Have you experienced the destruction of a wetiko? I have searched for a term that describes the aftermath left behind from a person who wreaks havoc like a bomb that poisons the earth and leaves no life behind it.
Wetiko is a Native American (Cree) term (windigo in Ojibway, winitiko in Powhatan) meaning cannibal~ one who eats not literally the flesh of another but who eats the life of another. It is said that Native Americans very quickly realized that people who came from Europe were infected with wetiko (see Columbus and Other Cannibals by Jack D. Forbes). The origin of wetiko is the human psyche and incorporates what Psychology calls Shadow Projection~ a process in which we split-off from and project our own darkness onto others.
In shadow projection we attempt to master and experience power over the internal condition that originally proclaimed our powerlessness to ourselves not by becoming conscious, but by unconsciously identifying with becoming and then acting out the power to externally destroy. "Unconsciously acting out unbound power without restraint is our perverse way of defending against the internal breakthrough of feelings of helplessness," according to Paul Levy on the site Reality Sandwich.
"Because full-blown wetikos are soul murderers who continually recreate the on-going process of killing their own soul, they are reflexively compelled to do this to others; for what the soul does to itself, it can't help but to do to others," continues Paul Levy. "In a perverse inversion of the golden rule, instead of treating others how they would like to be treated, wetikos do unto others what was done unto them. The wetiko is simply a living link in a timeless, vampiric lineage of abuse." Paradoxically, wetikos both try to destroy others' light, as it reminds them of what they've killed in themselves, while simultaneously trying to appropriate the light for themselves.
Levy explains, "Wetiko disease is an expression of the convincing illusion of the separate self gone wild. Bewitched by the intrinsic projective tendencies of their own mind, full-blown wetikos are unconsciously doing the very thing they are reacting to and accusing other people of doing. Projecting the shadow onto others, they will accuse others of projecting the shadow onto them. When their insanity is reflected back to them, they think it is the mirror that is insane. Suffering from a form of psychic blindness that believes itself to be sightedness, full-blown wetikos project out their own unconscious blindness and imagine that others, instead of themselves, are the ones who are not seeing. Governed by the insane, self-perpetuating logic of fear and paranoia, those taken over by the disease fear that if they don't attack and rule over others, they are in danger of being attacked and ruled over themselves. In their convoluted, upside-down, flawless illogic, wetikos re-act to their own projections in the world as if they objectively exist and are other than themselves, thinking that they themselves have nothing to do with creating that to which they are reacting (please see Aparticipatory Delusional Syndrome). The evil we see in the full-blown wetikos is a reflection of our own evil; if we don't recognize this, we will just be projecting our shadow onto them. We are then guilty of the very same thing (shadow projecting) we are essentially reacting to and of which we are accusing them."
In practicing yoga, we explore our own dark spaces and places. We spend our time examining, refining and improving our human existence. We realize, as Ralph Waldo Emerson did, that "the world is his, who can see through its pretension…See it to be a lie, and you have already dealt it its mortal blow." In studying the Yoga Sutras we study a set of landmarks that chart the experiences which lead to the fullest expansion of awareness into its original nature. We are lifting the veils from perception so that our True Nature, our light, can shine.
Sadhana (spiritual practice) unveils Spirit. Patanjali's Yoga Sutras helps us to answer the question, "Who am I?" by making the mind and our Self the object of contemplation. We begin to live a life in which thoughts and actions reflect an understanding that all of life is worthy of great love and respect and from this place, we begin to live life in a way that elevates the lives of all with whom we come into contact. Yoga practice and the continuous study of the Yoga Sutras invite us to uncover personal insights that enable our sadhana to enrich our lives. Yoga helps us be in our conscious awareness and to break free from the chains of living unconsciously.
The wetikos are suffering. We are challenged. And to end suffering we must delve deeper into our practice and the principles of Yoga. We must examine our own darkness and clear it. Although it is difficult work, we must continue to be the beacon of light and hope for those around us. Just as a plant grows towards the light, wetikos see it, feel it and also too grow towards the light. Hopefully, in this lifetime…