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Wanting to Believe

It occurred to me recently, when seeing someone talk about how much they want to believe in a benevolent creator, that maybe most people have that desire. That desire to believe some creator set things in motion, and that it all has a purpose. But there’s this question that pops up in my head, completely sincere: Why?

I don’t understand it. Never will.

Even if there was a god, it wouldn’t be one to believe in.

If ever there was an exercise in futitlity…..

Mindful Corruption

If strict adherence to set instructions doesn’t sit right with you, then don’t adhere to them. Twist it to be used in whatever way you feel is best. The end result may not be what any instructors might have wanted you to get out of it, but the point is ultimately to get something out of it. I’ve always approached lectures, exercises, and means of training with the idea that they are meant to serve me. Whether it’s as their creators intended or not.

On the other side of that, I’ve long since learned the benefits of mastering something – skills, techniques, etc. – ‘properly’, but basterdizing these things into something I feel more in tune with or that I like better is always a possiblilty. It’s part of what has often made the teachings from one Sith to another so diverse. No one feels bound to honor the intent of the teachings from Sith that have more experience, or that were around long before they themselves were.

That is, of course, different from when you’re involved in a one-on-one training arrangement. If you aren’t looking to learn something via the manner a more experienced practitioner wishes to teach it (more or less), then there’s very little point to it. But in terms of independent and solitary study… I say be mindful of the possibilities. If you come across material that seems like it’s to much to handle as is, or that resonates in spirit but not quite in the details… play with it.

The Honesty of Darkness

The death of a star – falling in upon itself – takes place in those of strength; those to weak are consumed. This is the beginning of insatiable hunger, ambitions, wants, passion; and it is the end of contentment, rest, peace. The individual becomes a black hole, and has lost all convention, all comfort, for having dispelled the light that had once constituted his being.

You look into it, and it returns your gaze. The darkness that defines it – that creates an abyss – will begin to speak. Understanding will emerge, and you will come to realize that this abyss is within yourself. Eventually, it will dawn on you: the abyss isn’t merely a part of you, it is who you truly are. Formerly distorted by the surrounding light, it will become clear to you, ready to be embraced.

∞ ◊ ∞

I am the Heart of Darkness.
I know no fear; but rather I instill it in my enemies.
I know the power of the Dark Side.
I am the fire of hate; the universe bows before me.
I pledge myself to the Darkness.
For I have found true life, in the Death of the Light.
~Author Unknown

I read this code a long, long time ago. Vallen – the darksider, not Spark – had used it in a lecture. Then, I had passed it over years ago, having decided it was poorly contructed and didn’t represent darkness or the way of the Sith accurately. Later, I had a change of heart and used it in a lecture of my own. Here, now, I seek to present the treasures to be found in the ways of our archetypes yet again.

I am the Heart of Darkness.

There is Darkness within everyone; it is the home of painful truths, of secret wants and desires. It is the hiding place of those things we willfully ignore, and it is more. Above all, it is the cradle of the heart. Sith taste, feel, and accept that this is where their heart really is, that this is even what the heart itself is; and that alone is an acknowledgment that takes strength.

But one does not become the Heart of Darkness suddenly or effortlessly, even after having found it. Pain, sweat, and struggle ensue, for it remains an elusive creature, always prancing here and there. When the individual begins to look outward, he becomes acquainted with the nature of this playful, mischievous, slippery fish of a heart. Only with an inward gaze can an adept begin to fathom it, feel it, and let it guide his hand.

I know no fear; but rather I instill it in my enemies.

It is, at first glance, a poor choice of words to say that a Sith knows no fear. Nevertheless, a message of value can still be discerned, especially by those well versed in our ways. To paraphrase an old friend, “to be feared by a Sith is no benefit, for the object of his fear becomes a target”. While it is not always the case that it becomes targeted as a result, to be feared by a Sith is no advantage. Speaking for myself, I know fear well. But the difference evident to me, a line seperating a common man from a true Sith, is that we do not become crippled; it is passed through, and we draw strength from the experience.

I imagine this could scare other people when enountered in someone like myself, and it is also a given that instilling fear in others can have a desirable effect on the outcome of certain situations; but unless the outcome being aimed for is close to the individuals heart, unless the purpose of this kind of manipulation is sincere, it’s a hollow tactic.

I know the power of the Dark Side.

Darkness, the Dark Side, is something different to each and every practitioner; it is about the individual. For myself, it is the individual. The Dark demands strength, through which there is the potential to gain greater power.

Power, when bolstered by strength, can become self-perpetuating. To know power, revelation and understanding has a greater oppurtunity to flourish. And though power is not the “be all, end all” of our way, possessing it and expanding it is a defining characteristic of the Dark practitioner. The strong and mindful will always find ways grow their influence, both in range and intensity.

