Burn The Deadwood
What is Deadwood?
The set of ideas, concepts, and sayings that are within your own head and are not of your own origination. Take for example something you have read in a book. Sometime later you verbalize it. This is not your idea. It is not part of you.
Furthermore, when you speak it, without given due credit, in some way you are not speaking the truth. We must utilize our magnifying glass of consciousness to determine first what is truthful to our own psyche. Then to realize what are our thoughts are, versus the ideas planted by other people, culture, and society at large.
"The truth is something that burns – it burns off deadwood, and people don't like having their deadwood burnt off often because they're 95% deadwood." - Joe Rogan Experience #958 – Jordan Peterson
The ironic part of this whole article is that I am writing about this topic after hearing Jordan Peterson speak about it. The writing of this article is part of the processing of my own deadwood. If I strip away all that there is, there is not much left.
Many concepts in this article have been presented by people much smarter than myself. Most all of our lives have been spent listening and learning from others. This begs the question of how much of even what we think we are is actually something of our own origination? This gets even more complex if we pull in the idea of the collective unconscious which is arguably like a thread that runs through the psyche of each person on earth. The question is, how much of an impact does this have on the individual? How do we drill down to reach what is our fundamental essence?
How can we start the fire?
To start the process of burning off the deadwood, we must first realize what is deadwood within ourselves. If we look around, we quickly discover ourselves amidst a wasteland. It’s almost like walking on the beach after a strong storm. There is debris everywhere. As we dig, the more we find. To initiate the process, we must discover conscious awareness. We are all aware to some degree of this thing we call life. It is much like the intensity of a light bulb. The more power that is provided to the lamp, the brighter it glows. The brighter it shines, the more it shows. The same can be said for conscious awareness.
How do we increase the brightness of our awareness?
A non-failing way to foucs our conscious awareness is to meditate on death. We are not immortal beings. We are fallible, weak, able to be harmed, and mortal. We all will die at some unknown point in the future. This brings urgency to the situation. It also brings in the notion that we are not, and never will be perfect.
This process is important because to shine light where there was previously darkness within us is not only a painful process but the most painful thing that we can do. We often walk through life thinking that most of our actions are justified and for good. We do not think of ourselves as capable of such atrocities as Columbine or that of the Nazi's. It is once we start to shine this light of awareness that we can see this sort of evil is within us all. By seeing it, accepting it and not acting on it, we can perhaps eventually become virtuous or at least move in the right direction.
Sometimes we need a magnifying glass to increase the intensity of the light to start the burning of the wood. This can come in many forms; mentor, therapist, friends, family, etc. It is really anyone who is willing to provide you with genuine feedback on how you actually appear in the world. These people will help you to start to live in truth, these people will help to start the fire.
A way to amplify this process is by examining that which we believe. Why do we believe? We accept notions on blind trust because there are things in this world that we do not know, understand or fully comprehend. It is at that point of departure that we start to believe. We believe because that is better than saying, “I do not know.” What is actually wrong with saying, “I do not know, but I seek to know”? This shows our weakness of mind. This indicates that our ego, as inflated as it is, does not know all the answers, nor can it ever. This is the edge of human capability. Belief is the gap between the known and unknown, order and chaos. The overemphasis of faith is the gap that allows for ideologies that are built upon notions such as relativism. This is the inception of a slide into meaninglessness.
The Human Condition
To ensure that we do not fall off the cliff of such arbitrary concepts as relativism, we must be sincere in our thoughts, words, deeds, and actions. Instead of collecting deadwood to create a more massive fort to barricade ourselves in, give a false sense of our inflated egos and to protect the most real sense of ourselves, the weak, vulnerable, gooey true sense of self; we must move forward forthrightly into the world. We must be willing to let go of any and all pre-conceived notions of who we are and to look at ourselves with a fresh, and new lens every moment of every day as we are alive and death is right around the corner. If we can accept that a large amount of what we follow are either the thoughts of others and/or our own beliefs when the concepts become too complex for us to handle, we will soon be left with the human condition. This is the point of realization that we are far more weak, fragile, imperfect and atrocious as beings then we would ever like to admit.
After all, we are just animals, and all animals have instincts. We are animals that have adopted culture to cooperate in a structure called society. If we let that society rule us too much, then we will begin to resist and resent culture and society at large, and potentially Being itself. If we play fully into our animal compulsions, we will not have to worry about the organization as we will quickly become outcasts of it.
Sincerity As An Antidote
It follows that if we are all much weaker and more pathetic than we are willing to admit, and that we are merely cultured animals, then at the very least we are all in it together. It is for this reason, that sincerity comes into the picture. This is to say that we must be sincere with ourselves and where we are at in our lives. We must be careful not to delude ourselves with ideas of grandeur. Most of what is in our head are the ideas of others. Most of what we project out onto the world is a creation of our mind called the persona. This is a mask that helps to shield and protect the fragile ego from the attacks of a harsh and cruel world. It is once we realize what games we are playing with ourselves that we can bring sincerity in. Sincerity helps us to dissolve the mask of the persona. It is only once we give up the games with ourselves, and bring sincerity in that we are able to move forthrightly into the world and lead by example. We are able to demonstrate to others that there is only one antidote to the current state of affairs and that is sincerity deployed on an individual level.
We are all primarily made up of things that we have learned from others which encompasses a wide range of thoughts, words, and belief systems. This structure of thoughts, ideas, and concepts form a wasteland of deadwood. It is once we start to sincerely accept this and seek out the necessary feedback from the world that it will begin to burn off. We must be willing to let all preconceived notions go, then focus on our mortality, and finally on what we have believed for many years on blind faith. This will ensure the deadwood is set ablaze. As we burn off the deadwood, there will be many potentially stark and grave realizations. If these things do not get burned off, then they will inevitably collapse at the most inopportune of times. It is when we get down to bedrock that we are able to lay a solid foundation that is capable of handling skyscrapers worth of accomplishment.
Additional piles of deadwood that helped to construct this post:
Carl Jung - “On The Psychology of The Unconscious”
Sadhguru - You Will Never Look at Your Life in the Same Way Again - YouTube
David Foster Wallace - The Problem With Irony - YouTube