Essays from my younger days
Profound words from an ancient sage
Here is an essay I wrote on 6th December 1972 – nearly forty years ago. At the time I called it ‘Self.’
Ali ibn Hazm (994 – 1064 AD) said “No man is moved to act, or resolves to speak a single word, who does not hope by means of this action or word to release anxiety from his spirit.”
I am writing this essay to myself. It isn’t the first time I’ve written thus. But it is the first time that I have intended from the very outset to be as honest as I possibly can.
Without being really conscious of it, I have been and still am, trying to relieve a feeling of anxiety by engaging in a certain line of activity. I have been concerned with what I call ‘Self Improvement.’ I’ve accepted that I am dissatisfied with myself; that I must progress in some way. But I have given very thought to the feeling as to why I must progress.
Our innate urge 'to become'
It appears inherent, this dissatisfaction most of us seem to have. But I must get back to the object of this essay: myself.
The years have found me seeking along various paths, searching for ‘Self Improvement.’ An urge to become a great artist, then a great writer, scholar, mystic, wise man and orator, and always the emphasis was – and still is – on being great. And yet knowing full well that, although I have talent in all of these fields - though more in some than in others - I am far from being great. And possible – no, likely – do not have the qualities for greatness
(Even here I’m too frightened to say I haven’t got them)
Somewhere deep inside of me I must feel terribly small and insignificant.
Our fears begin early
I was the third and smallest child in a family of five children; an older brother and sister; younger brother and sister – is this it? Unloving Mum? Father? Is this it? Insecurity as a child? Foster parents? Frequent moves and upheavals? Is this it? None of these things seems to be the cause.
I feared my father. This I know. I remember being caught in some wrongdoing and being taken home to my father by the ear. I cried piteously outside my home, pleading for the young man, who had caught me, not to tell my father. Yes, I feared Dad all right
Few of us escape the 'need for approval'
I fear the contempt of my colleagues. Fear that I may seem inadequate, cowardly, and inept. These things I recognize in myself. The need for the approval of my colleagues and friends is also know to me.
However I do not, in all sincerity, know why I feel that way.
I know that I like to be the centre of attention – if things are going right. Once again that need for approval. I know that as a young person, I was very capable of giving and accepting love and tenderness. Yet as I grew older I had such tendencies of ‘softness’ conditioned out of me. Or, more than likely, repressed into me.
I wanted to be regarded as tough and worldly-wise.
From somewhere in my adolescence I began to fear physical violence. Perhaps because of my small stature. And yet I would fight with courage (possibly borne of desperation) and win almost every physical battle I was involved in. Once again, maybe I couldn’t stand to lose.
And yet, what?
I will consider my present worldly ambition to become a great (and once again that word) interesting (to gain approval perhaps?) moving (to be able to give and receive love, perhaps?) and effective (caused by feeling of inadequacy perhaps?) orator, who will dedicate his great gift to help to relieve suffering and to promote joy.
Why this last? “To help relieve suffering and promote joy?”
To justify my power-seeking action!
I’m stumped. I can know myself – or so it seems – no further with this written discourse. The subconscious will reveal nothing more to the conscious mind. I’ll have to try another day.
Or perhaps I’ll try by prayer.
I worry that people may think I am religious, pious; worried about my image as a discerning and unemotional thinker. I cringe in shame that people who know me may find out about the insecurity of my grip on what I believe to be the truth.
Anxiety: a conflict between reason and desire? Emotion and feeling on the one hand, reason and subconscious desire on the other.