In the summer of 1978 a conversation took place between two young men who were both going through a time of change in their lives and who had known each other when they were in high school.  One of the young men (who are individuals who are real for the purpose of this story but who are not real in real life) was a struggling Rock Musician/Philosopher who had been a very strong person when he was a teenager but who now felt like he was on the way to some sort of an emotional meltdown.  The other young man was a spiritually and psychologically vulnerable individual who had never been very strong and who looked to rock and roll music and philosophy as a way to help him understand life better so that he could become stronger in the future.

As these young men were talking, subjects such as consciousness (gaining an awareness of the present moment), existentialism, and God came up.  One of the things that the young men agreed upon was that God was not really an issue any longer in the world because it was obvious that the hypocrites in the Church (people who do not practice what they preach) were not Christians.  The Rock Musician/Philosopher (Keith) had over the past few years gone from being one of the top students in his high school class to begging for money on the streets to support his passion for rock music and philosophy.  When he was in high school he and his friends started getting interested in Nietzsche and existentialism.  He realized at that point in his life that he and his friends (and his parents and their friends) were constantly trying to steal spiritual energy from other people by doing unfair things to them or saying unfair things about them and then denying that they had done anything wrong.  Yet at the same time they professed to believe in religions and philosophies that put forth ideas such as "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".  They were flying too high (and they were for perhaps the first time in their lives vulnerable) because there was a wide gap between what they professed to believe and the way that they actually lived (and because everyone knew that there was a wide gap between what they professed to believe and the way that they actually lived).  The spiritually and psychologically vulnerable young man (Jeffrey), on the other hand, had never been one of the top students in his class (although he was still in the top 25 percent of his class because he put in longer hours of studying than the other students did).  Jeffrey had always admired people like Keith who were able to get good grades without having to work as hard as he did and he hoped that someday he would be free of the emotional conflicts that he felt interfered with his concentration and with his ability to succeed in life.   

As the years went by the Rock Musician/Philosopher (Keith) eventually went back to school to finish his degree and he became a Computer Systems Analyst for a large aerospace company.  At his 20th year high school reunion he was sitting at a table with several of his old friends from high school.  Somebody at the table said "whatever happened to Jeffrey.  I don't think he's been to any of the reunions".  At this point Keith said, "I actually spent some time with Jeffrey a few years after we were out of high school.  It was interesting spending time with Jeffrey because we both were interested in the consciousness movement and in existentialism at that point in our lives."

Keith looked around at the group at the table and sensed that the group seemed to be at least moderately interested in hearing more about Jeffrey, so he continued his story.  "Do you remember how when we were growing up somebody would occasionally take advantage of Jeffrey's shyness and vulnerability?  I used to wonder why it was so easy for people to intimidate and frighten Jeffrey.  As I got older and started to learn more about psychology (and life in general) I realized that it was possible that the reason it was so easy to intimidate and frighten Jeffrey (and other vulnerable people such as Jeffrey) was that some person (or some people) had planted the seeds of spiritual and psychological weakness into Jeffrey at an early age.  As Jeffrey started to go through life, he would meet people from time to time who would take advantage of him.  Those people who took advantage of Jeffrey tapped into and took advantage of the weaknesses that were planted into Jeffrey early in life."

Keith paused for a moment and then continued, "I remember once discussing this aspect of Jeffrey's life with him.  He said that after high school he had become somewhat less afraid of other people than he was when he was younger because of the insights that he had gained through the years about what might have caused his original spiritual and psychological weaknesses.  But Jeffrey pointed out to me that he was still being intimidated by other people.  He said when people would try to intimidate him he would try to stand up to them.  He might call them a coward for trying to take advantage of weaknesses that had been planted into him at an early age.  The other person would just laugh at him and say that Jeffrey was not being real.  They would say that he was trying to dive down deep into the subconscious (and that he was trying to take everybody else down deep into the subconscious with him) because he was afraid of real life."

One of the men at the table named Mike Gunderson, who was now a high school football coach, was smiling when he heard Keith talk about Jeffrey.  The football coach said "one of the things that we are always telling our players is that a person has to concentrate on the present.  Thinking about the past does not do you any good.  Trying to make excuses for yourself is not going to get you anywhere.  And even if it is true that somebody placed weaknesses into your subconscious mind early in life, you should not talk to other people about something like that.  This is a competitive world.  If you tell another person what your weaknesses are, they are not going to pat you on the head and give you sympathy.  When you tell another person what your weaknesses are, they are likely to make a mental note of what your weaknesses are and then in the future they will try to take advantage of those weaknesses every chance they get."

Keith and the other people at the table were laughing after Mike finished talking.  Some were laughing because they were in agreement with what the coach said and others were laughing because they knew that even though what the coach said was not very nice and was not very sensitive, there was at least some truth in what he said.  They knew that often people do purposely take advantage of other people's weaknesses and that if you are around people like that you had better not tell them what your weaknesses are.

