empowerment

The Cruel God Fallacy

Some people say things like: How can God allow such horrific suffering? I thought he is loving.

Some people greatly enjoy watching/reading Game of Thrones, or any other kind of great drama, with death and emotional agony and all that.
Do people say how the creators are so cruel and condemn them? No. People enjoy drama. Because it touches them emotionally. Pleasantly and unpleasantly. Feeling is the key; it is favored. It makes people relate. The writers themselves might be very emotionally attached to their works. And there the big picture is what matters. They love the whole thing and don’t (necessarily) play favorites.

Now how can you (being a part of God’s creation) imply that God has any different relationship with his creation? He, too, appreciates a good show/story, exploration of an experience. And thus life is enriched with emotions, without which life would literally feel dead.
And you cannot have one pole without the other. Even if you could, then the exploration would not be perfect. The exploration of infinite possibilities. Because that is the positive message in the fact that anything can exist, no matter how horrible: It demonstrates those infinite possibilities actively at work. Anything could happen. And when you embrace that, it opens your heart, and when you open your heart to it, you can enjoy it.
That’s the irony of profound wisdom: Bad stuff will happen till the end of time, but if you don’t conditionalize the good stuff based on the bad stuff, then the latter loses power over you. This is a lesson that cannot be understood. It can only be experienced, felt, internalized. Don’t expect it to be quick or easy. It just happens when you move towards it. Which means not subjecting it to conditions, because that’s a good way to slow it down. That’s not at all what love is about.
If you manage to love the whole work of art, you will have an understanding with the creator. And that is something, haha.

This is, as all paths of overcoming suffering, about releasing the mind’s control.
Love will always be your loyal ally, and fear will always be your fierce enemy. Do your best not to collude with the enemy. You have the absolutely most powerful ally at your disposal.
But don’t worry, there is no dead end. When fear really gets you, it will make love become so much more worth giving attention.

Scold people for doing bad things if you like, but scolding God seems silly.
Who do you think you are? 😉

Don’t torture yourself.

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Breaking Bad’s Walter White and life advice

It’s easy for people so say about that character of Walter White from Breaking Bad things like “Wow, what a psychopath!”. That’s typical lack of empathy and insight. Dramas like this carry much more food for thought if one is willing to ponder.
If you examine the path he took and where it all started, you might realize the true story of that character. Something that might apply to the situation many people are facing.
So let me give you my take on this:

There’s tons of widespread popular life advice about how to succeed, to find fulfillment, to overcome obstacles etc. But a lot of it is self-serving smartass talk, projecting own experiences onto other people.
The uncomfortable reality is that what Walter White did matches that life advice. His character in a way portrays what happens when you just do what needs to be done to empower yourself in a screwed up situation, to turn things around and act, to do something about your unhappiness.
No doubt that he tended to be an ass at times, or horrible to others, or talked bullshit, but who said it’s gonna be a clean path? Don’t get discouraged by adversity – ha-ha. Do what you feel you need to do to be yourself, to find balance. Ha-ha.

Do you now see the problem here?
It’s not that easy. Not when you still consider certain social norms to be valuable. Not when you cannot help but also consider the well-being of others while searching for your own well-being.

I imagine a typical life-advice self-help guru telling Walter his ‘wisdom’, and then a year later he tells Walter in distress: “This is not what I meant!” And Walter responds: “If you didn’t mean it, you shouldn’t have said it. I exactly followed your advice and acted in a goal-oriented way. Things might not be easy or all sunshine and rainbows, but nobody dares to mess with me anymore, and that’s a good start. I have found the confidence now that you talked about. Now I see why YOU were so confident. Now that I am reborn as Heisenberg, I feel like I could share my own success story with the world and tell people what they need to do to find personal fulfillment and self-confidence. … I am a self-made man now. Who I am, I accomplished by myself, through hard work and perseverence! Isn’t that great? So empowering! If only other people could follow the same advice instead of finding excuses!”

Issue pamper circles

A sad phenomenon I used to encounter aplenty in World of Warcraft guilds, but also exists on the internet in general as a widespread thing, which expresses itself in a mindset I will picture in an artificial but representative example:

“The world is a shithole. And I believe I speak for everyone here when I say that we have all gathered here in agreement on that fact. Now you come and say it isn’t, and we find that very unsupportive. You should share our pain over the fact that the world is a shithole instead of being rude and uncaring.”

Sometimes comfort zones effectively are discomfort, and the path towards more comfort would require abandonment of the attachment to discomfort. But freeing oneself of that unhealthy emotional attachment can cause acute discomfort (basically a form of catharsis) that’s a lot worse than arranging oneself with the chronic level of discomfort. Thus, groups emerge where people are pampering their issues so that they can isolate themselves from healing impulses.
Just as forming a group with a noble aim can create massive empowerment, doing so with an ignoble aim can be massively disempowering. What it does empower though is pain, and more at the root, fear. And people who serve those masters are spreading their gospel.