If you become a dog, enjoy it.
At some point in your life, you may lose things that are important for your ego in society. Your status, your money, your job, your home. Maybe even friends or lovers.
So if it happens, just accept it and say F*** it. If you do your best, or made what you thought were the right decision, yet still lost status and face, well F*** it. Shit happen. Don’t beat yourself up too much or blame yourself and see yourself as a useless human being. Life is full of decisions and forces out of our control. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes wrong. But just keep going.
Our wellbeing is often tied into our perception of status and how (we think) we appear in the eyes of ‘society’.
But who is society? People around us – friends, work colleagues. They are busy worrying about how they look to others. We are all worried about how we look to others. What a neurotic world we live in.
As a woman at a job used to say some mornings when she came in: “Good morning Fellow Slaves”. I told her, “It’s too close to the truth”. We become slaves to the perception of status.
Society is status orientated
We’ve all had this – meeting someone at a party – the ‘what do you do?” question. For several reasons, its a pretty pointless question. Or you are asked to fill in your occupation on some kind of registration form. Those are worse, because the answer you give in the moment can define you generations later, when your descendants look at those papers (and judge).
Those of us, with a less ‘straight and narrow’ approach to life may change their occupations many times at various time in their life. In that case, what do you write?
“Shop worker, office worker, manager, driver, teacher, actor, farmer, therapist, writer, unemployed, gardener…”
Or what do you write, if you are one of those guys that electrocute battery hens to death for a living? Or inject tumours into lab rats. Awkward.
“So what do you do?”
“Well, I torture and kill animals for profit.”
And that is why we invented fancy job titles.
What you do can change from week to week, month to month, year to year. You may do many different things in your life. What exactly is the true answer?
Uusally this question refers precisely to salaried work? Not everyone does that.
Answers are usually graded. Top marks go to doctors, lawyers accountants, corporate workers. Mid range marks go to clerks, admin, sales, nurses. Lower marks get graded to services – (even though arguably they are more essential to society and may often have more money than mid range marks) -e.g builders, gardeners, plumbers, pest control.
Booby marks go to those unemployed or with suspiciously (non work-type) professions. That sometimes includes acupuncture – depending on the type of party.
Overall its all pretty much pointless. Because if you going to rate someone, you may as well rate them on income and their wealth, rather than on a job title. This may sound materialistic, but jobs and job titles can be temporary and always changing. Whereas wealth pretty much stands for itself. and that is all anyone really takes notice of anyway.
So at a party, when someone asks “And What do you do?” Just answer, “I have a net worth of £110,000, how about you…?”
Pause… “Oh… Erm… I have a Tesco club card!”
‘Keep Face’ Book
And you may be surprised but a lot of people that look good ‘on paper’, ie with status, professional careers, fame, or big houses new car etc – may actually be insolvent, carrying lots of debt and that includes mortgage debt.
You hear often of bankrupt celebrities. They get lots of money, but either they overspend or some unscrupulous accountant or business partner rips them off. I think that true wealth probably doesn’t reveal itself too much. It comes in the form of people wih modest lifestyles, simple appearances, second hand cars and simple diets. Basically saving more than you spend.
Ultimately it is all pretty much unimportant and the reason for that is very simple. No one cares about you. People only care about themselves.
All that matters is you are satisfied with what you are doing. You are happy with what you are doing in life. If you truly are happy with your path, than you will greet everyone in that party exactly the same manner whether it is the garbage collector or the surgeon. Everyone will be interesting in your eyes.
Most people don’t do this. That’s why they play the point system.
Jewel in the Rough: Where else can you find one?
One of the most interesting guys I met was whilst working in a factory, in my hometown in my early 20s.
He was a man in his 50s, fit, and with a positive zest and enthusiasm for life. He was friendly to everyone. At the time, I was a temp, after having just dropped out of law school and was suffering with recurrent gut health problems (colitis). I was feeling pretty miserable. Even more so working in that factory.
But this guy told me his story. He wife had been suffering from cancer. She died a few years earlier. He had to stop working. And after her death, it hit him hard.
But, his tragic story became a story of inspiration. He decided he was going to learn karate, which he did so with enthusiasm and passion. He practiced regularly. He became a black belt. It made him fit and strong, both mentally and physically.
And though he worked in a factory with low pay and inherent instability, he had a positive vibe around him. His positive attitude livened up all the other factory workers – these middle aged women. He sometimes taught them karate moves. He taught me one. He was friendly and engaging with everyone. Including me, on the very first day I came. He shared his story openly and I was glad he did as I was only given one shift there.
