I, PITBULL (or: how I learned to love the world)

I’ve been staying with my dear friend Kathy and her adorable dog Coco recently. The other day our little household swelled temporarily from three to four when Coco’s best buddy, a darling white pitbull named Cloudy, came for an extended visit.

Cloudy is a big snuggly ball of sweetness encased in 65 pounds of hard-packed muscle. And when he smiles – which is often – it’s literally from ear to ear. So delicious you could eat him with a spoon.

He has no idea why anybody would ever be afraid of him.

Pitbulls get a bad rap, in my opinion, and they don’t deserve their rotten reputation.  The fact is, I’ve never met a pitbull that wasn’t sweet natured; it seems to me if you really want a mean pitbull, you’d have to go pretty far out of your way to train him to be that way.

And yet.

To pretend a pitbull isn’t capable of great violence is to do the dog a disservice. The fact is, pitbulls were bred specifically to clamp down and hang onto other animals with those powerful jaws. That instinct is buried deep in the DNA.

If I were to assume this dog was a harmless jello baby made strictly for lovin,’ I could put him (and maybe also the neighborhood cats and Chihuahuas) at risk. In the wrong sort of threatening or confusing situation, those deep down genetics just might kick in.

A pitbull can’t help what he is. It’s up to me to see the dog clearly: To see past the unfair reputation so I can appreciate the cuddly nature, yes — but also keep one realistic eye on those fearsome jaws at all times.

•       •          •

And, in a rather roundabout way, that brings me to the topic of humans.

Like the folks who unfairly characterize all pitbulls as vicious thugs, I used to only see the worst in our collective human nature.

Oh sure, we were capable of great art. Great leaps of spirit. Occasional acts of selflessness, even. I acknowledged these anomalies grudgingly — but mostly I saw us as irredeemably miserable bastards, out to ravage the Earth and each other. And despite my best efforts over many years of spiritual practice, that attitude toward the world persisted for a very long time.

In fact I used to shake my head in bemusement at those eternally rose-colored optimists who insisted (despite all evidence to the contrary) that mankind was essentially noble and good. And that given the opportunity, we humans could be counted on to do the right thing most of the time.

Well. Clearly we can’t be counted on for any such thing. Our minds aren’t hardwired that way. And yet (just like pitbulls) when it comes right down to it, we’re not the slightest bit evil, either. We happen to have some nasty jaws on us, sure… but deep down we really just want to be loved.

Yet I was unable to truly feel any of that compassion for us in my heart. I could cut a dog all the slack in the world, it seemed, but when it came to humanity I just couldn’t seem to forgive us our trespasses.

•       •          •

Not to change the subject, but this has been a hell of a year for me. Deep spiritual crises followed by even deeper spiritual openings. The fledgling emergence of a profound new Self I never knew existed…which is totally awesome, at least on paper. But these shy introductions to this wise, powerful Carrie 2.0 have turned my life completely upside down. Let’s just say I’ve been both shaken and stirred.

But uncomfortable as it’s been, I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

Getting to know this eternal Self has caused some amazing shifts in perception. Suddenly I can step outside many of those deepest (conscious or unconscious) beliefs that have caused me pain and kept me imprisoned in my own mistaken stuff for as long as I can remember.

And one of those deep beliefs – not just deep, but miles wide – was my casual certainty that the world was evil. That humanity was irredeemable. It wasn’t something I ever thought about consciously; I didn’t have to. The bleak facts of our existence, and our endless catalogue of crimes spoke for themselves. It was undeniable.

Wasn’t it?

One day a few months back while I was brushing my teeth, my newly emergent eternal wisdom unexpectedly asked this gentle question:

What if I’m wrong about the world?

As in: What if nobody’s actually guilty here? And what if every assumption I’ve ever made about our inherent evil is completely baseless?

(As is often the case with such communiqués, the words were accompanied by something much bigger and altogether wordless: A perfectly neutral snapshot of humanity as a whole, an overview of us as we’ve trundled along throughout our messy history — but witnessed now from beyond my own dark and narrow vantage point.

It was an invitation to see more clearly. To notice our deadly jaws, as it were, but to look beyond them for the very first time, to appreciate our inherent sweetness. Our yearning to know God, even if we often don’t call it that. And to let a lifetime of rigid fear and judgment melt away in the process.)

It was an opportunity, if I wanted it, to entertain an entirely different possibility about how to live in this world.

This was staggering. It had never before occurred to me that my attitude was mere opinion, subject to interpretation. I was so certain of the world’s evil, I had never even bothered wondering whether or not it was true.

