One of the most interesting concepts I’ve been arguing with lately is that of mental blocks. If you know me particularly well, and quite possibly even if you do not, you probably know that I very much espouse a “mind over matter” philosophy. Generally speaking, I would suggest that most any human being can exert a certain amount of incorporeal force over his or her being, usually something to the effect of coercing the body into something that its animal instincts might otherwise abhor, such as implanting or ignoring chemical feelings. While science no doubt suggests that there are biological routes that the body might take to accomplish similar functions, I would assert that the spirit can serve to support–or countermand–these functions as well. I have further, more complicated theories as to the nature of such interactions, but they are mostly not relevant to this topic and largely incomplete enough to write about in the first place.
Ignoring the “how’s” or “why’s,” the subject of “what” is largely more practical. As I mentioned, this spiritual exertion can serve to compliment the body’s defenses or make up for a physical weakness. As a few examples, one can use this ability to stamp out an unwanted feeling: lust, pain, jealousy. It can also serve as a “resolve,” and force us to live by or with something even though we can see little reason to do so. From my experience, it can even be used to aid in staving off sickness, and many narratives use phrases such as “too stubborn to die,” which I would argue is essentially the same mechanic.
Of late, some of the more interesting implications of this force have come into my mind. This same force can flat out kill people (“lost their will to live…”), render them cripple or mute, and more commonly, just plain get in the way. This classic “mental block” is perhaps the simplest evidence of the existence of this force. Why do we hesitate when we know that everything is fine? Why do we shirk from the task when we know it is the right thing to do? True, these questions have more obvious, symptomatic answers, like “I’m scared,” but how should “being scared” stop anyone? After all, it’s only an emotion. In other cases, there could even be an external temptation, the whispering voice from the shoulder: a spiritual outsider. Peer pressure, biological reactions: all manner of possible triggers ultimately lead to a decision made by our own human spirits. The devil cannot make you do it, your body does not (well, should not) have dominion over itself, and the neighbor boy cannot force you to play in the street.
Everything we do, physically, mentally, or spiritually, is the result of a choice that we make at a very fundamental, incorporeal level. We decide to bite back the pain; we ignore the chemical triggers screaming in our brains, and take that last step. We decide that someone is worth loving regardless of how they make us feel at any individual moment. We stave off temptation, and banish the demons from our shoulders, if but for a time. Or… we push back that logical, sensible activity, and stubbornly do the wrong thing in spite of all the externals. We render ourselves unable to concentrate, or make the idea of an activity so foreboding that our bodies develop a chemical reaction to it.
Tomorrow, I will drive down to LeTourneau for the first time in nearly a month and register for classes. On Tuesday, I will attend the first of many classes this semester, and every step of the way, my body will be crying out with an irrational, conditioned loathing for the very activity of maneuvering the car down those harrowing streets, and walking down those too-familiar corridors. I have no real reason to hate, even fear this last semester of mine. I have every logical reason in the world to work hard, get it out of the way easily and move on to bigger and better things, and it should be so simple, but instead I have built myself massive hurdles and set them down all over the race track. Why have I done this to myself… and how do I make me stop?
Your comments reminded so compelingly of Plato’s discussion of the Just Man that I felt the need to comment briefly. Plato in The Republic suggests that the just (or righteous) man can be compared to a well governed city. There are three classes in this city. The workmen, the soldiers and the rulers. When all three classes know their roles and do their assigned tasks for the good of the whole, the city is just and good. The unity and harmony between the classes reflects their discipline. The ability of the soldiers to obey the rulers’ laws about what to fear and what not to fear is bravery. Wisdom is reflected in the ability of the rulers to choose courses of action for the good of all. In this way the perfectly righteous man is perfectly at peace with himself just as this city is at peace. His desires and emotions are disciplined and follow the law set by his reason which works towards good and just aims. Ideally then desires and emotions are not enemies to be subdued but obedient servants.
I don’t know what else I can do to help, but I’ll be praying for you. If it helps at all, I’ll keep giving you a hard time about skipping class too.
Acknowlege your need to God, I’m sure He would be glad to help.
Yea…it can be that way. We’ll be praying this last semester zips by, that it is full of good stuff, and that we will soon be seeing you guys again.
By the by, the eldest of our family siblings is home again – not returning to UCSB. Let’s just say she had an epiphianic (okay, I KNOW I spelled that wrong, by don’t have the patience to fix it just now) experience when she found a guy in her shower during finals week.
So. Think on THAT while you negotiate your corridors!
Blessings on you guys,
C for all the clan
I thought of Col 3:23-24. I know it was written to bondservants, but I think it applies. See Eph 6:8.
Hang in there “This too shall pass.”
I pray you will have a blessed life, a job you enjoy, and will cling to your God.
Psalm 27:13 “I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
My apologies to Ben and the sheltonclan… your comments got mixed in with the drug spam, anad I don’t always clean out my spam box that often. 😉