Blog entry

Virginia Tech Massacre / Stuart Davis Show

This week the Stuart Davis Show focused on the shootings at Virginia Tech. In the spirit of love, the show is intended as a memorial to the victims as their families. In it, various causes and reactions to the shooting are explored, from different perspectives (subjective, objective, inter-subjective, and inter-objective), and distinct altitudes of awareness. I attempted to offer a slightly more integral view to this profoundly painful event.

In the episode, I pause at one moment to highlight what I found to be an example of the worst interpretation / response to the tragic massacre; Steve Pavlina's blog response. Since my show is short, I did not have the time to quote Steve's blog fully, and I also did not want to make the episode about him, but rather keep the focus on the victims, their families, and the shooting. Here, on my site, I'd like to to provide people a look at Steve's full comments, so they can read for themselves the larger context of his comments, and have a fuller picture.

Here is a lengthy quote of Steve Pavlina's blog:

Begin quote:

Here’s one possible subjective interpretation of a seemingly violent external event:

Notice the event. From a subjective standpoint, if you don’t notice the event — if it never reaches your awareness — it never happened.
Notice your emotional reaction to the event, if any. How does it make you feel?
Accept responsibility for what you’ve created. You and you alone are 100% responsible for manifesting this. Not the shooter. Not the victims. Just you. If you observe violence in your reality, it’s because you’re harboring violent thoughts within you. On some level you’re fighting with yourself. Your emotional reaction is a pointer to the inner relationship. For example, if you’re outraged by violence, it’s because you’re resisting and repressing the violence within you. Describe your reaction to the external event, and you’ll have a good description of the internal situation that spawned it.
Interpret the event. How is this event a projection of your thoughts? You are the dreamer of this reality. Why are you having this dream? What are the main symbols, and what do they mean? Is there a lesson here, and if so, what is it? For example, if you perceive people getting killed in the world, then what part of your consciousness have you been trying to kill? Is there some part of you that you refuse to accept and just want to die?
Change your thinking. If you found this event unpleasant and feel a need for something to change in the world, then what must you change within yourself? How can you become the change you’d like to see in the world?
When I started dabbling in subjective reality, at first it was overwhelming to consider that I could be creating everything in my reality, but after a while I understood how the subjective perspective pushed me to grow a lot more. My perspective has me assuming responsibility for everything in my experience. So I wouldn’t say the Virginia Tech shootings were anybody’s responsibility but my own. From my perspective I manifested the whole thing, and how I respond is my responsibility and my choice.

I won’t go into great depth on this — that would require a whole other article — but I can easily interpret the Virginia Tech shooting as a dream in a way that’s meaningful for me. For example, the key numbers (age 19, 33 dead) are significant for me. At age 19 I made a decision to turn my life around while sitting in a jail cell (as explained in podcast #1), and at age 33 I launched StevePavlina.com. The shooting occurred at the tail end of a weekend Erin and I spent in Sedona, Arizona, which unearthed and eventually resolved a lot of internal conflict about certain upcoming decisions. I don’t see this event as tragic in any way. It doesn’t cause me to feel outrage, a desire to see people punished, a sense of addiction to the drama. It just is.

I’m sure I’ll get the usual flood of outrage email for saying this, but to me this event is perfect, and to observe it creates no resistance within me. I expect that only a handful of people reading this can understand that perspective. I know the outrage bandwagon is far more socially acceptable, and my refusal to hop on board will perhaps create outrage for my not being outraged. I can accept that too."

End quote.

Here are the specific items I found offensive, especially considering they were posted hours after the Virginia Massacre:

- "You and you alone are 100% responsible for manifesting this. Not the shooter. Not the victims. Just you. If you observe violence in your reality, it’s because you’re harboring violent thoughts within you."

In this context, hours after a massacre, it is incredibly insensitive and dismissive to post such a comment. It dismisses the unspeakable loss and pain being experienced by countless thousands. Instead of taking the moment as an opportunity to engage the suffering of victims and families, Steve Pavlina took the opportunity to frame the whole thing as a subjective game, a play-thing of the imagination.

-"You are the dreamer of this reality. Why are you having this dream?"

NO. The ego, the level of subjectivity that craves, that desires, that conspires to acquire power, status, and success IS NOT THE DREAMER OF REALITY. The Infinite subject is, the Ground of All Being. The ego is an ephemeral feature of reality, not the source of it. And it is Kosmic Narcissism to suggest it is, much less train people in how to concretize that delusion.

-"So I wouldn’t say the Virginia Tech shootings were anybody’s responsibility but my own."

