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Finishing an Unfinished Battle

A talk by Tim Jackins at the New York City (New York, USA) Teachers’ and Leaders’ Workshop, June 2011

Each of us has distresses that have confused us, but when we get together and someone listens to us, things start to move. We get the idea that our minds can shift, that this is under our command, that we don’t have to stay stuck and confused. We remember that the discharge process actually lets us change our minds.


Then if we stick around[1] long enough, we get our heads out of our own individual distresses and we see what happens in society. We see how all the oppressions fall down on us—classism, racism, sexism, nationalism, colonialism—and come to occupy and structure our societies so that all of us get hurt in certain ways, reliably. We are all targeted by certain sets of distresses. Long ago before people lived in societies, they were off on their own. The collection of distresses must have been more varied. Now they end up being similar. It isn’t that the individual things that happen to us are the same—we have each been hurt in particular, individual ways—but the distresses end up looking similar. We have similar difficulties, and we can trace some of them back to the oppressions. We get to look at all of that, work on it, and get smarter about it.


We have to set directions, for ourselves individually and within the Community. We have to use our minds in the places where the distresses have distracted and confused us. Even though we know we can discharge distress, with some of our distresses we can’t remember to do that. They have too big a hold on our minds. We can’t even remember they are there—they’re just the way life is, the way life has always been for us.

Alone we can’t stay aware of these distresses, so we get to figure them out collectively. It is much easier to figure them out looking at a group of people than looking at one. Although we see the variety, the little differences, we can also pick out the common patterns. Once we do that, we can set directions for ourselves and our Communities. This is using our minds in spite of the ways we were hurt. It is an important part of RC—probably as important as the discharge process.


With the discharge process so thoroughly interrupted and suppressed, it is still a fight for us to discharge. We have a wonderful, attentive, warm counselor, and yet we don’t know what to do in the session. We can’t find anything to work on. We know we should be working on something, but we can’t figure out quite how to do it.

The suppression of the discharge process has been so complete that we have to use our minds against our patterns. This is different from how it was when we started out. Discharge is innate. As young ones we discharged spontaneously. We didn’t understand discharge; we just used it, or tried to use it. Then it was taken from us—quickly and meanly, or slowly and gently with all sorts of apparently pleasant bribes. We were made to be orderly and quiet and to put away our distresses. Nobody could listen to us, and so we lost the discharge process.


Yet with all the distresses we have accumulated, our minds are still good. That is clear. Distress does not permanently damage our minds. Our minds are good even though there are many things we have not yet discharged. They are capable of being sharp and intelligent, taking in information and making decisions. They just don’t do it very often. But there are those little flashes—and they startle us, and other people. We come back to life even under current conditions.

This means that we don’t get to give up on anybody. We don’t get to give up on anybody ever. That mind is still there, the discharge process still works, and that mind can come back more and more fully, more and more often. We don’t get to give up on anybody. In particular, you don’t get to give up on yourself in any way at all. It is unnecessary and incorrect for you to give up on you.


We all have a sizeable collection of distresses that we have given up on ever freeing ourselves from. We don’t say that to anybody. We dare not say it in RC. We know how to take positive directions against the distresses. And we know how to do that for other people, or how to have that appearance. We know it is correct, and we care enough about people that we can push ourselves into the correct position for them. The problem is that it doesn’t work for ourselves in the same way. Faced with our discouragement, our feelings that we can’t fight those battles, it is almost impossible for us to have enough perspective, to be hopeful enough or even care enough about ourselves, that we can muster the ability to take that stance for ourselves. However, you cannot give up on yourself, you must not give up on yourself.


It is a struggle we don’t admit to easily. We hide it from each other. It’s a little harder to hide with three Co-Counselors sitting there. If we have a hundred and fifty people, that makes a big difference. It makes a difference because we have this big slice of present-day reality, of live intelligences interacting with us. It is alive in a way that none of the distresses we work on are. It is alive, and we know it’s alive. We can see the difference between how the distress feels and what it’s like looking out and seeing those faces and eyes. We remember something. We can think a little further. We take heart[2] in a certain way where before we had given up.

You have to make up your mind[3] that you are worth fighting for, no matter what— that nobody is more important than you are. It is about simply being human. In that sense no human is more important than another. Each of us is worth fighting for completely, without qualification, just because we are us. Every single one of us is worth the battle. This is easier to think about for other people, but you have to think about it for you. You are worth the battle.

When you take this position, you’ll find all sorts of weird arguments coming up in your mind. They are what you get to work on. They are what your counselors need to argue against, and call stupid, and do whatever else they need to do to contradict them forcefully enough that you can stay there. You also need to decide that you might be able to get everything back.   