He was even considerate towards a young female worker who suddenly felt faint as she had missed out on her breakfast to lose weight. Not a good idea when doing physical labour.
Could you imagine being the kind of person who leaves a lifelong impression on someone after only a 30 minute conversation? We all imagine that celebrities or Presidents have that kind of power. But I think it can come from anyone potentially, with an interesting life.
Though brief, he left a lifelong impression on me. From a status point of view, he’d be down on the scale. As a human being with a life of interest, he was way up there. For a young man, hearing a story of how someone went through an extremely difficult loss, but maintained a positive frame of mind by taking on a mastering a new hobby was extremely inspiring. It made me question the issue of status and how imprisoned I was by its power over us.
On the other hand, being from a law family, I frequently met ‘respectable’ people, at the ever-frequent and torturous ‘dinner’/house parties I was subjected to from my mother.
One of the worst people I met was the owner of a law firm. He had the wealth, the status, the fancy car and clothes, but he was a dick. The only time we spoke, he was rude and antagonistic to me. At the time, I was young and naive, but usually very respectful to any elders I met. Big mistake.
He was one of most repulsive people I’ve met in my life, and left me feeling lousy about myself. He was also quite out of shape, which may be a reflection of his internal mind. No doubt he had some issues, which material success can only make worse.
This is not to say all people with humble jobs or high status jobs are like this. There are cool people and dicks everywhere.
It is healthier to idolise a rock than Ariana Grande (or insert celebrity name here if it is not 2019)
The worst thing to do is idolise or pedalastise people based on their status in society. They could be the worst people ever. Don’t be fooled by appearances. Celebrity worship is even worse. Worshipping celebrities – basically worshipping a fantasy is naive. The person we see on the screen in a favourite movie is not real. It is made up. You may as well worship a piece of wood on the ground. Celebrities are a story. Some are like a blank canvas, so we we can fill in our own worshipful story for them. But they’re all fake.
All except for Stephen Segal, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Stallone of course.
If you are dissatisfied or playing societies’ game of one-up-man ship, it means you are playing the point system. Unfortunately the point system imposes limitations on us, by keeping us stuck in the game. Even if you are at the top status wise, you can still be just as insecure as someone lower down in the system. Even more so.
Forever Home Improvements
Perhaps that is why there is so many shows about renovating your kitchen. People have to look for new ways to impress, to keep up, to portray your status. Perhaps people are looking for fulfilment by improving things they can improve on – like their kitchen, or building a loft renovation. Or buying a 4×4, SUV even though you live in the city, and the closest you come to nature is when you drive past some cows along the motorway.
Or you could buy a Tesler. Thats the current status symbol. It used to be BMW’s or porches. But now every Jack and Bill is driving one.
So what happens when you become a dog? In other words you lose your status. You lose something that is essential for the ego.
There are three possible paths.
One is the downward spiral. Your psyche is broken. You see no way out. You drop into that deep black pit. In its bleakness and pain, it is strangely enough, warm and comfortable. The longer you are there, the more you want to stay. This path imposes limitations as it means you are effectively in ‘stopping time’. You are withdrawing from life. At worse, it leads to extreme decisions. Even suicide.
The other is the Rocky Balboa path. You play Eye of the Tiger on a loop. Fight! Push hard! Struggle, suffer and dig your way out of it. It makes for an interesting story later on. You take on the role of the hero – fighting against reality, to bend it to your will. And overcome it with success or be crushed. And if you succeed you can relive your glory by telling people your rags to riches story. Even better, you can sell it as a program and make money.
A third path, is to fully embrace it. Enjoy being a dirty dog. Own it. Absorb it. Let go resistance. It could be as the Buddhists call it – ‘the middle way’. Embrace it with humour. See the irony of life. Perhaps yesterday you were flying high. But today you are a dog. Tomorrow you may be a dog still. Or maybe you’ll be flying high again. Doesn’t matter. Either way laugh at it and enjoy being the dog.
Perhaps you are stuck in debt. Massive amounts of debt.
I met some Americans some years ago at a seminar. They talked about the kind of debt students were getting from university fees at acupuncture college. Another person talked about her medical bills. These debts ran into the tens of thousands.
I thought to myself that this kind of debt is unpayable. At that point, you might as well stop stressing about it. Just accept it and say “Fine. I’m an indebted son of a bitch. Bite me.” At that point, there’s no longer any point in getting stressed about it. Instead, just figure out how to live daily life without it inconveniencing you too much.
A country cannot indebt its citizens to this ridiculous extent without there being a consequence in the future. Is this the modern version of indentured slavery? I think it is.
