Richard Dama, LPC, Counseling & Clinical Hypnotherapy

Better to Reign in Hell….

Good Monday morning my friends and welcome back.

Last week was an unbelievably busy time at the Juvenile Center. We had several major infrastructure upgrade projects going at once and maintaining safety and security for the residents, staff and workers, as well as making sure the workers did the job properly ended up occupying most of my attention. Not a lot of extra time for essay writing. Sorry.

As I mentioned several times before I took my sabbatical, everything we encounter in our lives and our world simply is. The factual details of the situation are as they are, and are neither good or bad, positive or negative. It isn’t until we introduce our Ego into the equation that value judgements regarding the quality and ‘polarity’ of the situation begin to emerge. Because, let’s face it, one person’s disaster may be another’s lucky break. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Now, for a side note. Stick with me; it will all tie itself together at the end.

I cite a lot of quotes in this blog. The vast majority of the quotes I use come from my personal Quote Notebook; meaning things I found interesting and wrote down in my notebook, while actually reading the book (this used to a six volume hodgepodge until I put them into a spreadsheet and cross-referenced them by author and subject….Hey, you get a lot of spare time sitting in a missile silo waiting to end the world!). Sometimes I’ll use a quote I dug up online, but then I go back and actually read (or at least scan) the original work to make sure I used it in the Author’s intended context (and to see if I can find any other quotable nuggets).

So, after beating a quote from Hamlet to death this past week, I went back to my Quote Notebook and was flipping through looking for a suitable replacement when I came across two of my favorite quotes from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, (If you have never read it, I highly recommend it. You may think a 10,000 line poem written by a 17th Century English Puritan would be like beating your head against stone, but if you read it with the right perspective, it’s a hoot and a brilliant defense of the individual and free thought. Besides, Satan gets ALL the good lines).

The very first quote I came across, encapsulates the point I have been trying to make all week, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” This is what I’ve been trying to tell you; even when you are standing in the middle of a shit-storm, you can create ‘Heaven’ in your mind and be calm; regarding it all with a sense of gratitude and joy knowing, ‘Hey, it may not be pretty, but we’ll survive this and learn to do better next time.’ Or, you can surrender to the negative emotion of the situation and choose to live in ‘Hell’. Simple as that.

The next quote is equally as potent: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven. When you detach from the culturally conditioned emotional response to the words ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’, what you see is a vehement defense of the individual consciousness.

I believe what Milton was saying is that it is better to be true to yourself and happily follow the dictates of your own intuition and conscience, even if you’re misunderstood or ostracized, than surrender to the unconscious, sleep state of the illusion most people call reality.

Well…I’m sure he would have meant that if he had spent 45 years studying Zen; and didn’t work for Oliver Cromwell; and have a perpetual stick up his butt…But you get the idea.

So when taken together, Milton advises us that once we’re in control of ‘Hell’ we can intentionally turn it into ‘Heaven’ by the power of our mind and perspective.

Make sense? Pretty powerful stuff, no? Here’s hoping you have an intentionally great week and tell Cersei “Rich says, ‘Hey’”. She’ll know.

Rich

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