I've had an exhausting and rewarding week. I've gotten to spend some time with friends seldom seen and that is always a good thing. Today I slept in and rather than feeling guilty about it, I reveled in it. Sleep well earned is a good thing.
As I have reimagined my website and refined its forms I have also been looking at the structure and challenges of my life more deeply. My relationship to my ability, power, and reception of what I do has been at the forefront of my mind. I feel I do good work, and yet I also feel I am holding myself back from doing even more powerful work. So what exactly is the deal?
Well in the past when I have done service for people there have been times when they have basically given their power away. They have placed me up on a pedestal as a savior, or some sort of special class of person, high above the teeming masses. This is a very uncomfortable position to be in for me. Most of the time I feel like so called "ordinary" people have it a lot more together than I do. I have fears and insecurities too as many if not more so than the mainstream folks. I worry (it's a family trait). Beyond that, there is another reason why I may shy away from more showy manifestations. I call it the Guru Trap.
Quite simply the Guru Trap is when you start to believe your own hype. You think because you can do amazing things the rules of society just don't apply to you. I've seen this with several masters in the field. They bring in astounding energies and have what I call a large special effects budget. They warp reality around them. Invariably they also fuck up their lives. They have affairs with students or their assistants. They get embroiled in lawsuits and feuds with other practitioners, or they misuse their influence over those that come to them for help. A good part of me fears turning into that, and so I hold myself back.
Right now I am at a crossroads, I either stay small and have to find another means to support myself or I must grow in what I allow my influence to be. I like my work, I like helping people maneuver through life's challenges and thrive. I am going to choose to grow, but I am left with the quandary about how to avoid the Guru Trap. "The first step in avoiding a trap is knowing of its existence." At least that is the case in the novel Dune. Unfortunately that didn't seem to help Duke Leto. Currently my only strategy is to rely on my friends to let me know if I turned into the self serving guru maniac. I also keep repeating to myself, "To whom much is given, much is expected."
So why does this matter to you? I think a good many of us fear turning into an asshole so we don't step forward. We are afraid of who we may become so we stagnate and turn back in on ourselves. That which doesn't continue to grow decays. So many of us feel worn out way before our time. We disconnect with any larger purpose in our lives because we just can't let ourselves grow into that role. It doesn't have to be large public role either, it can be as normal as being a parent, a homeowner, or sober. We ask who would we be and we assume that we would be that thing we fear. Maybe we've looked at other role models and found their shine is tarnished when viewed up close, or maybe we've expected perfection. Perhaps we think failing on a small scale is better than screwing up on a grander one. In either case who are we to tell the universe, "No I'm sorry I think you have the wrong person for this mission. You want someone taller with fewer personal flaws and insecurities."
What to do now? Well instead of fearing what we might become what if we focus on what we'd like to be in the event that greatness is thrust upon us? What if we learned from the failings of others and forged a different path? What if we focused on using our growing gifts to serve the world and in turn let it serve us in kind? When we focus on just ourselves we run the risk of being "that guy", but maybe if we focus on a larger self of community and world we may leap over the pitfall of the Guru Trap. So try it with me, be a partner in growing because the world needs our best self and efforts. Now is not the time to shrink back, now is the time to rise and serve.
Peace and Blessings,