I am the fire of hate; the universe bows before me.

Another picture is painted in proclaiming one’s self to be “the fire of hate”, not unlike the earlier line on fear. For the discerning eye, this to is an attempt to put on diplay an adepts willingness to attune himself to his feelings; to not only stand at the edge of the chasm, but to leap into the dark abyss beyond. To jump into the black hole… into yourself. To embrace your true nature.

As to the ‘universe’, that too is simply the individual bowing before himself. Not in submission, but in enthusiastic service to his own life. For the dead star recognizes that it is an entire universe in and of itself.

I pledge myself to the Darkness.

I must reiterate that the nature of darkness is left for the individual to experience and describe. No one can do that for you, and few will respect the sacrifices and strife demanded of those that come to know the Dark intimately, viscerally. To stand by what you’ve discovered within and what you’ve grown to become, to commit one’s self so absolutely is something many will not or cannot do.

But there are those that have, and those that will. Most of these few will eventually comprehend that conviction is indicative of strength. Taking the risks of their conviction in stride, they pledge themselves unflichingly to darkness.

For I have found true life, in the Death of the Light.

The definition of Light: a force of distortion, a Lie. The light of an individual is who he thinks he is, who and how he thinks others percieve him, the very opinions of other people on who he is, it is the ideals that would sublimate his heart, his nature. It comes from looking outward for definition and direction. The death of the Lie – the Light – gives birth to true life.

“A monster is a person who has stopped pretending…”
~Colson Whitehead

∞ ◊ ∞

The death of a stars light can be the birth of a monstrous soul, a dark abyss. You need only dispell the light, to be shamelessly honest with yourself, to be reborn as an infantile monster, and to grow into something you’re proud to be.

(5-7-10)

Arrogance & Modesty

There’s something to be said for demureness. Brazen, unapologetic arrogance has been all the rage at times, but it doesn’t suit me. Of course that’s far from saying I’m humble (lower, or less than), or that I’m lacking in arrogance, but pride, confidence and modesty aren’t mutually exclusive.

For me, their co-mingling has always been the most to my liking, the most honest demeanor I’ve been seen to embrace and express. It’s an interesting shift in perspective on this, for me, if I look at how it’s changed over time, because years and years ago I wrote what was probably my first ‘lecture‘ (entitled Power, Arrogance, and Corruption) and the essence of it was a warning about the danger to oneself and ones progress posed by becoming arrogant (the tell-tale sign that power had corrupted).

Somewhere along the lines though, I ended up on the other side of the spectrum. It started to look to me as though humility was a cop out, a nifty device to fall back on; in other words, a person being humble only acted that way because they couldn’t handle the baggage that comes with arrogance, and they didn’t want to admit that their weakness – their inability to act or feel secure in their sense of importance – was the reason.

On some level, I still think that’s right on the mark, but what I’ve since realized is that the two (arrogance and modesty) aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s one of those things that seems like it should have been obvious, but it took a while to fully dawn on me. Not to long ago, I was of a like mind to something David Edge said…

Pride and arrogance are so easy a child can do them, seemingly. The problems people have with pride and arrogance is that it is NOT easy to do, at least not well. So, in an effort to mask inadequacywe have conceptualized humbleness. People think its better to claim theyre not playing than to admit they play poorly.”
~David Edge

At first glance the statement he made didn’t seem to me to leave any room for humility or modesty; that is, if you were someone that could ‘play well’. If that is really what’s meant by it, then from that perspective any sign of humbleness or tendencies to be unassuming becomes anathema, signs that you play poorly and don’t want to admit it. At least that’s the way I took it for a while, kind of on the other end of the spectrum from my earlier views, and I came to agree with it. But my view of all this has changed as I’ve reflected on it lately.

The way I see it, arrogance tempered by modesty is playing par excellence, because I still have an underlying belief that I’m better than others, but I don’t usually assume that about any specific ‘somebody’ I meet or talk to or don’t know. I’m very unassuming in that sense, in that I take people as they are. It just doesn’t take away from the underlying belief I have that I’m better than other people, generally speaking.

As far as the cost of such a stance… if I interact with you, whether it’s the first time we’ve had an exchange or it’s the thousandth, my view and attitude towards you specifically isn’t going to be affected in a ‘bad’ way by my ego. If I don’t know you, then I don’t know you, so there’s no reason to say “I’m better than you” or, really, even think it, because I wouldn’t know (yet). And if we’re talking about someone I know, then what I think about who’s better than who is going to depend on context and on what I know about that person.

