The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Friday, October 08, 2010

The Source of Resistance

Once again, there was an excellent post at Steven Pressfield's blog. Below is an excerpt. The full article may be read here.


Art and the ego

Art (or, more exactly, the struggle to produce art) teaches us that. How? Because we start off, as neophytes, stuck in our egos. We’re trying by force of will, lust, ambition, greed etc. to come up with something that we can show to the world and be rewarded for. Ah, but it ain’t so easy. The process begins immediately to humble us. Like a stern but loving master, the struggle itself nudges us, shifts us, reroutes us. We’re seeking our true voice, our power, our authenticity as artists. We realize–through blood, sweat and tears–that betting on the ego is not going to get us there.

We have to go deeper. We have to surrender, give up the illusion of control, get out of our own way. We have to conquer our fears and jump off the cliff. Call it the Muse, call it “flow,” call it whatever you like. This is the Self—instinct, intuition, the unconscious. When we hit it, it’s like striking a vein of solid gold. We lose ourselves—that is, our egos—and we find something greater: our Selves.

The lover experiences the same exaltation in her perfect embrace of her beloved. She loses herself by giving unconditional love—and discovers a greater Self that is simultaneously her and not-her. So does the mother, the warrior, even the drunk and the drug addict. For an interval they all obliterate the little self and submerge themselves blissfully in the Big One.

Alas, this happy union vanishes the instant we resurface, just as a vision flees from the mystic emerging from his trance or a dream fades from the sleeper when he wakes. We have completed our miniature version of the hero’s journey and we’re back home. Now what? Try again tomorrow—and keep doing it till we get it right.

Resistance and the ego

The ego likes being in charge. It doesn’t want us to seat our identity within its rival, the Self. The ego produces the yetzer hara—Resistance—and strives with all its force and cunning to keep us bound to it and not to the Self.

The pursuit of art, originality, selflessness or excellence in any ethical form is, beyond all its other aspects, a discipline of the soul. It’s a practice. A means to and method for self-transformation.

4 comments:

walt said...

Pressfield wrote:
We’re seeking our true voice, our power, our authenticity as artists.

Yes, rather than the "genuine fakes" we suspect ourselves to be.

And:
Now what? Try again tomorrow—and keep doing it till we get it right.

I encounter this Every. Single. Day. and especially with standing. It's not that it doesn't change, and it has improved. But sheesh, every day it's like putting Humpty together again! And I'm just trying to stand there, aligned, "centered," present -- how difficult could that be?

Back at it tomorrow morning.

Nice photos of late!

Rick said...

"An artist has to fight for his art. He has to struggle, to see what he's made of."
- Ruth Ann from Norther Exposure

Pressfield is on to something.

Thanks for the comment on the pictures. I tend to schedule posts for publication in advance. Recently, Blogger has changed the program you use to upload pictures and it isn't working for me. If this keeps up, I'll have to migrate to Wordpress.

walt said...

You know computers, and I don't -- but I too struggled with Blogger pics. Here's what worked for me:

Drag a photo to your desktop. When you go to load a photo on Blogger, you click the usual ("From Your Computer") square, and up pops a file page showing whatever is on the desktop. Click the photo jpg on the file page (or double click); this auto-loads it into the Blogger box. Then click "upload" and Blogger takes it from the desktop. At least that's how it works on my Mac.

Feel free to delete this comment.

Rick said...

Walt,you're a genius. Since it worked for you on a Mac, I decided to use Linux (an operating system upon which MAC OS is based which I use for work) rather than Vista (Feh) to work on the blog and it worked perfectly.