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The Compulsion to Repeat vs. Compassion

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It is more comfortable to repeat a past performance than it is to construct a new paradigm.  The Compulsion to repeat is a powerful defense and as we know of defenses, they act in service of the ego.  Acting in service of the ego means that they are trying to be helpful to a part of us.  The part of us that has grown and become civilized and has evolved through the ages to become the man who goes to the moon, or the Iron Woman who rules England, or to the creators of the Atom Bomb.  The linguistic aspect of us is the ego.  The ego is that aspect of us that we are most familiar with.  It is what Eckhart Tolle says that we refer to when we call ourselves by our first name.  My ego’s is name Al,  pronounced with no “H” unlike in “Hal,” The computer who operated the guts of the mission to outer-space. In service to its mission, Hal killed the entire crew for its own good–not what the creator had in mind.


The ego and the Heart can become in conflict, especially if the ego feels threatened by an event, by the future or by it losing advantage in any way.  The ego wants the advantage–always.  It is a competitive little snot if you do not grab a hold of it early enough.  It will kill you to prove it is right in the name of trying to help you.

So who is the “you” and who is the “you”?  When we finally arrive at the nearly indisputable fact that what sits on our shoulders is a very divided mind, we can begin to want to make sense over the amount of conflict that we have lived under.  Until then we usually side with our egos, and though it might operate the conflict in our favor, in the moment; we are hardly ever spiritually and dynamically advanced by the egos maneuvers.

It is also of importance that we recognize that each the ego and the heart are unaware of the others presence.  Each system operates singularly.  But the dominant force is exerted by the ego (what western civilization tells us is right or wrong).  The heart, on the other hand, arrived first in the order of evolution, but its quiet and steady path is hardly noticed.  It wants what is best for us which may not be what is right or wrong for us.  This slight shift in perspective can lead us to an overwhelming shift in paradigm.  A shift that can help us to change, not our behavior; but how we perceive the world.  Often the problem is not with the “problem”, but with how we see the problem.      

     Insights provided by the heart, those emotional communications that cry out to be heard over the voice of the ego, are guided by the subjective mood rather than the indicative mood.  Grammar does have a role in who we are and how we behave.  There are languages that do not have a subjective tense.  In those languages the “if’s, the “could have” the “might have” are not existing.  Only the indicative fact of yes or no or black and white exist in consciousness.   People who live simply out of language awareness miss an entire perspective.  The wider perspective of consciousness is omitted.  The silence of consciousness.

In the indicative system ambiguity is omitted.  Nonetheless, because it is omitted, in perspective, does not mean that it does not exist in reality.  A full repertoire of feelings from despair to over-whelming enthusiasm and joy are necessary components to living a full life.  Within the wide range of the subjective we hold all the possibilities of being human in our hearts.  We are not swallowed by anger, but we know anger intimately.  We are not depreciated by grief, we are enhanced buy the knowledge that it is demonstrating the extent to which we loved the precious object, person, place or thing.  Jealousies and hatreds are not foreign to a good-heart.  They do not conduct a good-heart.

Hearts can be over-come with compassion.  Egos need to be right.  The heart can contain the darker side of life as easily as it can embrace the light.  Compassion is a mindful process by which we come to understand our need for human forgiveness.  The act of forgiving the self for its natural condition of imperfection.  And forgiving other for the very same reason.  The awake mind resonates in possibilities.  The closed off mind, the egoic mind, cowers in fear of ambivalence and dodges interpretations that places the ego in less than attractive light.


Understanding that we are of two minds, how do we access the instincts, how do we find the heart within the clamor of all the linguistic noise?  This is a question for our generation to answer.  We need a new answer because secular society has become disconnected from the good, the bad and the ugly.  Although religion plays a large role in some people’s lives, the overall globe is not a religious one.  This is a globe in much conflict:  plague, hunger, famine, homelessness, war, atrocities, vengeance, and greed to name a few.  And although we are not the first generation to have to answer this question, after all, Adam and Eve seemed to have gotten it wrong and it has been down-hill ever since, each new generation gets a shot at the question.  “Is it nobler in the mind to suffer the slings of outrageous fortune….”

Today we may be better poised to ask the question in a new way.  How do I access my heart-felt emotions–good and bad, and how do I harness these emotions into a kind of fuel, a psychic energy that drives us forward with integrity and fullness of spirit.  It is so easy to claim that we have it all until we lose it all.

There are two evolutions happening simultaneously:  1)  the evolution of culture and civilization through our linguistic competence, and 2) the evolution and development of the individual human ego.  Both evolutions reflect each other and are inextricably tied together, but no one knows exactly how.  We are pointing to a Oneness that might help us to understand that we are really one huge organism.  We are the cosmos, we and the plants and the minerals and the elements we are one thing evolving toward infinity.

Are we always only a half truth waiting for the other half of our reality to sink in?  Do we exist among the weeds and are we only several layers away from the alligator brain that sits in the center of our heads.  I think it would be easy to go in that direction.  It’s all a lot of nothing made from nothing.  Except, what do we do with compassion.  How do we understand empathy if it is truly only about survival.

The instincts of the heart never come after us.  We are never chased by the heart the way we are chased by the ego, by the guilt, by the remorse, by the past.  The heart only lies quietly beating.  It is vigilant, patient, kind, honest and in general, good.  But for us to see these attributes we must have the capacity to invite it in.  Unlike the intrusive ego, the heart has to be invited in.  The heart will lie in waiting and will be available as soon as you summon it to your aid, but you must summon it.

You have to be ready to listen to something that your ego will disagree with.  You need to be ready to look out into the vast void of consciousness in order to sense the quiet and the silence that is needed to understand the heart felt messages from our own subjective.

And in the long run, we will die anyway.  That is the cycle of life that we embark upon when we are born.  We are slated to die at some point.  In the meantime we can let our lives be run by Hal, or we can reach into our silence and pull out a hand-full of compassion and say, “here is to one more day where I like life, and I like liking who I am.”



Author: aldussault

I am an artist, photographer, watercolorist, and primarily a modern psychoanalyst. I blog about politics and consciousness as well as create digital fine art photos of my pen & inks and my water colorings. My hobby is studying piano.

One thought on “The Compulsion to Repeat vs. Compassion

  1. Pingback: The Compulsion to Repeat vs. Compassion | EXIT FROM NARCISSISM

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