I row across this pool of blood
Faces screaming in the boils
My ears start ringing from the flood
Of haunting voices, I recoil
I try to find deliverance
But the raucous current overtakes me
Drenched with sin, my body’s fallen in
I gasp the noxious air and look for safety
Skeletons upon the shore
Pierced with mirrors of their crimes
Every step I take shatters more
Their cracks run up my spine
I see reprieve in a narrow ray
That shines with golden splendor
Dripping, I crawl and drag my way
Then stop, wounds swollen tender
If I climb up to the light
The demons’ slightest touch will corrupt
But if I stay down here and fight
I will never come undone
You cannot control what you think, you can control what you do.
You may have convinced yourself that, at the very least, your mind is perfect. Though you have made mistakes in the past, those circumstances were not a result of any corruption of the soul. Your mind has been purged of any dark thoughts, and you find it deplorable to think of anything impure. With this mindset, however, the dark thoughts that do unconsciously crawl into your psyche (and they absolutely will) will be mistakenly accepted as appropriate, and reasonable to be acted upon. You know you can do no wrong, correct? If the thought has made it past your impenetrable defenses, surely there is merit to it. When you attempt to justify everything that goes through your mind, you lose the ability to separate the good from the bad.
It is not a foreign concept that the exact thing you try to avoid thinking about becomes your fixation. The irony of not accepting your own darkness is that you are causing yourself to be haunted by it. You are putting yourself in a position to be more easily overcome, the opposite of what you intended. It is a much more prudent exercise to embrace the things about your mind that you are scared of. Acknowledge it, never ignore it, and make a clear distinction between your thoughts and your actions. The full repertoire of your knowledge and reasoning will act as a natural filter that prevents your actions from being the wrong ones.
We are all insane. We may choose to filter what we present to the world, but in the end, we are all insane. There are deranged thoughts going through our heads that scare us, that we know will scare someone else if we share them. Keeping this insanity private, however, only serves as a mechanism to ostracize the things that shock us. An environment that places a taboo on vocalizing and depicting things that are vulgar, obscene, or contemptible is obstructing our ability to gain more knowledge. It cripples our ability to be resilient and defend against their effects. But if the culture we surround ourselves in can make the distinction between thought and action, our conversations will be more open, honest, and worthwhile. The righteous crusader who attempts to eliminate evil focuses his attention on preventing negative action, not thought. Indeed, the act of preventing thought is a dark one in itself.
If you are to accept that there is a negative characteristic that should be avoided for each pattern laid out in this book, the strategy for doing so should not be to try to eliminate them from your mind. It is natural to think about falling into one of these patterns. If this is acknowledged, then you can train yourself to not let those thoughts translate into actual negative actions. Embrace what you fear you will do, and make an active choice to not do it.
- Can you play the character of something that scares you? Can you let go of inhibition and lose yourself in the role? This needn’t be done in front of someone else, that is a different matter altogether. But in your own skin, are you comfortable enough to own another persona and see where it takes you?
- Do you get nervous when you hear or see something that you believe is wrong? Does that reaction make you more susceptible to its effects? Are you equipped and confident enough to confront it?