26: Neither Condemning Nor Excusing

(Full Notes)

Saturday, June 13, 2020

I really think there’s something to learning attitudes and behaviors from parents in more subtle ways than we sometimes imagine. I would like to understand the mechanics of this. Why not try to describe this?  Surely someone has already.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020?

I’ve been reading from ‘Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith’.  I don’t know that I’ve read more lucid speech, more clear and simple and to the point, and on-target.  Very inspiring, not to mention informative.

So the thing with learning from our parents (or caregivers), is that we learn from them how to deal emotionally, or however you want to say it.  We learn from them, not because they deliberately teach us, but because we sense their emotional needs, their emotional pressures.  They in effect emotionally pressure us, despite all efforts, to have the issues they have.  I’m not sure how we can avoid that besides actually fixing ourselves first.  And how can we fix everything about ourselves before having any kids?  Be like Abraham and be 100 when you have your first child?  I just think we are going to pass on stuff, like it or not, and we just have to do our best, period.  We love our kids and try to repent ourselves all the time and admit our faults as we discover them and just do our best, and our kids will be imperfect too.  Thus we all have things to struggle with our whole lives – gives us character and makes us strong.  That’s just what I think, that’s how I see it.  I don’t know that there’s anything we can deliberately do to keep from passing stuff on to our kids except perfect ourselves as best we can.  And maybe after that don’t worry about it.  Like both don’t try to do something deliberate to not pass stuff on, and don’t despair and obsess over it and fault yourself for your kids’ faults.  But maybe be aware that your issues will get passed on, and any pride or laziness on your part will exacerbate things, and surely unrepented sin will make you accountable for your childrens’ sins in a way that you wouldn’t be if you were trying honestly.  That’s how I’m seeing it.

How does that pressure from our parents work?  Alice Miller talked about this. 

Alright, so what am I going to talk about in my podcast?  Need something.  But that is a true principle that I just mentioned.  Not that I said it all right, necessarily.  But there is emotional pressure that children are sensitive to, in different ways and perhaps to different degrees, that they respond to and thus learn how to think and act and feel.  You never get away from the light of Christ, though, so untruthfulness always feels not quite right and breeds self-deception.  Or requires it.  Or is it. 

So for me, for us here, self-deception is the great insight.  Self-deception as a necessity, when we go against the light.  And the fact that the light is stable.  It is constant.  It is forever there, unchanging, independent of us, or of our notions.  I don’t understand the light of Christ fully.  But I do think it’s clear from the scriptures that it permeates all things, and that you can’t get away from it, and that it comes from God.  It dictates how we should act, and when we act contrariwise we enter a false world.  How does it work being partly in a false world and partly in a true one?  I don’t know.  We speak of having the Spirit of the Lord or not, and perhaps that’s true.  I don’t know.  Either we flip often between the two, or there’s some kind of mix.  But it does seem a little like it’s one or the other, like not having the Spirit goes along with being prideful and comparative and everything else.  But I’ll tell you I either flip a lot or there’s some other mix. 

Joseph Smith’s mother said there are two spirits operating upon you, a good and a bad.  Tell me more about those spirits, I pray.  They’re people, right?  Good and bad. . .they have to be.  But surely we have more spirits operating upon us than two.  A person can be encircled about.  Legion was possessed by many at once.  How does that work?  The Lord taught about this, and I feel like Joseph Smith taught about this. 

43 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none.

44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished.

45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

I believe the Lord is not talking figuratively here.  He’s not.  There are laws and principles upon which the spirits operate on us, which haven’t been fully revealed.  But there’s one principle the Lord gave us right there.  If a person is once enlightened, and repents, and later returns to their sin, their second state is worse than the first, and it had been better if they had not known the Lord in the first place. 

I would like to read more of Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young. 

Surely I will be run into the ground for saying that evil spirits have anything to do with mental health.  Sorry.  It’s just the mechanics of it.  Don’t have to admit it, don’t have to understand it.  But then you’re left as you are now, not understanding anything about mental health and its causes, and how do you like that?  Wo unto the deaf who will not hear, and unto the blind who will not see.  Your woe in this case is that you are left with a big question mark regarding all these things, awaiting additional data to come in regarding the brain.  Must we kill and abuse so many rats and cats and monkeys in the cause of understanding the brain?  I don’t know.  But I say we’re barking up the wrong tree if we’re looking for principles of self-deception in that way.  Am I being too extreme?

