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by David Truman
Chapter 1: The Original Win
We're made for something better
It's easy to lose faith in this humanity. When we look at the world around us, and see so much suffering, greed, war, and interpersonal conflicts of all kinds; when we see our planet's back breaking under the weight of power struggles caused by greedy self-serving men and women, it's natural to ask, "How did things get this way? Where did we go wrong?"
But, I'd like to point out that in that question there's an implicit faith that we could do better, and that things should have been better. The truth is, each of us knows deep inside that we were made for love, and beauty, and goodness. If it weren't so, we wouldn't feel so unhappy with suffering, cruelty, or injustice. We wouldn't have been given such sensitive hearts. And we certainly wouldn't have the wisdom to ask, "Why are things so bad?" Humanity was made for something better, and that is why every heart cries out against the atrocities, the suffering, and the sadness that exists in the world.
If we weren't made for joy, sadness would not bother us so.
If greatness weren't natural to us,
If loneliness were our natural state,
If cruelty and evil were true of us,
The still small voice within
Each of us natively has a desire to love, to serve, to contribute to the humanity, to create beauty in some way or other, to solve problems, to be close to someone, to comfort when people are sad, to right the wrongs that we see, and to avoid wrongdoing ourselves. We have everything we need to create a beautiful world.
Every day, dozens of beautiful impulses arise in us -- to love, to comfort, to say "I'm sorry," to help, to change our ways, to appreciate, to reach out to someone, to rectify wrongs -- but all too often we ignore those inner promptings. That is where we go wrong.
It is the failure to listen to the still small voice within that robs life of its joys, and creates almost all the tragedies in the world (personal and global).
• Two lovers get in a bad fight. Both of them know they had a part to play in creating the conflict, but neither of them wants to say sorry. Their hearts keep nagging them to put away their pride and apologize, but they won't. After a few more bouts like these, their mutual trust is broken, and the relationship is in the trash.
• Nathan realizes that his wife, Amanda, is feeling neglected and beginning to doubt whether he loves her. He knows he should appreciate her more, and do more to show he cares, but his HABIT is to spend time alone, doing his hobbies. In spite of his nagging sense that he should change his ways, he continues to neglect her. Eventually, Amanda divorces him.
• A war breaks out. Almost everybody realizes that the war is immoral and unjustified, but almost nobody does anything to stop it. The result? Thousands of innocent people die or are injured, and many more have to live with the trauma of having seen cruelty and violence they cannot forget.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
-- Edmund Burke
If each of us were to let the still small voice inside us -- the one that loves rightness, and fairness, and love -- direct our lives, everything would work out just fine. People would love one another, and trust one another. We would all take care of one another. There wouldn't be any reason to fear or to fight. And there wouldn't be so many lonely hearts, or disillusioned people.
Of course, this is not news -- people have noticed for centuries that humanity has a strange habit of doing exactly the things our heart and conscience cry out against -- the things that make us feel bad; and also, of not doing the things we love and know are right, and that our hearts yearn to do.
Many religions and cultures attribute this phenomenon to the work of an evil, omnipresent being who tempts us to turn away from God and goodness. In Christianity, he is known as Satan or Lucifer. In the Islam faith, they call him Iblis or Shaitan (Satan). And he is said to have rebelled against God and fallen from grace, because he wanted to do things his way, be the king of his own universe.
According to the legends, after he rebelled, and was thrown out of Heaven, he spitefully vowed to lead the first humans astray -- and, as the story goes, he succeeded. He convinced them to go against God's will. In the western world, this is known as "original sin."
What does this have to do with us?
Whether or not the legends are true, they have relevance to our everyday lives. Whenever we decide not to follow our inner promptings, whenever we choose to live "our way" instead of the way that we intuit is better or more Godly, that is a present personal rebellion, not only against God, but also against ourselves -- the creature God created.
Think of it this way: Almost everyone is intuitively aware of a better life than what they're living -- a more loving, beautiful, godly life. A miniature, personal equivalent of a satanic rebellion happens if a person is aware of a better life, and yet, decides not to live it. The original (fundamental) sin is the conscious, personal choice to live a life that runs afoul of one's own sense of what's right; a life that is consciously known to fall shamefully short of the inner ideals and sensibilities of spirit, of soul, of heart.
As I said, we are naturally loving. We are full of compassionate and loving impulses. Our conscience is constantly telling us to do right. Each time we turn away from that still small voice inside us, which would lead us in a way most beautiful, we are "falling from grace" -- the grace that is naturally ours.