(I know. WTF, right? I wrote a book all about self-inquiry; all about revisiting our deepest assumptions and asking ourselves if they’re really true. And I practice and teach A Course in Miracles, which is all about the world’s innocence, for God’s sake. Well. What can I tell you. I knew all those things in my head, but sometimes it takes frigging forever for such important information to travel from the head to the heart.)

And now, I’d experienced firsthand that the world was neither good nor bad. Wow. I realized that everything I had ever done, everything I was up until this point, had been constructed with defense or preemptive attack in mind.

How should I start to behave now that the world wasn’t evil?  This would surely change everything.

•       •          •

And it has. Just by acknowledging the possibility that I was wrong about the world’s nature, a spontaneous release of my old crusty stuff seems to have taken place.

Nowadays I mostly feel tenderness and empathy for us. I can see our hurts, our skinned knees where we’ve repeatedly fallen down on sharp gravel; I still have days when I’m appalled by our antics, but mostly I just want to clean the scraped knee, kiss it and make it better.

Yes, I acknowledge it’s possible one of you might pop me in the back of the head with a slingshot rock the moment I turn away to grab a clean bandage. Humans are like that – we haven’t stopped acting like little bastards. But knowing this, I watch carefully for signs of possible bad behavior and go on dressing the wound anyway. Because we’re all in this together.

Violence is programmed into our genetic code, but I’ve found if I look carefully beyond that surface aspect of our collective makeup, very quickly our truest nature begins to shine through. And you know, it ain’t half bad.



10 Replies to “I, PITBULL (or: how I learned to love the world)”

  1. Lovely Carrie –
    you are a blessing to the world ! (:
    did I tell you that I finally bought your book on our US trip this summer ?
    It was mind-expanding and heart-softening.
    ps. I promise *never* to pop a sling-rock shot at you ! (: (although there are a couple of folks in my business circles that I wouldn’t mind doing that to (:

  2. Love the pit bull analogy. Remember recording an album (well, waiting in between takes) with a pit bull mix lounging on my lap – looking at her eyes, all of her – and realizing similar things.

    A loved one often says to me with a smile: “We’re all ridiculous.” During a time of great change, I find comfort in that . . . helps me to “look past’ the absurd and approach that tenderness, somehow.

  3. Yes, I agree we’re definitely all ridiculous! Remembering not to take it all so seriously is a great way to hit the ‘pause’ button, as you say, to look past our antics to see the sweet confused bunch that we are. Well said. 🙂

  4. Thanks. Needed to be reading this. Been doing battle on the internet with the nazis progressing here in Europe these last days. Like a true pit bull in blissninny clothing. I guess those little puppies are a perfect mirror for my own little mad dog ego. And I´m gonna take down there asses good for it…? ;). Yeah, deeply confused and frustrating. What I, in my somewhat sane mind, would want to do is forgive them and debate against them, at the same time. But is this really possible?? On the other hand can I not oppose them with a good conscience?
    I guess I should take a long chat with HS. OK will do that. Thanks:)).

    1. Hi Mathias! I think you answered your own question, on whether it’s possible to Love/forgive them, and debate them too. Sadly, not.
      (or rather, joyfully, peacefully, not.)
      But your dilemma touches on the one great dilemma that most of us tend to get stuck in, on our way to waking up: How can I possibly forgive the thing that seems (to me) unforgivable?
      I can forgive everything else, but not THAT. Not THAT ONE THING that is so clearly wrong or cruel or whatever.

      It’s a hell of a leap of faith to surrender THAT THING to Spirit and say, “look, I know I’m insane and I’m not seeing this thing clearly. The whole world agrees with me that this thing is wrong and evil and must be stopped. But that’s because the world and I are joined in insanity. I will trust that the best thing I can do for the world, the victims, the victimizers and myself is to surrender my judgment about it, and forgive. Then all minds (including the victimizers) receive the healing.”

      Debating them only strengthens the thing you hate. hating them only strengthens your own insanity. It’s a lose-lose proposition.
      So I do my best to forgive even that which is clearly evil. And then if I feel moved to help victims or raise money for good causes or whatever, I will go do that, taking care to make sure I stay loving/forgiving and nonjudgmental in my heart.

      As a very wise man once said, FIGHTING FOR PEACE IS LIKE SCREWING FOR VIRGINITY.

      So there’s some food for thought. hope that helps a bit. And yes, a good long talk with Spirit never hurt anybody.

  5. Hi Carrie, Thanks for putting the dilemma so clearly. “That thing”. Wow, yeah. There´s guilt. And projection. One reason: Possibly or probably being involved in similar situations on different sides throughout time, with “tragic consequences”. You know:”How can I sit by and let it happen AGAIN!?” Like,” HELL NO, you don´t!”