Fight the debt
You could take the Rocky path. Listen to Eye of the Tiger, buy all those Dave Ramsey books and dvds (on credit card). Fight your way out of debt. Like slaying a dragon. Some people do it. But there are some who just can’t.
The Dave Ramsey plan still depends on your earning more money than your debt is worth and cutting your spending. But not everyone can take an extra job or even increase their earnings.
No matter how much Eye of the Tiger you listen to, you probably can’t do more than two jobs without going postal at some point. Can you really scrimp and save, as inflation secretly increases and you have a family to support? Sure some can, but many struggle. Are you telling me that everyone who buys a Dave Ramsey book becomes debt free? If so, there would be no debt problem in America.
So if you can’t pay it, just accept it.
Aim to pay it off. Work, budget and manage your debt collectors. Make a plan. But ultimately, there needs to be a degree of acceptance. Never think you are a terrible human being for being in that situation or that there is no way out.
We live in a time of easy debt, high (and hidden) inflation and stagnant wages. You are playing against the house in the gambling system of a world with funny money. This is the economy, which is really like a small town casino. The house wins. The house always wins. The best you can do, is keep your wits and emotions in check, don’t drink too much and plan to get out of the casino without too much of a loss.
So someone leaves you for another Chad or Betty. There are billions of people on the planet. Think on that. Billions of women or men that can F*** you up some more if you want. It is not the end of the world. Be grateful and enjoy your break.
Or maybe you are the Chad or Betty.
Lives can be long and there are billions of people on this planet. Is life really meant to be spent with just one person? Relationships open us up to new experiences and ways to develop our personality. Do you want to play as bonobos or chimps?
Or apes? Treat them mean, keep them keen.
Some matches help us grow at one point in life, but then can suffocate us at another. Some things need to be gone through together, especially raising kids. But then some relationships are just toxic for adults and kids.
Maybe better to just buy a playstation and some woodbines. And cheaper too.
Hitting bottom (no, not spanking – I mean literally)
Anyone can hit bottom. No need to feel ashamed. Why add that extra layer of suffering. Some of the most charming people are those who have hit bottom. It makes a person more humble. It can be a great way to lose your ego.
It’s all part of the journey. Life has ups and downs. When life is up, people think it will always be that way. When life is down, it can feel like the bottom is dropping out of your universe.
I know some of the pain, but there are those that have fared worse. And so much will happen in life for as long as you live. Perhaps it is a training ground for our souls, as some say.
Failure, breakup, loss, money woes, embarrassment, and sickness, has hurt badly, but I notice that each time it happens it causes me to withdraw and go within. To ask myself, ‘is this the time to change my life course again?’.
Feed your soul and spirit
It’s taken years, but the main thing I’ve concluded, is to go put your mind, your desires and goals on doing what is important for your soul. If you have something that makes you tingle. That gives you life, then do it, no matter what. You don’t have to give up a regular job or family to do that. There is always a way to do what you want. Just do it on the side.
Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler
Here’s an example from Japanese anime. You’ll learn more from watching Japanese anime than you ever will from watching the BBC. Yes, Eastenders and the news are so enlightening.
Kakegurui is an anime about an elite high school, where the students are not judged on academic acheivement or atheltisicm. They are judged on their gambling skill.
All the students are children of the elite – politicians, business tycoons etc. The status of the student is based on how much money they win from gambling. The people who win have a higher status and more power over the others. The students who lose with debts, become nothing more than servants, or ‘pets’ to the other students. They even get a pet name. If they are male, they become a dog. If a female, a cat. And they must wear a pet tag around their neck.
‘Mi-ke’ / ‘Mittens’
In one scene, the main character Yumeko loses a huge gamble with the student council and loses all her money. She falls millions into debt.
According to the rules of the school, she loses her status and falls to the level of ‘pet’.
Her classmates ridicule her for her loss of status, and take satisfaction in planning to treat her as a pet. In her case, a cat.
Howver, instead of become upset. Or refuse, Yumeko simply gets on her knees and plays the role of cat perfectly. She accepts her failure without regret. She does not care how she appears.
Her classmates are disturbed by her unexpected reaction. Instead of bullying her or making her feel bad, it is them that are shocked and want to leave.
Yumeko places no value on her status or how she is percieved to others. She did not even feel any negativity to the person she lost to. She saw it as part of the game, which she ends up winning later on.
This kind of mindset is extremely empowering. If you do not fear losing status in the eyes of others, it frees you up to live a life of authenticity, as well as to follow your ultimate goals.
