Going far getting nowhere 

Going far getting nowhere

How Tears for Fears prepared me for A Course in Miracles

 

In a recent workshop I attended by Robert Perry and Emily Bennington, two of my beloved Course in Miracles teachers, they presented a fantastic diagram which touched all of the attendees. It showed the way through our physical lives: we are born, grow up, go to school, work, marry, have children, grow old and die. How we fill in this life is what it is all about, how well you climb the ladder of life. A good life seems to depend on achieving success and collecting things. But is this really our life’s journey? Luckily the diagram also showed another life line, below the one I just mentioned, and it showed a totally different way of going through life: it was our spiritual growth, our spiritual journey. And this way of living is what A Course in Miracles * would define as the real way of going through life. With totally different steps! Did I help a brother in need? Did I assist that old lady across the street? Did I give that little child his missing few cents at the bakery? Did I smile at that total stranger just because I really felt like doing so? But also: have I taken time to be still in my heart and look at what a life purpose could be that goes beyond material things and actually investigates what is beneath all that? And have I looked at my demons or have I swept them under the rug? So the most important thing of thís life line seems to be: what have I done for love? Not romantic love, but egoless love. Love that extends to everyone and not only stays with me and my chosen one. A love that seems hard to have and hold, but as I progress along the spiritual path, I learn exactly how to do this. I learn by cooperation, not by collecting things for myself alone.

 

In my youth I was drawn to music, art, psychology and from my teenage years also to spirituality. My interest for psychology was sparked largely by my love for the music of Tears for Fears, a British band I discovered in the eighties, when I was around 15/16 years old. I would later become a musicology student at the University of Amsterdam because music was my world at that time (from pop to opera and all styles in between). But Tears for Fears….they were more for me. They educated me! All songs on the albums of The Hurting, Songs from the Big Chair and Sowing the Seeds of Love, helped me in so many ways in the eighties and nineties. This band also told me that it is possible that boys opened up about their feelings and expressed them. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith did not shy away from expressing their childhood trauma’s and feelings openly in their music, they really looked their demons in the eye. That was something new at that time. And like I said, they opened for me a lifelong fascination for psychology and spirituality. But my return to a specific book called "A Course of Miracles", - which I first read in the late nineties -was bound to happen. I had put it away on my bookshelf for years, because at that time I didn't understand it. But when I was totally ready for it, I discovered that, after so many years of searching, this was the absolute best spiritual path for me and that it is full of psychological issues! But Tears for Fears had a lot to do with preparing me for the Course.

 

Why did TFF prepare me for this? The lyrics of their fantastic songs are, like I said, filled with psychology (in the beginning highly influenced by the Primal Therapy by Arthur Janov) but also with politics and even spirituality. The combination of very good music and lyrics with depth, has always touched me to the bone. The large part of the songs are textually written by Roland Orzabal, and he is a master of phrases that stay with you.

 

It has been just recently that I realized how much Roland Orzabal has influenced my way of thinking. Politically it was very clear. Many of the TFF songs are about socio-political issues. I came from a left wing family, was involved in anti-nuclear war protests, and was very conscious of environmental issues, poverty and inequality. And songs like “Shout”, “Sowing the Seeds of love”, “Woman in Chains”, “Mad World”, “Standing On The Corner of the Third World”,  formed me in my thinking about things, apart from what my parents, school, family, friends and society at large taught me. 

 

But what is particularly great about the lyrics of Roland, is how he depicts human nature. He can describe the human ego like no other! In A Course in Miracles, the story of the ego is told very extensively, and how we all made this ego ourselves. And how many ego’s together hold up a collective ego which has "made" this world as we know it. How Roland describes in the songs his own ego and the collective human ego, is so striking. So in that way he prepared me for A Course in Miracles. And in hindsight I now see how well the lyrics fit the explanations of the ego of the Course, it is just so good!

 

When Roland Orzabal sings “Me and my big ideas” (in the song with the same title) he actually describes in five words and very accurately what the ego is: it is me having big ideas. The ego needs to have the biggest of ideas to keep itself alive, it has to blow itself up, because it is actually nothing at all. We already have our worth, because that was established by God, the Course says, so we do not need big ideas to be above one another. Roland also has enough self mockery to admit, with these lyrics, that it is he himself that has these big ideas. So in this song the ego is described in its essence. The song describes a relationship crisis and crises like are exactly what the ego likes.

 

In the song “Falling Down” Roland Orzabal tells in short the story of the fall of Richard Nixon, which is a perfect ego-story in itself:

Is this world spinning round?

Has this ship run aground?

What's that shape, what's that sound?

That's just me falling down

Some of us are free, some are bound

Some will swim, some will drown

Some of us are saints, some are clowns

Just like me, they're falling down

 

[Verse 1]

Well I lied to the nation while my reputation ran dry

From my lungs to my liver, I clung to the riverbank's side

Yeah, well I'm back in the water, doing what I ought to

Trying to lead an ordinary life

 

What is so beautiful about this is that we all know this was a big scandal, Nixon’s demise, but is in fact also the story of óur lives! This is how the ego works, it is super cunning: it wants to bring others down for its own “protection” and in the end it will also bring us (ourselves) down because we are all going to die. We are never safe in this world, even if we stay low key and try to live a life as “good” people. Furthermore the words “falling down”...would, in Course language, point to us falling down from Heaven into this new self made “reality” of this world.