In other words, original sin is far more than an historic inheritance from Adam and Eve, or an irremediable genetic flaw. Rather, it is as we have described -- a present and ongoing choice. In every moment, we are confronted with the choice between living as God would have us live, or rebelling, and going on our own path with pride. The original sin is the refusal to surrender to God's way of love. It's the path of "my way instead of Thy Way," "my way instead of the High Way." From now on, I will refer to this "original sin" as "MyWayism."
The basic life-orientation of the MyWayer (which, really, is most people) is this: "This life is my own, and I will do it my way. If the demands of God, or love, or rightness interfere with my goals, or with what I want right now, they are secondary."
"The one principle of hell is, 'I am my own'."
-- George MacDonald
A person may not be aware that they have that attitude -- they may be in denial about it. You have to look at your life choices to see how well it applies. The question is, "Am I living according to what is right and loving and good, in each moment, or am I doing things 'my way'? Doing what 'I want,' instead?"
Example: Suzanne really wants the last piece of cake. She knows she's already had some, and that the last piece should rightly go to Jenny, but she really wants it. So, ignoring her heart's protests, she eats the cake -- though due to pangs of conscience, she isn't able to enjoy it very much.
Was the original sin really a win?
The question is, why do we deviate from what, in our hearts, we really want and know is right? Given the misery and guilt it creates, that's a reasonable question. And the answer is: we do it for the same reason that, in the legend, Satan rebelled against God -- pride.
I like to call Mywayism "the Original Win," (or O.W. for short -- because it hurts). Why is it a win? It's a win to the ego, because it's "my way over God's way." To the ego, it seems more noble to throw off the way of the Father, and boldly carve our own path. We don't want to go with a program that we did not make up. We feel that -- to defend our own freedom, autonomy, and sovereignty -- it is important to establish independence by deviating from the plan of God. The idea is:
"I deviate, therefore I am."
For example, you don't find many sons who want to take up their father's business, even though they're a shoo-in, even though it could be an easy win, a sure success. But not a win for the ego, you see. Not a win for ego to follow Daddy's little easy path.
In the same way, most people are heavily invested in creating their own life, their own self-image, their own everything. There's not much interest in finding out what God intended them to do or be -- in fact, they'd rather not know, because it might interrupt their plans. They don't want to work in their Father's business. You see? While all the great saints and sages feel, "I must be about my Father's business," the MyWayer feels, "I'll die before I'll work in my Father's business. That's His business. He created that business. It's not my thing. What about my thing? I'll tell you what, I'll start my own business!"
"I'd rather rule in hell than serve in heaven"
-- Satan's famous quote in Paradise Lost
The prideful battle cry of ego echoes in almost every household, almost every relationship, and in the words and actions of billions of people throughout the world. Loud and clear, it cries: "My life is my own, and I can do what I want. I'm going to do it my way instead of the High Way, instead of Thy Way, instead of God's way."
And it shows up in the smallest things. Not only do we refuse to do things God's way, we refuse to do it anyone else's way.
Example. A young man is planning to buy flowers for his wife. But then, she ASKS him for flowers, and he responds, "Well, I WAS going to get you flowers, but now that you've asked for them, you ruined it. NOW I don't feel like it."
Doesn't it seem strange that our beloved wanting or asking for something can be considered a reason not to do it? But this is a basic principle of MyWayism. MyWayism says, "I will not do what other people want. It has to be my way, my idea. It has to be mine."
Another example. Many kids love the music their parents hate, and hate the music their parents love. They want their tastes to be "theirs," and they think that means they have to rebel against what their parents love.
And again. A team of people are working together on a big project. In the process, they argue constantly, because they each care most about their own ideas and opinions, and don't want to do it anybody else's way (EVEN IF somebody else's way is better). Sound familiar?
"All through the day
-- George Harrison
True Story: Ben (Mr. Can't-be-wrong)
When I was a teenager, a young college student stayed in my parents' house. One day I told him, "I can do your laundry if you want." He was horrified, "What? Don't! Are you trying to look like somebody's servant? If you do that kind of thing, you'll just make a disgrace of yourself." He was very impassioned about the fact that one should not degrade oneself through self-subordination, submission, or service.
This is a normal attitude. Many people think of service as degrading, particularly if they are not getting anything back for it. But in truth, humble, stringless service is not a disgrace. It is a sign of real human dignity. If you can transcend your pride, and give, love, serve, then you are a true human being.
