Tag Archives: Obedience

Puritans & StocksNow that I have your attention, I will admit it was a very broad and assumptive statement on my part. Many of us may not feel ashamed of pursuing and indulging in the drama, the intrigue and pleasure of sex. But I believe that it is very important for us to first understand where the taboos came from concerning those of us who do have feelings of shame concerning indulging in pleasure and those of us who don’t and what I believe to be the reasons why.

To begin with we must first ask ourselves who were the first settlers of this country? It is generally accepted that it was the Puritans. Puritanism originally took a stand for a purer interpretation of Christian scripture. That is, they opposed the reforms made by the Catholic and Anglican churches of England because they weren’t strict enough in their reforms. Underlying that was the whole of the Puritan movement seeking to replace the personal pride of birth and status with a professional's or craftsman's pride of doing one's best in one's particular calling. As a result of both motivations they emigrated to the Netherlands, Ireland Puritans Prayingand, eventually, New England. Their focus was originally against inadequate religious reforms and unequal birth status up until the 1560s. After the 1590s Puritanism was applied to anyone having overly strict religion and morals. The majority of those who immigrated to New England were the Puritans. As they settled here they set the tone for moral and religious conduct. So our country’s earliest starting point for our perspectives on life and how it was to be lived came from them. One of the reasons that we have such diversity in our beliefs on how to live now is because as a country we eventually became a melting pot allowing other nationalities and religions to integrate into the whole contributing to our current day variations in the religions, morals and life styles of our citizens thereby diluting the moral influence of the Puritans. However, having originally set our moral tone, it had already become ingrained in the foundation of our moral code and actions and is still a very strong, mostly unconscious, compulsion in favor of adapting the behavior that we’re trained into and expected to follow even today. This is probably the ancestor of what we refer to as the “Moral Majority” today. The Puritans did not exclude pleasures such as sex or alcohol from their life styles but had very strict rules about their engagement in them. This mindset has become a very pervasive and conflicting undercurrent which many of us, especially the younger Guy Fawkes Maskgenerations, have difficulty complying with. For the older generations it surfaces as a force utilizing guilt, shame and the need to disguise our natural animal urges. For the younger generations and especially those of other integrated cultures, it is a pillar of antiquated perspectives to be circumvented if not outwardly disregarded or rebelled against. So when I say some of us have been trained into feeling shame and others have not, we can understand how our diversity and melting pot experiences have created such a disparity in the way many of us perceive or even acknowledge morality involved in the way we believe we should be living. The majority of these types of perception have emanated from our own familial history and religious roots. Since US culture emanates mostly from Puritanical roots, Europe, with many more years of history and experience in these matters than us, not to mention having less of an influence from Puritanical traditions, is a lot freer and permissive, if not celebratory, in its expression and pursuit of our natural instincts toward pleasure.

The remnants of our Puritanical background are still present but appear to operate from a much more subdued level, especially in light of the years of progressing social changes we’ve been through since its inception into this country. Our prevalent religions, mostly Christian, still carry on some of the traditions openly while emphasizing humility and self-effacement in deference to others as a component of the religious code but most of them also still struggle with the underlying urges of our innate animal nature for survival and pleasure that remain suppressed through their respective mandates within our unconscious. In dealing with these innate urges it’s probably easier for those of us with no religious leanings or preferences. I feel Puritans & Indiansthis is so because it seems that religion still has the propensity toward denying the animal characteristics we all still share which only tends to compound the intensity of our struggle with them. Because the Native Americans who lived here before us personified the integration and acceptance of these urges into their culture, they were seen by our ancestors as a threat to their ability to deny their existence within us and, therefore, judged as savages and refused membership in our social structure.

So those of us who have families rooted in early American and Puritanical values still carry on, mostly within our unconscious, the struggle between our own personal and animal urges against our intended and desired image of appearing “civilized” and/or “holy” in our social interactions and demeanor. In psychology this has arisen as the separation between our Id and Superego with our Ego bearing the brunt of the culturally required mediation between the two. Hence, we now have developed all sorts of complexes and neuroses to label the different parts of the struggle that each of us may be dealing with at any given moment. We even have medications to subdue their effects so the intensity of the struggle may be minimized if not jammed back into the unconscious where it wreaks havoc from an “undisclosed” or untenable perspective generally surfacing at the most inopportune and unexpected times. In this it becomes the bubble under the wallpaper which refuses to dissipate and simply moves around the pressure in order to avoid its own extinction.

