The Mirror of Accountability
The author explores how we may challenge ourselves to face the fears and uncertainties of life and so unlock the hidden potential we all possess.
Guest article by Greg Wade
Foreword by Occult Mysteries
Readers who appreciated Greg Wade's previous contributions are sure to enjoy this new article in which he shares his thoughts on the amazing achievements of one remarkable individual whose struggle to overcome poverty, prejudice and physical abuse contains important lessons for us all on the Path to the Light.
In his afterword, the author tells us how the ancient philosophy of Stoicism has benefited him in many different ways. The tenets and doctrines of the Stoics are largely derived from Hermeticism. But much has been lost in the transition from Egyptian wisdom to speculative Greek philosophy, resulting in the introduction of many errors and half-truths in the doctrines and tenets of this school. Nonetheless, Stoicism is well worth studying, not least because it affords the discerning seeker many opportunities to sift the chaff from the wheat in the teachings of such leading lights of the school as Epictetus (ca. 50-135 A.D.).
I think we can all agree that many of the things which are genuinely worth achieving in this life don't come easy. In fact I would go further and suggest that nothing worthwhile is ever obtained without great effort, patience and stamina. This was certainly the case for a remarkable Black American man called David Goggins. I won't go into the details of Goggins' eventful life as interested readers can easily obtain his excellent self-help memoir, Can't Hurt Me from Amazon and other online retailers (see Further reading list at the end of the sidebar). Suffice it to say that David Goggins overcame several seemingly insurmountable obstacles throughout his life, many of which originated in his childhood due to the severe physical and psychological abuse he suffered for many years at the hands of his father. It was these early traumatic experiences coupled with long-term learning difficulties and becoming the target of racial prejudice which fuelled the fire that burned inside of him to overcome his difficulties.
Through many years of hard work and determination, he used his Will to face his demons and transform himself into a symbol of mental toughness and endurance. This mindset allowed him to achieve physical feats which would seem almost impossible for most people. He surpassed the perceived limitations of his mind and body throughout his military career. He faced some of his worst fears head-on before going on to discover and conquer new found challenges in the sport of ultramarathon running and other endurance-related events. David slowly realised after many years of pushing himself to the absolute breaking point that our minds hold the key to unlocking an untold reservoir of almost limitless potential.
So what are the key lessons we can take from the story of this remarkable individual and what parallels can we draw upon which relate to the study of Occult Science and the fulfilment of the great tasks which await us all sooner or later? Well, firstly it is unfortunately clear that the majority of people are not prepared to put in the long hours required to master our God-given talents and least of all to put in the arduous work which will eventually lead to self-mastery. Most of us are quite happy to coast along through life, constantly seeking the path of least resistance. The problem with this attitude is that it often leaves us in the dark with regard to our true capabilities and ill-prepared to cope with the inevitable challenges we must all face in order to grow in virtue in any given incarnation. The authors of this website have made no secret of the fact that the path to initiation and the ultimate taming of our lower mind is a task of monumental proportions and it requires an uncommon amount of discipline, sacrifice, courage, and patience (to name but a few of the attributes needed) to succeed. This is a long journey indeed, but we should always remember to concentrate on the here and now and seek to make slow but steady progress by using the many obvious and many more not-so obvious opportunities that arise in any given week to increase our store of Will-Power.
Another method which may encourage us to make some progress along the path relates to the title of this article. In his senior year of high-school David Goggins created a motivational tool which he would later use to assist him in his preparation for Navy Seal boot camp. For the benefit of our English readers I should explain that 'Navy Seals' are not some marine mammal used by the military, but the acronym for the United States Navy 'Sea, Air, and Land' (SEAL) teams, which comprise the U.S. Navy's primary special operations force and are a vital component of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command. Goggins' preparation for becoming a Seal involved the gruelling task of losing over 45 kilos (100 pounds) in just three months before he would even be considered eligible to participate in the Seal training programme, which is widely acknowledged as some of the toughest military training ever devised.
If this wasn't enough, he also had to study for the hardest test of his life thus far in the form of an entrance exam to qualify for Seal training. David called the tool mentioned above his 'Accountability Mirror.' This is where he would stick the many notes concerning the goals he had to achieve to make his dream come true. He relates how he would stand in front of this mirror each morning and hold himself accountable regarding the areas in which he felt he had fallen short during the previous day. I don't know where or how Goggins came up with his Accountability Mirror, but it is a technique long known to practising occultists, both West and East that goes under many names, but is perhaps best described simply as Introspection and self-examination. It is a practice we could all benefit from as I'm sure we all have areas of our life that need improvement if we are truly honest with ourselves. The occult version of Goggins' Accountability Mirror causes all mental and bodily pains to cease, for we will dwell in Light and Life when we have conquered our faults.