(Written awhile ago, still more or less applies…)

A Reflection

Think of your blog as a mirror: what does it reveal? Consider your blog name, theme choice, design, bio, posts… what does every element tell you about yourself?
Daily Prompt: Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall Aug. 14th

The title is Latin for Evil Love. It might be taken as a nod to the dissonant forces within myself, to the nature of polarities and how they coexist and compliment each other (e.g. passion and reason). Assuming, of course, that there’s an awareness of them and that the individual can be decisive. That there’s conflicting forces within (and without) that can be coupled together to great effect, directed, doesn’t mean choice gets taken out of the equation. If you’ve got mixed feelings on whether you want to buy a composition book or a leather-bound journal, if you don’t pick one you’re probably not going to get either… or you’re going to settle for something you’re not sure you want. Being indecisive isn’t ideal.

The theme was chosen because it appealed to my aesthetic tastes, it’s clean, simple…. I might even say elegant. Plus, the black and white is another allusion to polarities. The home page was a big selling point. It displays the latest post, so whatever was last posted (especially in a splurge of three or four posts at once) was posted last on purpose. So it’s be the one on display. Most of the time. And the widgets are set out in what I feel to be a simple manner, in line with the reason I picked it. The number of posts displayed on the home page is usually determined by how everything else looks with the size of the posts listed, and (more so) by what I know of numerology and the meanings associated with certain numbers – when I was the Head of the Dark Aspect at the Force Academy, there were seven of the most recent posts on display there; now, it’s set to nine.

On the home page are also included widgets for my twitter account, the Facebook page for the Order of the Sith, and links to my home sites. The last of which is due to be changed again, I think. There is still a link to The Sith Resource, and that might be removed since everything I was interested in exploring with that has been redirected to the Order. And though I still check in to see if there’s anything of interest, the Force Academy is hardly at the forefront of my mind. I’m really quite over the place, to put it in clearer terms. So it might stay there, but it might not. The twitter feed isn’t going anywhere though; I fucking love that platform. The last tweet I make on any given day, or the last of a bunch of them, is usually tweeted with the fact that it’ll show up on the home page in mind, as with the latest post.

Throughout all of this, my way of life (as a Sith) is impossible to avoid running into, in one way or another. I suppose one thing that’s obvious is my fondness for simplicity, and in presenting things with that in mind, and that I enjoy things having a meaning, even if it’s often hidden. I mean really, who the hell out of the people that read this would have guessed my choice in the number of recent posts displayed is almost always tied into the interest I take in numerology. Beyond that… what all of this says about me, I leave for the reader to decide. I could do what’s suggested in the prompt, tell you what I see in this ‘reflection’, but where’s the fun in that.

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.

Shedding Things

“The Force will change you. It will transform you. Some fear this change. The teachings of the Jedi are focused on fighting and controlling this transformation. That is why those who serve the light are limited in what they accomplish. True power can come only to those who embrace the transformation. There can be no compromise. Mercy, compassion, loyalty: all these things will prevent you from claiming what is rightfully yours. Those who follow the dark side must cast aside these conceits. Those who do not, those who try to walk the path of moderation, will fail, dragged down by their own weakness.”
~Darth Revan

I think the idea put into words here, of embracing ones own transformation, is a quintessential part of what a Sith is. And it fits in nicely with the idea of monsters (that is, as a lens through which the practice of Sith alchemy can be applied to individuals) that I’ve explored off and on. How the two relate? To stop thinking so much, and start being, mercy, compassion, equality, guilt, shame… a great deal of notions lots of people like to hold near and dear, they start to fall away. They’re shed, like dead skin from a snake.

“A monster is a person who has stopped pretending…”
~Colson Whitehead

From some of my notes: A monster is someone who has stopped lying to himself. For a while, after discovering the value of it, he tests this new approach of honesty. It’s taken not just with himself but with other people. He drops all the bullshit, the posturing, the masks, the armor, and even the composure; it’s taken to the extreme. But in time it always comes back to the self, full circle. For while learning to express your true nature is essential to the evolution of a monstrous soul, it is just as important to restore the lies that had previously protected others from you, so that you might now protect yourself from them.

Putting it that way, it sounds worse than it really is when it’s truly understood. I don’t have to actively lie to keep myself at a distance or hidden from others, none of us do. All I’ve got to do if I want to keep something from someone is not say much about myself. Thing is, engaging in this actively only works in the short term; long term, your spirit, the real you, always shines through well enough for someone to see. So aside from it being a learning experience (both in dropping all pretense and in learning to use pretense), it falls away in the end to. Because it circles back again to just being what you are, with minimal self-conceptualization.

The intellectual elements involved are just a doorway to walk through in a lot of ways, and after that they become indulgences. Wanted by some, maybe, but not really needed and not always the best means for stimulating further transformation; it can be pretty easy to get absorbed in the reasonswhy‘, the justifications, the mental gymnastics, but that absorption is usually a sign of getting bogged down, stagnating.