Seduction-2So, now that we’ve looked at how our traditional social structure deals with our animal nature and urges toward pleasure, let’s take a look at pleasure from a personal point of view without the attendant socially required stamp of selfishness and the stigma of applied shame. When we’ve been with someone who really turns us on, we enjoy immensely, have just had sex, had tremendous orgasms together and we’re totally and blissfully spent, do you think we’d feel like getting up and going to work? Of course not. If we’re Smoking Marijuanainto marijuana and we’ve just smoked the cleanest and most potent joint we’ve had in a long time and we’re floating in nature and its music, do you think we’d want to clean our apartments or do our taxes? Of course not. If we’re partying with friends and having the best tasting wine, laughing, joking, playing games, talking about life and we’re loose and relaxed with not a care in the world, do think we’d want to go home, change diapers, mow Alcohol Partythe lawn or fix the faucet? No again. These “hedonistic” activities release us from self-consciousness, worry, fear, tension and anxiety. They allow our innate animal urges to come to the surface. They allow us to indulge in and feel pleasure. Pleasure is the release from pain, stress and daily tension. When we’re feeling this way, does anyone have any effective influence or control over what we do if it countermands the pleasure we’re feeling? How manipulable are we when we’re in a pleasurable state if the activity we’re being pushed into performing interferes with our pleasure? Not much. Right? They why, might we think, that religions and government administrations want to set codes for, laws against and limits on our indulgence in these activities while at the same time inferring that they are immoral, selfish, ungodly, immature, unpatriotic and evil while encouraging our parents to emphasize this in our early training? When we’re comfortable and relaxed we are virtually uncontrollable and unmotivated by others. Then we only listen to our own motivations and urges. Pleasure and creativity are our main foci. The admonition against us, usually being very subtle and often unspoken, comes out as “Shame on you for not thinking about your brothers and sisters before your own interests.”

Psychiatrist-Patient-CouchThe current in our culture has been progressing toward an almost unspoken and innate mandate for our having more and more of a responsibility for, not only the welfare of others, but how they choose to feel about how our actions affect them. This is often reflected in the growing irrational claims the someone has done or said something in their purview that has offended them. This only serves to emotionally confirm our early training that we are responsible for someone else’s feeling. In the balance between our being responsible to ourselves and accountable to the world, this has pushed the pendulum way far to the right in emphasizing the welfare and feelings of others over our own. This tilts the pursuit and indulging in our own pleasure much further into the domain of guilt, shame and embarrassment.

So now our pursuit of pleasure for someone coming from a traditional background is, on the surface, perceived and often felt as an aberration and/or an inadequacy that needs to be dealt with within ourselves when it is actually an externally generated social coercion in the form of Sinsocial blackmail. Yet, when we are alone and not in a social setting, we generally accept, enjoy and indulge in pleasure and its pursuit but always with and underlying feeling that we’re doing something that is not permissible and that classifies us as a less than an admirable or “godly” person. This is probably the original impetus for religion to call this type of activity a “sin.” I see it as an anachronistic trained mindset designed to evoke obedience. What is so sad is that with that morally social “assignment” its effect subliminally and emphatically encourages self-doubt and a diminished sense of self-confidence sabotaging our creative and joyful pursuits.

So many of us have been and still are raised in this country feeling ashamed of ourselves, and I don’t mean just our body and its basic needs and urges, but even our clothing has become just one more way for us to hide our trained and enforced perception that our natural desires and urges are to be viewed as inadequacies needing to be hidden from ourselves and others. For those of us with a traditional and religious training and upbringing it brings a paranoia pervasive within and generated by religion about acknowledging, viewing, respecting and beautifying our natural selves as evidence of excessive pride and something to be avoided at all Adam & Eve Ashamedcost lest we be labeled as Hedonistic, selfish, immoral, and then “excommunicated” from the civilized group of our neighbors. Even the bible tells us that Adam and Eve were ashamed when they saw themselves. THIS is the main reason why sex and pursuing pleasure is still such a problem in today’s US culture. The advertising agencies and our government know this and use it to the hilt. With their “aid” we receive an exacerbation of feelings of guilt and in front of our children, we are encouraged to hide how we relate to sex and pleasure while we continue to train them into our neurosis about it. It's an emotionally hurtful traditional that needs to be abandoned if we are to grow in emotional maturity and integrate our natural condition with our spiritual aspirations and awareness as balanced humans.