When the laughter finally ended, Keith said, "you explained Jeffrey's dilemma pretty well there, Mike.  Jeffrey gets attacked by other people and there is nothing he can do about it.  He has deep spiritual and psychological weaknesses and other people not only do not help him become stronger but they often purposely take advantage of Jeffrey's weaknesses.  Jeffrey feels that if he could gain insight into the factors that led to his original spiritual and psychological weaknesses he could break out of the vicious cycle he is in where people keep taking advantage of his weaknesses over and over again.  I remember once Jeffrey gave me an explanation of what he thinks happens to him when someone purposely takes advantage of his spiritual and psychological weaknesses."

"Jeffrey told me that his boss at a place he had once worked did something unfair to him.  He also said that he could tell from comments from his coworkers that the boss had bragged to his coworkers about the unfair thing that he had done to Jeffrey.  As the days went by Jeffrey noticed that his boss was becoming a little bit more accepting of him and he also noticed that some of the other employees who had been having trouble with a lack of motivation at their jobs were now doing better at their jobs than they had done before.  Jeffrey realized then that when his boss treated him unfairly, it motivated the other employees and the work of the other employees improved as a result.  Jeffrey then realized that his boss was at least somewhat happy with him and was happy to have Jeffrey working for him because Jeffrey was indirectly responsible for improving the performance of the other members of the group.  But as soon as Jeffrey started to be comfortable in his new role as the person who was responsible for the improvement in the performance of the group, the other employees started to lose their motivation because they were unhappy that Jeffrey was no longer being treated unfairly.  At this point his boss started to once again start treating Jeffrey unfairly."

At this point in Keith's story Mike Gunderson, the football coach, spoke up saying "Keith, what I said earlier about people needing to forget the past and get on with their lives might be good advice for football players who are already fairly strong spiritually and psychologically, but it is also true that people like Jeffrey do need to understand the weak foundations that their spiritual and psychological structures are based on.  Most of us view our lives as a series of relationships that lead to other relationships (we transfer the spiritual energy from relationships we had with people in the past to people who we have relationships with in the present).  But people such as Jeffrey get hung up on trying to take back (or regain) the spiritual energy that they lost early in life when their spiritual and psychological structures were damaged by people who were stealing their spiritual energy.  The problem with Jeffrey's approach to understanding his spiritual energy problems is that he does not understand the nature of spiritual energy transfers.  Jeffrey does not understand that as he goes through life, the spiritual energy from the relationships that Jeffrey had with the people who took advantage of him early in life by stealing his spiritual energy gets transferred to new people he meets who also take advantage of him by stealing his spiritual energy in the present.  I think people such as Jeffrey need to look at their spiritual energy problems as not being caused by one big event that happened before their first memory in life but rather think of their spiritual energy problems as being caused by a series of relationships where a lot of other people took advantage of them and stole their spiritual energy.  Jeffrey did not have all of his spiritual energy stolen from him by the first people who took advantage of him.  Those people took some of his spiritual energy and as he went through life he transferred the spiritual energy from those early relationships where people stole his spiritual energy to other new people who also stole his spiritual energy.  If Jeffrey wants to, with insight, regain the spiritual energy that he has lost (and if he is going to go deep into the collective subconscious to do this), then he needs to know where in the collective subconscious to look for the thieves who stole his spiritual energy.  With insight, Jeffrey might be able to find out where his spiritual energy went and he might be able to regain some of that spiritual energy.  But he has to know where to look for that spiritual energy. Do you agree with that Keith"?

"That's pretty good, Mike", said Keith.  "I've never really looked at it that way but what you said makes sense.  Nobody likes it when people such as Jeffrey keep going down a pathway that goes to nowhere (trying to find the original source cause of their spiritual and psychological weaknesses and thinking that they will be able to regain their spiritual energy if they can only locate that original source).  We all know that Jeffrey will never regain his spiritual energy by simply going back into the past and trying to understand what happened when he had his spiritual energy stolen from him early in life.  We all know that life is not that simple.  Your explanation of the situation makes more sense, Mike.  The original trauma that a person goes through when they lose their spiritual energy early in life is hard to understand because life is dynamic and life is always changing.  Before the original spiritual power play is over (where a person such as Jeffrey has their spiritual energy stolen from them for the first time), they might already be involved in another spiritual power play where another new person is stealing their spiritual energy.  But if Jeffrey could look at the original spiritual power play that deprived him of his spiritual energy as the first in a series of spiritual power plays where people deprived him of his spiritual energy, he would be more likely to understand what has happened to him through the years, and with insight, he might be able to pick up the various pieces of his life that he now believes have no connection with each other and he might be able to start putting all of those pieces together."

Click Here To View The Philosophy of Exotischism Homepage

Copyright Don Bergquist 2009