    But… if all guilt in the end is a variation on the self hate-theme of me believing I deserve eternal condemnation because I´m such a miserable piece of worthless etc. that I´ve freakin´ DESTROYED God´s oneness- any true innocence being forever slaughtered and gone in the process-…. Then this version of insurmountable guilt MUST BE, too. Right?

    So, if I´m not a victim of a vengeful God then neither would I be threatened by the deeply confused people calling themselves nazis etc. Nor threatened by my own hidden need to strike back visciously in projection against whoever seems to be the attacker, so as to hide the psychotic guilt base of my separated ego identification. Or, as it were, my own inner nazi.

    So, maybe the “HELL NO!! NOT THIS TIME AROUND, ASSHOLES!!” should be about this one time NOT, to the best of my ability, choosing
    to take part in the eternally self-reproducing duality game. To take the truly revolutionary stance of true forgivness.

    Still, I´m not quite at a place where this for me would preclude debating, or discussion rather, with people working for politics based on hate.
    You know, seen as a way of seeing and facing your own inner (and universal) darkness and forgiving it… wouldn´t that be a way to deal with it? It would take a hell of a lot of focus, I know, but… as long as I´m not completely ready to let go a perceived need to stand up for certain values…

    I mean, you know, you can´t not take action in this world. Only-if your that lucky or wise- take it and be free of it internally, I suppose.

    And I guess one key word is to be FOR something not AGAINST. For removing the blocks to light, not against darkness.

    Appreciate talking to you!:)

    1. You always do a fabulous job of answering your own questions, Mathias! LOL!
      You’re absolutely right — your ‘inner Nazi’ is the one that’s begging to be healed and welcomed back into Oneness. Do that, and the whole world gets a little saner while you get a whole lot happier and more free.

      As for the desire to debate them anyway…Of course we both know that even the smallest pinprick of desire to be right and make them wrong, causes the whole delusion of pain & separation to stay in power, exactly as it is right now. You just can’t have both judgment AND forgiveness, period. So be very clear with yourself: whenever you choose the debate, you’re choosing debate instead of peace.

      But having said that, if you are still in a place where you genuinely value the debate just a bit more than you value peace/love/joy/safety/strength/forgiveness…then there’s no good in pretending otherwise. You can force yourself not to engage in debate, but if that’s not where your heart is at, it just ends up being pointless sacrifice, undertaken only because your ego mind thinks you should be behaving in a certain way in order to be ‘spiritual.’ It doesn’t work like that.

      So if you want to debate them, my advice is: before you do it, just look very carefully at your real motivations for doing so. Ask Spirit to look at the motivation with you. See what drives you, and see if you can surrender the issue to Spirit for reinterpretation. Since you already acknowledge you’re a bit insane (as we all are, here in 3-D), I find it’s always very helpful to admit I’m not seeing this issue clearly, and then ask for reinterpretation. In my experience, clarity always comes from this, and helps to shift me out of entrenched behavior patterns (like wanting to debate with evildoers.)

      And then after clarity comes…if you find that (even though you understand what you’re losing by staying attached to it) you still enjoy the debate and aren’t ready to stop doing it — then accept that this is just where you’re at right now, and don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s a bumpy road, trying to leave our misguided attachments behind as we stumble down the path toward freedom. We need to give ourselves a break. We’re all just doing the best we can, at the pace that’s best for each one of us.
      it’s all good. In my opinion.

      lots of love to you,

  6. Many thanks for the lovely answer!

    “You can’t have both judgment AND forgiveness, period.” That´s right, that´s… it´s like my ego mind freezes at that statement and goes: “Err… Say wha-??”, shutting up for a nanosecond. Like: “Can´t argue with that one.” I do believe there´s some grokking going on. I like it. Probably my best christmas gift this year:).

    “I’m not seeing this issue clearly, and then ask for reinterpretation.”
    This helps, this helps. Thank you. It´s a cool cloth on my forehead
    stilling the fever. You know, when I was young I used to think praying was for -what I thought were- christian dweebs. Now I know it´s my sanest function. Imagine that LOL.

    “Don’t beat yourself up about it.”
    Yeah, that´s certainly a favorite trick of the ego. “You knooow you´re always gonna F. up somehow in the end, so why not just quit right now, dumbass!?” I think the “judgement or forgiveness” principle might help me being a little more forgiving towards myself , too. (Or: I´m sure it would. If I just got the “little willingness” to use it.) Like: You can´t judge yourself- and feel shitty, and forgive yourself- and feel good; at peace- AT THE SAME TIME. You´ve got to choose. Shitty or good. Which one DO I REALLY WANT?

    “We need to give ourselves a break. We’re all just doing the best we can, at the pace that’s best for each one of us.” Thank you.

    It was so sweet of you taking time and answer my comments, Carrie! Have a real merry christmas now and take care of yourself a whole heap!!


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