The Gifts of Experience
Achilles’ Heel (s?) or Addictions
(Note: Phil and his wife are such beautiful Souls and have so much to share that we asked them to start writing down some of their vast experiences so that others may learn from them… Enjoy!! Celest and David)
Also, please check out their posting on “The Gatherings” Bulletin Board on the Awakened Hearts website about their upcoming trip in the month of August 2016 to meet and connect with others of like-mind.
I have read a few spiritual sources lately that have talked about being mindful of having an Achilles’ heel. A definition of an Achilles’ heel found on the internet is as follows: “An Achilles’ heel is a weakness in spite of overall strength, which can actually or potentially lead to downfall.”
(Greek mythology reveals that Achilles’ mother dipped him in the River Styx, believed to be a magical river, to prevent the effect of a prophecy coming true that stated that Achilles would die young. However she held him by his heel and thus his heel did not get washed by the magical powers of river. Achilles became a man of war and survived many battles because of the protection afforded to him by the actions of his mother. Achilles was invincible until a poisonous arrow hit him in the heel, his only vulnerable place, and he died. Greek mythology is generally regarded as just something interesting and entertaining to read. However there is also the view that many events in Greek mythology may have really occurred and that the “powers that be” may have wanted to keep the message of an actual occurrence from gaining too much credibility. It wouldn’t be good for their position and their control of the masses. I will let you decide which side of this coin you prefer.)
Another way of taking the definition above and restating it would be: even if you are spiritually strong but have an Achilles’ heel, it could potentially cause you problems or could actually diminish your spiritual strength and even worse could cause you to devolve. Now notice that the word Heel has an (s’) it. Think about that for a minute. Do you believe that you or I have only one Achilles’ heel? No, I don’t think so either. We could have had a multitude of Achilles’ heels at one time or another depending on how much baggage that we have accumulated during this lifetime and maybe even previous lifetimes.
For the rest of this article, let us use the term “addiction” as being somewhat similar to the term “Achilles’ heel”. Now some may be saying that this wouldn’t be a good substitution because a lot of people don’t do drugs or aren’t alcoholics, so why is the writer equating an Achilles’ heel to an addiction. (Synonyms for addiction: habit, compulsion, dependence, need, obsession, affliction, craving and infatuation. Pick the one you prefer.) Addictions can involve many sources besides drugs and alcohol. A short list of some of the ones I have come up with besides drugs and alcohol include: money, lack of money, greed, gambling, power, entitlement or privilege, feelings of superiority, feelings of inferiority, feelings of fear, lack of confidence, futility, pride, arrogance, vanity, envy, grudges, hatred, materialism, films, television, shopping, covetousness, egotism, sex, pornography, lack of compassion, lack of love and lack of caring for our fellow man.
Some may now be saying that some of the things on this list are surely not addictions. And I agree that some may not be thought of as an addiction per se, but which ones would be and which ones would not be? Take the list and analyze each item, one by one, and then do your own classification of which ones you believe are addictions and which ones are not. Maybe the ones that you don’t believe are addictions could really be best described as Achilles’ heels. So then maybe we are talking about two terms, Achilles’ heel and addictions, that sometimes can have similar meanings.
Maybe some of the items on the list would only be considered as a crutch that we unconsciously use in our everyday lives. Maybe we don’t use them every day, but only occasionally; but even if only occasionally they still exist as a crutch that we may or may not be aware of using.
Do I exclude myself from all the items on the list? No, at various times in this lifetime of mine, I have had visits by some of these items and then there are also some items that I have never had a visit from. Now to be honest with you, I don’t believe that there is an easy way to rank how bad any of these items are from the “worst” to the “not so bad”. I believe it also depends upon each person’s set of circumstances. It may not be an easy task to examine our lives and admit that we have had visits from some of the items on the list. An item like “feelings of superiority” could very well preclude a person from acknowledging that they do suffer from the effects of this item. It might take the proverbial two by four up alongside the head to get the person’s attention.
Some of the items are more severe than others but that doesn’t mean that an item couldn’t affect our level of spirituality even though we might consider the item to be somewhat harmless. I believe it is important to be aware of the existence of an addiction or an Achilles’ heel in our lives and to try to understand how it affects our lives and more importantly how it affects our spirituality.
Let me take an item and discuss how it has affected my life for a long time. That item is money. Early on in my career I felt that to be considered successful in life one had to acquire a great deal of money. I used to buy lottery tickets for a long period of time. Never mind that odds of winning were less than the odds of being struck by lightning. In the world of fantasy one never takes that fact into consideration. I would contemplate how I would handle the winnings. It was even to the point of setting up a spreadsheet on how the effect of winning a lottery prize would provide me with wealth. The initial spreadsheets were set up to “grow” the lottery winnings by taking into consideration the effects of taxes and investment returns to maximize the total value.
