Struggle with Oneself

Life is not a struggle, but understanding that, is

Words do more than define ideas, for they also define our beliefs and the actions that spring from them. Words and thoughts are also magical, for whatever I say is true. That is, whatever I say is true for ME at the time I say it. For example, as long as I say and believe life is boring, it is, for ME. And it will remain that way until I question that belief and look for something interesting. And as soon as I do that, life changes (for ME) because we find what we look for. Eventually, I will discover that it was my attitude and not life that was boring.

Because the words we use either build walls and imprison us or demolish walls and free us, we need to be careful of what we say and believe. For instance, if I were to say that life is a struggle, I set up a chain of events that are self-defeating. Struggling with life makes as much sense as Don Quixote attacking a windmill. We cannot vanquish life; we cannot change it in the least. Struggling with it is fruitless.

Does that mean we don't have to struggle? Not at all. If we wish to reach our potential, if we wish to move from self-indulgence to self-actualization, self-transcendence, or self-realization, we have to engage in a fierce battle. But to become victorious, we need to know who the enemy is. The enemy is not life and the circumstances it brings. The enemy is not outside us, but lies within. It is our own self-limiting beliefs, self-doubt, fear, and weaknesses that hold us back.

This revelation can turn our lives around. It can change us from a Don Quixote to a valiant and victorious warrior. It can set us free. For although we cannot change life, we can change ourselves. And when we do so, we change the world, for when we make ourselves kinder, there is more kindness is the world; when we make ourselves stronger, there is more courage in the world, and when we make ourselves successful, there is more success in the world.

Images are more potent than words. Whatever can be visualized, can be understood and remembered. The 22 Major Arcana (important cards) of the Tarot are powerful images depicting man's rise to greatness. One of them (card No. 7, The Chariot) illustrates today's lesson. The image I am about to describe may differ from that appearing in some modern Tarot decks. For the traditional images, we need to refer to the Tarot of Marseilles, which is still published in France and dates from the 17th century. Now for the image.

The Tarot card called The Chariot depicts a prince in a chariot drawn by two horses. The purpose of the card is to teach us about the struggle for self-mastery. The prince represents the Self; the chariot, our body, and the horses, our emotions. To reign supreme, we need to rein in the horses (our emotions), which in the card are striving to move in different directions. The chariot itself represents our body. Unless it is cared for, it will not bear the weight of the prince or the pull of the horses. This powerful image of man's mastery over his emotions is not new with the Tarot, for the same image appears in the ancient Hindu Scripture known as the Katha Upanishad, which was written somewhere between 1400 BC and 600 BC. In it, it says, "Know the Self as Lord of the chariot, the body as the chariot itself, the discriminating intellect as the charioteer, and the mind as the reins. The passions, say the wise, are the horses."

Now that we recognize that the enemy that blocks our progress is within us, let's look more closely at some obstacles we have to struggle with. The first is greed, or the desire to HAVE more instead of BE more. Insatiable craving for the things of this world diverts our attention from higher goals. We settle for popcorn whe