THE COLUMN

Issue No. 62/April 6, 1996


HEROISM

IVAN HOFFMAN

In a world of desires, it is nearly impossible to have no desires. In a world of temporary things, it is nearly impossible to seek immutable things. In a world of isolation, it is nearly impossible to find intimacy. In a world of confusion, it is nearly impossible to be understood. In a world of pain, it is nearly impossible to be without pain.

To go against the grain of what the world appears to be like is to confront our fears and doubts. We must call into play all the power of self-love and trust that we can muster. It takes a strong person, a person who knows who they are and what they are about, to confront the "real world" point of view. It takes a hero. "Hero" is used without reference to gender.

The point of view of what appears to be the outer world is an outward point of view. It is a point of view that sends us away from our hearts, away from our essence. It tells us to seek answers out "there," in some mythical place. It is mythical because, like the Holy Grail or Excalibur, it is present only in our hearts. There is no place out there to which we can travel to find ourselves. There is no place out there which, if we find it, will provide answers. Seeking that place only throws us off track.

In a world of external love, it is nearly impossible to find self-love. It is easier to find love in someone else than it is to find it in ourselves. Everything that we have been taught has been to look for love in another in the unstated hope that we will then be able to find love inside ourselves. But it cannot be done for to seek love in another for that unstated purpose deflects us from our deeper goal.

We continue to do so, however, because we somehow know, instinctively that the search for internal love is an even more painful goal. As difficult as it is to find love in another, it is ever more difficult to find it inside ourselves. Given the scope of what our lives are about, finding self-love, finding love in another is somewhat an easier task. Not easy, only easier, than finding it inside. Dating services, wrong turns and the like offer possibilities of meeting others. But there is no where we can turn to meet ourselves.

It is difficult to say which came first: the outer directed point of view or the fear which created the outer directed point of view. Was it fear of finding real answers that turned our eyes toward the "things" of the world? Was it fear of knowing ourselves that turned our eyes toward trying to get others to know who we are? Was it the fear of emptiness that turned us toward seeking fulfillment?

Whatever may be the "answer," it has not been apparent to me that seeking those answers outside of myself has ever worked. And yet it seems that it continues to be the goal of nearly everyone. And so when we attempt to find another way, seek another answer, we meet the resistance head-on. We are forced to travel against the grain. It takes great effort to do so for it appears that everyone and everything is about going with the grain. And that is when it takes great self-love and confidence in our hearts to move forward. That is when it takes the hero.

In order that we find this place inside our hearts, we must be willing to expose our hearts in the first instance. We must be willing to allow ourselves inside our own hearts instead of continuing to pretend that our hearts lie outside. We must, in short, be willing to tell ourselves the truth of who we are. Until we are able to tell ourselves that truth, we can never find our hearts.

We can never find that place of no desires.

We can never find that place of immutable things.

We can never find intimacy, or understanding or being without pain.

In a world without a hero, it is nearly impossible to find our own heroism.

© 1996 Ivan Hoffman

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