We should also arrange our thoughts and desires methodically, so that the light of Truth may illuminate them. This brings freedom, and with freedom comes happiness. When meditating upon any subject, an occultist traces it right back to its first source and cause, and brings it into relation with all other things. In this way, one thought will lead to another until the complete picture stands before us. This brings complete knowledge and this knowledge will be complete in itself. Again, I don't know if David Goggins went this far with his Accountability Mirror, nor does it matter very much as it is the result that counts, not the methodology.
Some regular readers of the website who have also read The Quest of Ruru may recognise the value of staring into a mirror or any reflective surface under certain conditions for an extended period. Obviously, this is not done to admire our physical reflections but as a spiritual exercise to probe the deeper reaches of our mind by providing us with the concentration and introspection needed to help recognise our various faults and failings. We all have them and they are nothing to be ashamed of. But it is important that we make a conscious effort to improve these areas by becoming more self-aware. David Goggins explains how he intuitively recognised the need to make some time for self-reflection each day in the following way:
"For you to find greatness in yourself, you're not going to find it in a book. You've got to go inside yourself to find it. You've got to be quiet. Search your soul, search your mind, search your abilities and you'll find it. But if you don't go looking for it, you won't find it. You've got to start your journey and it starts with finding out Why. Why am I here on this earth?"
Most of you will agree that his words echo the advice of every truly great Spiritual Teacher from the Buddha to Jesus and others, advice which has rarely been better expressed than in this short quote from the Book of Fo reviewed on this website, which book you can download free of charge in PDF format to study at your leisure.
"Verily thy five windows are the five senses of thy Soul. He who closes them and admits not the light of this world shall see the Light of his Spirit. But he who opens them to all the world, shall sit in darkness, not letting his Spirit put forth any of her own glorious internal Light."
Most of us convince ourselves that we have no time to exercise, meditate, study or complete tasks which we have long been procrastinating over. But this is one of the greatest lies we tell ourselves. We all have 24 hours every day to utilise by pursuing more productive endeavours—no one has one second more or less. But how much of our time do we waste by watching TV or mindlessly scrolling through the Internet and social media to name but a couple of the near-endless distractions which consume our attention from moment to moment? Could we make more of an effort to go to bed earlier and get up earlier in the morning or place ourselves beyond our comfort zone from time to time by seeking out tasks we dislike doing? The purpose of all this as David Goggins describes in his book is to create some mental resilience, to test ourselves even if it is just by small degrees each day.
Another lesson encompasses the fact that the battle to overcome any and all obstacles in this life is won and lost in our minds and we must remain ever vigilant to the lures and temptations of our lower mind or ego. For it will continually seize any opportunity to over indulge and gratify the material senses and appetites—often to the detriment of the physical body and the spiritual progress we might otherwise make, unless we take conscious control of our thinking. This does not mean we need to live like a bunch of Indian ascetics denying ourselves the many pleasures of material existence, but we must always look to maintain a state of balance by recognising the needs and desires of both minds. Of course, this is easier said than done, and in truth, this is where the bulk of the great work of self-improvement and spiritual emancipation lies.
You have obviously been drawn to this website time and time again because you have the spiritual inclination to search for real meaning in your life. This aspiration is something which will eventually drive us far beyond mere idle curiosity if we take the time to heed the advice of the quiet voice within. If we can use even just a small amount of the ancient knowledge and wisdom which is so beautifully presented in the many articles within this website, then we will be better prepared than most to tackle head-on the many mental and physical challenges life will throw at us. The important thing to remember is that it is ok to fail because this is one of the best ways to strengthen our Will and fortitude as long as we make an effort to pick ourselves back up and try, try again. This is the secret to real success and one which holds the key to unlocking the door to a realm of limitless potential and creativity where we will one day meet our fellow brethren and dwell in a state of eternal wisdom, love and glory.
NOTE: If you have enjoyed this article you may also like the three previous articles the author has written for us, The power of Forgiveness, The Art of Dying and Down the Rabbit Hole.
ILLUSTRATION: The image accompanying this article is a detail taken from a fresco by Raphael entitled The School of Athens, executed between 1509 and 1511.
Article and afterword © Greg Wade. Foreword © Copyright occult-mysteries.org. All worldwide rights reserved. Published 23 August 2020.