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❚ reality ✱ Robert Johnson

poison in the desk drawer

Faust kept a vial of poison in the back of his desk drawer, anticipating the moment of hopelessness, feeling of loneliness and meaningless reach an unbearable point. … He now sees that his level of consciousness, his perspective on life, will not support him. He has explored discipline and self-consciousness only to find them a dead end. This exploration is absolutely essential in one’s evolution, and the man who has not trodden that road is not eligible for the moment of despair that is also the moment of redemption and enlightenment.

This is the midlife crisis, the mute suffering of existential man, the dark night of the soul. This is the experience of the intelligent man, the heroic man, the one who has reached the goal of modern consciousness. It is the very best man who suffers this Hamlet crisis. Lesser men take refuge in guilt at their inadequacy, or blame their environment, or find yet another set of windmills to vanquish — anything but face the terror of seeing that three-dimensional consciousness is not bearable, no matter how finely developed it is. It is a compliment of the highest order when a man finds that he cannot go farther and that his life is an irredeemable tragedy.

A fault of this magnitude cannot be repaired, but can be healed only by finding a whole new level of consciousness from which to function. If one were a genius the process would be inspirational, but for most of us it is experienced as the torture of the end of the rope. This divine/hellish point is the critical moment that can make or break the rest of a man’s life. Hamlet fails at this moment; Faust, with the goading of his shadow, Mephistopheles, finds a correct way.