Saturday, January 24, 2015

Satan: Businessman and Card Shark Extraordinaire

Ah, welcome again! Here's a secret for you:

As subtle as the father of lies can be, he is still only a fool and a tool, the greatest of them all, ever constrained to the polar opposite of truth for the purpose of creating all the shades of gray that lead us all into temptation for the purpose of demonstration. He is the eternal sufferer, the masque of God that shows us what God can never be, yet only there to provide for us the opportunity to choose other than what the Holy Spirit would have us choose. Any deviation from our truest inner guidance is a victory for him, but there is only one victor, our Self, veiled even in the form of that first of the fallen: the adamant believer in the very notion that we are not who we are.

Belief makes it seem real. Belief in what the devil tells us gives the devil power over us. He is always offering us a deal, and we always have a choice: buy into whatever fear he is selling, or stand in our truth. The devil’s bargain takes us farther from home, but the Spirit ever calls and beckons us to return. A sad fate it is for those who persist in selling their birthright for a mess of pottage, their very soul in exchange for the glitzy glamours of the world. They obtain only desolation and destruction for their trouble. They are the wanderers in the desert, chasing mirages to their doom.

The deal is always offered in a seductive package, pleasing to the senses or appealing to a semblance of good judgment. He knows where we are weak, and will exploit those weaknesses to the fullest. But when we have our hearts set upon reunion with the Father, we can resist all those schemes by simply listening to our heart’s wisdom. The journey home is made one step at a time, by choosing anew with the light of the Holy Spirit as our guide.

Each time we reverse an old harmful, limiting, fear-based choice, each time we nullify another Faustian contract, break off an unnecessary agreement, or dissolve an obsolete compromise that we’ve made in the past, the part of us that we gave away when we first made it comes back into our possession. In effect, it’s as if the devil who deceived us at the time was merely asking for a loan, and now the loan is being called back in. He is a sneaky bastard, so there’s no telling what he might try in an effort to stall you or distract you or convince you to change your mind. Your ace card is your integrity of peace and knowing and resolve. Once he sees that, he knows the game is up. But you can’t bluff him; he’s much too good for that. There’s no beating this master player with his own tactics: after all, he invented them to serve him!

If you’re playing a card game with the devil, you’d better have an advocate on your side. Let’s say, someone all-powerful and all-knowing who can make sure you always have the cards you need and even tell you how to play them. A mysterious stranger with unshakable cool, impeccable style and timing and a wicked sense of humor, always at your back, supporting you in just the ways you need. But don’t pay any mind to the antics of the drunken stooges, thugs, and smooth talkers. They’re all in the other guy’s pocket, trying to make you lose. Devil’s advocates. Your benefactor can help you deal with them too. Don’t mind the well-meaning do-gooders, either, trying to feed you their personal advice instead of taking their cues from your friend. Stay focused: whatever’s happening in the game, it’s just you and these two characters in the present moment. Every seeming distraction or setback is another opportunity to make a save and find more resources at your disposal. All part of the game.

Now what is it that’s at stake in this game? Only your undying soul, of course. Every chip or token played for is a piece of it, of your innocent perfection and wholeness. Powers and virtues and knowledge. You can rest assured that they are all yours at any given time, regardless of what’s going on at the table. Your friend, in fact, is bosom buddies with the owner of the house, with the one who really makes the rules, sets everything up behind the scenes, and can do anything at any time. The game is only a game, played for fun. The idea that your one eternal perfection could be broken up into separate bits, much less change owners, is a funny notion that simply makes the game possible. There’s no point to it, except for having the experience of what could never be without it. Both your worthy opponent and your trusted friend, once the game is over (and if you haven’t won, it ain’t over yet), will congratulate you, buy you drinks to celebrate, and reminisce about your exquisite performance. The more serious and anxious and uncomfortable you were at the time, the more precious and outrageous it will be in retrospect. You’ll all be howling, in stitches, rolling on the floor laughing. You’ll laugh until you cry and hug so tightly you can hardly tell each other apart. This tag team of opposites, the prosecution and the defense, the schemer and the knower, only played their parts so you could play yours. What a rush!

Then... I guess there’s no telling what happens next. I’d probably go dancing till the wee hours and crash out in a place like home. Then probably spend the next day quietly recovering my strength, just in time for work the following day. Or whatever it is that gods do in the realm of infinite possibility. It’s a good life, though, innit? Everything is voluntary. And if you can take this game as a recreational activity while keeping your focus, then you will hardly even break a sweat – it’ll just be another Saturday night of cards. Let your play be as your work, and take your work with all the enthusiasm, lightness, and joy with which you take your play.

This game is going on entirely within our psyche, whenever we’re faced with a choice between fear and love. Actually, once we get the hang of this deeper game behind any of the structured, rule-based games, it all becomes almost childishly simple to navigate. All that’s needed is to feel whatever it is we’re feeling, be honest, take in our perceptions without denial, resistance, or escape, recognize where the fear seems to come in, and choose the response that Spirit offers from our still center of being.

Play well, my friends!

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