This was years ago. My awareness of my tendency to try to control things, including situations that are not even slightly my responsibility to control, or amenable to control by anyone, has not, strange to say, reduced the tendency - or not noticeably. Maybe this is because I haven’t fully allowed myself to notice how much anguish I cause myself, or how much annoyance I cause to other people, by trying to take charge in situations that patently do not call for my direction. When I notice it, I even find this tendency of mine quite amusing (clearly reform is still some way off).
Recently I caught myself maneuvering to become a leading light and determining authority in relation to a group project that a friend is involved in, a project that he has not invited me to join or even influence in any substantial way. The observation gave me a good laugh. I could see that my behavior was verging on the ridiculous, largely futile, and counter-productive in terms of establishing a harmonious relationship with the person in question, which is something I would very much like to do.
And yet this impulse to impose my will is not something that I can honestly say I wish to renounce. Maybe that’s why I like Nietzsche so much. He proposed that all of life can be analysed in terms of will to power. For him, will to power is not something you can renounce. At most you can mask it.
The thing that really made me laugh when I admitted to myself what I had been up to, was how pious and earnest a mask I had used to achieve my limited success (if a project so perverse can be said to involve success). I had spoken of loving-kindness, compassion, understanding, commitment to peace. So eloquent did I wax that I temporarily blinded myself to the little jabs I was making, through the use of these very words, at my target’s authority. He, however, soon showed signs of feeling these pin-pricks and stopped responding to my advancing plans to rework the project. At this point, I contented myself with discussing my fantastical schemes with a few third parties. The creativity involved in this last bit was enjoyable, and may yet lead to something productive, but on reflection, the whole episode provides clear evidence of a fairly urgent need to take myself in hand. It is fairly obvious that my desire to control things that are not mine to control is linked to the fact that I am out of control.
I am a control freak and I am out of control. It’s not a good combination. So serious has this situation become that I have lately been feeling a desire for incarceration. I’m not joking. I yearn for severe constraints, austere conditions and a regular timetable. So, since my will to power has not yet taken criminal form, I have booked myself into a Buddhist monastery for a three month retreat, starting in about ten days time.
What will happen in there? I’m hoping that in this restricted environment, I will be presented with such limited opportunities to control other people that my frustrated need for control will turn inwards. I’ll bring all my will to power to bear on the task of directing myself. Pretty soon, instead of other people getting annoyed with me, I expect I’ll be the one telling myself to kindly piss off. And then maybe I’ll get so sick of my control freak antics that I'll stop finding them amusing, and actually change.
Of course the other possibility is that in three months time, my spiritual progress will be no further advanced, but I will have made a bid to oust the Abbot from power and (I know this is ambitious) install myself as the first lay Abbess of a Buddhist monastery.