Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Inner Monologue

Writing is easy and fulfilling, when you can just spill your inner monologue onto the page. This means you have to love your inner monologue. I think perhaps the bulk of spiritual work for a person of our times is involved in improving one's inner monologue.

This echoes a theme popular in "self-improvement" books, called variously "Positive Thinking", "affirmations", "setting intentions" and similar phrases that describe efforts to control one's thoughts through verbalizations. Mantras, chanting, creeds, and statements of belief are the counterpart in religion. We formulate our fears in language, and have to be consoled in language. I have a feeling that verbalizing our fears as much as many of us do internally is not good or necessary. But as long as it happens, fear-countering verbalizations are needed.

The repetition of phrases that another person has found useful, however, can only go so far in relieving one's fears. You either have to come to understand the language the way the originator understood it, or come up with your own language. Gurus have religious insights, and pass them on to their disciples. When the teacher's words, spirit, and actions all point in the same direction, it is easy to understand the words. If you learn from the disciple of a disciple of a disciple, you may find the words are there, but the power of them is gone. The congregation can fall into darkness, while still using the words of a person who was light itself.

I have found the need to sweeten and beautify my inner monologue. Self-consoling and self-encouragement are necessary to counter fear and paralysis. This is the benefit that I have finally gotten from being obsessively fearful - I have learned ways to overcome it. The fear of criticism and the paralyzing self-criticism that comes with it have led me to accept forgiveness and forgiving. I mentioned salvation mantras in an earlier post, and I am elaborating on them. They are verbalizations that help you change the quality of your consciousness. They don't make you happy or sad in the conventional sense, but they remind you to take a certain attitude, which relieves the stress of some pose or another you had been taking. In other words, if you can feel convinced that you are not the bad person you thought you were, you can relax more into whatever sort of person you are at the moment.

I have been working on taking the attitude that I am not anything at all. That is a very freeing stance. I am not anything, except the unexperienceable experiencer.

I don't deny what I do experience. Nor do I deny my various self-images. For example, my self-image when I am writing about how life works, and how to get over obstacles, is that I am wise, experienced and compassionate. I can't deny that I feel that way. The very next instant, I am aware of several bizarre, negative traits I have, that cast me, in my own eyes, as a degenerate human being. There is truth in both images, and neither image is the whole truth. But both are just concepts flowing through my mind. Knowing that I am not equal to my concepts of myself is the good news that never got out, as Alan Watts put it.

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that a big function of having a higher power in one's life is to transform one's self-monologue, to transform it into a "self-dialogue" in which the other party is guaranteed to be loving and accepting. For a lot of people, I think, such as alcoholics and other of the mentally ill, developing any kind of positive, non-punishing, non-painful self-monologue is next to impossible and so such people really need to have a higher power, a God, in order to inject that positive energy into their self-talk.