Indiana Jones-3As a culture we have become obsessed with “making a difference” in the lives of others Why? Is it written somewhere? Does our government demand it? Our religions? Our parents? It seems to exist as this powerfully nebulous undercurrent having the determining influence on how we value ourselves. Why? Where did it come from? There are a few points of development to look at. First, let’s take a look at where it might have come from.

To begin with, when we come into this world and as mammals we humans are the most dependent of our genus on our parents for our early survival. For a longer time than any other mammal we are totally dependent on them for our food, warmth and safety. To us, they’re gods. At that preverbal age and circumstance we know nothing and of no one else. We have no Childhood Obedience-2idea that there is any other choice for how we live our lives. In our considering parental training we must understand that this perception effectively trains us toward primarily looking outside of ourselves for support, direction, safety and whatever else we might need. Additionally, we do this unconsciously and as a reaction. We learn very quickly to develop an instinct that if we don’t respond in a way that is to our parents’ liking, they withhold their love, support and attention. Though we may not yet consciously have the ability to recognize the tradeoff we participate in, we most certainly have become trained into responding properly through a rudimentary form of classic conditioning. We do what our parents demand, we receive love, attention and inclusion. When we don’t, we are ignored, neglected or excluded. This basic social training 101 provides us with examples and “proof” that the external world determines if and how our needs are to be answered. This is the first experience that contributes to an eventual perspective validating our future belief that it is more important to attend the outer world than anything else that might be going on inside us.

Church obedience-1As we grow a little older, say three or four, and with our concentration now solidly on what goes on outside of our “jurisdiction,” another layer is added pointing us toward further paying attention to an external influence independent of what we feel or think. An unchallenged demand for our obedience to an external deity is added to our dependency on what is external through an indoctrination into a larger and wider authority; religion. So now, who and what are inside the home and who and what are outside the home both confirm our newly forming belief that who and what are outside of our control determines our wellbeing and self-image. Psychology calls this an external locus of control. That is; the belief that what is outside of our will and influence determines the fate of our existence. Contrarily, the belief that we control our own fate is called having an internal locus of control. Obviously, we can’t be totally one or the other. In the larger view our belief in whether our fate is determined by inner our outer influences can vary significantly depend on the circumstances and situations that we find ourselves in. For example, we develop a very strong belief that our physical movements are almost totally determined on how we direct the muscles of our body but the love and affection we receive is perceived as being dependent on the moods and movements of others in our outer world. So you see that we can have a mix of loci of control concerning who or what concerns our fate.

The reason I’m emphasizing this perspective is because if we don’t subsequently encounter enough experiences and influences realigning us with nature in which there generally exists a balance between our ability to control or be controlled, we grow into individuals who allow ourselves to become almost solely directed by those others whom we encounter in our daily activities. Our potential in our regaining this balance rests upon the training that we might receive from our parents nurturing the parts of us that will allow us to develop trust and confidence in the effectiveness of our own efforts. In the last fifty years this re-balancing influence has occurred less and less leaving us almost exclusively with the belief that the world Control-1determines our fate, or, with our having an external locus of control. There are a whole host of causes contributing and trending toward this perspective but I think it’s safe to say that the largest contributors are the pressures our parents face in their basic support of the family leaving them little or no time for actively investing in resurrecting our inner world of feeling and Self-Trust and the concurrent rise in media affirming that they have our better interests and highest welfare at heart and tacitly asserting that our guidance must rest with them.

There is one more layer over the previous two I’d like to discuss. On top of our training to direct all our attention to the external and being indoctrinated into aligning ourselves with prevailing Odd man outaltruistic perspectives under the threat of exclusion, we are also faced with the potential for a type of demeaning labeling intended to notify and include others in our exclusion if we don’t. This labeling is more common within the frameworks of metaphysics and religion rather than in any secular circles. Simply put, when we attend our own issues and interests over those whom our society deems needy, less fortunate or in need of assistance we are labeled as selfish. Unfortunately, where the word selfish was originally seen as simply indicating the direction of our attention, over the last half century our contemporary culture has gradually replaced its meaning with an undesirable and derogatory flavor and coloring.

