Life has a way of slapping us across the face, but there’s nothing saying that we can’t slap it right back. In a world filled with people who incessantly play the victim, those few who are choosing to be warriors instead of victims shine all the brighter.
They are the ones sucking the marrow out of life. They are the ones who are rising above the cultural prescription of victimization and writing in new chapters of heroism. Some of their tactics can seem almost superhuman. Here are five of them.
1) Master the Art of Vulnerability
“This moving away from comfort and security, this stepping out into what is unknown, uncharted and shaky — that’s called liberation.” ~ Pema Chödrön
Integrate into wholeness. Accept all that you are. All parts. Embrace the roller coaster ride of being a mind-body-soul going through the motions of change, from past to present, from sub-selves to core-self, from shadow to lover, from inner child to wise elder, from bamboozled victim to enlightened spirit warrior. Being vulnerable is being open.
Being open is embracing the complicated and painful multiplicity of being a Self engaging and communicating with a cosmos that is indifferent and selfless, and then realizing that you are just as much the selfless cosmos as you are your seemingly separate self. Indeed, you are just as infinite (noumenal) as you are finite (phenomenal).
Understand: it is okay to feel in a mind-body-soul built for feeling. It is okay to ache in a mind-body-soul that is fundamentally flawed. It is okay to hunger in a mind-body-soul built to yearn. Allow these feelings, these aches, these hungers to be the case, and life will not elude you. Suppress these, and life will forever evade your grasp and puppet you around. Vulnerability is not a mood or a feeling; it’s a place where shadow and light, fear and courage, hunger and satiation, love and loss, have learned to coexist.
Learn to coexist. Discover a space for coexistence, a space for vulnerability, a meditative space, a sacred space to connect your finite self with your infinite self. And then watch as your reality becomes infused with magic. Mastering the art of vulnerability is superhuman precisely because it is a process of being both numinous and transcendent (crushing pettiness and triviality), finite and infinite (fully present in the here & now), independent and interdependent (subsuming paradox).
Like Brene Brown said, “Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat, it’s understanding the necessity of both; it’s engaging. It’s being all in. It is the catalyst for courage, compassion, and connection.”
Look into a mirror, preferably a broken one. Look past your plethora of masks. Strip your soul naked, then love what’s left. Shed your too-thick skin. Imagine you’re a kundalini snake molting layers of self. Transform. Incarnate. Don new masks: Crow, Whale, Wolf. Realize that finding yourself is not an end or a beginning but a story unfolding itself.
Shattering the façade is realizing that everything is changing, nothing remains the same. There is no permanence except impermanence. Everything is moving in and out of itself. You are moving in and out of “yourself.” Let yourself move.
A façade is anything saying otherwise, anything fixed and rigid, anything unwilling to change and therefore forced into becoming a living deprivation, a wanton suppression. Shatter it. Break it across the world.
Smash it into a thousand pieces at the feet of all who wish to remain stagnant and complacent. Staple it to a wall and throw darts at it. Pull it down from any and all pedestals and then force it to dance in the abyss with you performing insouciant pirouettes.
Shattering the façade is superhuman precisely because it counterintuitively forces us out of our familiar skin and into unfamiliar skin. It automatically causes our comfort zone to become more elastic. It widens our emotional and psychological range while also enhancing imagination, causing us to have a more empathetic and humorous disposition toward life. It helps us to be less serious and more sincere as we shuffle through the million masks of God becoming God. As the poet G. K. Chesterton said…
“But now a great thing in the street
Seems any human nod,
Where shift in strange democracy
The million masks of God.”
3) Practice Existential Alchemy
“Sometimes it takes a good fall to really know where we stand.” –Hayley Williams
Play like a kid in a sandbox full of stars. Perceive life as an infinite player playing so many finite games that it becomes an infinite progression of finite fun. Hug the universe. Hug the hurricane. Apologize for nothing but your seriousness.
Be sincere with your intent to transform mountains into molehills, small mind into big mind, self-importance into self-transformation, religious pseudo-power into authentic spiritual power. Do not doubt your ability to transform demons into diamonds, anxiety into laughter, Shadow into Phoenix, pain into strength, fear into courage, or hatred into forgiveness. Transformation is where your truest power lies.
Your disposition, your outlook, your temperament, is everything. Is it healthy and robust with a flexible sense of humor, or is it unhealthy and brittle with a rigid self-importance?
Existentialism is the superhuman power to choose meaning in an otherwise meaningless universe, to suffer responsibility in the face of an indifferent cosmos, to embrace an absurd world with high humor instead of assurance, to make and act upon your decisions despite decidaphobia. You are the architect of your existence.
Existential alchemy is a superpower precisely because it turns the tables on “supposed to.” We’re “supposed to” feel fear when saving a baby from a burning building, but we act courageous anyway and save that baby. We’re “supposed to” feel road rage at the car that just cut us off in traffic, but we act calmly so as not to cause an accident.
