In this post I channel J. R. "Bob" Dobbs, high Epopt of the Church of the SubGenius; and he writes for us an Advice Column for Advisors.
During my many years of giving advice, I have noticed that troubled souls show a strange blindness to the shortcomings of the gurus, sages, preachers, messiahs, etc., to whom they attach themselves. It is as if they think they deserve guidance only from people even more messed up than they are.
However comic this may be for the guided, it has tragic implications for the guides; for who, indeed, shall counsel the counselors? If a Teacher can teach all those, and only those, who cannot teach themselves, then the Teacher can teach himself just as much as he cannot. Who, then, saves the savior?
That is why I, J. R. “Bob” Dobbs, have started this Advice Column for Advice Columnists - and their long-suffering families. I inaugurate it with letters I recently received from the parents of two prominent religionists. Taken separately these letters are moving; taken together they are instructive. One down-home truth which these missives reveal is that no matter what you do with your life, your parents will always think you’re just a kid.
Our first letter is from Bethlehem, Judean Province.
When my dear sweet little baby Jessie was born, my husband Joseph said, “Things can only go uphill from here”. Truer words were never spoken; for we were homeless then, and newly married, and desperately poor. What with the scandal surrounding my pregnancy, we were snubbed by family and community. Even the livestock who witnessed little Jessie’s birth were luckier than us. We were the lowest of the low.
I thank God daily for giving me a husband like Joe. He married me and accepted my darling Jessie as his own son; this shielded us from the malice of the oh-so-pious. He labored mightily, building a home for us with his own hands. He even taught Jessie a useful trade. Surely that man is a saint.
How proud we were when dear Jessie grew up to be so bright, so sweet, and so bold. We were convinced that he was destined for a better life than ours. Perhaps he’d become a lawyer; or a doctor; or even, God willing, a rabbi. We were sure that he’d make a name for himself.
Why then did he betray all our love, all our hope and faith, by running away from home? Why did he take up with whores, thieves, Republicans, drunkards, lepers, taxmen, and other lowlife? Why does he prefer wandering with a gang of homeless rebels, over security, private property, and respectability? What strange hold do those weirdo cultists have over him?
And above all, “Bob”; why, oh why, did he reject me, his own Mother, in favor of a pack of strangers? He calls them his “real family”; what turned him against his own flesh and blood? I have always freely given him a heart full of love; why does he repay me so? Where did I go wrong?
It is not for my sake that I ask this, “Bob”, but for his; for I fear that his so-called “friends” will tempt him to commit some terrible indiscretion. He’s a good boy, “Bob”, and I am afraid that they’ll take advantage of him. Those lunatics are bound to betray and forsake him sooner or later.
So please, please, “Bob”, tell me, for I am in anguish. What’s a mother to do?
“Mara” means “Bitter”
First and foremost, my dear;
Stop torturing yourself!
Know that you are not alone. Any mother of boys has to put up with this sort of thing to some extent. Every high-spirited young man has a Jessie somewhere deep inside him; the sensible ones manage to keep that inner Jessie buried down deep, where it belongs.
The fact is, young men have a built-in tendency to take leave of common sense the moment puberty hits. Befuddled by hormones, they take it into their heads that they themselves are the solution to all the world’s problems. You’d be amazed at some of the crazy schemes they hatch; and you’d be even more amazed at the inflated self-image they develop.
But fear not; idealism is just another passing phase. Many a grey-beard has seen a fellow just like your Jessie, only to shake his head, smile sadly, and say, “Been there, done that.” Sooner or later cold reality reasserts itself, and the youngster must snap out of his dream. His master plan collapses, or his good buddies turn on him, or his perfect girlfriend says “no”, or some such catastrophe; shocked and disillusioned, the poor lad sees, to his horror and awe, that Mom was right all along. At that moment of pain and light, the boy dies and the man is born. I speak from experience.
Most men survive this trial none the worse for wear; but dangers do exist. During his time of delusion, the young man might do something dangerously stupid, like challenging the Establishment. (Jessie’s friends disturb me. They sound like a bunch of Communists.) Many a sincere youngster has fallen prey to the ambitions of preachers, politicians, and other predators. Most dangerous of all are those few mutant males who somehow survive to maturity with their ideals intact. If ever such a monster wanders into your town, then mothers, hide your sons!
So do not despair, “Mara”, but do worry. If I were you, then I’d pray that one of the girls he’s running with manages to trap him into matrimony. I bet he’ll be a good catch, once he wises up. Yes, Love will save him, if he lets it.
Our next letter is from India.
Everybody in my kingdom was overjoyed at the news of Siddie’s birth. The peasants rejoiced; so did the merchants; so did the priests; and so did the Court, including my wife and myself. The augurs predicted that he’d become either a great teacher or (better yet!) a great conqueror. “North, south, east and west, none shall be more honored than he,” my Prime Minister said gallantly.
The masses were enamored, but my wife and I were besotted. She insisted that young Siddie should always have the best of everything. The tastiest food, the cleverest toys, the sweetest music; nothing was too good for our boy. He was always surrounded by a crowd of servants, all young, all beautiful, all perfectly healthy; and they were under strict orders to attend to his every need and desire. In our adoration we coddled our Prince; we cosseted him; we spoiled him mercilessly.
No doubt, “Bob”, you can see as plainly as I do now the depth of our folly. We have only ourselves to blame for our blindness; for he showed certain warning signs early on. I still remember a strange incident from his childhood, when Siddie escaped from both his nurses and the palace. Hours later he returned, bawling and blubbering; for he had seen an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. He had never seen those things before, of course, so naturally they came as a shock. That was perfectly understandable, but still I couldn’t help feeling that he took these elementary facts of life as a personal affront. Can you imagine such egocentricity?
