I am reading Facing the Dragon by Robert L. Moore. It is about confronting personal and spiritual grandiosity, and it is blowing my mind. But I’m not going to give you a book report. I’m going to talk about me – which is fitting because the book is all about narcissism.
I have learned some things about myself during my intense study since things went south with my ex wife. One of them has been emerging in the last month around my own narcissistic drives and what my moment-to-moment motivation is. This book is blowing the doors wide open on it. Here we go.
We all have a God complex. We are all narcissistic. In contemporary Western culture, God is dead and we have a grey sludge of piss-weak, new age spiritual nonsense in lieu of a wonderful, terrifying, omnipotent transpersonal other.
And it is fucking killing us.
We seek the soap box, our time in the sun, to be inflated by adoration and, really, deification. We deify each other, too. Put our partners on pedestals. Our priests. Our friends. Here’s the rub: humans cannot reliably or sustainably hold this sort of energy. We know we’re not God (no matter how much we’re told, or would like to believe it) and so have a secret shame that causes us to act out pathologically when we are over-inflated with God energy. Or we develop depression to anchor us to the ground so we don’t float away. Or (Moore’s words) we engage in masturbation marathons to remember our humanity. Or, if we don’t get enough energy, we circle the drain in apathy. This God energy is the breath of life. We do need a constant and reliable supply to live to our fullest potential. The amount we can hold and manage is personal to the individual, but if we hold our optimal then we live as awesome beings, Moore says.
The only way to achieve a balanced supply, posits Moore, the only way, is to engineer and maintain an optimised, strong connection to a transpersonal divinity (aka God), and give all glory to him. We take the adoration and pass it up the chain. It’s his anyway.
Personally, I have realised that to offset my crippling human condition (abject fear and denial that one day I will die, low self esteem, poor self image, etc. – nothing unique to me) I have capitalised on my God-given gifts of intelligence and sensitivity, and optimised my methods of attaining adoration from other humans. Particularly women – I’m better at this with women, having chased their approval and adoration for much longer given men haven’t made a lot of sense to me with my father dying when I was 10. I have then been inflated to the point where I struggle to hold the energy and because I can’t manage the inflation, I act poorly. Unpredictably. I withdraw, because the energy is too great. And then I crash. It’s like Icarus learning to fly. I’m up in the clouds then a trainwreck in a tree in quick succession, repeat, repeat.
And I’m going to say it. While I truly believe in God and his splendour and awesome potency, I have also spent many years drinking the Koolade. I have felt at times not just that I am simply a shard of the divine (like everyone else) but rather that I am “more” God than the next person. It has helped mask my pathologies and shadow. It has played its part in destroying all of my previous relationships, and numerous friendships.
So, I am dusting off the cobwebs and starting to relearn how to pray. And it’s highlighting that I lack humility. I struggle to speak to God with the respect and awe befitting our relative positions. I am overfamiliar. It’s awkward. It feels strange. He is humouring me (I haven’t been hit by a lightning bolt yet) as I pass along my thanks for everything I have and am in unfamiliar phrases with fraudulent forelock-tugging while I ask for the strength and guidance to be truly humbled to his splendour.
It might just be that I have found religion again, against all odds.
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot