Pitching The Pitchfork
This is all insanity. How can any human being possibly endure the nightmarish, hellish, diabolical dimension we find ourselves in? But you know what? You’ve been doing just that. For millennia, you’ve been imprisoned by unspeakable suffering. But how can this be if God is supposed to be all-powerful? Why wouldn’t God do something about this? After all, isn’t God the worker of miracles? God can conjure up solutions to any problems, right? Absolutely correct. There is nothing God cannot do.
And God came up with a solution to this little dilemma, too. In fact, God never planned to sit back and watch you suffer. God is compassionate. Merciful. God’s all about unconditional love. So, God thought about the situation, and came up with a way for you to experience the absence of God without having to endure unending pain.
That’s one hell of a paradox: How can one truly comprehend pain, chaos, sadness, depression, and death without experiencing pain, chaos, sadness, depression, and death? Luckily for you, in the Realm of the Infinite, all paradoxes are resolved. God solved the problem, and did it by putting me to good use.
Now, it’s starting to get interesting…
So what about this business of feeling pain and loss without actually having to experience the pain and loss? Sounds like a magician’s trick, doesn’t it? But God found a way to help you circumvent the very system you (the Vessel) asked for. When you wanted to receive, but also be like God, you were basically saying to God, “Stay out of my life, but rescue me if the going gets rough.”
So, that is exactly what God did. God arranged it so that you:
• Could feel the potential pain, but not have to go through the actual pain.
• Could let your stunt double, your ego, take the hit instead of having to take the hit yourself.
• Could choose proactive short-term pain instead of long-term suffering.
• Could have a constant awareness of pain and its purpose.
Now, let’s break each one of God’s solutions down a little further.
FEELING THE POTENTIAL PAIN
You can choose to feel potential pain, so you don’t have to experience the real thing. At any given moment, you can lose it all, or rather, I can take it all away: Your loved ones, your security, your position, your children, your health, your well-being, your future. That constant awareness helps you to care for, enjoy, and be fulfilled in every moment of life. This is the easiest way to avoid pain. It is also the reason why I have kept myself concealed for so long. Once you know my game, you can just play it without me! And what would be the fun in that for me?
Imagine betrayal by your spouse, or a sudden loss of health or money, or a threat to the safety or well-being of your children. Make it so real you can taste it. Take a good look at your life and start appreciating everything you have taken for granted, because, otherwise, I own you. One tsunami, one Twin Towers, one collapsed financial institution, one disease, one child predator, and I’ve got your life in my hands.
The lesson here? It’s simple. Love your mate with greater intensity, take care of your health with greater intention, work at your job with greater care, and be present for your children with greater joy. See the paradise that surrounds you, so I don’t replace it with a parking lot! Get it? Appreciation and gratitude are powerful antidotes to pain, and God gave them to you expressly for this purpose. You’ve been holding the cure all the time, and you just didn’t realize it.
THE STUNT DOUBLE, THE EGO
God didn’t stop there. He gave you yet another cure, another tool, another antidote to your suffering. And it comes in the form of Harrison Ford. OK, not quite, but I wanted to make sure I had your undivided attention.
You see, Harrison Ford is a handsome movie star. When he played the role of Indiana Jones, you can bet your bottom dollar the movie studio didn’t want to see its star actor performing all those dangerous stunts.
Enter the stunt double.
The stunt double is a highly trained, extremely skilled stuntman who assumes all the risk of pain and injury on behalf of the movie star. That’s his job, and he gets paid well to do it. All Harrison Ford has to do is step aside and allow the stunt double to take his place in a potentially dangerous scene.
God devised a similar solution for the movie that is your life. God created a stunt double to take on all the pain on your behalf. All humankind had to do was step aside every time a potentially dangerous or uncomfortable situation arose, and allow the stunt double to do his thing. But humankind never did. You don’t, either. Nor do your friends. No one does.
How do I know this? Because….
I AM THE STUNT DOUBLE!
I know. Hard to believe, right? You thought I was the source of all evil. The Prince of Darkness. Father of Lies and Deceit. The Tempter. The Son of Perdition.
You thought I was here to ruin your life, to darken human existence, and to destroy the world. Hardly. I was given my job to act as your official stand-in by God. I am here to help you. Surprise!
Now, if the term stunt double sounds too Hollywood for you, you can just call me your ego. Yes, that’s right. I am your ego. My vocation is an essential part of God’s plan. Like I said earlier, the soul came to the parking lot to experience pain in order to awaken appreciation for the paradise that is God. And there are two ways to experience pain:
1. You experience it.
2. Or I do.
I’ll be more specific. There are two ways to know the pain of this world:
1. Through the decimation of your ego and all self-interest.
2. Through pain inflicted on your body and soul.
Life throws you a curveball. You either allow me, the ego, to become frustrated and worried. Or you will.
Life throws you a sinker ball. The ego gets depressed. Or you will.
Someone desperately needs financial assistance. You either give until it hurts (me), or you hang on to your money and the self-gratification that comes with greed and allow it to hurt you. In other words, all kinds of garbage will hit you throughout your life. You either let the ego be sad, depressed, ashamed, or hurt, or you will experience sadness, depression, madness, aggravation, and a whole lot of hurt (great lyrics for a country song, I might add).
After a lifetime of living with your fellow man, either the ego dies—or you die. Catch that last one? I slipped it in without much fanfare. Here it is again: Death occurs for one reason—you fail to let the ego die. Everyone throughout history has died as a result of protecting their ego. They hang on to it for dear life. But if the ego itself dies, you live forever. Really. Truly. If humankind wiped ego from the face of the Earth, it would be the end of all death! Earth would be transformed into an endless spiritual and physical paradise.
So, it’s even my job to die for you—if you’d only let me. But you don’t. You wind up experiencing all the pain. You do all the dying, while I do all the living. I’ve been hanging out on this Earth, living large for countless centuries while you all have been dropping like flies.
So why on Earth would you refuse to stand aside if unimaginable happiness and immortality are waiting for you? The answer is simple: Because you didn’t know you had a stunt double. You simply weren’t aware that my services were available. Well, now you know.
But before we move on, you might still be confused about this notion of ego. After all, I have spent millennia attempting to distort its true meaning. Your ego is your reactive response to the world.
• You react to failure and get depressed. That is your ego.
• You respond to success and develop a swelled head. That’s ego, too.
• You react to an opportunity and feel you’re not good enough to seize it. Believe it or not, that is ego also.
• You seize an opportunity, pushing everyone else aside without regard for the pain you cause them. Ego strikes again.
• You are selfish. Ego.
• You give charity and let everyone know about it. Ego.
• Someone takes up a belief that is contrary to yours and you lock horns. Ego on both sides.
• Someone espouses an argument or belief that you agree with and you follow along blindly. Ego, ego, ego.
• Someone tells you the truth and you reject it. This is the most common form of ego on the planet!
I do hope you’re catching on. The ego’s job is to motivate you to react. Everything you do at the ego’s request in life is a knee-jerk reaction. I don’t care what the trigger is, or what your intention is. Your ego sees to it that you’re always reacting to someone or something. And I am the one inciting your behavior.
That means that all of the negative thoughts in your head are mine. However, because I’ve disguised myself so ingeniously in your ego, you think those thoughts are yours. And therein lies your problem.
Who do you think talks you out of dieting when the authentic you makes a commitment to lose weight? It’s not the chocolate cake that makes you succumb. It’s me, yours truly! I crank up your desire while simultaneously decreasing your willpower. It’s a potent one-two punch. Then, I rationalize your defeat by whispering, “Don’t worry, you can start again on Monday.”
And sabotaging diets is only the tip of my iceberg!
PROACTIVE PAIN VERSUS SUFFERING
Fortunately for you, God gave you a custom-designed tool for overcoming ego—your ability to choose proactive, short-term pain instead of being bridled with lifelong misery. But I compromise you day in and day out. I convince you that it is better to “keep the peace” than to speak the truth. Sure, there is a way to really keep the peace, but it is not by keeping your mouth shut when something needs to be said. It is not about being nice when difficult actions must be taken. It is not about coping; it’s about dealing.
God doesn’t want you to merely cope. Sure, you can absorb a lot of pain, but you are not supposed to. You are meant to take on the momentary discomfort of confronting that difficult situation, but instead you push aside the truth and become full of pride and self-righteousness. You are supposed to earn paradise. Do you think you are going to do that by playing Mr. Nice Guy? That’s one of my favorites: The person who thinks he is so brave when, in truth, he is a coward. He might be nice to your face, but, behind your back, he’ll throw you under the bus to protect his good name.
Just stand up and deal with the difficult situation in front of you! Why do you think it’s there? So you can sweep it under the rug? Face it: It is your challenger, it is your opposition, it is your adversary. So, get in the ring and fight. If you keep hiding, I win.
That’s because when you live with pain, over time you become bitter. You come to believe that the world and God are out to get you. Admit it. You’re never happy. OK, sometimes you feel that you are “good.” But being good doesn’t help you reach the potential you came to this world to achieve. You can try to justify your position by convincing yourself that righteous people like yourself are always tested. But deep inside, you live with the knowledge that you could be so much more. But you haven’t got the strength to make that happen. I’ve taken it all away.
If you keep going the way you are going, I will have to send you something more difficult to deal with until you finally wake up—until you finally realize that confronting your difficulties is not nearly as painful as the suffering you are enduring now. So, do yourself a favor. Look at the situation. See me in it, fight me, and win. The pain you feel will dissolve and you will re-earn your place in the Garden.
