May 3, 2011


Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is. ~Albert Camus

It’s hard to improve upon ourselves when we feed ourselves and others a story that does not match reality. What I am talking about is the illusion of what we think we are instead of what we are. I had never thought in these terms until I read a book by Rory Miller called “Meditations on Violence“.

Until reading this book, it had never occurred to me that many of us disguise ourselves from ourselves. We rarely are forced to face what we are until a life changing conflict stares us in the face. This is what stood out to me in Rory Miller’s book on violence (even though the entire book was quite excellent).

The illusions I had of myself became even more apparent when I started to train in Systema. Something as simple as the bare-knuckled plank can tell you a lot about yourself and the state of your body and mind.

Speaking from experience….

I told myself  that I was largely a good person with a few flaws. It wasn’t till I did some serious soul searching that I came to see that I am a person with many flaws who manages to get a few things right. Truth is that many times I let hard times bring out the worst in me.

I think for many of us, we carry this illusion about ourselves to compensate for our inadequacies instead of dealing with them head on. It could also be that many of us are too busy and overloaded, even mentally exhausted.

Truth is most of us lack self awareness.

It doesn’t help that we don’t like to admit our faults or accept responsibility for them. Many of us feel a need to be something we are not, or maybe its easier to let others tell us what we should be.

I’d rather be honest than impressive. ~Jay Brannan

At the end of the day, many of us  just don’t want to deal with a certain reality that as human beings we are very much vulnerable and corruptible no matter how good we think we are.

I have to agree with Rory Miller’s assertion that conflict and how we react to it can pierce the veil we hide ourselves behind. Does this mean we should seek conflict to see ourselves for what we are?

No, for most us the stresses of life and its conflicts will invariably find us. But this point illuminates the importance of the warrior lifestyle… to know who we are and what we can truly do before the situation arises that forces us to find out.

Our training and learning should move us out of our comfort zones and turn on the light in our soul to root out those untruths and exaggerations we tell ourselves.

To begin to see the unvarnished truth about ourselves, we must see ourselves plainly and acknowledge the flaws we possess. When we are saddened and ashamed of the faults we hide from ourselves and others, then we are at the point where we can begin to accept what is and truly grow.

Article by Chris Harris @ Between the TemplesPhoto credit: Alejandro Hernandez

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