• Jennifer Barnick

Learn How to Finally Undress, Part One: The Problem

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Spanning the globe and millennia, various religions and sages have expressed in different ways the sacred perfection inherent in us all. In Genesis, we are told that humans were made in the image of God. Jesus repeatedly explained that we were all the children of God. Taoist sages Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu were constantly trying to explain that people are inherently awesome, and it’s only when society tries to civilize them and rule over them and admonish them regarding what to be and how to act that people begin to turn bad. In Buddhism, the constant message is that everyone is a Buddha. Everyone is born with fundamental goodness but that our big problem is that we cover ourselves with layers and layers of delusion—therefore hiding our Buddha jewel or birthright of perfection. The big question then arises, “If that is true that we humans are all fundamentally awesome, then why is everyone so unhappy, and why is the world such a hot mess?” “Also, if we humans are actually amazing, how do we get to the point where we can collect our inheritance?”

While holy writings and great sages constantly are telling us that we are sacred and wonderful As We Are, then how is it that we resemble more the walking wounded during wartime? Many, if not most of us, are pretty battle worn and covered in bandages of ‘not good enough,’ sweaters of ‘you need to lose weight,’ and t-shirts saying ‘I just do not share enough.’ In truth, while many religions do pretty convincing lip service to saying that we are sacred and fundamentally perfect, they also do a lot of preaching regarding how to get perfect. This is a paradox. While we are supposed to believe we were created by an omnipotent God and that God created us in his/her image, we are also being told that we are naughty and our bodies need taming and that we really should not like or trust ourselves. Over time, this has a real effect on us, and we all become very cruel judges (as we were cruelly judged), and the whole painful mess rolls on and on.

It is not fair to solely blame religion as to how and why the wisest of humanity has consistently insisted on our fundamental goodness—only to find the lesser teachers and preachers say just the opposite and insist that we should not like or trust ourselves. An easy insight as to why lesser holy men and society at large would want everyone disliking themselves and each other and mistrusting themselves and each other is Power. A great way to tame and rule a populace is to get them to judge themselves and their neighbors harshly. If I were a dictator and I wanted my population not to question whether or not I had the right to take seventy percent of their crops, I would get them really focused on how their neighbor’s wife dresses like a slut or how the baker’s children are fat and spoiled. Now, if I threw in fear of hell, an impossible and dubious moral perfection, and loads of fanciful things to do to perhaps be better at not feeling sexy feelings when we are out and about and to perhaps not eat too much food that is delicious, then I would have a very distracted and easy to manipulate population.

Today we have another subtle ruling power that is trying to convince us that we are not okay. Besides religion and rulers, our consumer driven economy depends on us to always be unhappy with ourselves and our lives. We need to feel too fat, too old, too ugly, and too stupid to be driven to purchase tons of things. It is extremely important to the success of our economy for all of us to be positively adorned with insecurities. This need is so important that we are not only encouraged to drape ourselves with judgement we must also judge our friends and neighbors—just in case any of them want to go rogue and accept who they are totally—sex, mistakes, lies, loneliness, and aging—totally.

I am not trying to imply that wanting to make changes like quitting smoking or getting in shape are inherently bad. Self-improvement can be an awesome adventure. For me, it is my hobby—my weird—my tao. However, I was born with this weird love of tackling with much experimentation anything that seems to be dragging me down. The funny thing is that if I go through my journals, I am pretty much working on the same things I did at 16, 26, and now. I was hanging out with a friend who was smoking, and I said that I thought he had quit. He said that he had quit but was currently smoking again. He then laughed and said that he realized that it was not the smoking that he loved, rather, he loved the bullfight-like excitement of quitting smoking. Sure enough, he smoked just long enough to get hooked then was back to not smoking. Also, it is important to note that to genuinely be in a place to want to get healthy or rebuild your life or meet a great mate we need to come to an inner love zone with ourselves. We need to wholesale accept ourselves before we can expect real change. Because that’s the point—that’s what all those sages are trying to say. We are awesome and perfect and amazing. However, when parents, religious leaders, governments, and consumerism raises us, we are just smothered in clothes of insecurity, and when people cannot see their inner light, they engage in all sorts of destructive behaviors. Perhaps alcohol will burn off this ‘I’m not worthy’ suit? Maybe, my obesity, like a great down coat, can shield me from feeling shame?

Next week Wednesday, July 5, 2017, I will post the second half of Learn How to Finally Undress, Part Two: A Way to Strip. In Part Two: A Way to Strip, I will give you my very best technique on how to take off all those layers of self-doubt and self-judgement. Until then, try when you find yourself thinking a negative thought about yourself, whether it be regarding your appearance or character, say to yourself, “That’s not who I am.” Then think of something or someone you really love.