Even if you fail over and over again to activate any of God’s solutions to the pain problem, God still leaves the window open for you. Even if you’re living with the most incredible pain there is—physical suffering, the loss of a child, a barren existence, an empty stomach and pocketbook, a no-way-out sign—there is still a door to paradise.
If I have won every battle up until this point, if you have taken your life for granted, if you have been an egomaniac, if you have been a righteous coward, if you are truly suffering, then the only way to win at this late stage is to recognize that it’s a game. Remember the goal is paradise. God did not forget you; you just haven’t been playing very well.
So, how do you get back in the Game from here? You recognize the game you’re in and you keep playing. The pain will not last forever. If the end goal is Eden, then there must be a bigger picture that you don’t see. Start putting God’s solutions to work. Start to appreciate this moment, and stop feeling like a victim. Let the ego do its job. Sure, you think you look bad; you lost what seems like everything; you feel humiliated by your wife, by your circumstances, by your physical condition. Great! The more humiliated the ego is, the better off you are. Be happy that I am getting hit. The more I get hit, the faster I get hurt, the more paradise you will earn back. Act unselfishly for a change. Help someone who is worse off than you. That’s the straight path to paradise. Instead of letting me dance while you suffer, it’s time to turn the tables.
YOU THINK YOU’RE TOUGH
I play hard, which means you get my very best every time out. It has to be this way. If it were easy for you—if it took no effort on your part—to find me and defeat me, you’d earn nothing. And nothing would have changed since you lost paradise. You need to earn your way back because that is the only way you can appreciate the infinite happiness that is your destiny. There’s no way around it. That’s why I have to use every trick in the book, every means possible, to make it difficult for you to find me. And, remember, I do this for your own good; without me, you won’t have an Opponent in the game, which means winning would be meaningless.
I serve a noble cause, and the stakes are high. Your eternal happiness is on the line. So, to make sure you earn your bliss and evolve the level of consciousness and appreciation that will allow you to savor paradise for all time, I must be prepared to play tough.
Make no mistake, I can do that. I am ruthless. I have watched you fall on battlefields; waste away from cancer; suffer paralysis from stroke; bury your children; get robbed, raped, and molested by monsters; and experience every other hideous form of suffering. I couldn’t hold back. I am under oath to use any and every means possible to deceive and conquer you.
You are the one who asked to make this process challenging so that you could enjoy the full measure of happiness that rightfully belongs to you. This path could have been easier. But if you don’t allow the ego to experience 100 percent of the pain, you will never experience 100 percent of the pleasure. You wanted it all. You asked for it all. You are the one who empowered me to give you my very best.
THE REAL PAIN-INDUCER
Would you like to know a shortcut to kicking the pain habit? Simple. Renounce selfishness. Selfishness is a tool specifically designed to inflict repeated pain upon yourself. Sure, when you renounce selfishness, it’ll hurt like hell—but that fleeting pain is the only pain you’ll have to experience. There’s your magic formula. Yep, that’s the ticket. Give selfishness the boot and say hello to eternal life.
This is a good time for me to mention that I, myself, am the epitome of selfishness. In fact, selfishness would be my middle name if I had one. My job is to incite within you selfish behavior in all its manifestations: Egocentricity. Self-indulgence. Self-centeredness. Low self-esteem. Depression. Anger. Jealousy. Worry. Fear. Believe it or not, these are all different expressions of selfishness. Your task is to reject it. Overcome it. Resist it. My job is to convince you to embrace it with open arms.
But in spite of that—in spite of me—you have to suck it up. Yes, that’s right. I’m telling you to get over it. Because if you can, this pain will be all that you need to endure during your life to earn the everlasting happiness that was originally given to you in Act I of our Creation Story.
THE TWO FOLD PROBLEM
Here’s the two fold problem of humanity:
1. You’ve been living selfishly, under my control, for countless centuries. This is why the world bleeds.
2. You don’t believe I exist. That is why the world continues to hemorrhage and suffer, ignorant of the way out.
The trouble begins in your head. Your consciousness. Actually, it’s my consciousness inside your head. Every problem on Earth—from poverty, global warming, and disease to child pornography and substance abuse—is rooted in the collective, egocentric, selfish behavior of your fellow man.
These external problems in the world are symptoms. Not the Cause. Even if you fix global warming by reducing carbon emissions, the negativity from your selfish behavior will create another global problem. If you drive with road rage—even if you are driving a “green car”—your negativity will still cause lethal damage. You guys call it the butterfly effect. No way! It is my effect.
Consider this: What if ego was the cause of some exotic virus that threatened to kill millions of people? Then what you’d need is a miracle. What is a miracle? Think about it—it is an event that takes place outside the laws of physical nature. You make miracles happen when you overcome the laws of your ego nature. When you put the needs of another before your own selfish agenda, a miracle cure will show up on the planet as a reflection of the change that took place inside you.