The animators make it clear that despite her huge loss, and seemingly weak position, actually, Yumeko has an intense amount of internal strength. This is apparent by the red, almost demonic eyes. This is the Eye of the Tiger.
Perhaps this approach may seem irresponsible, but what is the alternative. You let it crush you. You disappear and drink yourself into oblivion, and give up?
Loss can hit hard and send you down into a pit. It may be difficult to get out. But I think that the pit has a purpose. It gives you a space to withdraw into. If you can pass through the self-hatred, blame, and other demons of the pit, you have the chance to turn this into a positive journey. It can provide introspection and deep reflection. To go spiritual.
The pit is an analogy to Alice’s rabbit hole.
Descent into the Well
In the Haruki Murakami book ‘The Wind Up Bird Chronicles‘, there is this wonderful scene where the protagonist descends into a well in his back garden to escape from his life. Once down there, strange things start happening to his mind. He is transported to different places. Even into the mind of his antagonist. It is similar to the movie ‘Being John Malkovich‘.
It is apparent that, spiritual awakening comes not from how many hours and years you meditate, chant, attend a class, or worship an icon of your favourite guru. It comes from solitude and that dark place, where we all fear to tread.
Hence, why we hear of famed spiritual masters from the past who disappeared into the mountains, deserts, caves or jungles alone for 40 days and nights, or however long it took, for them.
Look at Ekhart Tolle. He didn’t attain his awakening from meditating or postive thinking or even ‘being in the moment,’ which he talks about all the time in his books. He got it from being stuck in weeks and months of an intense depression and sitting on park benches, until finally, it just came to him after an intense period of introspection. He went into the hole. Buddha also did the same.
The dark place, the hole, as I call it, is where awakening can occur. Ever wonder why life seems to throw so much shit at you. One disaster after another. One problem after another. You throw your arms up to the sky and ask why? Oh why me!?
I’m a good person. I do good things for charity. I help people. But this still happens?
Perhaps it is to make you resilient. To toughen you up. Or to teach you a lesson. Perhaps it your karma. You were one of Stalin’s henchmen in a previous life. Maybe there really is no meaning. Just a random act. Or genetics..? Doctors like using that term.
But what if it is the universe’s way of driving you deep within. Or even your own soul’s doing? Down into the black hole where transformation and awakening can occur. That place cannot be reached in the world of daily life, jobs, holidays, renovating kitchens, SUVs, TV, caring about politics or buying houses.
That whole lot of shit sent your way; it’s purpose is to awaken you. Will you look at it, or turn away? This is the choice everyone will be faced with at some point. And sometimes many times in the same life.
Find your pleasure.
So forget status and how you look. Instead ask – what gives you excitement in life? What makes you come alive? Chase it. And if you become a dog in the process, it doesn’t matter.
Another way is humour. Humour is the antidote to worry and fear. This is the reason why the British are said to be so funny. The British have developed humour as a way of dealing with difficulties in life. Traditionally, they have a dry, tongue-in-cheek humour.
It come from hundreds of years of being exploited by the ruling classes to fight horrible wars and basically being trodden upon in poverty. Think ‘going over the top’ in the trenches in WWI. Life is more comfortable now and we have become horrendously complacent, almost slovenly, but it wasn’t always so in England. Once this was a damp, poor, grim place to live and work. (Wait, it still is!)
To end, a poem
A close friend of mine says that “poets are gay”. He means that in the American high-school sense of ‘uncool’ or ‘lame’ rather than homosexual, and was specifically referring to acupuncturists that write poetry.
Not sure I agree. I would recommend he read some Chuck Bukowski. Might change his mind about poets in general. Though maybe not about acupuncturist poets.
So anyway, I deicided to write a poem. Another gay acupuncturist writing poetry.
Here it is:
When you become a dog
The best thing about being a dog.
Is sniffing your own butt.
And not caring what other dogs think.
Because they are sniffing your butt too.
The best thing about being a Cat.
Is licking your own crotch.
And not caring what other cats think.
Because they are licking theirs too.
Behold Man. Master of them all.
Man builds Towers. The cats hunt mice.
Man flies to the Moon. The dogs chases balls.
Mighty Man. Looks down on all
But alas, a Man will never reach the peaks.
Of the canine. Or the feline.
For no matter how much he stretch and strain.
His butt and crotch, he’ll not reach.
The undiscovered country.
Where no man’s nose can meet.
Or tongue can greet. And what’s more
He’ll always care what others think.
Death of the Shaman: Has the UK become a Spiritual Wasteland?
Screenshots from Japanese anime Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler
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