 

I can pick a lot of songs by Tears for Fears describing so accurately this state of our ego’s, this human nature. Roland Orzabal is not shying away from it. He just knows what people are capable of, and admitted in an American radio interview in 1995**, that he himself can be quite cynical in his lyrics. But, aren’t we all cynical, a lot of the time, if we are honest?  I love Roland’s self honesty and also how in his songs it is so clear how totally bizarre this world is! Just listen to “Mad World” or “Standing On the Corner of The Third World”, it is all so painstakingly accurate.

 

I want to take a look at one more TFF song in more depth. It is a song which I like very much. It is called “The Way You Are” and is not one of the band's big hits. They themselves even classified it as being a bit of a flop. But it was far from a flop to me. Not only do I like the rhythm and the melody - it is catchy- but also this song, to me, is about the ego all the way, in every line!

Here are the lyrics, fasten your seatbelts:

Going far, getting nowhere, going far, the way you are

 

These fingers aren't my fingers

These hands are not my hands

No one sees and no one cares what gets broken

Not for rhyme and not for reason

What gets broken, what gets broken

 

Going far, getting nowhere, going far, the way you are

 

And the rhythm of machinery

Slows to a heartbeat

Echoing ghost just laid by

Those who whistle while they work

Out of time and out of season

What gets broken

Going far, getting nowhere, going far, the way you are

Going far, getting nowhere, going far, the way you are: again Roland and his duo partner Curt Smith (and the other band members who co-wrote this song) nailed it! This is a totally fantastic characterization of the ego in ONE sentence! We go so far in life, do this and that and the other. We try to make a success of it, climb up the ladder, but can fall down easily as well and very hard. We try for years and years, sometimes traveling far and going places, or staying in one town doing hard work in a factory or wherever. We work and work and work until it is over. So are we getting anywhere really?

 

Then the next two lines:

 

These fingers aren't my fingers

These hands are not my hands

Here comes a realization which is so true:  I am indeed not my fingers and not my hands, because I am not a body, as the Course would put it! My mind is the only thing that is real and I do not know who I am. I try to make something of myself, but when do I succeed?

 

The song goes on:

 

No one sees and no one cares what gets broken

Not for rhyme and not for reason

 

No one sees each other truly. That is typically the ego, we look the other way, do not connect with each other. We just do not care, only care for ourselves. Even if someone gets broken in the end, we think it's too bad (luckily it is not me!). And that is indeed without rhyme and reason: it is unreasonable!

 

The next lines are:

And the rhythm of machinery

Slows to a heartbeat

Echoing ghost just laid by

Those who whistle while they work

Out of time and out of season

What gets broken

 

The rhythm of machinery of this whole world makes the body go along with it. This world is like a self made machine indeed, isn’t it? Be it in a large factory, or in the office, we all go with that rhythm. We adjust to what we think life asks from us. The echoing ghost I explain this way: when you whistle in a large factory hall, you hear an echo. This echo can be seen as a ghost, and it is just laid there, haunting everyone. The echo’s of our past are everywhere and we cannot hide from them.

 

Out of time and out of season is painful enough: one day you have it all, the next day it can all be gone. We have no control over how things go in life. 

 

The guys from Tears for Fears will probably not explain this song the way I do here and every fan or music lover will explain things differently. But it is the ‘truth’ of the human ego that shines through these lines and they may not have been aware of that, but they have made a brilliant poem to music. It touches me, lifts me up and tells me: this is how it is here in this world, and this is what I do not want in the future for me and my fellow human beings. I think they knew this, Roland and Curt, but maybe not consciously. But it does not matter where it came from, they picked up important things that had to be told. And I have heard Roland say in an interview that he thinks he often channels these kinds of things, it comes tó him***. He believes in that. And in another interview he said that making music was a way of healing things, but also a way of presenting or reflecting back at the world what is going on in society. ****

 

Curt and Roland influenced not only me but a large audience, and I think they still do. Tears for Fears fans are very dedicated. I am as well. And my dedication to A Course in Miracles* is very clear, as my path through life. It was all orchestrated this way for me and I am grateful for Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith for their share in my education, so thank you dear Curt and Roland! 😉 


Post Scriptum

What is so wonderful about art like music, paintings, poetry, fiction, theatre, film etc. is that it can so beautifully describe to us what the ego is and does, if we are open to it. Look for instance at “Don Quichotte” by Cervantes, or Shakespeares drama’s, and that are only two examples besides the Tears for Fears’ songs I have given here. Art truly is society’s mirror. Do we dare to look in that mirror and investigate this in ourselves? See how this plays itself out in our lives? What do we do with it? I find that fascinating and beautiful. And A Course in Miracles, gives me all the answers, of how to make another choice and leave the ego behind and live my life with love and forgiveness. It is a thick book, with a lot to unlearn first, but if I am willing I can have that life I talked about which was depicted in that diagram: a life path which takes me back Home, where I never left.


Sources:

* What is A Course in Miracles? More information: The Circle of Atonement


That was the first projection of error outward. The world arose to hide it, and became the screen on which it was projected and which was drawn between you and truth. For truth extends inward, where the idea of loss is meaningless and only increase is conceivable. Do you really think it strange that a world in which everything is backwards and upside down arose from this? It was inevitable. For truth brought to this could only remain within in quiet, and take no part in all the mad projection by which this world was made. Call it not sin but madness, for such it was, and so it still remains. Invest it not with guilt, for guilt implies it was accomplished in reality. And above all, be not afraid of it. When you seem to see some twisted form of the original error rise to frighten you, say only, 

God is not fear, but love, 

and it will disappear. The truth will save you. It has not left you, to go out into the mad world and so depart from you. Inward is sanity; insanity is outside you. You but believe it is the other way: that truth is outside, and error and guilt within. 

- A Course in Miracles-Complete and Annotated Edition- T.18. I.6-7