Of course, my job right now is to make you say, “Baloney!” And it’s working, isn’t it? You’re still skeptical!
This is precisely how I prevent you from achieving miracles.
As you begin to renounce selfishness and overcome ego, gradually you come to the realization that the ego is not you. Not an easy task. But when you do get there, you’re happy that I am the one going through hell and not you. When you reach a level of wisdom—let’s call it a state of awareness—where you genuinely understand that it is me behind your ego, you’ll be excited to put an end to the Game. For good.
But it takes a lifetime—typically many lifetimes—to achieve that elevated state of consciousness. Over the centuries, I’ve watched tough men weep, run like sissies, shake in their boots, soil themselves, commit suicide, and literally die of a heart attack when faced with a bruised ego. That is to say, it takes nothing less than Herculean effort to willingly allow the ego to experience pain so that your body and soul can choose happiness.
The reason a grown man fears the death of his ego more than he fears physical death is because he mistakes the ego for himself. He doesn’t know it’s me, his real enemy. He doesn’t know that if the ego dies, he lives.
Be honest with yourself. If you actually knew—right now—that I was real, that I was the Cause of all your pain, you’d send me packing. This is why I work so hard to convince you I don’t exist. If you really knew the truth, you’d welcome humiliation. You’d keep your big mouth shut when that arrogant, swaggering loudmouth friend of yours runs his mouth off. You’d stop yourself from one-upping him because you’d know it was me—inside of you—who was really pushing your buttons.
The thought of surrendering the ego is terrifying! But the fearsome threat is just a mirage. It is I who conjure up the fear, injecting it into every cell in your body. Thanks to me, facing this fear can seem almost impossible. But it isn’t. Not only is it entirely possible, but overcoming your fear and squaring off against your ego is a very smart play. A winning move, without question.
But if you choose the alternative route of protecting the ego, you will suffer instead. Sickness. Disease. Emotional turmoil. Financial instability. Wrecked marriages. Ruined relationships. Chronic depression. Death. You know the routine. You know it well. All too well.
As long as you fail to make the separation between the real you and the real me, you will wind up taking on every ounce of pain throughout your entire life. This is the way it’s been since the dawn of human consciousness.
Now you have it—my complete Game Plan.
I am sure you all know the story of Job. If you don’t know the story, and even if you do, it’s time to hear it from my point of view, so listen up.
Job lived in the land east of Palestine a very long time ago. He was considered a righteous man, and you know how I love to undermine the righteous. So, I disguised myself as God and I rewarded him for his “piety” with great wealth, thousands of head of livestock, and a large family. In my book, this was a man with one hell of an ego who needed to be taught a lesson. I knew if I could push his buttons just so, I could break him down. That was my plan, anyway.
I went to God and challenged him to test Job. I wagered that if God started messing around with Job’s family and possessions, Job would curse God. But God wouldn’t do it, so I had to do my own dirty work. One day, robbers came and drove away all Job’s cattle and slew his servants, and a terrible tornado from the desert destroyed the house in which Job’s children were gathered. It killed them all. Much to my disbelief, not only Job did not curse God, he actually praised God. I was stunned, I have to tell you. This Job character was making me look bad. But I wasn’t through with him yet.
I went back and tried to convince God that if Job were to be stricken by disease, then he might show his true colors. Again, I was reminded that God doesn’t work that way. So, I worked my own magic and Job was stricken with the most terrible disease imaginable—leprosy. Even his wife began to persuade him to complain against God! Gotta love her! His friends joined in the complaining.
But—would you believe it?—Job remained firm and didn’t curse God for a second. He praised God, and even called God his Redeemer. The guy was afflicted with a terrible skin disease and he still saw God’s beauty. Talk about keeping the faith and never losing sight of the bigger picture! Job used the very tools that I told you about just a few pages ago—a man well ahead of his time. Admittedly, had I known that he would be such a tough nut to crack, I would have wagered on someone else, that’s for sure.
But how would anyone have known had I not done my job and tested the waters? Note the connection between the name Job and my doing my job. The Bible is code, you know. These nice little stories contain more layers of meaning than you could uncover in a lifetime of study. And I am just beginning to scratch the surface. You might be wondering how the story ended. It probably comes as no surprise—if you know the true nature of God—that Job was rewarded, handsomely. He regained his health and wealth, his family grew, and he lived another 140 years.
The story of Job should open your eyes to the fact that absolutely no one is immune from playing the pain game. Not the good, not the pious, not the righteous. Everyone will encounter pain, but it’s also true that anyone can choose to turn that pain into abundance and happiness. You just have to be willing to take the initial hit, swallow your pride, and turn this tiresome, self-imposed game around.