We’re “supposed to” ignore our shadow for fear of what secrets it hides, but we act by embracing our shadow so as to become more robust. We’re “supposed to” be jealous that our true love doesn’t love us but has found love with another, but we act with compersion and realize that true love means allowing others to love the way they need to love.
We’re supposed to hate those who have hurt us, but we act with forgiveness instead because hate is an acid that does more harm to us than to anyone else. Existential alchemy turns the tables on power itself, allowing us to get power over power. We become masters of Carpe Diem. Like Napoleon Hill said, “When your desires are strong enough you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.”
“Die before you die. There is no chance after.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Death is not only an end; it is also a beginning. It can just as well imply a rite of passage. Think cocoon phase. Think creative annihilation. Die every day. Die every hour. Die in each moment so that the next moment can live on. Die to your invulnerability. Die to your false self.
Die to your unhealthy habits and hindrances. Die to your sense of unworthiness. All stopping implies starting. All non-existence implies existence. Breathe in: life. Breathe out: death. Yin implies yang. Be born. Be alive. Let it go. Be reborn. R.I.P. outdated self. Hello glorious rebirth.
Death is a compass, so take the ceiling of your heart and crucify it. Use the compass to guide you into adventure. Existentially crush out. Set your teeth firmly into the pulp of experience. Open your heart and keep your soul’s hand fast upon the helm as you sail away into the horizon of a new way of being a human being in this world. You are more than your life. You are death first.
Foremost you are death. How can this be you might ask? I’ll tell you: Impermanence. It is the one true law of the cosmos. Nothing lasts forever, so enjoy it to the fullest. Suck the marrow out of life, because as far as we know there is no marrow other than life. Like Shaler said, “Heroism is first and foremost a reflex of the terror of death.”
Dying and being reborn is a superpower precisely because it keeps us circumspect. It keeps us prepared for the next threshold, the next phase, whatever that may be. It keeps us vigilant in the face of unhealthiness, stagnation and spiritual inertia. It’s a paramount wakeup call. It reminds us not to keep sleeping when we should be awake.
Embracing the birth-life-death-rebirth process and adopting it as a part of our lifestyle is extremely powerful. One might even say superhuman. Forever becomes Birth. Birth becomes Life. Life becomes Death. Death becomes Forever, ad infinitum. Like e.e. Cummings said, “And death I think is no parenthesis.”
5) Practice Scientific Spirituality
“To err is human; to admit it, superhuman.” ~ Doug Larson
Untangle spirituality from religion. Discover the deeper principle that must be at work. Yank the needle of truth out from the haystack of lies that has been smothering humankind for far too long. Uncertain questioning is far superior to outdated hand-me-down answers from parochial sycophants. Like Richard Feynman said, “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”
Question the lot. You are a fallible, prone to mistakes, fumbling, stumbling, barely evolved naked ape desperately trying to figure out a hypnotically complex cosmos with limited faculties.
Quit being so hard on yourself and others. Stop taking yourself so damn seriously. Laugh at yourself instead. There is more spirituality in a heart full of laughter than in all the places of worship in the world.
The boundary between “you” and “world” is a stubbornly persistent illusion. Practicing scientific spirituality is a superpower precisely because it takes into account both the phenomenally plausible Self and the noumenally probable Reality. It bridges the gap between “I am” and “I doubt.” It builds a conceivable construct between Fibonacci and Phi. It connects the dots between the profane geometry of life and the sacred physics of Infinity.
Like Firmin Debrabander said about Spinoza’s understanding of such things, “There is no such thing as a discrete individual, Spinoza points out. This is a fiction. The boundaries of ‘me’ are fluid and blurred. We are all profoundly linked in countless ways we can hardly perceive. My decisions, choices, actions are inspired and motivated by others to no small extent. The passions, Spinoza argued, derive from seeing people as autonomous individuals responsible for all the objectionable actions that issue from them. Understanding the interrelated nature of everyone and everything is the key to diminishing the passions and the havoc they wreak.”
We need a more rational approach to spirituality. One instilled with a more compassionate metamorality. One that has the power to forgive but not forget. We must learn how to talk about spirituality in a way that is as free from dogma, as science already is. Let’s broaden our spiritual horizons.
Let’s seize the new dawn on the new beach of our soul’s compass. Let’s discover an ontology of immanence, a way to seize life and take more of the world into ourselves so as to develop new forms of courage and endurance. Let’s heroically transcend the human condition. Let’s celebrate the scientific victory over human limitation, while also rejoicing in the mesmerizingly beautiful interconnectedness of all things.
Like Carl Sagan said, “In its encounter with Nature, science invariably elicits a sense of reverence and awe. The very act of understanding is a celebration of joining, merging, even if on a very modest scale, with the magnificence of the Cosmos. And the cumulative worldwide build-up of knowledge over time converts science into something only a little short of a trans-national, trans-generational meta-mind. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.”