Essays

Pictures

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The Work says we have pictures of ourselves. Something like photographs that we take throughout our life. Some of them are snapshots taken with short exposure times. Others are long exposure pictures taken over time. The ones we like, the ones in which we think we look good, we take out to admire over and over again. They make us feel good. Perhaps they are pictures that others admired. Pictures that won us prizes in the many contests we enter in life. Because we become accustomed to looking at these pictures we keep a kind of internal, personal photo album. The snapshots we like the most go in the front, while the ones that aren’t as appealing are moved to a less prominent place.

Perhaps because we don’t like to throw things away, or maybe for some other reason, the bad ones we put into a shoe box and store away in the basement of ourselves where we don’t have to see them. We like to look good. Part of looking good is being able to think of ourselves as fair and just. A good way to appear fair and just is to keep a few of the unpleasant pictures in the album. We don’t look at them as often but they can be useful. We know there are sides of us that aren’t very photogenic. Others have pointed this out to us. Maybe we even get a glimpse of one of those sides of ourselves from time to time. Our friends admire the pleasant pictures and our enemies remind us of the unpleasant ones. That’s how we know our friends from our enemies. Sometimes, it’s so hard to look at the unpleasant pictures of ourselves, we wish to deny any truth we may ever have seen in them. It just can’t be true, we reason, and we return to the pictures that make us feel good, assigning the others to the shadows of unconsciousness.

One can go on this way for a lifetime, always looking at the pictures and never looking to see who one really is. But if life becomes drastic enough we may be forced to look at ourselves, much like a bloody traffic accident from which we find it difficult to turn away. And we’re shocked! Shocked into a different state of consciousness where we can see ourselves, even if only for a moment, more as we actually are. Let’s face it, it takes a shock to get us to do the things we find unpleasant and difficult. It’s nice if we can give ourselves the necessary shocks to do something difficult or become more aware of ourselves, but that takes a long time and much effort. Some folks might think a person making this type of effort had a screw loose. Sometimes I’d have to agree with them. It does seem crazy to do things that are painful. But people do painful things all the time. Body builders work so hard it tears down the tissue in their muscles, forcing the body to create more. Musicians, such as violinists or classical guitarists, can practice their musical instruments so many times they get blisters or painful indentations on their fingers.

How rewarding it can be to be freed from some negative emotion or irritating manifestation by facing painful parts of ourselves. One benefit is personal liberation from something that has imprisoned us. But there is an added benefit: knowing that as we awaken, we contribute to a world awake rather than a world asleep. Isn’t it tiresome to see, over and over, the hurtful things sleeping people do to one another, hurtful things we do to one another?

Each moment spent in the light of consciousness helps, though the moments may be painful at first. Eventually our eyes grow accustomed to the light and we learn how to sincerely deal with what we find in our basements. There’s nothing like a good housecleaning.

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About Esoteric Talks

"No good deed goes unpunished."

The person most frequently credited as the originator of the phrase is playwright Clare Boothe Luce. Also credited have been playwright Noel Coward, writer Oscar Wilde, journalist Walter Winchell and the late Washington Post writer Bill Gold. The original idea is probably an ancient proverb.

Appearing cynical on the surface, a closer examination of human nature reveals the False Personality to be incredibly vengeful and petty due to its hubris.

Plato has Socrates say, "An unexamined life is not worth living." The reason no good deed goes unpunished is because most people are living lives not worth living. If you feel a sting, that probably means you are spending more time and energy examining the lives of others than you are examining your own.