We live in a world where most people are desperately trying to defend their own power, autonomy, and pride, to a degree that is truly illogical.
Some time ago, a man wrote to me about his relationship with his girlfriend. He wrote: "Jennifer believes that she has to be defensive whenever I criticize her. She thinks if she doesn't, she will probably lose herself, her personality, and her independence, and become my slave."
Sound extreme? Maybe it is, but it's normal. Most people can't take criticism for the very same reason. They don't want to be what someone else wants them to be. They don't want to admit, "You are right." Maintaining their pride is more important to them than maintaining affinity in their relationship.
Humanity is brainwashed into believing that if we don't live and act only according to our sovereign will, we are weak, or disgraceful, or "unsafe." While it's true that we shouldn't do everything that others want -- we do need to exercise discernment -- it goes beyond healthy precaution or integrity when we defend our way on principle. To the degree that that is our commitment, there goes cooperation, there go happy relationships, there goes world peace.
True Story: Maureen (Rebel Without a Cause)
True Story: Jake (Lone Warrior)
"I'd rather lead, even if I bleed."
God's way is the way of love
Here's why MyWayism hurts so much: God's way is a way of love. God is love. So, when a person rejects God's way, what are they rejecting? They're rejecting love. That is the "original win" in a nutshell -- the rejection of love.
And if we reject God's way, our alternatives, though there are many, are all the way of the ego in one form or another. And no matter what form it takes, ego's way is self-centered living instead of love-centered living, self-service instead of the service for one's fellow man.
To live that way is to be untrue to ourselves, because the person God made wants to love. God made us loving beings, with loving inclinations; but the sovereign will, under the influence of ego thought, makes the decision to deviate, even from one's own good nature.
Being in a mindset of rebellion and pride, most people don't want to be what God created. They don't want to flow with the love and inspirations that would pour through them -- if they would only align themselves with God. They want to "re-create" themselves, and deny the self God made.
That's why, by the time they reach adulthood, many people intuit that they have lost something very precious. They don't feel quite like themselves anymore. They may wonder what happened to their passion, their silliness, their honest feeling. They know that they used to be something better, but they don't know exactly what happened.
Well, what happened was, they went through a systematic process of self-recreation -- picking the qualities and impulses they liked, and they felt would get them what they wanted in terms of status, popularity, success, invulnerability, etc.; and suppressing the qualities and impulses they disliked, or they felt threatened their pride, status, popularity, etc. Traits such as honesty, passion, spontaneity, devotion, feeling, and real uninhibited love often get buried as children become adults. We are denying what God created in us, and choosing what we want to be, or what we think serves our interests best -- we're doing it our way, and never questioning whether we truly know what's best for us.
You could call this the birth of the false persona, the illusory self. The false persona is a direct rebellion against God, and the self God made. It wants everything the spirit doesn't want. It says, "I want to live for myself." "I want to get my way -- even though it hurts somebody else if I do, and I hate that." "I want to yell at my friend right now -- even though my heart says I ought to be kind to her." "I want to do wrong. I don't find rightness appealing." "I want to be selfish, because generosity and love seem dangerous, and if I be unselfish I may not get my way." But the spirit finds rightness very attractive, and it finds love very attractive, and it wants to give the glories and capabilities of its heart and soul and body and mind. To the spirit, the choice for love is obvious. It's our spirit that cries out inside whenever we do something that opposes love, rightness, fairness. It would lead us in paths of righteousness -- where every step creates a flower.
When we deny our natural impulses to love and give and do right, we lose touch with who we are, and become something we dislike. We feel small and cramped, unexpressed, unfulfilled, and unknown by everyone around us -- mostly because we are not being who we are.
The truth is, we want to love, innately. But the ego tells us we don't want that, that we're better off going our own way. And usually, we buy it. We say, "Yeah, that's what I'll do." Thus begins the twisted path of the prodigal sons and daughters of God.
A brief history of MyWayism
So now you understand the basic philosophy and commitment of MyWayism. MyWayism has been around as long as we can remember, but it's been through various revisions. As far as I know, the current version is the most overt form of MyWayism of any time in history. Today, it's almost taken for granted that people should, "put themselves first" and "live for themselves." And of course, you should never worry what other people think or feel. You have your life to live, they have theirs. If the way you happen to want to live your life makes everybody around you miserable -- what business is that of theirs?
That is the prodigal path as it is lived today, and described, and sold, and bought, and religiously followed. But it took a long time for it to evolve this far.
