“Are you a god?” they asked the Buddha : “No.”
“An Angel?” - “No.”
“A Saint?” - “No.”
“Then what are you?”
“I am awake.”
We could confidently say that to be human is to be a bully:
/ˈbʊli/ (plural bullies) a person who uses their strength or power to frighten or hurt weaker people.
If this statement causes a reaction then it has served its purpose. A reaction that is not one of love, compassion, and understanding, is a reaction based on fear. Fear of what? Fear of losing what we do not have or not getting what we want. It really is this simple.
The reaction to fear is not a “human-specific” response. Even ancient species must have reacted similarly, before there were humans and before there were eyeballs. So fear is a reaction on the part of the nervous system that is important for survival. On a hormonal level, when humans experience fear, the adrenals, the pituitary and limbic systems all begin a conversation that sounds something like this: “Um, hey fellas, we are about to die so we’d better get busy.”
In the wild, “busy” meant protecting the family, hunting, and gathering for food and shelter. Fast forward 100 thousand years and being busy means multi-tasking, over-working, and, for the most part, under-earning. Multi-tasking creates a form of emotional stress. Emotional stress puts pressure on the internal organs. Pressure on the internal organs creates emotional reactions towards self and others. Under the constraints of fear we create self-inflicted bottle-necked stress that, if unmanaged, turns us into bullies.
In Barbara Brennan's book Hands of Light, she outlines the personality patterns that are triggered when a body experiences fear. In general, we either leave our bodies, we collapse and can’t make decisions, we stop moving all together, or we blast others with our anger and attention. All these mechanisms are patterns that are learned very early in life to give us a sense of control and safety. These patterns usually do not work. If we are lucky, we study these patterns and learn alternative ways to manage fear and stress. We learn to recognize when we are in a pattern and how to come back to our essence, balance, and awareness of what is in front of us.
The hardest pattern to break, and the one that is bully-related, is the one that blasts. This pattern usually starts after birth, around age three, when the young one becomes cloaked with rage and is unable to get support for the fear they are experiencing. The fear is so big and the person so little, that the only way to cope is to blast others away. You may recognize this as the Freudian Psychopath. Energetically, it is the same mechanism as Freud described. But, unlike Freud’s psychological work, Brennan allows us to examine the energy basics of what a living organism experiences when fear hits.
Within this framework, to be a bully is to advertise to the world: “I am scared. I live in terror. I do not know myself. I have no core. I have lost connection to self and others.”
We can spot this problem in our daily lives with our loved ones, from subtle reponses like not listening to each other, to excessive reactions including yelling, throwing objects, substance abuse and broken families.
We can also spot this problem in the terror of our world wars. All of them. One only needs to look at Russia and Ukraine as a current example. Leaders are afraid of losing what they have and not getting what they want.
The antidote to fear is cultivating internal and external safety. How do we do this? We Meditate. We stay in life. We are courageous enough to be present. We pay attention to our spinal columns – as www.jungshinfitness.com teaches, 80% of our attention connects to the back of the body. Know our surroundings. Create simple mantras that bring ease and joy. It is not easy to be human. We are an evolving, very young species (We are not the last species. The polar bears, for example, came into being after the homo sapien), so we must have compassion for our imperfections. We are also the only species, as far as we know, that has the amazing ability to self-reflect, to wonder, to do better.
It starts at home.
I personally love to learn from the best. This powerful 2021 conversation between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu is revelatory of the way people who have suffered greatly can become kind and compassionate teachers and beings.