However, contrary to what’s said in the red text, rotting isn’t stasis, it’s a part of the process:

“Cut a chrysalis open, and you will find a rotting caterpillar. What you will never find is that mythical creature, half caterpillar, half butterfly, a fit emblem for the human soul, for those whose cast of mind leads them to seek such emblems. No, the process of transformation consists almost entirely of decay.”
~Pat Barker (Regeneration)

Chains of Shimmersilk

Iron and steel aren’t the only things you can forge chains with.

Through past experiences, from early on, I became acquainted with metal links.
I didn’t have the worst childhood in the world, but it was no fairy tale either.
School wasn’t a picnic most of the time, family life grew worse as time went on.
Violence, heartbreak, tears, split loyalties… all of these and more were recurring themes.

Things were hard in obvious ways. Each day was hard…
Fast forward a few years down the road, and here I am living a fairly comfortable life.
In the world I live in now, many chains are made of shimmersilk.
I sometimes worry about ‘getting soft’, as they say.

It’s not because of these soft, comfortable chains in and of themselves though.
It’s because of how easy it is to be seduced by the comfort they are defined by.
Some are worth keeping, while others are better off ripped to pieces.

I’ll tell you how they’re made. In a word: Victory.
The individual gets strong, puts himself into what he does.
Devotes himself to the pursuit of what he desires, and achieves.
He climbs, learns, progresses, and creates.

What the individual creates and accomplishes…
Seduces him into complacency.
It all becomes a world of bondage and encumberment.

How to break these sweet restraints or use them to go further?
Remember your inner flame.
If you don’t seem able to… it’ll remind you it’s still there.
Desire will only wait so long for attention before it makes itself known.

The circular part of this is that even in breaking these chains, more are forged.
The new ones are almost always a greater challenge than their predecessors.
To break them demands you grow stronger in new and different ways.
Keeping any of them forces your two grow strong enough to bear their weight.

Choosing to keep some of them deliberately, consciously…
Casting aside the ones that you no longer desire…
Is necessary, and should be decided from the heart.

Apprenticeship

Master & Apprentice

Some might say that a master passes on all he knows to his apprentice, and that the apprentice shares everything with his master. But to put it like that implies homogenization, carbon copies. That’s not how it works in actual practice. No, we all have our secrets, our personal truths and experiences, and there’s very little of it that can be shared so directly. To be sure, there are hidden secrets to be found, but they cannot be given, not by any mentor or friend. They must be gained by you, for you. The best a mentor can do is offer hints, track and evaluate the apprentices progression, give encouragement, furnish tools you can use, and point to things that might need torn down.

However… when it comes right down to it, one on one training arrangements are a luxury.

What can be gained through an apprenticeship can just as well be attained by any individual, alone, if he’s driven enough. The student that commits to one will probably be well off for the experience, but no one should get hung up hoping for a surplus of guides that isn’t there. For in truth we are few and far between, and the responsibility of guiding someone down their own rabbit hole takes time and effort, both of which are limited resources. Few would be making the smart choice in passing up the opportunity if it’s there to seize, but, more importantly than that… you’re not Sith material if you’re the type to let limited resources hold you back.

My advice:
When there’s someone that can be useful to your own growth, that’s able and willing, use them well.
If there isn’t, don’t use it as an excuse to let yourself down, to rot in place when you could be moving forward.
In the end it shouldn’t matter; the best of us, formally apprenticed or not, are self-driven.

Due Consideration

(Free-write on the idea of seeking agreement and how disagreement is taken?…)

You know… I don’t always want people to agree with me. Aside from the fact that I can’t be ‘right’ about everything, %100 percent of the time, personal preference comes into the equation. So does experience, but I don’t really factor that in as much when I’m dealing with people, because more often than not it still goes back to preference. But when there is disagreement, most of the time… I try to give some consideration to viewpoints that contrast with mine, and hope that the same respect is afforded in return.

With people I genuinely feel to be either stupid or stubborn, I sometimes get angry and do what I can to affect them, to make them consider my perspective, but there are times I’ve felt that someone was being dismissive, or wasn’t grasping my point(s), when in fact they completely understood. They just disagreed. Very rarely do I feel this way, at least with the former, but every now and then I do.

It helps to know the difference, to learn to spot it, and to ask questions to find out if need be, for the sake of effective communication. If nothing else, I think it’s important that people don’t feel like they’re wasting their time with each other – I know that when it comes to my own choice as to whether to bother, I don’t like wasting my time and elect not to where and when I think it’s going to happen.

But I’ve also been returning to an earlier disposition I once had, because the fact is, no interaction is a waste of time unless I make it so. Worst case scenario, an exchange or conversation goes nowhere, but there would still be the option to learn something. The fact is, whoever you deal with, whatever you do, you’re the only one that can choose to make anything a waste of your time.