In earlier versions of MyWayism, the ego was more subtly involved in its own pursuits. People could not avoid some level of cooperation or surrender, and still get along in society. For example, in the old days, most people joined a religion to secure a place in heaven, and so that God would protect them. It also made a person socially acceptable, so they could maintain their status in their community. There were surely those who were sincerely involved in religion -- but for many, the motives were selfish. Yet, the pressure to conform to the standards of the day created a relatively disciplined life. People went to church, they tithed, they followed all the rules, etc. That created an appearance of a very surrendered person.
But MyWayism was still alive and well, even in those days. You see, just as a very committed student or athlete might submit to serious discipline in order to achieve their goals, men and women in those days submitted to the rules of society and religion in order to maintain their social status, and enjoy the liberties that come from being a socially acceptable person -- the ability to succeed, to influence people, to be left alone, etc.
For the same reasons, sons would learn the craft of their father. They were willing to "be about their father's business," because they had no other choice. In many cases, it was the only way to survive.
Today's version of MyWayism is when you take off the gloves; when you're no longer making any pretense to be surrendered. Instead, you glory and revel in the fact of unsurrender. You directly state that you are your own person, and that that is your ideal. You directly state that you're in it for me, and you're not duplicitous or complicated about that. You simply say, "I'm living for myself, period."
Selfishness rules both situations: with conformity, and without it. It's just that when the survival pressure to conform is removed, we have the opportunity to do it "my way" on a much grander scale. We are no longer beholden to strict societal standards that force us to go with the flow, or take others into account.
The only truly satisfactory way is real cooperation and surrender, which is born of love. True surrender is when you care enough about what God wants and needs, and what people want and need, that you do it voluntarily, without duress. That is the kind of love God wants, and that is the kind of love people want -- obviously.
All the lonely people
A man at a flea-market said to me the other day, "I know why the world is in such bad shape: it's because five or six people can't get together and work as a team anymore." Right he was. The passionate commitment to MyWayism is surely why there are so many divorces, so many aborted relationships, so much fighting, and so much loneliness in the world today.
As a result of the MyWay philosophy, many people today are not aware of how much they affect those around them. They are so focused on their own desires, goals, aspirations, feelings etc., that they have little attention for the lives and emotions of others. For example, frequently, when you criticize someone for having hurt or disappointed another (perhaps even yourself), they'll say, "That wasn't my intention; I didn't realize I had such an effect." There's an ethos of studied obliviousness to one's effects on other people. As a result, more people are failing at social life -- failing to maintain healthy marriages, friendships, associations, partnerships, etc.
True Story: Scott (The Runaway Poet)
It's common for people to leave behind them a trail of misfortunes and heartbreaks, because they were doing it their way, and they just didn't have eyes to see their effects on others.
"You never turned around to see
-- Bob Dylan
True Story: Anthony (The Casanova)
True Story: Tina (Lost Soul)
These are just a few of the many people I know, who have followed the path of MyWayism to their own detriment. It is a worldwide plague, a pandemic. It's taken so many lives. Most people can't even imagine life without the disease.
People of principle
When people take their pride, their "my way" sentiment, and bring it into work relations, friendships, romances, marriages, the inevitable result is conflict and failure. MyWayism is why, on every schoolyard the world around, young girls and boys are involved in nasty, power-tripping politics -- trying to one up one another, and maintain their own status, pride, and control. It's why so many work teams end up arguing their way through projects. It's why half the marriages in America end in divorce. It's what causes most fights among friends and families. It's why so many totalitarian regimes have risen up throughout history, and why so many of them have been overthrown by equally power hungry people. It's the cause of almost every war and every human atrocity in history. MyWayism. Pride. Individuals and groups wanting to maintain their own power, and the liberty to do what they want.
"The record shows, I took the blows, and did it My Way."
-- Frank Sinatra
Yes, the record shows. And what the record shows is endless pain and suffering, as a result of the fact that billions of people have taken the bait, and committed to a life of doing it "my way."
But there's a principle involved that many people feel is worth fighting for, worth suffering for, even -- and it is, as we have said, the principle of autonomous existence. They feel, "This is why and how I'm living, so don't get in the way."
It's like the child's game "we walk straight." Where a group of children will walk through the schoolyard chanting, "We walk straight, so you better get out of the way." Everybody has to move, or else be trampled. It's a misguided assertion of bold autonomy, of unwillingness to be swayed by anyone else.