As time went on I would stop the purchase of lottery tickets for a period of time. Then something would spur me to begin to buy them again. Over time I changed the spreadsheet to reflect, not how to maximize the prize, but to see how many people and organizations I could help with the winnings. This came about many years ago after I read about an elderly couple that gave away the vast majority of the winnings that they received when they won the lottery. That idea appealed to me so I set up a big list of charities and organizations and family and friends that would receive funds from my winnings. It was a pleasant fantasy to consider how much I could help various people and charitable organizations with my gift to them. I had a spreadsheet that was formula driven throughout and the spreadsheet would instantly recalculate each gift by just putting in the lottery prize and the cash value of the prize.
Then I drastically reduced the purchase of lottery tickets and stopped updating the spreadsheets when I took to heart something that I read in the past year. I have interpreted the message from spiritual sources who have said that “you can’t help everyone”. I know that the message was meant to cover a host of other things and maybe not money directly, but I started thinking how a gift of money would change the level of experience that the person was having in their present lifetime. Maybe it was not my place to ease their financial situation so they could relax from the worries of being financially strapped. Maybe the Soul that they represent didn’t want to have the financial burden eased because the personality needed to have the experience of suffering the consequences of mishandling the resources that the personality had available to it. I now just ask the Universe to help such individuals in any way that it can. And I know that the Universe would never go against the life plan of any individual.
Is it easy to always be conscious of the various items identified above as addictions that may plague us? Not always. Some of the items could easily be identified because they are ones that we would never entertain being involved with. However, there are those that can be so subtle that we wouldn’t recognize them unless we spent time analyzing our lives up to the present to see if any existed. How subtle you may ask?
Millions of people watch television or go to see the latest blockbuster film at a theater. The content and programming that is contained in films and television shows may be the catalyst that will lead to an addiction from the list above. Many films contain content that glamorizes conduct that could only be categorized as being one minor step from being labeled as pornographic. Of course the “industry” has established a rating system but that has been watered down so much over the years that anything can get a rating that passes the test of decent entertainment. The rating system is to protect certain audiences so that they won’t view the film or television show. I sometimes think that there are film producers that really want an “R” rating so that the box office proceeds will be greater. Money trumps all.
It is not just sex that sells movies. Think of the last ten movies that you have seen on television or at the theater. How many of them would contain many of the items of the list above, such as: arrogance, vanity, envy, hatred, fear, materialism, greed or power. The video games that are directed at our youth are causing a de-sensitizing of their feelings of compassion for the less fortunate. The games that people play on the internet call for aggression of the highest order in order to “beat” the other player or wipe out all of the “enemy combatants”. Is this an exaggeration of the definition of the term of addiction? Somehow I don’t think so after viewing many of the stories that make up the evening news or are portrayed in the newspapers. There are those who think that the video games can cause a young player to become desensitized and the youth might be inclined to act extremely aggressive against those who the youth considers to be persecuting him or mocking him. Then you have someone who goes off the deep end and a number of people are injured or killed.
Do you think that once every year or two would be a good time period to evaluate if we suffer from an Achilles’ heel or an addiction that may be of the more subtle type? That would work only if we always lived with our heads in the sand. As we live in this world of illusions, I believe that it would be beneficial to do an evaluation at the end of each day just before going to sleep. Why then? Well it is the end of the day and you shouldn’t be having any more visits from any on the above list. Do you think that once a day might be a little excessive? Well, let me ask you this; How important is it to you to know if you evolved or if you devolved during the preceding 15 to 20 hours you have just spent awake? Well, when one looks at it that way, maybe the writer is not being excessive. Then it might also be good to review any type of trend to see if the last day’s activities are a continuation or a change in direction of a trend. If you listen to your conscience during the review, it might be rather easy to determine if you are going forward or backward.
Achilles’s heel or addiction, whichever you choose to call it, we have to be aware of those traits that creep into our behavior from time to time. I am pretty sure that the shadow riders are aware of any change in a personality’s behavior, so it would be good for us to have the same awareness of any behavior changes that we have experienced. There may be a few thousand people in the world that would not suffer from any of the items on the list above, but I would be surprised if there were more than that out of the 6 billion plus on the planet.
Until next time, Phil
The Gifts of Experience / www.awakenedhearts.com