So now we have three compelling influences encouraging if not demanding that our thoughts and feelings be almost totally focused on what is external; our parental training and qualitative bonding, our second layer of complimentary religious values and our third layer of potentially derogatory social labeling. In this light, is it really any surprise why we are so obsessed with what everyone else thinks and feels about us? This combination of factors is lethal to our having any control over our emotions and self-image. The effect that the external world has on our perceived value is overwhelming. It almost literally states that the assessment of our value is totally out of our hands. This seems truly ironic since someone else’s value is to be determined by us as we become adults ourselves.

Far afieldIt may seem that I’ve gone pretty far afield asserting how we’ve come to perceive that our personal control has become almost solely determined by our external world but I wanted to show how deeply our looking to the outside world for love, acceptance and approval is ingrained with us. Now, let’s take a look at only one of the results of our intensive training: our obsession with needing to “make a difference.”

Overloaded burroAt this point I think it’s easy to see how we can be saddled with such a desperate need to do so. We desperately want to think well of ourselves and are petrified of being labeled selfish and ostracized through the disapproval of others. So much so that now, when we take time to do for ourselves and invest in our own thoughts, feelings and welfare, that it generates feelings of guilt and fear that we’re depriving someone less fortunate of their due from us. This combination of factors is also responsible for generating feelings of our never feeling that we’re able to be or do enough. I think you can see why our advertising media has been able to have a field day with this aspect of our psyches.

Deep hole-1I think we can also see how deeply ingrained this message has been implanted into our psyches. So deeply, in fact, that many of us are blind to its effect on us and that we have gradually grown into accepting that self-determination is no longer a normal part of the human condition and temperament. Many of us have even gone so far as to assume that serving others must be our purpose for living in our current physical incarnation. Of course, our religious leaders gleefully accept and encourage our believing in this premise, especially since this perspective assures them of being able to direct our activities and resources.

So whom are we really making a difference for? Ourselves! Under the blind of doing for others we unconsciously feel that it fulfills the external world’s requirements of us. Why does it feel so good to do for others? Because we have been taught to believe that it fulfills and validates our exhibiting expected behavior earning us love, approval, acceptance and inclusion from the external world. Will it ever be enough? Of course not. How could it be? There are more people in the world than we could ever minister to the needs of.

Is “making a difference wrong?” Of course not. The point that I’m making is that our behavior has become so automatic, overly skewed and obsessed with the outside world that we have totally neglected to give our own feelings, thoughts and urges any consideration for fear of being labeled selfish and ostracized within our clans. Remember, in all life there always is a balance between inner and outer natures. Our contemporary child rearing and social training has effectively nullified the value and validity of our inner personal natures through applying the threat of excommunication, punishment and exile for our misbehavior and selfish attention.

shakespeareSo what to do? It all boils down to us asking ourselves one simple question in every encounter we have with every other person. Do I want to belong or do I want to express through choosing my own path? It takes courage to choose our own path and run against the grain risking exclusion. A deeper question might be, “Do I want personal growth or security?” This was the deeper meaning of Shakespeare’s questioning soliloquy, “To be or not to be.” Growth can be frightening. Security can be boring. We all end up struggling and attempting to strike a comfortable balance between the two. The more we let our training and social conditioning take precedence, the more we perceive life as having an external locus of control feeling safe and secure while also feeling trapped and bored. The more we let our own feelings, urges and intuition take precedence, or allow ourselves to be selfish, the more we perceive life as having an internal locus of control and feeling the excitement and freedom to express as we please.

Roberts rules of orderNo one who has followed the all the rules has ever had any significant effect on history except to perpetuate the status quo. The crux of these questions is that we must work toward what leads to a balance by either choosing to diminish an excess urge to conformity through forging our own path toward self-hood or choosing to diminish an attitude of anarchy through choosing a path of conforming to and sharing with our community. Our choices must work toward a balance between inner and outer perspectives. Neither extreme is sustainable. Any attempt at maintaining either extreme, conformity or anarchy, will end up drawing universal situations that will move toward restoring the natural balance. That’s simply the way of nature. Why not have the courage to give consideration to both by attempting to walk the middle path? Risk a little middle Path-1criticism and disapproval by acting in your own interest. Offer a little love and compassion even though you might be labeled as a wimp or weak. Keep an inner balance between you and the world. Remember, either extreme will eventually elicit a universal response anyway forcing us to adjust on the road ahead simply to reassert the natural balance.