To the extent that any person is bought into MyWayism, they do not want to condescend to meet the requirements of love. They don't want to kowtow to the demands, needs, or expectations of other people, in the way that would be necessary to maintain a deep intimacy with anyone.
True Story: Grace (The Boss)
The love you take is equal to the love you make
To a "mature" MyWayer, it's extremely threatening to be intimately involved with another person, and therefore be in constant touch with what they feel about what we're being and doing each moment. That they should have any needs or expectations of us implies that we're not "free" to do what we want. If we kowtow to how they feel, we're simply marching to the beat of somebody else's drum, trying to be what they need. When, in fact, we have needs of our own. I mean, "How can we get our needs filled if we are busy trying to fill the needs of another?"
But here's my question: How can we get our needs filled if we are not interested in filling the needs of our partners, or associates? How can we ever get our needs for love filled if we are not loving? How could we really? And the answer is, of course: it's impossible. No person who is anti-social will get their emotional needs filled. And generally, if you won't cooperate with others, they won't cooperate with you either. People will not respond to you if you don't respond to them. So, in that sense, the search for power yields only powerlessness. The path of living to get what you want leads to destitution.
Only a need fulfiller could ever have their needs filled. That's the eternal truth. Whether it be in personal relationships, at work, or anywhere, getting your needs met depends on your willingness to take others into account, and thus earn the love, respect, and loyalty of those around you.
Social caring is the very bedrock of every kind of possibility for social fulfillment, or personal fulfillment. The fact that we accept the opposite of that as true is simply a measure of our delusion. The original lie, which Satan is said to have spoken, is that we can have great things by doing what we want, rather than what we know is right.
Satan tempts Eve to disobey God, and eat the forbidden fruit:
"God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
Iblis (Islam's evil tempter) tempts Adam and Eve:
"Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest you should become
But that is not what happens. Pursuing our own self-interest does not lead to happiness and fulfillment. Instead, by doing it our own way, we throw ourselves out of the garden -- the garden of intimacy, of love, of happiness, of enjoyment of who we really are -- and have to live in a dry and difficult world instead.
The devolution of humanity
This seems to be the present goal of culture: to transcend caring, cooperation, concern for others, humility, and loving responsibility toward our intimates. To transcend the human sensitivities that tell us other people matter, and instruct us in how to take care of them. Essentially, we are to transcend love and compassion, and embrace selfishness.
All these things are being transcended very fast now. It is gathering momentum, this transcendence, until everybody is going to be a model of what is called "autonomy." Autonomy, these days, means that you have transcended every tendency within yourself to respond to the needs and desires of those around you, and learned to live entirely for yourself. You have beat all, and beaten up all. The creed is: "In order to be self-sufficient, in order to be good and strong, I have to not care, not get embroiled in the messy tangle of concerns that other people have -- other people's wishes and expectations for me." This is the strange idea of virtue, as is presently being pursued.
But, as you become effective in the pursuit of that kind of "virtue," you begin to unplug from so many things that you eventually transcend your own humanity. Or civility, or decency, or anything that can be identified as spiritually appropriate. This is the death of intimacy, and of the true cooperative spirit that mankind so naturally enjoys -- in our native state.
In truth, it just hurts everybody to face a world of people who will not give up their pride, their egotism, their whimsical nature, for the sake of one another.
Thankfully, we have not yet reached full transcendence of our humanity. If we look around, we can still see love, we can still see people enjoying working together, teams that have a great spirit, marriages that last, and friendships that are truly nurturing -- but all that is becoming more rare.
So, it's a good moment to reflect on what we really want to be. Whether we want to continue on the path in which we're learning not to care what others think. Whether we want to continue avoiding the "hassle" of being involved with what others feel, and taking their demands and expectations seriously.
This "Original Win," what the ego conceives of as a victory, is actually an open trap door down into a hell of endless heartache. Along that path, we lose our relationships, we lose our ability to cooperate, we lose our effectiveness, and our ability to connect deeply with other people, and we even lose ourselves.
But the good news is, we can always turn back. The heart never dies. The beautiful impulses and the moral sensitivities that are native to us never go away. In fact, that is why the heart cries -- because it is still alive and well, and it has something to say about what we're doing, how we're living, and what it truly wants -- what you truly want. Most people have gotten too good at ignoring the promptings of their Divine heart, their spirit -- but those promptings are still there. We still feel them, and we can choose to start following them anytime.
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by David Truman
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