Are spirits on one side of the explanation, the spiritual side, and brain function on the other, and they’re both just as true?  Looking at the creation of the earth, there’s the spiritual creation, and there’s what happened naturally.  I don’t know if it’s a creation or not.  Seems from the reading that there’s just a spiritual creation and whatever happened naturally was a result of it.  I could study it I suppose, might be something there for me to learn.  Still not sure what to make of Eric Skousen’s theory.  Lot of great insights and a good collection of inspired teachings, to be sure.  The insights are always right, and the theories are usually at least partly wrong.  Maybe helpful. 

Ok, well I’m going to keep writing here and I’m still thinking about anxiety.  What is it?  Too harsh to just call it fear?  Or is it true?  Surely it’s a process full of deliberate effort, like digging a giant ditch and casting up a wall of earth.  Takes a great deal of effort and sweat.  But what pride will be had when. . .I should say, what satisfaction will be had when the victory is won!  Perhaps I am able to see some small victory already.  But it must be necessary to know where to cast the earth and not just dig willy nilly, filling in where one has dug just a moment before.  That’s what I do, I fear, oftentimes.  My goal is to know how to direct my actions, or where to cast my earth, in order to waste less time and effort and make a more direct and steady course to my goal. 

The old crow is getting slow.

The young crow is not.

Of what the young crow does not know

The old crow knows a lot.

At knowing things the old crow

Is still the young crow’s master.

What does the slow old crow not know?

—How to go faster.

The young crow flies above, below,

And rings around the slow old crow.

What does the fast young crow not know?

—Where to go.1

From <https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2011/10/counsel-to-youth?lang=eng>

For me I suppose that’s getting to bed earlier, taking breaks, exercising and eating well, practicing slowing down and enjoying stuff and people… 

I do read about these experiments involving mutilating the brains of animals and it troubles me a bit.  Our curiosity exceeds our desire to leave the poor animals at peace, or something.  I suppose it’s meant to be for a good cause in the long run. . .  I still don’t like it, though. 

Well have I progressed with anxiety?  Can we still say it’s an unfortunate thing that happens to some people and our job is to do the best we can with it, while not making excuses, humbly, and we’ll be judged on what we do with what we’re given?  Surely that’s all true.  But that’s not enough.  Not if we want to really understand it.  Maybe we should admit that we can’t judge in any given case how much a person can help or not, and that’s not necessarily the point.  I suppose we can detect sometimes if a person is making excuses and warn against that.  But what of the mechanics – can’t we understand the mechanics of it in a way that is super helpful and maps out for a person what can and does happen and just make them aware of it?  With a true understanding you won’t be overly condemned, and you won’t be overly excused.  You’ll just be informed.  No one will be telling you, “you are doing this all yourself and you need to stop it,” and no one will be telling you “you are a pure victim in this thing and there’s nothing you can do.”  Because neither is true, is it.  Yes, there may be too many voices saying the latter, that we are just victims, and so the inclination of some will be to swing the pendulum the other way and declare that we are all responsible.  But the truth is somewhere in the middle, right, and we can’t judge exactly in every case how much a person is capable of stopping it.  Surely this is the case.

Monday, June 22, 2020

And beware me or anybody else telling you it’s all one way or all the other – all victim or all responsible.  We’ve talked about the position of making us too responsible.  Perhaps I have done that myself.  If so it’s for the reason I said – too many voices saying we’re victims.  But you might as well be accurate if you can on this stuff. 

Surely a part of how much we are capable of effecting our own change is how deep we are in the trap.  And surely a part of that is our own choices.  And surely a part of it is beyond our choices, and that’s important.  How do you tell how much of a person’s trap is a result of their choices and how much is a result of things beyond their control?  How do you tell?  You don’t, right, unless you’re given special insight or inspiration to help that person?  But be awfully careful about judging someone – in any situation, right? 

Ok, I’m not saying you can’t have insight into that, or even inspiration, you just have to be careful you don’t judge.  Right?

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