Wow. That's what you want to give to the World, in the hours where people are utterly destroyed, when the culture is an open wound? You want to use your magic bag of subjectivity to claim responsibility for a massacre, which you conceived as a toy for your self to process? Offensive and hurtfuly, if you ask me.

-"I don’t see this event as tragic in any way. It doesn’t cause me to feel outrage, a desire to see people punished, a sense of addiction to the drama. It just is."

Then you are every bit as dissociated as the murderer. Again, hours after REAL PEOPLE were murdered, hours after REAL suffering exploded in the heart of our society, this is the kind of poison you want to post on your blog? That it's all a meaningless construct of your dissociated ego (which I noticed by perusing your sight, is simultaneously engaged in empire building and acheivement-driven enterprise). I am dumbfounded. Baffled. And deeply offended.

In my episode, I frame Steve Pavlina in a negative light, and I want to make sure it's clear why.

1, I understand that in his mind, he was taking a perspective in that blog (Subjective). In my mind, he was taking a perspective too far, at the worst possible time. In typical new age fashion, he took a very important key (subjective interiority) and turned it upside down. Instead of the transparent Subjectivity of the Self (the key), he shrunk the view into the New Age Narcissism that is so trendy. In this subjectivity, whatever you see becomes a tootsie roll. In this view, your subject is the source and creator of all reality. You manifest the Kosmos with your thoughts. Instead of having a subject so LARGE it sees (correctly) that the ego is a feature of relative reality, Steve Pavlina's version of subjectivity makes the Ego the ground of reality, the creator of it. What does Steve Pavlina, the Maker of All Things feel in this position? Nothing. The shooting at Virginia Tech is meaningless to him. This is dissociative, not transcendent. This is the suffocating self, not the Infinite Self. And in my view, Steve Pavlina is taking the key, the Infinite Self, and re-packaging it for consumption by voracious egos. Same trick the Secret used, which I've written about at length in this blog.

2, I am not against ego. I think everyone should have their own Pope-Mobile. My bread and butter is rock 'n roll, the Temple of Shallows. There is NOTHING wrong with shallow. The ego is not going anywhere, we cannot kill it, we should not kill it. We should see it for what it is. And that's the problem with new age narcissism. It puts the Ego in the position of the Kosmic Subject, then denies that it's ego. Even though this new kosmic subject is using every imaginable magical technique to get rich, to acquire power and influence, to gain status and ornamentation. COME ON. Just call a spade a spade. I, Stuart Davis, want to get rich too. I want to be popular, good lucking, well adorned. But I don't pretend it's Godhead that does all this clutching and desperate acquiring. It's fucking EGO. And ego is not evil, or wrong. Until you let it go masquerading as Spirit. Then you get calamity. And that is what The Secret and its various permutations are up to. That's what Steve Pavlina is doing, running this acheivement, success-factory of a web site, and masquerading as Spirituality. Let it be what it is. You can just build a successful business, you don't have to tell people their thoughts create reality. It is a double disservice, burdening the ego with a Spirit it cannot house in any healthy way, while simultaneously allowing people to bypass authentic spirituality (why spend decades developing your interiority when you can just "think" a Universe into being, when you can manipulate the contours of all reality with the frontal strucure?)

3, Most importantly, Steve Pavlina used the Virginia Tech massacre as an opportunity to advertise this brand of spiritual bypass and dissociation. Hours after this unspeakable tragedy, he chose to post what was easily the most inflammatory, disgusting commentary I read on the event. Actually, the only inflammatory commentary I read on the event.

4, I am passionate and committed to engaging all altitudes of awareness, all domains of reality, in myself and others. And not in a condescending way. Let orange be orange. Let Amber be Amber, Red be Red, and so on. But I won't stand by without comment when some asshole uses the unspeakable suffering of others to showcase dissociative talents (on what is clearly acheivement-driven site). That is disgusting, and that has to be called out.

That said, I don't hate Steve Pavlina. I still consider him a brother in the Mystery. I just hate what he did with the massacre. I just hate the way he collapsed the Upper Left Quadrant (subjective reality) into megalomania, and did so in the open wound of others. I'm not being holier than though. Lord knows I have made countless painful blunders, publicly. I've been an asshole many many times, and I'm not out of the woods yet, if you know what I mean. But we have got to put an end to this kind of new age narcissism. It's making things worse. Don't worry about the Secret and the way in which you magically create reality with your thoughts. Sink into the slow, messy struggle that is love, and the immense responsibility we have to each other.

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