Brian’s Reflection: Friday, August 22, 2008
To gain affection from another person without providing
one’s own part of the relationship is a devil’s bargain.
- Robert Johnson, Jungian analyst, from his book
The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden
According to Johnson, a Devil’s bargain is to think that we can get something for free. For example, we can make decisions and choices that advance us technologically or practically, ignoring the fact that this choice is one which fatally damages our ability to be compassionate and loving and just. It is a bargain which radically diminishes our ability to be fully human. We may think that we are getting something “free”; but we are being destroyed as a person. The cost is very high.
I count it a blessing to me, from out of the heart of some Mystery, that I have rarely if ever needed the approval of another person. Including my parents. Even “God”. This is different from having another person (or God) think you are wonderful. That’s nice. But I didn’t need the approval in order to appreciate and feel ok about myself. I have always had that, and I don’t know where it came from. I left home at age 21 to become a monk. I was seeking a path to wholeness, to holiness, unbeknownst to me consciously at the time. I felt then that I was an OK human being. But, being Gay, I somehow understood I needed to find a place to be Gay and assert my identity as an authentic part of the human community. I found it - and that may be because “God” is a Trickster!
I feel that intimate relationships often do not work today because people enter into them (unconsciously, I suspect) lacking the sense of their own intrinsic value. They try to elicit that approval by using another person to their ends. This simply does not work. Even if the other person complies with being used, they become maimed and demeaned. It’s downhill from there.
Find yourself first. Appreciate and assert your unique and beautiful identity. Appreciate and affirm the other. Affection and honour and respect will follow. In my experience, this is how the God of the Gospels works.