I forgot to mention: he also saw a yogi on that fateful outing; an encounter which must have had an effect on his mind.
Many years passed uneventfully. When the Prince attained his majority, I arranged a suitable marriage to a lovely young princess. When their child was born, I felt certain that my son was willing and able to fulfill the obligations of royalty.
Then disaster struck. Once again he evaded his guardians and fled the palace, but this time he did not return. Frantic, we searched for him, only to discover that he had joined a band of monks. Ascetic monks, to boot; and worse still, mendicant ascetic monks! My son, the starving beggar!
And why? Because he wanted to “find himself”, if you please! Because he desired “spiritual enlightenment”, don’t you know! Because he was depressed, and had been for years, by the fact that people grow old, get sick, and die; and this was his way to do something about it! Yes, my son the Prince, in his infinite wisdom and compassion, had taken it upon himself to find a spiritual solution to the problem of Suffering!
Well let me tell you this, “Bob”; when I heard this my first thought was to round up a posse of horsemen, stampede out, drag home that brat of mine, and then teach him the true meaning of Suffering! But no; my wife talked to me, and as usual she had her way. So now I do nothing; I stay at home; I raise my grandchild, and I seethe.
To repeat; I know that I have only myself to blame for this. I raise a son who lacks for nothing, so naturally all he wants is that self-same Nothing! I know, I know, I know!
And yet, “Bob”, isn’t there anything I can do? Isn’t there some way to destroy that terrible egotism of his? Can’t he see how he’s making us suffer?
Yes, I suffer. So does my wife, my daughter-in-law, and so on down. And so my brilliant boy is right after all; we all suffer. Tell me, “Bob”; how can we find relief?
“My Royal Highness”
Your Royal Highness:
It would be in your own best interest for you to lighten up. If you stop to think about the matter objectively, then you’ll see that there’s really nothing for you to worry about. Your son is bound to come around sooner or later; for what goes around comes around. In the end all your troubles will vanish like a dream. That’s life!
Yes, you’re hurting, because yes, you’re still very attached to him. Well, give it up! Let him go! He has his own life-path, one you can’t walk, and he has to follow it to the end. Just face the fact that he’s gone for good, and you’ll feel much better.
It might help you to consider that he’s going to have a much harder time of it than you are. You miss his presence in the palace? Believe me, so will he. You have a problem with his ego? Believe me, so does he. You haven’t the slightest idea what he’s looking for? Believe me, neither does he.
If you’re worried that some cult might swallow him up without a trace, then rest assured that could never happen. He’ll wander from yogi to yogi, trying one ego-destroying technique after another, without effect. No matter what yoga he attempts, there’ll always be that nagging little doubt at the back of his mind, saying, “this isn’t the real me”. And it isn’t, you know; he just isn’t the loser type that those methods are designed to zap.
He’ll try everything, in vain. At long last he’ll hit bottom, and will have no choice but to stop and do some serious soul-searching. At that point all your love and care will pay off; for if he concentrates really hard, then he will remember the peace and joy of his infancy. That’s when he will “get it”.
Get what, you ask? That’s hard to explain, for “it” goes by many names. Some call it Liberation; others call it Self-Realization; I call it Slack. You might say that he will “get” the “punchline” of the Big Joke; and from that day on he will never stop smiling.
So don’t worry, be happy. There’s nothing you can do because there’s nothing you need to do; your son’s future is assured. Heroic, he will battle himself, and triumphant, he will conquer himself. He won’t ever be a success by your standards, but he will be a total success by his own standards. In the end he will be happy, and isn’t that what counts?
Taken separately these letters are moving; taken together they are instructive. Their similarities and their differences teach us deep truths about life.
Note that in both cases the young hero alienated his family. This is inevitable; for one is at one’s least heroic in childhood. Your parents know all too well how human you are; so if you want to cultivate a superhuman image, then you have got to get them out of the picture somehow.
Note also that in both cases it was a young man seeking heroic status. It’s obvious why; for as any woman can tell you, the female sex has by far the higher social intelligence. Only a man would want to become a Great Teacher; women can see right through that scam. Most women are too busy teaching children how to talk for them to bother telling adults what to say. Running a household is hard enough; who but a man would try to run the world?
The biggest difference between these two cases is obvious; economic status. Two men of high ability sought distinction; one of them preached passionate love and died young, thin, and miserable; the other one preached compassionate detachment and died old, fat and happy. Can you guess which one was born in a manger, and which one was born in a palace? The answer is self-evident. What better demonstration that money rules the world?
Yes, money rules the world! You truly cannot beat the System; for the System is bigger than you, stronger than you, older than you, meaner than you, and much, much smarter than you. The money system rules by brutality and subtlety; it crushes and absorbs all challenges to it. In the above cases, two gifted men tried to deny the power of the Purse, but wound up confirming it. If even they couldn’t overthrow the tyranny of Wealth, then who says you can?
For money’s sake, lives are blessed and blasted, cities prosper and perish, empires rise and fall. Money is international, multicultural, and omnilingual; it is a Traditional Value, yet it is also Politically Correct. Money is first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of men. Everybody alive is enslaved to money; for it is everywhere confused with the Life Force itself. By money we live and by money we die. In gold we trust!
So why fight it? Since you can’t beat the System, why not join the System? Dear reader, you are lucky to be reading this advice column; for it is my pleasure to reveal here the magical Money-Making Method known to all the ancient sages. Yes, you too can become as rich as the Bavarian Illuminati, the High Priests of Atlantis, and the Galactic Federation.
How? Simple! Just send me, J. R. “Bob” Dobbs, a mere $20 (in unmarked bills, please) and I will send you exact instructions on how to start your very own Pyramid Scheme!
And remember; only I, J. R. “Bob” Dobbs, can guarantee Eternal Salvation - or triple your money back!!!