masks

Contamination

Written June 27th, 2011…

Masks are a relic of the past when it comes to conveying what my path is all about. So is aloofness, escapism, playing the victim, forsaking compassion, and so on. As is the shrewd selection of ‘proper’ friends. I do not “pick my company wisely”. I interact with people in the world around me, and I contaminate them; not the other way around.

I know, I know; we are not islands unto ourselves. Blah, blah, blah. I know. But the influence other people have on me is up to… guess who… That’s Right! Me. And the avoidance is not my only option in dealing with influences I don’t care for.

I am the way I am.

I know the kind of qualities I admire, and the ones I despise. And I’ll say so. Some people don’t like honesty, and they avoid me. People more akin to what I like, and that like me, tend to gravitate towards me. I don’t move out of the way of people I don’t like, nor of those that don’t like me. They want me out of their world, they’ll have to run, ’cause I won’t.

I am open to the virus of undesirables, the contagion they carry, but I try to be aware of how that can affect me, how I want it to affect me, and I decide. I do not believe in avoiding them, or their weakness and decadence. I am the one who decides how people affect me. When it comes to Me, their power is within Mine.

(Inspired by Luciana)

Note: this was a journal entry from one of my more memorable journals online, the one I kept at the previous version of the Order of the Sith (before we moved to new web hosting). Don’t have much to say here at the moment but I happened to log in today and remembered this was in my drafts folder.

The Students Approach

A Method Of Discovering & Strengthening Oneself

The people that find their way to places like the Force Academy and make the choice to embrace their resonance with darkness fulfill the role of a student. Regardless of solitary experience or lack thereof, the power – whether in mind, body, or spirit – an individual might command or submit to, newcomers here are students. Whatever they are looking for here, it is effective to first turn ones gaze inward, and then to tear down the walls, opening up to others here, using them as a part of the process.

Erecting walls, fortifying oneself against things that might be dangerous, repulsive, terrifying, or uncomfortable… forging means of safety and comfort inhibits the individual from realizing dreams, fulfilling desire. For them, the instruments are inhibitions and impediments, instruments of safety. The student most often uses them to seek safe harbor, peace, despite the consequences, the stunted growth. At this stage, hiding behind shields and masks is nothing short of self-sabotage. The tact advised? Drop them.

Instruments Of Safety

A Shield, often manifested in the form of projection, is built upon the anvil of delusion and denail. Symbolically it is external, but refrain 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. Beyond that, it is a hindrance. I say study what you project to see what it can show of what’s within; afterwards, the student need not retain it. It bears the brunt of forces that could break you, avoiding real conflict, deflecting away hostility before it can become an oppurtunity for growth, creating hostility or conflict as a distraction from your soft spots… It is the first line of defense, and it must be dropped.

A set of Armour, representative of supposedly “thick-skin” and the kind of interaction that denotes it, prevents you from the full experience your 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. It’s used for deception, lies, deflection, misidirection. The outer mask is the third line of defense, and it must be dropped. But as subtle as the third instrument is, there is another far more insidious in nature. The inner mask, the one that hides the student from him or herself. It keeps you safe from the burden of self-knowledge, obscuring your true nature and wants, making it difficult to connect meaningfully with anything. It is the fourth line of defense, perhaps the most detrimental, and it must be dropped.

If you choose to insulate yourself from things that hurt, even when they probably cannot kill anways, you will never find what makes you stronger. Verily, a great deal of a dark students journey consists of destroying these constructs, smashing, dismantling, and ripping them apart. Particularly in the formative years of his or her life. 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

If you want to get anything out of the communities (e.g. The Force Academy, Order of the Sith) or the people here as a student, 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 of course, 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 used to brush things off, that “it’s only the internet”, is the very 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.

While in some contexts it’s stupid to lay down your armor, lower your guard, or leave yourself open to attack, with the context here – especially 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 – it is advised that the student worry about that after he or she has become familiar with the lessons that can be learned from embracing and understanding ones own vulnerabilities and weak points, not before. Maintaining an ‘advantage’ and protecting yourself with forms of armor can be worried about later, in situations and places where bearing your throat can actually result in serious physical injury or death.

A Transitory Luxury

Enjoy the benefits of transparency while you can, because eventually you’ll grow beyond it. There will come a time when it’s easier to spill your guts to everybody, to rely on others for the source of insight, conflict, confidence, even easier than it once would have been to indulge in self-deceptions. And the price of that luxury will be higher and higher, it will hinder your efforts and ambitions. It will drag you down. 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. But until then, do yourself and the more experienced practitioners here a favor: don’t pretend you’re anything but a student.

“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

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, your Desire, your True Nature, plain and simple. Don’t be a pussy, bare your throat, because ultimately, it’s not going to kill you.

The Path Of Strength

(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.

Selective Transparency

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