You need to decide that I might be right. I’m the one who is pushing this. I don’t know that I’m right, but I think I am. I’ve got similar distress, but I think I’m right. What you need to decide is that maybe I am and that you are willing to test it and see, that you are willing to face all the things that were so hurtful and confusing.


You get to go back and look at this stuff,[4] but differently. It seems to me that often when we go back and work on old heavy distresses, we inhabit the defeated victim role, we go back and work on how bad we felt. We tried to work on the hurts that way right after they happened, but there wasn’t enough resource to let it work and some part of it got stuck. It isn’t the only way to go back and work on old distresses. It is our habit. We slip into suffering in the same way. It seems to become real.

I think it has a limited usefulness. It does work—we have discharged through a lot of things while feeling miserable—but doing it that way is accepting the confusion. It isn’t really you any longer. Now you can make up your mind and go back to finish the battle.


You got defeated back then, of necessity. Those were the conditions. It had to happen, and the defeat got frozen in the distress recording. Also, all those harsh ways you got hurt were not the worst thing that happened to you. The worst thing that happened to you was that you never got to discharge on them. It isn’t that they happened but that you had to keep living them. If you had been able to discharge, you would have bounced back and they wouldn’t be troubling you now. You would understand something from them, and they wouldn’t be pulling on you. The worst thing that happened to you is that you had to continue to live them because you could not discharge.


The events themselves you survived. You lived though them, and now you can recover from them. You have to decide to go back now and resolve them—decide that you are not trapped, you are not small, you are not alone. You have all this information now about how to fight that battle—information you didn’t have back then. You have all this resource behind you, this reality in your corner. You can go back and say, “I lost. I was beaten by this. No other way was possible then, but now I am back to finish it.” You get to revisit it now that you have gained the muscle and ability, and the information about it. This doesn’t mean that it won’t still feel hopeless, but you get to understand the hopelessness as something you are going back to correct, something you are going back to resolve and end. You are not going back and revisiting it endlessly as the one who got crushed. You are going back as the one who now has all the resource and ability to finally correct the situation.

The general principle is that every mistake, every hurt back there in each of our lives, we get to resolve. And not just in our own lives. We also get to resolve the distresses that have come down from our peoples through generations. We have the tools to undo the damage from every mistake that has been made and that has stuck with us.

We can reach a point where we actually get to live in the present and plan the future without having to see it all through the past difficulties. The past difficulties won’t matter. We will be able to see the reality of the present and figure out what we want to have happen on that basis, instead of compensating forever for old distresses. We actually get to have a real present life, uninfluenced by undischarged distress.


It is going to take each of us deciding to take on[5] that challenge. I think we will, and we will have to. We can begin here amongst a hundred and fifty of us. With this much backing,[6] we have a chance to do it. When the resource is less, it’s more difficult to do. That’s okay. Don’t give in to patterns that say that if it is possible then we have to do it all now. We have built up our resource over sixty years to the point where it is possible. It wasn’t possible five years ago. Things move, we move, resource gathers, we get a better picture, we get to do more.

This is something more to do, and it is in our future. We get to be aware of it and start on it now. It will affect every other thing we counsel on, because we have seen most of those things from the perspective of being hurt and crushed by them. I don’t think that is necessary. I think we get to have the perspective of “Now I get to fix it. Now I get to go back and make it different.” We don’t have to revisit it the way it was. It isn’t the way it was. It was at that moment, and our minds are still stuck there, but as soon as the discharge starts and our perspective changes, things move. That’s what we are involved in. We’re involved in the resolution of all the mistakes of the past.


You have to dare. You have to dare in the places where you feel hopeless, where you feel like you can’t. You have to entertain the idea that maybe you could. Maybe you could face and feel all the things that you have run away from, all the distresses that have seemed unbearable. Maybe they can be challenged.

What made things unbearable in the past was feeling heavy distresses and not being allowed to discharge. That’s unbearable. But as soon as you challenge those same heavy distresses and begin to discharge, things begin to shift, in both your feelings and your understandings.

I want you to fight for yourself. No matter what. I know you have a thousand arguments against it in your head. You get to say those out loud, and your counselor will say, “Bull.[7] You are going to fight this fight. I don’t care how scared you are. I don’t care if you think you can’t make it.[8] I don’t care if you think you’re not worth it. I think you are, so we are going to do it. Got it?”[9] It takes some force to contradict how easily we have given up here.

[1] Stick around means stay involved in RC.
[2] Take heart means gain courage.
[3] Make up your mind means decide.
[4] Stuff means distress.
[5] Take on means undertake.
[6] Backing means support.
[7] Bull means nonsense.
[8] Make it means succeed.
[9] Got it means do you understand that.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00