if you really want to become a stronger individual – when or if you pick them up again, they will not need to be used as instruments of safety; instead, they will be instruments of your will, plain and simple. Don’t be a pussy, bear your throat, because ultimately, it’s not going to kill you.
I’ve come to be selective in my transparency, and can tell how best to serve myself through this approach, but it’s in large part because of the foundation that it has been built on: vulnerability, openess, honesty. I regularly exposed my throat, allowing for others to take metaphorical scalpels, butterknives, hachettes, pencils, and whatever else they could. I used others to see what my insides looked like. The inherent risk with this approach is that pieces of you will be chipped away, broken off, or lost. But that will happen as you go through life anyways, and to sacrifice those pieces of yourself deliberately, intentionally, mindfully… That makes those sacrifices more worthwhile and more fulfilling.
Because of my experience, I can make strategic choices in what I reveal about myself, and do it in such a way that it effectively serves my ambitions. I can pursue an agenda beyond my own personal growth, and in fact consider it my responsibility to do so. You see, in the end complete transparency is a luxury, one that students should enjoy and exploit the shit out of, because when you start to expand your ambitions, enacting you will further outwards, showing all your cards can begin to undermine your efforts. I would have to sacrifice the results I aim to achieve in order to pay for that luxury, so I rely on myself to perform the introspections and other functions I once used others for.
Enjoy it while you can, because if you make any progress as a dark adept there will come a time when it’s easier to spill your guts to everybody, easier to rely on others, even easier than it once would have been to indulge in self-deceptions. If you’re worth a damn, that will be when you decide to take on the responsibility of doing for yourself what you learned to do with others, continuing your personal evolution.
♦ Ω ♦