A question I’ve had all my life is: “Why is it so hard to do the right thing?” And the paradigmatic breakthrough has me now see why it is.
I see that the feelings associated with “doing the wrong thing” are pleasurable and the pleasure we derive from doing them is what keeps us doing them, time after time.
Why it’s so hard to do the right thing is that the wrong thing can feel so pleasurable.
And because we won’t admit to ourselves that doing the wrong thing is pleasurable and because we won’t acknowledge the pleasure we get from doing it – that is, because we resist these aspects of the situation – our willingness to do them time after time persists.
The answer is simple. It’s just the fact that I’ve rejected that answer over and over again that keeps me blind to it year after year.
As a result of watching and observing my own shadow side, I now see that feelings like arrogance, self-righteousness, and vengefulness are in fact pleasurable. If you watch a TV program like Dallas, and I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch it for more than a minute or two, I confess, you’ll see people engage in what we may judge as the worst possible lines of behavior and yet they and we derive pleasure from it.
Until someone exposes that they’re not behaving according to the Golden Rule or the Ten Commandments or some other standard of virtuous behavior and shame asserts itself, they continue doing them. When we’re reminded of the fact that society does not permit us to do these behaviors, we stop. But we still enjoy them even if we’ve ceased doing them temporarily. On Dallas, people soon resume their resort to them. And until that moment of being “called” on their “bad behavior,” the actors appear to be enjoying themselves.
When I got past my aversion to these lines of bad behavior and could simply rest in observation of how I felt as Jesus recommended in his message “The Third Way,” (1) I could see that the factor that kept my “bad behavior” locked in place, the factor that I was never admitting to myself, was that I enjoyed feeling arrogant, self-righteous, and vengeful.
Why it’s so difficult to do the right thing is that doing “the wrong thing” feels so pleasurable.
And yet enjoying the pleasure of the wrong thing is taboo in our society. Until I allow myself to experience completely the pleasurable feelings associated with doing the wrong thing, without actually doing them of course, the willingness to do them will persist.
But returning to my enjoyment, if I take things one step further and look at what lies below that enjoyment, what I find is a very enjoyable feeling of powerfulness.
The person who does the wrong thing usually does it out of fears around their survival. Being powerful guarantees survival. So, on top of feeing pleasurable, doing the wrong thing can promote survival in a world that’s also survival-oriented (i.e., a Third-Dimensional world).
Powerfulness is simply a feeling. It doesn’t translate into actual power, although I could allow it to motivate me and become a Hitler or a Mussolini, I suppose. But it in itself is not power.
The Wizard of Oz felt powerful until Dorothy drew back the curtain and forced the Wizard to enter the real world. He had to acknowledge that a feeling of power didn’t translate into actual power and he awakened from the dream. But I’ve remained in the dream all these years because I enjoyed the feeling of power and never had my curtain drawn back.
Most of us never do have our curtains drawn back. Most of us keep doing the same bad things over and over again because we reside in our dream world with the curtain in place, enjoying the feelings of power, vengefulness, arrogance, etc.
I could allow the feeling to advance and become a lover of power, hankering for or desiring power. I could become power-hungry. People might call me demented in that case and everyone who did so, I’d then create as an “enemy” and, if I was Hitler or Mussolini, I’d eliminate them.
I could walk further and further down a destructive path. Doing the wrong thing would become easier and easier and the chaos around me would grow until a force powerful enough to overturn me opposed me and my destructive career came to an end.
What I’m describing is the wellspring of my shadow side – my love of the feeling of power, which itself derives from the pleasurableness of certain destructive and ego-enhancing behaviors.
I’m now, at this moment, allowing myself to observe and experience these destructive feelings.
This love of power is at the base of the ego. I might find tomorrow that the love of a pleasurable feeling like orgasm is also at its base as well, or the love of the enabling power of money. I don’t know. But for now I’m going to restrict myself to these pleasurable feelings and the love of power that enables them and brings me to value them and to do the wrong thing.
What I’m looking at at this moment is another aspect of the way the ego and the Self operate. It’s an aspect which we don’t generally look at or, if we do, don’t generally acknowledge.
Until such a time as I’m willing to acknowledge and experience through these pleasurable feelings, I believe my shadow side will persist.
This remains for me just an hypothesis at this moment, but I intend to test it out by experiencing through these feelings of pleasurableness that I’ve just become aware of and the love of power that lies underneath them.
I intend to plumb the depths of this hidden cistern of emotion from the observer standpoint to see if I can complete my shadow side thereby – or at least a part of it.
(1) See “Jeshua: The Third Way,” by Pamela Kribbe, July 4, 2012, at http://jeshua.net/ and “The New Gospel of Jesus” at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2012/07/the-new-gospel-of-jesus/